Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 9 Jan 13 16:41
Better than the Borg: The Neurotech Era @ramez naam -- Fortune Magazine (http://www.forbes.com/sites/singularity/2013/01/09/better-than-the-borg-the-ne urotech-era/)
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 10 Jan 13 00:31
American risks to life in 2013; off to perish of their cars and guns, as usual. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324442304578231652153488158.html Interestingly, the article in the Wall Street Journal doesn't mention that they perish of the ideology promulgated in the Wall Street Journal. In the Balkans an article like this would have been served on a platter by the booze and cigarettes industries.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 10 Jan 13 01:15
Meanwhile, the American Right struggles valiantly as all hope fades, darkness closes in, and popular discourse suffocates in a miasma of left-inflicted fear and intimidation. Sarah Palin · 3,485,813 like this Wednesday, January 9 at 11:23pm (10 hours ago) "Ben Shapiro has a great new book out called Bullies: How The Lefts Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America. Bens premise about the lefts silencing tactics is absolutely correct. "Obviously Ive witnessed the lefts bullying behavior up close and personal when its been directed at those so close to me. And, of course, Ive seen how nasty it can be for other conservatives as well. You know, theres something especially ugly about the way the left goes after children of conservatives. I still find it highly ironic that the supposedly tolerant left has done nothing but bully, demonize, and judge my daughter Bristol for making the right decision to keep her baby and work so very hard as a single mom to care and provide for him. I dont know of any conservative war on women, but I sure have seen the lefts war on conservative women! "Please read Bens book and consider his advice about how we must stand up and push back twice as hard against this bullying. We must not allow ourselves to be frightened into silence. Yes, its hard to keep on keeping on when being pushed around but like Ronald Reagan said: when we stiffen our spines, those around us can stiffen theirs, too! Press in, press on. Dont retreat, friends!" - Sarah Palin
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 10 Jan 13 06:02
That's amusing. At least "the left" stopped short of waterboarding. But I'm sure the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch are quivering in fear of the left-wing bullies, while Fox News and Breitbart, pillars of civility, promote honest, civil, fair & balanced debate vs the left's culture of fear and intimidation. That right-wing propaganda machine never ceases to amaze me. Meanwhile, we apparently dodged another space-bullet, for now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/20969893 And microscopic "bullies" have created a public health emergency in Boston: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/hospitals-flooded-flu-patients-turn-chicago/story ?id=18167245 Our state of the world conversation ends today; I'm finding it hard to draw conclusions and make predictions with any kind of confidence. But here's what I'm thinking... In the USA, right-wing extremists of the Breitbart/Palin/Tea Party variety will lose steam as average Americans find their way back to moderation, and legislators are forced to face the realities of governance, abandoning libertarian small-government (or no-government) fantasies. The most extreme - those guys who're piling up guns and dreaming of a violent revolution, may actually take arms and start shooting, but that will only feed the growing backlash against gun violence. The global economy will lurch and moan but it won't collapse. Climate change will bring innovative adaptation and open new markets. We'll be slammed by an increasing number of epic landscape-altering storms, but we'll brew mitigation strategies that will be more or less effective. We'll take Paul Ehrlich seriously again, and wonder what to do about the "population bomb." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb Wars and climate catastrophes, and possibly space rocks and pandemics, might "help." The market for e-books will diminish; we'll keep printing and turning pages, though e-books will persist as an alternative. People will spend less time with social media in cyberspace, and more time hanging out in physpace. Facebook will fail to thrive but, like AOL or MySpace, it won't die. Someone somewhere, maybe a terrorist or maybe a state, will trigger a nuclear explosion or two. This will have a sobering effect and put the nuclear option away once and for all (best case), or trigger an all-out global nuclear war (worst case). Whatever the case, Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky will be back here for the 2014 State of the World conversation.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 10 Jan 13 07:29
Thanks, Jon! I had just composed this post when yours slipped in ahead. I guess I'll put it up anyway... --- Bruce, I'm catching up a bit, and I found myself pondering some at your statement back a bit that a war on rape was as pointless as a war on terror. Now we see Palin wrapping put-down quotes around the lefty term "war on women." I haven't thought about this use of language, but "war on x" seems to be spreading. It is almost ridiculously inflated terminology. "Campaign" already has a military resolve about it, but "war" makes the analogy almost ridiculous. War used to be an extreme somewhat organized horror, mixed up with dread, determination to survive, the best and worst expressions of patriotism and mob identity, sanctioned murder, looting and vandalism on the largest scale the technologies of the day could accomplish, and all kinds of not-quite sanctioned but expected side activities that regular society would disdain. For centuries a war was always against people -- some group of people who held a territory or shared a culture, seems like. Far away wars, like the crusades, could be especially applauded by those who stayed home or lived later. (Depending on what side your family had been on, and whether revenge still has to be enacted to finish the story of the crusades in a satisfactory way.) Using the war analogy implies something is must-win, by any means possible. Maybe LBJ is to blame for a war on poverty that was a noble vision, but didn't manage to engage the do-or-die resolve of those on the other side of a blurry cultural divide. (And didn't divert him from his literal, killing war across the Pacific.) Right away, critics of any particular facet of federal policy could say it felt like war on the poor. War on poverty was a crazy abstraction, and the joke about waging war on poverty by personally getting rich was obvious, too. Moving into the world where geopolitical power plays can be made with drone and intelligence forces hits, war itself is seeming less like war. Perhaps it's tempting to have a war on some abstraction since war itself is morphing so strangely, into something where the battlefield itself is no longer a stretch of open land? But there's Palin, disdaining the hyperbole of "war on women," when she was making political hay last month with accusations of "war on Christmas." (At least women are a group of people, which makes the metaphor disturbingly coherent, though still dreadfully overblown.) And somehow, cultural changes happen. Women have more legislated rights and general consensus privileges now compared to a century ago nearly everywhere on the planet. At least in the US, rape is less accepted now than a century ago, when it was a capital crime, but the 'virtue' and social standing of the victim was such an important element that the idea of spousal rape or the rape of a prostitute would have seemed nonsensical to nearly everybody, as well as not having any legal definitions. Back to the link about the outrage about blaming victims for being raped in India. I think that "culture war" (another stupid military metaphor) can have an effect if it is conducted via ridicule as well as sincere calls for justice. Changes in what is civil do seem to go through a time where a lot of people don't agree, but they have learned to shut up because it is not cool to have their attitude any more. Maybe we are losing the power of the word "war," but we will still see shifts in cultures. Perhaps Indian women can succeed in ridiculing and demonizing those who excuse rapists. If they can, I expect there will be fewer rapes happening, though perhaps a higher percentage of them reported. "War on Christmas" presumably gets some Christians all riled up and motivated to express their religious conviction as part of the annual consumer excess festivals, when they might otherwise keep the religious aspects private. I'm horrified by the damage of the "war on terror," which not only kills people and motivates revenge, but builds a surveillance society by playing on feelings of terror rather than eliminating it. Is it doomed to fail? While it certainly can't completely succeed in doing what the name says, it seems to be accomplishing a lot of what it is actually intended to do, unfortunately. Palin's "don't retreat" plays on that image of a noble war, maybe a holy war. I find her language as silly as her values, but I still am amazed at how war is such a romantic concept to so many people. I am from a generation who watched ghastly images on TV every night and marched in the streets to put an end to it, so perhaps I can't really understand the terminology as she uses it, even if the resolve is obvious. When I do embrace battle metaphors, then I'm still advocating one of the "tactics" from your book _Zietgeist_ which is pop culture for hope. (More authentic pop culture for more authentic hope, perhaps. Not all rock n roll is created equal or intelligently.) I do sometimes forget that hope and justice also look different from where Palin, as well as the Taliban, sit. This annual state of the world stint always makes me think and rethink, in all kinds of directions I don't expect. Thanks, Bruce and Jon.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 10 Jan 13 07:36
(And I meant to say that the "war on terror" seems to be accomplishing a lot of what it is actually intended to do, BOTH fortunately in terms of purportedly saving many lives, and unfortunately in terms of civil liberties and freedom.)
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 10 Jan 13 09:57
That 3DPrinting biz? It's exciting for 2013, but they'll all be broke soon enough. http://voxelfab.com/blog/2013/01/theres-no-money-in-3d-printing/ *In other similar news, some day we'll all run out of stuff to talk about.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 10 Jan 13 11:21
<gail>, your post makes me think about the perception of (or, trendier, optics for) war post WWII, sanitized by the many postwar films and accounts. Those who knew better kept quiet. Meanwhile those of us who grew up in the 50s were deluded; we played war games, it was fun. Vietnam taught us better, or I should say, taught us bitter. Bitter disillusionment. Drone war reduces risk but, arguably, increases the probability of collateral damage. In fact, in war all damage could be characterized as collateral damage, as powerful elders, safely away from the front, send the young and innocent, true believers, into battle. Hopefully by now many more of us, a majority, understand that war is a nightmare to be avoided. And the war metaphor doesn't serve us all that well. We won't end rape by declaring war on it. We'll end rape through education, cultivation of sensitivity and empathy, rethinking the meaning of gender difference. We won't end poverty by declaring war on it, or by throwing money at it. We'll end poverty by caring about it. We won't end drug problems by declaring war on drugs. We'll end drug problems by understanding why and how drugs become a problem, by treating addiction as a very human issue, maybe a disease, not a crime.
Jamais Cascio (jamaiscascio) Thu 10 Jan 13 12:30
[Sorry to disappear like that; a switch in arthritis medication seems to have triggered the onset of the worst arthritis attack I've had in several years. I've spent most of the last week sleeping. Finally seem to be coming out of it, but still can't walk.] The topics covered in the WEF report offer a stark contrast to what rich guys seem to want to talk about the global economy, at least when they think nobody's watching. I attended the Astana Economic Forum last year, a week-long event organized by the Kazakhstan government as a way to showcase just how eager they are to get in the global game. I was invited to talk about sustainability, pretty much the last thing that anyone wanted to hear about. That my only real ally on my panel was *Bjorn Lomborg* should show you just how skewed the event was. The final day of the conference featured a roundtable discussion that I found stunning. Here's what I wrote afterwards: > The most notable part of the event was the roundtable discussion on the final night, bringing together political leaders (current and former Prime Ministers and Presidents), a half-dozen Nobel Prize laureates in economics, a couple of executives and a couple of media figures to talk about the world's economic situation. [...] > ...a single telling example: in the 90 minutes of the discussion, unemployment was mentioned once (about 45 minutes in), and briefly, while inequality or similar concepts never came up. What received the most attention was the need for even more austerity (and how to handle the annoying groups of citizens who don't like it), alongside casual discussions of tossing Greece out of the EU. > Here's the problem: AEF is a prime example of how the global conversation about development and economics takes place without much regard for anything beyond the interests of the most wealthy and powerful. This is hardly a surprise; what was surprising was the utter lack of subtlety about it. Nobody bats an eye at the obsequiousness of Nobel laureates and global media executives towards the President-for-Life of an up-and-coming petrokleptocracy. Jokes are made about how democracy is ruined by having to rely on voters. The fate of the planet gets decided over bad (and infrequent) coffee and semi-functional translation.< Somebody captured my live-tweets of the roundtable: http://turnstylenews.com/2012/05/24/bleak-tomorrow-futurist-jamais-cascio-on-t he-astana-economic-forum/ I wasn't so much shocked by how venal and short-sighted these world rulers were as I was by how unembarrassed and blatant they were about it. There was no attempt to mask their positions with high-minded language.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 10 Jan 13 13:39
Thanks for pointing out yet another sign of the apocalypse (YASOTA), Jamais...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 10 Jan 13 14:18
This is a wrap, thanks to all who showed up with comments, questions, bodily states, mental states, prognostications, rants, etc. Thanks especially to Bruce Sterling for digging out of the Serbian snow to join us for a couple of weeks. Onward! Through the fog!
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