Wednesday, January 12, 2011

365.12 Cold Fountain

Damn it's cold outside. I mean, I know I live in FL and shouldn't have a right to complain about a day that doesn't actually drop below 40*F all day long. However, to me that is crazy cold. This picture was taken in front of the performing arts center at UF just before going inside to see a presentation entitled "The Singularity is Near" by noted futurist, inventor, and generally famous person Ray Kurzweil.

The presentation I felt could have been significantly shorter had Ray not simply reiterated everything his film was going to say in his initial presentation. It could have FELT shorter had he simply presented NEW information that wasn't in his film. However, neither of those things happened, so we sat listening to Ray talk for about an hour, and then we watched a film in which most of the same facts were restated--sometimes verbatim--which had been written and co-directed by Ray himself.

I found some of his ideas very compelling and uplifting. For example he stated that given the general trend towards exponential growth in the IT industry, we could expect that within a decade to have developed the technology to harness solar energy efficiently enough to satisfy the entire world's power needs. That is a fantastic notion! However, I fear that some of the things he talked about--namely the elimination of all biological causes of human suffering within 30 years--to be at leas a little bit disturbing. I believe that part of what differentiates us as humans is our propensity towards suffering. That we are designed to be able to feel that suffering and deal with it, that it grants us opportunities to discover things about ourselves that we normally wouldn't have discovered. Taking that away could be dangerous to us as a species.

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