Nathan Hwang

Summer 2011 – Week #2 Review

So what’d I do this week?

Thoughts on book reading: I don’t quite get modern literature. Or any “fine” literature, for that matter. If I didn’t read the foreword for The Glass Bead Game, then I would have been totally lost. Heck, reading the foreword I get a glimpse into what people that know literature get out of reading literature, and much of the time I wasn’t getting that. Like with many things, once I knew that I was deficient in this area, I had an immediate urge to make myself not deficient. However, since I’d just be delving into more literature, a second thought tells me it wouldn’t be especially useful.

Oryx and Crake was a bit better: in particular, some people don’t know how to include technical riffraff into their work. However, Atwood does a good job of sprinkling technical tidbits throughout a text.

However, I’m not into the whole doom and gloom scenario put forth by Oryx and Crake. As I subscribe to secular humanism, I think that humanity is overall on a upward slope, not a constant degeneration. Just because I’m not into the scenario, though, does not mean I don’t think it’s important: even if we occupied several planets in the solar system (like Stephen Hawking says), we could potentially kill ourselves off with a single dedicated mad scientist (it brings to mind the saying “every 18 months, it becomes twice as easy to shoot ourselves in the foot” with respect to strong AI. I don’t know where it’s from, sorry). Something approaching protection from even deliberate attempts on the existence of humanity is interstellar colonization without faster-than-light drives, but I’m sure the only reason it seems safe is because I’ve been thinking about it for less than 10 years. And this is why I think HPMOR will end in tragedy: Harry will do almost everything right, but it won’t be enough, because you could do everything you were supposed to, and Nature is still allowed to kill you.

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