Wednesday, January 4, 2006

What is your dangerous idea?

The has published its annual question of the year. As usual, it's a good one: What is your dangerous idea? From the Website:
The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?
Heh, brings to mind Francis Fukuyama's proclamation from a few years back in Foreign Policy that transhumanism was the world's most dangerous idea.

Entries that caught my attention:
- JAMES O'DONNELL: "Marx was right: the 'state' will evaporate and cease to have useful meaning as a form of human organization"
- CLIFFORD PICKOVER: "We are all virtual"
- CLAY SHIRKY: "Free will is going away. Time to redesign society to take that into account."
- HAIM HARARI: "Democracy may be on its way out"
- RAY KURZWEIL: "The near-term inevitability of radical life extension and expansion"
- RUDY RUCKER: "Mind is a universally distributed quality" [ie panpsychism]
- IRENE PEPPERBERG: "The differences between humans and nonhumans are quantitative, not qualitative"
- SCOTT SAMPSON: "The purpose of life is to disperse energy"
- FRANK TIPLER: "Why I Hope the Standard Model is Wrong about Why There is More Matter Than Antimatter"
- KEITH DEVLIN: "We are entirely alone"
- FREEMAN DYSON: "Biotechnology will be thoroughly domesticated in the next fifty years"
- KARL SABBAGH: "The human brain and its products are incapable of understanding the truths about the universe"
- ERIC R. KANDEL: "Free will is exercised unconsciously, without awareness" [ie free will is an illusion]
- RODNEY BROOKS: "Being alone in the universe"
- GERALD HOLTON: "The medicination of the ancient yearning for immortality" [looks like radical life extension has finally hit the scientific/intellectual mainstream]
- ALUN ANDERSON: "Brains cannot become minds without bodies" [Ha! He's right, but theoretically, the mind can be fooled into thinking that it has a body -- the cerebral cortex can be fed the data that is normally supplied by the body, namely sensory stimuli and those signals that are conveyed to neurotransmitters; in other words, the brain-jack]
- SCOTT ATRAN: "Science encourages religion in the long run (and vice versa)"
- SAM HARRIS: "Science Must Destroy Religion" [this guy's hardcore]
- JARON LANIER: "Homuncular Flexibility"
- MICHAEL NESMITH: "Existence is Non-Time, Non-Sequential, and Non-Objective"
- DANIEL C. DENNETT: "There aren't enough minds to house the population explosion of memes" [ie informational collapse]
- SHERRY TURKLE: "After several generations of living in the computer culture, simulation will become fully naturalized. Authenticity in the traditional sense loses its value, a vestige of another time."
- PAUL DAVIES: "The fight against global warming is lost" [I think he may be right and that we're on the cusp of a runaway greenhouse gas effect]
- SAMUEL BARONDES: "Using Medications To Change Personality"
- TIMOTHY TAYLOR: "The human brain is a cultural artefact." [a very cool idea]
- MARTIN REES: "Science may be 'running out of control'"

There are many other very good entries (along with some real dogs) and I highly recommend the article.

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