This video is from Eclectic Method and is a terrific melange of views of the future.
Watch full-screen in HD for best effect. BTW, you might also like their remix of the debate last week.
Pursuing insight, I spent a couple of days at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University in England. I called the woman I’d been told was the most farsighted person at FEMA. I talked to any self-identifying and not instantly, obviously insane futurologist who’d answer a query—Bill Lilly at the New School for Human Advancement was especially accommodating. I spoke with someone at the Vatican. The Vatican actually has a future expert, essentially a house Book of Revelation wonk. In short, I want you to know that I tried and tried, for months, to write about something other than what I’ve ended up writing on here, a tangent that came up early in the research but immediately screamed career killer and was repeatedly shunted aside by this reporter in favor of things like out-of-control nanotechnology of the near future (which, you’ll be delighted to hear, is something they’re fairly concerned about at the Future of Humanity Institute). But as I tried every way I knew to find some legitimate half-truths about the future for you to read about on your flight to Dallas or wherever your loved ones live—and I do suggest that you visit them soon, as in this year, I really do—the problem became that people who make a profession of thinking seriously about the future won’t really tell you anything that isn’t cautious, hedged, and quadruple-qualified, because, as I came slowly to comprehend and deal with, no one knows what’s going to happen in the future.
My surprise at this pretty obvious-seeming realization showed me the extent to which, thanks to Hollywood or my own paranoia or whatever, I’d unconsciously internalized a belief in the existence of some guy, some prematurely middle-aged guy, either Jewish or Asian (or, in the comedy version I sometimes screen internally, Irish), who sits in a room in the bowels of some governmental building and actually knows what’s going to happen in the future, whose mutterings need to be heeded, whose moods must be tracked with concern if not alarm, and whose very existence is a cause all over the world of slight, constant anxiety, and properly so. Is this a dying spasm of the religion gene? Probably. All I know is that it came as a great liberation to me, having this creature expunged from my imagination, with his alert levels and his survival kits and all his total crap that he goes on about while with the left hand building nukes and starting wars. I reminded myself that incessant potential catastrophe is the human condition, is in fact the price of possessing consciousness, and I determined to live with greater ease from now on, and not to let anyone scare me about the future, because the truth is, the worst thing that could ever happen to you is death, and that’s going to happen despite all your worry and effort, so it’s simply irrational not to say fuck it. I’m not saying start chain-smoking cloves and having unprotected sex with seaport trannie bar girls, though neither am I saying to abjure those things if they’re what make you feel most alive. I’m just saying, take courage. That and pretty much that alone is never the incorrect thing to do. And these thoughts were so edifying to me, and I really looked forward to sharing them with you, hoping they might lighten your load along the road.
Then I was introduced to a person called Marcus Livengood.
Good day, sunshine.
– John Jeremiah Sullivan, in his essay Violence of the Lambs in GQ. The essay is terrific and I encourage you to read the piece. A wonderful collection of his essays, including this one, is available in a new book entitled Pulphead: Essays.
It is often difficult to predict the future of technology. It is so difficult that most technology predictions end up looking silly. For example, I am still waiting for the arrival of widespread flying cars that we were supposed to have some time ago.
But here are some pretty good ones that were included in AT&T TV ads from 1993. (Note: These are narrated by Tom Selleck and directed by David Fincher, the director of The Social Network.) (via Mashable)
Alfred McCoy, writing in The Nation, outlines for chillingly plausible (likely?) ends for the American empire. All of which could occur by the 2020′s. By the way, none of them involve terrorists.
It’s a long piece but worth a full read.
Viewed historically, the question is not whether the United States will lose its unchallenged global power, but just how precipitous and wrenching the decline will be. In place of Washington’s wishful thinking, let’s use the National Intelligence Council’s own futuristic methodology to suggest four realistic scenarios for how, whether with a bang or a whimper, US global power could reach its end in the 2020s (along with four accompanying assessments of just where we are today). The future scenarios include: economic decline, oil shock, military misadventure, and World War III. While these are hardly the only possibilities when it comes to American decline or even collapse, they offer a window into an onrushing future.
If you have never heard of the sinularity, you are in for a surprise. The concept is that humans, in the near future, will either become or create super-intelligent beings, biological or technical. Once this happens, humans as currently understood will not have the mental ability to even understand what these beings are doing and will become, essentially, lower level animals. It may happen so quickly that most (or all) people don’t even know that it is approaching. On first hearing, this may sound crazy, but some very smart people believe it will happen.