The Singularity is the last trench of the religious impulse in the technocratic community. The Singularity has been denigrated as "The Rapture For Nerds," and not without cause. It’s pretty much indivisible from the religious faith in describing the desire to be saved by something that isn’t there (or even the desire to be destroyed by something that isn’t there) and throws off no evidence of its ever intending to exist. It’s a new faith for people who think they’re otherwise much too evolved to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or any other idiot back-brain cult you care to suggest.
Vernor Vinge, the originator of the term, is a scientist and novelist, and occupies an almost unique space. After all, the only other sf writer I can think of who invented a religion that is also a science-fiction fantasy is L Ron Hubbard.
He shook his head. "Don't you want to see Mars? You liked the Grand Canyon; I remember how you told me about it. Mars has huge gorges--they make the Grand Canyon look tiny. Don't you want to see them? Don't you want to hike across them?"
It took her a long time to reply. "I guess so," she admitted.
He pushed the nano-paper filament across the ultratable to her. "So input your DNA echo here to join our Frequent Downloader program. You and up to two clones could be eligible in as few as 16 petaflop periods."
She thought carefully. A trip to Mars would certainly be good for the nano-kids. They needed new experiences for their application essays to Harv-4-U® and Prince2.0. But the fridge also needed fixing, and Michael-6's freely-chosen parental unit Homer Zeta always got grumpy when they spent the New Year Squared somewhere other than Virtual Nantucket Brought To You By Nantucky Fried Meat-Matrix...
Thank you for that update on the features of AutoCAD, Greg. I had not realized that we had missed the boat for R11. I must confess, I am quite sad (crushed might be a better description), though I understand why, in a list of hard tradeoffs, this was a wise tradeoff for Autodesk to make.
In its own way, this surprising news about R11 is an opportunity for some of the people here at Xanadu. It is an opportunity to learn, and remember, what it means to take "just a few days longer".
Several times in the past year and a half we have discussed how difficult it is to fully appreciate the cost of being late, because the most important cost is the opportunities you miss that you never even know about. You can slip a day, and another day, and another, and there's no visible consequence...until one day you walk into your office and discover that you slipped too many days, and something really wonderful will not happen because of it.
Of course, the nebulousity of the missed opportunity makes it impossible for ordinary people to weight it as a factor when they are evaluating the urgency of their work. The only way I know of to grasp the true importance of speed is to seek out individual examples of the consequences of "just one more day", and hug them to your heart, and every time you find yourself saying "just one more day", remember that THIS is what it means.
It's probably worth a moment or two for some of the members of Xanadu to reflect upon the consequences of the opportunity lost here, to hug it tight, to experience what it means to be a few days late enough times so that, before you know it, a year has come and gone.
[...] Had AutoCAD been available on the day we announced Xanadu, there might have been some thousands of very easy Xanadu sales to large AutoCAD installations. Those thousands of sales have been lost. Those millions of dollars of revenue that the sales would have generated have been lost. Those millions of documents that would have been interlinked in Xanadu information pools at those thousands of sites have been lost.
[...] All now lost.
This is what it feels like to miss an opportunity. This is what it means to take just a few more days.
For those people at Xanadu who haven't before had a personal experience with the meaning of a slip, you now have a blinding example.
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