The future is expensive: introduction

In late November, a stark revelation hit me: I hadn't made any financial plans past graduation, and I didn't know whether or not pursuing a six-figure salary was worthwhile. Worse, I couldn't make any financial plans with the knowledge at my disposal, because most of the major purchases I'd be making in my lifetime would probably be things that hadn't been invented yet! How does one budget for purely theoretical equipment?

I didn't have much time to research this question with exams and term projects on the horizon. What little preliminary research I could fit into my schedule led to three tentative conclusions:
  1. The high-tech lifestyle was cheap, getting cheaper, and would continue to get cheaper.
  2. Technology was narrowing the gap between rich and poor.
  3. A post-scarcity economy, which the Singularity is likely to produce, will eliminate economic inequality. There will be no digital divide among digital people.
If even one of these assessments was correct, it would have been great news. As long as I was earning enough to live on from paycheck to paycheck, I'd be able to pursue a job I loved, or failing that, one with a decent 40-hour workweek. I wouldn't have to go to the most prestigious graduate school, and could pick one with a research project I liked. And if I did ever get a high salary, I could spend and be merry, because my retirement was safe. I'd do my part to stimulate the economy and keep Moore's Law alive. I might even be able to donate to research foundations and offset my personal carbon footprint.

Unfortunately, now that I've had time to research these three assertions in detail, I'm satisfied that they're probably all wrong. My next three posts will explain why.


Kurzweil: no prophet, but a name worth dropping

For most of my undergraduate career, I wouldn't have been able to write a blog like this one. Without being thoroughly familiar with such keywords as "technological acceleration", "transhumanism" and "singularitarian", it was hard to articulate my visions and sense of purpose in life, and hard for Google to find me any of the relevant writing on the subject by futurists.

What finally got me going in the right direction was when one of my profs name-dropped Ray Kurzweil this summer, and I started reading his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.


3 reasons I stopped student blogging

I ran a blog for a few months while I was an undergrad student, but two years ago I noticed that my only regular reader was my mom. (At least there was only one person to tell that I wouldn't be blogging anymore!) What held me back as a blogger? I blame three problems.
  1. My main purpose in blogging was to earn money. Not to get rich, not even to make a living, just to help put myself through university.  I didn't have time for a real job during the school year, and I'd been too pessimistic about being able to find one over the summer. Some say the love of money is the root of all evil, but I think the illusion of a need for money is far worse. Once the no-free-lunch reality of building monetizable traffic had set in, I turned to sponsored posting and grey-hat SEO. I ended up with a spammy blog that nobody would have wanted to subscribe to, and I still didn't make much money.