X-Message-Number: 5263
Date: 26 Nov 95 11:19:54 EST
From: "Kent, Saul" <>
Subject: Speculation About The Future

	There's quite a bit of speculation about the distant future on
cryonet. That's quite reasonable because cryonics is an idea that
challenges people to speculate about the distant future.
	I believe it's good to speculate about the distant future, but
mostly as a tool to shape the near future.
	I've done a fair amount of speculating about the distant future
myself...in many discussions with cryonicists, with other futurists, and
in my book FUTURE SEX, which was published in 1974. FUTURE SEX was set 80
years into the future (around the middle of the 21st century). The ideas
in FUTURE SEX, which include physical immortality, hold up pretty good
today. For example, I explored "virtual reality" in two chapters called
"Multi-Media Masturbation" and "The Armchair Daredevil". I don't believe
the term "virtual reality" had yet been coined in 1974, but everyone
knows about it today, and it looks as if, by the middle of the 21st
century (or sooner), the kind of virtual reality I described in my book
may become a reality.
	However, as much as I enjoy speculating about the distant future,
I believe it is far more profitable to spend your time dealing with the
near future and, more importantly, I believe it will be those who can
most successfully invent, predict, and exploit the near future who will
have the most influence on the distant future.
	For example, William Gates (the head of Microsoft) has just had a
book published about the future. I've seen a couple of TV interviews with
him and was not exactly dazzled by his predictions.  They were all
short-term predictions that were either obvious or not very exciting to
anyone who has been following progress in technology and thinking about
the future.
	Yet Mr. Gates is far more influential and powerful than anyone on
cryonet and has the opportunity, because of his immense wealth and fame,
to have a major impact on the distant future. Whether he will use this
opportunity effectively remains to be seen, but the point I am making is
that he is in a position to have a major impact on the distant future
*because* he has focused most of his attention on the near future and has
cashed in on it.
	I believe the book about the future that has had the most
important impact in history is THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY by Robert
Ettinger. I first heard about Ettinger's book when I read an article
called "Intimations Of Immortality" by Fred Pohl in the June 1964 issue
of PLAYBOY magazine. I found Pohl's entire article interesting, but was
especially drawn to his mention of Ettinger's book because it proposed
action in the immediate future. I bought and read Ettinger's book the
next day and found that he used speculation in the distant future
primarily to bolster his argument that we should take action in the near
future. I brought Ettinger's argument and soon became an activist in the
immortalist movement.
	These days I spend almost all my time dealing with the near
future so I can cash in on it myself and be in an increasingly better
position to have an impact on the distant future.
	I believe it's more important (and more fun) to have an *impact*
on the distant future than merely to speculate about it. I also believe
my life depends on it.

---Saul Kent	

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