The First Americans got into a lot of trouble at home. They had been suffering from that for a long time. (Really, this can be said whether we're talking about Native Americans or the European Colonials, because they both came from somewhere else before they ended up in America. Here we're only concerned with the Colonials. Bear with me.) These people came here despite heavy short-term risks because they perceived a long-term gain. They were ready to embrace change -- they were excited about change. They were willing to pursue an opportunity, laden with risk, in order to have their own lives.

A consequence of their coming here made them extremely agile people. In general, they had to understand new situations, push back frontiers, and learn and develop new technologies. At first, they had to do this merely in order to survive. Once they'd gotten that down, however, something interesting happened: they didn't stop. They kept on making new things, learning new things, and developing new things. From their viewpoint, they had an entire continent to explore. Their ancestors, back in the warm loving folds of Europe, didn't have to do anything like that so close to home, and hadn't for a long time.

The First Americans were the people who created the America that current citizens of America learn about in history books. They were the people who wrote the Constitution, who explored the country, who made maps, and who argued about slavery.

In 1851, James King the First American invented the first washing machine to use a drum. In 1858, First American Hamilton Smith patented the rotary washing machine. First Americans invented these things to save themselves some time, because there was so much to discover, so much to learn, and they each felt the desire to continue to learn and discover. Wanting to know things that were not known was a big thing for First Americans. This small number of people (starting with 3,893,874 in 1790, up to 49,371,340 in 1880) through their questioning and inventiveness created an enormous surplus of ideas and energy.

As the 19th century passed, the number of First Americans dwindled steadily. This posed no problem for American Civilization, because the surplus created by such a small number of individuals was so great that a massive population could be supported, a population who would have no major problems between themselves and their environments, but only between themselves and each other, and the rest of the world: the Second Americans.

The Second Americans emerged from, and benefited from, the surplus of the labors of the First. For the first time an entire population existed in America who didn't have to figure out the basics of survival in a new land. They were able to turn their energies towards each other, and focus on their society, and their relationship to other countries in the world. Invention and learning were relegated to essentials for the development of industry and trade, and the creation of ever more surplus for the consumption of ever more Second Americans. The purpose of the Second American is to pursue the American Dream, and part of pursuing the American Dream is living a happy life.

Unfortunately for the Second Americans, living a happy life turns out to have a lot to do with actually performing the activities that were done by the First Americans, such as discovering, learning, inventing, and pushing back frontiers. Merely consuming a surplus of resources generated by the application of efficient ideas to an environment doesn't generate happiness.

Even more unfortunately, the challenges have changed since the time of the First Americans. The last chunk of Earth's surface, Landsat Island, was imaged in 1984 by the satellite of the same name. There aren't any new geographical frontiers to explore. There are no more Lewis and Clark expeditions to send to remote and distant lands on this planet (excepting the oceans, of course, but the oceans are much more untenable environments for the explorers of today than the surface of the Earth was for the explorers of the 19th century.)

The Second Americans and their habits of consumption are evident in the present day. The problems that the Second Americans have created cannot, however, be solved by the Second Americans. They haven't been forced to practice the skills needed to solve problems like these every day of their lives. They need to step aside for a new American to solve these problems: the Third American.

Being a Third American has nothing to do with being an American citizen. Being an American citizen has to do with voting, paying taxes, producing goods, being a member of a mercantile society, consuming resources, being entertained, and following certain laws. Third Americans do not live for those things, and those things, themselves, do not make Third Americans happy.

The Third Americans don't necessarily live in America. Living in America means participating in certain combinations of the activities listed above, and doing so in certain ways, and not in others. Being a Third American might even be easier for someone who doesn't live in America.

Humanity is staring at a future. We are approaching that future more rapidly than we used to be -- it is as though we have passed the Schwarzschild radius of our destinyand are steadily accelerating. Unless we carefully influence our course to, and through, the upcoming singularity we may suffer dire consequences. There is no need to speculate on what the dire consequences might be, since there can be any possible set of dire consequences, and as the complexity of our society increases, we will see an increasing set of possible dire consequences. (Being unable to change anything, because "that's just how things are done" by law, for example, would be a dire consequence for humanity. We are not so far from this kind of thinking. When is the last time you tried to change an organization?)

The Third Americans are on the very utmost fringe of the pressing onward through the human singularity. They are uniquely needed now, because we are back to living on the same kind of change barrier that the First Americans lived on, but this time, there are no obvious challenges. The challenges are all around us, all the time, every day, and they can't be shot with a gun. They can't be invented away. The efforts of the Third Americans will create no surplus -- they will take it away. Their learning will make simpler that which has become complex. Their understandings and models will continually change, rather than become a permanent model for a world that continually changes.

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