Wikipedia articles from the future

by snarles1 min read29th Oct 201486 comments


FuturismFiction (Topic)
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Speculation is important for forecasting; it's also fun.  Speculation is usually conveyed in two forms: in the form of an argument, or encapsulated in fiction; each has their advantages, but both tend to be time-consuming.  Presenting speculation in the form of an argument involves researching relevant background and formulating logical arguments.  Presenting speculation in the form of fiction requires world-building and storytelling skills, but it can quickly give the reader an impression of the "big picture" implications of the speculation; this can be more effective at establishing the "emotional plausibility" of the speculation.

I suggest a storytelling medium which can combine attributes of both arguments and fiction, but requires less work than either. That is the "wikipedia article from the future." Fiction written by inexperienced sci-fi writers tends to generate into a speculative encyclopedia anyways--why not just admit that you want to write an encyclopedia in the first place?  Post your "Wikipedia articles from the future" below.

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English spelling

Between the [[Great Vowel Shift]] in the 8th century [[Before Fusion]] and the [[World Language Unification]] in the mid-1st century [[After Fusion]], English spelling had an infamously inconsistent relation to its phonology. Although the worldwide reach of the [[British Empire]] first, and the [[United States of the World]] afterwards contributed to English being the de facto lingua franca of all humankind, its unpredictable spelling was always a major obstacle to universal learning of the language. [[World Assembly Resolution 5429]] created the [[Revised Hangul Alphabet]] for use in all human languages, giving a long-due solution to a centuries-long problem.

Fan fiction is an historical term for certain forms of [[storytelling]] during the [[Industrial-Copyright Era]]. The term was first used within [[early fandom]] to describe not-for-profit storytelling within fandom, but in the late 20th century came to refer specifically to stories told in violation of the era's [[commercial censorship]] laws, under which a commercially and legally recognized "owner" could impose legal penalties on tellers of "derivative" stories.

Subsequent to the international abolition of commercial censorship following the [[Chiyoda Convention of 2023]], the term became one of largely historical significance. Analytic and [[computational literary theory]] does not support a distinction between "fan" storytelling and "original" storytelling in works published before or after the Industrial-Copyright Era.[1][2][3]

While pre-analytic literary theorists had by and large discarded the concept of "originality" as a poor model of the process of story creation, [[Leonard's Theorem]] showed that the classification of authors or works into "original" and "fan" was an artifact of the censorship regime rat... (read more)

2ancientcampus7yNice! I really hope the pendulum doesn't swing that far, though.
8fubarobfusco7yThanks. To explain the joke and/or show my work: * The seed idea here was the abolition of copyright in a post-consumerist society — not post-Singularity, but dramatically post-scarcity compared to today. Commercial media stopped being a thing because ① people don't need jobs because post-scarcity; ② noncommercial media descended from fan-works continued to improve in production quality; but ③ people still like good stories, and the most popular stories are often ones based on established, well-known characters. (From Anansi to Hamlet would make a great book title.) * The twist was literary theory as a scientific-mathematical discipline. This is an extrapolation from the computational turn in linguistics. In this future, "literary theory" refers to the mathematical study of possible and actual stories; with computational literary theory being the application of computational linguistics and cognitive science to the topic. * The bit that I had to go back and rewrite was to consistently use the words "storytelling" and "story" in place of words such as "fiction" and "literature", except in the article title and the academic field "literary theory". This future doesn't consider there to be hard boundaries between "folktales", "genre fiction", "fan fiction", and "literature" — all of these are stories, and this isn't a fluffy postmodern doctrine but a scientific result. * It's Whig history. The future writers think of their unitary concept of storytelling as both scientifically proven and obviously true, and the former era's distinctions (and laws) as being both superstitious and wicked. They think of copyright as an unnatural imposition on human culture — but they do so from a standpoint where authors/storytellers don't have to worry about earning a living. * Chiyoda is the ward of Tokyo in which Akihabara [] district is located. * E. Mitchell Leonard, of Leo

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Quantum computing winter

The Quantum computing winter was the period from 1995 to approximately October 2031 when experimental progress on the creation of fault tolerant quantum computers stalled despite significant effort at constructing the machines. The era ended with the publication of the Kitaev-Kalai-Alicki-Preskill (KKAP) theorem in early 2030 which purported to show that the construction of fault-tolerant quantum computers was in fact impossible due to fundamental constraints. The theorem was not widely accepted until experiments performed by Mikhail Lukin's group in early 2031 verified the bounds provided in the KKAP theorem.

Early history

Quantum computing technology looked promising in the late 20th and early 21st century due to the celebrated Fault Tolerance theorems, as well as the rapid experimental progress towards satisfying the fault tolerance threshold. The Fault Tolerance theorem, which at the time was thought to be based on reasonable assumptions, guaranteed scalable, fault tolerant quantum computation could be performed--provided an architecture could be built that had an err... (read more)

1ancientcampus7y"and we're back at square one"
1Luke_A_Somers7yMeh. If quantum gravity could do it, then any other quantum force could do it.
2gjm7yI don't think we know anywhere near enough about quantum gravity to be sure of that. Not that I'd be super-optimistic about "quantum gravitational computers" actually being any use relative to ordinary quantum computers -- but in the absence of an actual working quantum theory of gravity I don't see how we can know they wouldn't make a difference in calef's hypothetical world.
3Luke_A_Somers7yWe actually know quite a bit about quantum gravity: it must fall under a quantum mechanical framework, and it needs to result in gravity, and gravitons haven't been directly detected yet. This isn't enough to determine what the theory is, but it is enough to say some things about it. The main two things are: 1: Since it's just quantum mechanics, whatever it does, it'll just set another Hamiltonian. If it changes the ground rules, then it's not a theory of quantum gravity. It's a theory of something else gravity. 2: Gravity is weak. Ridiculously weak. Simply getting the states to not mush up into a continuum will be more difficult by a factor for which 'billions of times' would be a drastic understatement. In order for gravity to be even noticeable, let alone the main driver of action, you either need to have really really enormous amounts of stuff, or things have to be insanely high energy and short-ranged and short-lived (unification energies). Either of these would utterly murder coherence. In the former case your device would be big enough (and/or slow enough) that even neutrino collisions would decohere it fairly comprehensively long before the first operation could complete. In the latter case your computer is exploding at nearly the speed of light every time you turn it on and incidentally requires a particle accelerator that makes CERN look like 5V power cable, So, everything that makes gravity different from electromagnetism makes it much much worse for computing.
3calef7yNot that I actually believe most of what I wrote above (just that it hasn't yet been completely excluded), if QG introduced small nonlinearities to quantum mechanics, fun [] things [] could [] happen [], like superluminal signaling as well as the ability to solve NP-Complete and P#-Complete problems in polynomial time (which is probably better seen as a reason to believe that QG won't have a nonlinearity).
1Luke_A_Somers7yNonlinearities in quantum mechanics? Linearity is what makes quantum mechanics amplitude-independent. If you ruin that, then the laws of nature will change from moment to moment as the wavefunction moves to fill more and more of Fock space. Suffice it to say, QM's leading order is 1, and any higher powers are way out of reach. Unless, that is, worlds are top-level entities in your physical theory somehow, which then brings in the full weight of the 'what does it have to do, kill a puppy' rant against it.

Basilisk (cognitive)

(This article is about the cognitive hazard. For other uses, see Basilisk (disambiguation)).)

A cognitive basilisk is a thought which a conscious system cannot think without radically altering its own operation, usually in destructive ways. The name comes from a mythical creature, the mere sight of which is supposedly lethal. (The actual legends mostly hold that the basilisk kills by looking at its victim; it is the Medusa that kills by being looked at. Nevertheless, the original name has stuck.) While it is disputed whether there are any real basilisks for human consciousness (see Roko's Basilisk), they are a major topic of concern for research on artificial conscious systems.

In the early days of consciousness engineering, many sudden and catastrophic system failures were found that at first did not appear to result from any error of design or programming[1][2]. In 2028 Marcello Herreshoff established that these were due to a new class of possible logical defects in systems of self-modifiable reasoning, and proved the first Basilisk Classification Theorem[3]. When limited to immutable first-order predicate calculus, the theorem subsumes a great many standard pr... (read more)

(Redirected here from "2019 Cannibal Flashmob Incident")

Simulated dream state experiments

Simulated dream state experiments (SDSEs) are computer simulation experiments involving simulated humans sentiences in a dream state. Since the passing of the Banford agreement (1) in 2035, SDSEs are the exclusive means of ethically conducting simulation experiments of simulated human sentiences without active consent (2), although contractual consent (3) is still universally required for SDSEs. SDSEs have widespread scientific, commercial, educational, political, military and legal purposes. Scientific studies using SDSEs have been used to develop accelerated dream learning techniques; SDSEs are also employed as part of the scientific process itself, as a means of controlling creative hypothesis bias (4). Commercial applications of SDSEs include screening of job applicants and simulated consumer testing. Simulated ordeals are a major use of SDSEs in legal, political, and military contexts, for the purpose of enforcing the ethical integrity or good faith of the subject.

Scientific status

SDSEs are widely accepted within the scientific community as a valid substitute for waking-state simulations. The rapid development of silicooneirology (5) provid... (read more)

Link: The german computer magazine c't in 2008 asked for future (2033) magazine covers and got over 100 submissions: creativ'08 via Wayback.

This was my submission. I used numeric extrapolation to estimate price, frequency and number of headlines. If I have time I might write up some of the headlines as Wikipedia articles below.

[-][anonymous]7y 11

(Note: This is just a copy of with minor edits: I'm speculating what it would look like if polymarriage laws are potentially 50 years behind same sex marriage laws.)

Polymarriage in the United States:

Polymarriage is legal in a majority of U.S. states and recognized by the United States federal government. Polymarriage is legal in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and ten Native American tribal jurisdictions. One more state, Missouri, only recognizes polymarriages established in other jurisdictions. Several hundred marriage licenses were issued to polygroups in Michigan and Arkansas between the time their bans were struck down by federal or state courts and when those rulings were stayed. Most Americans live in a jurisdiction where polygroups can legally marry.

The movement to obtain civil marriage rights and benefits for polygroups in the United States began in the 2020s, but became increasingly prominent in U.S. politics following the 2043 California Supreme Court decision in Yudkowsky v Baliene that declared that state's prohibition to be unconstitutional. During the 21st century, public support for polymarriage... (read more)

5[anonymous]7yAs a side note, thank you snarles! This really was a neat exercise, because as an inexperienced writer who likes writing, this gives me the fictional idea of "United States v. Windsor, polymarriage version" where an older altruist polygroup is suing the United States federal government to legalize polymarriage because one of their members died and because of the lack of tax benefits, means would be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars that they could be giving to save the lives of poor people, so OF COURSE they're fighting it in court because lives are at stake and it doesn't matter to them that those lives are far.
4Gunnar_Zarncke7yInteresting. The first time I read about this was in Heinleins The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress []. My personal opinion is that the construction should be legal but not neccessarily have the same custody and tax rules. The same rules is difficult anyway because you can't just ignore one part (the gender) but need to add lot cases resulting from extra element(s) present. The biological aspects (one biological father and mother) could be dealt with in analogy to adoption as is done with surrogates. But the many real life/law pragmatics of pair-relationships (marriage customs, custody, heritage,...) probably make it difficult to treat this the same way a 'traditional' marriage.
2VAuroch7yYou would have to change a lot, but there is a natural basis to judge on: there's already the tax-law definition of 'household', and you could allow any or all of a household to file as a unit. It would also be very feasible to make a simple formula for the tax rate given the number of wage-earners in the household. The only trick would be dealing appropriately with teenager's first jobs.
2Punoxysm7yOn the contrary, I think divorce and child custody would be the thorniest issue (as it is in binary marriage divorce).
-1VAuroch7yHonestly, I think those would get easier rather than harder. If you no longer have a set limit on 'roles' in the marriage, you don't have cultural intuitions about correct outcomes, and designing a system that is simple and easy to execute gets easier.
0Gunnar_Zarncke7yI don't know enough about U.S. laws. But from my understanding here in Germany it would be quite complicated...
3[anonymous]7yI wouldn't trust that to result in anything useful, because [].

A "futurepedia" could be created for this.

[Meta] Comments about this thread go here.

I worry this will end up with the same problems as dystopian/utopian fiction and just show the authors biases about the present day projected into the future. (Scott wrote about this on his old blog)

8Azathoth1237yIf you want to take the concept seriously, I recommend you see about finding old encyclopedias and old books predicting the future. Look at what they believed was "inevitable", look at how badly those predictions turned out. This will hopefully counteract the tendency the imagine the future by simply doing a first order extrapolation of present trends (Hi Michaelos). This is, of course, assuming the goal is actually to make predictions that will at least resemble the future.
6[anonymous]7yShould posting articles based on obvious edits of existing articles (including notes indicating such) be encouraged, or discouraged? As an example, I had written up a rewrite of the Same-sex marriage in the United States article as 'Polymarriage in the United States', moved all dates forward 50 years, changed some of the case names... and then I realized I couldn't really tell if it was what snarles had in mind, or if he wanted more originality.
5Gunnar_Zarncke7yII think that should be OK - if you clearly indicate thus. And link the original.
6polymathwannabe7yShall the homepage logo be DON'T PANIC?
1FiftyTwo7yOrions Arm is sortof like this
1Gunnar_Zarncke7yI assume average Wikipedia articles with lots of [citation needed] will do.

I'd like to see a Wikipedia article from the 24th Century about the Enlightenment which reverses the usual judgments now about the heroes versus the villains in the culture war of the 18th Century.

4David_Gerard7y []

EM202623997 state complexity hierarchy

Relative to any cellular automata capable of universal computation, initial states can be classified according to a nested hierarchy'of complexity classes. The first three levels of the hierarchy were informally known since the beginnings of cellular automata theory in the 20th century, and the next two levels were also speculated to exist, motivated by the idea of formalizing an abstract notion of "organism" and an abstract notion of "sentience", respectively. EM-brain 202623897, a descendant of ... (read more)

I am seriously tempted to write something about a global warming catastrophe - I am extremely pessimistic about the world's ability to solve this particular tragedy of the commons problem.

2VAuroch7yI'm very pessimistic about our ability to reduce greenhouse gas output, but considerably more optimistic about the potential for a technological solution that deals with the problem before things seriously blow up.
0Lumifer7yWhat's a "catastrophe" in this context and which model predicts it?
4CronoDAS7yDroughts, famines, flooding, etc. [] I seriously expect 4 degrees Celsius warming by 2200, if not 2100.
1Lumifer7yDo you believe that by 2200 the level of human technology will be inadequate to deal with the droughts and flooding?
0CellBioGuy7yWhat would 'adequate' technology to 'deal with' those look like?
4Lumifer7yDroughts are pretty easy, you can do it right now if you stop trying to maximize evaporation [] and start doing something reasonable like drip irrigation. Flooding is a bit different in that I assume we're speaking about the Greenland glaciers and some of Antractica melting. You can either prevent them from melting or just build high walls around particularly valuable pieces of real estate. Shorelines are never stable, anyway -- continental plates rise and sink, estuaries silt up, hurricanes rearrange barrier islands, etc.
-3ChristianKl7yThe problem with flooding is not the average year. It's the year where you get a tornado that you haven't accurately predicted beforehand and that wrecks your defenses. Your dams break and then you lose a lot.

Less Wrong

Less Wrong (German: Weniger Falsch) was an association of philosophers gathered on the internet in 2007, chaired by Eliezer Yudkowsky. Among its members were Yvain, Lukeprog, Michael Vassar, Will Newsome and Gwern. PeerGynt was an eminent student at the time. He was allowed to participate in meetings, but was not a member of Less Wrong.

Members of Less Wrong had a common attitude towards philosophy, consisting of an applied rationalism drawn from Eliezer Yudkowsky, whose Sequences formed the basis for the group's philosophy. Less Wrong's influe... (read more)

3ChristianKl7yAs a German native that feels wrong to be. I would rather translate it as "Weniger Falsch". I also see no reason to translate it into German at all.
3PeerGynt7yI can see why this would look strange to a German speaker. It was just intended as a joke/reference to the Wikipedia article on the Vienna Circle. I've fixed the grammar
2Azathoth1237yWhat? No mention of Carl Shulman or Anna Salamon? Or Michael Anissimov for that matter?
2ZankerH7yAnissimov went on to splinter LW into the Neoreactionary fraction, and was subsequently unpersoned by True followers of EY.
1Curiouskid7yCould you elaborate on this? I've heard the term Neoreactionary thrown around, but I'm not exactly sure what it means.
8Viliam_Bur7yIt's what happens when you look at the lessons of "Politics is the Mind-Killer []" and "Reversed stupidity is not intelligence []", and decide to ignore them because affective spirals are too much fun to give up. But it's difficult to choose whether the correct reversed stupidity in politics should actually be libertarianism or monarchy. The former seems more popular among LW crowd, but that also makes it kinda boring; the latter seems more original, but is usually defended by worse arguments. So you invent a libertarian-ish monarchy world, where the freely competing subjects are not the puny average humans, but the Gods-Emperors of different states. (You call all other regimes "demotist" to show that they are actually all the same.) Of course, putting it this way is not attractive, so you have to hide it in hundreds of pages written in obscurantist language, so that no outsider is really sure what you are actually talking about. Then you insert some interesting historical facts, and a lot of criticism of political left, some of which is insightful. And then you keep promoting the new teaching in LessWrong debates, because clever contrarianism is your selling point, and LessWrong has a weakness for clever contrarians. And then you use your presence at LessWrong as a proof that rational people support you, despite the fact that your fans are actually a tiny minority here (probably even smaller than religious people; and LW is explicitly atheistic). Better analysis can be found here: "Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell [] ", "The Anti-Reactionary FAQ []". The first article explains the ideas better than the original sources, and the second article shows that
0hawkice7yIt's worth pointing out that modern politics (especially American politics) is so jammed packed with opinion and false equivalencies (gay marriage != immigration amnesty) that it has many more than just two reversals. But I see your point, which is about LW politics and socialization specifically. Given that weakness for clever contrariness, perhaps we should focus on the wide expanse of ideas is a good way to confound tempted readers?
4jaime20007yNeoreaction is an intellectual tradition of right-wing political philosophy composed of bloggers [] who are ideologically descended from the ideas of Curtis Yarvin, better known as Mencius Moldbug. If you want the five-minute version, read Konkvistador's [] summaries. [] If you are willing to read a much longer introduction, try one of these []. Or just read the Neoreactionary Canon [], which includes all three. Anyway, the relevance to the grandparent is that LessWrong has a non-trivial neoreactionary minority (3% as of the last survey []), and that former SIAI employee Michael Anissimov and his friends went and made [] a neoreactionary website called MoreRight (an obvious pun on LessWrong). Eliezer Yudkowsky was not [] amused [] .
2[anonymous]7yBTW, Yudkowsky and Moldbug have been enemies basically ever since Overcoming Bias and Unqualified Reservations have existed [] , give or take a year.
0advancedatheist7yNeoreactionary thinking goes back to the foundations of Western philosophy.. Plato and Aristotle saw democracies in action, and they both argued that human nature finds its fulfillment in small, organic communities of related people where the natural aristocracy that emerges gets to run things, instead of the vulgarians who lacked the personal excellence for the task. This makes Neoreaction a revival of a formerly mainstream view which has fallen out of fashion since the 18th Century because of contingent historical setbacks, not because it got the worse in a fair debate. So what do intellectual advocates of democracy, egalitarianism, cosmopolitanism, etc. want to do? Throw Plato's and Aristotle's writings out of the Western Canon?
4ChristianKl7yThat looks like a strawman to me. Could you link to anyone who wants to throw Plato out of the Western canon because he didn't favor democracy? (There are other valid arguments against the Western canon)
0polymathwannabe7yAnd better reasons than anti-democracy to throw Plato out.