Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Forces are with us

Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977) tells the tale of a Force with two sides as we find in this scene from the script:

How did my father die?

A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side.of the Force.

The Force?

Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

In this hugely exciting adventure we’re presented with one Force having two moral outcomes, depending on who uses it.  

There are forces at work in the real world that are either for us or against us, depending on who uses them.  Two of those forces are technology and economics.

Most of us use technology as a force that is “with us,” that has given us the World Wide Web, iPhones, Skype, 3D printing of human body parts, the Cloud, powerhouse websites like Amazon and Facebook, libertarian websites like this one, Kahn Academy, The Ron Paul Curriculum, real-time language translation, and much more. 

Empires use technology to kill, spy on, and control others in the name of protecting the empire under the mantra of “national security.”

We spend money for technology that enhances our lives — we spend our money to enhance our lives — while the Empire uses our money to buy technology to obliterate and control others, where “others” includes us as well.   

Will the insatiable Empire regulate and tax us out of existence?  Will it sic killer robots on us?  

Economic law can help answer these questions.  So can the law of accelerating returns, which has been in a phase called Moore’s Law of integrated circuits for roughly half a century.

The law of accelerating returns describes a technological exponential, meaning innovations in various interrelated fields that have been forthcoming gradually will begin to accelerate and finally explode in number and kind.  We’re fast approaching the explosive phase.

I discuss technology and economic law and their impact on our future in my new book, The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty, the preface to which follows: 

* * *

Look around you for a moment.  Is there a computer or tablet nearby?  Perhaps a smartphone?  Most likely there is.  These and other marvels of technology have become integral parts of our lives.

By choice.

Now consider the government at all levels, but especially the federal government.  It too is around, but in a different sense.

Not by choice.

The first expands your freedom and personal power, the other limits your freedom and personal power.  

Because of market forces of competition, the first gets cheaper, better, and more plentiful.  Because of government bureaucracy and threats, the second gets more expensive to support. 

Both have been growing at a fast pace.  With current technology you can Skype with someone overseas, neither of you speaking the same language, yet communicating almost perfectly because of real-time translation software.  Government’s chosen role is to eavesdrop on your conversation because some three-letter government bureaucracy claims it could be a threat.  

And you pay dearly for the eavesdropping, like it or not.

To technology companies, people are potential customers; they must persuade them to buy their products or services.  To the government, people are always threats and with its police power need never worry about persuading anyone.

As technology expands it not only gets more powerful, it gets cheaper to use and will eventually make “poor people” an extinct group.  As government expands it fattens its bureaucratic footprint and struggles to ensure that “poor people” will always be around to keep it in power.

Technology in the hands of individuals promotes peace and good will among people.  Technology in the hands of government brings us closer to the extinction of the human race.

As governments play games at our expense trying to solve problems of scarcity and ecological damage, nanotech engineering will soon provide inexpensive solutions.

Technology makes us more prosperous by taking over an increasing percentage of work that requires a minimum of judgment and creativity.  Robots serve hamburgers so people can become doctors, counselors, or architects.  

What will save us from becoming technology victims is our ongoing merger with it.  The future will not be Man versus Terminators, but rather technologically enhanced humans prospering together.  

The merger is taking place right in front of us.  Computers have gone from buildings, to desktops, to laps, to pockets — and they’re headed for our bloodstream.  In the process they’ve become cheaper and more powerful.  Incredibly cheaper and incredibly more powerful.

In the future people will have more freedom and prosperity than ever before.  They will be radically more free, radically more prosperous.  Atomically-precise manufacturing using common feedstocks will launch another industrial revolution — this time from basements instead of factories.   Longevity will be the norm because nano-robots will supercharge and protect their bodies, including their brains.

As I discuss in the following pages, technology is headed for an exponential flight to the stars — and most people will choose to go with it.  Government, because it’s founded on theft, debt, and unsound money, while given legitimacy by court intellectuals, is headed for bankruptcy.  According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff the government is already there, given its fiscal gap in excess of $200 trillion.

Where we once turned to government with the flawed notion that it could solve our problems, we will have technology at hand to actually help us.  It’s already well underway.  With state-funded education consisting largely of indoctrination and bureaucracy, people are turning to the internet for homeschooling and to educate themselves.  As government interventions drive up the costs of medical care, more people are relying on the internet for health maintenance and advice. Behind the scenes, technology is on the threshold of revolutionizing treatment methods for serious diseases, such as a “‘smart’ patch that monitors blood glucose and releases insulin when levels climb too high.”   And the reality of a doctor in your pocket is not far off.

However challenging, I believe the path is clear: Government will spend itself into oblivion, and technology will ascend too fast and widespread to stop it.  

But why try to stop it?  Technology is a revolution without end, and we will be better for it.

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