inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #201 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 18 Jan 12 12:10
    
I'm thinking trendspotting isn't the same as prediction, and neither
is necessarily "futurism," which is actually a pretty useless term,
when you think about it. 

Some of us who were forward-thinking or future-focused in the 60s,
70s, and 80s found, in the 90s, that the future was right in front of
us. And with a few years' experience, we could see that essentials
changed less than we thought they would, though technology was evolving
like crazy.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #202 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 18 Jan 12 15:22
    
I should mention that we're almost done - tomorrow's the final day of
the State of the World conversation. We should think of Profound Things
to summarize our conversation.

I was reading an very striking interview today with scientist Bernardo
Kastrup:
http://www.skeptiko.com/bernardo-kastrup-consciousness-research/  It
hit home with me because of my interest in states of consciousness,
what it means to be aware, etc. How conscious are we, what are the
states of consciousness, what does it mean to be unconscious? He
relates it all to memory.

An excerpt:

Therefore, if the brain’s impaired because you are asleep and you are
not in a dream state, or because you fainted, or you’re under
anesthesia, consciousness then disappears. But one cannot tell the
difference, of course, between the absence of an experience or the
absence of a memory of an experience. It is impossible for us
empirically, from a first-person perspective, to tell the difference.

"So the absence of consciousness, or the assumption that consciousness
may be absent, when we interfere with the brain in certain ways,
natural or unnatural, is considered an empirical reason to believe that
consciousness is generated by the brain.

"But it may be different. It may be that interference with the brain
interferes with memory formation; that consciousness perhaps was there
all along. Maybe you were in amazing dream worlds while you were
undergoing surgery under anesthesia. It’s known world-wide that, for
instance, teenagers play a very dangerous game called, 'The Fainting
Game,' in which they on purpose choke themselves to have a mystical
experience and hopefully return. That is something that is not
recommended for anyone to do.

"But all these things are suggestive that consciousness goes on during
periods in which we are assumed to be unconscious and the only thing
that gets impaired is the formation of the memory that gives you later
access to that experience."
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #203 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 18 Jan 12 15:27
    
*Jamais makes the interesting point that the technologies we consider
"futuristic" haven't changed much in years.  Of course they've advanced
at terrific rates, but we haven't seen an entirely new one lately.

Cascio speaks:

"Here's what I mean: if you were to grab a future-oriented text from
the early part of the last decade, you'd find discussions of
technological concepts that radical futurists and "hard science"
science fiction writers were seeing as being on the horizon,
developments like:

Molecular nanotechnology (((mmmph)))
Artificial intelligence and robots galore  (((drones galore, some Siri
stuff and searchware collective intelligence)))
3D printers (((big boom on the street)))
Augmented reality  (((I like it a lot, it's not a big business)))
Ultra-high speed mobile networks  (((Sorta)))
Synthetic biology  (((term covers multitude of sins)))
Life extension  (((old Tim Leary favorite)))
Space colonies  (((yeah yeah, sure sure)))


"I could go on, but you get the picture. All of those technologies
appeared in the "hard science" science fiction game series Transhuman
Space, which I worked on in 2001 to 2003. Most could easily be found in
various "what the future will look like" articles and books from the
late 1990s.  (((Robots 1920s, Sputnik 1950s)))

"Since then, some of those concepts have turned into reality, while
others remain on the horizon. But pin down a futurist today and ask
what technologies they expect to see over the next few decades, and
you'll get a remarkably similar list -- often an identical one...." 
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #204 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 18 Jan 12 15:41
    

*People who think today's sci-fi writers should be politically active
might enjoy this set of essays.  Just look at 'em tearing their hair.

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2012/01/mind-meld-current-politics-in-sff/

*Of course, a discourse on political science fiction that doesn't
mention Newt Gingrich is like a cavalry parade that doesn't mention
machine guns.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #205 of 240: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 18 Jan 12 17:03
    
Nothing profound, but as there has been this recent polarization of
the 99% of us and the 1% of them, I've had Howard Rheingold's phrase in
my head this whole conversation: "What it is, is up to us."

The burden is on the "us"...it's up to us, the semi-enlightened
technorati, to put the tools of our time to good use and create the
future(s) we want to see, rather than inherit the dregs of the 1%. And
that is going to have to be done within the context of the real world
reality Bruce spelled out at the very beginning. 

This has all been very sobering.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #206 of 240: fartron (julieswn) Wed 18 Jan 12 20:19
    
From Fartron:


"NASA's "open source" license isn't. The future is one in which more
and more people claim that more and more things that are less and less
open source are "open"."

*Every piece of "open-source" anything is considered an act of fascist
oppression by somebody somewhere."
"

It may be true that Stallman has been running around telling everyone
that the sky is falling for decades now, but I'm not convinced yet
that he's wrong.

Huge mainframes have returned under the doublespeak name "The Cloud."

Google no longer sees fit to return the most interesting and relevant
results to my searches, but instead sees its purpose as connecting me
with the most relevant salesman.

Over New Years an intoxicated and not particularly tech-savvy friend
expressed the issue to me by saying, "All I know is a few years ago I
had access to all the world's long hidden and secret information, and
in no more than 5 seconds. And today there's less of it and it takes
longer."

Most of the information technology developments of recent years have
been at the service of an increasingly centralized few.

So maybe Stallman wasn't a headless chicken but a breathless canary.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #207 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 19 Jan 12 06:26
    
I'm not so sure that we had access to "hidden and secret" information,
or that information that was available a few years ago is less
available today. There's a fog of marketing over the web, but fog
doesn't make things go away, it makes things less visible. Noise
doesn't make signal disappear, but makes it harder to pin down.

If you make your living as a content provider, there's huge pressure
to spew more and more content at higher rates and figure out ways to be
heard above the din. The dubious practice of SEO draws billions of
dollars per year from companies desperate to boost their search
visibility, all hoping to be in the first page of some search results,
as though that page could hold 'em all. Twitter is a firehose of often
useful, just as often trivial information. As David Weinberger says,
"everything is miscellaneous" and information strikes you in ever
random/uncategorized blasts. Through searches and tagging you can find
pretty much anything, the question is where and how to focus. We look
for guidance and find few truly authoritative voices.

More than ever, I think we need to get control of our heads and
understand the processes associated with attention. That last thing I
posted helped me understand that consciousness is memory, and working
on attention means cultivating memory with discipline and focus.

I don't know what this does to the "state of the world," I suspect it
can only be helpful.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #208 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 19 Jan 12 06:50
    
State of the physical world: the earth's crust is stretching, not just
along fault lines:
http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/local/central/earths-crust-in-nm-is-stretching
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #209 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 19 Jan 12 06:54
    
Kodak files for chapter 11:
http://techland.time.com/2012/01/19/former-trailblazer-kodak-files-for-chapter
-11/?iid=tl-article-latest

The company didn't think to lobby to have digital photography
outlawed.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #210 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 19 Jan 12 09:26
    
You know, it was sadder than that.  Kodak was a pioneer of digital
photography, but Kodak didn't want to lower itself to make crappy
digital cameras that took lousy, grainy pictures.  It was Kodak's
dedication to quality that really did 'em in.  As engineers, having
reached a high-tech peak of performance, they couldn't cheapen
themselves and crawl down.

It's like watching an analog aristocracy done in by vulgar, jumped-up,
digital arrivistes.  You know that Kodak is the Gothic relic of a
vanished era, but there's still something painful and demeaning about
seeing them forced to sell off their patents like the family's
long-cherished silverware.

I get the same tremulous feeling from Yahoo and FlickR, nowadays.  I'm
still heaping photos in there, but the Instagram crowd is eating their
Web 2.0 lunch -- and FlickR didn't last any 130 years, either.  They
seem to be watching their Yahoo favela crumble with a sense of flaccid
resignation.  Probably they're all busy on Twitter.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #211 of 240: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 19 Jan 12 09:33
    
wrt to social-cultural forces: this, from an egyptian journo who was there
--- social capital, culture, boots on the ground mattered far more than FB
in the egyptian arab spring


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/15/INKR1MKGSI.DTL
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #212 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 19 Jan 12 09:35
    
"Gothic High-Tech" and "Favela Chic."  The squalor of this transition
is gonna play out for quite a while -- at least a decade, I think. 
It's not just a one-year state-of-the-world thing.

"Gothic High-Tech" and "Favela Chic" have their virtues and their
upsides, but when they crash directly, like they just did in this SOPA
thing, they seem to be in a culture-war over who can become more
squalid.  The Gothic side is all about, "hey, let's bribe some
Congressman behind closed doors" and the Favela group is in firm global
solidarity with spammers, pirates and organized cybercrime.

The very LAST thing they're gonna do is have some kind of honest and
open debate about the central issues.  They don't know what honor is,
what fairness is, or what justice is, and in their pitifully deflated
marketplace world, there's nobody left who can tell 'em.

There's a philosophical comfort in futurism, in knowing this won't
last forever.  Because it won't, but boy is that situation ever 2012.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #213 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 19 Jan 12 09:36
    
How are you, @loris Paulina?  Long time no see.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #214 of 240: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 19 Jan 12 10:36
    
howdy back, bruce
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #215 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 19 Jan 12 12:06
    
And hello from me, as well!

Speaking of the future, here's an io9 piece that says big data
manipulation is "creating the science fiction future." Their #2,
"social networks already know who you know," made me wonder of the
author's jumping to conclusions. The idea that LinkedIn can tell who I
know is laughable to me - their "people you may know" list is
laughable. It's filled with people I barely know or don't know at all.
I don't think our technologies are as "smart" as we like to pretent. My
one experience with Siri via a friend's new iphone as a complete bust.
Siri was dumb as a post, couldn't answer any of my questions
accurately (because "she" made wrong inferences, and couldn't seem to
parse even careful human speech very well).
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #216 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 19 Jan 12 12:59
    
*Yves Behar geezer chic.  "Old people in big cities who are afraid of
the sky."  But with awesome design for their medications!

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665857/5-innovation-lessons-from-a-breakthrough-b
rand-aimed-at-aging-americans#1
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #217 of 240: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 19 Jan 12 14:01
    
Interesting piece on future scenarios for India; nice example of the
process:

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/Inayatullah20120114
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #218 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 19 Jan 12 14:47
    
*Here's a nice big piping heap of RAND futurist demographics.  The
takeaway: America has kids, China doesn't.  Nah nah nah.

*Even the poor, who used to have tons of kids, don't, unless they're
Moslem or Subsaharan.

http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/2011/winter/dusk-dawn.html

"In this article, we turn our focus to the demographic futures and
related economic prospects facing China, India, and the United States
over the next several decades. The trends in these countries reflect
just some of the shifts in power to which the world has already,
literally, given birth. How the countries respond will determine their
ultimate fates.  (((There are no "ultimate fates.")))

"China’s population is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in 2026 and to
decline thereafter, whereas India’s population will likely keep growing
through mid-century, surpassing China’s no later than 2025 and topping
1.65 billion in 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s
International Data Base (see Figure 1). More importantly, by 2035,
China’s population will skew heavily toward older age groups, while
India’s largest cohorts will still be in the age groups below 50. 
(((Hey India and China, let's you and him fight.)))

"Right now, as of 2012, China is entering an era in which its rapidly
aging population could constrain its economic growth. India, in
contrast, will enjoy a substantial demographic advantage until around
2030, when the ratio of working-age Indians to dependents will likely
be at its highest.

"Alone among the world’s large affluent nations, the United States
will see modest increases in its working-age population through 2050;
meanwhile, the working-age populations of Europe and Japan are
projected to fall steeply through 2050. These demographic and economic
trends alone may mean the United States will be the predominant global
power for at least the next half-century. If anything, the United
States could become even more dominant in the alliances it leads...." 
(((My guess is that if you're European and you look at those stats,
that's somehow not what you see.  My guess is that Europeans don't see
any dominant swaggering Yanks there, but a terrifying demographic wave
of Moslems immigrants.)))
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #219 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 19 Jan 12 17:22
    
*If you'd like to see this discussion end in a burst of contemporary
razzmatazz, you could check out 

#megaupload

on Twitter right now.  Megaupload a multinational file-sharing site
with an  alleged 150 million users whose founders and profiteers just
got arrested by US feds.  Millions of hackers just got deprived of
their customary cheap and easy access to movies and films.  For the
darkside crowd, a war in Iran would be minor news in comparison.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #220 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 19 Jan 12 21:43
    
We're good for one more day, we'll be holding forth here through
tomorrow, Friday, and we'll wrap Friday with a face to face - if you're
in Austin, catch us at Chuy's South (William Cannon and MOPAC) around
6pm Friday.

I'm watching a replay of the South Carolina Republican Debate, where
several candidates are coming down against SOPA. That's a wonder to
behold. (Rick Santorum says "the idea that anything goes on the
Internet - where does that come from?")

Joanna Macy has co-authored a book, due in March, called _Active
Hope_: "Most books addressing global issues focus on either our dire
problems or grand-scale solutions. Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
focus instead on equipping readers with a transformational mind-set.
Facing the facts of a planet and economies in crisis, many individuals
feel hopeless because they recognize that they can’t create their
desired outcomes. But rather than allowing this reality to shut us
down, we can choose active hope. This hope is something we do rather
than something we have. Instead of acting only when we deduce we may
succeed, we can focus on our intention and let that be our guide."
(http://www.newworldlibrary.com/BooksProducts/ProductDetails/tabid/64/SKU/19726
/Default.aspx)

What would a transformational mind-set look like, I wonder? Maybe we
start with beginner's mind: "If your mind is empty, it is always ready
for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there
are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few."
(Shunryu Suzuki)
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #221 of 240: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 19 Jan 12 22:14
    
Very interesting!  What does the beginner's mind do about all those
aging populations unable to pull their own weight?

In 1968 there was almost accidentally a huge international sense of
generation across cultures in North America, Europe, Japan and
elsewhere.  It was at first a music driven understanding of identity
and common cause, with an emerging outrage about war and other bad
practices.  Up against the wall!  For many reasons it was fleeting, but
it was strikingly unlike anything before, and parts of the expression
of revolt were disturbing to various governments. Maybe all
governments.

We have not seen a world wide wakeup call that is young, clear and
fearless.  Perhaps that will be left to countries with aging
populations. Perhaps their young have common cause with the young of
other countries and languages. Many different scenarios come to mind.  
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #222 of 240: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 20 Jan 12 05:25
    
Swapping is the New Buying. A small pebble in the pond.

http://www.good.is/post/at-this-vending-machine-swapping-is-the-new-buying/
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #223 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 20 Jan 12 06:53
    
"What does the beginner's mind do about all those aging populations
unable to pull their own weight?"

It approaches the question without preconceptions, I suppose.
Expectations conditioned by legacy thinking restrict creativity in
finding solutions.

I've engaged online with a couple of libertarian thinkers who feel
that social security payments should be abolished. When you ask what
should happen to those who felt that SS was their retirement plan and
have no other means of support, they don't really have an answer.
Similarly, there are those who are opposed to the provision of free
healthcare to those who can't afford it otherwise. The result would be
that the elite, those who have good jobs and a stash of money, would
surive, others would be on the streets or worse. It's their own damn
fault - they didn't accumulate wealth, have financial luck, or come
into the world with an already-well-established support system.

When we have elderly living and dying in the streets, I think there'll
be a backlash - I don't think we like to see that sort of thing. OTOH
we could do what the Germans did with the Jews, create concentration
camps and put those folks out of sight/out of mind. Or we could develop
programs of euthanasia.

A decade ago I would've said the U.S. would never go there, that we
have an inherent commitment to mutual support, that we would always
take care of each other and see that as part of the mission of
government. I would also have said that the John Birch Society sort of
libertarians would never be taken seriously or take any sort of power
in the U.S. I was evidently naive.

Globally we have large and growing populations and shrinking
availability of resources. Academics who've done the math have told me
that the world could never support a broad global extension of the U.S.
middle class standard of living, but more and more are demanding it,
hence the strain on resources. Those who are already rich and powerful
may be less apt to tolerate middle class consumption of resources that
doesn't challenge their wealth, but as it's increasingly obvious that
there's not enough pie to go around, some at the table may be lunging
for the pie and running with it. 

Sooner or later, the rest of the folks at the table notice this - they
wake up and give chase. One possible future is that civil Occupy
demonstrations give way to movements that are angry and done with
civility. Hope we don't see that happen. Smart monarchs know to give
the people enough that they don't get totally pissed off and storm the
castle. 

That's one version, anyway. Between the lines there's an implication
of unlikely conspiracy, but sometimes I wonder.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #224 of 240: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 20 Jan 12 08:12
    <scribbled by tcn Fri 20 Jan 12 08:12>
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #225 of 240: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 20 Jan 12 08:20
    
We're going to have to have an honest and open conversation about
health care and end of life, here in the U.S.

Now that I've retired and am approaching my 65th birthday, this is my
year for Medicare and some semblance of health insurance. Choosing
Parts C and D are my big decisions for the year and the choices aren't
all that great.

I'm not sure I've ever "pulled my own weight". But, clearly, I'm
becoming a burden. I've seen all kinds of facts and figures...National
Health Care estimates as high as $2.5
trillion.(https://www.cms.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/25_NHE_Fact_sheet.asp)

And a great proportion of that total is spent on "end of life",
prolonging or postponing the inevitable at questionable qualities of
life that even doctors who prescribe all this would not follow
themselves. (See "How doctors die?"
http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/11/30/how-doctors-die/read/
n
exus/)

It's all bizarre, yet part of my reality.  And at the same time I'm
feeling very entrepreneurial. Fortunately I have my wits and health,
at the moment, and a general sense that I still have another 20 years
or so of productivity. So, while I may not be able to do any heavy
lifting, I'm hoping to carry some of the load. And I think there are
going to be a lot of us "boomers" doing the same. We may actually turn
out to be the spark that lights up some of this dreary scenario.
  

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