The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ainan on technological advance.

Yesterday, I was speaking to Ainan about a predicted technological advance.

“Ainan, I have read that, in a few years time, scientists will be able to create an event cloak, to hide an event from observation.”

In a few years time…”, he scoffed.

I appraised his distinctly unimpressed features.

“If someone says, “In a few years time”, they haven’t done it, and have no idea what to do – but just expect it to happen.”, he elaborated.

It became clear that Ainan wasn’t a great believer in technological predictions – and, it was reasonable for him to be so, since he had history on his side. Most predictions of the technological future, in the past, have turned out to be wrong.

It was interesting that he should be such a sceptic, for most children are much more accepting of what they are told about the future: they believe it, usually without much question. Ainan doesn’t. His stance is more a case of “show me your evidence and a working prototype please”.

Ainan is cautious in his expectations for the near technological future. His view is moderated by his understanding that the pace of technological change has slowed in recent years and is nowhere near as fast as mythology would have us suppose. His view is more of a realist, than a pessimist: he expects change and development, but a much more measured change than some commentators expect. He is not, for instance, a great believer in Kurzweill’s imminent “Singularity” and all its attendant technological wonders. Such things may come, in Ainan’s universe – but they will come at a much more leisurely pace.

He has spoken of the likely future he will live in, before. He expects an incremental, evolutionary period of change, rather than a revolutionary one. All the techno-dreams that fervent futurists write are things Ainan does not expect to see, in his lifetime. He believes that those soothsayers are overestimating the pace of change and, in some areas, underestimating the problems that would have to be overcome to make real, their dreams of tomorrow.

Sadly, Ainan is more likely to be right than any of the more famed futurists: their rosy view of times to come, is ever optimistic and overlooks, to a great degree, the magnitude of the tasks to be undertaken.

I hope, Ainan that the future you see, and which I may not, is one that does not disappoint you: may it be interesting enough to sustain you and rich enough to be worth the wait.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:13 PM 


Blogger virginiagunawan said...

Hi Valentine. It has been a while since I last commented here.

Seems like Ainan would also be excellent in literature! Maybe something like analyzing language or film text.

It might be hard to choose what to do later in life since he got so many choices!

It is not related to the post, but I am wondering how you and your family are doing, since I heard there is quite a stir in Kuala Lumpur right now.


7:02 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Virginia,

Yes. It is hard to know what he might eventually do. The potentials to do many things are there: it is just a question of what he decides to take on.

My family is fine: we stayed well away from the trouble and, indeed, spent that particular day at home. The riots, such as they were, didn't touch us at all.

I hope you, too, are well.

Kind regards

7:50 PM  
Blogger Waters said...

Hi Valantine

I was wondering if Ainan might be laughing at the future because he believes those advances to realitically already be possible now, or to already exist.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said... this instance, he was pouring scorn on the tendency of futurists to show unwarranted optimism. He believes that technological progress has slowed and that it does not show the headlong rush it used to. Thus, he is cautious with estimates for future progress.


12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good that Ainan questions what scientists believe will happen in the future. Having his own opinion likely helps him when coming up with his own creative ideas and experiments. Does he question scientists often?

5:47 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Alex,

I would say that Ainan always questions the scientific views of others...he doesn't accept anything without having a good think about it himself, first - and he is quite prone to argue with quite a few propositions put to him. So, I think he is likely to grow into the kind of scientist who challenges the status quo, if it should need such a challenge.

Thanks for asking.

2:13 PM  

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