Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Sci Fi News: from Cli-Fi to Post-humanism

On ZDNet, Simon Bisson offers up a cool list  of “26 essential science fiction novels to get you ready for tomorrow.”  It’s a great list, with works by Vinge, Brunner, Sterling, Stross, Naam, Stephenson, Nagata and others… though in a couple of cases I am a bit biased.

An interesting article asks10 science-fiction, speculative fiction, urban fantasy and dystopian authors to answer a single question: What will the next 10 years bring? 

How about a museum for the future? Actor John Rhys-Davies spends less than one minute entertainingly haranguing us all to support the new Museum of Science Fiction, planned for Washington DC!  

Isaac Asimov reads aloud his short story "The Last Question" in one sitting. It appeared in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly and Asimov said it was "by far my favorite story of all those I have written."

Here’s a cute rumination.  You are offered eight different – mutually exclusive – superpower pills....Would you take the red pill, the blue pill, or the black pill? This notion is turned into a fun little story by Scott Alexander.

An interesting report on the increasing number of Native American and First Nations characters showing up as comic book superheroes.

==What Comes Next? ==

Who Will Inherit the Earth? David Tormsen offers an interesting rumination on who — or what — might replace humanity, someday. Here’s an excerpt that interests me, for obvious reasons:

"Uplifted Animals —The idea of raising animal species to human intelligence is an old one that dates back to H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr Moreau. Cordwainer Smith imagined uplifted animals as an oppressed underclass fighting for their rights, while David Brin’s Uplift series presented a universe where almost all intelligent creatures owed their sapiency to patron species, with humanity exploring the universe with intelligent apes and dolphins at its side....  

Some theorists, such as George Dvorsky, argue that we have a moral imperative to raise other species to our level of intelligence once we possess the technological means to do so. Dvorsky points to modern efforts to have great apes be granted the legal right of “personhood,” and he asserts that the natural next step would be to give non-human animals the cognitive faculties for self-determination and participation in a society of sentient creatures. The human monopoly on sentient thought gives us an unfair and unjust advantage over our animal neighbors, and if the means exist to allow non-humans like apes, dolphins, and elephants to achieve the cognitive means of political participation, it is our moral duty to extend it to them."

David Tormsen continues, “Others disagree. Alex Knapp believes that the costs in terms of animal life would be too high to justify it. In order to uplift a species, it would be necessary to make changes to the DNA on an embryonic level, leading to inevitable failed attempts before we got it right. Then there is the question of how to ensure that a successfully uplifted embryo would be gestated. Such experimentation would be morally wrong, with the potential for intelligent animals suffering physical abnormalities and early death due to human meddling. Even if successful, human beings would have no way to cope with the social and emotional needs a sapient chimpanzee, bonobo, or parrot would have. In other words, uplifted animals could be left emotionally traumatized due to ham-handed attempts by humans to raise them.  Some also worry that problematic aspects of certain species’ natures, such as chimpanzees’ violence and dolphins’ inclination for rape, would carry on into their intelligent forms. Some argue that intelligent self-awareness is an ecological niche that can only sustainably hold a single species, explaining why the Neanderthals and our other human cousins were wiped out …and assimilated. Creating intelligent animals could create evolutionary competition for humanity by potentially traumatized creatures with mental processes and value systems that we may not even be able to comprehend.”

Huh.  A balanced two paragraph cover on the idea.  Still. George is right.  Not only is it worth the risk, the worst thing we could do is ban such endeavors so that they will be done anyway, but in secret -- and therefore stupidly -- exactly the Crichton scenario I depicted in EXISTENCE.


== Visions of the Future == 

An interesting bio-piece on Peter Thiel - law professor, libertarian philosopher and investor: “One way you can describe the collapse of the idea of the future is the collapse of science fiction,” Thiel said. “Now it’s either about technology that doesn’t work or about technology that’s used in bad ways. The anthology of the top twenty-five sci-fi stories in 1970 was, like, ‘Me and my friend the robot went for a walk on the moon,’ and in 2008 it was, like, ‘The galaxy is run by a fundamentalist Islamic confederacy, and there are people who are hunting planets and killing them for fun.’ ” 

And sure, Thiel's both brilliant and insightful -- especially about the plague of dozoisian angst that has festered in science fiction for decades, sneering at a now-seldom-seen can-do spirit. Still, he also misses the point. We progress by both believing we can solve problems and by relentlessly pointing out problems to solve. 

The real sin of the angst-merchants is not their wanting to issue warnings. It is the boringly-tedious sameness and lack of originality of their jeremiads.

In contrast -- somewhat -- a subset of science fiction called “Cli-Fi” concentrates on tales about the effects  of climate change. Dan Bloom, long a promoter of this trend, writes here about the growing number of academic/pundit voices who are using the term. Early examples go back to E. M. Forster's The Machine Stops (1909) and J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World (1962); more recent Cli -Fi novels include Paolo Bacigalupi's The Wind-up Girl, my own Earth, Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain, Ian McEwan's Solar, Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, John Barnes's Mother of Storms, Stephen Baxter's Flood, and Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood -- all charting possible, often dire, environmental scenarios to come.

Femismo? It's the proper name of an entirely different view of sexual relations that aims not (as feminism does) at equality, but at altering the status quo in definitely unequal ways. Perhaps for the better! I am willing to read solidly delivered arguments that male dominance should not just be eliminated, but reversed into female dominance! There is a very strong femismo literary tradition in SF.  Here's a rumination that would certainly solve the "problem of maleness." But this goes too far... Humanity should be 90% female? Fortunately, most of this person's commenters are offended.  Still, given the blotchy record of male dominance, one can hardly blame some for fantasizing...

I did something similar in GLORY SEASON... only I portrayed it being done without violence or apocalypse or rancor, simply with some mild tweaking of reproductive processes — (most of the year, women only conceive their own clones) — not castration!  Seriously, see how it plays out!  The important thing is that SF should be about gedankenexperimentation (thought experiments) -- and uncomfortable ones too!  So long as they are done in a spirit of vigorous exploration and plausability and a sense of ultimate justice.

== Brin-news ==

My second short story collection, Otherness, is now back in print -- with a beautiful cover by Patrick Farley -- and some of my best stories including Dr. Pak's Preschool, Detritus Affected, The Giving Plague, Piecework, and Sshhh... 

A new audio version of my first story collection The River of Time, beautifully narrated by my friend, actor Stephen Mendel, is now available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. The River of Time was also recently re-released in print and ebook formats. 

And, I have a new... third short story collection - the best yet - to be released soon!

== Sci Fi Snippets ==

Up the Amazon with the BS Machine: Wow, this is the Ursula K. LeGuin we all know, leveling her spear at a giant and yelling defiance at the marketing of literature.  

The original movie script for 2001. Fascinating.  It includes some different lines and includes the narration that Kubrick later dropped.

Christian Cantrell has released a new work of Hard SF: Equinox, a sequel to his earlier Containment, also works as a stand-alone novel. Equinox portrays a dystopian future with a bifurcated humanity: tensions boil over between a dwindling population who remain living in habitats on an environmentally devastated Earth and the Coronians, space-born descendants of scientists and engineers who were stranded aboard the orbiting ring station Equinox, when a planet-wide catastrophe struck. Their symbiotic inter-dependence - trading Space-Based Solar Power for land-based resources to be used in Molecular Assemblers -- is threatened when the Coronians upset the fragile balance of power with a desperate act...

Eric Dallaire’s sci fi novel SHADES considers a different kind of zombie. Dead people who leave debts must work them off as their corpse does manual labor, reviewed in Publisher's Weekly.  

A Chinese gaming and mobile Internet company has built its headquarters in the style of the USS Enterprise.

Five one-hit wonders of science fiction!” a cool rundown on YouTube by Tony Smith of StarshipSofa.

Order your Ray Bradbury bookends – made from wood salvaged from Ray’s recently torn-down Cheviot Hills home. 

The Second International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots will be held November 16th, 2015 | Advances in Computer Entertainment (ACE) 2015, Iskandar, Malaysia.  

Someone wrote in to ask if the old “Brin-L” discussion group still exists.  If so, it is one of the oldest communities on the web!  I did find the still active cover page … http://brin-l.com/  (That’s an “L”.)  Anyone care to try and join and see what happens? Report back!

Beyond Time - a free Science Fiction writing contest open for submissions. Accepting old and new stories of any length, both published and unpublished. Authors retain all rights to any and all works submitted in the contest.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

If we develop technological means of increasing our own intelligence, seems likely that such (hypothetical) techniques could work for lower animals. A dog might be implanted with a chip emulating human level brain functions that they currently lack. Canines are my first choice, we have already spent thousands of years molding them into loyal companions. Such a "person" might view their pre-sentient life as a kind of childhood or vague infancy. Imagine the conversation between an uplifted house pet and someone born with Down's Syndrome only to be "cured" later in adulthood. All while riding dolphinback on a terraformed Venus!

Would/should we raise them as if they were our own kids? We certainly treat our pets as if they were our children. Or should give them the rudiments of stone working and leave them alone for a dozen millennia or so and see what happens? How would we feel if our own "master race" showed up one day and remarked on how well we had developed without their interference/guidance? Was creating our own sense of what Humanity means really worth the billions of short, brutish lives of our forefathers? Well I guess that is what the Matrix is for, just keep running simulations until something interesting and novel pops up.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

Anonymous said...

David, I am reading EXISTENCE right now. I can't believe that you would post any plot spoilers in your blog. WTF!! ;), John

David Brin said...

John puh-lease. Nothing was spoiled. You'll see.

Meanwhile, want to see images of the characters? Nothing is really spoiled here either: Have a look at the amazing video preview-trailer for Existence, with incredible art by Patrick Farley! See: http://www.tinyurl.com/exist-trailer

DANIELBLOOM said...

Dr. Brin, thanks for the shout out on cli fi authors J.G.Ballar, Paolo Bacigalupi[WINDRUP GIRL and his new THE WATER KNIFE too) your own very well done "Earth", Kim Stanley Robinson's 40 Signs of Rain, Ian McEwan's Solar, Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, and Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Food -- all charting possible environmental scenarios to come. I discovered a new cli fi novelist in Sweden, too, this week, named Jesper Weithz, and his novel came out in 2012 in Swedish only so far, titled "THAT WHICH IS NOT GROWING IS DYING". Google his name. Lots of good cli fi coming out of European nations in non-English novels, too.

Ross said...

"Anyone care to try and join and see what happens? Report back!"

Well, the page you linked to has some interesting text, but NO menu and NO subscribe button. I don't see how exactly we're supposed to try and join. This looks like a cenotaph on a permanently dead list to me.

Ross said...

So, archive.org showed an older version of the page that did have a menu, and subpages, and the subscription address brin-l-subscribe@topica.com. I've sent a mail there. We'll see what happens.

Paul SB said...

I just looked over the "Femismo" links and the trailer for Glory Season, which I haven't read yet. It seems fairly clear that the lady who came up with this is on the lunatic fringe, though reading the comments section shows that most were not really reacting with anything else but ire. It reminded me, though, of other possibilities. When I was in grad school I was interested in a chain of islands just north of Crete, but because of the geographic and cultural connections, I found myself getting an earful of radical feminist speculation (and ire). The ancient Minoan Civilization is a darling of the radical feminist, even though their purported matriarchy is based on the flimsiest of evidence, being mostly the fantasy of a Victorian Era closeted dilettante. Around that same time I came across the whiptail lizards, several species of which are all female. It's a biology that defies our usual experience. They "mate" in pairs, one partner displaying the typical suite of male lizard behaviors, after which the other partner ovulates and lays eggs. Since there is no genetic mixture (the eggs are diploid) the offspring are natural clones. Then the two partners trade places and the one who had played the "male" role ovulates.

There has been speculation for quite some time about the possibility of fertilizing an ovum with another ovum. Since neither contain a y chromosome (in mammals - other orders do it differently) the offspring would always be female, but the system would avoid the pitfalls of cloning. Now the extreme feminist fringe loves this idea, because it would eliminate the male half of the species, which they presume would mean an end to all violence. This speculation, of course, depends in large part on our own culture's assumptions and stereotypes, and a great deal of genetic determinism that is inappropriate for animals with our frontal lobes. But I saw this as a solution to a very different problem: no more "accidents" and the hordes of unplanned, unwanted children that are created by the current system. Since fertilization would not be possible without undergoing a complex and deliberate medical procedure, there would be no possibility of unintended babies. Of course peer pressure would still mean that many couples would have children before they were entirely ready to take on the responsibility, but it would still be a huge boon to humankind.

Getting there, though, would be a problem. A crashed spaceship in which by chance only the female crew survive to found a new colony? A virus that only kills spermatogonia, effectively sterilizing all male mammals? This one is kind of unlikely. Although it is common for pathogens to attack specific tissues or cell types, the whole point of sexual reproduction is to create diversity in our immune systems so that no one pathogen can take out an entire species. We may just have to wait another 2 million years for our dimorphism to disappear naturally (though we probably only have hours before the predictable sexist diatribe appears). Still, it's fun speculating!

raito said...

On climate change and sci-fi, let's not forget The Midnight Sun episode of Twilight Zone, where we get both hot and cold climates.

Paul SB,
Check out Poul Anderson's Virgin Planet.

And as far as the unwanted children and other social effects of reproduction go, there's some good stuff out there. Bujold specifically created the uterine replicator to explore the social effects of reproduction. And I'm pretty sure Heinlein had Lazurus Long doing his mom in order to explore the idea of what the social effects of having human reproduction under complete control would be.

But it can also go wrong, too. Especially if 'undesirable' goes too far.

Alex Tolley said...

Now the extreme feminist fringe loves this idea, because it would eliminate the male half of the species, which they presume would mean an end to all violence.

As if there aren't violent women in society and in our jails. I speculate on whether the rise of strong women in leading roles in media and tv, especially violent roles, will increase the acceptability of violence in women.

Alex Tolley said...

Are violent tendencies predicated on testosterone levels? Apparently this is complicated and may even be a nit of a myth.
article 1 and
article 2
If so, reducing violence by having a high ratio female population may be wishful thinking. It might even have adverse consequences as women become more aggressive to acquire the few males available.

Alex Tolley said...

Re: 26 essential science fiction novels to get you ready for tomorrow.

Good stories, but what a limited reading set. One could start a thread on SF stories past and present that were essential reading.

Cli-Fi seems to be the current subset of what used to be eco collapse stories that were very common in the 1970's when there was a general turning against science and technology. IMO, Ballard was the master in that sub-genre, but there were many other good writers too.

@DB - sp. It is "The Year of the Flood" not Food.

One further thought on female violence. It may be a false impression, but I think that women SF writers tend to use less violence in their stories than men. Maybe wishful thinking on my part, but that would bode well for all of us as women increasingly take on leadership roles in our various global societies. The US might even finally get a woman as president. But don't get too excited, so many other societies got there long ago. :)



Alex Tolley said...

Re: 10 Science Fiction Writers Predict How Our World Will Change In The Next 10 Years

I think I read this quite a while ago. The predictions are almost boring in their predictability, which doesn't mean they won't happen much as stated (except for ETI signals).

While technology will continue to race ahead, despite local restrictions (e.g. no NIH funding for human genetic manipulation), it may be the socio-economic changes that may be important game changers. The US has followed suit of a number of countries legalizing same sex marriage (nice fights on "religious freedom" coming) and there does seem to be a growing political movement against economic inequality. Piketty gave us the best popular book outlining the issue and his explanation and Rx. Sander's run for president, while possibly a long shot, is drawing record crowds to his speeches. Greece is openly defying European austerians and creditors and may just start a movement elsewhere if they do not capitulate. Our own Puerto Rico looks like it needs serious debt relief too. Shame Detroit couldn't get any relief, but there didn't seem to be much effort to even try. There is some irony that Germany is so hard line on EU country debt, whilst they were given the [largest in history?] Keynesian investment with the post WWII Marshall Plan.

Anonymous said...

And for Cli-Fi, of course there's John Barnes' "Mother of Storms", where the storm is one of the characters…

Treebeard said...

“Uplifting” animals? Isn’t that how Planet of the Apes began? What’s the payoff for such a bizarre program? You state categorically that “it’s worth the risk”; how so? It all sounds a bit crackpot to me, but Tormsen at least sounds prudent and sane.

Which dangerous activities can’t we argue against banning because “they will be done anyway, but in secret”? Couldn’t we apply this argument to almost any form of vice or risky behavior, not just our pet causes?

Finally, I’m curious what this “sense of ultimate justice” is that you speak of, and where you derive it from a universe made of atoms and the void. “Ultimate justice”, for 99+% of species who ever existed, was extinction. Is that what you’re referring to? ;)

Alex Tolley said...

@Treebeard. I am of mixed thoughts on animal uplift, but probably for different reasons.

1. Humans assume that intelligence is the universal most important attribute. It may be true, or it may be a conceit. How that intelligence works or its function, and most importantly what are its highest forms varies by who you talk to and when it was asked. Recall that in the middle 20th century, chess playing was considered one of the highest forms of intelligence, yet chess playing computers were easy to devise and have long since beaten the best human players. Conversely, the type of common sense, manipulative tasks done by some of our lowest paid workers isn't even close to being done by computers or robots. We need to be careful what uplift we do and how it is implemented.

2. Not uplifting animals may be similar to not wishing to educate slaves (in te past) and women (today). Your own worry about "Planet of the Apes" (movie versions) is a version of this. BTW, Pierre Boule's book that the movie was based on, has apes as highly advanced primates with space travel and a more civilized society than ours. It is much more social criticism of human culture, than adventure or hand wringing worries about technology.

I do think we will "do it anyway". What we must do is keep the experiments freely available to reduce problems, learn by careful study and apply as many people and disciplines as possible on the process. And if the chimps/dolphins/dogs say - "Don't do this any more, we prefer not to be so intelligent", we should respect their wishes.



David Brin said...

Thanks Alex. But in fact, this was Treebeard's best post ever. By light years. He actually posed reasonable questions that merity answers in an open give and take... which is the process he has openly despised in the past. And the process that spots errors and the very reason why Crichton-style hubristic science endeavors should not be driven into shadows, but instead criticized and regulated.

Indeed, I would spend more time answering him... except for the fact that he's in the past been a completely awfulpusher of nasty stuff and (unlike the Angel Pigar in Barbarella) I have memory.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just shorten the conference's title to "Congress with Robots"?

Jumper said...

The "up" in "uplift" is a species-centric term! Our primate "boss=up" thinking, no doubt.

Shall we crossbreed chimps with humans? Seems like that will be the first do-able sort of thing. How one reacts to that might be an indicator of how to actually proceed.
I assume you, David, read "You Shall Know Them" long ago.

Terminology is always tricky when referring to "intelligence" as we don't know enough to define it. We have no idea how organically determined instincts contribute to what we're talking about.

A gene-tailored animal will be a new thing, not a previous thing. An uplifted chimp won't be a chimp. An uplifted porpoise won't be a porpoise. An uplifted human?

Alfred Differ said...

Pink pill. Definitely. First task would be to capture the Yellow pill person. Condition them after that. They will know precisely what the conditioning is for and want to do it. The rest of the folks don’t matter as they can be captured later or left alone. Yellow+Pink dominates the next pyramidal society.

Regarding Tormsen, I have to chuckle.

“Such experimentation would be morally wrong, with the potential for intelligent animals suffering physical abnormalities and early death due to human meddling. Even if successful, human beings would have no way to cope with the social and emotional needs a sapient chimpanzee, bonobo, or parrot would have. In other words, uplifted animals could be left emotionally traumatized due to ham-handed attempts by humans to raise them.”

This is essentially what we do to our children with each generation, yet we cope with their social and emotional needs. As long as we are raising the uplifted mammals like our children, we are already tuned to cope as best we can. Human genome meddling or the old reliance upon random breeding pressures won’t change that. We already know all sorts of ways to NOT do it right, so I argue we are already on this path into the future.

Alex Tolley said...

Blue pill. Bored, seriously? As long as I can can teleport with equipment and and back with findings, I would be quite happy for many, many years. Mars is just boring rocks? *rolls eyes*.

Black pill - wasn't that the premise of P K Dick's "The World Jones Made"?

David Brin said...

PaulSB: “A crashed spaceship in which by chance only the female crew survive to found a new colony?” Precisely the scenario in Poul Anderson’s execrably titled VIRGIN PLANET.

Note that nearly all feminist utopian tales begin from an accident or apocalypse. I know of just one in which the alternative society was calmly planned, using science and no rancor or wrath or anger. Mine. Oh, it also keeps some sexual reproduction, precisely in order to maintain genetic variation.

David Brin said...

Jumper the strongest anti-uplift argument is also the weakest. They (dolphins etc) have their own noility and "intelligence" and all that? Fine! Then expand the healthy habitats and left 99.999% of them in peace and greaters safety as we tend the planet and grow up.

But 0.001% is all we need for a founder population of a new sub-species, then species, which might be able then to join our councils, argue with us about abstractions (like what is "intelligence") and help us to tend and restore the planet. Who would thereupon have unique styles of wisdom and art to contribute to a civilization that is no longer parochially human.

The whole question is zero sum, when nature and science allow positive sums. There is increasing evidence that dolphin-ape-sealion-otter-parrot levels of intelligence are "easy" in nature but we are a fluke. Shall we be misers and keep the gift only to ourselves? Rationalizing that we are thereupon being SO WISE and beneficent? Justifying selfishness and refusal to lend others a hand across the chasm?

I do not know the answer. But I do know my own species and I know the experiments will happen. Better that we discuss it all openly, instead of leaping to reflex-smug moralistic answers.

Alfred Differ said...

Also regarding Tormsen, I think most of the genetic 'play' options listed are essentially the same. If one can happen (even uplift) the others will too.

What I DON'T think can happen is speciation even with us messing around with our genetics. The breeding populations must be large and isolated for a large number of generations to pull this off. With the recent findings suggesting mating between us and archaic humans when we all still walked the Earth, I'm thinking the more realistic vision of the future isn't speciation, but a blurring of the boundaries between us and the other mammals as we uplift them, alter their genomes using our own as fodder and then mix us all back up again. It would take a while to pull all that off, but when I think about people who get turned on by cosplay, I can see how it might work.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Isn’t that how Planet of the Apes began? What’s the payoff for such a bizarre program?"

If I remember correctly Apes evolved on their own once humanity stopped filling the super-predator niche in the original novel as well as the movies starring Heston.

***

* "Not uplifting animals may be similar to not wishing to educate slaves (in te past) and women (today)"

Nothing could be farther from the truth: both slaves and women have always been as smart, if not smarter than their white-skinned male overlords: refusing to educate them was and remain a deliberate attempt to rig the competition and artificially maintain smart and resourceful members of the servant castes in submissive roles.

Uplifting animals would mean artificially modifying their biology so we can more easily converse with them.

Now, there's another problem with uplifting: let's say we successfuly manage to develop the technologies needed to uplift animals, couldn't these be then used as templates to create technologies to downgrade human beings, say, by turning women into non-sentient pets, or members of ethnicities X & Y into unintelligent draft-animals? Because you can bet that there are some fascists out there having this wet-dream right now.

***

* "Note that nearly all feminist utopian tales begin from an accident or apocalypse

Most utopian tales period begin from an accident or apocalypse. It's pretty much a given since the easier disbelief-suspending answer to "how could a society so radically different from the norms we take a granted arise?": "The old order collapsed and forced people to restart from a clean slate".

Hell it's been argued that technological and social progress in Europe owned much to the last middle-age crisis, with famines, epidemics, wars and bloody revolts flipping the table on traditional feudal societies and forcing them to adapt and evolve toward what we are now.

locumranch said...



Although preceded by the likes of HG Wells, my first exposure to the 'uplift' idea was Andre Norton (born 'Alice Mary') whose uplifted (space) animals were almost uniformly cute, cuddly, ever-so-sweet and obediently childlike (perhaps the precursor of Futurama's 'Lovey Bears'), and I devoured her work until I developed the literary equivalent of juvenile-onset diabetes, a pattern later repeated with the pre-adolescent power fantasies of John Carter, Conan, Brak and Gor.

To this day, such trite 'idiot plot'-based power fantasies fill me with nausea bordering on ketosis, as the very idea of the interspecies 'Uplift' (aka 'The White Man's SPACE Burden') represents little besides extreme human egotism, selfishness & self-aggrandisement. The fantasy is this: We will be worshipped & obeyed as gods if we behave as gods.

Too bad, so sad, that Parenthood simply does NOT work that way, for it is both natural & appropriate for the young to defy, challenge and (ultimately) replace the old, unless we deliberately choose to engineer our offspring (The Uplifted) to be weak, fearful, incompetent, disease-ridden, unintelligent & pathetic, condemned to live to the life of pets, as we have (sadly) done with our own (obese) human offspring over the last 50 years.

Either way, human society is doomed because (1) it cannot self-perpetuate if our offspring are not as strong (or stronger) than we are and (2) it cannot be guaranteed to resist the onslaught of an uplifted competitor of equal (or near-equal) compentency.

More on Cli-Fi later.


Best

Alex Tolley said...

@Laurent: (...) both slaves and women have always been as smart, if not smarter than their white-skinned male overlords: refusing to educate them was and remain a deliberate attempt to rig the competition and artificially maintain smart and resourceful members of the servant castes in submissive roles.

That is exactly what I meant. I'm surprised that wasn't conveyed in my comment.

Alex Tolley said...

Now, there's another problem with uplifting: let's say we successfuly manage to develop the technologies needed to uplift animals, couldn't these be then used as templates to create technologies to downgrade human beings, say, by turning women into non-sentient pets, or members of ethnicities X & Y into unintelligent draft-animals? Because you can bet that there are some fascists out there having this wet-dream right now.

We can do this right now. Starve kids to reduce brain development, keep them in non-stimulating environments. Apply chemical nerve growth inhibitors if necessary.

BTW, in one of Harlan Ellison's "Dangerous Visions" anthologies, there is a short story called, "In the Barn". Women are kept as brainless milk cows. Very unpleasant story.

Alex Tolley said...

@locum Either way, human society is doomed because (...) it cannot be guaranteed to resist the onslaught of an uplifted competitor of equal (or near-equal) competency.

Wouldn't an uplifted competing human society still be human, at worst, labeled "post-human"? Machines I understand your fears about, but biological humans+ ?

Blue Heron said...

"The whole question is zero sum, when nature and science allow positive sums."

They also allow for negative sums and utter catastrophes. I would be selling short.

LarryHart said...

Holding over briefly from the last thread...

In my experience, there is no "war on" conservatism except to the extent people like me occasionally get fed up with being warred upon and hit back. Thereupon, we are vilified as infringing upon the rights of our oppressors to violate our rights. When conservatives start a war (metaphorically or otherwise), they're all "law of the jungle" and "survival of the fittest", but when they start losing the fight, I've never seen anyone go so quickly into "That's not faaaaaaaaiiiiiiirrrrrrr" mode.

If you don't want class warfare, don't start a class war. If you don't want a war between genders, don't start one. If you don't want a war on Christmas, don't make Christmas into an instrument of bullying.

It really is that simple.

David Brin said...

LarryHart I have oft mentioned why confederates feel they are "warred upon."

1) Lefties AND liberals both engage in nagging. "You have to change! We all have to change or the children and the world are doomed!"

Now it happens that they are right. Those who respond by digging in their heels and screaming "no change!" are enemies of our childrens' survival. But the lefty version of PC bullying is a type of nagging that often does far more harm than good, by stiffening right wing spines, when all that liberals want is to look at the science and negotiate a variety of methods, but keep moving forward.

2) Every June rural America watches as the best seniors at the local high school -- the town's temple and heart -- scatter as fast as they can, rushing for the lights and the universities, many never to even visit again. It is an implied rebuke that's gotta hurt. The only way out is to nurture heartland-bubba mythology.

I say all this to show that it is possible to turn and empathize with the romantic-nostalgic movement that is today's reborn confederacy... which allows itself to be hijacked by would-be oligarchic lords, the way their great grandfathers got talked into dying for Plantation Lords. There is an undercurrent of real grievance...

...that manifests in bilious hate, troglodytic love-of-ignorance, and counter-factual shouts about how much more earthy and moral they are, in a Red America that is less moral by almost any statistical metric you could possibly point to. And hence, as well, hatred of statistics along with science.

Alfred Differ said...

@Laurent: There is hope yet.

“…couldn't these be then used as templates to create technologies to downgrade human beings, say, by turning women into non-sentient pets…”

It was the “Stepford Wives” movie that caught my attention as a kid that first made me realize some people wanted this. Even as a kid, I was appalled. Later as a young college student I was on a short vacation with my brother. We were driving through southern Utah seeing what we could see. At one road-side viewpoint we stopped. We were just looking over the landscape when I felt my stomach churn and acid at the back of my throat. It turns out I was able to overhear a young couple and their family. What got me (subconsciously) was the way the husband was treating the wife. It was forced up through my mind to my full attention by whatever part of me thought it was necessary that I PAY attention. Urg. My brother caught it too and we left.

Anyone trying to turn the women I love into non-sentient pets will face immediate death and I’m not alone in this attitude. Accomplishing that feat to all women will require a serious no-holds-barred type of war that women will not have to fight alone. Most men are not alphas and we know better than to make our children face a future strictly reliant upon our own skills for their success. The fools who want those non-sentient pets will get crushed either when we kill them… or when they get want they actually want.

Bob Neinast said...

Re: The Last Question. When I had an opportunity (in the mid-1980s), I had Isaac sign my copy of it. After all, it was his favorite.

And then recently, I had John Scalzi sign the same page. Yeah, Scalzi's often compared to Heinlein, but he'd just produced a science-fiction mystery, and I thought it rather appropriate.

DANIELBLOOM said...

I had never heard of "uplift" term before, is there a "downlift" term too? i need to google search all this, new to me. But Rick Searle writes on his blog about two new terms i also never heard of until today ''upwingers' and ''downwingers.'' Does what he and Steve Fuller have any connectioon to what you are all discussing here, which is WAY over my head for the most part, i am just ordinary guy with feet on the ground in Taiwan working on cli fi memes.

HERE: Rick Searle writes on his blog can google it for complete: "However, even before these issues are decided there is the danger that
we will revive something resembling the artificial religious and
racial division of humanity into groups where a minority lays claim to
the long legacy of human technological and cultural advancement as
purely its own. This, at least, is how I read the argument of the
sociologist Steve Fuller who wants us to reframe our current political
disputes from left vs right to what he “up- wingers” vs “down wingers”
where up wingers are those pursuing human enhancement and evolution
through technology (like himself) and down wingers those arguing in
some sense against technology and for the preservation of human nature
– as he characterizes Pope Francis.

The problem with such a reframing is that it forces us to once again
divide the world into the savage and the civilized, the retrograde and
the advancing. At its most ethical this means forgetting about the
suffering or fate of those who stand on the “savage” side of this
ledger and taking care of oneself and one’s own. At its least ethical
it means treating other human beings as sub-human, or perhaps
“sub-post human”, and is merely a revival of the Christian
justification for crimes against “infidels” or white’s rationale for
crimes against everyone else. It is the claim in effect that you are
not as full a creature as us, and therefore do not possess equivalent
rights. Ultimately the idea that we can or should split humanity up
in such a way is based on a chronological fantasy.

The belief that there is an escape hatch from our shared global fate
for any significant segment of humanity during the short time frame of
a century is a dangerous illusion. Everywhere else in the solar system
including empty space itself is a worse place to live than the earth
even when she is in deep crisis. We might re-engineer some human
beings to live beyond earth, but for the foreseeable future, it won’t
be many. As Ken Stanley Robison never tires of reminding us, the stars
are too far away- there won’t be a real life version of Interstellar.
The potential escape hatch of uploading or human merger with
artificial intelligence is a long, long ways off. Regardless of how
much we learn about delaying the aging clock for likely well past this
century we will remain biological beings whose fate will depend on the
survival of our earthly home which we evolved to live in.

In light of this Fuller is a mental time traveler who has confused a
future he has visited in his head with the real world. What this
“up-winger” has forgotten and the “down-winger” Pope Francis has not
is that without our efforts to preserve our world and make it more
just there will either be no place to build our imagined futures upon
or there will be no right to claim it represents the latest chapter in
the long story of our progress.

In this sense, and even in spite of his suspicion of technology, this
popular and influential pope might just prove to be one of the most
important figures for the fate of any form of post-humanity. For it is
likely that it will only be through our care for humanity as a whole,
right now, that whatever comes after us will have the space and
security to actually appear in our tomorrow.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rick Searle, an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET, is a writer and
educator living the very non-technological Amish country of central
Pennsylvania

David Brin said...


Rick is not the same as "Doc" Searle, right? Had some run-ins with the latter.

I agree that the left right axis long ago gave up any pertinence to any of the issues that we face. Our current civil war in America is definitely between various branches of Nostalgia and confident progressivism. With some on the "left" sharing almost every nostalgist and anti-scientific reflex.

Paul SB said...

Alex said, "As if there aren't violent women in society and in our jails. I speculate on whether the rise of strong women in leading roles in media and tv, especially violent roles, will increase the acceptability of violence in women."
I have known some very violent women - I even once had to give a friend a ride to the hospital because his girlfriend had broken his hand. I'm not sure I would say that increasing violence among women is a good thing, except in that it makes them better able to defend themselves. But cultural factors like media and role models can often mean more than any purported biology.

Thanks for the two articles. There was little in them I wasn't already familiar with, but no doubt other readers will read them over and get that it's not as simple as most people think. One interesting thing about testosterone is that it is not only manufactured in the testes, it's also manufactured in the adrenal glands. So males who have been castrated do not completely lose their sex drive, but have no way whatsoever to alleviate it. Thus the line in "Candide" where the eunuch complains about his condition. If removal of the hardware removed the instinct, it would be one thing, but condemning people to live like that is a perverse cruelty.

Treebeard said: "“Ultimate justice”, for 99+% of species who ever existed, was extinction"
Extinction is an event, justice is a valuation made by humans, who weren't even around for most of those extinctions. If humans had caused those extinctions you might have a valid argument here.

Dr. Brin said: "Precisely the scenario in Poul Anderson’s execrably titled VIRGIN PLANET. Note that nearly all feminist utopian tales begin from an accident or apocalypse."
So I should go with the virus option? Unfortunately I don't really have those skills...

Larry, I think the "War on" terminology is just manipulation, plain and simple. It's politicians riling up the base. The reality is that our superstructure is evolving away from old-fashioned enforced conformity as a value, so those who have always valued conformity for all feel like they are losing, because others are not conforming to their norms and not being punished for it. I read someone say that forbidding gay marriage is like outlawing broccoli because they don't like it personally. No one is forcing them to eat it, no one is forcing them to have a gay marriage, etc. What they are up in arms about is not being able to stop other people from exercising their right to eat broccoli. I also think Dr. Brin's analysis is spot on, here.

Paul SB said: (though we probably only have hours before the predictable sexist diatribe appears).
It's been several hours and it appears that I was wrong. Awesome sauce!

locumranch said...


In terms of 'cli-fi', any speculative fiction story that postulates an altered (and/or post-apocalyptic) *climate* qualifies as such, yet I suspect that our host means to suggest that only tales that adhere to the Official Climate Change narrative qualify in this regard, begging for a government oversight program that validates right-thinking material with the AGW seal of political-correctness.

Like any & every idealist, the progressive lefties refuse to compromise because they know that they know (they just know) that they are absolutely "right", leaving the 'wrong-thinking' conservatives to either choose between complete surrender or nonconformity, insomuch as the culture war is of the left's choosing by their refusal to see "right" on both sides of the argument. That the young flee the red states every june for the blue cornucopia, leaving only the nearly-retired old to labour on in the fields, farms & mines at slavish wages, is both true and right, yet it is a temporizing measure at best (or perhaps a pyrrhic blue victory), since it was the slavish labour of those red youths that once filled the blue cornucopias to overflowing, so much so that soon, very soon, a sea change will reverse the tides, allowing the red and blue young to flow back to the heartlands, if only for a cooling drink of water.

Lucky for California that it's a DRY heat !! Har har har


Best
_____
@AlexT: The term 'post-humanity' is filthy euphemism for 'inhumanity', for after humanity comes nothing human, be it AI, super-intelligent squirrels or uplifted aardvarks.
@LarryH: The Red States really do want a class war, silly, and we want to lose so you all will be forced to take our place.
@Alfred & PSB: No sexist diatribe from me. Your White Knight willingness to self-sacrifice should please your female masters to no end, and they will (most certainly) praise your loyalty when they take another in your stead.

DANIELBLOOM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DANIELBLOOM said...

@locumranch re where you said above that:

"In terms of 'cli-fi', any speculative fiction story that postulates an altered (and/or post-apocalyptic) *climate* qualifies as such, yet I suspect that our host means to suggest that only tales that adhere to the Official Climate Change narrative qualify in this regard, begging for a government oversight program that validates right-thinking material with the AGW seal of political-correctness."

No, sir, Locumranch, you are wrong here. I am very involved with the cli fi meme and have been watching it unfold for a few years now and helping to steer it in such a way that ALL writers are welcome, from what aisle they come from, blue state red state green state pink state brown state black state Eurostate, Asiastate, the world is welcome, just as SF and SFF welcome all writers. So in fact, Michael Chricton's STATE OF FEAR, 2004?, is part of the cli fi canon, even if not everyone agrees with his POV. Cli fi is a genre, a meme, a motif, a term, and ALL writers are weclome to use as they wish. Rightwing leftwing climate activists climate denialists. Just put pen to paper and say your say. Cli fi is global and encompasses POV from across the spectrum. Please remember this next time you want to say that cli fi is only about tales that adhere to the Official Climate Change narrative qualify in this regard, begging for a government oversight program that validates right-thinking material with the AGW seal of political-correctness. If you say that again, you will be wrong again. Cli fi is an open book.

Alex Tolley said...

The term 'post-humanity' is filthy euphemism for 'inhumanity', for after humanity comes nothing human, be it AI, super-intelligent squirrels or uplifted aardvarks.

What a dystopian view (but not surprising). What is post-humans are more human? What if the traits they have include more intelligence, more empathic emotions? What if they compare to us as we compare to our hominid ancestors, perhaps even primate ancestors? Or perhaps they as strange to us as apparently progressives are to conservatives? :)

Alex Tolley said...

"In terms of 'cli-fi', any speculative fiction story that postulates an altered (and/or post-apocalyptic) *climate* qualifies as such, yet I suspect that our host means to suggest that only tales that adhere to the Official Climate Change narrative qualify in this regard

Not even remotely close. SciFi has encompassed hot worlds, ice age worlds, dry worlds, wet worlds and dark worlds as future Earths. SciFi is almost the antithesis of conforming, except insofar as there are common, sometimes worn out, tropes. "What if?" is most certainly not conforming.

David Brin said...

"Like any & every idealist, the progressive lefties refuse to compromise because they know that they know (they just know) that they are absolutely "right", leaving the 'wrong-thinking' conservatives to either choose between complete surrender or nonconformity..."

What a delusional crazy-liar. Unless he is making the distinction of FAR_lefties versus the vast majority of sane moderate liberals. In which case the statement may contain a little truth... and becomes meaningless.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

* "Isn’t that how Planet of the Apes began? What’s the payoff for such a bizarre program?"

If I remember correctly Apes evolved on their own once humanity stopped filling the super-predator niche in the original novel as well as the movies starring Heston.


I never read the books, but in the movies, I seem to remember some backstory about a disease that killed all the dogs and cats, after which apes were taken into people's homes as pets. I don't remember much detail after that, but I presume pet apes became more like servants and finally evolved to the point of competing with humans for the top spot. I don't remember anything about intentional genetic uplift of the species.

The fourth movie had the time-travelling baby ape grow up to become the revolutionary who took over earth, but that seems like an alternate history to the earlier backstory, because there was no interim period of pet apes in that film.

I may be wrong, because that wasn't one of my favorites, and I haven't seen it in a long time. To me, only the original and "Escape from" merited multiple viewings.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I read someone say that forbidding gay marriage is like outlawing broccoli because they don't like it personally.


That might have been me you "read somewhere". Not saying it was for certain, but I know I've used that same analogy, even using the exact same food as an example.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Like any & every idealist, the progressive lefties refuse to compromise because they know that they know (they just know) that they are absolutely "right", leaving the 'wrong-thinking' conservatives to either choose between complete surrender or nonconformity, insomuch as the culture war is of the left's choosing by their refusal to see "right" on both sides of the argument.


"I know you are, but what am I?"
That is, of course, my stock answer to conservatives who accuse liberals of doing exactly what they themselves are actually doing.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

@LarryH: The Red States really do want a class war, silly, and we want to lose so you all will be forced to take our place.


Which side of a class war do you think I'm on?

Paul SB said...

Rats! Right again! And just for awhile there I entertained the possibility that he was showing a little bit of maturity.

An extremist can only see extremes, painting all who are not in his own camp as the opposite extreme. It is all simplistic sloganeering, no nuance, no ability to analyze anything in any depth, and no real intellectual honesty. On top of that, it is rather dull, because they can never come up with anything but a repetition of the same tired arguments and backward assumptions ad nauseam. No matter how many people jump down their throats, no matter how much evidence is mustered, the extremist is always 100% right in his own mind. Like Ken Hamm in his debate with Bill Nye, he thinks he wins by claiming that no amount of evidence can ever shake his faith (which really means his faith in himself, since he doesn't actually know the Lord he claims to speak for). Pure delusion.

This white knight is going on 22 years unbesmirched, and I'm sure there are those here who have gone longer. So much for no diatribe!

Paul SB said...

Larry, it was something I saw on Facebook, which I know is a very mixed bag, but it was a good analogy worth repeating. As they say: grape minds think alike. Or would it be broccoli? Great stuff with fontina, some red peppers and chicken, anyway.

Alex Tolley said...

@LarryHart - the current reboot of Planet of the Apes (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)is very much about uplift by biological drugs (viral vector), albeit an accidental side effect of the research program. The drug, altering the genome is inheritable, and Caesar is born with higher intelligence. In The sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, presumably Caesar's offspring has created a group of intelligent apes (or maybe the viral vector was more widespread than just in Caesar's mother).

Some genetic changes can be quite simple. For example, the FoxP gene is associated with speech in humans (and singing in birds). A defective FoxP gene has serious consequences for individuals' ability to communicate. For apes to speak requires a change in the throat and larynx, but it isn't hard to imagine relatively few genetic alterations to achieve that.

I also believe that our larger brains compared to chimps is due to a slightly longer time for brain tissue expansion, which may be just a single gene. Of course skull and jaw musculature will also need to accommodate the larger brain size, but I can see this developing from analysis of human, chimp and possibly our hominid ancestors' DNA.

locumranch said...


Thank you, Daniel Bloom, for your earnest clarifications about 'cli-fi'. Stanley G. Weinbaum would be thrilled to hear that his 1937 short story, 'Shifting Seas', qualifies for inclusion in the modern climate fiction canon, as would Alfred Bester (Adam and no Eve, 1941), JG Ballard for his 1960's 'World' triptych (Drowned World, Burning World, Crystal World) and Kurt Vonnigut for his 'Ice 9' (Cat's Cradle, 1963), as does George RR Martin's 'Game of Thrones'.

I'm pleasantly surprised by PSBs rational admission about extremism (An extremist can only see extremes, painting all who are not in his own camp as the opposite extreme. It is all simplistic sloganeering, no nuance, no ability to analyze anything in any depth, and no real intellectual honesty) and, in honour of such a rare event, I am willing to meet everyone here more than halfway to negotiate a "3/5th Compromise", being willing to admit that the current climate change narrative may be (as much as) 3/5ths correct as long as the rest of you are willing to admit that the narrative may be (at least) 2/5ths FALSE. Any takers?

I thought not because 'Extremists Never Compromise' (see above).

Finally, I'd like to compliment LarryH for his implied renunciation of the blue urban elitist agenda and formally welcome him to the New Confederacy which is both (1) a lost cause and (2) a fine excuse for FIFA-style hooliganism: The Nika Revolt, Round 2, coming to a decaying urban cesspool near you.


Best
_____
'Shifting Seas', SG Weinbaum, 1937, available at: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0607511h.html

And, don't forget 'Planet of the Apes', the television series, circa 1974.

Jumper said...

Seeing how the actual "cesspits" are in rural areas where there is no sewage treatment (damn them regulations!) and the air is clean because it's far from where the coal and oil is burned (but damn them regulations!) I wouldn't feel too smug.
"Elitism" is a fine insult to which any sensible person should become immune once they actually think on it. In fact it's a personality flaw to shrink from that label once the implied counter-proposition is examined rationally: that stupidity is deserving of the same consideration as knowledge. This would be the most obscene instance of "every child gets a ribbon" that I can think of.

Paul SB said...

That last one from loci would be funny if it wasn't so sad. He assumes that my comment about extremists was an admission, demonstrating clearly the narrowness of his own perceptions and his hero self-narrative. I've spent my whole life being labeled a left-wing loony by right-wing nazis and a right-wing nazi by left-wing loonies. Then he goes on to state that the climate narrative is at least 2/5's wrong, asks if there are any takers, then assumes there will be none, further demonstrating his extremist assumptions about anyone who disagrees with him. In his mind he is living the idiot plot.

If the climate narrative he is referring to is the narrative that comes out of the extreme left, then he is right, or close to right, anyway. I would say the extreme left narrative is at least 20% wrong, though possibly higher. I don't pay that much attention to those loonies, so I haven't heard any recent over-the-top statements. I prefer credible sources for information, not paranoid conspiracy theorists on either side of the fence.

Most people who contribute to this blog regularly have had disagreements with each other, and there have been instances of miscommunication that may have produced some hard feelings here and there, but overall this community has been pretty respectful and open to rational discussion - except this guy.

David Brin said...

Paul we are very indulgent here, providing locum with possibly the only place in his life where smart and knowledgable people pay him attention. But please? He was obviously trying to be sardonic. At this point, I'd suggest drifting toward benign neglect. He used to say lefty things till he realized confederacy stuff makes a better button to push here.

Watch my Monday posting to see how button pushing is REALLY done!

Alex Tolley said...

@PSB What I find troubling about the 3/5:2/5 sugges6tion, is that this approach is about negotiation, not about resolving issues with evidence. If someone says the sky is green, why should there be some negotiated agreement that the sky is grue. I've noticed that some conservatives like to argue like lawyers, rather than from facts, as though the weight of argument trumps facts. It is also interesting that when the law sides with conservatives, negotiation stops and it is all "slippery slope" argumentation. This approach to determining the policy is not confined to conservatives. My sense is that this approach is often used as leveling of the knowledge gap between each side. I notice that especially now with the GOP candidates when confronted with some issues.

Jumper said...

http://www.waggish.org/2009/three-versions-of-conservatism/
Three Versions of Conservatism
and
http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/03/reactionary-philosophy-in-an-enormous-planet-sized-nutshell/
Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Finally, I'd like to compliment LarryH for his implied renunciation of the blue urban elitist agenda and formally welcome him to the New Confederacy which is both (1) a lost cause and (2) a fine excuse for FIFA-style hooliganism: The Nika Revolt, Round 2, coming to a decaying urban cesspool near you.


If so, I'm not sure how to react. :)

You seem to be recognizing that I speak as one of the 99%, while welcoming me to join those of your Red State bretheren who, while they also suffer as part of the 99%, consistently vote for the agenda of the 1%. Am I close?

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin said: "Paul we are very indulgent here, providing locum with possibly the only place in his life where smart and knowledgable people pay him attention. But please? He was obviously trying to be sardonic. At this point, I'd suggest drifting toward benign neglect."

So Contrary Brin is free therapy? Who knew!? ; ]
As to benign neglect, I have made that suggestion before, but it is too tempting and I ended up ignoring my own suggestion (though if I went with my own Angry Girlfriend Approach, I would be breaking a vow I made to never directly address vesicular basalt. If a person has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to any sort of reason then nothing good can come of attempting to reason with him except showcasing). Sounds like my carapace is getting thin in some spots.

Alex, I totally get your comments about lawyerly negotiation, especially given the occupational backgrounds of most politicians. I was assuming that what he meant was that a certain percentage of statements made by the flaming left are factually untrue, specious or exaggerations, which is a reasonable assertion. Obviously any question that is amenable to scientific exploration is an issue of uncompromising facts rather than legal negotiation. His problem is that he equates the most extreme fringe with the mainstream, which is a completely different issue. but once again, I see your point.

locumranch said...




Except for a few notable exceptions, many of you take your respective shibboleths far too seriously, demanding the conformity of the pseudo-intellectional. I merely fool with you (reactionarily; sardonically; ironically) so I may have the liberty to speak the truth: The Idealist is an extremist and a fantasist; forward progress is not liberating without the ability to go back; social compromise requires mutual concession; things must get much worse before human beings will make them better; all bubbles burst; and more of the same does not necessarily represent improvement. Try reading Jumper's excellent link on Reactionism ** and think about it, now & then, when you read something in the 'Journal of Climate Change as Absolute Certainty', or someone tries to sell you a 'New & Improved' 20,000 calorie Sextuple Extra Thick Burger, or demands that you 'celebrate' circumstance that you find intolerable, or asks you to elect a Democratic Oligarch instead a Republican one next voting cycle.


Best

David Brin said...

Ooooh we are SUCH conformity-enforcing boooooolies!

*snork*

onward.

Jumper said...

I would say it's not so much a lack of conformity as coherence people are bemoaning.