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A question to Al Gore – and his answer May 14, 2008

Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, internet, news, politics, science.
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I am very happy to post a link to my friend David’s blog, where he has a streaming video from an event in Rome, at the point where he poses a tough and interesting question to Al Gore on the accelerating debate on the Climate Crisis. Please have a look!


1. arcadianfunctor - May 14, 2008

Impressive! Personally, I am only familiar with antipodean politics: Australia, which has just swung around the cycle from the right to the left, and Kiwi politics, which is in the process of swinging from the left to the right. Of course, the head of the major centre right party is actually pro Green in rhetoric, but policy-wise one must be dubious. People have just realised that by volunteering the country to be carbon neutral, at least in the short term, is having seriously adverse effects on our economy – and the reality is that the big killer of real change is the ever growing wealth divide.

2. dorigo - May 15, 2008

Hi Kea,

conversely, I am very ignorant of the politics there. And no chance to proactively get informed! Why don’t you write a post or two on the status of things in NZ ? As for the wealth divide, it indeed is _the_ problem. But creating inequalities is process by which one stores energy in a system – destructive, usually. This is past history: I am unable to understand what will be the XXI century analogue to the revolutions of the past two centuries.


3. Guess Who - May 15, 2008

Re the XXI century analogue to the revolutions of the past two centuries, I like the arguments popularized by the likes of Kurzweil and miscellaneous transhumanists: continuing various exponential trends which have held true for centuries would bring us to a singularity roughly by year 2050. So there are two main alternatives:

1) You take the Singularity (with capital S) seriously, meaning that all the old rules cease to be relevant in 40 years or so. Fighting over scarce resources and whether they should be distributed by decree or competed for freely becomes pointless when there is more than enough of everything. The free-for-all in various forms of digital online content shows what the whole world will be like if nanotech and AI enthusiasts are ultimately proved right.

2) You interpret the singularity as just a signal that the old trends must break down, presumably because we run out of space, food, water, oil etc and fail to come up with replacements in time to prevent the collapse of civilisation. Let’s face it, there is no way this planet could support even the current human population without plentiful, cheap energy for the production of fertilizers, mechanized agriculture, transportation of food, heating and medication. Take that away, and there will be a mass dieoff back to medieval population levels. It won’t be pretty.

Presumably any planet-based technological civilisation gets to this point sooner or later. Its resolution may be the answer to Fermi’s old paradox, “Where are they?”.

4. dorigo - May 15, 2008

Hi GW,

I think your analysis is correct. One can indeed take two very different stands, and they are what you picture. I can only say that there is one very important reason to think that the former of the two alternatives is more probable: the illuministic vision that mankind, upon realizing that the pursuit of personal good can only be achieved by pursuing a common goal, unites in a positive effort, and a virtuous circle begins.

After all, there is no reason why the mechanisms of game theory that provide the seed for the creation of colonies in most life forms on this planet should not work with humanity faced with a risk of extinction.

As for the singularity, I think that reading it as a “game over” signal for mankind is indeed pessimistic. The technological advancements awaiting us are hard to stop, and they are likely to have AI at the end of the road. After that, a whole new era is bound to begin.


5. arcadianfunctor - May 15, 2008

T and GW, I guess my problem is that I see (1) and (2) as equally likely, so much depends on how we act now.

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