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Tag Archives: Future trends

You Are In The Future

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There are some pundits proclaiming the eternal life of “pink collar” jobs in the service and hospitality industry. They are in vogue because that’s where the majority of the job growth has come from, they are easy to create and give people a way to scratch out a living doing rote work. This has lead to the false assumption that the majority of these jobs are irreplaceable by computers and robotics.

One of the prime candidates is nursing, which requires more education and training than most of the other service jobs. Amusingly enough, in an age when people are talking about replacing doctors who have decades of experience in general practice with narrow AI on cellphones and teleconferencing, people believe nurses and other “pink collar” jobs are immune. With the exception of NICU, CCU and other specialist nurses, most of the work that they do can be replaced or augmented by current technology as is, with a much smaller margin of error. Things like delivering medication at specific times, giving a patient ice water, moving patients to avoid bed sores, ensuring that a patient is not given food that is against his diet requirements (e.g. diabetics) and checking to see if a patient is faking a seizure to get attention.

Eliminating this frees up time, and would likely lead to staffing cuts. Even the software that nurses use for giving reports can be vastly improved, though you would have to use programmers who are actually competent. Current software requires hours of training because of the unintuitive design.

The other part of the argument is that human interaction cannot be replicated by machines, and therefore people will always want other humans to help them. This misses the point entirely, the people don’t care about the nurse, they care about how she serves them. When something comes along that can serve them in basic ways dramatically better, the nurse will be put out of work. If people were fooled by Eliza, they won’t mind expressing themselves to modern chatbots, mainly because they just want to express their feelings.

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Pundits are still talking as if farming won’t be automated for 40 years, when we are already deploying self driving tractors and UAV’s for crop dusting. And more than likely, the crop that the farmer is harvesting is a GMO.

Nevada, California and Florida have already legalized self driving cars. We’ve developed simple plug-ins that stop you from browsing blocked sites after a set amount of time. The first of many pre-commitment devices that monitor, force and shame you into whatever you or society wants you to be:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/01/the_odysseus_option.single.html

If you agree—and only if you agree—Progressive Insurance will give you a device to install in your car that will rat you out for jack-rabbit starts and slamming on the brakes. * It’s a small thing that plugs into your on-board diagnostic system, and it transmits as you drive. If your little minder shows that you don’t act like Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel, you’ll save up to 30 percent on your auto insurance. Although there’s no official penalty for letting the company find out that you regularly lay down rubber, in fact you’ll pay more for coverage than will tamer drivers. You’ll also be acting to tame your own behavior by raising the price of recklessness.

Progressive’s driving spy is a sneaky example of the “precommitment device,” a technique that people use to bind themselves to their preferred desires, and a subject I have been studying for my new book about the problem of self-control,We Have Met the Enemy.

It’s too taboo to mention how quickly things are changing, optimism is alright just as long as you aren’t too specific. Complexity is now used as an excuse for not dealing with simple but emotionally difficult problems.

You’re in the future, start acting like it.

The Big Science and Technology Problems of the 21st Century

The big problems are mostly the same as in the 20th century and most of them stretch back much farther than that.

http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/what-are-grand-technology-and-scientific-challenges-21st-century

In fact, X Prize last year it declared a top eight list of key challenges that could end up being public competitions in the coming months or years.  The eight concepts or challenges included:

1. Water (“Super ‘Brita’ Water Prize”) – Develop a technology to solve the world’s number one cause of death: Lack of safe drinking water:

2. Personal Health Monitoring System (“OnStar for the Body Prize”) – Develop and demonstrate a system which continuously monitors an individual’s personal health-related data leading to early detection of disease or illness.

3. Energy & Water from Waste – Create and demonstrate a technology that generates off-grid water and energy for a small village derived from human and organic waste.

4. Around the World Ocean Survey – Create an autonomous underwater vehicle that can circumnavigate the world’s oceans, gathering data each step of the way.

5. Transforming Parentless Youth – Dramatically and positively change the outcome for significantly at risk foster children, reducing the number of incarcerations and unemployment rate by fifty-percent or more.

6. Brain-Computer Interface (“Mind over Matter”) – Enable high function, minimally invasive brain to computer interfaces that can turn thought into action.

7. Wireless Power Transmission – Wireless transmission of electricity over distances greater than 200 miles while losing less than two percent of the electricity during the transmission.

8. Ultra-Fast Point-To-Point Travel – Design and fly the world’s fastest point-to-point passenger travel system

#1 is probably done. Though it’s possible to create solutions at different scales of production.

#2 is going to be interesting as hackers will add functions to their sensors, and malicious ones will disrupt other peoples sensors for fun and profit.

I’ve heard of many implentations of #3, so it’s going to come down to what is most economical.

#4 is probably done, though a more robust version that can go deeper will be required to really satisfy the spirit of the goal.

#5 is quite difficult considering everything in our economy is forcing more people to be unemployed in the traditional sense. This is a judo problem, you can’t fix it within the normal means.

On #6, I’ve seen some simple EEG style sensors that can be integrated into games, but for the most part Brain-Machine interfaces are Sci-Fi. It’s easier to run prosthetics off of nerve impulses coming through limbs rather by sensing brainwaves without implants. So it’s going to take awhile to crack that problem. 3d interfaces are hitting the market now, both in VR headsets and 3d intractable  xbox kinect sensors:

The skeleton drawing system the kinect sensors use is software-based and can be modified, but other companies have already launched “improved” sensors that can be used on their own for 3d interaction.

#7 is interesting and we’ll have to see what is the most economical way of tackling it.

#8 needs to factor in safety, otherwise it won’t be widely used.

Some of the NRC’s problems are less thrilling, the benefits aren’t as clear to the man on the street, and it sort of reads like a list of “stuff we were going to do anyway, but we made a report for it”:

From the National Research Council report, the five challenges are:

1. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community invent technologies for the next factor of-100 cost-effective capacity increases in optical networks?

2. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community develop a seamless integration of photonics and electronics components as a mainstream platform for low-cost fabrication and packaging of systems on a chip for communications, sensing, medical, energy, and defense applications?

3. How can the U.S. military develop the required optical technologies to support platforms capable of wide-area surveillance, object identification and improved image resolution, high-bandwidth free-space communication, laser strike, and defense against missiles?

4. How can U.S. energy stakeholders achieve cost parity across the nation’s electric grid for solar power versus new fossil-fuel-powered electric plants by the year 2020?

5. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community develop optical sources and imaging tools to support an order of magnitude or more of increased resolution in manufacturing?

More interestingly, there is no way these questions can cover the whole of desires and needs that technology must fill for the 21st century. What are they missing?

Two Contrasting Views On Future Warfare

The State will have become technocratic – fascism by remote control – the dream of control, coveted by evil men for generations, will have come to fruition. We have a scant few years to arrest the development of these technologies or to rearchitect the social foundations of liberty to survive a situation where combat robots leave the population largely powerless to resist tyranny, whether they have their rifles or not. To develop the technology to defeat the rifle utterly in the field is roughly equivalent to absolute, final, global disarmament of the population.

I am not suggesting that these combat robots will have human intelligence. I am not suggesting they will be effective policemen in the crime solving sense. They will start as remote controlled weapons platforms, then evolve common sense on navigation, then target selection, then tactics and strategy. What can be automated successfully will be automated, and the rest will be left to men in bunkers viewing screens where blood is rendered in black or blue, not red, and the faces of the fallen are fuzzed out as distractions from the real work of identifying and terminating enemies among the living.

….

So what do we do about this future of oppression at the hands of robots developed to defeat the improvised weapons of freedom fighters, revolutionaries and insurgents everywhere? What do we do about a future where little guy finally has no chance at all against the State, should the state turn against him and seek to drive him to the wall? What indeed can we do about that situation?

I want you to get serious about putting aside your political differences about the economy, and to get serious, left and right, about making sure that our children don’t grow up in a world where men they will never see or vote for control the box on the corner that tortures you with an invisible ray any time you get out of line.

I will note that the development of a remote mass torture device contravenes all human and natural law, and the insistence that it will “save lives” is based on a simple misunderstanding: if the people are taking to the streets and screaming for change, and you torture them where they stand to make them stop asking for change, eventually they will turn to real violence and kill the hand that tortures them to make them comply, if they can. And if they cannot kill that hand, what has been created is a hell: a torture state which one cannot overthrow or escape from. What hand will wield these torture machines in a few generations?

Lines are being crossed here. Technologies which stand every chance of enslaving us all are being developed to win the Iraq war, because the Iraq war is typically of armed resistance to government anywhere. It is disorganized, angry men with rifles and bombs dying for what they believe in, however misguided. If the ability to defeat such groups is developed and placed into the hands of the current incumbent governments and power groups, the same processes that gave rise to a free revolutionary America will no longer operate, and there will be no more stands to be made against the Empire. Those who stand will be ceaselessly and cheaply cut down by replaceable robot warriors manufactured far from the fray, operated from bunkers, and deployed far away from TV cameras. There will be little or no home front pressure to stop unjust and unnecessary wars because only the blood of the enemy will be shed in armed conflicts. The human cost of war will be borne entirely by the underdog, and therefore the underdogs will have lost their primary means of making the incumbent power groups change course. And, let me tell you, we are all potentially that underdog.

Link

But note that current drone crews do suffer from PTSD, they are far from being dehumanized. Drones may also change how the battlefield terrain is shaped through construction.

But you’re in luck, all you thin healthy smiley bastards: I don’t think it’ll happen like that. It’s going to be weirder, slower, and a lot less Star-Wars-ey than people think.

It’s easy to get all excited about blasters, space battles, lasers and all that Luke Skywalker stuff. But my job is to give you my best guess on what’s really gonna happen. And you know, I’m not even sure war will survive. War seems too good for people like you: you beach volleyball people. You’ve made getting healthy and thin a religion, so why would you want war? Well, one thing: it won’t be the cool sci-fi war you like to think about, you saving Carrie Fisher from Jabba with your Jedi mind crap….

Spacewar — Killer satellites, orbital lasers…won’t happen. Nothing but lame NASA fundraising ideas, cooked up by corrupt lobbyists and corporations that make a living off the federal budget. Never convinced anybody this side of Newsweek. 150 years from now there’ll be nobody on the moon, nobody on Mars — just some fragile, expensive tools floating up there, not worth blasting, far too expensive to risk.

By now we can keep a Predator RPV hovering week after week, waiting for a target. When they finally persuaded the USAF to give the Predator RPVs a chance in Afghanistan, they had to admit the damn things worked even better than their advocates were promising. They’re amazing: too small to spot, damned hard to shoot down, and cheap enough that we don’t lose much even if it does get hit. And you know the best thing about RPVs? They don’t react to torture. No pilot to go on Iraqi TV looking like Jake LaMotta after twelve rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson and start apologizing for disturbing Baghdaders’ beauty sleep.

The trouble with this nice clean automated-war scenario is that nobody wants to play with us. The US can play that game, but who else can? The Israelis? They’re the only real combat-tested RPV-using army. And if it came to a US vs. Israel war, let’s face it: the US Congress would back Israel all the way, and the US’d have to surrender before a shot was fired.

Try plugging the hi-tech, RPV-heavy war plan to a more even-sided war: say, an all-out struggle for world domination between the US and China ten years from now. The first thing you realize is that it’ll come down to production rates. You’re gonna lose a lot of hardware in a hurry. Like aircraft in the early days of WW I, RPVs will go from surveillance to attack, and that will lead to interceptor models designed to destroy enemy RPVs. There’ll be unmanned dogfights, and since these things are easy to make, the dogfights will be unbelievably massive, maybe hundreds of thousands of individual combats in the sky over the battlefield. It comes down to our factories vs. theirs. If you can replace it faster than they do, maybe you win. It’ll all be as harmless as a nerd picnic on the school field Saturday afternoon, with the Asian kids and the pasty white kids each piloting their little remote-controlled MiG’s and F-16s and arguing about who killed who, then going off for pizza.

As the two-tier war system develops, the hi-tech nations won’t even associate war with death any more. War will be a demolition derby: our machines beat your machines. Nobody has to die. When the dogfight between a Chinese and an American RPV finishes, nobody will die; the US controller will disconnect from his monitor and have a beer, and so will the Chinese.

Production dominance will tilt one way or the other, at last: you own the skies. They can’t send up any more RPVs, and you can. OK; you’ve won. Now what? Do you start carpet bombing their cities? What the Hell for? The civilian population won’t even matter any more. Kill a hundred million Chinese — so what?

because an ICBM isn’t the only way to deliver a nuke.

I mean, just think for a minute. You’re Mao. You hate the US, you have a few big ripe homemade nukes, and you want to be sure the Americans know they can’t push you too far. Do you build ICBMs? Sure, a few — enough to keep the Japanese and the Russians awake. But you don’t really trust those homemade missiles. And — this is kinda the key point, so lissen up here — you don’t need to. Because a regime like Mao’s (or Stalin’s or Kim Il Sung’s) does one thing really, really well: spy stuff.

And if you’ve got a good spy service, delivering nukes is a cinch. A pickup truck is a perfectly effective way to deliver a nuke. How many pickup trucks cross from Canada or Mexico every year? Every day? You think every one of those gets searched? How many ships call at US ports every year? How many get really carefully searched? How hard is it to carry a nuke to an American harbor in a harmless-looking Liberian-registered cargo ship, then dump it over the side somewhere near the East River, or the Bay Bridge?

Why bother killing a few million civilians? Won’t settle anything. Just makes you look bad. In fact, nothing seems to be on the line anymore — not people’s lives, not even their jobs, no matter how much they fuck up.

The only enjoyable wars will be the mismatches, when the machine armies are unleashed on the savages. We’ve seen some of them lately: the NATO air forces working out on Serbia, the US and British planes playing with the Iraqis like a couple of kittens with a half-dead mouse. They’re the wars people will enjoy, because the targets are so easy, so undefended, that there are lots of good gun-camera shots.

But these wars have a little weakness: they never solve the problem. NATO killed a few thousand Serbs too stupid to realize their fellow Christians didn’t give a fuck about them. And the Serbs pulled back. But the Albanians moved in. You go into a slum like the Balkans, try to fix things up by slapping around one gang — and the gang next door comes in, kills their families and takes their houses. It’s embarrassing. From what I hear, a lot of NATO soldiers dream non-stop of the day they’ll be allowed to fire on the Albanian thugs they’re supposed to be protecting.

The answer is obvious: annihilation. The two-tier wars will get really annoying. How many times do you go in (and “you” could be the Chinese, the Indians, or whoever’s running the show 100 years from now) and separate these drunken smalltime thugs? Sooner or later somebody will suggest the neutron-bomb option. Nothing dramatic, just a Raid commercial on a larger scale.

They’ll be provoked. That’s a sure thing — before the ruling countries take the annihilation option, they will be HELL OF provoked. The lower tier will have one weapon: the willingness to die and to kill. You don’t need hi-tech to kill a lot of people. You think Mohammed Atta could pass a course on jet engineering? Physics? He couldn’t’ve got into Solano Community College, and all you need to pass there is two-thirds attendance. The loser countries, the ones who can’t do math, are gonna skip shop class, skip the machine crap, and go back to basics: kill a lot of people. They’ll do Columbine on a worldwide scale. All the losers will come to the lobby with guns. Serbs, North Koreans, Tamil Sri Lankans, will walk into the lobbies of the machine peoples’ towers like Keanu in The Matrix. They will splatter those security guards, they will smash up the decorative marble, they will disrupt office routine with drums of gasoline and vials of pesticide and rerouted sewage floods; they will turn the cities against their citizens and kill, kill, kill.

And the upper tier will respond. They’ll be patient. They’ll endure the first twenty or so urban massacres in a civilized way. Then they’ll think of the obvious: the Raid solution. Every pesticide commercial they ever saw will occur to them as they decide what to do with the Haitians, the Tamils…and finally somoeone in a government office in Beijing or Washington or Delhi will decide to do something permanent about the vermin. Ah yes, the Balkans: nice country. Too bad it’s infested with two-legged varmints. Why not clean ‘em out? It’ll strike somebody as a good idea, sooner or later. And that’s how we’ll have our first nuclear war: not the old Cold-War scenario where two nuclear-armed nations wipe each other out, but a perfectly logical one-sided version: China, or India, or us, or whoever, will simply sterilize the Balkans. (Or Java, or the South Bronx).

Link

So key questions right now are:

  • What countermeasures can be deployed versus drones? (Electronic warfare, jamming, masers, drone leader targeting ect…)
  • If the focus is exclusively on electronic elements, what about other spheres that are under-utilized?
  • Will the Nation-State exist in it’s current form, despite the crisis of legitimacy and economic disincentives?
  • Will the economy of scale favor large or small operational groups?
  • Will the production of drones favor mass drone warfare, or a mix of quality and quantity?
  • How will production facilities balance quality and quantity?
  • What is the size of the organization best suited for mass production, refinement and deployment of drones when factoring in automation?
  • What vulnerabilities exist in the all important supply chain?

World Economy + Notes On Demographics & Power Consumption

Keeping in mind that knowledge that minimizes surprise can be more reliable than knowledge that tries to predict the future, let’s look at the world economy:

The “developing” countries are generally sticking with the old paradigm: that development is the process of turning blue and that Fordist industrialization can and will yield mass prosperity.

But they are likely to discover that this isn’t true. China will not be able to build a western style welfare state as its GDP grows. The South African labor unions won’t be able to turn the country into Detroit at its peak, with lifetime employment at high wages for a unionized work force.

Manufacturing employment in these countries will not indefinitely rise, and neither will pay. Competition from other, poorer, job-hungry countries will push wages down; automation will reduce the number of workers worldwide required to produce a given level of output and by reducing the supply of manufacturing jobs automation will also depress global wages, especially for the unskilled.

Developing countries (along with the Davoisie and most commentators and “modernization theorists”) have also assumed that because development meant the establishment of a stable middle class society, to become more economically developed was to become more politically stable.

…We, the Europeans and the Japanese can probably handle a generation of wandering. Life would be poorer and nastier than it needs to be, politics would get pretty poisonous and Europe’s problems with some of its immigrants might get deeply ugly, but this might just mean the degradation of social life and the impoverishment of democracy rather than chaos, violence and the rise of new ideologies and movements based on fanaticism and hate.

I’m not nearly as sure that the rest of the world would be as calm or as stable if the blue model continues to rot but we don’t make the move to the next step.

The fight for the reforms and changes in the United States that can facilitate and speed up the birth of a prosperous post-industrial society here is deeply connected to the fight for a peaceful and prosperous world in the 21st century. It is not just that these changes will keep the US rich and strong enough to play a role in supporting world peace. It is that the example of a successful transformation here will do more to promote democracy, peace and human rights worldwide than all the foreign aid, all the diplomats and even all the ships and tanks and drones in the world could ever do.

And it is raving lunacy to expect that there is some master plan that can reveal the shape of the new society and show us how to achieve it. That isn’t what life at the cutting edge of history is ever like. The challenge of our time is invention, not implementation. The future doesn’t exist yet; we have to make it up. Link

A simple wikipedia article brings so many interesting tidbits of information about the world economy. Dated 2003 unless otherwise noted.

Roughly 50% of the world’s population, 3.25 billion people, make less than $2 a day.

Military Expenditure compared to GPD is only 2% of the global economy, with about half of that coming from the United States military (375 billion).

The median income (1993) is about $1,041

GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 4%; industry: 32%; services: 64% (2004)

Interesting, now for the CIA factbook

Languages:

Mandarin Chinese 12.44%, Spanish 4.85%, English 4.83%, Arabic 3.25%, Hindi 2.68%, Bengali 2.66%, Portuguese 2.62%, Russian 2.12%, Japanese 1.8%, Standard German 1.33%, Javanese 1.25% (2009 est.)
note: percents are for “first language” speakers only; the six UN languages – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian, and Spanish (Castilian) – are the mother tongue or second language of about half of the world’s population, and are the official languages in more than half the states in the world
Education Expenditures:
4.4% of GDP (2007)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.7%
male: 88.3%
female: 79.2%
note: over two-thirds of the world’s 793 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan); of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in three regions, the Arab states, South and West Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, where around one-third of the men and half of all women are illiterate (2005-09 est.)
Labor Force by Occupation
agriculture: 36.1%
industry: 21.5%
services: 42.4% (2007)
top ten – share of world trade: electrical machinery, including computers 14.8%; mineral fuels, including oil, coal, gas, and refined products 14.4%; nuclear reactors, boilers, and parts 14.2%; cars, trucks, and buses 8.9%; scientific and precision instruments 3.5%; plastics 3.4%; iron and steel 2.7%; organic chemicals 2.6%; pharmaceutical products 2.6%; diamonds, pearls, and precious stones 1.9%
Electricity Consumption
19.09 trillion kWh (2008 est.)
  • Interestingly enough, the expenditure for education is more than double the expenditure for the military. Of course there is quite a bit of corruption and padded budgets in both sectors, but it is interesting all the same.
  • The electricity consumption is quite curious. Here is electricity consumption ranked by country, with China, US and the EU in the top three. The EU is 3rd place, in spite of having roughly 190 million more people than the US inside of it’s borders. A lot of that is because of the energy austerity program the EU has undertaken, which raises prices significantly higher. This has caused much turmoil in industries that rely on a cheap, steady supply of power as the European dependence of renewable energy open’s them to rolling blackouts and higher than market average prices. The aging  of Europeans has created problems with their welfare systems as fewer young people are able to sustain it. The countries that form the backbone of the EU economy, like Germany, are baring most of the brunt of the aging.
  • The US has plenty of it’s own problems, which have generally been well documented and discussed elsewhere on the internet. The infrastructure is aging, it recently received a rating of D by the ASC and would cost an estimated 2.2 trillion to fix it. Roughly 50.4% of the births last year were to minorities, while the white births feel by about 10.1%.
  • Technology like artificial wombs offer some hope to combat the problem of falling birthrates that accompany increases in the standard of living and education. I also believe that getting rid of corruption, nihilism, and apathy will raise the birthrates. When people see regular examples of their culture’s decay and corruption, or are indoctrinated to believe that they are responsible for the majority of the worlds problems, they will not want to bring children into such a world. With the changes in the logic of economics, traditional gender roles have become irrelevant in some ways, societies that want to thrive must create new ones that accommodation the changing technological situation while still being true to human nature.

Future Trends – Smaller Cities, Decentralization, Toffler’s Third Wave

 (click to expand)

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.

– Bill Gates

Most analysis on the future, including the Ministry Of Defense’s Trends Out to 2040, take it for granted that cities will keep on growing.

With the advent of industrial technologies and modern medicine, urbanization became possible.

In the graph, the largest cities outside of Asia are listed from 1800-1802, even London would be considered rather small by modern standards. Why did they grow so large so quickly? The economy of scale for mass production favored heavy centralization. Fast Forward 200 years and New York City is home to 21 million people. London has about 12 million people in it’s borders.

The population density made it much easier for government to collect taxes: the positions of factories, the workers on the assembly line and the natural resources they need to produce products are fixed in place. Nearly all work was physical in nature, it’s existence can be proven or disproven. An illiterate idiot and a genius could sit side by side and both contribute the same amount of value on an assembly line. Labor Strikes were also highly effective because everything was fixed into position, you couldn’t simply move operations overseas if you didn’t like how operations were going in your host country.

However that has been slowly shifting over the past few decades. Value is increasingly based off of ideas, closely matching Toffler’s Third Wave Theory. The economy of scale for things like 3D Printing and scientific research heavily favor decentralization. Education is becoming location independent. Trends in warfare, namely 4th Generation Warfare & The Superempowered Individual favor decentralization as well. All of the economic incentives favor smaller, cohesive intelligent groups that can work together to build the things that they need. This is inherently at odds with nearly every analysis that has been made for the coming decades, even the peak oil theories which assume humans are no longer capable of innovation. This does not mean the death of hierarchy, simply that the incentives are heavily skewed towards human branching out and forming smaller more cohesive units.

Connectivity is possible via the internet, anything that can not be done over the internet is increasingly able to be produced and customized locally (and usually of higher quality than what the government/large corporation provides). We haven’t completely reached the point where the Nation-State is outdated however, but all of the trends point heavily in this direction. This will not be a move backwards to pastoral farm-life, at least not for the most talented who are able to use their knowledge to better themselves and their tribe. The tribes themselves may or may not be nomadic. Space also opens up a unique frontier that the two superpowers laid the foundation for many years ago. In the future it may become possible for cities and governments to rapidly form and dissolve as errors in their founding make them unworkable.

Though this may be marketed by populist leaders as hurting the developing world, the exact opposite is true for the most talented who invest in skills that cannot be automated. People from all over the world will be able to form together to work on projects, talent will no longer be hindered by incompetent bureaucratic organizations. The less skilled are likely to form groups based off of the affiliation of race, religion and extended family to take care of their problems.

In the mean time, approval ratings for Congress hovers at around 14%, and voter turn out for the national elections are only about 56%, in spite of all of the campaign promises and efforts of politicians to win votes. Finding someone who isn’t cynical about the current state of affairs is nearly impossible, apathy is now the norm. The default economic solution for the world’s only superpower is to print more money, the EU remains fractured and are forcing energy austerity on it’s member states. China is experiencing rapid growth, but there is reason to believe that the numbers are at least partially inflated by the government. In the US wages have remained stagnant while productivity has actually gone up. There is no shortage of people who are discontented with the status quo.

There is no easy solution in sight, every government in the world now seeks to control the free flow of information between it’s citizens. The US has CISPA (along with states like Tennessee going even further), China has it’s infamous Golden Shield and in the UK saying offensive things on the internet is illegal. But very little innovation comes from the government, that’s not the product that they sell to the public. It’s not surprising that they refuse to bend to our changing future. The question is, can we build something of value with the tools at hand?

Resource Limitations, The Ultimate Resource

According to Zimmermann, resources are not known, fixed things; they are what humans employ to service wants at a given time. Human “appraisal” turns the “neutral stuff” of the earth into resources. What are resources today may not be tomorrow, and vice versa.8

Zimmermann wrote:

Resources are highly dynamic functional concepts; they are not, they become, they evolve out of the triune interaction of nature, man, and culture, in which nature sets outer limits, but man and culture are largely responsible for the portion of physical totality that is made available for human use.9

Zimmermann concluded: “Knowledge is truly the mother of all resources.”10 Link

From the Coming Dark Age Newsletter:

On the other hand, the ultimate resource is something that itself
becomes scarce in a declining civilisation. Technological development
stagnates. People find that life is comfortable enough and they have no
motivation to change. Vested interests obstruct new discoveries that
might ruin their megabucks industries.
Even though it was an American that invented the transistor, for
instance, American companies declined to license the patent. That would
have meant throwing away their existing product lines, designing new
wares and retooling their manufacturing plants. They didn’t want to do
that.
So instead the transistor patent was licensed by the Tokyo
Telecommunications Engineering Company, which was starting from scratch
like the rest of post-war Japan. It produced the first transistor
radio, and in 1958 changed its name to the Sony Corporation. (This is
an example of the Phoenix Principle, by the way.)
It is for these reasons that our society will seem to run out of
resources. Future historians may say that western civilisation
collapsed because the oil was all used up. But the truth is that lack
of oil only became a problem because our society was already sick and
rotten. We didn’t create the opportunities that would have meant we
didn’t need to rely on oil any more.

Toffler’s Third Wave Theory

most people are culturally more skilled as analysts than synthesists

Book Review Of The Third Wave

Toffler’s three forms of power

Violence

The most basic form of power is violence, or physical forms of power. ‘Might is right’ is their watchword and it is close to the law of the jungle in operation.

The basic promise is ‘do as you are told and you won’t get hurt’.

Those who gain the power of violence do so by controlling the mechanisms of physical domination, from armies and police forces to the ownership of specific weapons.

Wealth

Money is a more flexible form of power than violence as it can be exchanged for pretty much anything you want, from goods to services of all kinds.

Money can be viewed as ‘stored time/action’: you work and are given money, then give the money to others to save time/action. The trick in acquiring wealth is to invest the money in ways that it provides a maximum return on investment.

Those who gain wealth do so largely through a superior ability (or sometimes luck) in investment, taking controlled risks and gaining disproportionate returns.

Knowledge

Knowledge is the ultimate form of power and can be used to acquire both wealth and violence, if applied in the right way. ‘Knowledge is power’ is a common saying that highlights this.

The evolution of power

Toffler indicates how violence was the basic power of the nobility in ancient times, where a powerful elite worked largely through domination that threatened violence to those who did not comply.

In the industrial revolution, violence gave way to wealth, as the merchant classes became more powerful and gained control of critical resources and channels.

Today, in the Third Wave, the power of knowledge is replacing commercial wealth as the primary source of power. If you have the right knowledge, you can get a lot done without recourse to money. Power is thus moving to the educated elite (and masses). The internet is a great leveller of power in this regard.

Interview With Avlin Toffler:

Toffler:


Yes, or attaining wealth, and we don’t know how, a hundred years from now, it’ll all be distributed. It’ll be changing all along, but it may well be that countries that are now poor become very rich – and including tiny ones like Finland or Ireland or whatever. So the point is that (wealth is) on the move; it’s not stable. Time, spatial and knowledge relationships are no longer fixed in place with a slow change. They’re rapidly changing.

….

We invented the word prosumer many years ago in my book The Third Wave. It’s a composite of production and consumption, obviously, and we argue that there was, prior to the invention of money, people who lived without money. Everybody was a prosumer, growing their own lunch, sewing their own clothes, building their own shack and so on. So it was a pre-monetary or a nonmonetary economy. However, more and more prosuming populations (moved over to) become part of the (consuming or) money system.

From a previous post titled You And Your Research:

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity – it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode’s remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done. I don’t like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.

Seasteading

The Seasteading Institute wishes to enable the creation of ocean city-states in order to advance humanity through innovative startup governments. We believe that competition in government will lead to better government for the whole planet. Governments are ultimately the stewards of institutions, which are more or less the “rules of the game.” Looking around the world, it is easy to see that some countries have better rules than others. Good or bad, however, rules can become entrenched in the absence of competition from new market entrants. Currently no new governments can peacefully enter the “governance market,” but with seasteading, experimentation with new rules is possible. Link

http://www.seasteading.org/research/engineering/

Preventive Priorities Survey: 2012

The Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) is intended to help inform the U.S. policy community about the relative urgency and importance of competing conflict prevention demands. The Center for Preventive Action asked a targeted group of government officials, academics, and experts to comment confidentially on a list of contingencies that could plausibly occur in 2012. Link

George Dyson – on the possibility of a Google Bank

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtijHwnAyqM

Also:

Although business is substantially more trusted than government, 49 percent of global respondents believe government does not regulate business enough. Nearly one-third want government to protect them from irresponsible business practices and one-quarter want regulation that will ensure responsible corporate behavior. “The interventions people are asking government to take are changes business can step up and implement on its own,” said Mr. Edelman.

Once again, banks and financial services declined in trust, and were the two least trusted sectors with France, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea recording the most severe drops. Technology remained the most trusted sector globally. Link

Screw Sustainability

Sustainability implies a worldview of a kindly and caring nature, a nature that’s easily raped by technology, industry, capitalism, and modernism. It implies a nature that will automatically protect rainforests, whales, and endangered species if we greedy modern humans rein in our consumerist lusts. If we get rid of our SUVs and of our industrial factories, this worldview tells us that nature will go back to the greenery and the reliability of some mythic good old days.

But that view of nature isn’t true. Nature is not the motherly protector. Nature is just the opposite. She tosses us curves and challenges our creativity. The challenge to create is what Mother Nature and her favorite game-evolution-are really all about. Which means we need a major worldview change.

Lesson number one is that the resources of this planet are almost endless. Bacteria are teaching us that there are new frontiers, new riches, and new feasts for those species that dare to defy nature and that dare to innovate.

Lesson number two is this. Nature does not shun megasocieties. She does not favor small tribes. She favors humongous social groups that network their information so well that they form a high-powered collective intelligence, a group brain. A bacterial colony the size of your palm is the norm in the microworld. And that small colony, that bacterial city, has roughly seven trillion citizens — more than all of the humans who have ever lived.

Bacterial lesson number three is one I’ve implied half a dozen times. It’s a very strange lesson to absorb. Nature rewards those who oppose her most. Let me repeat that: nature rewards those who oppose her most.

Link

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