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MatthewB comments on Max Tegmark on our place in history: "We're Not Insignificant After All" - Less Wrong

18 [deleted] 04 January 2010 12:02AM

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Comment author: MatthewB 05 January 2010 02:00:35AM 5 points [-]

What strikes me about our current situation is not only are we at an extremely influential point in the history of the universe, but how few people realize this.

I am amazed at how few people are aware of the consequences of the next few decades. Yet, when I think about other influential points in history, I find that people were either just as ignorant, or actively resisting such change (Saboteurs & Luddites in the Textile industries in Holland and England for instance. Or, those who opposed industrialization in the USA at the end of the 19th century).

The last really major change, such as the one we are now in, was the end of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1900s. It was so very obvious that rural life was becoming a thing of the past, yet people fled into nostalgia and disbelief; talking about the benefits of the pastoral lifestyle (while ignoring the fact that it was backbreaking work that required dawn to dusk toil for little gain).

Those very few who were aware that it was indeed a time that would end the world as people knew it were able to improve their lot immensely. A new generation of wealth was created.

This same thing is happening now. And, you are correct:

It ought to give the few people in the know enormous power

Hopefully, this period will also result in the ability of the vast hoards of people living in or below the poverty line to rise above this. Ultimately, we could move into a post-scarcity economy, where all basic needs are fully (and comfortably) met, and thus free people to pursue more fulfilling work and leisure.

Of course, the book is still out on that one.

And I also puzzle over why I appear to be in such an atypical position.

That is something that I wonder as well. I've spent an inordinate amount of time at my school trying to educate people about the possibilities of the next 2 to 5 decades, yet it has mostly fallen on deaf ears (I would like to say even among the Computer Science/Engineering Professors and students, but it is more like especially among the Comp Sci/Engn Profs & Students). There have been a few who knew about the historical changes that are happening now, but I didn't need to educate them. They already knew. They are also the people whom I noticed that, like myself, were aiming at Berkeley, Stanford, CMU, MIT, etc.

So, maybe it is that those of us in the know should consider ourselves fortunate and make plans to help elevate others in the future who missed the boat (so to speak). I know that if I succeed at my goals, I plan to help out others whom I know have had hard times due to failure to plan well (or who made mistakes, such as I, earlier in their life and need a second chance)

Comment author: byrnema 05 January 2010 02:50:41AM *  -1 points [-]

Wow: MIT and Berkeley. You guys must have been the group that was right.

Comment author: MatthewB 05 January 2010 03:01:11AM 3 points [-]

I should point out that I am the stupid one among them, which is why I have to limit myself to UC (Berkeley or UCSD - as they have a HUGE Cog Sci and AI program at UCSD that rivals Berkeley's). If I was not disabled (and old enough to be most of the group's father) I would probably be heading to MIT or CMU as well... Although, Berkeley is not shabby. My GPA suffered horribly when I first went back to school due to not taking my disability fully into account and not knowing my rights as a disabled person yet. I have finally managed to have a couple of semesters at 3+ GPA, but my overall GPA is still slightly below 3. I've been told that I will stand a good chance to get into Berkeley if I maintain the 3.2 to 3.7 semesters I've been getting since the end of 2008 (I only do 3/4 time, as I discovered in that first semester that I can't manage full time very well).

Thank you for the compliment though. I hope that I continue to be worthy of it.