Monday, September 12, 2011

* Celestial Morgue

Is America going down?


Adam Gopnik

The New Yorker

September 12, 2011

The Faustian choice between the machine and the military is, Morris* insists, starker than ever now: we are approaching either the Singularity --- Ray Kurtzweil's crossover, "Matrix" moment, when we will be logged in sequentially to become parts in a single artificial brain --- or Nightfall, the global thermonuclear war that will end civilization on the planet. (Both are, Morris deduces, on target for 2045)  Morris implies that Spengler may have been right about the fore-ordained blossoming and decay of civilizations, on a far more cosmic scale than he could have imagined: once a society reaches to sun power, and makes nuclear weapons, it destroys itself.  That's why we feel ourselves to be alone in the universe. What we see staring at the vast night sky is not a mystery but a morgue, full of suicidal civilizations. (p. 43)

*Ian Morris author of Why the West Rules  --For Now (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $35)

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