Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 7 Jan 12 12:23
Re #72: Impermanence is hard to grasp. When you study Buddhism, you hear over and over again about emptiness and impermanence and there's a resistance. Wisdom emerges as the resistance wears away, and resistance wears away as you see endless of examples of impermanence in your own life. From the Heart Sutra: "There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path to follow. There is no attainment of wisdom, and no wisdom to attain." Contradictions abound, not resolvable without a deep and compelling transformation of some kind, a perspective change. We don't go there. We persist in ego, believe our own bullshit, haggle about work and pay and politics, complain endlessly, and too many of us die knowing less than we knew when we were born. Wise men realize that you can't explain any of this, so they don't try. They just laugh. I'm not laughing yet, dang it.
Popular purveyors of wantonness. (tux) Sat 7 Jan 12 13:13
Here's my question where's the FringeWare of 201X? I think it cannot be on the internet for sure, because things can never be really *different* here any more. There can be no purveyour of strangeness, it's all so *neat*. 2011 was the year when the Spectacle really got a good grip on the internet, and 2012 will choke it off. It's perfectly painless these days to get a good answer to almost any question on the net, maybe it's even getting a lot harder to get a bad or out of context answer. Slim chance of serendipity, because the recommendation systems and knowledge management apparatus is just getting too pervasive. There's no room for "the other" on the web, because either it's invisible because search algorithmns won't allow it to surface or its otherness is instantly swamped up by the carnevalesque laissez-fare bchan spirit of the internet, turning any idea into mindless quotidian mush. Or maybe I'm using the wrong search engine, but I find it increasingly difficult of escaping "the bubble"
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 7 Jan 12 13:31
And here's an optimistic point of view for space travel over the next 40 years: http://io9.com/5873485/an-optimistic-history-of-the-next-40-years
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 7 Jan 12 14:18
You know what would be great? Some "paradoxical pessimism." Like: things are apparently going just great for everybody, but, as a career contrarian, you get to dash out a few invigorating paragraphs about how, in reality, this universal joy and prosperity may be a real drag.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 7 Jan 12 14:34
"And here's an optimistic point of view for space travel over the next 40 years:" http://io9.com/5873485/an-optimistic-history-of-the-next-40-years *Sorry to report that the "optimism" here isn't doing much for me; this just seems blatantly silly: "By 2040: Human outposts on the Moon and Mars are now expanding to become independent colonies. But that is not the only life' now in space. Sometime near the end of the decade, the "singularity" (also called the "eclipsing of humanity") occurs. Artificial intelligence surpasses the intellectual prowess of humans and shortly thereafter becomes self aware. Fears of human destruction from this new form of life fade when the AI entities refuse to be used for war...." *This is about as likely as Predator drones "refusing to be used for war." If we've got to invoke the Singularity to improve our moods, we might as well cut to the chase and transform the planet Earth into one solid crystal of computational neutronium. I happen to be quite the fan of unmanned space exploration. The solar system's veritably swarming with drones right now. There are awesome alien vistas pouring in in torrents. It's hard to get people to look, though. You can show 'em all the methane monsoons on Titan that you want, but they refuse to perceive that stuff as real-estate.
for dixie southern iraq (stet) Sat 7 Jan 12 15:00
Right now, the robots keep getting better and better while the humans are as heavy as ever, still need to be oxidated and fed and hydrated; no urgent reason to use 'em except PR. But as soon as the 'bots find the right something, the humans will be up there quick.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 7 Jan 12 18:40
Those bots are handy: if we ever decide we have to split, we should have a pretty good idea where else we can go and how to get there. Bots can be our eyes and ears, and they can extend our brains as well, but I can't fathom how an "artificial intelligence" - a man-made intelligence - can be any more than it was programmed to be. The idea that machines can "surpass the intellectual prowess of humans and become self-aware" is a YARF ("yet another religious fantasy"). Can't imagine how that top keeps spinning.
Kenny Mann (jonl) Sat 7 Jan 12 18:50
Via email from Kenny Mann: How are things today essentially different -- worldwide -- than the Weimar republic before it all went kerblooie? (Nazi vs. Bauhaus noise, coarsely filtered by Delightful Decadence.) Gotta be just-and-only that "The room is the smartest person in the room" thing. Mebbe "the room" knows how to keep the petard un-hoist, while we dither individually semi-informed and misapprehensive, ready to misattribute our fears and the heroics we expect to allay those fears? As such, should we even bother to work-up the Architectural Digest version of the outlook? (Other than to be entertained by the floorplan.) I sincerely believe we are best at collectively substantiating each other's well-informed intuitions, despite zen-of-identity trickiness.
Skeptical Technocrat (fair) Sat 7 Jan 12 21:56
Paradoxical pessimism? Hmm ... how about: "Just think how wonderful it will be when housing in the USA finally is allowed to drop to its market-clearing prices, and we know what all the mortgage-backed securities are actually worth!" (and, wow, lots of affordable housing since we overbuilt!)" "Peak oil has come & gone, but the oil markets haven't noticed! Oh, wait, isn't oil floating around $100/bbl? Less than it was in the summer of 2008, but hey, soon we'll be fueling our cars with el-cheapo fracked natural gas! Whammo! Our "dependence on foreign oil" problem solved!" (Canada isn't *really* foreign, is it?) As for the rest, well, it's really just arguing over money ...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 12 05:06
Virginia Postrel writes how the Chinese government is cutting funding for educational programs producing graduates who can't find work. How many educational programs would we cut in the USA, if we adopted this policy? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-art-history-majors-p ower-the-us-economy/2012/01/06/gIQAUv36hP_blog.html Postrel's is a very good piece that ultimately gets to the real value of any education in teaching "habits of mind" like "how to analyze texts carefully, how to craft and evaluate arguments, and how to apply microeconomic reasoning, along with basic literacy in accounting and statistics." In other words, the value of specific job skills may come and go; we should be teaching students fundamentals about how to think critically, skills that are applicable to any job. One "state of the world" is that other countries are getting smarter while the U.S. is cutting education as one result of the ongoing effort to strangle government. (If you think I'm wrong about that effort, just note the contemporary influence of Abramoff crony Grover Norquist, author of the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," who infamously quipped "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.") As we cut all levels of education in the U.S., including funding for some colleges and college-level programs, tuitions are increasing beyond the means of many Americans. As a result, a college education will be available only to the elite. In a world where some nations value higher education for all, as a matter of policy the U.S. seeks to make education of any quality less available. You might argue that this is prudent, because jobs are unavailable for all sorts of graduates with all sorts of skills. Implications for the state of the world might be that the U.S. will have less smarts, and less power, wealth, and influence. But it's probably fallacious to see the distribution of power in terms of national borders, which are becoming less relevant in a global economy where the real power is in corporations, not nation-states. I don't necessarily argue that the world is any worse off in this case than it's been before. It's just a different distribution of wealth and power, no?
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jan 12 05:10
Future Work Skills These seem about right. http://apolloresearchinstitute.com/node/52
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jan 12 08:06
Some more grist for the mill, future projections from Charles Stross: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/01/world-building-301-some-pr ojec.html
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 8 Jan 12 08:54
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2074067-2,00.html I'm often annoyed by TIME's peppy populism in science articles, but there may be something to this idea that the metabolic structure of memory is inherently "optimistic." People, and our prehuman ancestors, evolved to survive, not to remember things perfectly or to weigh evidence without bias. People are demonstrably sappy about themselves. Like: sure, your teeth will rot out in the long run if you gorge yourself on sugar, but me? No way! And even if my teeth do fall out -- hey, on me, that looks good. For a long time, it's struck me that people who make genuinely sensible and rational decisions about their own well-being lead an oddly joyless existence. For instance, Nordic countries rank high on almost every scale of well-being and development, but when you go hang out with them, they're by no means a cheery bunch of guys and gals. It's not just self-discipline or too much prudence. It's like they're lacking some kind of mental vitamin.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 8 Jan 12 09:12
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/01/world-building-301-some-pr ojec.html *My goodness me, Stross is really working hard on those. He's making me and Lebkowsky look like laidback Austin slackers.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 8 Jan 12 09:17
*There may, conceivably, be methane-breathing fish in the lakes of Titan. Yeah, it's a stretcher. But given big gooey lakes, even non-water ones with unknown ultra-cold chemistry, I don't find fish too implausible. http://www.space.com/6886-exotic-life-sprout-titan-chemistry.html *I reckon a sub-zero equipped abyssal-vents drone is in order. However, if there are indeed living fish on Titan, then I'd rather expect some zillionaire lunatic to go harpoon one. Seriously. No matter how little economic or political sense this might make. Because they're there, that's why. *They wouldn't live there, they'd just bring the methane Moby back and mount it next to the Tyrannosaur in the living room.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 8 Jan 12 09:24
People are always gonna say, "surely this is Weimar Germany again, all hope is lost" but here's somebody else saying, "this is 1977 again, there is NO FUTURE. Again." http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jan/07/punk-fashion-sex-pistols *Except it's a "no future" for posh rich people this time. Posh punk. I don't quite know why I like that idea, but I do.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 12 09:58
Odd that _The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo_, a novel that "offers a thoroughly ugly view of human nature" (per the NY Times review), is so globally successful. (Lisbeth Salander of TGWTDT evidently inspired the punk resurgence mentioned in The Guardian.) There's much ugliness reflected in contemporary media - another example is "Bellflower," a film we mostly watched recently, couldn't quite get through it. Depression, violence, gore... supposed to be cathartic? I was surprised to see Bellflower make a ten best list or two, I suppose because it was visually striking. Not that I expect cheerful splashes of good humor, but pointless violence is... pointless.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Sun 8 Jan 12 10:03
Huh? The villains are truly evil, and the good guys win. And written by a guy who had put himself in real danger exposing real-life evil.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 12 11:36
The original success of those books resonates with Bruce's observations about Nordic sensibility, I suppose. One riddle: why didn't he attempt to publish them?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 12 11:48
<scribbled by jonl Sun 8 Jan 12 15:14>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 12 15:30
Microsoft patented "pedestrian route production" that includes "bad route avoidance": http://hothardware.com/News/Microsoft-Wants-to-Make-You-a-More-Efficient-Pedes trian-Patents-Bad-Route-Avoidance/ We were hiking a trail yesterday, it was getting dark, we weren't exactly lost but didn't know how far along the trail we had gone, whether we could outwalk sunset. I consulted Google Maps via iPhone, retrieved a map that showed our position and direction. I could see that the road was reachable before the light's fade into night. We augmented our reality without a thought. Example of an augmented reality/geolocation mashup that we've integrated seamlessly. Taking it to the pedestrian level didn't require extra synapses, it just followed. It's a bit weird to see that Microsoft has a patent on something like that.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jan 12 15:36
Here's some fun...collaborate on predicting the future of computing at the New York Time, and learn a bit of history too: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/12/06/science/20111206-technology-time line.html?ref=science
Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 8 Jan 12 16:56
<scribbled by jonl Sun 8 Jan 12 17:04>
George Mokray (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 12 17:05
From George Mokray via email: The demos around the world have not been sparked by #OWS. They were sparked by local conditions and the examples of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and, for the Western democracies, Spain, a really interesting case because it is a "second order" demonstration - not against a dictator but against a "democratic" system that is not working for the people. It is especially interesting because the indignados of Spain have also been strategizing over how to have an electoral presence. The latest election there saw the installation of a conservative government but the number of people who refused to vote increased. Perhaps one way to subvert the dominant paradigm is to refuse to vote en masse, as in Jose Saramago's novel _Seeing_. (It would be fascinating to see Saramago join Alan Moore as the inspiration for an international movement.) We are in the midst of a global change, a revolt against corporate globalization and for person-to-person globalization. This is not something I've seen recognized in most of the reporting about these things. The technology speeds things up but is not the essential feature. As Waleed Rashed of Egypt's April 6 Movement said last Spring at MIT, electronic media was useful but they made sure the taxi drivers knew what was going on too. Old people in cities looking worriedly at an angry sky is the probable future especially since a) almost all climate scientists have no idea of how to communicate with the general public, b) the geoengineering solutions offered are primarily mechanistic and few ecologists and systems thinkers have been invited to the party, and c) two of the five wealthiest people in the world think dealing responsibly with climate change will adversely affect their bottom line (PBS' Nova is partially supported by the David Koch Foundation, almost as good as the MIT climate change symposium for the Knight Science Fellows recommending as a good place for lunch the Koch Cafeteria in the new Koch Center for Integrative Cancer Research at the 'Tute). There are lots of things we could be doing to buy ourselves some time but we don't talk about them because they would require us to change. I especially like reducing black carbon because, to do it well, means that we have to help the poorest of the poor replace their three stone fires with something much more efficient. But who cares about those kind of people? To quote Chairman Bruce on "pedestrian route production": Young people growing up today will not know what lost is. They all have satellite locators in their purses and pockets.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 9 Jan 12 05:37
From Will Tomlinson, via email: Re: the 99/1% conversation, I found this, from the current issue of the New Yorker, particularly interesting: "In recent years, certain hedge funds have started investing in class-action lawsuits, providing up-front capital to cover the expenses of a case in exchange for an equity share in a successful outcome. These arrangements are unregulated and controversial." -->How prevalent is this going to be in 10 years? Can companies be allowed to take stakes in cases against them? (or rather, can they be prevented from so doing...) Re: Strossian "Cool New Shit." - Someone, somewhere, sometime in the next 30 years, is going to hack the ocean. "Physical counts of viruses in the oceans from concentrated ocean water, using electron microscopy, indicate that, in total, the world's oceans harbor about 10^31 viral particles. The majority of these particles appear to be tailed phages (large DNA-containing virions). Measurements of viability suggest that the half-life of these phages is less than 1 day." -LP Villarreal <-- I'm no expert, but presumably we can figure out some way to prod that in a useful direction? Things I couldn't be bothered to google the existence or nonexistance of: are there QR codes printed everywhere that say something like "you just lost the game" ? something like google goggles, but with high quality (read: high frame rate) cameras enabling overlay of data based on the structured light of the scene - the flickering of a neon sign is a stream of somehow relevant data emanating from a noodle bar, overlayed, alongside the blinking of a bike light which is a twitter handle Those parking elevators they have in vacant lots in dense areas? Airstream trailer park based on those as a scaffold in (or out) of warehouses. Shit/Electric/Water hoses everywhere. Faraday-paint all over them, EM-sensitive enclave, only data transmission via structured light, TEMPEST-spec boxes as lifestyle choice. don't like it? move. near field communication (or bluetooth scored on signal strength) -based game called Schmooze, score based on proximity to others, duration, weighted by score of others. Bonus, overlay psychic vampirism ARG onto it without knowledge of "prey". ARG / marketing game wherein clues hidden in strangely atonal / Deerhoof-esque promo songs are in fact Commodore 64 programs which must either be transcoded and emulated or, preferably, recorded onto cassette tape and actually played. Like that thing aphex twin and NIN and everyone else did encoding visual information into audio tracks via spectrogram, but cooler. Fuck, why are these goddamned things so prevalent? Blue Ant, but stupider. Furthermore, fully functional c64 on a chip, on a ring. Computational minimalism as art movement. Jewelery of functional machines. perhaps an OLED display. Demoscene coders become haute couture playmakers. How related are multicam/digital camo and moire patterns? tradeoff between eluding human perceptual apparatus and machine virtual processing becomes less important as people get this machine vision stuff to work right? The work of art as something visible/salient to humans but not to machines, probably based on optical illusion. The analogy to video games that exploit flaws unique to meatspace hardware, can't be emulated accurately without transistor level drudgery. At what point do you allow your phone to be rooted as part of a promotional scheme by entertainment companies? Scout Mob roots the people instead of the phone. Easier? Market research is a stack of burners. [Kids love detective stories. They also love movies. And games. And iPhones. This month, enter sherlock-verse and unlock awesome trailers and free candy on your iphone. It's 2AM, time to gather demographic information on your parents. You are 13, right?]
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