Tag Archives: Futurology

What Will it Take for Humanity to Survive? (And Why is Trump Such a Complete Bellend?)

The first question is one we’ve considered from various angles over the years on this blog.  The second is, of course, timely – although the important emphasis here is on the ‘complete’.  As we’ll see, they’re very, very connected!

Trying to pursue a socialist argument in a world largely sold on capitalism is always a struggle.  You have to deal with every issue and answer every question in line with the rules of Monopoly, but you don’t want to play Monopoly: it’s a stupid game – there are far better ones – but no-one understands you – or wants to understand you – unless you do.

  • Q:  So, Jeremy, how will your policies ensure that the UK GDP continues to grow after Brexit?
  • A:  I don’t particularly care if it does. It’s a physical law that nothing can increase exponentially for ever: something goes ‘bang’ in the end. We need to look beyond economics for the real answers.

But, of course, if Jeremy says that, he gets carted off to a rest home.  So, instead, he has to pretend that he’s interested in GDP, and that taxing Starbucks will help it.  Well, it might or it might not – that’s close to irrelevant – but, already, we’re having to have the debate on their terms.

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The Singularity (Still) Isn’t Simple!

The ‘Technological Singularity’ debate rolls on with the publication of a special issue of MDPI’s ‘Information’ Journal: “AI AND THE SINGULARITY: A FALLACY OR A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?”

Papers published in the special edition, to date, include:

One of the papers, with an outlook (entirely unsurprisingly) in line with this blog is Vic Grout‘s, “The Singularity isn’t Simple! (However we look at it) A random walk between science fiction and science fact”.  The abstract reads as follows:

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‘THAT Won’t Happen!’

In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder and CEO of DEC, made an oft-misapplied statement, “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”.  A favourite of introductory college computing modules – supposedly highlighting the difficulty in keeping pace with rapid change in computing technology, it appears foolish at a time when personal computers were already under development – including in his own laboratories.  The quote is out of context, of course, and applies to Olsen’s scepticism regarding fully-automated assistive home technology systems (climate control, security, cooking food, etc.).  However, as precisely these technologies gain traction, there may be little doubt that, if he stands unfairly accused of being wrong in one respect, time will inevitably prove him so in another.

So, in short:

  • Yes, he did say that
  • No, that wasn’t quite what he meant
  • He wasn’t (obviously) wrong at the time
  • He is now/will be soon

So what?

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Conscious

Now available as eBook and paperback

What makes something sentient?  What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord?  Is it a gift from God or hard science?  Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size?  There are many models, of course.  But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!

Oh, wait …!

The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel.  (See http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/vicgrout)

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Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future.  The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before.  People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated.  But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why.  What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!

A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer.  But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true.  And that’s only the start.  Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it.  And not everyone is on their side!

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