Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Happy New Year

... in each era of our history an astounding sense of self-satisfaction and contentedness is entrenched and prevails. An attitude accepted by most participants of each epoch; a secure consciousness that fails to acknowledge the scope of things to come ...

New Years Eve is also a time of reflection and nostalgia, in my case something came over me as I reflected on this New Year. For no palpable reason, I found myself gob smacked at the thought that it was actually 2009. The first decade of the new millennium is nearly over! To clarify my thoughts permit me to venture away from the realm of this blog, just this once.

Back in mid 1970’s as a teenager I looked ahead to 2000 and beyond with awe, envisioning a world of sci-tech wizardry and commercial space travel and colonization. I guess I was a victim of too many scfi novels, popular science and mechanics magazines, and sitcoms, such as Hanna-Barbera's, The Jetsons.

That said, with advances in robotics, personal networking, mind control interfaces, smart architecture, (buildings), Computing, Biotech’s and Nanotechnologies, we can expect a very different world by 2050. Make no mistake we’re going to witness some pretty amazing stuff in time to come.

Our knowledge is but a few blades of grass, our ignorance however is ...
They were my words in 1998, in fact, no one can be sure that we have even yet discovered all the fundamentals of the physical world. There was a time over a century ago, that many of the world’s eminent scientists and physicists thought just that. Enter Albert Einstein, whose revolutionary concepts - relativity and quantum mechanics - displaced many previously held assumptions. Through history, progress in the sciences has occurred in bursts. As Einstein did, other brilliant minds will come forth; his curious mind will take him down new unexplored paths of thought and analysis. She will dig deeper into the building blocks of matter, he/she will, like many of their great predecessors, challenge the prevailing theories of their time, and we shall witness quantum jumps similar to the Newton/Einstein eras. The American philosopher William James summed it perfectly when remarking upon the views of the science establishment amongst his Harvard colleagues. I find his words so poignant that I present verbatim.

Science has made such glorious leaps in the last 300 years that it is no wonder the worshippers lose their heads…I have heard more than one teacher say that all the fundamental conceptions of truths in science have been found and that the future has only the details of the picture to fill on. But the slightest reflection on the real conditions will suffice to show just how barbaric…crude…such notions are …whatever else be certain, this at least is. That the world of our present natural knowledge is enveloped in a larger world of some sort, of whose residual properties we, at present can frame no positive idea".
Over 110 years have passed since these statements, has time not vindicated him?

It is foolish and inadequate for anyone be it scientist, philosopher, and commoner to believe that as race we have discovered all the facts of the physical world. As a race, we have an enormous potential to grow and discover yet, in each era of our history an astounding sense of self-satisfaction and contentedness is entrenched and prevails. An attitude accepted by most participants of each epoch; a secure consciousness that fails to acknowledge the scope of things to come.

Let us therefore concede that current technology within all its modern day packaging will be primitive in 100, 500, 1000 years hence. Assuming we continue as an intelligent race, technologies of the future can only be envisioned by our imaginative faculties at best. Indeed, if the past 100 years were any indication, any attempt to depict such distant technology would render us incoherent even today.

Any science or technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.
So said Arthur C. Clarke, I am sure that some of the advances destined for commercialization will bring humankind closer to that magic; not that I will be around to experience it…

It is all relative my friends, depending from whence one surveys time; we are both primitive and modern in AD2009.

Stay safe and Happy New Year

Cross posted at: American Interests

1 comment:

Aggie said...

We have to wonder if ANY of the Human race will be around to witness it, as they still can't get the basics right on this planet. But, we live in hope.