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.