Guys (no girls in my blogroll, sadly), you don’t have to reply if you don’t feel like it, but if you want to, just post the answers on your blog (I’ll link back to the entry) or in the comments here. Anybody else who wants to participate by answering one or many of the questions is welcome to do so in the comments. Thanks!
1. What would you nominate as the best idea that anybody has ever had? Why?
2. What non-fiction book do you think everybody should read? Why?
3. What fiction book do you think everybody should read? Why?
4. What technology has most changed your life in the past 10 years and why? What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on your life in the next 10 years and why?
5. What piece of music would you want with you on a desert island (that has a functioning stereo, of course)?
6. What is the most interesting thing you are working on/reading about/writing about these days?
7. Looking ahead, are you an optimist or a pessimist? Why?
Update: ‘Reason’ from Fight Aging has answered my questions here. Michael Anissimov has given his answers in the comments below (keep an eye out for his upcoming book!), as well as Jamais Cascio. Someone going by the name of ‘Infidel753’ gave his answers over on his blog. Also in the comments are answers by Jeremy Sheperd, Dustin Parsons, and Zach. George Dvorsky also replied on his blog. Many thanks!
My own answers can be found below.
1. Natural selection by Charles Darwin, because it changed everything, and after it life finally started to make sense.
2. Ending Aging by Aubrey de Grey and Michael Rae. There are many other books that are better written, more fun to read, or are less speculative, but at this moment in time, few books contain ideas that could as radically change the human experience. Even if it turns out that de Grey got some details on how to get there wrong, his ultimate goal is worth pursuing with all we’ve got.
3. The Magus by John Fowles. Simply an enjoyable, intelligently written novel with lots of clever twists and turns, and a lot of heart. Runner up in the science fiction genre: Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks.
4. The internet, no doubt. Thanks to it, I learned English, discovered a lot of music and literature, became interested in topics that I probably would never have cared about otherwise, and earn a living by working for a company that is located in another country.
I expect biotechnology to change everybody’s life quite a bit, but I’m not sure exactly how much it will impact me in the next decade. Considering my line of work, I expect the growing environmental awareness tide and all that this implies to be what touches me most. Things like solar power below $1/watt, viable electric vehicles (because of improved battery and hypercapacitor technology), wave farms, deep geothermal, etc. These things won’t just reduce pollution, they’ll also affect everybody via changes in the world’s economy and politics.
5. It would probably have to be the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach. I have two recordings by Glenn Gould and one by Tatiana Nicolayeva, and I love them all. Even after hundreds of listens, I’m still discovering new things and getting lost in them.
6. I’m currently reading Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts, 5th edition), and it is fascinating. I look at the world in a whole new way because of it.
7. I’m an optimist. Despite all the problems of our current era, we’re still in a better place than humanity has ever been (if you look at the past realistically and avoid the ‘golden age’ lens). More literate people with more access to the world’s knowledge, fewer people living in servitude and poverty, fewer dictators and totalitarian regimes, longer life expectancy and more ways to combat disease and suffering, fewer barriers between cultures, etc. And we’re just starting to have the means to really improve things…
We have to fix the negative side effects of our industrial civilization, keep working to fight un-reason and superstition, and look ahead to prepare against future threats to our survival, but overall I’d rather be alive here and now than at any time in the past.