There are a great number of posts lately about dystopian and post-apocalyptic sci-fi and the future of our world (the good, the bad, the mind boggling). Instead of trying to talk about each of them, I just pooled them all together below. Enjoy the end of civilization and/or the world! Discussing the End Times is a great way to break the ice at a party!
This movie short called K3loid is so gorgeous and scary, not at all what I was expecting. It is not surprising that several production companies are in talks to make this thing a real full length movie. Let the war begin.
Joe Browder, a consultant for global energy in Washington D.C. (among other impressive titles) penned an essay that discusses energy and technology and the turn of interests from outward to inward where city-states will become more prominent and important because of their self-sustainability in energy. Curious. Here’s an excerpt:
Old businesses and business models, long-standing regional and jurisdictional domains, and traditional economic regulatory systems will be as disrupted in energy as they have been in publishing, entertainment and communications; as they are being in medicine and education. For example, for the first time in the U.S, extractors and processors of fuel are now becoming less important to society, politically and economically, than are the industrial and business companies that use electricity and fuel to create products and enterprises that add value to the economy. Furthermore, increasingly urban, decentralized models of energy distribution—made possible by innovations in both information technology and fuel extraction—are shifting political and economic power to cities (and city leaders) and away from the regional energy producers that have traditionally managed the U.S. energy supply.
Perpetual Population Growth.
i09 tackled this tough subject in a pretty robust piece that deals with what we know now, what we know is coming, and concepts we’ve considered and are pretty sure we could attain at some point in the future. Maybe. His article is mostly sci-fi made real, but it’s based entirely on what we know of research and growth in the health and human services field. There are already scientists out there that suggest the first 1,000 year old human being has already been born. This is a thing that is real and is going to become a problem while you and I are still alive.
Without a doubt, widespread radical life extension will reshape the fabric of society. But as noted, humanity will have to reform and adapt to environmental, resource, and population pressures outside of this. However, there’s only so much that politicians and well-meaning citizens can do; perpetual population growth — even if it is dramatically slowed down via socioeconomic factors — is still perpetual population growth. We’re eventually going to have to find solutions as far as resource depletion, pollution, and living space is concerned.
Thankfully, relatively near-term progress in biotechnologies (like genetic engineering and regenerative medicine), nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and space technologies will significantly increase our chances of addressing many of these problems. Over the course of the next several decades, and as we eventually (and hopefully) cross into the next century, humanity will progressively shrink its global footprint on the planet — a footprint that, for each of us, is impossibly large right now.
Idyll, Non-Dystopian Future.
In a rebellious move, Jonathan Porritt has given us a very not scary look at the future of 2050. He deals a lot with urban environments and urban agriculture, and looks at Detroit as a role model for the future. What Our Idyllic, Non-Dystopian Future Would Look LIke If We Fixed the World.
Post-Apocalyptic Wallpapers. Sad and beautiful.
Another io9 genius, these wallpapers showing city ruins and concepts of destruction are kind of heartbreaking. The London one gets me particularly hard right in the heart area. Get your utter destruction inspiration here!
Our Last Invention.
I read a lot of i09 ok? Why a superintelligent machine will be the last thing we ever invent. And I can’t even paraphrase the intensity of this particular post, so you’ll just have to go consume it on your own. It’s a mammoth and makes you kind of terrified of your laptop, no kidding. The article is based on and about James Barrat’s new book Our Final Invention. Here’s an excerpt:
The Singularity has three well-developed deﬁnitions— Good’s, above, is the ﬁrst. Good never used the term “singularity” but he got the ball rolling by positing what he thought of as an inescapable and beneﬁcial milestone in human history— the invention of smarter- than-human machines. To paraphrase Good, if you make a superintelligent machine, it will be better than humans at everything we use our brains for, and that includes making superintelligent machines. The ﬁrst machine would then set off an intelligence explosion, a rapid increase in intelligence, as it repeatedly self-improved, or simply made smarter machines. This machine or machines would leave man’s brainpower in the dust. After the intelligence explosion, man wouldn’t have to invent anything else—all his needs would be met by machines.
This paragraph of Good’s paper rightfully ﬁnds its way into books, papers, and essays about the Singularity, the future of artiﬁcial intelligence, and its risks. But two important ideas al-most always get left out. The ﬁrst is the introductory sentence of the paper. It’s a doozy: “The survival of man depends on the early construction of an ultraintelligent machine.” The second is the frequently omitted second half of the last sentence in the paragraph. The last sentence of Good’s most often quoted paragraph should read in its entirety:
Thus the ﬁrst ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control (emphasis mine).