Thoughts on Technological Inevitability

A long post from earlier this month at Chronosphere examines technological inevitability - or rather what seems to be its absence if you look back at history. The post is in the context of science and development in cryonics, but the general theme applies just as much to the technologies of enhanced human longevity: just because we are entering an age in which it is possible doesn't mean that it will happen. "One of the most fundamental insights I've ever had came when I was in Rome, and also reading a very good biography of Leonardo da Vinci, in preparation for a visit to Florence. Da Vinci spent most of his career designing war machines, and trying to reroute the Arno River for military advantage. As I looked at the remains of the awesome Ancient Roman engineering around me, and thought of da Vinci, it occurred to me that one of the most powerful and off putting military advantages that could have been deployed, in either Ancient, or Renaissance times, would have been hot air balloons. ... Lighter than air craft are very easy to build, and both the Ancient Romans and the Renaissance Italians had the materials, the wealth, and the technology. The Colosseum was covered with canvas awnings, the Velarium, that were operated by a complex series of ropes and pulleys, and the Romans were superb canvas makers and produced the material in copious amounts to use for ships' sails. Why didn't they develop lighter than air flight - and why didn't Leonardo?" It is not inevitable that we will develop true rejuvenation biotechnology soon enough to save us from aging to death: the only way this will happen is if we make it happen, through activism, education, fundraising, and the other traditional methods of changing the path taken by our society. Sitting back, doing nothing, and assuming we're going to be rescued is the road to suffering and death.



The author poses an interesting question..."Why didn't they develop lighter than air flight". I believe the answer is that until alum and ammonium phosphate were first used to make fabrics fire retardant in the
The 18th century the construction of a lighter than air craft out of cloth would have been a death trap. Speculation, I could be wrong.

Keep up the provocative posting!

Posted by: JohnD at February 28th, 2011 5:32 PM

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