having read one of ray kurzweil's masturbatory blatherings today
about his dream singularity, i must comment about just how starkly obvious
was his total lack of attention to the physical context in which 
any of the events he describes happen. He's still so high on the drug
of '60s science fiction and the euphoria of limitless resource abundance that
he simply cannot even consider anything but endless growth. He considers
case after case of exponential growth (all of which are really merely different
views on the _same_ case of exponential growth, namely, the exponential growth
of our civilization) and concludes triumphantly that exponential growth 
will continue limitlessly forever! He chastises people in the beginning 
of his article for failing to understand exponential growth and its
implications, but then his entire article is a shining example of precisely 
his own failure to comprehend exponential growth and its implications. 
Perhaps he is so caught up in his own dreamland rhetoric of information
becoming a commodity itself that he forgets that information alone is nothing
without real energy, real stuff, real resources, to go along with it. 
He's fallen to the same fantasy that most of the economists in the West these
past couple of decades seem to - who needs to produce anything real, in our
new and wonderful information economy? They, like Kurzweil, have either
ignored, or forgotten, or never were aware to begin with, that the real stuff
and the real energy have continued to flow and our 'information economy'
is really just the next more parasitic stage of an imperial civilization, 
and that all that stuff is delivered to us because ultimately we compel it
of the rest of the world by threat of force. 

Anyway, Kurzweil is completely ignorant of the very thing he admonishes
his readers to be keen of- exponential growth- and simply imagines that
exponential growth has no concomitant exponentially growing appetite for
resources or that it rapidly exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment. 
He briefly, briefly, touches on 'paradigm shifts' when certain 'paradigms' 
reach their limits, but magically some new technology jumps in to save the 
day and continue the growth. He makes one shadowy and terrified mention 
of saturation and he and his enthusiastic fans both can be imagined to be
bobbing their heads together and agreeing not to open that dangerous door 
or consider that dark and threatening possibility at all. He says as much 
in his paper, and you can feel the clouds of gloom threatening over
the rest of the paper. Any critical observer would say 'here lies something
that threatens the rest of what this man says' and Kurzweil is at least
smart enough to close his ears and refuse to say any more. 
Nonetheless the clouds part and the sun is again shining in the next sentence
where endless gorwth is again the order of the day. Everything else must 
move out of the way for it. Living things will be obsolete and eradicated if
they obstruct progress. whole planets or galaxies must submit to the 
integration into some system of information which obviously embodies
Kurzweils own wildest fantasies of power and glory. 

But all growth in a finite environment must inevitably reach its limits and
fail. Exponential growth gets there very quickly. The part about it failing
is of course a forbidden subject among futurists, for whom some near divine 
savior technology will miraculously pop into existence in the nick of time to
avert the disaster. Though they would hate to admit it, the futurists share
these characteristics with other sorts of religious extremists. Both refuse
to accept any limits on growth, both assume some special force will
save them from the consequences of their actions, both dream of some
supposedly inevitable future where all is dominated by the deity of choice, 
and both will conjure up awful consequences or punishment to come for not
submitting to this deity of choice. Both ignore or deny reality and favor
their fantasy of choice.

What none of these people realize is that the context in which the entire
history of civilization has developed has been a single great orgy of 
consuming stored up resources on our planet. Exponential growth is not the Way
Things Must Always Be, but simply the Way Things Are Under These
Circumstances- namely the circumstances of a spark falling in a wealth of fuel.
While there remains
fuel to burn there is no putting out that fire. But to imagine that then entire
universe must burn is to ignore the fact that this was a field of very 
high quality fuel that this spark fell into and ignited. Our civilization 
first devoured the wealth of the living ecosystem around it. It then began
devouring the wealth of past ecological activity long buried in the rocks. 
It dabbled a bit with plundering the planet's share of wealth left over from
exploding stars billions of years before the formation of our own, but no mind-
the fact remains that there was plenty of fuel piled up and accumulated
through the action of billions of years of events preceeding the emergence of
a rapacious and expansive form that we now know as our civilization.. and that
in any situation where the supply of energy is greater than the requirements, 
the consumer will expand to consume all available. As a matter of fact
this consumption will happen at an exponential rate. While we burn through the 
last of our stored treasure, much faster than we burned through the first 
of it, we can consider that this is exactly what happens when some organism
stumbles into a great wealth of energy. 

Kurzweil muses on the absence of evidence for intelligent life (which he
equates with technological civilization) elsewhere in the universe. 
Perhaps he should consider that technological civilization is a one way 
trip, with full guarantee, to exctintion. It is a single brilliant orgiastic
blaze when that great wealth of fuel is burned through- getting brighter and
brighter right up until the fuel runs out. The imeprative of growth ensures
that there is no such thing as even slowing down the process much less stopping
or reversing it, right up until it is impossible to burn a moment longer. 
He should not be surprised that any other technological civilizations that
have emerged elsewhere in the universe do not answer our call or leave us
a message- on a geological timescale, they are but the tiniest flashes, a
strange and fascinating anomaly that arises whenever some sufficiently large 
reserve of energy wealth manages to accumulate somewhere long enough for 
some species to come along and exploit it. Technological civilizations are
self-eliminating and self-extincting. This is why we don't observe them in 
any quantity anywhere. They are nearly inevitable in the long term anywhere
the resources manage to pile up, but they also inevitably burn through their
resources in a matter of centuries and burn out, regardless of how great
their initial wealth of stored energy happened to be. That's what 
exponential growth really means, and that's what Kurzweil and his followers
have completely failed to comprehend.