[FoRK] Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool
Stephen D. Williams
sdw at lig.net
Mon Dec 3 16:21:45 PST 2012
It would take much more time than I have available this week to
properly rebut many of the points here from Nassim / Antifragile.
The fact that we still eat food, find it efficient enough in some cases
to walk, want to talk to other humans who are naturally reasonably
animated is no surprise. Except for a few cases (pervasive space and
undersea habitation perhaps) this is likely to remain for most people
for a very long time.
What these people don't get is how recent and groundbreakingly
different is even the subtle and hidden modernity we have available and
use frequently. Even when we don't make use of flying around the world
or to the moon, or extreme medical technology, we benefit from it
directly or indirectly. Just the fact that it is an option is a huge
benefit relative to the past.
Even pervasive plumbing, clean water, constant power, easy
transportation, mail, education, books(!), radio, TV, satellites, etc.
are modern. And that doesn't even get to the Internet, various
services, massively powerful mobile devices, etc. This is a
ridiculously myopic and narrow complaint about people who, having
understood the leaps of the past, look for similar leaps in the future.
The fact that actually created and accepted leaps are subtle is no
knock to their power and significance. Generally, on the contrary.
Clearly this person has a short memory, either because they are young
or can't clearly remember the past. I'm not that old and my current
world is several orders of magnitude more interesting and powerful than
my clear younger memories.
Yea, the Cessna's I learned to fly haven't changed much in 40 years
(and in fact I flew 40 year old Cessnas many times), but I could
afford, right now, the hardware that it would take to produce a self
driving electric car. That can take voice instruction. And, with
modest additional hardware and services, keep me in constant video and
even 3D connection to a significant portion of the population and
virtually all of existing knowledge any point on the planet. And
technology exists to power it for decades with a mini nuclear reactor,
Even if we didn't evolve technology much and simply concentrated on
getting things to market, our world would be much different. Techies
are alternately interested in what is possible and what is feasible, or
good entrepreneurial techies are anyway. What is possible is off the
charts already, and still accelerating. What is feasible jumps in
random ways, often trailing the possible by long periods.
Are these people really hurt so much by overblown and misguided or just
plain silly predictions that they must try to stamp them out, take away
all the fun, and insist that people stop dreaming up crazy new worlds?
Like a true visionary hasn't already heard that all the time already
and developed complete immunity.
"I've seen things you couldn't even imagine."
On Mon Dec 3 10:20:51 2012, Ken Meltsner wrote:
> These things go in cycles -- there was a period where "new" was assumed to
> be better, which kind of ignored the sheer amount of development and
Re: pesticides, ignorance of radiation, etc.: Yep.
But then we swung the other way a bit too far sometimes: nuclear power,
GMO (good to be careful, bad to be irrational).
> optimization over past centuries. I remember weird foods associated with
> the space program that were, in retrospect, pretty horrible. Detergents
Are you sure you remember what quality and availability of food was
available to the bulk of the population "back then"?
If it (oranges, guava etc.) wasn't grown locally (apples, peaches,
plums, and strawberries) or had special status (bananas), I saw very
little of it growing up. There were probably enough people for which
Tang was an upgrade that it was attractive at one point.
> still beat the crap out of old-fashioned soap, though, and I think there's
> a fair amount of specious reductionism in the article -- equating high-tech
> running "socks" with well-calloused feet seems naive at best. And beer
> produced in modern industrial processes may lack flavor, but it's
> predictably mediocre and isn't likely to be sour or skunked.
> Besides, there have been genuine innovations driven by technology in the
> oddest of places. Consider sous vide cooking which uses precise
> temperature control to change, sometimes radically, the texture and taste
> of common ingredients. You could not have done this a century or so ago
> outside of a well-equipped laboratory, and probably not even then. Now,
> you can do it at home in a well-insulated cooler or a slow cooker tricked
> out with a cheap PLC from eBay. You might not realize it, but that
> medium-rare skirt steak may have been cooked inside a plastic bag for
> several hours, and then finished at high temperature to yield the right
> amount of carbon and flavorful carcinogens.
> Ken Meltsner
> On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 11:49 AM, Reza B'Far (Oracle)
> <reza.bfar at oracle.com>wrote:
>> Wow. Is she for reals? This statement is really whacked:
>> Consider the futuristic projections made throughout the past century and a
>> half, as expressed in literary novels such as those by Jules Verne, H. G.
>> Wells or George Orwell, or in now forgotten narratives of the future
>> by scientists or futurists.
>> Uhhhhh.... Jules Verne, the same guy that predicted CORRECTLY a pretty
>> accurate depiction of a modern submarine?
>> This is not a very bright or well-rounded author. Sounds like someone in
>> their 20's who thinks they have it all figured out.... what a horrible and
>> short-sided article.
>> On 12/2/12 11:32 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
>>> Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool
>>> Futurists always get it wrong. Despite the promise of technology, our
>>> looks an awful lot like the past
>>> By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
>>> Topics: Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Books, technology,
>>> science-fiction, Life News
>>> Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool
>>> Excerpted from "Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder"
>>> Close your eyes and try to imagine your future surroundings in, say,
>>> five, 10
>>> or 25 years. Odds are your imagination will produce new things in it,
>>> we call innovation, improvements, killer technologies and other inelegant
>>> hackneyed words from the business jargon. These common concepts concerning
>>> innovation, we will see, are not just offensive aesthetically, but they
>>> nonsense both empirically and philosophically.
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