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inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #51 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 10 Jan 03 06:50
    
Which will happen anyway when he hits puberty, right?

I get your point, but I'm not so sure... would they even notice? Or would 
they think, hey, I'm *just like Dad*, and think that's pretty neat?

I think what people fear about cloning is the concept of mass production - 
factories for creating human beings for specific purposes, where we lose 
the mystery, where human life becomes a commodity. Or other sinister 
applications ... "The Boys from Brazil," where Mengele clones Hitler (but 
he has to duplicate other factors of Hitler's life to get an exact match 
over time).
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #52 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 03 07:29
    
I'm not too worried personally about "losing the mystery."
I recognize that this is an important psychological driver
for a lot of people, but people who really need the stark
facts of life made more genteel by a mystical fog can always
make up some New Age hokum to deceive themselves.

I don't think that the factory=model clone works out
any more than the robot works out.  If you look at
BRAVE NEW WORLD, where people have all kinds of test-tube
baby castes and classes, well, that is a wonderfully
prescient book in many ways, but it's a satire.  The
world of BRAVE NEW WORLD has no future of its own.
Nothing is happening there, it has no arc of development.
There is no social innovation, and technology is going
nowhere.  Knowledge has ceased to expand.

It's a vision of society as an industrial
machine, and societies aren't industrial machines.
Even our industrial machines aren't industrial machines
any more.  
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #53 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 10 Jan 03 10:25
    
Is that why so much of science fiction isn't really all that prophetic? 
Because it's based on a mechanistic (or inorganic?) perception of the 
future?
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #54 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 03 13:38
    
I tend to think it's "not all that prophetic" because
"prophecy" is impossible even in theory.

And it's even worse than that.  Prediction doesn't
work, and retrodiction doesn't work all that great
either.  Every historical epoch reassesses and
re-explains every previous historical epoch.  We
can scarcely grapple with the past with any more
ease and certainty than we do with the future.

The twenty-first century's idea of the 14th century
is radically different than the 18th century's idea
of the 14th century.   What the 18th century historians
cared about was stuff like what the landed
gentry were up to and what the Pope said,
and what we are into is stuff like computerized
records tracing the septic spread of bubonic
plague with a sense of amazed horror.

It wouldn't have occurred to the 18th century
to do that.  They didn't have databases and
they didn't know microbes existed.  So we can
now "explain" the 14th century from a different
perspective than they had, but the 23rd
century will also look on our version of  past events
with a condescending smile.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #55 of 111: nape fest (zorca) Fri 10 Jan 03 15:52
    
hi bruce. just finished the book. so cogent and thought-provoking.
particularly when mapped against our so-called news. prompting me to ask a
question.

several threads knit the various sections together, but one that i find
particularly troubling is the future of democracy. early in the book, you
quote emerson, who wrote that one of the virtues of the truly educated is
"...a sturdy democratic scorn for the weary truism of decadent aristocracy."
if only.

later, you write "Technocracy's dominance is firmly based on a general
conviction that political activism isn't likely to get you anything worth
having. Wherever technocracy thrives, voter turnouts dwindle as a matter of
course."

you go on to argue for "...physical strongholds and some model polities,"
stating as examples, forward-thinking cities that might attract both
citizens and economies that bring prosperity and improved quality of life.

my bags are already packed but meanwhile, we labor in a world dominated by
multinationals with "...a hammerlock on titanic sums of money. They can
afford better lawyers than a national government can. Or they can just buy
themselves a nicer government." ha.

i'll admit to my own numbing anomie in the face of all this. at my best, i
at least worry about my privacy and threatened rights. i guess what i'm
asking is whether you see any viable actions that individuals might take,
either within the technosphere or, you know, meat space, that shore up a
sense of democracy and free expression? that might actually have some
effect?
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #56 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 03 17:37
    

Well, when it comes to free expression, there's
really no substitute for expressing yourself freely.
As George Orwell said, in a period of general
deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
As things become dumber and more numb, as more
and more people succumb to self-censorship or
intimidation, it matters more and more that you,
personally, just level with people.

Vaclav Havel called it "Living in Truth," and it doesn't
require a TV station or a massive PR budget.

Also, you should be pretty content with your lot
if you say something and five or ten people
pay attention.  This seems pretty modest and
pathetic, but if you happen to say something and
twenty million people pay attention to you, your life
will be unrecognizable afterwards.  I don't care
if it's political or just "23 skidoo" or "where's the beef,"
you will be known to your dying day as that guy or gal
who said "where's the beef," and man, you will get
STUCK with that.

THAT is the "effective" part of what you said, but
it is never the thing you liked best.  And it's never
the thing you thought was most important. And
they don't even quite understand what you meant
by it.  And you are hopelessly famous for it.  And you can't
get famous for the thing you want to be famous for.
This happens all the time.  It's kind of the secret
tragedy of all those people who seem really confident
and outspoken and influential.

If you lack the eloquence to speak out, you can
always say kind and supportive and worshipful
things to people who do speak out.  They always
pretend that they don't care, but even fanmail from
idiots secretly pleases these people.  They read it
and think "hey wow, I'm stealing the audience from
Fox News," and it just feels great.

When it comes to political activism, most everybody
wants to devote their attention to their own side;
the good people, the decent people, the People Like
Me, in other words.  There is always a famine of
activists who can spend a  lot of time studying the
enemy.  Because that is disgusting, and it hurts
your head.  You have to actually comprehend alien
ideas and revoltingly wrongheaded people who
are People Unlike You.

On the other hand, a good Opposition Research guy
has effects that are way, way out of proportion to
the scale of that endeavor.  That is a rare political skill.
You don't need any political charisma or organizational
skill to pull that one off, either.  You can become a real hornet.

If you're up for it, good luck with that.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #57 of 111: nape fest (zorca) Fri 10 Jan 03 18:04
    
thanks. nice take on fame distorting the message.

being a decent citizen is hard enough these days. but daring to be a
candidate is REALLY daunting. you wrote, "It's like having one's candidates
ritually beaten to death by brooms." which is funny and terrifying at the
same time.

i wonder if we won't reach a point where, almost like a dynamic
parliamentary system, the reins of power will be a function of constant
polling. gwb's in today. tomorrow, the hulk!
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #58 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 10 Jan 03 19:59
    
I find myself wondering if power has any reins, as such, given the 
complex forces at work in the world. The reins were tossed off and 
trampled, the horse is on a rampage!

I was riding a horse that nearly fell not long ago, while galloping a 
slippery slope (not a metaphor, a REAL slippery slope!) in the rain, and 
the reins weren't doing me much good at that point.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #59 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 11 Jan 03 12:54
    
Well, nothing lately has been quite as
blatantly wild and insane as the Monica Lewinsky
scheme, but the Trent Lott decapitation
still proves than moral panic has all
the  punch it used to have.

Interesting that we have advanced to the
point where Republicans dare to use it
to trim their own ranks.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #60 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 11 Jan 03 13:48
    
I was just looking at the S.A.F.E. page you blogged today. It was making me 
dizzy. I guess Homeland Security will be big business... but somehow those 
guys don't make me feel any safer?

Time Magazine did an online poll a couple of days ago asking which of three 
or four nations is most dangerous to world security... the U.S. won hands 
down. 
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #61 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 11 Jan 03 15:12
    
I just got my first copy of "Homeland Protection Professional,"
and I can already tell that it's going to become one of my
favorite publications.
http://www.hppmag.com/

I know it's modish to wring  our hands over the idea that
the USA has gone militarily bonkers, but the USA is only 6 percent of
the planet's population.   It may be that if the USA
becomes sufficiently aberrant, everyone else will get
their ducks in a row.  At least, they'll have means,
motive and opportunity.

Then the USA can stop being the world's policeman.
It can go back to being the world's tequila-addled
pro-league bowler, or the world's acerbic, bipolar
comedian -- you know, something more inherently
suited to the national character.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #62 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 11 Jan 03 17:06
    
I'm looking at their subscription page at 
http://www.emaildelivery.net/HPP/HPP.asp

When you subscribed, how did you identify yourself? Hazmat Coordinator? 
Risk manager?

You had a good point in our section on 'The Soldier': "Terror can 
destabilize, it can drive order away, but terror can't govern." Maybe the 
real point is that terrorism isn't meant to scale. We haven't seen a repeat 
attack of the magnitude of those on 9/11/2001, and I get the sense they're 
not really looking for a repeat performance, despite all the warnings we've 
heard. The terrorists must realize that escalation would be ruinous.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #63 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 12 Jan 03 07:51
    

If I recall, I identified myself as "contributing editor
of WIRED magazine," which is a kind of a handy thing
to be able to say, on occasion.

I think guys like Al-Qaida are perfectly aware that
escalation is ruinous.  They want to be theocratic
warlords and for that profession, ruin has its benefits.

This morning I was looking at Kevin Kelly's book
of travel photographs, ASIA GRACE.  It struck me
how many of these pictures look both pre-industrial
and post-apocalyptic.  It's a simple, devout, agrarian
life where Sharia law really would answer pretty much
any question you had.  The drawback is that you have
to live off a small flock of meat-bearing animals and
you probably die sometime before age 50.

But really, if you genuinely want to lead the kind of
life the Prophet did, winning a war can't help; only
genuine, general ruin could do that.  And we've got
surprising amounts of genuine, general ruin around.
I mean, how do you ruin Afghanistan *worse*?  You'd
really have to work at it.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #64 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 12 Jan 03 11:13
    
*I'm about to depart on the Tomorrow Now publicity
tour and may have a little trouble logging on here,
unless there is Wi-Fi in all those planes and taxis.

bruces


Viridian Note 00357: Tomorrow Now Tour

Key concepts:
futurism, nonfiction books, publicity tours, Viridian Pope-Emperor 

Attention Conservation Notice:
The obligatory labor of stoking the starmaker machinery. 

My new nonfiction book "TOMORROW NOW: Envisioning the Next Fifty
Years" has just come out. It doesn't have one single mention of the
word "Viridian" in it, but boy is it Viridian.
http://www.well.com/conf/mirrorshades/

I'm taking on all comers at the Well's "inkwell" conference online.
http://www.well.com/

William Gibson's got a weblog now.
http://www.WilliamGibsonBooks.com/index.asp

Cory Doctorow has published his first science fiction novel, and he is
giving away copies online literally by the tens of thousands.
http://www.boingboing.net/
------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm on a brief West Coast tour to support my new book. If geography
allows, come by and press the Papal flesh.

Seattle
Tuesday, January 14, 02002


3:45 pm
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

7:00 pm
Reading, Talk, & Signing
University Bookstore
4326 University Way NW
Seattle, WA 98105

San Francisco
Wednesday, January 15, 02002


12:30 pm
Reading, Talk, & Signing
Stacey's Books
581 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

7:30 pm
Reading, Talk, & Signing
Cody's Books
2454 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704


O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
"GEE, I REALLY LIKE YOUR BOOKS,
ESPECIALLY THE EARLY, FUNNY ONES"
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #65 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 12 Jan 03 20:58
    
Hope you can log in from hotels, if nothing else!

Taschen has the entire Kevin Kelly book online (and the page for the entire 
book is pretty nifty):
http://www.asiagrace.com/entirebook.php

We could become sadhus if things get really bad:
http://www.asiagrace.com/detail.php?i=166

When I interviewed Jim White of the University of Colorado for my global
warming piece in the Viridian Whole Earth, he said that an upgrade of all
the world's population to the standard of living we enjoy in the U.S. isn't
possible with the resources available. The typical U.S. citizen (for whom
the rest of the  world is just a shadow) doesn't get it, but to other 
countries, there must be a perception that our riches are sustained by 
their poverty, no? 
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #66 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 03 15:46
    
I am indeed logging on from a hotel.

Logging on from a hotel is a pretty high standard
of living thing to do, but it you'd tried to explain
that activity to the Limits of Growth crowd in the 70s,
they'd have no idea what you were talking about.

I might feel an instinctive "hey yeah" if you argued
that the insane riches of the American upper class
are sustained by the relative luxury of the dwindling
American middle class, but, y'know, that's probably
one of those blinkered, parochial, American things.

I can tell you one thing for sure: there's no way
a population of nine billion or so is gonna be
sustained by preindustrial Asian goat-herding.
Those goats have an environmental impact
that is catastrophic.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #67 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 13 Jan 03 16:34
    
Yeah, but they make a tasty cabrito!

I'm beginning to think the U.S. will never attack Iraq, just pile a bunch 
of troops along the border and squeeze. Those troops could consume a hell 
of a lot of cabrito. There must be a solution in there somewhere.

Meanwhile scientists said today that the end of the world is relatively 
near (just a few billion years away), so we should appreciate what we've 
got. 
http://boston.com/dailynews/013/ascribe/_End_of_World_Has_Already_Begu%3A.shtm
l
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #68 of 111: Andrew Alden (alden) Mon 13 Jan 03 17:53
    
That's wonderful. Peter Ward, the co-author of that book in the link, cut
his teeth telling the S.F. Bay area about earthquake hazards. He seems to
have progressed to the ultimate catastrophe.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #69 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 13 Jan 03 18:13
    
"It's the end of the world as we know it,
 And I feel fine!"
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #70 of 111: nape fest (zorca) Mon 13 Jan 03 20:55
    
ha.

so, perhaps i'm just not paying attention to the, um, right prognosticators,
but it almost seems that despite the dire state of world affairs, we're
seeing fewer end-of-the-worlders getting regular airplay these days. dod you
have any feel for how doom cults are going to fare in the new future, bruce?
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #71 of 111: proud to be flesh (emilyg) Tue 14 Jan 03 09:13
    


Hi, jon, bruce, and all; sorry to be joining the convo a little late.

I'm in the last chapter of Tomorrow Now; aren't you suggesting there, bruce,
that it's just /how/ the world will end that's changed, not the actual
forecasting thereof?

The Bomb is passe; now it's biowarfare?
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #72 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 03 12:16
    

You know, those things don't "end the world."

A full-scale nuclear exchange between who heavily
armed superpowers might conceivably kill everybody,
but that is no longer a big likelihood and even
in retrospect I think that prospect was overblown.

What you get is a holocaust of unimaginable proportions.
Then next morning somebody still wakes up and
has to find breakfast.  And eventually some historian gets
to write something like, "Well, there were nine billion
of us, and now there are about 750 million of us.  And
'we' are no longer 'them,' because their world has
perished and now we must do our best to become us."

Clocks continue to tick and leaves still fall off
the calendar.  Infants are born who  have no emotional
attachment to the previous way of life.  It's sort
of soothing to us to think that "the world ends"
when everything we know and love is reduced to ashes,
but, you know, it just doesn't.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #73 of 111: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 03 12:19
    
Hey, this hotel has got a feeble little trickle
of T-mobile Wi-Fi.  I thought Seattle would
be saturated with this stuff.

Now that Steve Case has resigned, I feel so
sorry for him that I may actually KEEP this
AOL account.  That seems kind of touchingly
old-fashioned, really.  It's like feeding
the alligators at the zoo.

In an hour I've got to go to the Microsoft
campus.  Pray for me.

Soon, San Francisco beckons.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #74 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 14 Jan 03 12:37
    
Right! One of those prayers that ends...

   World without end,
   Amen.
  
inkwell.vue.171 : Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years
permalink #75 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 14 Jan 03 12:37
    
Instead of asking another contrived interview question, I await your report 
on the visit to Microsoft.
  

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