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The nature of extinction & minds, and recreating dinos
In reply to various subjects on the nature of extinction, minds, space
Humans do not have total free will, so we cannot fully control all the
actions of our society vis-a-vis the environment. The human mind is only
marginally rational, because
it is controlled too much by its unconscious chemical systems and set neural
pathways. Add to that the chaos of mass society and all we can do is muddle
through. This does not mean we should give up on saving the whales, etc., it
just means we should acknowledge our limitations and not expect miracles of
old H. sapiens.
The lesson of the dinosaur and other extinctions for us today is that
extinctions, even mass extinctions are normal, and that the extreme view that
we have ruined the planet is just not true by objective measures.
Paleontology is not, therefore, a simple tool for environmentalism, but is a
double edged sword that can be used by both sides of the debate. People may
not like it, but that's the way it is.
Yes, artifical systems can be both artifical and natural at the same time.
Many things in our universe have a dualistic nature, after all, nature is
complex and multi-faceted.
Conscious minds are themselves natural, and although describing what they
produce as artifical is conv
enient and useful, everything natural minds produce is also in the end -
natural. It is not surprising that cybertechnolgies are converging with
natural systems as we speak. DNA is a quaddigital computer, and it is now
being used to do calculations beyond the abilities of bidigital machines.
Cray Inc is already looking into how to build human level computers combining
protein switches with semi-conductors in 20-30 years. Analog-digital chips
that mimic neurons have been made. Sometime in the 21st
cent all this is going to come together and there will be a cyberbeing that
will be happy to tell you how it is as alive and natural as you are!
As for emotions, a recent article in Natl Geograph explained that they are
nothing more than chemistry. There is no magic or "spirituality" involved.
Contra our mentally disable friend Data, c
yberminds will be more emotional than we are, just as we are more emotional
than chimps, which are more emotional than cats, which are more emotional
than fish, and so on.
Humans in space are impractical because of the great mass of their bodies
and life support systems, plus the need for fail safe systems, makes it far
more expensive to put human minds in space than robotic minds. An intelligent
robot will actually directly experience the vacuum
of space and the airs of distant worlds -
it will not be
isolated in some damn suit or ship!
So the mass of humanity downloading their minds into cybersystems in one
hundred years is a "fringe" idea. Sure it is, just like the folks who one
hundred years ago
who thought that millions would be flying across oceans in metallic ships of
in the mid-20th century were on the "fringe". It is amazing people make these
semi-Luddite comments using high powered PCs no one dreamed of 30 yrs ago
connected by a global communications system! With the cost of computers
declining exponentially, and nanotechnology coming on line, it will be
cheaper to become
a cybersystem in a hundred years than it is to buy a car today. After all, m
y grandmother, who is 95 and grew up near the Cleveland-Lloyd dino quarry in
Utah, rode horse
s, and did not see a car until she was 10. Much as the bison are just a few
today, humans will be a remnant species in the near future (which may allow
the bison to come back).
Which brings us to the speculations (emphasized the following are extreme
speculations!) by some physicists that cybertechnologies might be used to see
dinosaurs either by replicating the Earth's history in a neutron star
computer, or by recapturing all the information in the universe in the
infinite cybertime just before the final recollapse, or via time travel.
Don't hold your breath on these ideas though.