Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Shameless spectacular speculation

I read an article about Aubrey de Gray, who is convinced that the problem of aging can and will be solved in the next 30 to 100 years. It's actually quite an intriguing theory on many fronts, though I think he is, as a typical software engineer, being overly optimistic in his time estimates.

Still, the future for our grandchildren looks bright in a lot of ways:

1) They may have the opportunity to live and avoid frailty for hundreds or even thousands of years. Reasoning: when my grandchildren are 50, the year will be about 2085, by which time scientists and businesses et al are likely to have extended life by a few decades. And the more that people see how life extension is possible, the more inspired they will be to invest heavily into further life-extending R&D projects, so that the extension of life by several more decades will come soon enough. This cascading effect will only grow with time, such that it's conceivable that while one generation (our children?) will hardly be able to live 100 years, the next generation will figure out how to give itself an average lifespan of 1000 years or more.

2) In the world of my grandchildren, there will be robots and really-smart computers everywhere getting all sorts of stuff done that we can't even conceive of now. (No doubt many of them will be working on keeping us alive and healthy.)

3) In 100 years, the basics of Objectivism (roughly, that there is one reality that is perceived unfailingly by our senses and can be understood and conceptualized by volitional adherance to objective principles, and in such a reality happiness is attainable by pursuing one's objective values according to rational virtues in a social system which defends individual rights by implementing a free market) will be common knowledge. Though no doubt religion and the like will linger among dark pockets of humanity.

4) Given #1, the population on the planet will grow dramatically. This is a good thing, because more people means a bigger economy, more geniuses, more choices for romantic partner, etc. In short, peoples is good. Sure, at a certain point space becomes an issue, but we are very, very far from that point, and anyone who disagrees should drive through Wyoming sometime.

5) Given all of the above, the rate of wealth production on the planet is going to go ballistic.

However, there is bad news for my grandchildren as well, for just yesterday we were playing Bach's Brandenburg Concertos for Eli, when what do I spy but my wife doing "the robot". I don't know what ghastly gene would cause such behavior, but I fear it may be passed on to our descendants.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Eli turned 5 months this weekend

He's considering two things at this time in his life: (a) crawling; and (b) having teeth. I think he will let us know his decision on both issues very soon. I will be supportive no matter what direction he goes on these lifestyle issues.

The weekend started with Amy selling a painting at Lara's CD-release party, which is very cool. I've always known her stuff would sell, there is a market for it if only it gets shown to the public. We were scrambling last week to frame the largest paintings, and I think the ones we made with Home Depot boards and Elmer's glue turned out pretty good.

The ice came after Amy got home Friday night. So we didn't leave the house again until our cars and steep driveway melted on Sunday afternoon. But we did have visitors, which was fun.

And we started watching my Star Wars DVD last night. It's actually a pretty good story. Amazing that it came out in '77. I remember being 6-years-old on vacation in San Francisco and at a tourist-trap T-shirt booth with my mom, with the salesman explaining how I really should get this blue T-shirt with a detailed Star Wars picture print on the front, because that movie was about to come out and it is going to be BIG. I wasn't so sure, I had no idea what it was, but that print looked neat and important, and my mom was enthusiastic. I probably wore that shirt the rest of the summer.

Now how many times have I seen Star Wars and never noticed, until yesterday, that when Luke and Obi-wan Kenobi first talk they both mention "the clone wars"?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

2005 Prediction

My prediction is that Google will continue to do what it has been doing, without many naming it as such: replacing Microsoft Office with a mostly-online suite. I wouldn't be suprised to see a browser from Google, not in order to compete with IE but in order to compete with Word -- that is, a browser (or a line of plug-ins for IE, FireFox, Safari, etc.) that would support not just WYSIWYG editing but also that which is still missing from the online document-editing experience: WYSIWYG printing.

I'm typing this post into a WYSIWYG editor in a page served up by, but I have as yet no way to print out exactly what I enter on such a web page, because current browsers assume what you are printing is just a web page and so they make Big Brother assumptions about how to print the page, e.g. showing the URL in the footer when you print. Fix that, give me a browser which can be directed to print a web page according to how I really want (and a web application that can let me specify the layout of a page relative to physical paper, etc.), and I no longer need Word for simple documents. Instead I'll be able to edit, save, and print documents online, just as I can organize and use emails with Gmail.

Speaking of Gmail, I'd expect to see improved contact organization abilities in Gmail or in some related service. Also, I need an online appointment planning tool hooked into Gmail.

Such changes would make Outlook and Word unnecessary for 80% of the work of nearly all computer users; and 100% of the work for 80% of users.

The big wins for consumers: less software to buy; less software to load; less software to crash; and seamless online data storage -- meaning my documents and contact info and appointment schedules would be usable at the end of any ethernet wire or wi-fi signal.