(2003-11-21) Brin Stones Of Significance

David Brin has a number of short stories on his website. I just read Stones Of Significance. But that began to change in the Atomic West, when several successive generations arrived that had no personal experience with hunger, no living memory of invasion or pillaging hordes. As fear gradually gave way to wealth and leisure, our more natural temperaments emerged. Especially a deeply human fascination toward the alien, the outsider. With each downward notching of personal anxiety, people assertively expanded the notion of Citizen-ry, swelling it outward. First to other humans - groups and individuals who had been oppressed. Then to manlike species - apes and cetaceans. Then whole living EcoSystem-s... Artificial Intelligence-s... and laudable works of art. All won protection against capricious power. All attained the ThreeBasicMaterialRights (Civil Rights) - continuity, Mutual Obligation, and the PursuitOfHappiness... Each separate version sat down and stared at its jewel of significance, glowing faintly at the one-percent level, for more than an hour of internal subjective time, moodily contemplating thoughts that ranged from irony to possible suicide... I did not want all the creativity in the cosmos to reduce to a vast, self-organizing stew, rapidly discovering every possibility within a single day. For one thing, what will we do with ourselves once we use it all up! What can come next, with real-time immortality stretching ahead of us like a curse? In effect, it will be a second Singularity - even steeper than the first one - after which nothing will ever be the same... Then I saw it by the entryway. A soft gleam, almost as faint as a pict, but in a color that seemed to stroke shivers in my spine. In my soul. Someone had left it there for me. As I bent to pick it up, I recognized the shape, the texture. A stone. It shone with a lambience of urgency. (not a glowing blue/green marble, as I usually remember) cf Digital Philosophy

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