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Another Perfect Day? | slice of tomorrow short story cycle concept

slice of tomorrow futuristic realism

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#1
Yuli Ban

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I have set down a very basic outline for a new story that will finally bring together slice of tomorrow/futuristic realism into an actual work. The story is named Babylon Today and will be a short story cycle in the vein of Winesburg, Ohio and I, Robot. Work on this will not begin formally until I complete two other forthcoming projects. I have seven pre-existing narrative concepts at the moment; my plan is to bring that up to twenty-five. But I want to have this down so that I don't forget about it. The earlier threads on slice of tomorrow and the Eutopia series were leading up to this. It's very likely that The Dark Things will snap into it.

 
Working central themes: nostalgia, the unknown, change and the resistance to/acceptance of change, generation gaps, and future shock.

I will admit up-front that it isn't cyberpunk, though it will feature a cyberpunk tropes as a side-effect of sci-tech progression and humanity's ability to corrupt anything. It dates back to the very conception of futuristic realism— "write a literary fiction story set today, then add ten-to-fifty years to the date and adjust the setting accordingly." You need to adjust more than that, of course, but this is the mindset you must have when you write futuristic realism and slice of tomorrow. Babylon Today will be my debut in that field just to see how well it works.

 

 


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#2
Yuli Ban

Yuli Ban

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Update!

 

I've been told repeatedly that I should set this story where I live— in small-town southern Louisiana near enough to New Orleans to regularly go there. So that's my new intention. Prepare for a late '30s/early '40s New Orleans! 

It's funny. If you told someone that you're writing a lit-fic about the late '30s Deep South, they'd have an entirely different image in their mind than what I have in store. It'd also be funny to clash the culturally conservative South against the rise of technism. 

 

Here's where I could use some help from Starspawn0: I want to go in-depth with the progress of AI and robotics by 2038-2042 or so. As such, my plan is to adapt my blog post about the various types of AI and show off how they'd work. That's one reason why I want to really go with a slice of tomorrow format— there'll be nothing getting in the way of really showing how future technology affects our lives. Sci-fi action and sci-fi romance need technology to work with the plot and omit stuff that doesn't need to be shown. Since the impact of technology on everyday life is the point of this story, I can cram just about whatever I want in there. 

 

One of the harder things about doing this, I found out, is getting out of my comfort zone about what "daily life" would be like. We are biologically hardwired to prefer the status quo and prefer things that resemble it (the "sci-fi is the present decade in the future" cliche). This is why it's so hard to show a positive future world with a fully automated workforce, for example. Or one that has people with telepathic implants rather than smartphones. Or, much more tellingly, why sci-fi authors of the 1930s-through-60s were fine with showing the denizens of the 2000s using jetpacks and flying cars and robot butlers but women were still doting submissive housewives and any orientation other than heterosexuality was verboten or, at best, treated as something villainous. 

You can't even really invent something and write a simple explanation of how things changed. 

 

Imagine it's the 1960s and you've written into your story that everyone now carries with them a pocket supercomputer that doubles as a telephone. On one hand, you're apt to overexaggerate how enlightened people will be because of it, showing all the highbrow technobabble while ignoring that people will use it to amuse themselves for the most part. But that's only the surface. Most likely, you're going to completely ignore things like the fact people now reject all phone calls that aren't identified, or that missing a phone call means that someone's probably ignoring you rather than not near their phones. It used to be that you called someone's house, their parents picked up, and you asked if your friend or lover was there. And the discussions would be wholesome and family friendly if the parents were home, and would get naughty if they weren't. Now, if you call someone and their parents pick up, that's shocking. Why do their parents have their phone? Is something wrong? Did they get in trouble? Did they forget it at home? Will they find all those nudes you sent? Did they discover your mate's fetish? 

These sorts of things didn't exist in the '60s and few sci-fi authors ever imagined they'd be issues people would have in our era. Sci-fi authors from the '60s and '70s would have sooner used smartphones as communicators only for important conversations and occasionally heartfelt messages than anything like what we casually use them for. 

 

Yes, it is partially because science fiction stories focused more on the epic and action-packed than the slice of life, so such topics never occurred to them since you're probably not going to send dickpics to your two or eight girlfriends when you're adventuring across an alien planet but when you're at home, your primate genitals are screaming for stimulation, and you have access to a miniature supercomputer and know that your lovers also have access to the same sort of miniature supercomputer... 

 

The same is true for things like BCIs. I can't even begin to imagine how much they'd change society. 

 

Remember when I came up with the concept of "helots"— that is, publicly-owned municipal robots? That was an example of peripheral effects of sci-fi technology in and of itself, something I just happened to think about one day when I imagined owning my own worker bots and corporations owning their own automated workers. If I could and megacorps could, couldn't cities also do the same? Wouldn't someone see a pothole and send their robot to fix it? Wouldn't there be robots dedicated towards fixing potholes, purifying water, cleaning trash from the sidewalks, etc.? Voila, helots. 

 

Keep asking questions about how something will realistically affect society if people had it to use. Hell, the very concept of technism and an automated workforce is born out of the realization that if everyone had their own personal robot, they'd probably just use it to earn them a paycheck than do chores. 


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#3
Yuli Ban

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UPDATE.

So I decided to create a prequel to Babylon Today using the original intent expressed here. As such, I've renamed the "original Babylon Today" to "Another Perfect Day?" and it's going to entirely follow Konstantin and Pandora's lives in the 2030s. 

 

The whole reason why I decided to do this was because I was talking to one of my old professors about a week ago about fiction from the 1920s and '30s, particularly Southern fiction (i.e. William Faulkner and his ilk). I brought up some thoughts about how technology can help cause culture clashes, as was true in that time. Recall my points about how there have been "two technological curves" before now ("first curve" and "second curve"). The first technological curve coincided with the era I like to call the "Middle South"— that period between the end of Reconstruction and the end of World War 2, from about 1877 to 1945. It separates the Old South (Antebellum era on back) from the New South (which can include the Middle South but I feel began in earnest after WWII). The Middle South was this era where the South's agrarian and slave-centric roots were slowly fading away but were not entirely gone. When the South began to industrialize, perhaps against its will, and there was increasing nostalgia for the Antebellum era and the South's traditionalist agrarian history. It was during this period that what we know as "Dixie" and Southern culture truly began, a sort of celebration for the better aspects of what the South was while downplaying the darker parts. 

The Southern USA states certainly yearned for the past, but they had absolutely no power to bring them back. Jim Crow & whatnot were essentially the savage gasps of a dying society being forced against its will into the present and future. 

 

Gee, that sounds a tad familiar to my rhetoric over the past couple of years involving how I feel the near future will play out

 

To this day, here in the South there is an unstated adoration of the rural and agrarian, as compared to the "urban and elite" East and West coasts (even though we're honestly just as urban as the coasts). A hundred years ago, you had families lost and confused as the world seemed to leave them behind. Faulkner loved writing about this topic, about how families rooted in the Old South persisted in the newer one. Automobiles, industry, airplanes, electric lights, radio— welcomed in the North, tolerated and treated with bemusement in the South.

 

 

I figured "I wanna try that." What are some potential stories about people in the very near future losing sense of themselves and their culture because of the advancement of technology? 

There's intense nostalgia forming for the 1990s and even 2000s. One day, we will look back at the turn of the millennium and see a world that felt "real" and "human", even though we were singing about how modern society made us fitter, happier, more productive robots...


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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#4
starspawn0

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The longing for the past can be much more than nostalgia.  It can also be a way of staying sane, in pretty much every part of the country.

 

Some of my relatives, for instance, lived in a retirement village a while back, and when I would visit them, and watch TV with them, it was a struggle to find things they could appreciate.  Many of the shows I wanted to see were not about things they understood.  So, we either settled on the news (and opinion news shows), talent shows like "America's Got Talent", or old familiar shows on TVLand or from the internet (download old 80s shows).  

 

Their house was fairly low-tech, though even many of their equally-old neighbors were on social media.  Basically, their house was a simulacrum of what the world was like a few decades ago, except for a flat-screen TV, a flipphone (not even a smartphone), and a computer they never used in the guest bedroom.

 

The outside world was confusing to them, but they didn't always recognize this.  It manifested as aversion -- like not wanting to watch channels on TV, or avoiding certain stores because they were "too busy".  The retirement village campus where they lived was quiet, orderly, and simple, so they stayed there as much as possible, and didn't venture out much.


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#5
Yuli Ban

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A couple of ideas I've been throwing around.

 

Konstantin and Pandora's relationship: The original inspiration, this is predominantly the story of "Stan and Dora". Pandora is an artificial human who inadvertently became an internet celebrity, and Konstantin is trying to see how humanlike she can become. All the while they persist in their home in the boondocks of Falstead, Louisiana. Naturally, a good chunk of the stories will be about them. It is through their eyes and ears we hear about all the pessimism, technoskepticism, and future shock whenever it comes up. For the most part, it's scattered mentions, with most of the angst being indirect and over smaller things that have changed. There's plenty of characters that don't seem to have any strong reactions either way to modern technology, simply going with the flow and reacting whenever prompted. Konstantin is the futurist, but he doesn't often bring up various aspects of modern technology unless it's the focus of a conversation. As I mentioned in the Babylon Today thread, there's someone named Bill who sometimes harasses the two online because Bill is a "Mas-Prim" or masculinist-primitivist. If all goes well, there'll probably be a chapter/short story about Bill and his beliefs. Konstantin is basically a self-insert to an extent, so he's a shlubby reclusive writer, but he's surrounded by plenty of blue-collar and scrubs-wearing types.

 

Bernadette and Yoko's relationship: Their story was the one called Another Perfect Daybefore I combined it into this one when I realized that the overarching themes and setting was already coinciding with Konstantin and Pandora's and made the choice to combine them (I think I even mentioned Another Perfect Day? once before in the music thread; it's Bernie & Yoko's story I was referring to). Bernadette died way back in 2002, and Yoko is nostalgic for the decade while reflecting on how she became the strange person she currently is in a time of 2000s nostalgia. Yoko is also one of Konstantin's friends and is one of the few humans actually close to the man in real life. Both have 2000s nostalgia themselves, of two different parts of the decade (early 2000s for Yoko; mid-to-late 2000s for Konstantin), but unlike some Antemillennialists, said nostalgia doesn't dominate their every waking lives and drive their emotional states, even in Yoko's more fragile case. 

 

"Dead Gods Society": The reactions to a blooming subculture in the American southwest, a "sign of the times". Cyberoccultists, drone riders, drug-loving disaffected youths living in a commune, basically everything the 1980s wanted to be actually come true. Part of the larger moddie scene as well as something of a part of the Antemillennialist reaction I mentioned in Babylon Today (though certainly not to the extent of neo-agrarians). 

 

Autocratic Eurasia: A reference to the events of Babylon Today, there's loads of news stories about the insanity of living in France and the various other European dictatorships. While various types in America are excited by this "European rejuvenation" (you can imagine who they are), there are others (like Konstantin) who feel it was too little, too late considering the dominating position China is in. There is a sense among many, even the supporters of "autocratic Eurasia", that Europe is destined to break down altogether unless certain reforms are taken, reforms many nations in Europe are willing to take when things deteriorate but France refuses to even consider.

 

Third curve era: Also known as the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", this is the era that began some time between 2015 and 2025 and is "the contemporary era of human sociotechnological conditions". It is the backdrop to both stories, and both are only possible because of its occurrence. 

 

Extreme climate change: Starting in the 2030s, climate change starts going out of control (and is a major factor as to why Autocratic Eurasia becomes Red Eurasia in the 2040s). Two of the big events in Another Perfect Day? involve tropical weather, considering it's set predominantly in the deep South (my favorite is the "Tropicane"). There's also an instance during the dead of winter where there's heavy snowfall along the Gulf Coast while it's 90°F in New England, just utterly nonsensical weather patterns. Yet there are still skeptics to the idea anything is unusual. 

 

Acute future shock: Starspawn0 above said something that I've actually contemplated for quite a few years now, the idea that intense nostalgia and a desire to remain in the past can actually keep you sane. Consider the third curve then, especially in a place as conservative as the deep South. Acute future shock may genuinely become a legitimate medical condition, the treatment for which is a temporary disconnect from modern society. This will be one cause for a bit of conflict between Konstantin and his parents, as they are the type who mentally refuse to move past the 2000s and refuse to attempt to understand things such as his infatuation with his "doll" and his solitary online career. My own mother doesn't fully understand that I write for a living (even if it's a bare living), but she is better at understanding it than Konstantin's parents. In their case, "career" and "working" conjures much more Romantic images of someone clocking in at an office or helping people or doing something more than staying in their own home all day "playing on a computer". And they absolutely don't trust BCI tech (partially because pop media keeps using the term 'mind-control' to describe how it works, which gives them the impression that computers are controlling your mind rather than the other way around)

 

Deep volumetric learning: Sometimes known as "3D deep learning" (and in the media, the cheesier "3Deep learning"). One of the terms that keeps reoccurring in the story, used to describe state of the art AI systems. In short, "volumetric learning" is based on the idea of biological intelligence as a web of interconnected specialized networks where one network's knowledge can impact and enhance the learning of another. It's different from deep learning in that DL is based on a single narrow area of focus, hence why networks have to spend millions of cycles learning to master something like text generation— humans learn how to generate text from a massive web of experiences, many of which are not directly related to language or textual understanding but we still draw from in order to create words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories. Most machine learning networks have no life experiences because they were created just for the purpose of natural language processing/understanding/generation. This is one reason why GPT-2 Large works so well— it's devoured so many words that it has essentially created a rough facsimile of life experiences upon which it can draw, giving it a deeper understanding of words and concepts. Volumetric learning is a more refined and advanced version of this, allowing for AI to learn many historically time-intensive tasks in one or two shots much like a human by taking in inputs and comparing it to previously learned inputs and differently-learned abilities to generate a novel output (example: learning that fruit grows on trees from GANs and that fruits are sweet from gustatory sensors to "understand" that apple trees are sources of food and guide a robot to an apple tree to gather apples with virtually no training and only vague written directions to gather food). Neural data + deep volumetric learning (which is emergent from neural data for the most part) is how the Pandora Project works. It's only in recent times that volumetric learning has become widespread because of the high quality data we've gotten from the brain, the internet, and advanced robotic sensors. Brain data + direct sensory data can be uploaded to the internet for easy access by other networks and can lead to much more accurate outputs when combined with text, images, videos, and audios. This is one of the root causes of the third curve and Cybrian Explosion.

If machine learning is a line and deep learning is a square, volumetric learning is a cube. Whatever AGI is will likely be a tesseract.

 

Cybrian Explosion: Massive wave of advancements in robotics that started in the 2020s as a result of the early physical successes of deep, reinforcement, imitation, and volumetric learning. One of the big discussions of the story is how capable robots have become compared to how they used to be. Due to the norms of the past, we (of the 2010s on back) have been trained to overestimate the capabilities of robots because of science fiction, and thanks to the failures of robots this decade and very early next decade (primarily in the domestic sphere), we (of the 2030s) will have been trained to underestimate the capabilities of modern robotics. We are used to the days where robots failed beyond certain parameters, so it's easy to forget that many machines are "self-sufficient" or can self-correct major errors. Robots are now in so many different areas of life that it's bedazzling. But it took much longer for the bleeding edge of AI to blend with capable robots because you needed to train AI on hundreds of thousands of cycles in simulations to understand how to navigate the world only for it all to fail once in an actual body because reality has infinitely more parameters than even our most detailed simulations. This is why media synthesis is happening first, why white collar work is being automated before blue collar labor. 

 

 

What do either of these above mentioned things have to do with life in mid-'30s Falstead? On the surface, nothing. Life goes on. There may be more robots rolling on the sidewalk, AVs carrying passengers on the road, machines in the fields, the occasional passenger drone up above, and domestic service & utility robots occasionally seen if you're stalking houses, but if you took all that away, it's indistinguishable from the 2010s.

Except you can't take all that away. And it's all caused so many smaller, unseen changes in life. 

 

Let's take a ride around this old town. The buildings are made out of brick, wood, sheet metal, and whatever ceramics they use to construct a town. No nanotech starscrapers. No giant futuristic windmills (though there are plenty of solar panels). There's only a tiny handfuls of hologram displays in the town, and they're fairly mundane and used by the trendy restaurants on main street (save for the even smaller ones used at the big department stores). If you didn't pay attention to them any longer than a glance, you probably wouldn't even realize there were any volumetric displays except at night when they glow like eyesores. You'll see plenty of helot robots here and there, noting potholes or cleaning up broken bottles & rubbish or cleaning the sidewalks with disinfectants and water. Most helots are flying and rolling drones, though, and the ones that aren't are autonomous vehicles with special utility functions. There's probably one or two helot androids in the entire town, and you only see them when some serious shit has gone down. Probably the most futuristic sight in Falstead is going to be the drone highway. Some like to imagine that, in the future, all these drones will be carrying people, but right now they're only carrying goods— food, primarily, and often groceries. The drone swarm here isn't as dense as it is in some of the world's cities, where there are thousands of drones traveling at different altitudes daily, but it's noticeable. It's also high enough to not be a big noise problem but not so high as to interfere with airplanes and helicopters. 

 

There are still a lot of people walking the streets too, though most are middle aged or youths. I won't discuss just yet their or their elders' mindsets— that's for another time. Right now, we're just taking in the sights. 

There are plenty of closed stores, but plenty more are still open. Restaurants— sit-down and fast food alike— are heavily automated, and many are often never closed because of this. Humans are still seen often just because the old-timers want humans. Some need humans. There are some "Not Automated" and "No Robot Delivery" signs to communicate this, and it's easy to make call-backs to a darker chapter down here a century prior. Especially considering Konstantin's relationship to Pandora.

 

Maybe you can see some people with MR glasses or subtle BCIs (for texting/communicating emotions by thinking), but you'll see just as many people not actively using this tech. 

You'll still see school buses ferrying kids to schools and on field trips. You still see families and couples going to sit-down restaurants. You still see traffic. You still see people sitting on the porch. You still hear and feel mosquitoes. And it's still muggy. 

 

So on the surface— on the surface— it looks so familiar.

 

Yet it's being seen by a gynoid straight from science fiction.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#6
Yuli Ban

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For reference: Pandora Bourgeois, Gynoid-001 of the Pandora Project


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#7
Yuli Ban

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I have this old vignette. I figured I'd post it here:

 

Spoiler

 

If I clean this up, this might become halfway decent.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#8
Yuli Ban

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Artificial Intelligence Learns
 
By the time Another Perfect Day? takes place, artificial intelligence has already reached science fiction levels of quality. But that doesn't mean there aren't different tiers— you wouldn't use artificial superintelligence to power a dollar store calculator for the same reason you wouldn't use Tsar Bomba to light a campfire.
 
The progression of artificial intelligence from 1950 to 2040 basically followed this path:

  • Symbolic artificial intelligence
  • Logic-based systems
  • Connectionism
  • Expert systems
  • Machine learning
  • Deep learning
  • Deep reinforcement learning
  • Volumetric learning

 

In the 2030s, volumetric learning is the hot new thing. I'm no expert in machine learning— I've only learned the basics in my free time— so I can't tell you how it works on a technical level. However, the gist is that it involves neural networks so deep and complex that multiple separate nodes spontaneously generate to parse data from different inputs, often to generate one unified output. Each sub-network is, itself, comparable to a neural network used for certain tasks in AI. Altogether, it forms a "cognitive web" where each individual network can affect the other. For example: a natural language understanding module will deepen the network's ability at image processing by adding more symbolic understanding to whatever it sees and vice versa, increasing the accuracy for both as well as any other networks attached to them. The meta-network uses machine learning to further optimize the results, so it's like learning within learning within learning.

 

The "web" can also be related to a spider web in that every thread is directly or indirectly related to every other. And when new information hits that web, a "spider" comes and wraps it in silk, assimilating it into the web. That spider being the larger meta-network in this case.

 

"Volumetric" AI, as has been described a few posts above, is essentially a 3D version of deep learning. From when it first entered public consciousness, it was called by the most optimistic the "magic piece" to solving the general intelligence puzzle. But the truth is that volumetric learning just made the question of AGI even muddier. 

 

For one, there is the AGI Debate: are the most advanced volumetric networks "generally intelligent"? One of the reasons why the Revised Model of AI had to be created was because some well-educated people started saying "yes" with the corollary that contemporary AI being AGI didn't at all mean contemporary AI was human-level AI. So the strongest volumetric networks became "weak-AGI", but even that is a controversial proposition. There are still some who claim the strongest, most generalized volumetric networks are still "just" exceptionally adept neural networks rather than "AI." Hell, there are many who point out that the volumetric nature of modern neural networks was technically already there as far back as the 1990s; volumetric learning is basically "just" ultra-deep learning with a new buzzword attached.

 

Konstantin used a Cloud-based volumetric learning network to power Pandora, and much of her data has been reused for other projects. As someone who lives with an artificially intelligent robot, Konstantin notes that he himself is not entirely sure if Pandora possesses general AI. The thing about volumetric learning is that, when faced with unfamiliar data, it tends to create new data nodes that can later be filled in but often has to use data from other nodes to optimize an output with as few cycles of learning as possible, which is a lot like how a human learns and creates (e.g. I've never eaten a cherimoya fruit, but if I did, I can relate it to other fruits I've eaten). This alone ought to make her general AI since she can essentially learning anything. But there is still something missing, some aspect of intelligence that Pandora and her ilk lack despite coming so close.

 

The easiest way to generate a volumetric network is to fit brain data into a neural network, where the sheer volume of high-quality data can lead to such spontaneous modules forming in the right networks. 


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#9
Yuli Ban

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The longing for the past can be much more than nostalgia.  It can also be a way of staying sane, in pretty much every part of the country.
 
Some of my relatives, for instance, lived in a retirement village a while back, and when I would visit them, and watch TV with them, it was a struggle to find things they could appreciate.  Many of the shows I wanted to see were not about things they understood.  So, we either settled on the news (and opinion news shows), talent shows like "America's Got Talent", or old familiar shows on TVLand or from the internet (download old 80s shows).  
 
Their house was fairly low-tech, though even many of their equally-old neighbors were on social media.  Basically, their house was a simulacrum of what the world was like a few decades ago, except for a flat-screen TV, a flipphone (not even a smartphone), and a computer they never used in the guest bedroom.
 
The outside world was confusing to them, but they didn't always recognize this.  It manifested as aversion -- like not wanting to watch channels on TV, or avoiding certain stores because they were "too busy".  The retirement village campus where they lived was quiet, orderly, and simple, so they stayed there as much as possible, and didn't venture out much.

This sounds almost like "acute future shock," a concept I came up with several years ago as a prediction. Yes, the term existed before I made it up (Accelerando even uses it once!), but I thought of it as being an actual diagnosable disorder:
 
At some point, the rate of technological growth will become too great for some people to bear. They will either suffer mild psychotic breaks or enter fugue states as they grow ever more confused by what they're seeing and experiencing. As a result, they will have to retreat into "antemillennialist enclaves", places more similar to what they remember from growing up or perhaps even an earlier era. 
This makes sense psychologically. Humans are absolutely unequipped to deal with the rapid changes of the present. We are essentially cavemen with lasers and smartphones. We evolved in a world where things simply did not change from generation to generation. When we talk about the past, before the fourth millennium BC especially when civilizations started entering the Bronze Age, we often summarize thousands of years of prehistory. You can look upon the rate of change in prehistory on Wikipedia, even.
Here's the 5th millennium BC. Now go backwards in time and watch as the millennium summaries grow simpler and simpler. After the tenth millennium, Wikipedia no longer even bothers: it becomes the Late Pleistocene and gives a general Timeline of Human Prehistory. We can go from 50,000 BC to 10,000 BC without discussing many changes whatsoever besides the extinction of what few other human species remained besides ourselves or the gradual start and end of the last ice age. 
 
Think of all the amazing things you've seen in your life. All the political movements, all the social movements, all the economic ideologies, all the celebrities, all the movies, all the books, all the rock stars, all the pop stars, all the rap stars, all the professionals, all the programmers, all the engineers, all the soldiers, all the generals, all the scientific breakthroughs, all the dreams of tomorrow, all the gadgets, all the reactions to these things allowed by those gadgets— and now entertain the thought of experiencing none of them. 
Rather, you have lived every day of your life in the plains among tall grass and loud cicadas. The most famous person you know is the chief tribal elder, but everyone is equally famous for different reasons. The elders are wizened and speak of when they were young. The animals they hunted and fruits they collected may have been riper or may have been scarcer. They've seen so many days come and go, and they don't count years— rather, they remember things based on the actions of the animals they hunt, on the cycle of trees and water levels, and on the health and physical appearance of tribal members. They speak of how they once met another tribe and clashed terribly, and a few members of your tribe came from that other one but all the rest were slain. You, as someone of age neither extremely young or extremely old, maintain your time helping to keep the spears ready to use and teaching the children. Maybe you love someone else, but the last time you made love, a child was eventually born and soon died. Neither of you know exactly why this happens; just that it is a fact of life. Maybe you or your lover makes music. You beat on some animal-skin drums or fashion a flute out of animal bone to make nice sounds, but you can't play it often lest you attract predators. When it rains, you either hide in a cave or stay in the sod huts you've helped build. When it's dark, you might make a fire which can keep away the mosquitoes, but it can also attract other predators or even other tribes. When it rains, you pay blessings to higher deities because now the fruits will be sweeter. And soon, you grow older and older until you yourself are an elder telling all the younger members of your life, how to be proper tribesmen and women, and your own thoughts. You may eventually get some spare wood to build yourself a coffin, or you may just find a hole that you ask the others to fill in once your health has faded. And then you're dead.
This is the limit of your existence. 
This is the limit of your parents' existence. This is the limit of their parents' existence. This is the existence of their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents' existence. And the same for their children, their children's children, their great30 grandchildren's existence, etc. 
 
All that has happened just in the past 30 years has been dizzying. So much has occurred. And things are still changing, perhaps faster than ever. 
 
50,000 years ago, "30 years" is just the difference between when you're a child and when you're an adult. All the spears are still the same. All the flintheads are still the same. All the pottery is still the same. You still wander about, hunting animals. The elders have changed, but there are still elders. 
This was no different 10,000 years ago, and it was no different 100,000 years ago. It was no different 200,000 years ago or 500,000 years ago. 
And in saying that, it's just too easy to lose your sense of scale when talking about how long ago that was. 
Just going back 50,000 years and going ahead another 5,000, you arrive at 45000 BC. The same gap of time that has separated us from the Bronze Age passed in that time frame, and life simply did not change. Take a tribe from 50000 BC and put them in a similar place in 45000 BC and they would not realize you did anything at all. 
 
Just keep it within the past century— for us, 100 years is the difference between an iPhone X and rotary telephone (with telegraphs even still in use). It's the difference between supercomputer networks hosting media synthesizing artificial intelligences and electromechanical computers that can punch cards slightly faster than a person. It's the difference between having 10 kids and only naming the 2 that survived & forgetting the rest and only ever giving birth to 2 kids. It's the difference between casually going into space regularly and celebrating airplane pilots who fly farther than 1,000 miles. It's the difference between AAA video games and penny dreadfuls. It's the difference between having the capability of killing everyone on the planet several times over and being appalled by mustard gas & reading of Greek fire.
 
The difference between 50000 BC and 49900 BC is so laughably trivial that it doesn't worth mention. 
 
Even without going into paleolithic eras, it was still true that we did work. We sweated it out. We got sick. We raised kids to be responsible adults in the community. We physically met other people, getting to know them through chatting. We cooked food over fires and shared drinks at the end of the day. We spent years perfecting our artistic crafts. And we died.
This is the human condition for most of our history. We were not prepared for the present. Indeed, one reason why I am so pro-AI and pro-transhumanism is precisely because I've embraced just how utterly out of our element we are— and how much more out of our element we will soon be. 
 
Acute future shock makes perfect sense once you understand this. 
 
From the Babylon Today thread:

When a person born in 2000 was a child, they may have gone fishing with their fathers and played outside with their friends and go to school dreaming of growing up to be doctors or lawyers or engineers, with the most digital technology in their lives being a video game console and cellphone and maybe MP3 player. By the time they were a young adult, they could persist entirely online— they make money through online marketplaces, order food and groceries via apps, pay their bills and taxes online, and communicate with their family and friends on social media while looking up how to enter the STEM fields or service jobs (or settling with a stay-at-home career like freelancing or publishing e-books). By the time they were middle-aged, they could feel the embrace of lifelike artificial lovers, visit exotic realms in virtual reality, control electronics with brain-computer interfaces, and create & modify their own entertainment via media synthesis all while earning substantial passive income from shares in automated cooperatives and syndicates. Now that they're entering their golden years, they can become an entirely different type of life, a Hyperpithecus cosmicus, to experience things never before experienced by humans or biological life in general.

In 10 years, that visceral sense of disgust some feel about the modern world will indeed turn to panic and a desire to turn away because, for all that we have done so far, the human condition still has not fundamentally changed. Within ten years, we will indeed begin seeing automation become a more potent force in society. We will also begin seeing humans doing unnatural things to ourselves, enhancing ourselves in ways that seem magical to some— and Satanic to others. We will see artificial intelligence begin to crawl ever closer to our own abilities while people who haven't an ounce of creative skill in their bodies can generate amazing art pieces via algorithms. Some humans will not even have to physically work in order to receive income, and others will never have to open their mouths to talk to others.
 
For so many, this is much too vulgar.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#10
tomasth

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People are very adaptable , moving from stone-age civilization to contemporary one , in a few months.

Chess and Go players did not go mad when computers advanced the field beyond humans.

They are going to find much to be disappointed about and re calibrate their standards and expectations.

Running water is impressive for 5 minutes , and them its just how the world works (like discovering the earth isn't flat or that there are other human with different idea concepts and framings beyond one's tribe valley).

#11
Yuli Ban

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^ Oh absolutely.
 
Also from the Babylon Today thread:

Technists predicted that there would be an agrarian revival after the start of the third curve of technological advancement as a mass psychological recoil against the extreme changes. It would not be a major movement— most humans will eagerly take to the increases in quality of life wrought by new technologies. However, it would happen. This is not without historical precedence. Indeed, each of the previous curves always brought about Romanticist and agrarianist movements.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#12
Hyndal_Halcyon

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Romanticism is only important in a post-scarcity economic world. There's a different sort of novelty for handmade stuff, but the practicalities end there. Wasting resources on obsolete technology is too costly for a transitioning society such as ours. If AI overlords and supporters focused on ensuring the extinction of backwards technology, then they're not super-intelligent at all. There is also a different sort of novelty for cultural diversity. Surely, enhanced humans will expand the entire set of experiences. Ironically, the only way to retain some form of normalcy, is to invite some form of culture shock and let it develop newer kinds of normalcy. It's just a continuous cycle of endless diversification. Sure, the future will radically alter human nature itself, replacing it with countless other natures, which are also derived from it. It's a different cultural kind of evolution but similarly designed to explore alternate solutions to similar problems.


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As you can see, I'm a huge nerd who'd rather write about how we can become a Type V civilization instead of study for my final exams (gotta fix that).

But to put an end to this topic, might I say that the one and only greatest future achievement of humankind is when it finally becomes posthumankind.






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