Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I've Seen The Future And It Works... For A Really Long Time

Coming Soon
Going to get esoteric today. Hell, it's late July and talking about baseball is no way to stay awake for either of us, so y'all should forgive me for this.

I've recently been reading about a couple of concepts. The first is what techno-futurists refer to as The Singularity, or that inevitable moment when Moore's Law (computing power doubles every 18 months) runs into the limits of artificial intelligence to create actionable, better than human intuition to go with the processing power. When that happens, so the story goes, the AI becomes sentient and either enables a secular version of heaven or hell on Earth, because everything will have been digitized and actionable for the AI to either cure or cause.

The second is what happens when that level of computing power is tied into the mapping of the human genome. Where this all winds up to is greater human physical potential, either through the strengthening of peak performance, or more effective maintenance of that peak period, so that guys in their decline years, well, won't.

In effect, this is the steroid problem all over again, but with greater range and impact. Because while steroids have clear and potent side effects that make the use of them potentially a strategic mistake (in addition to, well, a crime), v2 will be more positives with less side effects, and something that will be impossible to keep out of the game. (Why? Because, like with Lasix or better surgeries and rehab, this will be technology enhancement without obvious drawback, and an option that well-heeled individuals will be taking to right away.)

Now, all of this involves some rather optimistic views of the future -- that we avoid some hellish new plague, that climate change is manageable, reversible, or something we can geo-engineer to put the toothpaste back into the tube, and that the sports that we care about here are still viable and interesting in the future. But as that's the only future we can truly hope for, let's live in that potential. What do sports look like then?

Well, first off, guys are playing longer and longer, recovering more often from surgery or injury, and setting all kinds of records. Maybe bio-engineering advances to the point where robotic tech gets incorporated into human tissue, so things like throwing a baseball no longer has a clear career innings limit. Or we get to the point where concussion prevention has real teeth, as medical technology gives personnel brain reset controls to get the synapses back in line. And so on, and so on.

And by the way, we're already kind of living in that dystopia. Many Hall of Fame pitchers don't historically last much past 30, due to the inability to overcome a serious injury. Now, everyone gets past at least one Tommy John procedure, and some seem to be looking forward to it for the MPH bump. Guys get paid enough to stick around in any role, whereas they use to go find Adult Work.

The world has already changed, and will do so again, with sports getting tossed in the wake of bigger boats.

And the most  bitter ex-jocks ever?

Will be the ones we just missed out on getting the new tech, and taking advantage of it.

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