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Futurism (Read 1279 times)

stone

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Futurism
June 11, 2024, 08:55:40 am
Seankeany's link from the other thread https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-ezra-klein-show/id1548604447?i=1000656245602 got me thinking about futurism.

What sort of futuristic vision would appeal to you as a long (or short) term aim for humanity?

I'd like a truly circular economy so that humanity could live sustainably without degrading the natural world. We haven't lived sustainably since hunter-gather times and even then in much of the world we caused catastrophic mass extinctions of mega-fauna. My dream would be to reverse that whilst being happy and affluent.

A circular economy might require biologically engineered materials that could biodegrade at the end of their lifetimes. I suppose current fibreglass wind turbines etc add a lot of plastic detritus to the oceans etc. Perhaps using materials similar to squid beak or spider silk made by engineered seaweed or whatever would help.

At a more short term -how do we get to zeroC?
Perhaps the UK could use loads of floating offshore wind (eg >100GW), some nuclear (eg 40GW) and cryogenic energy storage to marry the two together https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.08.077
Perhaps looking deeper into the future, space-based all-the-time solar power might be transmitted down to earth?

For medicine, I suppose the huge looming threat is antibiotic resistance. We need to be able to keep ahead of our microbial foes.
It would be great if tailored anti-cancer vaccines or whatever meant we could live reliably to old age. To be honest though I'm much more a "healthy-lifespan" kind of guy than an immortality seeker.

I totally appreciate that different people have contrasting perspectives on this. I'm keen to hear!

andy moles

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#1 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 09:27:58 am
Sounds like 'futurism' has taken a bit of a walk from its original meaning..

https://www.societyforasianart.org/sites/default/files/manifesto_futurista.pdf

stone

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#2 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 09:40:21 am
Sounds like 'futurism' has taken a bit of a walk from its original meaning..
https://www.societyforasianart.org/sites/default/files/manifesto_futurista.pdf

Yes wow, I'm certainly not advocating
Quote
9. We want to glorify war - the only cure for the world - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.
10. We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice.

Oldmanmatt

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#3 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 09:59:34 am
Sounds like 'futurism' has taken a bit of a walk from its original meaning..

https://www.societyforasianart.org/sites/default/files/manifesto_futurista.pdf

So there’s a potential argument for anybody under 30 to disenfranchised and sent to compulsory “volunteering” program, until their hormones settle…

Seriously though, that’s a bit much isn’t it.

andy moles

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#4 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 10:05:41 am
Seriously though, that’s a bit much isn’t it.

Just a bit yeah  :lol:

Quite a remarkable and bonkers bit of Fascist rhetoric though isn't it.

Sorry for the distraction from stone's original post.

Tom de Gay

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#5 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 11:59:59 am
I occasionally check in with my son, who’s now 5, on his plans for saving the world. Here are some of the highlights from the last couple of years:

We can save the oceans by making plastic that is tasty for fish.

We can save the rainforests by making trees out of metal, then no-one can cut them down. To stop them rusting we will make them out of bronze. We can get the bronze from statues that have been torn down.

We can help endangered species with little huts for them. Or we can put them all together in a big hotel. The zebras don’t need to worry because the lions can just get some meat from the shop.

We can solve climate change by putting the gasses in a big house underground… oh no, that might harm the moles!
So, we can put the gasses in a big glass cube in the sky.

I’m going to start a company called Eagle and we will have a net to catch radioactive elements and particles to save the world. We are going to trap the particles in our net and put them in a secret hiding place that has no gaps. We are going to have mini robots that pick up the radioactive elements. I’m going to work on the computers and program the whole station. Everyone in my whole nursery is going to work there. Just the children are going to do the programming.

slab_happy

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#6 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 12:25:53 pm
We can solve climate change by putting the gasses in a big house underground… oh no, that might harm the moles!

I mean, that is basically what carbon capture and storage is. You should let him know he got it absolutely right, except the plan is to put the big house very very deep underground, too deep for the moles.

(The detailed discussion of the exact risks and costs/benefits of CCS might be a bit much for age 5.)

Oldmanmatt

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#7 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 12:31:08 pm
We can solve climate change by putting the gasses in a big house underground… oh no, that might harm the moles!

I mean, that is basically what carbon capture and storage is. You should let him know he got it absolutely right, except the plan is to put the big house very very deep underground, too deep for the moles.

(The detailed discussion of the exact risks and costs/benefits of CCS might be a bit much for age 5.)

I was going to say that’s mostly correct.
Substitute “Habitat” for hut, concentrate on the “not cut them down” part, etc.
Edible plastic substitutes (algae/fungus based. Got a mate involved with just that).

slab_happy

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#8 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 12:40:33 pm
Yeah -- I think there might be a few issues with photosynthesis for the recycled-statue bronze trees, but otherwise, he's got so much right, I look forwards to investing in Eagle when they go public. Very thoughtful of him to provide employment for his whole nursery.

jwi

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#9 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 02:09:25 pm
[...]
What sort of futuristic vision would appeal to you as a long (or short) term aim for humanity?
[...]
I totally appreciate that different people have contrasting perspectives on this. I'm keen to hear!

Beyond striving for basic human rights* for everyone, I am deeply suspicious of all utopia, past and present. We just have to muddle through. There are many ways to organise a society to achieve more basic

* By basic human rights I mean these, except article 15: https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights (nothing leads me to believe firmly that nation states is the best way to organise society)

Steve R

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#10 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 03:08:28 pm
What sort of futuristic vision would appeal to you as a long (or short) term aim for humanity?

Funnily enough, I just got hold of a copy of Nick Bostrom's 'Deep Utopia' last night (I'm hoping it cheers me up a bit) so might have to get back to you once I've read it but I suspect Bostrom's vision is rather more grand and further reaching than your own.






I'd like a truly circular economy so that humanity could live sustainably without degrading the natural world. We haven't lived sustainably since hunter-gather times and even then in much of the world we caused catastrophic mass extinctions of mega-fauna. My dream would be to reverse that whilst being happy and affluent.


I assume this is the ultimate dream for most/all conservationists, environmentalists, etc. (as well as misanthropes?!)  Part of me thinks it sounds great, part of me thinks it sounds terrible..... Have you considered the moral philosophy of wild animal suffering much?  It gets quite thorny quite quickly.  Natural selection by evolution is entirely amoral so  just because something's natural, does it make it 'good'?  Or worth having?  Let's say your dream is realised, we humans live sustainably (perhaps even off planet or whatever) and reverse human impacts so the Earth looks like it did say 400,000 years ago.  Are you sure that's what you want? Or the optimum setting for....what? Who benefits?  All the wild animals?  All the humans who can look at Earth now and say 'Great work guys, we've totally restored the Darwinian hell-scape to its full former glory!' And what about the next natural mass extinction event from asteroid or volcano?  Should we intervene?  Isn't that 'natural' too?  My own vision here isn't particularly firmed up but I'd lean towards some form of paradise engineering being desirable and arguably morally imperative (talking galactic scale minimum) rather than just leaving nature to do it's thing.  Said as a nature lover and awe feeler!

stone

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#11 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 04:41:27 pm
Let's say your dream is realised, we humans live sustainably (perhaps even off planet or whatever) and reverse human impacts so the Earth looks like it did say 400,000 years ago.  Are you sure that's what you want? Or the optimum setting for....what? Who benefits?  All the wild animals?  All the humans who can look at Earth now and say 'Great work guys, we've totally restored the Darwinian hell-scape to its full former glory!' And what about the next natural mass extinction event from asteroid or volcano?  Should we intervene?  Isn't that 'natural' too?  My own vision here isn't particularly firmed up but I'd lean towards some form of paradise engineering being desirable and arguably morally imperative (talking galactic scale minimum) rather than just leaving nature to do it's thing.  Said as a nature lover and awe feeler!
I'm a fan of rewilding. I love wilderness. I don't think that is so eccentric. Obviously people are going to need to live and farm etc over a fair amount of the earth though.

I'm not entirely thinking just in terms of the deep future either. I think a lot could be done to great benefit in the UK in very few years. We could also help to eg reduce deforestation elsewhere in the world by shutting Drax and limiting timber imports to certified sustainable timber etc.

stone

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#12 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 04:48:59 pm
I occasionally check in with my son, who’s now 5, on his plans for saving the world. Here are some of the highlights from the last couple of years:
We can save the oceans by making plastic that is tasty for fish.

We think alike!

Tom de Gay

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#13 Re: Futurism
June 11, 2024, 05:22:42 pm
I occasionally check in with my son, who’s now 5, on his plans for saving the world. Here are some of the highlights from the last couple of years:
We can save the oceans by making plastic that is tasty for fish.

We think alike!
I haven't yet sounded him out on Nordic style sectoral bargaining, but I'm sure you guys would get along well.

stone

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#14 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 10:03:59 am
Beyond striving for basic human rights* for everyone, I am deeply suspicious of all utopia, past and present. We just have to muddle through. There are many ways to organise a society to achieve more basic
* By basic human rights I mean these, except article 15: https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights (nothing leads me to believe firmly that nation states is the best way to organise society)
I was really struck by this and have been trying to get my head around it. I'm not even sure whether I've merely misunderstood your view.

Are you saying that any long(ish) term forward planning is wrong? Is that only by governments or also by companies or even individuals?

Do you think it is wrong to plan to avoid widespread antibiotic resistant infections? Climate change? Loss of biodiversity? What about transport infrastructure or sanitation planning?

I was especially struck by your view that we don't need nation states. In their absence what would we use as currency, who would administer that currency (if we had one) and under what juristiction and for who's benefit? Likewise with a legal system.

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#15 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 10:55:07 am
Obviously long term planning is necessary for many things, no one thinks otherwise, don't be ridiculous. Regardles of how a society is organised planning for the future will happen, we are human after all. I am quite sceptical of very long term planning though.

(It was planning for long term that attracted some intellectuals (like Ezra Pound) to facism against bourgois capitalism (hating jews also helped, of course). "With usura hath no man a house of good stone")

There are many examples of currencies not supported by a nation state. The euro for example. There are other states than nation states you know? City states on one hand, and supra national states and empires on the other hand.

stone

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#16 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 11:07:07 am
The Euro does have (more than one) nation state behind it though. It isn't as though it exists without a law making, tax levying etc authority to back it up. I actually think there are profound problems with the Euro not being clearly linked to a particular single nation state. Is it supposed to be for and accountable to the Greek population or the Germans?

Where does utopianism begin and just "reasonable" forward planning end? I suppose you could view my original post as seeking your view of what you'd like as your "reasonable" forward planning.

MischaHY

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#17 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 02:31:07 pm
Personally Stone I also would fall into the camp of viewing what we as a species want and achieve as being part of nature.

With this perspective it becomes less about preserving what ‘is’ (which from my perspective assumes a state of permanence which has no basis of proof) and more about sensibly applying our intellect and capabilities to shape the world as we would most prefer.

To be clear this could well mean simply leaving most of it alone and using technology to improve the efficiency and circular function of our safe spaces (housing, social environments, institutions etc).

Personally I would suggest a future that we can all broadly agree on would involve further developing technologies and ethics that allow us to explore whatever aspects of life seem interesting, raise future generations safely and provide everything we need to do so whilst allowing most of the life we share this planet with to take the path it would take if left broadly without interference.

I’m actually with JWI in that I don’t think there’s much sense in trying to plan very long term because it’s impossible to have a realistic sense of perspective beyond maybe 3 decades considering the exponential progression of technology.

P.s. it’s curious to me that you didn’t include fusion as the primary energy driver of the nearish future. To me it seems pretty clear that this will be the dominant power source within a reasonable window of time. 

SA Chris

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#18 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 02:38:40 pm
We're all going to live in NEOM / Mega City 1 / Asimov's "Caves of Steel" anyway. Or travel around a wasteland in a giant city that eats other cities. Or something.

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#19 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 02:40:48 pm
We're all going to live in NEOM / Mega City 1 / Asimov's "Caves of Steel" anyway. Or travel around a wasteland in a giant city that eats other cities. Or something.

London is coming…

SA Chris

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#20 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 02:43:42 pm
And Agent Smith is in charge..

Oldmanmatt

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#21 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 03:09:57 pm
We're all going to live in NEOM / Mega City 1 / Asimov's "Caves of Steel" anyway. Or travel around a wasteland in a giant city that eats other cities. Or something.

You are probably not very wrong. Give it a couple hundred years and we probably will be the one’s living in the “habitat” and the bulk of the planet’s surface would be essentially wild. Population control will have to be faced sooner rather than later (I’d guess my Grandchildren will be the first generation to see inducement to either not reproduce or to reproduce at population stable levels).
Just as the world is very different today, than it was 200 years ago, so it will be unrecognisable to us if we could see it from here.
Look at the various forms of government and society that we have experimented with since 1824.

Christ, I can imagine trying to explain Dubai to my Great grandfather. Shit, if I could bring 10 year old me here, he’d be gobsmacked. Probably he’d be stumped at “yeah, the Soviet Union collapsed”  and that would happen within 10 years of his time.

Edit: That does rather assume enough people survive what’s coming in the next 20-50 years…

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#22 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 03:12:48 pm
Alright Grandpa... ;P

SA Chris

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#23 Re: Futurism
June 12, 2024, 05:17:04 pm
Likely to be asked by our grandkids, "Grandad, what was snow like?" :(

 

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