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I believe humanity will first achieve ...

Displaying poll results.
Human-scale teleportation
  757 votes / 1%
Faster-than-light travel
  1681 votes / 4%
Mind uploading
  8377 votes / 20%
Immortality
  2848 votes / 7%
World peace
  1612 votes / 4%
Extinction
  24823 votes / 61%
40098 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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I believe humanity will first achieve ...

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  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:57AM (#39755907) Journal
    Extinction is a sort of immortality...
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:01PM (#39756321) Journal

      Mind uploading would probably lead to all sorts of possibilities for identity theft and extreme violation of privacy.

      It would also be a totalitarian's wet dream. To find out someone's opinions or recent actions, just grab them and upload their mind into an analysis device. Then start the search programs while keeping the suspect in a suitable place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GLMDesigns (2044134)
        Yes, privacy is a concern but being able to store memories has wonderful uses besides that of easing the work of the police apparatus.

        By the way - if that is truly a concern of yours I hope you are in favor of limiting government power and not expanding it.
        • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Monday April 23, 2012 @10:32PM (#39778527)

          I think there is more negatives than positives. Once it can be determined without a doubt what you are thinking you'll no longer only get blamed for your actions we won't be long from thought-crimes. Also there is a huge amount of the (romance?) of history to be lost. We like to think how nobly Reagan stared down the commi threat, or how evil Stalin was etc. But what if we read their thoughts and Stalin really thought he was doing a good thing and Reagan was a meglomaniac that was obssessed with his public image? Sometimes nice to give people credit for their actions without going into their own personal judgments, weaknesses etc.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "Mind uploading would probably lead to all sorts of possibilities for identity theft and extreme violation of privacy. "

        Seems to me that mind uploading would be a requisite for teleportation and teleportation would result in immortality.

        To teleport, you'd have to read the full person, body its mind to recreate it at the destination. So for example if you have cancer, you'd just teleport the non cancerous part, all sorts of edits should be possible.
        If you die, you could recreate the person from the recording

      • by Thangodin (177516)

        Of all of these, World Peace is the most likely--read Stephen Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature, which details the decline of violence in the world and proposes explanations for it. Pinker's thesis is not a theory in search of data, but a mountain of evidence in search of an explanation. All of the technological innovations listed here will probably require us to divert resources from military spending to scientific research on a grand scale. Even human extinction is unlikely. Our worst scenarios may

    • by speederaser (473477) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @01:13PM (#39756765)

      Extinction is a sort of immortality...

      War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2012 @04:24PM (#39758053)

        War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.

        You Republicans! Always pushing your agenda!

    • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lightknight (213164) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:05PM (#39759863) Homepage

      Indeed.

      Let's consider the choices:

      Human-scale teleportation -> which would be followed by turning it into a weapon. Go humanity! Teleporting bombs into enemy territory, for those without creativity.
      Faster-than-light travel -> We haven't visited another celestial body (astronauts) in how long? True, we have new engines in the works, and the various commercial space programs are finally getting there, but we're being repeatedly setback by paranoia and (in the case of radioactive substances powering the engine) energy policies which don't make sense. Space is BYOES (Bring Your Own Energy Source), and radioactive substances are the most compact and powerful ones we have. Also, anything of any great mass at light-speed can be used as a weapon. Mass drivers, yay!
      Mind uploading ->An interface that links man and machine? Yes, and hopefully of the several that will be developed, hopefully it will be a good one. Uploading a human mind to another machine? Doubtful. It's like trying to move an already installed OS from one machine to another; difficult at best. Also, advertisements would reach a new level of annoying here (subconscious programs being slipped into your mind-stream, to buy more Hanes underwear or something).
      Immortality -> Death is always changing his game. The one day we are sure we have a sure cure for mortality is the day that the human race becomes extinct. Why? Because everyone will buy-in to the cure for death, become complacent, then a flaw will be revealed (you're sterile, and getting hit with a nuke will still kill you); because we became complacent, we won't be looking for it, until it's upon us. And it would nail everyone at once.
      World peace -> Depends how you define peace. Eliminating free will might be considered peaceful, but I think the majority of us would rather have constant warfare and free will, than peace and slavery. World peace will be achieved when human beings quit pissing each other off. Even a modest increase of genuine sincerity (good luck with that) would probably lesson the various clashes, and it can be done without touching free will.
      Extinction -> This is the most likely result. As the saying goes, you can always bet on death and taxes, and come out ahead.

      • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @04:49AM (#39761081)

        Teleporting bombs into enemy territory

        You don't get it. If we have teleportation, then it doesn't make sense to have border at all. It would simply destroy this old concept, as people (and things) could freely move in and out without any sorts of control.

        but I think the majority of us would rather have constant warfare and free will, than peace and slavery

        Well, currently, we have a bit of warfare (but frankly, not much) and a total slavery (open your eyes), and very few are complaining.

        • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arth1 (260657) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:40AM (#39761545) Homepage Journal

          You don't get it. If we have teleportation, then it doesn't make sense to have border at all. It would simply destroy this old concept, as people (and things) could freely move in and out without any sorts of control.

          I'm not sure that you get it either. Teleportation doesn't imply the ability to teleport to anywhere. There might be a requirement for a receiver, for one thing.

          Also, your argument isn't valid for other reasons. Like it being equally true for the invention of planes. So why didn't we get a diaspora and eradication of borders in the years leading up to WWII?
          Part of the answer is that new technology is never "freely" usable. Only people of means will have access for a long, long time. Poor people still can't fly anywhere they want.
          Another part is that most people like it just fine where they are, or would rather deal with the devil they know than the devil they don't.
          Then there's the whole politics and power thing. How long do you think it would take before the people in power would impose laws making unauthorized teleportation an act of terrorism, and the unwashed masses would thank their masters for "protecting" them?

          I would think that many of the common religions would be the strongest opponents - it would jeopardize put the whole "soul" superstition. Especially if you don't have to destroy the original, or can create multiple copies, but even a straight one-to-one teleportation might be problematic - does it involve a suicide and resurrection?

        • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @06:15PM (#39765973) Homepage

          Calling western society "total slavery" is the kind of myopia possible only in a society without actual slavery in it it. Or from a person with the social/emotional development of an adolescent.

      • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mspangler (770054) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @10:32AM (#39762443)

        Toughest poll in a long time, I admit.

        Human-scale teleportation has a Heisenberg problem.
        Faster-than-light travel has an Einstein problem.
        Mind uploading has a problem even defining "mind", much less describing how it works.
        Immortality is my pick. We have the telomeres half figured out already. However, this is a limited immortality, accidents and homicide will still get you.
        World peace; "Depends how you define peace." Exactly. See Miranda, as in the movie Serenity. In theory, we've known how to do world peace for thousands of years, but we haven't done it. Obviously we don't actually want peace.
        Extinction; we could off ourselves as a species, but we are pretty versatile. The ability to modify our local environment means some portion of the species will survive somewhere on the planet.

        • I'm with you on all counts.

          Only one thing - telomeres will achieve immortality, what you describe as "limited immortality" is just plain old immortality. Surviving getting hit by busses would be invincibility -- totally different things.

          • "Limited immortality" is not just plain old immortality. Immortality means the lack of mortal existence - you cannot be killed or destroyed. Anything can be done to you and you keep going on. A key here - if you are hit by a bus, you can sustain a mortal wound. Hence, immortality would have to at least be an extension of mind uploading (so that your "mind" could forever be preserved). One may argue that if teleportation is actually creating a copy, then immortality would be an extension of two of the t

      • Re:Of course... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ShooterNeo (555040) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @01:03PM (#39763657)

        Mind Uploading :

        The "upload" that will very likely work (as in there is no theoretical reason why it would not, and it will be technically achievable at some point assuming continued development) is the following process.

        Patient is put to sleep, and all the arteries in their neck are connected to a set of artificial pump equipment. Their skull is removed with bone saws. A high pressure (relative to normal blood pressures, obviously just below the threshold to blow an artery) flow of superchilled fluid, full of synthetic molecules that cap ice crystals before they grow, calcium channel blockers, vasodilators, and several other drugs is flushed through the brain. The brain is also sprayed with chilled gas from the outside, and the whole assembly is inside a large oscillating magnet to further discourage ice crystal formation. The temperature in the brain will drop to -20 or -30 degress celcius, at which point all the liquid water will free instantly in an amorphous state.

        Now, the brain is cooled further until it eventually is at liquid helium temperatures. A machine that uses arrays of trillions of nanoscale manipulators tears off a layer of the brain and analyzes the molecular composition. Layer by layer, the brain is destructively scanned, until at the end of the process an atomic bonding map of the entire brain has been generated.

        This map is then loaded into a hardware emulator that uses more conventional circuitry to represent each synapse's current state.

        This new entity would be I guess equivalent to a new artificial intelligence, created from an imperfect scan of an original person. The entity would probably need many years of therapy and retraining to function again (I don't expect the hardware emulators to ever be quite right) but at the end of the process the entity would be capable of performing the highest functions of human thought, able to design and create new things, and so on. The key reason to do this is that this entity would be limited only by the switching speed of the circuitry it runs on, and so would likely think one to a hundred million times faster than the original brain it was derived from.

        And of course the hardware, and the mapping configuration would all be editable, so once there are several of these entities they could tweak each other to make each other smarter and more efficient, and so on.

        • by scottrocket (1065416) <loudfellow@gmail.com> on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:33PM (#39766981) Journal
          Patient is put to sleep, and all the arteries in their neck are connected to a set of artificial pump equipment. Their skull is removed with bone saws. A high pressure (relative to normal blood pressures, obviously just below the threshold to blow an artery) flow of superchilled fluid, full of synthetic molecules that cap ice crystals before they grow, calcium channel blockers, vasodilators, and several other drugs is flushed through the brain. The brain is also sprayed with chilled gas from the outside, and the whole assembly is inside a large oscillating magnet to further discourage ice crystal formation.

          Yeah, I'll sign right up for that. : /

  • Define immortality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @11:04AM (#39755955)

    If you read Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy, you'll see his take on immortality.

    Essentially it boils down to a combination of mind upload, cloning and mind download into the new clone.

    The body isn't immortal, and there is always the risk of body-loss, but with proper care, it will always be possible to restore the mind from an earlier backup.

    • by bughunter (10093)

      I enjoy Hamilton's works immensely, too. But keep in mind it's lumped under space opera for a reason: it's the 21st century equivalent of ray guns, evil villains capturing princesses, phallic rocketships, and bubble helmets. In 75 years, should we survive, we'll look back on it with the same amusement.

      • by AlXtreme (223728)

        In 75 years, should we survive, we'll look back on it with the same amusement.

        Like most science fiction writing you mean?

        I've always found this definition of 'space opera' a bit of a misnomer, as if true science fiction always follows the laws of physics or has a deep underlying message about the future of technology. If you look back at the works of Asimov, Heinlein, Lem and Clarke you know that this isn't always the case.

        The reason Hamilton's works are lumped under space opera is because of the extensive

  • It boils down to the race to immortality v. extinction in my mind. I don't see mind uploading outpacing the biotech pace and funding right now. We barely understand what brainwaves can be used for in practical terms [techcrunch.com] and there really isn't a lot of funding going into downloading the brain into a box with blinky lights. Out of the list above-for me-it's a toss up between eternal life and eternal death. World peace would be nice, but too idealistic given the nature of man. There will always be some conflict, b
    • It depends how you interpreted immortality in the question really ("true" immortality, clinical immortality), but I wouldn't put so much stock in biotech: a lot of the advances right now are more to do with quantity, collaboration and number-crunching then any real ingenious breakthroughs in our toolset. The most depressing thing is when someone talks about some amazing proteomics work, and it turns out its amazing in scope because the tools for doing it are actually just awful and labor intensive. A lot of

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        For all we know now, a little work on Telomeres and we'll have age immortality, able to freeze aging at 25. But then, we'd have to surgically implant an off switch for one year after. For all the work we've done, we still haven't figured out aging. And, perhaps aging cured won't be immortality because cancer and such will kick in at an increased rate in those over 250 years old so that it would be "possible" to live to 1000, but nobody will ever make it.
    • It boils down to the race to immortality v. extinction in my mind.

      If you define immortality in terms of the individual, it is not competeing with extinction. It is actualy leading to it, becuase individual immortality is one of the best ways to achive species stagnation and to deplete any resource you depend on.

    • It boils down to the race to immortality v. extinction in my mind.

      The universe has a finite lifetime. There us NO possibility of immortality.

  • Uploading, sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bughunter (10093) <bughunter@noSPaM.earthlink.net> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @11:21AM (#39756085) Journal

    But what good is an upload if you can't restore?

    Nobody ever thinks about the restore.

    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      Why would you want to restore if you can build any kind of body material science would allow, or travel by radio wave?

    • by kiehlster (844523)
      I think I'd rather replace the past. Why restore when you can simply replace? Why would you use system restore and go back to a terrible system if you can load something far more appealing? I think most of us would rather forget the past. I would, however, recommend avoiding the secret agent trip to mars option.
  • World peace is simple. Once we start colonizing other planets, war will almost inevitably shift from "people on this tract of land killing people on that tract of land" to "people on this ball of dirt killing people on a different ball of dirt".

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      Any while currently unlikely, it is entirely possible there at one point at least for a few minutes no two nations are at active war with each other.

      Still immortality will arrive sooner, the question is only at what price.

      • by kesuki (321456)

        true immortality is impossible, barring exclusive access to a real backwards traveling time machine and a whole planet devoted to your immortality.

        barring that there is the next closest thing existing until energy food and water resources are rendered impossible to sustain quality life.

        even then the limits of data retention and the finite number of possible amusements immortality is pointless, it's better for the old to die hopefully after the young have learned how to maintain a society worth living in.

    • by manu0601 (2221348)
      Not to mention "God gave this land to us therefore other people should go away" that will turn into "God gave us planet therefore other people should be dematerialized".
    • You can take man out of nature, but you can't remove nature from man.

      • by cffrost (885375)

        You can take man out of nature, but you can't remove nature from man.

        Sure you can; you just need an icepick, a hammer, and a steady hand.

  • Imho, mind uploading seems the most reasonable of all, given that we'd "just" have to figure out how to translate our neurological wiring into bits and bytes and/or artificial neuronal networks. Extinction isn't too inconceivable, but unless induced by some extraordinary strong event, e.g., an asteroid turning the whole planet uninhabitable for us, I don't think we'd manage to destroy all humankind with the typical tools of dystopian sci-fi (war, pollution, etc).

    It makes me wonder what would be most inte
  • by Jogar the Barbarian (5830) <greg.supersilly@com> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:01PM (#39756323) Homepage Journal

    Through salvation in Christ, we *already have* immortality. Depending on when the Second Coming is, you may have to go through that messy death thing first, but the destination is worth the trip!

    • Only one problem, according to the Christian religion, you have to die to get "immortality".
      And then you don't get to interact with people who are still alive.
      Which sort of defeats the purpose.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @05:18PM (#39758343)

      Through salvation in Christ...

      Okay, and if I say Allah will save us, will I get a +3 insightful mod, or will I be marked -1 troll? And I ask this question on a website dedicated to science and technology, where religion should only be discussed in the context of how religion conflicts or compliments either of those.

      • by Trogre (513942) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:31PM (#39766405) Homepage

        Look, it's pretty simple to understand the Abrahamic faiths. Let me summarize the messages from the three major collections of written texts which form the pillars of the three significant faiths:

        Old Testament (essentialy Judaism): There is a God
        New Testament (adds with OT to give Christianity): ...and he loves you
        Quaran (adds with much of the above to give Islam): ...but not all that much

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Not sure I want that kind of immortality thanks, considering I'd probably go to hell. I'm pro choice, pro gay rights/marriage, anti state sponsored religion, never pray, I had sex outside of marriage and (like most people in the western world) enjoy various other sins on a daily basis.

  • Stopping ageing might be possible, but that doesn't mean you can't get killed.

    • by Lanteran (1883836)

      You could have a system wherein if you're ever killed, you get downloaded into a new body, or something similar.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The only actual choices are world peace and extinction, and your choice among them depends only on whether you're an optimistic or pessimistic person..

  • Idiocracy http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/ [imdb.com] was supposed to be a comedy film, not a foresight of how we're heading to the future.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @01:10PM (#39756747) Journal
    You can tell which things are trending in popular science based on surveys like these. A few decades ago, with space travel and star trek etc capturing imaginations, you would have seen a lot of people voting for faster-than-light travel, even though there isn't much scientific basis for that idea at all.

    Now you can see with the ideas of Ray Kurzweil are popular, so people are voting for mind uploading, but I don't think they understand how difficult that is. If you look at the list of things Aubrey de Grey lists for immortality, it is much more manageable and those are really hard. Not only would you have to model all the neurons in a human brain, of which there are between 100trillion and 10 quadrillion connections (10^14 - 10^16), you would also need to find out what state they are in currently. And figure out their spiking levels, etc. It's a gigantic task, with many hurdles to be overcome first.

    Personally I voted for world peace, because we're already trending that way (fewer wars every decade), and even if it's unlikely it's more likely than all the others (extinction? You really don't think there will be any survivors of your preferred cataclysm?)
    • Exactly right on mind uploading.

      Though possibly those who voted for "mind uploading" have simpler minds than those who didn't, which would therefore present less of a technical challenge ...
    • by Cochonou (576531)
      There are many examples of species extinctions in the past (and present). There has been one mass extinction event roughly every hundred millions of years, if not more. You do not need to wipe out every living entity during a cataclysm, you just need to make the planet inhabitable for them (think about the meteor from K-T event and what happened to non-avian dinosaurs). It seems a quite likely event in the list.
    • by Toonol (1057698)
      Not only would you have to model all the neurons in a human brain, of which there are between 100trillion and 10 quadrillion connections (10^14 - 10^16), you would also need to find out what state they are in currently. And figure out their spiking levels, etc. It's a gigantic task, with many hurdles to be overcome first.

      A typical human brain manages that complexity. There's six billion instances of those on earth. Therefore, obviously, there's no physical barrier to creating a receptacle for human co
  • I believe humanity will achieve world peace at the cost of enforced conformity and police states everywhere. None of the other options seem very likely in the foreseeable future.
    • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @02:31AM (#39760691) Homepage Journal

      A police state is not at peace.

      It is just a war in which one side -- the ones who label themselves "the state" -- is unilaterally winning.

      States are just made of people, so if a state is turning against its people, then there is a war between "the people" and some other people -- "the state". Just because the latter is winning hands down, doesn't make it any less of a war.

  • Extinction is the obvious, rational choice. We could (and may) achieve it today. Technologically, we have already achieved it. All we have to do is push the button. No rational person could choose a pie in the technology that will probably never be developed as being more likely than something we could do today. That said, I certainly hope the order of events turns out differently.

  • Immorality (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jens Egon (947467) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @03:08PM (#39757593)

    It's a no-brainer, really.

  • I don't know if anything ever came of it, but as recently as August 2004, the Air Force was working on finding ways to accomplish human teleportation (and remote viewing, etc.).

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/eprint/teleport.pdf [fas.org]
    (PDF report from one of the people involved; it's unclassified, so this is easy enough to find/verify.) ...and before you say it, no this isn't just another wacky conspiracy theory (though I thought it was at first). There's an actual money-and-paper trail, and those involved with the projec

    • by downhole (831621)

      Interesting that they did it, but all it really means now is that some guy at the Air Force paid some other guy to look into teleportation. Didn't look like there was much in the way of practical-sounding theories on how to go about actually teleporting something.

      • by DaneM (810927)

        You're right. At least so far as it's been reported, they didn't get anywhere with it. (Of course, if I were them and I DID get somewhere with it, I'd keep it good and quiet for surprising military actions later...)

        Anyway, even though they don't appear to have had any success, the fact that somebody with funding and interest has been looking into it improves its odds (slightly), in my mind. Maybe someone will get it right before we all die, upload, or become immortal.

  • by downhole (831621) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:25PM (#39759343) Homepage Journal

    I voted for extinction because it's the only one where we have the slightest clue of having a way to actually do it. Everything else is pure pie-in-the-sky handwavium now.

  • ...extinction.

    The rest are still head-scratchers.

  • Because that only takes another 15000 years to achieve. Extinction is not an option. Humans are too much like rats to go extinct.

  • by Svartormr (692822) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:47AM (#39761579)
    At times like this I really miss the Cowboy Neal option. >:)

FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin

 



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