Scientific Sense Podcast

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dark ages of aviation

Aviation is considered to be one of a few technological discontinuities of the last century along with the computer and the internet. The duopoly in commercial aircraft manufacturing, however, seems to have significantly dampened the technology slope with new products sporting incremental improvements with little impact on overall speed, safety and convenience. The long metal tube with wings on the side has been the design choice for over 100 years. Packing humans like sardines in a can has been the mode of operation for the airlines. Consulting companies had projected “tremendous growth” for the tin cans, extrapolating from population growth and other such metrics.

The intelligentsia has been worried about the discontinuity for decades now. As a past president boldly proclaimed to go where nobody has gone – Mars, he thought he was ushering in a new generation of innovation. Nothing can be further from the truth. As mediocrity creeps into every educational institution, bringing up the next generation with little passion and lesser creativity -  every company, whether they are curing death, inventing self driving cars or constructing grocery and books delivering drones, humanity is sinking into a lesser state. They had no chance to advance the heart and now their brain is atrophying with no imagination.

As a few hundred souls rest at the bottom of the ocean, one has to wonder if the discontinuity one should be worrying about is the wrong kind.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Intelligence handicap

Humans have been handicapped with a huge quantum computer they carry on their shoulders. The miracle machine, that may house as much as a billion qbits, has been bored out of its wits for over fifty thousand years. The best physical systems could come close to replicating is a million times less powerful. It may be truly ironic if the species gets wiped out before it understands what it may have been capable of.

Excess capacity has been costly in most situations. In the case of humans, they have been endowed with an organ, they could never truly understand. A quirk in the objective function obscured intelligence and presented useless constructs such as ego and wealth that drive most of the seven billion specimens across the blue planet. Some have put down reluctance of adherence to conventional expectations as disease and many have attempted to bridge the chasm with chemicals treating the brain.

If intelligence is a handicap, then a favorable direction of evolution is less of it. And, that will likely minimize pain for humanity.