Friday, October 9, 2009

Where do you see yourself in 4000 years?

Thousands of years from now, what will we think about the biggest events in modern history? Sam Kean wrote recently on 3quarksdaily on this issue:

Will the Manhattan Project Always Exist?

Read the article. It will change your idea of what really is permanent on this planet over the long term.

This assumes that we will escape various forms of robot, zombie, asteroid, climate-change and/or Malthusian Armageddon that could easily crop up in the intervening time. Hmm, I should start a betting pool. Takers?

3quarksdaily: Will the Manhattan Project Always Exist?


Greg Baute said...

I'm not so sure I agree with everything in this article.

Firstly, I think that the amount of information being generated and the way it is stored (the internet) is so different then it has been in the past that total loss or dilution of historic tales will not occur. There may still be many mistruths but the careful scholar will be able to get to the bottom of the story. The internet is after all a net. Information is everywhere always being copied and moved by the internet. Sure individual harddrives and servers only last so long but that is unimportant when compared to the rate of flow of information, and the exponetial increase in storage capacity.

Second I think that humans and earth for that matter, are going to be so vastly different then anything we can imagine that is very difficult to speculate.

Shane Caldwell said...

Yes, it's difficult to speculate, but that's part of it all. A lot can happen in a few thousand years. We don't know what will happen to society or technology.

I don't know if a careful scholar would be able to sort through all the chaff now. Things like this blog dilute meaningful information in a vast sea of (my) conjecture. With an exponential increase in information there will be just too much data to any person to find the real truth. You'll find historians reporting on a 21st century demi-god named Stephen Colbert and how elephant populations tripled in a decade.

Ever see Demolition Man? Taco Bell wins the Franchise Wars, and holds a worldwide monopoly on fast food. What will MicroWikiTwitterCorp do with a monopoly on information?

I don't know if you can expect that information will be perpetuated unchanged with time. You say that its always being copied and moved. What stops changes (random or intentional) from being perpetuated? I'm starting to see a parallel here to genetic heredity - and we know the problems trying to extrapolate backwards with those.

Greg Baute said...

I agree, but think/hope that things like wikis are constantly selecting for consistency, If you get my meaning.

Shane Caldwell said...

Yeah, but the thing is you will always need an input of effort to keep such a thing maintained. Second law of thermodynamics - disorder increases the time and you have to spend energy to increase the order of a system. If no one cares enough to maintain the information meticulously over the grand scheme of time, information will be lost, corrupted, and distorted.

Not that that can't happen, I just see many ways it can go wrong compared to the relatively few ways it can go right (there I go invoking the second law again....).