Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, December 03, 2012

"Heavier-Than-Air Flying Machines Are Impossible," Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot:

I must say the fact that Robot Cultists always trot out pretty much the same handful of quotes whenever anybody expresses skepticism about their often conceptually incoherent -- eg, you are not a picture of you, and "scanning your brain" won't make you immortal -- truly extraordinary, far-outside-consensus-science technodevelopmental expectations (coming soon! multi-century lifespans! nano-fortunes for free! Robot God ends history by solving all our problems for us!) suggests that in addition to thinking playing video games and reading TechCrunch occasionally somehow transforms them into latter-day Wright Brothers and Steve Jobs combined, but also that maybe there aren't finally really so many juicy examples of actually qualified people denying the possibility of technical capacities on the verge of making their appearance on the scene as all that after all. I notice that even some of their favorite go-to claims (Henry Ford's lawyer telling him automobiles are a fad, the CEO of a now-defunct computer firm saying that nobody wants a computer in their home), aren't even so much about infeasibility as about unprofitability -- never forget the connection of futurist discourse to the emergence of speculation about market futures, by the way. Anyway, as I never tire of pointing out, occasional congenial anecdotal quotes from Lord Kelvin to the contrary notwithstanding, for every time scientific consensus mistakes a maverick for a crackpot there are incomparably many more times that scientific consensus exposes a self-declared maverick for the crackpot they are.


jimf said...

> [F]or every time scientific consensus mistakes a maverick
> for a crackpot there are incomparably many more times that
> scientific consensus exposes a self-declared maverick for
> the crackpot they are.

Though apparently some people never get the message.

I've mentioned this several times before, but I was truly
shocked and dismayed to discover, not that long ago and only
because of the Web (I certainly never saw the 1997 interview)
that Arthur C. Clarke continued to believe in cold fusion
for years after it had been dismissed as a non-phenomenon
by mainstream physics.

An odyssey of sorts - author Arthur C. Clarke -
Special Issue: The Coming Age of Exploration - Interview
Discover, May, 1997 by Fred Guterl

. . .

[Clarke:] . . . I think more and more that
the new space age, and the new everything age, is
linked more and more to the new energy revolution.

[Guterl:] What energy revolution is that?

[Clarke:] For one thing, there is this so-called
cold fusion. Which is neither cold nor fusion. Very few
Americans seem to know what is happening, which is
incredible. It's all over the world, except the
United States. There are hundreds of laboratories
doing it, they've got patents all over the place.
The prototypes are on sale now. There are 7,000 units
operating in Russia right now and no one in the
United States seems to know about it.

Indeed, nobody still seems to know about it, 15 years

Now it's **possible** that, say, 50 years from now somebody
will discover an exotic room-temperature catalyst that
makes controlled fusion take place, and the physics community
will acknowledge, in light of the new theoretical framework,
that Fleischmann and Pons must have been seeing something
after all, right at the edge of experimental detectability.

But I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Nor would I hold my breath along with those who think
(as well as thinking they know enough about statistics to
have an opinion at all) that there **is** a statistical
pattern buried in parapsychological experimental results,
indicating that ESP is real, just at the edge of detectability.

Rule of thumb -- the fact that a lot of people would **love**
to find out that 1) cold fusion and 2) ESP are real,
is all the more reason to take the "edge of detectability,
we need more sophisticated statistical analyses" gambit
with a whole shaker-full of salt. And a bag of popcorn, too.

Oh, am I being rude? Down, Debbie Down Down.

erickingsley said...

Notice how the Wright brothers and Steve Jobs and Henry Ford actually, you know, built something that actually exists and works as advertised.

I'm all for transhumanists trying to upload their brains into cyberspace or launching their frozen brains into space or whatever. Go for it kids! Let us know when you guys are actually working on producing something instead of spending all your time engaging in fantasizing and complaining about other people not taking your fantasizing seriously.

Dale Carrico said...

I quite agree, Randroids please Go Galt, Robot Cultists please get hamburgerized, don't let the door hit your asses going out.

joe said...

@JimF, Clarke also get's the credit for the communications satellite...except of course the part where his idea was 3 huge manned space stations doing the job instead of the smallish unmanned nes we got is forgotten.

It's pretty much the same wth all sci-fi these guys latch onto to....they focus on what they want to believe will happen forgetting all the hard work or indeed the improbability of these things happening.

It's funny and ironic of course to see that the TH/H+ types favorite sci-fi authors and the ones who have built their "perfect World" are also the ones who who seem to dislike if not loath the TH/H+ movement...Stross, Egan ect.

Anyhow, this was posted over on Io9 today

It's about small reconfigurable robots called "Milli Motein"...and it's an ok article talking about what it could be nothing too out there...yet I have the feeling that if Dvorsky had wrote it, it would be immortal superman robotic bodies just around the corner....

I can only imagine the futurist wanking going on in TH forums over this....insteadof the more down to earth and feasible things to be accomplished.

Barkeron said...

Dunno if that article is OK, if this comment is any indication.

joe said...

Yeah, Barkeron that's a fair point mate.

I've had a few good conversations with Gryphoneer and we're usually on the same train of thought regarding over hyping or indeed just bullshiting levels of tech advancement or more precisly what the TH/H+ types ect make of said advancements.

I still think Dvorsky would have made it much worse.....Does it show much that I think he is a bullshit artist? :)