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« The Jetsons & the Nanofactory | Main | Maintaining Equilibrium »

August 23, 2006


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Jan-Willem Bats

I don't think it was good PR man.

Did Kurzweil know what he was getting into?

Brian Wang

Its the Daily Show - comedy. They tried to be funny - not a surprise.


For some reason, that episode's missing from my DVR. What made it "bad PR"? Did he come across as a crackpot? Too many "futurists" do just that.

Typically, it's only in part because of the ignorance of the non-futurist...a more important part is that so many futurists -- not their ideas, the men themselves -- are indeed crackpots.

One sign of this is when one suffers from Certainty Syndrome. Instead of correctly saying "some people speculate that humanity's technological advancements could reach a sort of snowball point", they say something like "we will reach a technological singularity by 2040."

In reality, we can't even solidly define what the singularity might /be/, or even IF it will ever happen, much less sagely announce that it is due by some date or other.

For perspective, consider the biggest sufferers of Certainty Syndrome: conspiracy theorists.

There is nothing insane about distrusting the government's version of the Kennedy assassination. Nor wondering if they've covered up some kind of evidence of alien life. Heck, not even the 9-11 conspiracy theories are actually nuts.

What is insane is when some guy gets up and says "They're definitely hiding alien bodies at precise location X", et cetera, rattling off the details of some theory as if he could possibly know for certain, or even be able to weigh a decent likelyhood of it being true.

We don't KNOW that a specific conspiracy theory is true. It's just a guess, unverifiable almost by definition. Keeping an open mind that it might be true is rational and wise. Feeling certain it's true is irrational, at least bordering on insane.

This applies even more to any announcement of what the future holds. Perhaps that conspiracy theorist really did see some kind of hard evidence. The futurist, on the other hand, by definition cannot possibly have any hard evidence. He is absolutely doing nothing more than guessing, however educated he thinks his speculation might be.


Does anyone know where we could download or view this interview? I like to keep stuff like this (much like Aubrey De Gray's 60 min) on file.


To download, Check Howard Lovy's Nanobot nanotechnology blog; I'd provide a link, but I do not want kill his bandwidth.

Jan-Willem Bats

Do a search on youtube.com

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