Science commons

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Just a quick post before going to sleep (it’s 2:45 in the morning and I have class at 10:00 ugh).

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the net today. 120 second introduction to what science commons is.

I can think of lot of things that can explain why the idea of ‘opensourced’ science or science commons must be one of the coolest and most revolutionary ideas of the generation, but my brain is turning into a jello right now, so detailed post will have to wait.

Just one thing though. Library of Alexandria. 

Just think about it. Why was library of Alexandria so important? Was it because it housed a lot of books? No, it isn’t. If anyone believes that the significance of the library of Alexandria was about stacks of books he/she lacks the understanding of the origin of modern civilization. Books or any individual units of information pop into existence all the time. Libraries are meaningful because they centralize and organize those individual information clusters. Centralize and organize, meaning giving accessibility to. 

Greatest threat to any knowledge is not in its misuse or incomprehension. It is in obscurity (as Cory Doctorow pointed out as he released his works under CC license). Libraries made human civilization by providing accessibility to knowledge that would have been forgotten otherwise by centralizing them in one geographic location and organizing them according to a system. From that location new ideas were born since people no longer had to spend their lifetime re-learning what someone else figured out half a century ago.

Science in general, lacks accessibility. Which is very weird when you think about it. Science is about accurate description of this universe, this universe every single member of the Homo sapiens sapiens share. Yet science lacks accessibility, both to the nonspecialists and specialists alike. It’s like having limited access to one of your eyes or limbs or organs.

Accessibility is catalyzing and empowering. When economic systems become accessible we get flourishing finances and trades system, with all the subsequent benefits of arts and culture. When human opinions become accessible we get one of the biggest human community ever, with subsequent benefits of policies and philanthropy. The first time academies and libraries became accessible we began a march toward a new civilization. What will we be able to accomplish once the sciences are truly open and known to every willing member of the humanity? 

Chemical augmentation

Americans (and the modern civilization in general) had been dependent on medications since the discovery of penicillin, but recently the level of chemical commitment began to take a whole new perspective. Modification of the baseline intellectual ability through chemical agents that goes beyond simple nutrient control is something I suspect to be relatively widespread and will continue to seep into the general populace as the medications become more sophisticated and effective. The effectiveness of the medication can be surprising when controlled and monitored carefully. I can concentrate on a single task for around ten to fourteen hours at one time, depending on my condition. With proper chemical aid I can theoretically pull through twelve to twenty hours, again dependent on my prior psychological and physical condition.

It would be unrealistic to simply discredit the effectiveness of the chemical aid in intellectual pursuits when its benefits are so clear. The fields of academic studies are one of the rare fields of human endeavor that allows necessities of individual desire and social niceties to be as one, and as such any chance at improvement on one’s ability provides an irresistible allure that goes beyond the simple need to perform. I believe how this new addiction to chemical augmentation plays out and how the society deals with it in coming times will be representative of how the society and the individual will fair once the genetic and cybernetic augmentation for human beings become economic reality. There are some cautious optimism as to the possible changes the coming era of affordable chemical augmentation might in fact benefit the humanity at large, and even serve as a catalyst for a different human age. In this era where people are becoming increasingly aware of ramifications of technology (or at least becoming increasingly polarized by the awareness) on future course of humanity, such predictions take on profound foliage different from similar futurist predictions of the old.

If there is one thing I am worried about, it is our lack of knowledge on the processes of the development of human consciousness. Will learning without requisite control of one’s physio-chemical facilities pose unwanted side-effects on the learner? Will we end up with an enitre civilization of people who knows things they can’t possibly hope to utilize? I’d count on the complex natures of innate human greed and pride to act as counter to such outcome. I for one cannot wait for the day that would finally allow my body to catch upto the place sight of my mind sees.