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Freedom, Ideas, and Revolution

"The history of the world is none other than
the progress of the consciousness of freedom."

"When individuals and nations have once got in their heads
the abstract concept of full-blown liberty,
there is nothing like it in its uncontrollable strength."

"I am daily ever more convinced that theoretical work accomplishes more in the world than practical work. Once the realm of ideas is revolutionized, actuality will not hold out."

- G.W.F. Hegel

[These three quotes were lifted shamelessly from Micah Glasser at Event Horizon.]

The third quote reminds me of H.G. Well's universal brain idea:

Quietly and sanely this new encyclopaedia will, not so much overcome these archaic discords, as deprive them, steadily but imperceptibly, of their present reality.

Both men understood that the transformative power of the steam engine would be trivial compared to tools for the mind. Tools for thought (Hegel), and universal connectivity (Wells).

In fairness, this is probably as close as Hegel ever got to considering information machines. He was probably referencing his impenetrable system of philosophy, not computers. But he was correct. Once the realm of ideas is revolutionized...so long status quo.

Kurzweil takes a broader look at this. In the history of the universe there has only been, so far, four information "epochs." What Hegel and Wells foresaw was a movement from Epoch 3 to Epoch 4.

Epoch 1: Information in physics and chemistry
Epoch 2: Information in biology (RNA and DNA)
Epoch 3: Information in brains
Epoch 4: Information in technology

and in the future...

Epoch 5: Merger of technology and human intelligence
Epoch 6: The universe wakes up

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