Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Will Change Everything?

"What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?"

That's the question posed here, and you should see all the respondents -- Brian Eno (quite the pessimist), Chris Anderson, Howard Gardner, Kevin Kelly, Michael Shermer, Freeman Dyson, George Dyson, and many many more -- Including the guy whose book I have been reading off and on for past six months, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb response excerpt: I will conclude with the following statement: you cannot do anything with knowledge unless you know where it stops, and the costs of using it. Post enlightenment science, and its daughter superstar science, were lucky to have done well in (linear) physics, chemistry and engineering. But, at some point we need give up on elegance to focus on something that was given the short shrift for a very long time: the maps showing what current knowledge and current methods do not do for us; and a rigorous study of generalized scientific iatrogenics, what harm can be caused by science (or, better, an exposition of what harm has been done by science). I find it the most respectable of pursuits.

Part of me bristles at that (the notion that having them come to put a chip in my head might actually not be something that is all the way a positive) but then I substitute the phrase "economics" for "science" and I swallow it more easily.

In addition to the index at the Edge site, see my own Wikipedia user page for wiki links to all the participants. (All of the participants who have Wikipedia articles, that is.) I haven't fread all the responses by any means, and I may not end up reading every single one. But, if I find some that jump out, I will excerpt and comment on them here.

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