Sunday, April 30, 2023

Futures Once Again…

This is the end of April 2023. One more birthmonth came and went. Not to dismiss the idea of a birthday but when you’re nearing 40 years of pure life, caring about a single day seems counterproductive at best and irrelevant at worst. So I have started celebrating a whole birthmonth with cakes, sweets, long naps and occasional research into why nobody has yet done something which I have been thinking about for the last two years! Whether I will do that thing this year is again another research problem to think about altogether. More on that at the end of this year.

That is not the reason the title of this post starts with the word “Future”. Long time readers of this post will recognize that the plural form of that word is a series of short sci-fi stories in the scientific journal Nature. And once again, there has been a good and interesting story.

Change YourView

This story (did you click the above picture?) is about tackling climate destruction in an innovative way. Don’t want to go into any more details but it is an interesting read. What I want to talk about instead is what it made me think of. This story reminded me of the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, which I gave myself as a birthmonth present after reading it mentioned on 4Gravitons blog. I had finished the trilogy just last week so the memory was ‘fresh’ and recollection was ‘instant’. Anyway, getting to the point, the first book involves characters who deal with “crisis” in similar subtle and innovative ways. One of those characters named “Salvor Hardin” has been assigned ‘memorable’ quotes (I guess deliberately). Here are two of the most repeated ones:

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.

I feel both of these quotes are in some sense demonstrated in the Futures story; also the cliché phrase “an offer one can’t refuse”, and many other things. I guess I felt this story resonated with me because it led to many such resonances. And as is well-known, people do tend to like familiar things more than something entirely new. Even if the new idea or thing is revolutionary. Or maybe, especially, if it is revolutionary and life-changing, people tend to regard it with suspicion. For a recent example, think about the rise of Bing AI, ChatGPT, fear of job loss, dip in creativity, etc.

I don’t have much to say about those things or anything else for that matter in this post. So let me end it by instead pointing you to the

Foundation heptology