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Shmoo Technology

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Shmoo Technology2004-04-28 09:27
picture by Flemming Funch

One of the features in the Li'l Abner cartoon from the 1940s was the strange and lovable Shmoo creatures:
The Shmoo first appeared in the strip in August 1948. According to Shmoo legend, the lovable creature laid eggs, gave milk and died of sheer esctasy when looked at with hunger. The Shmoo loved to be eaten and tasted like any food desired. Anything that delighted people delighted a Shmoo. Fry a Shmoo and it came out chicken. Broil it and it came out steak. Shmoo eyes made terrific suspender buttons. The hide of the Shmoo if cut thin made fine leather and if cut thick made the best lumber. Shmoo whiskers made splendid toothpicks. The Shmoo satisfied all the world's wants. You could never run out of Shmoon (plural of Shmoo) because they multiplied at such an incredible rate. The Shmoo believed that the only way to happiness was to bring happiness to others. Li'l Abner discovered Shmoos when he ventured into the forbidden Valley of the Shmoon, against the frantic protestations of Ol' Man Mose. "Shmoos," he warned, "is the greatest menace to hoomanity th' world has evah known." "Thass becuz they is so bad, huh?" asked Li'l Abner. "No, stupid," answered Mose, hurling one of life's profoundest paradoxes at Li'l Abner. "It's because they're so good!"

Ironically, the lovable and selfless Shmoos ultimately brought misery to humankind because people with a limitless supply of self-sacrificing Shmoos stopped working and society broke down. Seen at first as a boon to humankind, they were ultimately hunted down and exterminated to preserve the status quo.
Now, there are several advanced technologies on the horizon that might end up looking like the shmoos. Nanotech, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, robots. What happens if there's an infinite supply of everything we need, and we succeed in constructing new life-forms, of silicon or DNA, to help serve our needs? Will these new intelligent structures be as cooperative and accommodating as the shmoos? And how would we adjust to having all of our material needs being fulfilled?

We'll have to develop some new ways of finding meaning in life, of course. We can no longer measure ourselves by how good we are at making a living. I think we can manage that. There are many other good things to do in life than just barely surviving or pursuing a bigger car. But some structures will have to be transformed greatly along the way. Not much need for an economic system if we can easily get everything we want.

No chance that we can close down any avenue of technological research, just because the outcome would be "too good" or "too powerful" for us to handle. If it is there to discover, somebody will discover it. We'll just have to evolve our own maturity at the same time, in order to be able to deal with the changed possibilities.

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28 Apr 2004 @ 09:40 by skookum : Do you think..
this will happen in our lifetime? From what I have seen in a lot of technological discoveries, they take their good time telling us about them. We could be like Star Trek and explore the cosmos looking for intelligent life. They had overcome disease, hunger etc. through technology. I wonder if we would be as able to deal with it.  

29 Apr 2004 @ 16:33 by zynx @ : Or...
Or we could be like the Romulans taking over the cosmos...I forgot if that was them but you get the idea. We could go either way to travel the universe in peace or to travel us our society does now... hunters lead followed by miners and scientists followed by colonists AKA attack, strip down, harvest. Where is our peace?

We really need to get to the Evolving and stop sitting on our butts and act as if it will do it all by itself like coaduation(in The Galactic mileu by julian may) as in once we reach a certain population *POP* we evolve somehow.

emmmm Shmooo :-D  

30 Apr 2004 @ 14:44 by b : Replicators instead of Schmoos
Specifics instead of generalities.
Schmoo - schmo?
After decades of writing L'il Abner, venerable Al Capp was indicted for coercing a teenage girl to have sex with him.
Ah, love without lust - unconditional.  

30 Apr 2004 @ 20:17 by ming : Time
I could very well spend all my time writing about interesting things. There's a lot of stuff I don't get around to writing about, because there simply isn't enough time. But actually I spend most of my time working or doing other things. But since I work at a computer, and I'm plugged into a bunch of sources of news and material, it is not as much work as it might seem. Quoting something else and writing a few paragraphs about it is easy. The magic of the blog format and of news aggregators makes that easy and rather fast. But if I actually write a longer article of my own, that naturally takes some time. Although I don't particularly write and rewrite or anything. I just write what comes to mind in one go.

I have a hard time writing and blogging if I'm not plugged in. If I'm traveling and have a bad connection and too little time just hanging out in front of the computer, it is difficult. But if I have a broadband connection, even if I spend most of the time working, it flows easily. As long as I mostly do fairly short pieces that are based on some input that just happened to zip by.

I used to have a 9-5 job-job with nothing to do. There I spent a considerably amount of time writing. Easily 5 pages per day. Plus long e-mails in discussion groups. I easily spent 6 hours per day just on answering e-mail. And when I went home I actually could take the time off. I couldn't do that today where I'm self-employed and there's a big stack of things I ought to be doing.

Anyway, I actually do think that this kind of meandering commenting, writing, bringing up interesting stuff for no terribly good reason, adds up to some kind of global consciousness movement, when many people are doing it. Where and how that evolves, I don't know. But I do think that what each of us does, in terms of connecting with each other, and with ideas, and with possibilities, makes a difference.  

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