Recently there was a small article by Martin Rees in the Guardian pointing to the 10 important questions for society and science.
@ Martin Rees
The answer to the question is actually in the commentary in the subtext. What happened 350 years ago was a revolution in information technology. The impact of the printing press and the opening up for access to knowledge to the population. This caused the social revolution and all the things that followed, including the industrialization, the women’s liberation, the modern economics and everything else. So how can we get a similar revolution now? Well that development is basically what the internet is causing, the problem is the opposing forces that prefer the existing power distribution and the status quo. A new liberation is challenged by the existing powers being protected and enforced. So when will the establishments including the academia relinquish its power?
What is consciousness?
@ Kathy Sykes
A little more of the same thing. How are we ever going to begin to understand consciousness if we arent even open to actually investigating it properly? Current science seem to be much akin to ancient beastiaries with wolfmen and mermaids in them. How are we going to learn if we arent even willing to go and look. When Straussman did his studies in DMT he had to struggle to even be allowed to do the research, and at his own admission he did the studies in an environment and on a timescale that really gave some rather limited datasets. Why are we not seriously listening to the people that experiment with consciousness and actually live as psychonauts? If we are trying to diminish the value of the outliers arent we bound to fail in understanding the phenomenon?
What happened before the big bang?
@ Joan Baker
Asking about the big bang is a premise question. First we would have to accept that the model of creation is actually valid. More and more seem to be inclined against the big bang model, and even so arguing and debating about things before that has little value to us. Its just a modern debate of a theological nature, with a less conscious god. Why would we go into that whole metaphysical quarrel again, and if it has any value, should we not look back at how this topic was handled historically in philosophy and theology, before leaving it in the hands of materialistic science?
The robot scare debate is always turning up. If we reach a technological stage where we can create something like that, would we not be able to use the same technology on ourselves? We are as machines a lot more advanced than any of our creations. I personally doubt we will ever surpass that fact, and if we do, we should expect a Douglas Adams paradox to take effect.
Will science and engineering give us back our individuality?
The comment is valid, but avoids the key aspect. This is all about protectionism and control of knowledge and ownership of technology. If we get 3d printers and more of the same “reproduction” technology what will happen? We all have the most advanced reproductive technology from birth. Its called the human hand, and the human brain. Everything else is just improvements on this. What makes me need to buy another man’s item is my lack of resources to reproduce it. This is both time, knowledge and material based. The question should have been; how can we change society with abundance, while still needing each other?
How are we going to cope with the world’s burgeoning population?
The issue of overpopulation is only a problem because we are in a subsidizing economy. Philosophy aside the potential productive value of a human being is only limited by its access to resources and knowledge. (see above) So your question should be why is population growth a problem, and to whom? What would happen if we focused on securing fundamental resources of living to every human on the planet? What would the potential increased wealth and productivity be? Could we become more efficient and better at sustainable production? Population is only a problem because distribution is unfair, and human value is sold short. Birth rates are kept high mainly in uneducated countries, and this is linked to the same resource distribution problem. Everyone needs to wake up and realize that saving the poor, in resources as well as knowledge, is fundamentally going to save us all.
Marcus du Sautoy
Is there a pattern to the prime numbers?
@Marcus du Sautoy
A really inspiring question. The problem is leaving the context of the problem out of the questioning. In an academic and social environment where power and authority and materialism is the driving force, how can we ever hope to answer such profound questions? We have very few teachers able to show and motivate the topic of mathematics. Those we have tend to be closed minded to alternative views of the world. Personally, I never heard about the enigmas and mysteries of mathematics till I started researching it myself. Why arent kids introduced to the true depth and value of this topic. We need a free and open academy and system of education, so we can have room and time to share these deep and actually spiritual concepts. We have to come to terms with the fact that computers wont answer these questions, more calculations arent going to make better science, the understanding is in the mind of the scientist, not the crunching of big numbers. The pattern to the primes will not be discovered by more computer power, but by better fundamental understanding of the nature of numbers.
Can we make a scientific way of thinking all-pervasive?
The answer to this is simple. Yes, when access to education and information is liberated. When science relinquishes its monopoly on truth. I would reverse the question. What can we do in science to make it more open and inviting to more people?One of these would be to utilize the technology we have to give free education and sharing of discoveries to everyone, and be open to listening to those that might not have the traditional credentials and education. Knowledge and truth is not restricted to the dusty halls of Oxford and Cambridge, even though they are awesome halls of inspiration.
How do we ensure humanity survives and flourishes?
This topic was already asked earlier in a different way, and the issue is still upside down. The problem is our acceptance of a system that is filled with lies and inefficient subsystems. We allow an economic system that makes abundance scarce and try to convince us that scarce resources are abundant. Especially the acceptance of artificial or convenience controlled scarcity is damaging. If we accept a profit margin on a pair of sneakers, on a diamond, or on a bottle of water to be several 100 even thousand percent, what is that going to do to the strain on real resources? The middle man scams that sucks the system dry is what creates the inhumane abuse of our limited resources. The short description would be if you make one man rich on buying a pair of Nike, and he buys a bar of gold you are allowing the misplacement of scarce resources. Its fundamental king Croessus all over again. He can then enforce his power by pointing to the gold you just gave him.. Its a tragedy of the commons on a global scale.
Can someone explain adequately the meaning of infinite space?
Infinite and finite is nicely linked. Rob Bryanton and Nassim Haramein have some good descriptions on how infinity can arise in a finite system. Playing with a moebius band gives some nice hints as to how these paradoxes arise. Its weird but not outside human understanding.
Humans are not the end of evolution. The question is what will take over, and maybe how and when this will happen. It the fall of the sparrow question, we wont see or know till it happens.
Will I be able to record my brain like I can record a programme on television?
Interesting questions, but would it not be more interesting asking how people would live in a world where you could make more new experiences? What will happen to mankind if we can extend life? Or if we can transition from one body to a new one? The immortality theme seems much more profound and potentially relevant then recording past experiences. Those could most likely be easily simulated in a high tech VR just by feeding enough parameters, then the only question would be would you feel the same? Since fundamentally you arent you in the same way anymore you would never truly experience the same thing.
Can humanity get to the stars?
I think this one is very clear and easy. We will get there as soon as we decide to want to. We need to get ready and willing to have a space faring society, before that will be possible though. When resources are distributed fairly andhuman productivity and efficiency thus vastly improved, then the space adventure will be a simple one. With a slight look at current science we already have most of the theoretical technology to do so, we just havent got the racial and global focus.
The 10 questions are a symptom of our problems. We can ask things like that all day, but we will not progress if we dont want to touch the important ones. We need to allow ourselves to question our existing status quo and how that could be better, before we go day-dreaming. What would need to be changed in our current systems to take the next steps for humanity? What is our common utopian goals from our current vantage points? If we arent aiming for big changes, we can not expect to envision even the small ones. Naturally, to reach the big goals we have to be willing and able to reach the smaller ones. It all starts with ideas and then someone daring to take the first steps. Don’t sit around asking for dreams and other people to go first, be the change you want in the world. Stop sitting around looking busy doing nothing.
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