More Than Human by Ramez Naam
Naam's recently published book More Than Human is a chronicle and prediction of current research and production of biotech and nantech investigations and treatments. His thesis is that not only are these inevitable developments, but they are necessary to human survival.
I haven't read his work yet, but would add that my own ideas see transhumanism as inevitable and already in motion. Not only that, I'm certain that we will look back on this time as the dawn of a golden age, in which individual humans take over their own random genetic development and apply thought and consideration to fate's previously haphazard process.
I've got to get this book -- it sounds wonderful.
On Thursday, March 3rd, I had the chance to hear a lecture by John Dobson, founder of the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers Association, and all around cantankerous cosmologist, sponsored by the Minnesota Astronomical Society. His lecture was quite a trip, and well worth driving around the MN State High School Hockey Championship crowds filling the streets of downtown St. Paul.
Dobson is 89 years old yet quite spry, and has spent most of his life helping people discover the wonders of astronomy and the night sky.
He is also a former Vedanta monk who was asked to leave his order for doing astronomy rather than the sanctioned holy work.
His "Bang Free Cosmology" refers to his contention that Big Bang theory is a complete waste of effort, while his own "theory" seems rather short of proof and long on the supernatural explanation. He's cadgy about mentioning "god" or "gods" and instead refers to the Sanskrit physicists from 4,000 years ago as being on the right track.
I wasn't convinced of much, primarily becasue his major rhetorical device was to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY when he was trying to help us break through to his version of numerous theoretical positions. Usually he just played very fast and loose with his numbers and his formulas. I'd have preferred if he had talked more about telescope building. Oh well.
Most of the Minnesota Astronomical Society membership is a bit more sophisiticated than what he seemed to imply, so I'm not sure that his theory convinced anyone.
But I wouldn't have missed seeing the telescope maker whose name graces one of the most popular telescope designs of the last 30 years. It was fun.
Hey! I'm entering this via the Clie and NetFront -- and now to see if it works.
KurzweilAI.net "...features the big thoughts of today's big thinkers examining the confluence of accelerating revolutions that are shaping our future world, and the inside story on new technological and social realities from the pioneers actively working in these arenas.... Although the "AI" in the title of this site suggests Ray Kurzweil's work in "artificial intelligence," it's intended here to refer to the far broader world of "accelerating intelligence" in all of its diverse forms. The quickening pace of our knowledge and intelligence will ultimately alter the nature of what it means to be human.
KurzweilAI.Net focuses on the exponential growth of intelligence, both biological and machine, and the merger of the two in a post-humanist future."
Unbounding the Future: the Nanotechnology Revolution by Eric Drexler and Chris Peterson
"Nanotechnology. The science is good, the engineering is feasible, the paths of approach are many, the consequences are revolutionary-times-revolutionary, and the schedule is: in our lifetimes. But what? No one knows but what. That's why a book like this is crucial before molecular engineering and the routine transformation of matter arrives. The technology will arrive piecemeal and prominently but the consequences will arrive at a larger scale and often invisibly.
Perspective from within a bursting revolution is always a problem because the long view is obscured by compelling immediacies and the sudden traffic of people new to the subject, some seizing opportunity, some viewing with alarm. Both optimists and pessimists about new technologies are notorious for their tunnel vision."
The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution by John Brockman
"The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are."
The Book of Sand: A Hypertext/Puzzle by Jorge Luis Borges
"This web site contains, in eight randomly numbered pages, the text of Jorge Luis Borges' story The Book of Sand (as translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni), with pictures and animations based on old engravings and photographs. It is, I hope, an intriguing presentation of one of Borges' lesser-known works. But it also offers a unique opportunity for readers to interact with the story. The Book of Sand site is a hypertext, with a nonlinear structure and dynamic images....not one of his most famous fictions, but its central enigma may be Borges' most directly prescient metaphor for the Web: its pages are uncountable, ever-changing, without beginning or end."