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04/26/2013

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Adam Noel

I'll watch the TED talks if I have the chance later today but usually I turn them off out of disgust. Why is it that all conversations about the human future assume with the discussion of more? Why is more assumed to be the same as human happiness? Do these people really think if only we buy some more shit so we can throw some more shit in the ocean we'll finally reach a state of nirvana?

If only we race with the machines, right? That's what they'll tell me. I just need to become more dependent on this horrible society... have my job further automated and do increasingly disempowered work. I just need to jump in my SUV in the morning, drive 20 kilometers, sit in an office and dying from inactivity.

This is progress, right? If it isn't progress then there's something horribly wrong with society. If all this shit we've accomplished has made us, in all likelihood, misreable... no, we can't think about that... right? This must be good. This is the only good possible.

All our conversations are framed around the notion of progress.

Ken Barrows

I'll listen later, too, but I bet they don't address how to increase GDP without increasing total debt even faster. If one of them does, I'll eat my hat.

danp

Sir,
In case you haven't seen this, another perspective regarding the religion of progress: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ (Wed 4/24/13 entry)

Alexander Ač

DanP,

yes, some of us have already read that, also Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform starts his piece with a nice quote from Aldoux Huxley:

"The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. ..." -- read there. http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=52862

For some reader full movie of 'Chasing Ice' might be worth watching!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ajFoSPgCtpw

Alex

Dave Cohen

@Danp

It is a pity that the essay you cite, which contains many useful insights, was written by

1) a person who styles himself "the archdruid" and represents the "Ancient Order of Druids In America", which undermines any credibility he might have and tells me all I need to know about him.

and

2) a person who never provides links to outside sources or documents anything he writes because his overriding purpose is to keep all of your attention riveted on him and the possible purchases of books he has written. He is intentionally vague; you can't pin him down on anything. That keeps 'em coming back for more.

Furthermore, I find it a pity that both these points splendidly exemplify typical human behavior, which, basically, is disgusting to me. He is trying to sell you something.

If humans can't get past this kind of behavior, they will never save themselves and most of the biosphere. Not that I expect any change to be forthcoming.

Finally, I find it disturbing that some readers of DOTE do not find these observations of the "archdruid" problematic, troubling and off-putting.

I will say this for Greer -- he is certainly the cleverest peak oil doomer I've ever run across.

-- Dave

Jim

I've added a few Lasch books to my reading list as a result of the comments and DOTE links yesterday - but it'll take me a while to get there.

On Progress, one can see its full madness in the imaginings of Ray Kurzweil. A less virulent form is Peter Diamandis, but he believes we're headed towards an "age of abundance". These speakers, and the TED platform in general, are serving primarily to ease the concern amongst those who know we have problems but who wish to believe we can and will solve them.

My great fear, truthfully, is that we somehow do continue this Progress unabated for 100+ years. I don't believe that will happen, but if it does I just see further and further degradation of our living conditions and what one might term humanity's "soul". I generally subscribe to Ronald Wright's thoughts on the matter.

There was a Youtube video a while back that I found much more horrifying than hopeful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceEog1XS5OI

I'm more a fan of this series by the Onion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkGMY63FF3Q

Dave Cohen

@Jim

Thank you changing the subject to something which is actually important and appropriate.

Yes, Kurzweil is at the extreme end of the Progress religion. The two speakers in the TED videos are more centrist, although the optimist is certainly moving toward Kurzweil territory.

Ronald Wright is another critic of Progress I've cited on this blog. I have recommended his book A Short History Of Progress.

I highly recommend that Onion video (and others in that series) -- 5 stars.

-- Dave

Dave S. Nottear

This thread is already a Gem to be bookmarked.

We should consider adding this one to the discussion.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22002530

"Dr Bostrom says there is a real gap between the speed of technological advance and our understanding of its implications.

"We're at the level of infants in moral responsibility, but with the technological capability of adults," he says.

As such, the significance of existential risk is "not on people's radars".

But he argues that change is coming whether or not we're ready for it.

"There is a bottleneck in human history. The human condition is going to change. It could be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology.

"It's not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub."

Ben

ty for the book recommendation, def have to read it.

Wheelerlucas

Aloha --

Dave,

Because he is a tenured prof, George Mobus, tends to be long-winded. But, by the stands of his profession, he does write with clarity.
I bring this particular posts, by the good professor, to your attention because he, drags in to the discussion:

A. Our alleged universal need for meaning.
B. Deep evolutionary theory.
C. He talks about sex {well he does bring up evolution}.

http://questioneverything.typepad.com/question_everything/2013/04/can-we-envision-future-homo-eusapiens.html

A question for you, O wise one, if evolved cleverness is the Fall, and the impending population bottleneck is the Tribulation, does that mean E.O. Wilson is Jesus Christ?

A hui hou ...

Lucas.

Oliver

Sorry to vomit this out, but the self-satisfied ArchDrip is another Wizard of Oz, all bluster and pomposity and always hawking his wares, as you say. When I had the audacity to comment that religions should be seen as societal control mechanisms, his highness really offended me by responding that I was one-dimensional and my views were "unhelpful." JFC.

Needless to say, I have purged that blog from my ever-diminishing bookmarks tab.

Ken Barrows

OK, I listened to Dr. (I guess) Brynjolfsson. It was excruciating. It's not that what he said was untrue. It's that "productivity" is only a measure of eliminating labor. It's that he never mentioned energy. It's another person focusing on Moore's Law and ignoring the rest.

Ken Barrows

I also listened to Dr. Gordon. I get to keep my hat intact. Both doctors, I infer, think that energy is limitless and the biosphere/atmosphere is not an issue.

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