Autor Wątek: possible futures  (Przeczytany 33148 razy)

Terminus

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #15 dnia: Listopad 09, 2005, 08:03:58 pm »
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I put my RMB on crazy people


What does it mean to 'put one's RMB' ? ::)
« Ostatnia zmiana: Listopad 09, 2005, 08:04:45 pm wysłana przez Terminus »

innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #16 dnia: Listopad 10, 2005, 07:27:20 am »
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Moreover I think that the times of religions having great impact on societies is almost over.

Man, I hope so. In my little corner of the world, things can look so bleak. This growing trend of placing religious mythology in school science curricula is a serious evil. I personally can't remember whether evolutionary processes were mentioned in my classes, but at least we left out the myths.

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Innate meant...rather that those who are religious to the point of absurdity will get their hands on some powerful devices...

yup.

RMB: It's an abbreviation for renminbi, Chinese money.

Another dystopia: the one that goes by the excessively neutral name of "climate change". There's the idea of what will happen if trends simply continue, resulting in things like:
- Sea level rises. Nobody's ever explained to me why it's quite so catastrophic for it to rise a foot or two, but apparently the effects are large...
- CO2 levels rise and temperatures rise. In the past, at least the animals and vegetation could shift regions and temperature and precipitation patterns changed, but that will be hard now that we have made their ranges discontinuous by the liberal application of pavement and that sort of thing.
- Pollutants, ozone, melanomas, natural selection teaching a harsh lesson about life to those of us who are low in melanin.
and so on...

But the scarier things are the unstable 'switches' that we can only speculate about, things that change abruptly. For example: the danger that the ocean currents will suddenly shift that give much of Europe a much warmer climate than it "should" have at that latitude. Or the speculation I've seen of huge amounts of gas in the ocean perhaps just deciding to come out of solution one day.

I'm not too sure how large the effect is on the ecosystem as a whole. Some have called the era of modern* man the sixth mass extinction, but I don't have a good understanding of how readily something else can step in to fill the role of whatever has been killed off.

* I feel a bit self-conscious whenever I use the word "modern" to describe my own time. I like to imagine an intelligence happening to read my words in thousands or millions of years and finding great amusement in the myopic perspective of this strange creature that I am. Five thousand years ago, somebody stood where you are now, and they surely thought that whatever was going on in their lives was pretty important, but it was all swallowed up, leaving no trace. Sometimes the only thing to cheer me up is the thought that we might somehow be so lucky as to have current times turn out to be so unremarkable from a distant perspective...

Deckert

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #17 dnia: Listopad 10, 2005, 10:11:35 am »
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Man, I hope so. In my little corner of the world, things can look so bleak. This growing trend of placing religious mythology in school science curricula is a serious evil. I personally can't remember whether evolutionary processes were mentioned in my classes, but at least we left out the myths.


Yeah, I heard 'bout it in news. I was pretty shocked to hear that people in America eagerly want to teach children a biblical point of view of how human was created. This is unbelievable!!! Tell me something more about if You can...

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RMB: It's an abbreviation for renminbi, Chinese money.


The first thing I came up with was that RMB is an abbreviation for Right Mouse Button.... hehehe... :D ;)



CU
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Socrates

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Listopad 10, 2005, 10:38:45 am »
Somewhere I read that rising sea levels will submerge many countries which are below sea-level even now (was it Holland or something like that?).  I heard as well that even a 2 degree change in the ambient temperature of an ecosystem will disrupt the entire mating/breeding/sleeping habbits of key species, thus leading to a balance shift and huge consequences.  Maybe the US should sign on to Kyoto after all...
Ren means people, and minbi (I guess) means currency, so RMB is people's currency.  "Cien" (pronounced in a Polish way) means money.
South/Middle US always fascinated me.  How, how can people still, in this day and age, believe in Adam's rib, Kain and Abel, etc?  And teachers at that, too?  People who are supposed to be objective and disseminate scientific knowledge?  For people reading about this in other countries this is more comic than tragic, and I have a feeling that they have a hard time treating the US as a truly developed country.
Cheers, Socrates
Sorry about the US rant - feeling a bit negative today (anti-stupidity feelings well up within me at times, and I then must write as above).

innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #19 dnia: Listopad 11, 2005, 05:28:16 am »
We've always been pretty crazy like this. I've come up with lots of hypotheses why this is, but I still don't understand it well. I think part of it is isolation from other people and broader perspectives, but that doesn't explain why most of Canada, despite being similarly geographically isolated and sparsely populated, has much more sensible inhabitants.

Things have been getting worse, though, since the current ruling party has spent a few decades allied with the fundamentalists for their votes.

I wonder whether it will surprise you that no politicians in the US can admit to agnosticism or atheism unless they are running for local offices in a few large cities. It's just not accepted that non-christians can be "moral". I'm somewhat cautious about who I tell that I am not a believer -- and I'm definitely more outspoken about it than most.

As for why they hate science in particular, powerful people want to be able to shape everybody else's perception of reality. (appends quote)

Renminbi: Ohh... Well, until yesterday, I thought that renminbi was a fraction of a yuan for some reason.

in this day and age: When I took science courses in the university, my classmates were nearly all christian (though generally not fundamentalists). I was very surprised, though perhaps I shouldn't have been. Some of the professors, even...

the US not a developed country:
When we were struggling to understand how we let the people of New Orleans die, some hit upon the idea that maybe it truly does make the most sense to think of the US as a third-world nation -- great wealth alongside great poverty, no social cohesion, etc.

Here's at least a local dystopia, though I'm not sure it is of the sort that is likely to spread widely: chemical contentment. A very large number of people are taking antidepressant medication and a very large number of people are taking calming medications (e.g., against "attention deficit disorder"). Although some people need them due to inherent brain chemistry problems, I think many are using them to numb their rational and natural responses to their environment. It's easier to change oneself than to change the world, but the world is the one that needs to change. (it's been too long since I read The Futurological Congress for me to tie it in with this...)
Well, "change oneself" is incorrect. More like "allow oneself to be changed".



An extra bit on reality from an article that was published last year. The author was quoting "a senior adviser to Bush":
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The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
(ellipsis in original)

Deckert

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #20 dnia: Listopad 11, 2005, 04:15:52 pm »
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Things have been getting worse, though, since the current ruling party has spent a few decades allied with the fundamentalists for their votes.


Wow, You probably don't know, but Poland was just about to elect new president and new government. Votes went to the right wing which is very closely related to catholic fundametal organizations. Actually they (the right) owe them a signifacant advancement in winning the elections. Religion shouldn't have an influence on politics. We have enough bad examples of such a marriage in history. Well, all we can do is now wait and see.

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I wonder whether it will surprise you that no politicians in the US can admit to agnosticism or atheism unless they are running for local offices in a few large cities. It's just not accepted that non-christians can be "moral". I'm somewhat cautious about who I tell that I am not a believer -- and I'm definitely more outspoken about it than most.


I've never been to the US and don't know much about internal politics in America. According to what Carl Sagan depicts in his book "Broca's Brain": The first amendment to the US Constitution supports religious diversity and doesn't exclude critisism against religions - more, it encourages to critisism. In this situation it looks like American politicians don't obey the law, or the religious convictions of quite a few people are above the law. Despite of which is right a similar situation is in Poland. Catholic church says that 80-90% of Polish society is catholic. This declaration has never been confirmed by any real examination. In my humble opinion this number is exaggerated. So when one says that he's an atheist it's somewhat strange for many people down here, who were born ,in most cases, into the catholic families. Those people in bigger part have never thought of any kind of verification of their convictions. They are the catholic (the Good People) regardless of the Bible they had never read and many other dids their God would have never approved.
I also heard of the Bible Areas in the US. Geee, this is hard to believe. But similarily in Poland a regular priest is still thought the most important person in many villages. Is this a 21st century?

Shakes? Me tooo..... ;-)

CU
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innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #21 dnia: Listopad 11, 2005, 07:32:40 pm »
I'd read that somebody on the right had won. What seemed odd to me at first was that the report said that he was the identical twin of somebody else in a politically important position. Then I remembered that, for our next election in 08, some people want the president's brother to run as the ruling party's candidate and some others want the ex-president's wife to run as the second party's candidate. There's something very strange about human psychology there...family ties or simply name recognition...

One would be legally allowed to run for office in most states, but political parties wouldn't back a nonbeliever and the people wouldn't vote for him. A couple of states still have laws requiring some sort of oath for all officeholders stating that they believe in christianity, but I'm not sure whether they could still be enforced if somebody refused.

The wording of the part of the First Amendment on religion forbids the nation from selecting an official religion or preventing people from practicing their religion. (To what degree later amendments can be construed to restrain individual states depends on the interpretation of the people who happen to be on the high courts at a given time.)

Sagan: I've been thinking about asking Terminus to try to make something based on the famous Pale Blue Dot photo, but I'm not sure whether it could work in the size of the signature images. Sagan's words when he asked us to consider that image seem beautiful to me.

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They are the catholic (the Good People) regardless of the Bible they had never read

Yes! Somehow they can feel that it defines them as good -- that because they can call themselves christian, this automatically makes all of their actions unquestionably correct and their detractors evil. It was not too long ago that I learned that most of them have never actually read their book. If you had one book that was supposed to contain all truth and moral authority, how could somebody not want to take a look at it now and then? Some have said that reading the bible is what turns the most believers into nonbelievers.

Sometimes religion seems to be nothing more than a...stick to hit one's enemies with.

[speaking of which, I just remembered the title Malleus Maleficarum]
« Ostatnia zmiana: Listopad 11, 2005, 08:25:25 pm wysłana przez innate »

Socrates

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #22 dnia: Listopad 12, 2005, 03:20:23 am »
Ah yes, the Kaczynski twins - weren't they the lead roles in "O dwoch takich co ukradli ksiezyc"?
Cheers, Socrates

innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #23 dnia: Listopad 12, 2005, 07:23:04 pm »
Here are some more. I used up my dystopian ones.

When a developing chick uses up the yolk in its egg, it is time to hatch and chase bugs. When we have used up the cheap petroleum, it will be time for us to mature as well.

Afterward? I think we can adjust. The reason that change is hard is that we naturally optimize for the current state. The US is a car culture, with employment, food, and everything else generally far from wherever we live. Economy of scale, I suppose. Our public transportation is somewhere between bad and nonexistent, but there's no reason this can't change. So there would be fewer superultramegamarts and more...neighborhoods. Descriptions of European cities make it sound like you already have this, so having local neighborhoods where you can get things must not be a lethal condition.

In a way, I hope there is change because I hate to need the big, dangerous automobile. I would like a world that is safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Honestly, though, I don't think sustainable sources of energy will be expensive enough to force very large change (and if they are expensive, our wide disparity in wealth suggests it won't be the sort of change that one would want).

I know I'm being particularly US-centric in this future, but it's the only place I know. Some worry that our food will become more expensive because everything is currently trucked/flown thousands of miles. (Insert stereotype of fat Americans here) I don't really buy this argument, since ingredients are really cheap and it's not hard to cook food for oneself. Anyway, we can often grow the food closer -- and it's not the end of the world if everybody moves away from desert cities like Las Vegas. There's no advantage to life in Vegas.

Some worry about winters in very cold places. This is a problem. Part of it, though, is our own fault in that we have huge and wildly impractical houses. We have one idea of what a house should be like, but we have all kinds of climates -- and then we wonder why it's expensive to keep it comfortable inside.




And here's a...somewhat hopeful future -- progress in a somewhat halting fashion... This one is a matter that we've already touched upon on occasion: easier communication and interaction bringing about a broader perspective.

Some people regard only their immediate family as fully human. For others, it can be town, tribe, state, nation... For some, it's anybody sharing their ideology or their ethnicity.

But on the whole, over time, the circle of humanity has widened. (I thought that the widening circle of humanity was a phrase from Dawkins, but I can't seem to find it at the moment.) Not for enough, and not far enough, but it has widened.

If you only know of other groups by what you are told by the leaders of your little group, you'll hate and fear them. If you meet some of these others, you find that they're just people.

Then again, maybe it's simply mercantile: as it became advantageous to trade with others, hatred of them began to conflict with the desire for wealth.

innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #24 dnia: Listopad 14, 2005, 12:03:46 am »
Here's another dystopia that I forgot about. We've talked about it elsewhere, so I won't say too much: distancing.

It's easier to kill people if you push a button in response to stylized abstractions on a screen. It's easier to harm your customers if you interpose layers of employees who do your bidding because it's policy and you put a layer of customer service people who have no power to change anything. It's easier to harm your citizens if you have them caged up miles away in Free Speech Zones and you never have to see their faces.

You can do more evil if you don't do it yourself. And you know what Stanley Milgram learned about obedience...

Terminus

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #25 dnia: Listopad 14, 2005, 10:12:08 pm »
I don't know.

innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #26 dnia: Listopad 15, 2005, 05:23:29 am »
Stanley Milgram was the psychologist with the famous obedience experiment. It's well worth looking around on the web for a few articles on it. He also wrote a book about it.

If I remember correctly , he started thinking about the matter of obedience because of the Nuremberg Trials. The world expected monstrous deeds to have come from people who were obviously monsters, but these seemed so much like regular unexceptional humans. In particular, the Nazis tended to emphasize that they were just doing their jobs -- and they seemed to believe what they were saying, that the fact that it was their job  somehow made their part in the murders of millions...justifiable in their minds.

The experiment:
One person (teacher) would be given the task of presenting a memory test to a second person (learner) in another room. If the learner makes a mistake, the teacher presses a button to give the learner an electrical shock. Also, for each mistake, the voltage goes up. The higher volgate levels say things like "extreme danger". The maximum was 450 V.

At a certain point, the learner starts pounding on the wall and shouting about a heart condition. Later on, there are screams of pain. Eventually the learner stops responding at all.

The teachers are freaked out by this, but there's a man there with a white lab coat telling them things like "you must continue", "it is vital to the experiment that you continue", "you have no choice", etc. The teachers are nervous and sweating and unhappy, but they generally keep going. The man in the lab coat tells them that no response is equivalent to a wrong answer, and the voltage keeps going up. A lot of people kept pressing that button at 450 V.

Of course the learner wasn't really being shocked, but think of it: the teachers just answered a newspaper advertisement, came in with the expectation of earning a few dollars for some short experiment, and suddenly they're in a position where they think they're killing a man because somebody tells them to. They had nothing to lose by walking out, but it is our nature psychologically to accept the rules of our little environment.

Beforehand, Milgram talked with other psychologists to see what they thought would happen. Everybody expected, as you probably would, that only a very few deranged people would go through with giving dangerous shocks. Our incredible obedience was a huge surprise.

We all think "I wouldn't! No way! I am no monster." and most of us are wrong. And so we learn that many (most?) monsters are merely men under a particular set of circumstances.

Surprisingly, there was a lot of talk about the ethics of the experiment. There were people who felt that it was unethical because the subjects felt distress, because they learned an uncomfortable truth about themselves. As if there were anything more important than learning the truth about ourselves, particularly the uncomfortable truth that we will only face with resistance.

(Other eye-opening experiments: 1) Asch's conformity experiment where a group of people would be asked which line is longest. The rest of the group would give a particular wrong answer. Many subjects in that position could not bring themselves to give the correct answer. This has obvious implications for jury trials. 2) Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment where some people were assigned the role of guard and others were assigned the role of prisoner. They took to their roles to a shocking degree, and the guards spent their time tormenting the prisoners.)

I know it's a very long answer to a very short question.

Terminus

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #27 dnia: Listopad 15, 2005, 02:03:15 pm »
Wow, your knowledge on this subject is just mindblowing!
It's all extremely interesting. I have recently read a book about Auschwitz (by Laurence Rees) and the matter of obedience among nazis is significant there.  

innate

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #28 dnia: Listopad 15, 2005, 05:42:53 pm »
I did have to cheat and look up some details that I couldn't remember...

Do you recommend the Rees book?

The only ones I've ever read concerning Auschwitz focused on the victims. First Viktor Frankl's book, which was all about hope and retaining your humanity, etc. ... and then Tadeusz Borowski's story collection, which was ... not. The latter made a real impression on me, and I've wondered ever since how things truly were.
« Ostatnia zmiana: Listopad 15, 2005, 06:07:55 pm wysłana przez innate »

Terminus

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Re: possible futures
« Odpowiedź #29 dnia: Listopad 16, 2005, 12:55:34 am »
Well, Borowski's stories are part of high school education here in Poland, so I've read them too. I guess they're close to the truth.
Of course I recommend Ress. The book gives large insight into the personalities of to Nazis. There are many examples where Rees emphasises the fact they were not just innocent and manipulated soldiers - they showed much initiative and creativity theirselves. So it wasn't just obedience.