esmaspäev, november 01, 2004

2025: Aeg mil hiinlased elavad nagu ameeriklased

Kapitalismi ja turumajanduse (nii nagu ta esineb peamiselt USAs ja Euroopas) üheks kõige mõjuvamaks vastuargumendiks on mitmed head tuttavad ning sõbrad toonud sarnase heaolu võimatuse terves maailmas.

Tõesti, kuidas on võimalik tagada kõigile nendele miljarditele inimestele üle maailma, kes peavad praegu hakkama saama mõne dollariga päevas, sarnane heaolu: oma maja, auto, haridus, olmeelektroonikat ja puhkusi teises maailma otsas. Enamasti ei jää üle muud, kui tunnistada, et jah, kui kõik hiinlased tahaksid elada sama hästi kui ameeriklased, siis oleks tõenäoliselt meie planeedi ressurssidel peatselt ka lõpp. Aga siiski jäi sellest väiksest mõtte harjutusest midagi välja - tehnoloogiline progress ja inimmõistuse nutikus, potentsiaal, mille teeb võimalikuks haridus, mis ettevõtlike inimeste käes leiab praktilisi väljundeid.

Me kipume unustama, kui närused olid meie eelkäijate lühikesed elud. Meile täiesti loomulikuna tunduvad nähtused nagu kraanist tulev vesi, keskküte ja elekter olid vaid sadakond aastat tagasi luksused, mis võimalikud vaid vähestele aadlikele kui mitte kuningatele on nüüdseks üks osa meie - eestlaste - igapäeva elust. Tsiteerides Cafe Hayek'i nimelise blogi pidajat ja majandusteooria professorit Don Boudreaux'd:
I began this class as I begin all of my Principles (of Macroeconomics.- toimt.) classes – namely, by informing my students that each of them is among the very wealthiest people ever to live. Some of my evidence for this claim is the fact that my students are alive, that their parents probably are still alive, that they never worry about starving to death or being killed or disfigured by small pox, that they bathe regularly, and that they each live a home with solid floors, walls, and ceilings and into which livestock do not routinely roam, defecate, and urinate.

ja kui see ei mana veel piisavalt selget pilti silme ette, siis tsiteerib professor veel raamatut History of England, kust toob välja eriti mõjuva kirjelduse 17. sajandi shotlase elust:
His lodging would sometimes have been in a hut of which every nook would have swarmed with vermin. He would have inhaled an atmosphere thick with peat smoke, and foul with a hundred noisome exhalations. At supper grain fit only for horses would have been set before him, accompanied by a cake of blood drawn from living cows. Some of the company with which he would have feasted would have been covered with cutaneous eruptions, and others would have been smeared with tar like sheep. His couch would have been the bare earth, dry or wet as the weather might be; and from that couch he would have risen half poisoned with stench, half blind with the reek of turf, and half mad with the itch.

Inimmõistuse potentsiaali ei tasu alahinnata ja paljude arvates on see isegi midagi taolist, millele võiks loota ja uskuda. Majandusteadlaste hulgas on palju karismaatilisi tegelasi, kuid vähesed on pühendunud just inimpotentsiaali ja -loovuse esile tõstmisele nii tõsiselt kui Julian Simon:
Simon’s central premise was that people are the ultimate resource. "Human beings," he wrote, "are not just more mouths to feed, but are productive and inventive minds that help find creative solutions to man’s problems, thus leaving us better off over the long run." As Ben Wattenberg of the American Enterprise Institute explained in his brilliant tribute to Simon in the Wall Street Journal, "Simon’s central point was that natural resources are not finite in any serious way; they are created by the intellect of man, an always renewable resource." Julian often wondered why most governmental economic and social statistics treat people as if they are liabilities not assets. "Every time a calf is born," he observed, "the per capita GDP of a nation rises. Every time a human baby is born, the per capita GDP falls."

Kus asub, siis inimkonna lootus praegu, 21. sajandi alguses? Vastust ei pea otsima kaugemalt kui nanotehnoloogia vallast, mis on viimaste aastatega jõudnud ulmekirjanduse teoreetilisest mõtte lennust vaid mõne kümne (kui sedagi!) aasta kaugusele reaalsusest. Hiljuti lõppenud Foresight instituudi poolt korraldatud First Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology, mis muuhulgas leidis kajastamist ka ajakirjas Reason, kust võis leida nii mõndagi rõõmustavat:
In a presentation on "The Top Ten Impacts of Molecular Manufacturing," Phoenix predicted that products made using a mature molecular nanotechnology would cost $1 per pound to make. After nanotech factories hit their stride, molecular manufacturing will provide more manufacturing capacity than all the world's factories offer today. We will see the advent of cheap solar power and cheap energy storage, and inconceivably cheap high-powered computers the size of wristwatches. The components needed to put a kilogram of material into orbit would fit inside of a suitcase. Nanotechnology would make it possible for 100 billion people to live sustainably at a modern American standard of living, while indoor agriculture using high-efficiency inflatable ten-pound diamond greenhouses would help restore the world's ecology. The ultimate limit to economic growth seems to be heat pollution, the waste energy radiated away from nanotech devices.

Artikkel käsitleb veel teisi potentsiaalselt revolutsioonilisi arenguid, kuid peatub ka mõnedel ohtudel, millest võib pikemalt lugeda artiklist.

Teine huvitav artikkel on intervjuu AI (artificial intelligence) guuru Ray Kurzweil'iga, kus läbivaks teemaks on konvergents ehk kuidas inimene ja arvuti peaaegu märkamatult kokku sulanduvad, kuidas me ennast täiustame ning kuidas hallijuukselisel mehel jätkub veendumust uskuda, et surm ei pruugi tema jaoks olla paratamatus:
By the 2020s we will be placing millions or billions of nanobots—blood cell-size devices—inside our bloodstream to travel into our brains and interact with our neurons. We will be extending our cognitive capability directly through this intimate merger of biology with machines.

Right now, there's a restricted architecture to the way our brains work. The brain uses electrochemical signaling for information processing, and that's a million times slower than electronic circuits. You can make only about 100 trillion connections in there. That may seem like a big number, but the way in which we store information is inefficient, so that a master of an area of knowledge can really remember only about 100,000 chunks of knowledge. If you use Google, you can already see the power of what machines can do. In the future, we will be able to expand the 100 trillion connections we have with new, virtual ones. Once nonbiological intelligence gets a foothold in our brains, it will grow exponentially. As we get to the 2030s, human beings will have biological brains enhanced with more powerful nonbiological thought processes.

So the answer to your question is, if we remain unenhanced, if you just had machines developing on a distinct track, they would surpass humans. But that's not what's happening. We are merging.

Kuigi ma ei usu 100%-lt kõike, mis Kurzweil'i suust välja tuleb on meil siiski põhjust homset päeva ja järgmist aastat oodata optimistliku veendumusega, et aina paremaks läheb. Kui õigustatud see optimism on näitab meile aga tulevik.