How might what we do today influence the lives of our distant descendants, slowly-changing lives well adapted to their world, long after our dreamtime has passed? I see seven long LEGACIES: L – Lag –
Regarding Standards, I'd be more worried about the Metric system becoming entrenched than English units. Anything that keeps us from switching to Planck units would be a Bad Thing.
Good points, but I still think that standards - particularly pervasive standards like the metric system, are probably a longer legacy than most of the other structures Prof. Hanson suggests here. In particular, I think that both the metric system and arabic numbers, will have much longer survival times than "Ancients". Most entities (e.g. large corporations) have lifespans not much longer than humans, typically decades. Amongst other things, they are often in direct competition with other similar entities, and get killed off by these battles - (and if we can't stop Hanson's subsistence future, I think the same will happen to any people transiently surviving from this era). A standard like the metric system has far fewer competitors and is far harder to dislodge.
>>the age distribution of current Standards seems related to their expected duration (I constructed a marvelous proof but this web page is too small to contain it<<
Many thanks, Pierre. I hear they&#039re offering a prize for someone who can reconstruct that proof first.
Languages, and I mean human languages. As I understand it, languages and religions are the longest lived human cultural institutions.
I expect that new languages will get added, but it will be easier to build on old languages, and this mean that they'll be used for back-compatibility and communication across subcultures.
I have no idea what the far future will do to religions. Considering how much a lot of people like religions (or if you prefer, keep them as stable patterns of signaling), I wouldn't be surprised if religions continue in some form.
About Standards, we should be more worried about the risk of the opposite -- that we fail to achieve long-lived Standards, and thus cannot communicate with our descendants or each other.
Have you watched your VHS tapes lately? What's on the Rosetta stone? How big is a cubit? How were the Pyramids of Egypt made? How much of Shakespeare or the Bible can you recite?
Most of the Standards that dominate our landscape have not been around for very long; the age distribution of current Standards seems related to their expected duration (I constructed a marvelous proof but this web page is too small to contain it).
I would doubt that we will program quantum computers or quantum/normal computers in Java. We will probably want to change to new programing languages at that point.
Changing the genetic code can actually be a good idea when we want to create artificial species to prevent them from mutating on their own by having 5 base pairs per animo acid instead of 3 and choosing to to translate a lot of possible combinations into nothing.Having different codes for different species might also help to prevent them from exchange genes.
Once we get protein design and RNA design right, we can create a 5 base pair per animo acid system and probably should do so if we want to rewrite our complete genome.We don't really need natural mutations in our DNA. It causes messy things like cancer and organism we create might mutate out of our control.
E could stand for entertainment. As in we think of kings and knights and pharaohs as fantastic characters, and we think of Ceasar's story as pure drama. Maybe some day people will look back at us and say, "Those people were crazy! I mean, they voted for Bush twice and then for Obama?! That's wild."
I think you don't even need an full-blown general AI to convert everything you need from windows to a different system.
So might C.
what, into the far future? You must be kidding!
I doubt Java specifically will survive, but the JVM (and descendants thereof) might. So might C.
Standards is a very interesting one - we could *create* a communication standard so general-purpose that it could enable a seamless transition -a fully general purpose (upper) ontology of reality capable of subsuming all other standards under a single framework.
The three main types of standards are for physical communication (e.g. XML - physical lay out of web-elements), social communication (e.g. Narrative /artistic rules) and logical communication (e.g. OWL - Web Ontology Language). The latter type is the most general.
There's a three-fold communication pattern running through everything, which, why in the hell does no one else but me see this? ;) For instance a projection of the pattern onto logic matches to the three known types of inference (deduction, induction, categorization), with categorization in effect a sort of 'communication standard' for logic itself (that's why I so sure it must be more powerful than Bayes).
Again, I think the key is to look for a 'communication standard' so general it becomes difficult to distangle from any model of reality. This is a standard that can last a very long time.
I dont think the re-malthusianized end of the dreamtime is inevitable. If no aliens ever come here, and government(s) thwart higher reproductive drives from evolving, the situation on earth could be stable forever. There is no need to start thwarting evolution now. We can wait some centuries before beginning.
ASCII? Surely you meant Unicode.English language and units? You mean the metric system?Java? You mean Python, no? COBOL?
Just because it takes a lot of effort to change something, it only means that it has a low probability of changing in any given year. But over time, the probability that it will change approaches 1.
Also, this post is the first real competition I've seen to Vinge's efforts to realistically imagine the technosocial future.
This post is easy to bash because it's ambitious and is willing to go into details with examples (like of course the Windows one) but it's an excellent and brave post for that reason.
Maybe E could be Errors. Your disagreements with Eliezer notwithstanding, there might be some ways that we could, or could fail, to manage the transition to futurity intelligently. And if we fail, our errors could have long-term consequences. No one wants to be forced to be a smiley-face forever.