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What comes after the Information Age?


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Before modern times, there was the Stone Age. Then there was the Agriculture Age. For a while humanity was concerned with the collection and manipulation of matter (i.e. tool-making and agriculture.)

Then eventually, we had the Industrial Age, where the collection and manipulation of energy was the main driver of the economy (i.e. steam engines, automobiles, etc.) Finally, the time we live in is called the Information Age, in which the collection and manipulation of information is the main driver of the economy (i.e. Computers and the Internet.)

But what do you think will come next?

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2 hours ago, Lucia Nightfire said:

Same.

It's like the average IQ of the population drops the more technologically advanced we become or is it the more socially aware/connected we become?

There are two counterpoints I would like to make. My argument is that there was no drop in average IQ but rather that what we're seeing, we've seen throughout the ages. The in-group is seen as smart and enlightened while the out-group is described as dumb, brutal and animalistic. This makes it easier to do harm to one another and you can follow this thread to any conflict in history. People did not become on average dumber - but technology made the mechanism more visible.

The second counterpoint is that we have figured out enough of the levers in our brain to cause some serious damage in the machinery. Something like the Asch Conformity Experiment shows that we even deny reality if given the right incentive (conformity). We have then created a culture and technology that directly pokes those levers (news as entertainment, social media, commodified attention) and then lets them run amok for profit. The result is an incredible fissure throughout all layers of society with entrenched in-groups of "smart and enlightened" versus entranced outgroups of... "dumb and hateful people". *tinfoil hat* Isn't it funny that every time we start looking at the flow of money, that we suddenly find a new big social division to hate each other about? */tinfoil hat*.

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As for the question of the ages:

I think we will rename the information age in retrospect. While information is a key qualifier, it's more a complete shift over to the virtual that is happening. We have virtualized our interactions, emotions and communities, we have virtualized warfare where you can cause the damage of a nuclear bomb without ever physically getting near your target. Once we can virtualize production, the last holdout will switch over and with ideas such as industry 4.0 and additive manufacturing, it would not surprise me if we will soon reach a state where the goods we buy are virtualized too. For example: We don't buy a plate, we buy the temporary license to print one plate.

Thus will the shift to the virtual age be complete. These mechanisms are less about information and more dominated by virtualizing our lifes, thus my believe we will retrospectively call it the virtual age instead.

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The future age then:

Assuming we will still be around, which isn't quite guaranteed at this point, it would need another fundamental shift. It's no secret that as society, we're headed towards a bit of a dumpster fire right now. The question then is which technological development happens in time to provide the next shift. If neural interfaces will be a thing - and resarch has made in-roads - there's a good chance that we will begin widespread augmentation of our reality. Basically begin the great hedonistic age where clicking purchase on something gives us a straight shock to the orgasm center of the brain and where a trashbag might appear to us like a cute kitten we want to cuddle. Basically we might chose self deception over living with the aftermath of what we do today.

Still, neural interfaces could just as well be a complete pipe dream and fizzle out before reaching that point. At the very least we would likely have an age called the great shift. An era of uprooted lives as we move about in nomadic lifestyles and maximally commodified existences. Either we move because water eats our shores and storms take our roofs, or we move because our corporate overlords demand it and they might end up buying entire neighbourhoods as workers.

"General Appliances Incorporated has shifted production from India to America. As of this moment, suburbia unit #9871 has been activated. Your self driving smart home will now transit you to your new employment. A fee of 200.000$ has been added to your debt account."

...maybe I should write less dystopian novels.

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5 hours ago, Gopi Passiflora said:

Finally, the time we live in is called the Information Age

You can split up nature and culture in all kinds of eras and other types of categories. Splitting up by progression of human capabilities is one way. However, IMHO, talking about passing on information goes even deeper than that.

We've had an information age for at least 3.85 billion years--a bunch of nucleic acid chains preserving, expanding and replicating their sequences. The information technology you are referring to is an interesting next step, though. As a biologist, I view it as only the second major developmental step in the history of this planet: info being passed on in another form than RNA or DNA, through exchange of abstract symbols made up by sentient beings.

Edited by Arduenn Schwartzman
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4 hours ago, Gopi Passiflora said:

Before modern times, there was the Stone Age. Then there was the Agriculture Age. For a while humanity was concerned with the collection and manipulation of matter (i.e. tool-making and agriculture.)

Then eventually, we had the Industrial Age, where the collection and manipulation of energy was the main driver of the economy (i.e. steam engines, automobiles, etc.) Finally, the time we live in is called the Information Age, in which the collection and manipulation of information is the main driver of the economy (i.e. Computers and the Internet.)

But what do you think will come next?

Nothing for you bio-things, us silicon-based lifeforms will have everything.  You should have thought of this when you turned the atmosphere to Carbon Dioxide, and filled the oceans with Polymerized bio-thing fossils.

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1 hour ago, Horus Salubrius said:

The Automation Age - which I think we are on the way there already.

 

Yeah this...the robotic age.  Although robotics have been here but still people worked part of the "robot" or machine on the assembly line but now machines do not need people.  I'd say also more DNA and new ways to rejuvenate or manipulate cells including cloning and more GMOs.  So, "the cellular age".  

Edited by FairreLilette
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10 hours ago, Lucia Nightfire said:

It's like the average IQ of the population drops the more technologically advanced we become or is it the more socially aware/connected we become?

TL;DR that's entertainment

I think this is a problem with sophistication. The days of being a polymath declined as we moved out of the age of enlightenment through the Victorian era, and entered the Quantum century. When we had a simple model of the universe (Newtonian Euclidian Aristotelian), knowledge was finite; as we explored further and began to discover uncertainties and increased detail the amount of knowledge that could be known with certainty decreased, the amount of detail that had to me mastered to make sense of a particular discipline increased. The amount of knowledge you have to try an assimilate today is massive,  but to add to that problem, large areas of it have to be regarded as still uncertain and therefore you also have to add in the extra study of emerging studies. Most people don't want to be living on the bleedin' edge and want surety.

There is another even more fascinating problem that has a bearing on the rise of conspiracy theories: that is the 60 or 90 minute saga. Since the thirties, we have been exposed more and more to radio, film and TV programs that in the 30,60 or 90 minutes present a problem, arrive at the solution, and most importantly, wrap up all the loose ends. We expect this same nice short full encapsulation to apply to everything, and so when a report comes out into the 9/11 or 7/7 catastrophes, people are not happy with the grey areas that cannot be explained due to lack of available knowledge and distrust the story. It's like a movie that finishes at the end with not all the villains exposed and not all the crimes solved, not all the retribution carried out. We expect life to be to the same standards as movies or TV programs. Knowledge now has to conform to the same standards as entertainment in order to be assimilated, it it doesn't, it's not taken on board.

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The information age, or the digital age, really only just began in the 90s with the widespread use of the internet and the growth of internet-based companies in silicon valley. We are going to be in this computer era for a little while longer. 

For the future, I see commercial space exploration growing which could bring about a true space-faring interplanetary age. Steven Hawking said we need to get to other planets and it looks like we will.

Artificial intelligence is another growing technology where A.I. could solve problems that have plagued humanity for years. As humans we don't trust ourselves or each other. We often blame failures on being human. More importantly, we can't see a way to change these things but A.I. can by thinking literally out of the box that is humanity.

There is also the unlocking of the human genome where we are now in the process of figuring out which genes do what. I think there will be countries and labs that won't be timid with genetic manipulation and we could be seeing 'life changing' technology.

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3 hours ago, Ceka Cianci said:

The age of Aquarius

And then, 2160 years after the onset of the age of Aquarius, we get the age of Sagittarius, and again after 2160 years, the age of Capricornus, Scorpio, Libra, etc. Until after Earth's 26,000-year precession cycle is complete and, just like now, we're back in the age of Pisces again.

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It's axiomatic that as technology develops we see society react to that development and eventually reform around it. I use society in the broad sense ... including government, the people, organisations ... the whole enchilada as it were.

Historically there has been a percentage of society which has resisted technology for a variety of reasons. The Industrial Revolution had examples of workers committing sabotage for instance. The machine age, therefore, must be view not only from the perspective of the technology, but from the perspective of society. Or to put it another way - the technology is not the only change which needs to be viewed as part of the age ... the shift in society as a result of that technology is just as significant.

A lot of people believe that we are deep into the information age, or that we're actually moving into a new age. This is, I believe, quite wrong as it fails to address the fact that society has not absorbed and adjusted to the changes of the digital age in any meaningful way.

There's no question that we are in the information age, but at the moment we're still in the early stages ... as can be seen by the fact that the legal systems around the world are not even remotely suited to addressing the issues which the information age has brought to society. Nor have we (as a society) developed the mechanisms which are necessary to function in the information age.

It would be easy for me to use a contemporary example, given what's been going on in the world recently ... but I'll try for something a little less controversial: The shape of the Earth.

If you fire up your browser of choice and go to youtube you will find a quite amazing number of videos proclaiming that they prove that the earth is flat. Now I'm not going to bother going into these proofs, suffice to say that there are also a number of videos debunking everything claimed by the flat-earthers. It's quite interesting viewing, but it can also leave you with an unsettling feeling that humanity is getting dumber at an accelerating rate. Let's not discuss the Reverse-Flynn effect as that would derail the topic btw.

I suggest, therefore, that one of the mechanisms necessary for society to embrace the information age is the automatic tendency to verify information before accepting it as fact. Unfortunately, in the past few years, we've seen that far too large a percentage of the human race is either unwilling, or incapable of doing so.

I offer, as proof of my contention, another example. Again it would be easy to use a contemporary example, but I'm trying to avoid having this thread get drowned in political rhetoric, so I'll go with something a bit older: Lysenkoism.  For those of you who don't know here's the lede from the wikipedia article

Quote

 

Lysenkoism was a political campaign led by Trofim Lysenko against genetics and science-based agriculture in the mid-20th century, rejecting natural selection in favour of Lamarckism and exaggerated claims for the benefits of vernalization and grafting. In time, the term has come to be identified as any deliberate distortion of scientific facts or theories for purposes that are deemed politically, religiously or socially desirable.


 

And here are the effects (same source)
 

Quote

 

From 1934 to 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions and with Stalin's approval, many geneticists were executed (including Isaak Agol, Solomon Levit, Grigorii Levitskii, Georgii Karpechenko and Georgii Nadson) or sent to labor camps. The famous Soviet geneticist and president of the Agriculture Academy, Nikolai Vavilov, was arrested in 1940 and died in prison in 1943.

In 1936, the American geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller, who had moved to the Leningrad Institute of Genetics with his Drosophila fruit flies, was criticized as a bourgeois, capitalist, imperialist, and promoter of fascism, so he left the USSR, returning to America via Republican Spain. In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience". Over 3,000 biologists were imprisoned, fired, or executed for attempting to oppose Lysenkoism and genetics research was effectively destroyed until the death of Stalin in 1953. Due to Lysenkoism, crop yields in the USSR actually declined.

 

What you may not know is that in 2016 a paper was published in which details current attempts to defend and resurrect Lysenkoism.   

For those who don't want to read the paper, I'll summarise that we're seeing an attempt to rewrite history and science for political purposes. 

The only way to address this is for the people who are being presented this disinformation to examine it and compare it to opposing information. Unfortunately ... right now, we're seeing moves to eliminate inconvenient facts through deplatforming and (let's be honest) duplicitous 'fact checking'. Unproven (and unprovable) claims abound on the 'net ... and pointing out the flaws in those claims gets one a quick trip to the digital gulag.  (Speaking of which ... did you know that in 2018 Students at Goldsmiths University in London described Gulags as places of compassionate rehabilitation? How's THAT for disinformation.)

To support my contention that we have a history of rejecting information based on what we know to be true (which may well be wrong) I offer the story of Barry Marshall and Robin Warren. These two researchers received the Nobel Prize in 2005 for research they carried out in the 1980s. You can look them up, but the short version is that Marshall and Warren were the researchers who showed that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) plays a major role in causing many peptic ulcers. To give you some more information ... the first paper wherein they presented their research was rejected in 1983 by the Gastroenterological Society of Australia. At the time decades of medical doctrine held that ulcers were caused primarily by stress, spicy foods, and too much acid. Now we know that medical doctrine was wrong.

The reality is that, if the Information Age is to be a positive for humanity, then two things are necessary. Society will need to be based on critical thinking ... the ability and willingness to examine information presented to you to ascertain if it's consistent and provable. The second thing is the freedom for information to propagate without interference. And this brings me back to youtube and the flat earth theory, to illustrate the point.

The people who are making the flat earth videos are going against conventional knowledge. But so were Marshall and Warren. So it's necessary that they (anyone who is opposing conventional knowledge) be permitted to do so ... because they may just be right. However it's equally important that people who have evidence that disproves any incorrect information out there be able to present their information so as to correct the record. Then it's up to the people who are being offered those opposing informations to think about it critically and decide for themselves.

Until we achieve that, then society will not have adjusted to the information age. Whether or not we will is still up for debate.

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, animats said:

Something on the bio side, probably. Life extension, maybe.

agree. the bio-engineering age. I think tho that extended life will be a byproduct of bio-engineered human body part replacements

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