i recently had a new opportunity to test the future shock resistance of someone i know. exposing people to the geekiest, farthest-out ideas and concepts i am aware of, my aim is to determine how people cope with staggering possibilities that shake their belief systems. will they deny it? ridicule it? marvel at it, fear it?
A Shock Level measures the high-tech concepts you can contemplate without being impressed, frightened, blindly enthusiastic – without exhibiting future shock. Shock Level Zero or SL0), for example, is modern technology and the modern-day world, SL1 is virtual reality or an ecommerce-based economy, SL2 is interstellar travel, medical immortality or genetic engineering, SL3 is nanotech or human-equivalent AI, and SL4 is the Singularity.
the best test for future shock is the singularity.
It began four million years ago, when brain volumes began climbing rapidly in the hominid line.
50’000 years ago with the rise of Homo sapiens sapiens.
10’000 years ago with the invention of civilization.
500 years ago with the invention of the printing press.
50 years ago with the invention of the computer.
In less than 30 years, it will end.
“Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It’s a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity – a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied – and the world will pass beyond our understanding.”
— Vernor Vinge, True Names and Other Dangers, p. 47.