Mark McDonough (mcdee) Fri 17 Jan 14 06:44
Well, from that list, I'd say I have much in common with the rich folks at Davos, at least where worries are concerned.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 17 Jan 14 07:35
Though you have to acknowledge a difference in perspective. The folks who meet at Davos can arguable *do something* about those concerns. We all share their probably interminable list of concerns (what Bruce posted was only a top ten list, since focus ain't infinite). However they can move money and power where it matters, like the human body's physical center clustering white blood cells around infection. Here in Texas we should be focused on water crises: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/inflows-to-highland-lakes-second-lo west-on-record/ncrLY/ However in Austin we're more focused on the most pressing problem - the air is fairly toxic with 1,794 grains per cubic meter of cedar (aka juniper) pollen. At least we're not living in the San Joaquin Valley, where dust in the air is even more toxic, as in potentially fatal: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/01/20/140120fa_fact_goodyear.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 17 Jan 14 08:02
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 17 Jan 14 08:42
We're seeing a critical mass against surveillance similar to the SOPA opposition, which was arguably successful. Now if we could get them all to divide their attention and focus on net neutrality at the same time. You know, a MOVEMENT supporting a free and open Internet with privacy protections for all. We'd want to define "free and open," and "privacy." Broad, vague terms, open to interpretation, like "democracy." After many years of grumbling that democracy is ill-defined and often confused with majoritarianism, I've found in Wikipedia a definition of democracy I can live with: "Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equallyeither directly or through elected representativesin the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy Probably better to say "CAN participate equally," because we often don't rise to the occasion. The Koch Brothers have demonstrated (as have others over time) that it's possible to game democracy - in this case, to drown the present form of government in the bathtub, as Grover Norquist likes to say. You might think this is a libertarian position - less government, less government control. However those regulations they so dislike, while constraining some, can also be seen as protecting the freedom and well-being of many more. Another issue for them is that government costs money, and we're always asking the rich to pay a greater proportion of the bill for things like education, "entitlements," safety regulations (or constraints, they might say), etc. Maybe we should debate that more directly. Should they pay the bill, if we allow them to use our country and its economy as a platform for their accumulation of wealth?
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 17 Jan 14 11:15
Jon, many of the people I expected to be outraged about the end of Net Neutrality seem to be defeatist or disinterested. I am pinching myself. Could it be that deep surveillance by governments is scarier and gives cover to the possible tyrannies of private companies? I just paged through some of the awesome <inkwell.vue.61.0-> Viridian manifesto conversation. It reads a bit like an artifact of the pre 9/11 world, which it is. My thoughts seem darker now. I wonder how deep spooky government entities will use the internet of things, wearable and implanted. But these long old-form petitions provide a bit of hope.
jelly fish challenged (reet) Fri 17 Jan 14 11:26
PLEASE HIDE THAT LIDST
bill braasch (bbraasch) Fri 17 Jan 14 11:48
indeed, it is the mother of all scrolls. the woman who was cited for speeding while wearing google glasses beat both charges yesterday. No proof the glasses were in use. No expert testimony that the cop's radar was properly calibrated. apparently there's a law against operating monitoring devices from a private car, not from a cop car, but the cop car's credibility is expensive to prove.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 17 Jan 14 12:53
http://www.10news.com/news/trial-begins-in-google-glass-ticket-case-011614 An analogy would be getting a ticket for having your cellphone in your pocket while driving.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 17 Jan 14 13:23
(I realize I posted the logged-in link for reading the initial Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky event above. From anywhere else, that's http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/61/Bruce-Sterling-A-Viridian-Futur e-page01.html )
Robin Elliott (robinellt) Fri 17 Jan 14 17:07
<scribbled by robinellt>
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 18 Jan 14 02:04
http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/how-silicon-valley-became-the-man/ *It's awesome to encounter this kind of historical revisionism. One knows it has to happen, but, well, then, there it is. *Every decade has its own 1960s in the way that every decade has its own version of Cleopatra. I bet you could run the Cleopatra Wayback Machine to like Zero AD, and people who once knew her personally would be standing around in their togas going, "heck no man, she was nothing like that."
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 18 Jan 14 02:24
*Yeah, that's a long, annoying scroll, but public petitions are supposed to be long and annoying by their nature. Like: "here we are, in your face, all of us, endless numbers of us, being annoyed and annoying." *There's one guy from Belgrade in that list. There's something endearing about that, like "Hey man, I'm here to stand up for Belgrade, home of free and fearless academic inquiry." Because he does, y'know. He didn't have to sign, but he did. *Some modern Eastern European dissidents have really got it going on when it comes to annoying. When FEMEN shows up on the scene, daily life just grinds to a halt. The instant and universal response to their antics is: "oh for heaven's sake can't we please cover them up and hide them?" http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/i-dont-want-to-be-liked-inna -shevchenko-leader-of-womens-rights-group-femen-talks-dictators-documentaries- and-death-threats-9062734.html
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 18 Jan 14 03:54
"Robin Elliott (robinellt) Thanks Bruce, for turning to a bit more positive note. I admit I was beginning to wonder, though I laugh at your wit, especially the bit about "personal computers". "That said, this whole discussion doesn't have a very positive tone, does it? Much of it's about problems and fears and little is about positive hopes or things that might paint a brighter picture of the year to come. Is it naive to say "Who knows! 2014 might be the year we turn the corner!"? *Well, Robin, I have seen some bright corners turned myself, so I don't discount that possibility. Around the corner, one finds a surprising new street. But it's still a street, just with better lamps. Once you turn the corner, there's just more boulevard; it's not like there's some salvational form of good news that makes everything okay forever. *I hear about the positive-tone issue on occasion, but almost always from my fellow Yankees. In Serbia, where I spend a lot of my time, I come across as an alarmingly perky, upbeat and can-do kind of guy. That's because Serbia is a society of relentless Slavic miserabilism where much of the population self-medicates on alcohol. However, that's only an American assessment; if you're Serbian, then Americans are like grinning, cash-obsessed neat-freaks running around with duct-tape and oil-cans. *Americans will pep-talk themselves into absolutely any foolishness, by Serbian standards; Americans will cheerily invade Iraq and think they can get away with that. Hey, why be a downer about the prospect? Mission Accomplished! *I'm not anywhere near so dark a writer as Franz Kafka, but there are eye-witness reports of Kafka reading his stuff aloud in some Prague cafe, and people just falling out of their chairs laughing.
Russell Wiltshire (rw) Sat 18 Jan 14 08:36
Interesting read no doubt, but it reads more like - State of the World (according to people with facebook accounts). This post claimed that the world is as peaceful as it gets: http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/473/Bruce-Sterling-and-Jon-Lebkows ky-page06.html#post145 "We do have soldiers fighting, limbs blown off by IEDs in the Middle East, but they're tragic exceptions, at least for now." They might be tragic exceptions for Americans. But elsewhere such suffering is a daily occurence. Two groups that I've been following recently include the Uyghur in East Asia and the Sami of northern Scandinavia. Granted, their persecution isn't on a scale such as the "great wars of the 20th century". But that's just two groups. Everywhere I look there are communities for whom rape, forced abortion, violence and death are persistent and frequent facts of life. With this in mind, I'm surprised that a topic entitled State of the World has spent so much time discussing the big 5 tech giants, digital snooping and wearable technology. Just how much of the world is actually net-connected anyhow? Half? Do you mean State of the *World* in the same way that the Red Sox are currently *World Champions*?
Russell Wiltshire (rw) Sat 18 Jan 14 12:07
Im woefully ignorant about world current affairs, but just sticking with the UK and a subject I do know something about In the UK, every week, 1 or 2 kids die as a result of abuse and neglect. Thats about 70 a year. 70 kids, not many. Perhaps we could characterize them as tragic exceptions to use Jons words. Except that they arent tragic exceptions. Thats the normal situation. It happens every single week. And has done for the last 30 years at least, since we began accurate records. And thats just the ones who died, whose injuries or malnutrition were so bad that they actually lost their lives. Another 60,000 kids are in state care, most of them forcibly removed from their families due to the severity of the harm or risk of harm. I can tell you from my own experience and work that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Social Services resources are so stretched that those 60,000 are just the most severe cases that they can take on within their budget. I estimate that about 200,000 kids are living in conditions that any reasonable person would find unacceptable. And yet, we do find it acceptable. We dont talk about it. We dont do anything about it. Its been this way for at least 30 years and it never changes. Still, thats only 200,000 kids from a population of about 20 million. 1% if my math is correct. Given that it hardly ever features in the media I guess we find that level acceptable. I can remember only 3 child deaths making headline news in the last 8 years, compared to every single death in the armed forces being mentioned. In world war 2, the total UK death toll was about 500,000. 1% of the population at the time. Again, thats just the top tier those who actually died. Many more were injured. So its certainly accurate to say that the number of kids currently suffering is very low by comparison. So on the face of it, characterizing child suffering in the UK as a tragic exception is justified. But, justified enough to warrant ignoring it in favor of a discussion about 3d printing or Google glasses. Not by my standards. Particularly in a topic titled State of the World. The scene was set for a discussion about technology, design, politics, high and low culture, and fashion. And it did indeed shoot off immediately in the direction of technology and politics. But then in post number 145 Jon raises the subjects of war, plague or famine. And immediately dismisses them as tragic exceptions not worthy of attention. He then goes on to refer to real problems: In the USA and I suspect in much of the world, we humans are healthy and resilient, and well-cared-for despite the volume of complaints about the medical establishment. We do have real problems, e.g. growing instances of hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic resistance. Perhaps we are predisposed to focus on change. The number of child deaths due to abuse and neglect is an acceptable norm. It doesnt change. It just ticks along. It gets ignored. The real problem (in other words, the problem we notice) is the growing instance of this or that, or the sudden rise in something or other. Those 200,000 kids in the UK are alone. They are absolutely not well-cared-for. Whats tragic is that its normal to ignore them. Im just using child welfare as an example because I happen to know the figures. I suspect there are other issues such as the welfare of the elderly or the mentally ill which have similar problems. Between the ages of 20 and 50, the most common cause of death in the UK is suicide (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics--deaths-registered-in -england-and-wales--series-dr-/2012/info-causes-of-death.html). With this in mind Im not entirely sure that it is appropriate or useful to highlight things like antibiotic resistance as a worthwhile barometer of the State of the World. It would be more useful to point out that suicide remains a much larger problem. I suspect that its the same psychological mechanism at work the suicide rate remains fairly constant, its not news and we have no idea how to solve the problem, so we ignore it. This discussion seems to be more about things that are changing and therefore grabbing our attention, and things that are a good deal less upsetting to think about than the real unchanging state of the world. Some subjects are upsetting not just because they are tragic in themselves, but because deep down perhaps we know they are problems which are so much more difficult to solve. But I'd also question whether there are many people who actually know these base figures to start with. I was certainly surprised by the suicide figures. I assumed heart disease or traffic accidents would be the biggest problem. No-one likes to dwell on the tragic and sad. But when you title a topic State of the World, is that not a declaration of intent to muster our internal resources, put aside trivial subjects, and direct our attention for as long as we can stand it, towards learning about the real "real problems" of the world however heartbreaking they might be. Incidentally (or maybe on a related note) I did a search for how has google changed the world and the first dozen links without exception just gave me a brief description of what Googles technology does. There was no obvious evidence to suggest that the world is changing in any substantially different way because Google exists (although Bruce's suggestion that these days MLK's stage presence would be diminished gave me something to think about). I am not convinced that the most vulnerable people in the world, of which there must be billions, will be helped or hindered by 3d printers, wearable technology, or the political shenanigans of the big 5 tech companies. Id like to think Im wrong. But I fear that the future state of the world, and the actual experience of most of it's occupants during 2014, will depend so much more upon human nature than any of this technological window-dressing.
Ed Ward (captward) Sat 18 Jan 14 13:09
Just out of curiosity, <rw>, have you ever read and/or participated in one of the past "State of the World" conversations here?
Russell Wiltshire (rw) Sat 18 Jan 14 13:21
No I haven't. Have I made a netiquette faux pas?
Ed Ward (captward) Sat 18 Jan 14 13:43
No, but maybe just a bit of a misapprehension of what's usually discussed.
Russell Wiltshire (rw) Sat 18 Jan 14 14:23
ok, well, I would hate to waste people's time so I apologise if my rambling post was off-usual-topic. Thanks for the heads-up. However, I did genuinely believe I was contributing to subjects already introduced into the discussion by others, with the exception of one theme which I thought was vitally relevant, namely how much influence NSA snooping or the big 5 tech companies can possibly have in the world given that significant numbers of people aren't dependent on internet connectivity. If I got that wrong, then yes, I sure as hell misjudged what this discussion was all about.
Ed Ward (captward) Sat 18 Jan 14 14:45
It's hardly my place to shape this conversation, I'd like to emphasize, and I'll just disappear until the two main figures return and deal with this or not, as they see fit.
Paulina Borsook (loris) Sat 18 Jan 14 20:28
<rw>, nothing wrong with what you posted (again, not my discussion here). for myself, when jon talked about how healthy everyone is, i thought "hmm, pandemic of frail elderly/persistent serious mentally ill on the streets everywhere/autism on the rise/how many people live on statins and painkillers? checked out a skilled nursing facility/dementia unit recently?' however, these state-of-the-world discussions do tend to be about certain topics and not others.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 19 Jan 14 04:40
*Well, the state of the world in California is that the Golden State is browner that it's ever been. *There's probably some perky, upbeat way to frame this. Was it Trotsky who used to say, the worse, the better for us? http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gSVY5Mw0Ab9EKooC4bpWVzDaUfX Q Los Angeles California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday due to what could be the western US state's worst drought in a century, which has sparked wildfires and hurt farmers. The declaration allows authorities to access federal help to battle the dry spell that has left huge swaths of tinder-dry forest vulnerable to going up in flames. On Thursday, a massive blaze raged just outside Los Angeles, damaging several homes and forcing residents to evacuate the area, where the fire risk had been elevated for weeks. Brown urged state residents to reduce their water use by at least 20 percent. "I've declared this emergency and I'm calling on all Californians to conserve water in every way possible," he said in a statement. "We can't make it rain," he added . *And, no, California can't make it rain, but California is an oil state, and had much, much more than its share in wrecking our planet's weather.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 19 Jan 14 04:43
*That's Davos worry #5 that's reducing California to a cinder. *Maybe we could get the NSA to *spy* on the weather. We'd probably find out all kinds of stuff that the US Congress doesn't allow itself to speak aloud.
Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 19 Jan 14 05:06
Yeah, every time a dry spell stretches beyond a couple of years, certain dour sorts like myself wonder if this is going to be another century-long drought like the one that caused the Anasazi civilization to collapse. Only a matter of time.
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Sun 19 Jan 14 08:09
I lived in the bay area long enough to know that they think the US, if not the world, rotates around California, but it's more of a national drought problem: <http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.html> That big "Likely" problem across the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana includes Houston, Austin, the JRTC at Fort Polk, and important coastal towns like Lake Charles and Lafayette. All of Oregon, most of Washington and Nevada, and a huge chunk of New Mexico are in the "persists or intensifies" range.
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