“I think it very likely — in fact inevitable — that biological intelligence is only a transitory phenomenon, a fleeting phase in the evolution of the universe. If we ever encounter extraterrestrial intelligence, I believe it is overwhelmingly likely to be post-biological in nature.”—Paul Davies
Future Economics of Inheritance (or The Coming Wealth of Youth)
The media is continually talking about how crazy the world is going to be once we all start getting old and there are relatively less people in the workforce. This is only a slight problem now, but once the population plateaus in the mid-21st century at about 9 billion, this ‘problem’ is going to be huge as there will become similar numbers of those entering retirement as those in the workforce…. but I wonder if anyone remembers inheritance in all these calculations? Having unprecedented numbers of old people also means there is going to be unprecedented trillions of dollars of wealth transfer from old to young as these old-timers die off…. So what may seem like a drain on resources in the short-term (supporting the retired) may actually become a boon to future generations. As population growth slows, and the fertility rate drops below 2, there become, for the first time in history, less people to receive (or split up) the total value of inheritance than there are people to provide it (by kicking the bucket). Instead of splitting up your 2 parents excess life savings amongst 2+ children, at this future point it would be split up amongst less than 2 (it is actually a lot lower than this in the developed world… around 1.3 in Australia, 1.05 in Taiwan! Population growth is largely driven by immigration.) So…. as we go through the 21st century, there will come a point where inheritance gets divided up equally, where the total worth of two people get split up between 2 people (when the average birthrate is 2 kids per 2 adults) and past this point, the total worth of 2 people gets split up between less than two people. Assuming they are lucky enough to live in a country that has mandatory superannuation (which I think may possibly be every major nation bar the US), people in general will suddenly be copping windfalls as the rate of inheritance per person rises….. would this actually offset any downward turn due to supporting an old population? Would it usher in a golden age? Will it pay off my credit card debt? Will a stable population pay off our national debts?
I’d really like someone to model it for me. I would myself, but I gotta PhD to work on! Thats just a brainfart of an idea for the moment.
“We are all now born again as code drifters traveling to a still unknown technological destiny, a destining somewhere beyond the utopian vision of indefinite expansion and the dystopian specter of a violent, apocalyptic contraction.”—Arthur Kroker
Although improvements were observed in every one of the cognitive tasks that were trained, no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related.
“As humans rely on the Internet for all aspects of our lives, our ability to think increasingly depends on fast, reliable applications. The web is our collective consciousness, which means web operators become the brain surgeons of our distributed nervous system. Each technology we embrace makes us more and more reliant on the web … For much of the Western world, technology, culture, and society are indistinguishable … Today’s web tells you what’s interesting. It learns from your behavior. It shares, connects, and suggests. It’s real-time and contextual. These connected systems augment humanity, and we rely on them more and more while realizing that dependency less and less … Take away our peripheral brains, and we’re helpless. We’ll suddenly be unable to do things we took for granted, much as a stroke victim loses the ability to speak … A slow-down will feel like collective Alzheimers.”—Alistair Croll
So yeah, I’m slowly going through films I’d already seen but haven’t seen for a long time along my thematic lines…. this be one of those.
Gattaca. It is an exploration of the tension between genetically modifed and non-genetically modified humans in the future. It is a Hollywood production so it does go through the glitches appropriate to that disease, such as barely-useful love story and corny bits here and there, but even not ignoring those, Gattaca stands firm and proud, like a lion standing on its rear legs looking wistfully, with a single tear, into a distant sunset. One theme in the movie is the ‘hair’, what will I do with this hair? It contains your genetic code and I can learn all about you if I have the hair… but do I choose determinism or leave it to chance? I think this is a false choice, because genetics is only statistically determinate not individually, but I can’t imagine anyone else but me jumping up and spilling popcorn over everyone in a 4 metre radius in protest. I choose the Hair but I also choose Chance! CAPITAL LETTERS! Take that Gattaca!
Amongst some of the yellowest films of recent note, Avalon contains the same prerequisite crusty pipes and nicotine fetishes of it’s cyberpunk-esque family, but does pull-off its own unique sepia-esque version of the genre. It contains the ‘Am i more real in the game than in the real’ meme going on. Does a great job of not overdoing the story or the dialogue, while providing a nice, albeit yellow, 1930s with computers ambiance which is the only reason you’d really be watching it. The movie also improves and surprises as it moves along. Thumbs up from me.
“* The purpose of a computer is to help you do something else.
* The best computer is a quiet, invisible servant.
* The more you can do by intuition the smarter you are; the computer should extend your unconscious.
* Technology should create calm.”— Mark Weiser
Hmmmmm, I wonder what criteria would be used to decide between saving me and a bunch of other people. Yeah yeah yeah, we are all equal and all that (no we aren’t) but when you come down to the line and have to choose between Roger the dapper hairdresser from Western Sydney or Beatrice the pseudomasculine tailor from Outer Broadsmeadows, on what criteria would you judge? Of course discluding the obvious easy outs such as genetic relations, race and language…. if I studied which people a large enough population would decide to survive, would I find out something about our innate morals? I’m sure its not arbitrary! Hmmmmm…. I’m gonna have to scratch my chin on that one *scratches chin* Carry on.