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#426 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:06 PM

Anonymous service is, as all of us know, not unique to those striving to recover from substance or behavioral addictions. It is practiced by members of many groups. It is often done by parents for their children, by coaches for the athletes under their care, by health care workers for the physically and mentally ill, by teachers for their students. In each case it is done by someone who has a comparative advantage of experience, or knowledge, or aptitude, or ability to those they seek to serve; to help. In some, perhaps many, certainly not all, and perhaps most of such situations, the desire is altruistic and the effort is healthy and helpful.

Operating under the assumption that most sentient extra-terrestrials who could have contact or communication with us are vastly superior in knowledge, ability, experience, and aptitude to us, is it a stretch to imagine that they have reached the same conclusion as the addict in recovery, the parent, the coach, the teacher? Is it reasonable to suggest that in their interactions with us they too might seek to use the advantages anonymity of action provide and avoid some of the dangers inherent in placing their own identities and egos in-front of their actions?

What are your thoughts about this possibility?

Otto

#427 Rick Woods

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:47 PM

Is it folly to think that the universe is teeming with life and the only reason there is silence, is because we are on the wrong side? Dark matter/energy...maybe that's where the party is, we just can't interact with them.


I dunno, folks; I still think Shawnhar has thrown in the most interesting idea of this whole thread...

#428 Rick Woods

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:51 PM

The existence of a spiritual being is not a topic proper to this forum as decided by its facilitators. This forum is reserved for discussions of empirical, objective, phenomena which can be scientifically examined and mathematically described.


... Which has been pointed out any number of times. But that doesn't some folks from doing it over and over and over, does it?
No quitters, they!

#429 Mike Casey

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 01:27 AM

The silence is .........? Huh? What did you say?

#430 Mister T

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:24 AM

I said: The SCIENCE is deafening!!! :mad: ;)

#431 Qwickdraw

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:51 AM

Otto, you continue to make pseudo-arguments that begin "for the sake of argument." But your "for the sake of" premise is actually your conclusion. Whether this is an example of circular reasoning, or of begging the question, it is a rhetorical and logical fallacy. Someone with your philosophical training should know that.

You also keep trying to slip what are essentially your religious beliefs into your posts in this forum. It is blatantly obvious.


So the reasonable question is at what point is it allowed to discuss an intelligent being/race or combination that has transcended the physical and mental barriers we are enslaved to every day?

We can discuss extraterrestrial life forms, even intelligent ones without any evidence they exist but when does it become acceptable to theorize about a vastly superior intellect which has harnessed the ability to defy physical constraints?

We can discuss warp drives, abiogenesis, teleportation, direct neural interfaces, etc. but we can’t discuss a being which has harnessed all of these to perfection?

We already see behaviors such as quantum entanglement may be redefining what we once thought was impossible.

If humans were only allowed to contemplate what we thought was possible we may still be living in the Stone Age. It is imagining the impossible that sets us apart. A notion or idea without any supporting examples or basis can be thought up in the human mind.

#432 simpleisbetter

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:18 AM

Otto, you continue to make pseudo-arguments that begin "for the sake of argument." But your "for the sake of" premise is actually your conclusion. Whether this is an example of circular reasoning, or of begging the question, it is a rhetorical and logical fallacy. Someone with your philosophical training should know that.

You also keep trying to slip what are essentially your religious beliefs into your posts in this forum. It is blatantly obvious.


So the reasonable question is at what point is it allowed to discuss an intelligent being/race or combination that has transcended the physical and mental barriers we are enslaved to every day?

We can discuss extraterrestrial life forms, even intelligent ones without any evidence they exist but when does it become acceptable to theorize about a vastly superior intellect which has harnessed the ability to defy physical constraints?

We can discuss warp drives, abiogenesis, teleportation, direct neural interfaces, etc. but we can’t discuss a being which has harnessed all of these to perfection?

We already see behaviors such as quantum entanglement may be redefining what we once thought was impossible.

If humans were only allowed to contemplate what we thought was possible we may still be living in the Stone Age. It is imagining the impossible that sets us apart. A notion or idea without any supporting examples or basis can be thought up in the human mind.


:waytogo:

#433 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:39 AM

Wise, intelligent, capable persons act in anonymous ways in order to benefit others. Is it reasonable that extra-terrestrials, whose intelligence and technical aptitude far surpass the intelligence and capabilities of any of the wisest human persons, would do the same?

Otto

#434 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:40 AM

Intelligence is not the same as "wisdom". No, there's no necessary correlation between technological advancement and personal behavior that you find attractive.

#435 mountain monk

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 12:00 PM

It's likely that this has been mentioned somewhere is this long thread, but I'll quote it again just to make sure:

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." C. Hitchens

I would shorten it even more, leaving out the last two words...

Enjoy the night sky.

Jack

#436 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 12:05 PM

Otto, you continue to make pseudo-arguments that begin "for the sake of argument." But your "for the sake of" premise is actually your conclusion. Whether this is an example of circular reasoning, or of begging the question, it is a rhetorical and logical fallacy. Someone with your philosophical training should know that.

You also keep trying to slip what are essentially your religious beliefs into your posts in this forum. It is blatantly obvious.


So the reasonable question is at what point is it allowed to discuss an intelligent being/race or combination that has transcended the physical and mental barriers we are enslaved to every day?

We can discuss extraterrestrial life forms, even intelligent ones without any evidence they exist but when does it become acceptable to theorize about a vastly superior intellect which has harnessed the ability to defy physical constraints?

We can discuss warp drives, abiogenesis, teleportation, direct neural interfaces, etc. but we can’t discuss a being which has harnessed all of these to perfection?

We already see behaviors such as quantum entanglement may be redefining what we once thought was impossible.

If humans were only allowed to contemplate what we thought was possible we may still be living in the Stone Age. It is imagining the impossible that sets us apart. A notion or idea without any supporting examples or basis can be thought up in the human mind.


Because there's nothing there to discuss. You can't even define what "perfection" is for all these concepts that we know in name only. You by definition cannot "theorize about a vastly superior intellect which has harnessed the ability to defy physical constraints", because by any scientific definition to theorize about something is to place it in a context of mappable physical constraints. You notice we don't spend much time talking about teleportation here, unless there's a news item where specific research has addressed the problem in some small way. We talk about abiogenesis only to the extent that we can conceive of chemical/energetic process that might play a role in a phenomenon that we have very good evidence has already occurred at least once. I don't recall much discussion of direct neural interfaces, but if we did, it would still be something you could point to with some sort of credible theory and research program. Quantum entanglement has been mentioned, but so have its very real limitations. It's not "magic", and you won't find us here discussing it as such. When you get the technical background to start a technical discussion of a technology that can be used in a tangible way, then it becomes appropriate for this forum. Beyond that, the only reasonable response is an occasional humorous aside. We don't under any circumstances entertain ideas here that "defy physical constraints", and none of the other ideas you mentioned, no matter how aetherial, claim such a leap.

Science does not defy physical constraints, it defines them. When you can come up with a topic that credibly defines a set of physical constraints on some imaginative phenomenon, then I think it will work here. Otherwise, it's not science, and you're simply in the wrong forum.

#437 simpleisbetter

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 12:36 PM

whatever

#438 Joad

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 01:11 PM

Otto, you continue to make pseudo-arguments that begin "for the sake of argument." But your "for the sake of" premise is actually your conclusion. Whether this is an example of circular reasoning, or of begging the question, it is a rhetorical and logical fallacy. Someone with your philosophical training should know that.

You also keep trying to slip what are essentially your religious beliefs into your posts in this forum. It is blatantly obvious.


So the reasonable question is at what point is it allowed to discuss an intelligent being/race or combination that has transcended the physical and mental barriers we are enslaved to every day?

We can discuss extraterrestrial life forms, even intelligent ones without any evidence they exist but when does it become acceptable to theorize about a vastly superior intellect which has harnessed the ability to defy physical constraints?

We can discuss warp drives, abiogenesis, teleportation, direct neural interfaces, etc. but we can’t discuss a being which has harnessed all of these to perfection?

We already see behaviors such as quantum entanglement may be redefining what we once thought was impossible.

If humans were only allowed to contemplate what we thought was possible we may still be living in the Stone Age. It is imagining the impossible that sets us apart. A notion or idea without any supporting examples or basis can be thought up in the human mind.


Because there's nothing there to discuss. You can't even define what "perfection" is for all these concepts that we know in name only. You by definition cannot "theorize about a vastly superior intellect which has harnessed the ability to defy physical constraints", because by any scientific definition to theorize about something is to place it in a context of mappable physical constraints. You notice we don't spend much time talking about teleportation here, unless there's a news item where specific research has addressed the problem in some small way. We talk about abiogenesis only to the extent that we can conceive of chemical/energetic process that might play a role in a phenomenon that we have very good evidence has already occurred at least once. I don't recall much discussion of direct neural interfaces, but if we did, it would still be something you could point to with some sort of credible theory and research program. Quantum entanglement has been mentioned, but so have its very real limitations. It's not "magic", and you won't find us here discussing it as such. When you get the technical background to start a technical discussion of a technology that can be used in a tangible way, then it becomes appropriate for this forum. Beyond that, the only reasonable response is an occasional humorous aside. We don't under any circumstances entertain ideas here that "defy physical constraints", and none of the other ideas you mentioned, no matter how aetherial, claim such a leap.

Science does not defy physical constraints, it defines them. When you can come up with a topic that credibly defines a set of physical constraints on some imaginative phenomenon, then I think it will work here. Otherwise, it's not science, and you're simply in the wrong forum.


:waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo:

#439 JohnMurphyRN

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

Is absence of evidence evidence of absence?

Likely.

#440 Jarad

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:33 PM

Anonymous service is, as all of us know, not unique to those striving to recover from substance or behavioral addictions. It is practiced by members of many groups. It is often done by parents for their children, by coaches for the athletes under their care, by health care workers for the physically and mentally ill, by teachers for their students. In each case it is done by someone who has a comparative advantage of experience, or knowledge, or aptitude, or ability to those they seek to serve; to help. In some, perhaps many, certainly not all, and perhaps most of such situations, the desire is altruistic and the effort is healthy and helpful.


The key here is desire to serve or help. You are assuming that all aliens would want to help us.

I will grant that if an alien race existed and wanted to help us, it might do so anonymously. But I think that is a large and unlikely assumption.

Humans help each other because we are related. We are much more likely to help relatives than neighbors, more likely to help neighbors than strangers, and more likely to help members of our own cultural groups than members of different ones. We are much less likely to help other species - in fact, we mostly either eat them, use them for their fur or skin or other parts, or take over their habitat. We don't disguise ourselves as them to anonymously guide their development into a more sentient species.

I think that an advanced species that came across us would be much more likely to adopt a similar attitude as we have to indigenous species when we find new territory than to adopt us as their "little brother" in alcoholics anonymous.

Jarad

#441 Joad

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:39 PM

Stephen Hawking has pretty much said exactly the same thing.

#442 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:36 PM

Greetings Jarad,

You wrote, "Humans help each other because we are related. We are much more likely to help relatives than neighbors, more likely to help neighbors than strangers, and more likely to help members of our own cultural groups than members of different ones. We are much less likely to help other species - in fact, we mostly either eat them, use them for their fur or skin or other parts, or take over their habitat. We don't disguise ourselves as them to anonymously guide their development into a more sentient species."

There is much truth to your comment, Jarad. I'm going to think about it a while and decide if I think it is the conclusive thought on this issue, and then get back to you and all.

Otto

#443 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:07 PM

I have been an amateur microscopist as long as I have been a stargazer and (tele)scopist. Both began around age ten. Now, almost a half century later, I am still into both.

In my little office, behind me on a small table is a collection of microscopy equipment. This includes a jar of river bottom detritus and water from a stream near our house. Every so often I will take out a clean glass side, put on it a few drops of the water and scum and dirt from the jar, cover it with a cover slip and observe it with the microscope. When I am finished, using distilled water, I will carefully separate the slip and slide and wash the water and scum and dirt back into the original sample jar. Sometime later, I will take the jar back to the river and put all of the sample back in the river and rinse the jar out several times with river water. I do this because I feel I should not destroy life. It just feels wrong to do so when I have a choice.

Such an attitude is not rare. I believe many Buddhists abide by this rule. I know my personal physician does. He even avoids stepping on a bug in his house for this reason. And I know a good many who, unlike myself, will eat no meat.

What is remarkable is how much of a change this is for and in me. I grew up on the South Dakota border of Minnesota in the mid 20th century. Most people hunted. Before becoming a commercial fisherman, my father earned a living for his family by trapping and selling furs. I grew up with many animal traps and firearms in my house. By the time I was in my mid twenties, the number of animals I had killed, mostly for entertainment, sometimes for employment, and occasionally for food numbered in the hundreds. If I include fish in that count, because I worked on commercial fish crews, the number of creatures in whose death I participated numbered in the tens of thousands.

This all changed, one day when I was home from college and decided to pass time shooting. I took at twelve gauge shotgun with me. I walked down to the river behind my house. I saw a small bird on a branch perhaps ten feet in front of me. I think it was a sparrow. I shot it. Anyone who knows something of shotguns knows that a 12 gauge is, no pun intended, gross over-kill for shooting at a sparrow. Further, the odds of hitting it are poor because at such short distance, the spread of the shot is so small. I walked up to the branch after shooting the gun. Attached to the part of the branch which remained was half a sparrow. That was thirty or so years ago. It was the last time I discharged a firearm at a creature.

The creatures I no longer kill are not sentient, they cannot know my decision to never kill them again is an anonymous choice. It is an act of done in anonymity as far as they are concerned.

If there are sentient extra-terrestrials, the fact that they are sentient, aware, and have free will makes them, at least in that sense, more like us human beings on earth, than we human beings are like the other creatures on our planet. Assuming you agree with me on this point, it must then follow that they would be even more likely to act with anonymous care toward us who are more related to them, then we are willing to do so to the non-human creatures of this planet.

The thought crossed my mind that this reaction of mine is based on age, or based on growing up in a particular culture. I was disabused of this assumption about ten years ago when I was teaching astronomy to a group of high school juniors who were members of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Academy. For context sake, every one of the seventeen students were top ten academically in their respective schools.

I had arranged the use of a college biology laboratory. Each of the juniors was given the use of a college quality optical microscope. I had each collect a water specimen from a stream running through campus. I taught them to leave the sample uncovered and in indirect sunlight for a week or so until it was teaming with microbiotic life. Then I had them prepare a slide for microscopic examination. I had them observe and make drawings and notes of what they saw. For all of them this was a new experience as not one of them had ever used a microscope. After a couple hours I then told them to take a drop of fluid from a bottle I had provided them and to place the drop at the edge of the cover slip. Because of capillary action, the fluid was quickly drawn into the specimen. I told them to watch the microbes as they, at the same moment, placed the drop near the cover slip edge.

The fluid was alcohol. Immediately they all saw the microbes stop moving or explode or disintegrate. It was at this moment I told them what the liquid was and I told them that what they were seeing was the death of living things. There was an audible gasp; not horror, but shock, displeasure from many of them.

I think your original comment, Jarad, has a lot to say for it; regarding the issue of anonymous care being shown for those more closely related to us. But I also think many of us reach a point, some much younger than others, when we learn to anonymously care for those quite unrelated to ourselves.

Perhaps sentient and aware extra-terrestrials with free will will, who have had a very long time to think about it, also have reached such an attitude toward other creatures. And if they have already visited us, perhaps they have already chosen to care for us anonymously.

Otto

#444 Rick Woods

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:48 PM

This all changed, one day when I was home from college and decided to pass time shooting. I took at twelve gauge shotgun with me. I walked down to the river behind my house. I saw a small bird on a branch perhaps ten feet in front of me. I think it was a sparrow. I shot it. Anyone who knows something of shotguns knows that a 12 gauge is, no pun intended, gross over-kill for shooting at a sparrow. Further, the odds of hitting it are poor because at such short distance, the spread of the shot is so small. I walked up to the branch after shooting the gun. Attached to the part of the branch which remained was half a sparrow. That was thirty or so years ago. It was the last time I discharged a firearm at a creature.


Otto,
I know it's not relevant to this thread; but I'm completely in tune with you in this sentiment. I've had to kill a few animals, and it always haunts me, eats away at me inside. I had to kill a small kitten a few years back; I still have nightmares about it.
I have no quarrel at all with hunters, more power to them; but unless I'm threatened by it, I can't kill a living creature.

#445 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:49 PM

Perhaps...

And perhaps not.


Attributing motivations to entities that are not known to exist, and if they did would have minds and bodies with completely different histories, requirements and environments, is little more than fantasy. Maybe even less.

Just as credible as the scenario you present is the idea that E.T.'s could be part of a super-organism, with individuals having little intelligence or imagination -- or empathy -- of their own, but their behaviors subsumed to the benefit of their "hive".

The Borg are just as plausible as are the Vulcans.

#446 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 07:08 AM

Hi Dave,

Here is an example of philosophy being so very relevant to an "astronomical" issue. Is "humanity" (human being-ness) directly related to the qualities of sentience, self awareness and free will? That is, is "humanity" a spiritual (immaterial/incorporeal) quality in its phenomenological essence, or is humanity, just a matter of species difference at a biological level? Are homo-sapiens essentially part of a continuum of biological species, or is there a quantum-jump separating the human species from all other biological species on this planet?

If one holds, as I do, that human beingness is, in its essence, an issue of sentience, self-awareness, and will, finding their presence in an incorporeal/immaterial part of the person (i.e. soul, or to use the philosophical term, substantial-form), then human beingness exists wherever there is sentience, self-awareness, and free-will, regardless of what carbon based (or other based, i.e. silicon, fluorine, whatever) entity in which they are found.

Thus, to use the fine example you shared of the Borg, if they are in their essence insects without some fundamental capability to develop the essence of sentience, self-awareness, and free will, then they are not human even if they appear to be perfectly identical to homo-sapiens on our planet in all other biological aspects.


An unrelated "aside"; the fictional characters called the Borg of Star Trek fame, is a very good example of what Hannah Arendt was talking about in describing the prescience of science fiction. The Borg remind me, at an eerie visceral level, of what Bill Joy at Sun Microsystems was saying when he warned that if machines every truly become sentient, that we will immediately be faced with entities combining near infinite power and the moral self control of three year olds.

#447 Jarad

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:15 AM

Otto, it is not impossible that an alien species would be benevolent. But it is not certain.

You as a young man hunted and killed. You no longer do so. However, an advanced society is still made up of individuals who start out young, and may not have the benevolent attitude throughout their lives.

Further, not all humans come to the conclusion to treat other life (even other humans) with respect. While there are some groups that have turned vegetarian and display extreme respect for all living things, they are a small minority. We still have plenty of people who consider animals to be no more than a resource. For that matter, we have people who consider other people to be no more than a resource to be exploited as well.

There is no guarantee that "advanced" will automatically mean "benevolent". And while there may be some that are benevolent, it seems unlikely that all members of a single society would be so, much less that all advanced societies would be so.

Jarad

#448 Pess

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:14 AM

For argument sake, let us assume the empirical and objective results of such recovery programs evidence the value of anonymous service. This assumption having been made, it would then follow that sentient extra-terrestrial beings, possessing vastly superior reasoning ability and technological proficiency might see it beneficial for us, human beings, that they keep their presence among us secret and beneficial activities as anonymous as possible.


Pesse (Sounds like the Star Trek Prime Directive.) Mist

#449 llanitedave

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:34 AM

Otto, it is not impossible that an alien species would be benevolent. But it is not certain.

You as a young man hunted and killed. You no longer do so. However, an advanced society is still made up of individuals who start out young, and may not have the benevolent attitude throughout their lives.

Further, not all humans come to the conclusion to treat other life (even other humans) with respect. While there are some groups that have turned vegetarian and display extreme respect for all living things, they are a small minority. We still have plenty of people who consider animals to be no more than a resource. For that matter, we have people who consider other people to be no more than a resource to be exploited as well.

There is no guarantee that "advanced" will automatically mean "benevolent". And while there may be some that are benevolent, it seems unlikely that all members of a single society would be so, much less that all advanced societies would be so.

Jarad


There have been examples in history of genocidal vegetarians.

There is simply no way to predict (although it's easy to fantasize) what the behavior of any alien species would be towards even its own kind, much less something totally alien to itself.

A lot of this speculation is predicated on alien intelligences coming from elsewhere to encounter us here on Earth. I think it much more likely that, if alien technological civilizations are out there to be discovered, then the discovery will take place out among the small icy bodies, where both they and we are likely to find resources much easier to acquire. In that situation, neither side is on home turf, so to speak, and there is likely to be competition for resources. The idea of benevolence on either side sounds much less likely in that scenario.

#450 Pess

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:34 AM

Humans help each other because we are related. We are much more likely to help relatives than neighbors, more likely to help neighbors than strangers, and more likely to help members of our own cultural groups than members of different ones. We are much less likely to help other species - in fact, we mostly either eat them, use them for their fur or skin or other parts, or take over their habitat. We don't disguise ourselves as them to anonymously guide their development into a more sentient species.

I think that an advanced species that came across us would be much more likely to adopt a similar attitude as we have to indigenous species when we find new territory than to adopt us as their "little brother" in alcoholics anonymous.

Jarad


Excellent point(s). Would we stop and try and teach a Neanderthal equivalent race about metallurgy?

I sincerely doubt it.

Look around our planet today, cyborgs with artificial hips, ears, knees are starting to proliferate.

When we gonna stop? You lose your arm and a mechanical prosthesis is available, are you going to turn it down? What if the prosthesis is an order of magnitude better than original equipment? Maybe you won't wait until you are damaged an opt for an upgrade?

Almost the entire world is wired together. Any reason to risk death by walking around in it? All we need are sensory modules installed all over and we can put our brain in Frankensteins jar and live a virtual existence outside of it with minimal risk of some nasty truck running us down.

Today kids DIE because they can't drag themselves away from a computer game that is represented on a *BLEEP* 2-D flat screen.

Naw, I think the next stage of Human evolution is obvious and will be as far removed from present humanity as we are from proto human apes...

Pesse (http://www.robotjoke...re-so-sensitive) Mist






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