Plastic Brains, Femmebots, and Aliens Watching TV

Dispatches from the Humanity+ Summit


Cambridge, Mass. The Humanity+ Summit convened at the Harvard University Science Center earlier this month to talk about plastinated brains, conscious computer chips, iPhone apps that display brain spikes, and other topics both fun and futuristic. Most of the folks gathered for the conference were transhumanists, people who support the use of science and technology to radically improve human intelligence, emotional capacities, and physical characteristics, including making death voluntary. Critics, such as Johns Hopkins University political theorist Francis Fukuyama, have called transhumanism the world's most dangerous idea.

The first day of the Humanity+ summit—the group is a rebranded version of the World Transhumanist Association—was roughly divided into two segments, each a series of rapid fire 10 minute talks: enhanced brains in the morning and artificial brains in the afternoon. (Sadly, my schedule did not allow me to attend the second day.) Notably, far more women participated in and attended this summit than those in years past. In addition, the average age of attendees dropped from middle-aged to late 20s and early 30s.

Enhanced Natural Brains

Regarding enhanced brains, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher, Ed Boyden, who heads up the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, launched the morning sessions with a talk on controlling brain circuits with light. His team has developed ways of inserting particular genes into neurons so that they respond to specific wavelengths of light. Blue light causes the gene-doped neurons to fire, and yellow light silences them. The goal is to figure out ways to reprogram corrupted neural computation enabling the treatment of brain diseases such as strokes, depression, and drug addiction.

In her talk, "Do We Click?," Lauren Silbert, a graduate student with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, showed recent research in which she found that speaker listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. While in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, her brain was scanned to see what parts of it "lit up" as she told a story. Later a recording of the story was played while 11 different listeners were having their brains scanned by fMRI machines. Silbert found that speaker and listener brains are coupled; the same areas of the brain "lit up" in each. As a check, listeners heard recordings of a story in Russian and a different story in English and there was no coupling. In fact, Silbert reported that the degree of neural coupling predicts the success of the communication.

Alexandra Elbakyan, a researcher on brain-machine interfaces, speculated on the development of computer chips that could seamlessly add to a human brain's conscious experience. Basically, the idea is to create "artificial consciousness." She cited work by New York University nanotechnologist Rodolfo Llinas whose team is developing a way to insert a network of nanowires smaller than the diameter of red blood cells through the capillaries in a brain. Snaking such nanowires through the brain's vascular system might enable computational devices such as Elbakyan's consciousness chips to interface with individual neurons. Although Elbakyan didn't speculate that far out, perhaps inserting such consciousness chips would enable a user to upload Chinese or calculus immediately.

Plastinating Brains

These new neurotechnologies are all very well, but you will still likely die. Is there a way to preserve your brain, and thus your identity for the future? Traditionally, some people have turned to cryonics—basically freezing their brains and bodies in a vat of liquid nitrogen with the idea that in the future nanotechnology will be able to unthaw and revive them. At the summit, John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, announced the Brain Preservation Prize. (Disclosure: I made a $50 contribution to the foundation while at the summit.) Modeled on the X Prizes, the Brain Preservation Foundation wants to encourage researchers to develop techniques "capable of inexpensively and completely preserving an entire human brain for long-term storage with such fidelity that the structure of every neuronal process and every synaptic connection remains intact and traceable using today's electron microscopic imaging techniques."

The idea is that the precise pattern of information in an individual's brain constituting that person's identity would be preserved and could be revived later by being uploaded into an advanced information technology network or perhaps a new body and brain. Although any technique could qualify for the prize, Smart evidently believes that a kind of plastination is the most likely way to go. People who attend the Body Worlds exhibition are familiar with one type of plastination that is used to preserve entire human bodies for display. One technique involves flooding a brain shortly after death with glutaraldehyde to fix proteins, followed by osmium tetroxide to stabilize lipids and other compounds. This process turns a brain into a black block of plastic that will last indefinitely.

Smart was followed by Harvard researcher Kenneth Hayworth whose work focuses on using electron microscopy to delineate every synaptic connection from plastinated mouse brains. Plastination preserves both structure and molecular level information. He predicted that scientists would produce a synapse level atlas of an entire human brain over the next decade. "Can a mind be extracted from a plastic embedded brain?" ask Hayworth. "The answer is almost certainly yes." When? In the next 50 years, predicted Hayworth.

An infectiously exuberant Timothy Marzullo, a post-doc at the Kauffman Foundation and co-founder of Backyard Brains, offered an example of do-it-yourself neurotech at the summit. Marzullo claims to have been entranced by brain spikes (electrical impulses that travel down neurons) since childhood. Backyard Brains (slogan: Neuroscience For Everyone!) has created an inexpensive "spikerbox" that students can use to detect and record neuron spikes in invertebrates which he demonstrated at the summit. The output from a spikerbox can also be loaded onto an iPhone using Backyard Brains's new app for neuroscience on the go.

Artificial General Intelligence

Enhanced natural intelligence is all very well, but what about creating supersmart artificial intelligences? Noah Goodman, a young scientist currently working with MIT's Computational Cognitive Science Group, is focusing on revealing the design principles that support human thought with the goal of reverse engineering intelligence. Goodman and his colleagues have created a computer programming language, Church, that makes probabilistic inferences from data much the way that human brains do. He believes that Church represents a big step toward fashioning flexible computer intelligence.

Roboticist Heather Knight, who runs Marilyn Monrobot Labs in New York City, argues that robots will learn from us and their first really successful use will likely be as entertainers. Her show-and-tell featured the interactive Nao robot from Aldebaran Robotics which, among other things, performed a reduced (as in Reduced Shakespeare) version of Stars Wars. While cute, the Nao robot proves that there is still quite a long way to go before the advent of practical femmebots.

Next came Geordie Rose, the founder and chief technology officer of D-Wave Systems, a Canadian company that is building quantum computer systems. Quantum computers making use of quantum mechanical phenomena would be vastly more efficient than traditional computers using transistors. Being able to sort through vast amounts of data quickly will enable machines using quantum processors to learn and develop intelligence. Rose's quantum processors are made using superconductors that must be chilled to below 4 degrees above absolute zero in order to work. Rose argues that biological brains do not and cannot make use of quantum mechanics in their operation.

Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica and author of A New Kind of Science, gave a long talk about the centrality of computation in explaining life, the universe, and everything. In Wolfram's view, the universe is a kind of cellular automaton that is computing reality. The computation of the universe is fundamentally irreducible. Computational irreducibility means that there is no shortcut for computing the results of an activity and consequently it is basically impossible to accurately predict its ultimate outcome. The only way to find its outcome is effectively just to watch it evolve. Wolfram argued that computational irreducibility is what makes our history meaningful since there is no way to predict in advance what will happen. Whatever artificial intelligence human beings do develop will occur in the context of our history and its purposes will be informed by that history. 

Wolfram also likened our bodies to operating systems that can in the future be rebooted. He predicted that the first thing that will happen with regard to rebooting is that cryonics will be successful and that achievement will immediately revolutionize our view of time. Wolfram also briefly addressed the Fermi Paradox: if there are advanced alien civilizations in the universe why haven't we met them yet? If all we need to do is run computations, suggested Wolfram, who needs to explore the actual universe? Simply making things smaller and more computationally interesting at home is a lot easier than colonizing other planets. Basically, all the aliens may be at home watching television.

The pieces necessary for creating artificial intelligence are already at hand, argued University of Tennessee computer scientist Itamar Arel. He suggested that researchers can model computer circuits on brain organization in which sensory inputs are abstracted at higher and higher cortical levels. Building such circuits to mimic brain processes combined with some kind of system that rewards learning in such a way to encourage strategic thinking could jumpstart an artificial intelligence revolution in just a few years.

The final speaker of the day, AI researcher Ben Goertzel, outlined "The Future History of Artificial General Intelligence." Goertzel, who has been toiling in the field of artificial intelligence for many years, heads up the OpenCog project which is trying, in a sense, to crowdsource the development of beneficial artificial intelligence. In his outline of the future of AI, Goertzel predicted that we would see by 2020 the rise of robot children and the creation of a network of robot scientists. By 2030, many different AIs will be networked globally and we humans will be neurally "jacked into" that network. Around 2040, transapient Archais will emerge that incorporate both artificial and natural intelligences.

The Democratic Threat to Transhumanism

Besides covering the summit as a reporter, I also spoke on the democratic threat to transhumanism. I asked summiteers if they think their neighbors should get to vote on whom they marry? Whether one should be able to use contraception? Likely not. So why should people get to vote on whether a person can increase his or her healthy lifespan using transformative technologies? For example, using human embryonic stem cell lines to cure one's illnesses? And why should balloting limit a person's access to new reprogenetic technologies? I then pointed out that contemporary history unfortunately shows that majorities in modern democracies are only too happy to ban technologies (e.g., stem cells, cloning) that are the precursors to transhuman progress.

I showed that of all the leading democratic countries, only the United States had no national policies banning such technologies. To my surprise, when I pointed that out, the many members of the audience applauded and cheered. I ended by explaining that as a minority preference (at least for now) transhumanists must argue for liberty and not be seduced by democratic happy-talk. When people of good will deeply disagree on moral issues that don't involve the prevention of force or fraud, it is a fraught exercise to submit their disagreement to a panel of political appointees or a democratic vote. That way leads to intolerance, repression, and social conflict.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is available from Prometheus Books.

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  1. Critics, such as Johns Hopkins University political theorist Francis Fukuyama, have called transhumanism the world’s most dangerous idea.

    I think I’ll file this in the trash can along with Fukuyama’s brilliant idea about “The End Of History”.

    1. What? I thought the history was settled.

      1. It’s the science that’s settled

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  2. Oh wow, way to go there Robert Bailey. Nice.


  3. Wow, now thats what I am talking about dude

    1. You would like this, SkyNet.

      1. Anything that gets us close to the singularity.

        1. Heh heh heh, Anonymity Bot wants the foolish humans to do the Marcus Wright research for it.

        2. Captchya’s get us closer to the singularity.

          1. don’t train the AI

  4. “Although Elbakyan didn’t speculate that far out, perhaps inserting such consciousness chips would enable a user to upload Chinese or calculus immediately.”

    Now that is what I am talking about. When can I buy my ancient Greek ap?

    1. I wanna learn kung fu in 12 seconds.

      1. Show me!

      2. but screw that, “you can only do it in the matrix BS”. I want to learn stuff to be able to do it in RL.

        1. Then you probably want to sleep in those beds Doctor Venture built for Hank and Dean.

  5. Been there. Done that.

    Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
    With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
    Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
    A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

    1. I thought it was “a girl with colitis goes by.”

  6. Looking, learning Esperanot, Elven, and Klingon is HARD! I NEED a language chip…

  7. Ronald “Danger” Bailey

    I am so using that.

      1. have a guess. NTTIAWWT

    1. I used to dance under that name.

  8. What, 14 comments in and nothing about fembots?

    You’re slipping, folks.

  9. These new neurotechnologies are all very well, but you will still likely die.

    You’re being optimistic about the death rate, currently running at 100.00000000000000%.

    1. You’re forgetting about En Sabah Nur (The Apocalypse).

    2. I can’t get that phrase out of my head… “ will still likely die.” It is sooo funny!

    3. Current death rate is running at 95%.…..Earth.aspx

      For your estimate to be true, it would have to be the case that everyone who has ever been born has already died.

      1. Nobody has lived forever. There is no one living over 130 years old. Every single person born in all humanities existence is either dead or under 130 years old.

  10. The geniuses who think they could extract you in the future from your plasticized brain are overlooking one tiny detail. It would not be YOU. Assuming it were ever possible, they would be uploading perhaps an exact replica of your personality and memories, but YOU would not be there, because your consciousness would be gone, having long since moved on to the next plane of existence. Even if they could download the “new” you into a robot body, or a newly grown biological body, the new person that may act and think just like you once did would not actually BE you. A replica of your memories and personality is not you. Your consciousness is you. Sadly,I am not really surprised that the mad scientist types who are so excited about this have failed to take into account this inconvenient detail.

    1. You couldn’t get this kind of detail past Douglas Hofstadter.

    2. Damn them for ignoring dogmatic dualism.

    3. The premise of a whole mess of John Varley stories is that you’re right, it’s not you, but it’s the best of the available options. I suspect that that’s where these researchers are coming from.

    4. This inconvenient detail bugs me, and the fact that it bugs me REALLY bugs me, because it means I can’t overcome my hardwired fear of oblivion.

      Since I don’t believe in a soul, I have no reason to think there is anything other than the information encoded in my brain that makes me “me”. If my consciousness is suspended by anesthesia the person that awakes is equivalent to the copy made from my plasticized brain. Either way my consciousness was suspended and the information that described it became static. It was then accessed and became dynamic again. In other words I died and a copy has been revived.

      Yet I’m not concerned about anesthesia. I’m certainly not scared of drinking myself into temporary oblivion. That I’m still horrified at the prospect of teleporting myself or plasticizing my brain and would irrationally prefer cryogenics despite the liklihood of information loss pisses me off. If I were scared to take drugs, or go to sleep, or do anything that interrupted my linear perception of consciousness this fear would be perfectly reasonable. But I’m not.

      Consciousness 0. Genes 1.

      1. Well said, houndmaster.

        1. My guess is the plasticized and then resurrected “you” would be “you”, but with something like a very harsh case of amnesia. Or temporal dislocation.

      2. Isn’t your hardwired fear of oblivion the fear of death? Your “self” exists as a finite amount of data that can in theory be artificially preserved forever. If it’s not preserved, you will die. Don’t let it bug you–it is either inevitable, or we’ll all die before it happens.

      3. It’s understandable. There’s no way to test it for positive result, but there are tests for a negative result. Any downloading/teleportation technology that could theoretically work with the orginal still functioning would be only producing high grade copies, there would be no continuity of consciousness from the originals viewpoint.

        A short story called “Learning to be Me” debunked any romantic notions I had of mind transfers being a path to immortality.

        1. No, wrong.

          If a nanoassembler made a copy of you with all the information stored in your brain and body functions, your “copy’s” consciousness would be linked to yours at quantum level:
          Anything your duplicate experiences you would also feel it and viceversa. This is the reason why some identical twins experience the same sensations of the other at the same time.

          1. Until identical twins can experience each other’s sensations on command in a reproducible laboratory setting I’m discounting such claims as flukes of chance and selective recall bias. Identical twins are far from identical at the quantum level. So while I’ll grant a quantum entanglement of consciousness phenomenon is plausible, it would take more than an incidence of cell division to create it. Could we create a duplicate so thoroughly exact that even its quantum state is matched and entangled to the original model? Could we install a type of shielding that would maintain that entanglement as the various copies go about disparate business? Not yet, but perhaps in the future. An interesting concept.

            Quantum effects are actually my most rational reason for fearing any path to immortality that relies on copies rather than preservation of the orginal. It’s possible consciousness is somehow dependent upon a quantum state that we cannot measure. Perhaps a set of uncollapsed wave functions that must remain uncollapsed. Thus any copy we create, no matter how precise we make it, could be lacking something vital. My hunch is that the copies will function just fine, but it’s still a possibility. I suppose we’ll find out when the first copies are finally made.

            1. The claims of shared feelings among identical twins has been also documented by medicine, especially in newborns, even Carl Sagan in his book “The Demon Haunted World” said that the claims deserved some research, I don’t know if any serious research has been performed yet.

              The twins example I wouldn’t classify it like quantum entanglement, more like both consciusness are still sharing one or more “quantum states” or “particles of consciusness”, which as the twins grow they become more and more separate.

              I’m speculating that making a perfect copy of you and either upload it to a computer to run it or “activating” in the real world would cause a much more extreme version of this: Vividly experiencing the exact same sensations of your other self, it would be like living in two bodies at the same time.

  11. Well, George, the only problem with your assertion is that the extracted you, after extraction and reanimation, will swear he is, in fact, you. And who could deny him his opinion? You? Yes, if you weren’t, well, “dead” and plastinated . . . . . . if you’re dead . . . . or not . . . . or . . . .

    1. I am sure he would swear he was me, and he would not necessarily be wrong…from his perspective. But he would be the one experiencing my re-animated life and existence, not me. Just because an exact replica, a software copy of my life experiences, memories, thought processes, and personality traits gets downloaded into a new mainframe and rebooted doesn’t mean that I would be going along for the ride. MY consciousness, MY awareness of being, MY self-awareness of existence might be extinguished or moved on. The new being that is a copy of me might indeed be conscious and self-aware, but that doesn’t mean that I would be.

      1. You are not providing any definition of what YOU are. All you are saying is that YOU are not the sum of your “life experiences, memories, thought processes, and personality traits “. Well then, what are YOU? When you say “It would not be YOU. Assuming it were ever possible, they would be uploading perhaps an exact replica of your personality and memories, but YOU would not be there, because your consciousness would be gone, having long since moved on to the next plane of existence.”, you are assuming a certain definition of consciousness, which you have not provided to the rest of us for debate.

        1. If I create a copy of my mind but there’s no continuence of existence from the orginals perspective, what good is it as a path to immortality? It’s just a more personnally narcissistic version of having a child.

          1. My intuition says that uploading will do no good for the original, since the original neurons from which the information was extracted still remain. Which gives up two consciousnesses: the original, wetware one and the digital one.

            But there is another, more secure way of maintaining consciousness. Gradually replace every neuron in the brain with nanobots. That should do the trick.

          2. If I create a copy of my mind but there’s no continuance of existence from the orginal’s perspective…

            Who said that the original wouldn’t feel itself to have continued? Now, I’m not saying that it would, but it kind of sounds like you are assuming that it won’t. Correct me if I am wrong about your assumptions.

  12. I have no reason to think there is anything other than the information encoded in my brain that makes me “me”.

    That is your soul, houndmaster. The bits that describe that structure, are your soul. Preserve them, download them, run them on another platform, and there you are. Just make sure you keep a backup around somewhere.

    1. No, those bits are your mind. If the soul exists I don’t think that it can be captured by technology.

  13. As these advances increase, society will need good liberals pushing it in the direction of equality of access, I’m sure we all agree. Surely libertarians wouldn’t endorse wealth-based genetic castes.

    1. And once again, you would be wrong.

    2. Yes, liberals cannot have wealth-based castes, that might leave them out. Power and influence based casstes, on the other hand…

  14. Morgan Freeman in that show explained how we’re about 50 years away from creating artificial realities and sentience. And one guy was like, what’s more likely? That in a 14 billion year-old universe, we’re a mere 50 years from being able to create simulated realities, or that we’re already in somebody else’s? I’m convinced.

    1. Well put Tony. The show is Through the Wormhole, btw.

    2. There’s certainly a practical case to be made for equality of access from a transhumanist perspective: it might be the best way to overcome certain political resistance as technology for radical self-engineering becomes reality. On the other hand, there needs to be financial incentive to invest the substantial resources that will be required for the “last mile” of making the technology practical.

  15. “a researcher on brain-machine interfaces, speculated on”

    Speculation indeed. Perhaps we should learn to use the brains we have BEFORE we speculate on building bigger and better brains.

  16. “Although Elbakyan didn’t speculate that far out, perhaps inserting such consciousness chips would enable a user to upload Chinese or calculus immediately.”

    Perhaps – or perhaps the law of nature “you can’t get something for nothing” will always be an immutable law limiting what can be accomplished (in reality, not bullshit sessions).

    “The idea is that the precise pattern of information in an individual’s brain constituting that person’s identity would be preserved and could be revived later by being uploaded into an advanced information technology network or perhaps a new body and brain. ”

    And what if the basis for a person’s identity is not to be found solely within that dataset?

  17. I want to know about the ‘learn a new skill in seconds’ business. Take calculus, for instance. Would you just know every technique, trick, and way of mathematically computing volumes and other integrations? Would people still have opinions about what the pure math might mean, how it’s applied, etc?

    Because I struggle with calc a little, and I just can’t imagine really, really understanding it all…although I can imagine that it would be pretty sweet.

  18. I want to know about the ‘learn a new skill in seconds’ business. Take calculus, for instance. Would you just know every technique, trick, and way of mathematically computing volumes and other integrations? Would people still have opinions about what the pure math might mean, how it’s applied, etc?

    Because I struggle with calc a little, and I just can’t imagine really, really understanding it all…although I can imagine that it would be pretty sweet.

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  20. I love how jackasses can hop on their computer and write up some completely speculative shit about what it REALLY means to be human, and then expect us to treat it like its anything more than their opinion.

    Guess what George True: you don’t know anymore about what really makes you You than I do about what makes me Me.

    So STFU and let me download myself. Nobody is forcing you to partake.

    1. Why the animosity and curse-out? Am I not allowed to express an opinion just as you are? Am I or anyone else here telling YOU to “STFU” simply because you expressed your opinion?

      I am expressing an opinion that uploading the contents of your brain to another location may not necessarily mean that your consciousness, however you define it, will be transferred with the data from your brain. Consciousness, as we experience it, from our perspective, may be more than just the sum of the data stored on our brains.

      Why do you find such an opinion so offensive that you feel the need to curse me out?

      1. GT,

        I agree that wylie’s anger and is uncalled for. Some people just don’t like discussion.

        However, I would like to point out that some of your previous posts seemed to be alot more sure than

        Consciousness, as we experience it, from our perspective, may be more than just the sum of the data stored on our brains.

        would indicate. Earlier, you seemed to just assume that Consciousness WAS more than “the sum of the data stored in our brains”.

        That being said, there’s no reason for that vitriol.

  21. holy hell wer’e in the matrix (by the way my first post).

  22. I’m just chomping at the bit waiting for someone to turn on the Happy Machine and tell me how i can best serve Obama!
    Oh Happy Day!

  23. @George True: “Why the animosity and curse-out?”

    All that soul talk, probably, and how conciousness might not actually be reducible to brain activity. Maybe folks were afraid you might start in with the God stuff next.

    1. You may be right. Although I never mentioned or even IMPLIED that I was talking about a soul or anything remotely mystic or religious. If Wylie or anyone else inferred such then that was their knee-jerk erroneous assumption.

  24. Mr. Bailey, the problem with applying a non-interventionist policy to the technologies that you wish to use is that their effects are not limited to your own personal protoplasm. Forget social experimentation, you wish to use or harvest functioning organisms from the human lineage for your own personal gain without consent or benefit to the other organism. The act of intervening before the organism is capable of said consent or benefit does not make the use any less an act of aggression.

  25. I say we repeal the 17 ammendment, have term limits.

    Surely soem states will pass gay marriage, and these sorts of technologies here, in time. And once the other see the potential, they will have to, in order to remain compettitive, adapt themselves. That is why we need to reduce the power of the federal government.

    However, I am not too worried of a strong federal government and the implication of the democratic process, and I will tell you why. The planet is far too global to be bitching about social mores and the like. If the US doesn’t adopt these techs, China will, other countries are surely to go such a route. In order to remain economically relevent, just as a start, such technologies will need to be experimented.

    Not to mention western bloated governments, huge with spending, do not frighten me much given they acqurie much of their revenue through debt and very ltitle through tax revenue sicne the countries are mainly innovative-service oriented. This means strong federal governments will likely not be justified unless they supprot and justify their huge spending schemes through tax revenue, which in major amounts wil lonly occur through pro bussiness strategies (free market-innovation sparking) and manufacturing…

    and the one at the moment that has all these things, doesn’t have these stupid ass delusions of social morality, namely China..

    so yea, Im not really worried…about western democracies. Efficiency will take care of it by itself.

  26. in 30 years time, the US would havel ikely gone through an economic collapse, worse than the depression. People will blame the federal ssytem and hence go more libertarian. People won’t have the time or the luxury to be argueing about stupidities, so they will stick with what works, what they know is good for them. The states will become one of the most innovative sectors in the world, as different ideas are tested throughout, each being adopted in term based on how thei fare in other states…and later countries. Eventually, health care costs will plummet due to new technologies, and thereafter the collapse, most of health care would have gone private….and the innovative boom will come just in time to transition to a system where many of the health concerns we have today (aids, cancer, obesity) will have vanished. (bio-printing or regeneration for failed organs, nanotech targeting of cancer cells, bio-programming for natural shedding of fat cells)..

    So, social security and health care will be a thing of the past, the private sector havign solved the problems.

    From a purely historical and socially stupid perspective, statism would have been the ill of all things, and innovation and the private sector will be looked at as the saviours, wiping out stupid ass and primitive ideologies of the 20th century.

    The only country that will likely survive with a strong federal government will be China, and as I said, I really doubt China will give into social mores instead of progress. They are after all, not really a democracy, and the previous democracies will have lost all centralized control due to collapses, leading to more private enterprise.

    No, on the contrary my fair writer, I think in the future, the biggest power players will instead be corporations and the legal system, which would havei nhereited the earth. The banking system will be a centralized system, with currencies being determined in a sort of ‘global fed’ which will be the real powerhouse for current democracies and not some political bullshit in the US congress.

    The best ideas will survive in the marketplace, the worst will go extinct. There will be very little control and controls to runaway technololgies will be developed on the fly. It will be a very innovative world, unrestrainted and unapologetic to social mores, which would ahve changed and leared to accept a world where a third party central government is incompetent, thus, turning to trust innovation, and issues of morality as far as what the GOVERNMENT can do will be quite limited.

    It will also be a very turbulent time, both politically and resource wise until we can solve it through asteroid mining (cheap access to space) lab on a chip in scale for the water shortages by extracting from sea water and energy solutiosn with nanotech…

    Prob the msot innovative time of all of humanity, but very turbulent as well….but with an acceptance that there are limited resources on the planet, and very cynical that a democratic government can solve any of the problems due to lessons of the past (in other words, right now)…

    hence, on the contrary my good fellow, the inheritors of the earth will be corporations, individual innovators, and strong statists meritocratic organizations (global fed) or governments (china-non-democratic)…with all the democratic nations being far too weak politically, but incredibly strong economically (due to the fire we went through), to justify a centralized authoirty, which would get in the way of innovation.

    Unlike the dreams of stupid stupid socialists, an economic collapse will favour, to a great extent, the free market, with the innovation and results that people like.

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