Re: Semi-OT: Past Shock

From: Jeff Medina (
Date: Sun Nov 06 2005 - 23:57:54 MST

For what it's worth, given the relatively small sample size, over 50%
of medical doctors whose thoughts on life extension / negligible
senescence I've come across, via articles, books, essays, and personal
conversation, still consider living to 150 fantastical. Of those who
are more accepting of it, they tend to consider it possible only in
100 or 200 years, at best. (Blatant linear, contra accelerating, view
of change, yes yes.)

So I think your perspective on who and how many are comprehending
implications of modern and emerging biomedical techniques is a bit

I understand your point, though. I wonder if it could be distinguished
from the general "but it's so OBVIOUS that thus-and-so!" reaction felt
by all sorts of folk, right or wrong, SL4 or SL negative twelve (eh?
buh.), who have processed loads of evidence (or what they see as
evidence) for theory X, so much so that their internal estimates of
the prevalence of X-supporting-evidence in the world of ideas makes it
hard to understand how anyone could not have come across *sufficient*
X-supporting-evidence to not make the 'mistake' of floating ideas that
take not-X seriously.

You know what you mean better than I. Does this characterize what
you're talking about, or do you have something else in mind? If the
latter, could you clarify, in part by distinguishing your
"past/present shock" from the above "ain't it obvious!?" shock?

Another shock-ish experience of which I am reminded by your
description is the sort I have when I come across adults who lack even
basic understanding of functions or simple algebra. I boggle at what
it would be like not to understand something so basic, and so
fundamental to my understanding of *so many* other things. This is
perhaps only tangentially related to the sort of shock you described,
but it has its own symmetry, with its reflection across the axis
embodied in the wonder we feel at various 'big' (usually with respect
to complexity) things, like various aspects of cosmology (many worlds,
say), or that sturdy old chestnut, the Singularity.

Jeff Medina
Community Director
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Relationships & Community Fellow
Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies
School of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

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