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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Of History and Hysteria... (Of Saviors and Supermen -- Part III) -- AL, CPS, Dark, SF, Soc, Super

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Further to my last article, I offer a timely example of what happens when enough people are ill-informed of basic historical facts. According to The Washington Post, nationalistic comics are becoming popular in Japan. The Post's Hiroko Tabuchi reports,
In one book, crazed Chinese communist guerrillas spray benevolent Japanese troops with cyanide. In another, savage Korean immigrants massacre innocent Tokyo residents in the wake of World War II.

If this sounds like a reversal of Japan's history of aggression in Asia, that is just what the authors intend. The scenes appear in two best-selling examples of a growing literary genre in Japan: nationalist comics.

Now, with as many atrocities as the Japanese Imperial Army was responsible for during World War II, one would think that most rational Japanese would want to let this subject lie. And indeed, it seems most Japanese do.

But the handful who are revisiting history to revise it are more than just a passing embarrassment to the Japanese educational system. They're actually a useful object lesson to the rest of us. After all, Japan is an exceptionally wealthy, advanced, well-educated country. Despite certain issues she may have with her past, if this kind of "creative history" can become widespread there, it can become prevalent anywhere. And imagine, if you think telling the Koreans that Japan built their modern civilization is a bit out in left field, just think what your own countrymen might start believing if you fall asleep at the wheel.

The only real antibody to these delusions is the truth... and an awareness that what you teach in your textbooks has real consequences.

So good luck. And just remember, the above trend almost certainly wasn't the brainchild of some kind of mastermind, superhuman or otherwise. Indeed, the idea's promoters aren't necessarily even that bright. But if you can't defend yourself from blatant untruths, then you're going to be silly putty* in the hands of people who know what they're doing in the marketplace of ideas.

On the positive side, the immune system analogy also works when it comes to increasing your personal and your nation's resistance. If you catch the flu and recover, your system develops a resistance to that strain. If you're given a vaccine ahead of time, you'll be exposed to those genetic characteristics in a dose your system can analyze and then counter.

In the real world, this means that if you get burned by enough people pandering easy lies, eventually you may pick up on the fact and grow more cautious. And if you find out about a lie ahead of time, or get it in pieces, take it apart and analyze it for its factual worth, you're apt to more resistant to future arguments relying upon its false premises.

Or so we can hope.


Future Imperative

*Silly putty = a kind of soft, claylike substance, used as a toy.

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