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We were so eager to ask whether we could . . .

... we didn't bother to ask whether we should. - Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park ................... Awesome site. What's the penalty for a philosophical interlude? :- ) I'll brave it, amigos ... there's a high correlation (> 0.80, I'd say) between interest in astronomy and interest in science fiction. The SETI folks are interested in astronomy, it would seem. The Hubble Telescope is relevant to those perplexed by The Great Silence. If philosophy ain't your thang, please feel free to scroll past. If it is, here's my $0.02... (Image source: engadget)
"Thou shalt not make a machine in the image of man" - Frank Herbert, Dune series. (Not that I think Sagan's teleporter is in the image of man, y'understand.)
This is 135 degrees off the subject, but it is what I think about when thinking about scientific advancement. There is a passage in Genesis 11 which most of you would regard as mythical, as I used to, but it is a remarkable -comment- on the human condition. The underlying premise is both (1) one that I hadn't thought of, and (2) one that I find quite profound.
Gen 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. Gen 11:2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. Gen 11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. Gen 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. Gen 11:5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. Gen 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Gen 11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. Gen 11:8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
In other words, if the entire human race communicates together, technology will explode, so let us retard the communication for a millenium or five, so we have time for some other things here first. (It doesn't make any sense to read the author as simply saying, "they will build real large structures if they're not separated." The author was familiar with the pyramids of Egypt, after the division into nations.) With the advent of global communications in the 20th century — telegraph, telephone, the internet — scientific advancement truly has become cross-cultural, and the techno growth has become terrifyingly exponential. This is precisely the connection that Genesis 11 foresaw: greater synergy leads to greater discovery. That's kind of eerie, if you ask me, but you don't have to agree to see the point. In 100 years, what is the cloning situation going to be? Will babies be engineered? Will we have a GATTACA-style society at some point, in which misfits become second-class citizens, and then engineered against? From a Bible-as-literature (nonbelieving) standpoint, the minimums there are, that at least 250 BC (the Septuagint, which draws the boundary for Old Testament construction dates) there is a statement by God that He has an interest in retarding technological development. And a fascinating, implied (apparent) prediction that if/when scientific research were shared globally, that progress would be infinite. Of course, at the time Genesis was written, the author was familiar with Egypt's scientific accomplishments. It's not like he's shooting in the dark. …………………………. Who knows. But the point is :- ) as knowledge is shared, scientists kick the soccer ball down the field a lot quicker. And now the cat is out of the bag — it's just a question of a tighter computer chip, a better AI algorithm, a slicker virtual interface… time travel, into the future, is quite possible now. Where is physics going? Do we want to go there? In 200 years, when AI has exploded and robots are better at everything than we are, science will truly look like magic. It was 50 years between the first vacuum-tube computer, and a computer the size of a library book, who can beat the world champ at chess. It was what, 70 years between the first 800-foot airplane flight, and walking on the moon. We have the technology to go to Alpha Centauri now, if we wanted to (continual acceleration until halfway there). 200 years isn't a nanosecond in galactic terms, yet in 200 years, AI will dominate the planet. What about in 2 million years? It is incomprehensible in the literal sense of the word. That is why Enrico Fermi declared that there are no aliens in the galaxy. They would have to have been here by now, since galactic colonization can't possibly require any more than 5 million years from the first space satellite. Yet the radar dishes hear nothing but a dead silence, no EMP beacons, no nothing. Infinite technology is one of the best philosophy gardens :- ) …………………………… Better medicine has its obvious advantages. Techno conveniences are wonderful, though mostly what they do is save us time. Sociologists have found that we use this techno leisure time to … watch TV, or to surf the internet. My grandma chatted with her friends as she picked a lot of cotton. We turn on CSI and watch the monitor. ;- ) For entertainment, she played a lot of outdoor games with her friends. My son plays a lot of Zelda: Twilight Princess by himself. Who's to say which life is preferable? …………………………… Good stuff, jemanji