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Salon ran a conversation with

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 20, 2001

Salon ran a conversation with Steven Johnson regarding his recent book, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, a recent favorite of mine. In the interview, Johnson relates the subject matter of the book with the Current Situation:

“…you get to the point where smaller clusters of people can have disproportionately large effects. For example, look at epidemic weapons. We could have a smallpox attack, where you just need a dense population base and suddenly a million people can be taken out by one guy with a backpack. That’s the bad news.”

Johnson’s thoughts reminded me of something I wrote in an essay for 0sil8 long ago (which I’m not going to point to because most of it is *horrible* and embarrassing):

“Already, the expansion of humanity’s universe is threatened by the gravity of man’s ingenuity and inventiveness; we currently have the capability to collapse our universe. And in our case, unlike that of the real universe, our gravity is constantly increasing while our rate of physical expansion has crawled to a halt. Man setting foot on the moon did much more for the expansion of [his] mind than it did for the expansion of his territory.”

“For all the talk about encryption and the universe, the matter comes down to the two basic characteristics that define humanity: our ability to think and our mortality. The former is evolving too quickly for humanity to stop it from bringing about the ultimate result of the latter. Our little human universe can’t outrun the gravity of ourselves.”

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