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KMO welcomes Nikki Olson and Nikola Danaylov back to the C-Realm to talk about technology and rationality. Nikola responds to a C-Realm listener’s comments about the diminishing returns of technology, and Nikki explains why she thinks calling a technological development like the iPhone a “mini singularity” is like calling a gentle breeze a “mini hurricane.” In the second half of the program, the conversation turns to the normality bias. Nikola says that we’re all lazy by nature and that in a constantly changing environment we must remain adaptable or perish. KMO ends the episode with a rant about how NPR presents vicious propaganda and pseudoscience under the genteel aegis of informed medical opinion.

Music by The Transpersonals.

Gerard  Sanacora, PhD, MD Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Yale Depression Research Program can be reached via email at gerard.sanacora@yale.edu


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC)
(Meant to write something about this earlier, but it slipped my mind.)

Thanks for the lengthy response to my comment.

The argument about whether technology (as opposed to individual technologies) seems rather similar to the argument between Peakniks and their detractors, both (generally) admit that individual fields decline as the easy stuff is extracted first, the latter denies the same trend is reflected at the macro scale.

In any case, there's no reason to argue back and forth on that point. Danaylov believes technology as a whole does not have diminishing returns. I'm not so sure about that, but I was glad to get a direct answer about his view on the subject.

The point about general-purpose computing adding redundancy and robustness is a good one. However, I suspect some problems of complexity are more easily addressed through increased computing power than others. I don't think we can just compute our way out of energy supply issues, for example, though singularitarians might disagree.

Danaylov's response to my point about capital accumulation was good. I largely agree with his critique, though I think at some point capital accumulation can undermine growth. Your follow-up question was also very well chosen.
Feb. 17th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)

There's a nice discussion thread in the C-Realm section of the Grow Report Forums about this episode arc that starts with this comment from Szifers:

Is the transhumanist argument against death supposed to be that death is the loss of unique memories and personalities?

I find that point of view somewhat silly in a post-singularity perspective. In a post-historical situation you could lay out all the possible historical memories, personalities and subjective experiences in front of you as a continuum, recognizing the common patterns and isolating the unique characteristics, in an ever repeatable and extendable field of possible subjective experience, rendering the concept of loss meaningless.

I like the concept of craving normality, because it mirrors the anti-singularitarian argument about craving radical change. The difference of course is that it's not an argument. How could it be? It's like the argument against the big bang that it resembles the christian creation too much. It's not rational to reject an idea just because it's appealing.

Edited at 2012-02-17 02:49 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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