Robin Hanson on the Overcoming Bias blog links to Scott Aaronson’s review of The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil (which I’ve read, and whom I watched deliver a speech at the first Singularity Summit).
There’s a lot I could say about that review, and I will, but right now I just want to point out one thing that Aaronson writes:
Secondly, there’s nothing bad about overcoming nature through technology. Humans have been in that business for at least 10,000 years. Now, it’s true that fanatical devotion to particular technologies—such as the internal combustion engine—might well cause the collapse of human civilization and the permanent degradation of life on Earth.
Aaronson understands something that I was arguing with transhumanists years ago. The future is not about seeding the oceans with nitrogen or spraying the atmosphere with carbon-fixing nanobots. Those programs treat the symptoms, not the disease. The future is about a world without carbon dioxide production to begin with. It is a world without fossil fuels.
The combustion of reduced hydrocarbons is 1830s technology — it goes all the way back to whale oil, and we all know how good that was for whales. It’s time to make a fundamental shift in energy, and in that respect, our whole civilization. Clean, renewable energy is the way of the future, and transhumanists need to understand and promote it. Transhumanism must be a green philosophy.