Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Will To Learn

So, as I was saying (2 months ago), I'm 59 now.  This was cause for some reflection and decision-making.  It has been apparent for quite some years now that the employment (and more generally, many aspects of the societal) model arising from the Industrial Revolution have begun to run their course.  What hasn't been (and to a worryingly large degree still isn't) clear is what and how an individual might go about preparing for the even greater changes that appear certain to feature in all our lives in the coming years.

I've decided to educate myself so as to develop the knowledge base necessary to master the skills that nanotechnology and cellular biology seem more and more likely to bring into the individuals grasp.  Additive manufacturing of both inanimate and biological materials to construct the material and devices I desire to accomplish the means of supporting my life without having to necessarily rely upon the whim of any other is a big example of the type of societal and technology change that seems to be in the early stages of development into technique and not just research experiment.

This won't happen next year, possibly not even this decade, but there will be a steady progression of development such that we will achieve a tipping point of change that drags all of human society out of what we now regard as "normal".  I envision this process as a wave breaking upon the shore.  We are only just now beginning to be able to see the start of the swell building; I want to be one of those furiously paddling away just as the first curl appears.  The technology (and other) changes I believe will occur in my lifetime may or may not be the equivalent of Mavericks, but I refuse to be one of those standing around whining in the impact zone as the future washes away the present.

Admittedly being a rather too casual student of classical strategy, I have given some thought to developing one.  What I've come up with likely won't meet many of the needs of others, but I hope will offer inspiration to begin the process of preparing to overcome the risk that is the necessary component of any opportunity.

I've begun by registering as a student at Khan Academy.  I chose this particular venue because of Salman Khan's concept of a transcript being structured as a resume as well as a repository for one's professional work and qualifications (the current examples are publications, software developed, apps, etc but certifications of a technical or trade nature seem a likely possibility also) and that the learning part of education should be free of charge (certification OTOH ...).  Beyond the embarrassingly simple aspiration to remain smarter than my grandson (he's 2 at the moment, but closing fast), I intend to spend the next several years learning math to at least the geometry to calculus level, at least one of the Romance languages other than English (and hopefully an eastern European language as well), and eventually achieve a PhD (or an equivalent certification) in history.  I think it unlikely that I will confine my online studies to only Khan Academy, indeed I think it virtually certain that I won't.

There's more.  I have an abiding interest in things martial.  Mostly this involves modern firearms and in recent years Krav Maga.  Thanks to Eric S. Raymond, I've discovered ARMA - The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts.  I have applied for membership and intend to structure my studies on the historical record of martial theory and philosophy from the Renaissance period onward.  My thought at this point is to connect the historical practice with modern technology and technique and see where that points the thesis further.

With all this decided, I have also decided that I'm going to retire from my present employment around the end of June 2014.  This won't provide me with a great deal of money, but will meet my most basic needs.  Assuming such a thing still exists in 2016 I intend to begin drawing social security at 62 (plus 8 months - 3 years earlier than I could begin drawing "full" benefits).  Fiscal cliffs and all that notwithstanding, actual societal collapse is a drawn out process and I decided the ability to concentrate my efforts for the mid- and late-term portion of my studies was sufficient to justify the longer term risk of retiring from employment at 60.

What makes this different from a complex way to occupy by dwindling twilight years of advancing decrepitude is my conviction that the healthy life extension research that has been underway for most of a decade now has begun (and will continue to) deliver cellular and genetic therapies for age-related diseases and deteriorating physical conditions.  Again, not next year or even this decade necessarily, but within the reasonable expectation of my lifetime without such therapies (the next 20 - 25 years basically).  There are already efforts in place to deliver stem cell type therapies via IV drip and direct injection as well as genetic therapies introduced via benign virus.  The ability to clone one's stem cells and map one's personal genetic code is already within the financial reach of most Americans (well, those of us who have jobs at least); it is only reasonable to believe that this price will continue to shrink over the course of this present decade.  I have begun looking into the procedure required to have both of these accomplished before I retire.  Just one more of those things I expect we will all have to adapt ourselves to if we want to stay out of that futuristic wave impact zone.

And that's pretty much it.  Along the way I will garner as many certifications as I can (I still hope to become formally certified as a Krav Maga instructor even though I don't intend to pursue teaching as regular employment; I'm just not rigorous or consistent enough to be good at instruction - though assisting or filling in temporarily for someone else would be good) with particular emphasis on those related to the creative application of computer technology.  Incorporating firearms and other weaponry into my studies isn't actually a given, more like the pivotal activity around which all else occurs, so I hope to obtain certifications as an RSO and instructor also.  I will have to place greater emphasis on physical fitness than I have (especially of late); it's all well and good to believe in the promise of healthy life extension, but you have to live long enough to have some sort of therapy to receive, don't you?

The blog and my presence online will remain pretty much unchanged for the moment I expect; I want to finish the life extension post series I started in October for only one topic.  I will say that having settled on a course of action to follow has created a sense of emotional as well as intellectual relief for me.  It all may well go straight into the crapper (again), but I feel invigorated and more confident (even if that is the porcelain spinning 'round me) and expect to have a more frequent urge to babble away here once again.