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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Biotech: Will it Save Us or Hurt Us?

A very interesting debate on Tech Nation between Baroness Susan Greenfield and Ray Kurzweil.

I won't even attempt to do it justice. But, if you have any interest in technology affording us longer, fulfilling lives, and of the philosophical questions that arise as a consequence, I urge you to listen to it.

In retort to Ray's articulate argument, that exponential growth in the tech sector will enable us to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles posed by nature, Susan Greenfield used a quote: "You're not thinking, you're being logical."

I liked this. It's all too easy to be gain confidence from the existence of a predicted trajectory. Her assertion, that gathering data in increasing amounts, and being able to process it is only half the problem, was followed up by another observation: "We're answer rich, but question poor."

She was referring to Neuroscience, but to me, the observation has an uncanny parallel to the environment being capitalised on by Web 2.0 services.

As we struggle increasingly with data overload, search engines provide answers only to posed questions, RSS readers only alert you to content that you have sought out, do we actually need help in understanding what the pertinent questions are?

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