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A series of lectures well worth listening to

I recently read David Friedman’s latest book, A Future Imperfect, and thoroughly enjoyed it. He has now posted a series of lectures he has given at different venues, touching on many of the subjects in the book, as well some that were not in the book. Subjects, for example, such as encryption, copyright, how technology is changing legal systems, society, our view of family life, and the like. Definitely worth downloading some of these lectures if you have the time. Ideal for playing on the MP3 player on the way to the office. A definite improvement on listening to the BBC’s Today programme, that is for sure.

In the meantime, here is a quote from the book that I particularly liked. It is about nanotechnology and some of the fears people have, including the “grey goo” issue:

“Before you conclude that the end of the world is upon us, you consider the other side of the technology. With enough cell repair machines on duty, designer players may not be a problem. Human beings want to live and will pay for the privilege. The resources that will go into designing protections against threats, nanotechnological or otherwise, will be enomously greater than the (private) resources that will go into creating such threats – as they are at present, with the much more limited tools available to us. Unless it turns out that, with this technology, the offense has an overwhelming advantage over the defense, nanotech defenses should almost entirely neutralise the threat from the basement terrorist or careless experimenter. The only serious threat will be from organisations willing and able to spend billions of dollars creating really first-rate molecular killers – almost all of them governments.”

(page 272.)

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4 comments to A series of lectures well worth listening to

  • The only serious threat will be from organisations willing and able to spend billions of dollars creating really first-rate molecular killers – almost all of them governments.”

    Hmm… that really sets my mind at ease!

  • Well, there goes my SF novel!

    Seriously, though, assuming that you can prevent the nanotech from replication errors (and just plain errors), this is possibly the only way we can achieve fuctional immortality. Regenerating telomeres, high-speed healing, neural refreshment, holographic storage… the only question is how you’re going to power all of that. I doubt the ADP-ATP cycle is sufficient.

    Might have to seriously look at zero-point stuff.

  • Daniel J

    In some of the lectures linked to, it sounds as if Friedman’s voice was run through a digital effects processor, in others as if the mic was constantly rubbing on his suit. Is it just my computer, or is the sound quality of these recordings really… not so compelling?

  • Paul Marks

    If we come through the breakdown of the present system these technological marvels may come to pass – but that is a big “if”.

    There is nothing inevitable about technological progress.

    After all all the theoretical work for “Orion” was successfully done way back in the 1950’s by Freeman Dyson and the others.

    The tiny atomic bombs were available (not theory – they physically existed) the tests had been done, the models had been built and so on.

    Yet Orion type spaceships are not flying round the solar system.

    Of course the Chinese may well have got the technolgical secrets by now (50 years is a long time) so we may well have Orion battleships in space calling upon us to surrender ar some point.

    It may be the same with nanotech.

    With taxation (especially Capital Gains) at current levels (and going up) and a credit bubble financial system lurging from crises to crises – the idea that we can expect massive technological change is laughable (one might as well expect it from the late Roman Empire – or the Byzantines).

    Of course China may run with this stuff.

    But then China is a mystery to me – I do not know enough about the place.