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Comment Re:cyberwar isn't about nation-states! (Score 1) 123 123

Wikileaks uses the power of the internet to undermine authoritarian or non-transparent governments around the world. I'd say that qualifies it as one of the most powerful cyber-attack we've seen so far. As Julian Assange and Osama bin Laden understand, the war for your mind is by far the most important kind of warfare -- taking down infrastructure is pretty trivial by comparison. And neither of these guys is going to be deterred by treaties or hotlines!

Comment cyberwar isn't about nation-states! (Score 3, Insightful) 123 123

Schneier is assuming that in cyberwar the main actors are going to be nation-states. Look at Wikileaks; that's a form of cyberwarfare and I don't see how a hotline between the US president and the Chinese premier is going to help. We're entering a post-nation-state era, but Schneier sounds like he's using models from the 1960's.

Comment The Matrix vs. Nation-State War has begun! (Score 1) 833 833

This is not an attack on America, or "the international community", it is even bigger than that: it is a declaration of war on the nation-state itself. What we’re really watching here is the life and death struggle of the nation state vs. “the Matrix”. The war is heating up, and so far the Matrix seems to be winning pretty easily. If the Matrix can weather the global collapse of nation states, the world should look very different in a few decades. I’m imagining technologies like desktop manufacturing, “metacurrencies”, vertical farming, off-grid solar power and social networks allowing entirely new forms of human social organization to emerge. I'm sure the tech-savvy, "open source" readership of Slashdot can grasp the implications of all this, and will choose the winning side. The last piece of the puzzle that is still missing is an “open source religion”, which is a progressive, spiritual vision of where this is all taking us. I like to call my vision the “Eco-Matrix”, which I see as a more constructive alternative to the al Qaeda model. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but if enough people dream something it has a way of becoming a reality. I've written more about the Eco-Matrix here: http://thesingularitarian.blogspot.com/2010/11/imagining-eco-matrix.html

Comment Re:look up (Score 1) 738 738

Actually when you look up at the stars and notice that there is zero evidence for advanced civilizations (Dyson spheres and all that good stuff), then a reasonable conclusion is that all the technologically advanced civilizations killed themselves off or collapsed before they could get to that point. So looking up at the stars might be the biggest doomsday message of all, and you might just want to stay indoors...

Comment Re:Wow, this election should be interesting (Score 5, Interesting) 759 759

The simplest method of cleaning house in DC would be for millions of enraged citizens to simply surround the capital with pitchforks, firearms and signs reading "GTFO Now!" and give every politician 24 hours to evacuate. This is direct popular action that routes around media spin machines, the punditocracy, political engineering, voter fraud, etc. The old, tried and true methods of political action are still the best, imo.

Comment Pure Fantasy (Score 1) 262 262

Manned Mars mission by 2030? LOOOOL! Is this before or after the fusion-powered rocket cars? Folks, no one is going to Mars. Our life and civilization-support systems are failing rather badly on this lush blue planet and people think we’re going to go live in a dead, brutally harsh place like Mars? Think again... I agree with the poster who suggested we try colonizing Antarctica first -- it’s orders of magnitude cheaper and easier. Manned spaceflight will remain science fiction for the foreseeable future because the economic justification isn’t there -- no one can afford it. Pull your heads out of your video-game fantasy worlds kids, we’re much more likely to be living in a Mad Max Dark Age in 2030 than on Mars!

Comment Re:Best way to avoid a dark age... (Score 1) 287 287

Tell that to the Romans. Another dark age is definitely coming (in fact it's probably already started), but it ain't gonna be the fault of religion any more than it was in the past. I suggest you study some more history if you think religion causes dark ages. Here's a good place to start: http://www.darkage.fsnet.co.uk/Manuscript/The%20Coming%20Dark%20Age.pdf

Comment Another Sign of the Times (Score 2, Insightful) 194 194

Fellow Slashdotters, I hope is becoming abundantly clear by now that an age is ending; the great 20th century scientific projects are fading into history, and the 21st century will require us to dramatically lower our expectations for scientific civilization. What exactly is the payoff for the LHC anyway? In what way does it inspire society at large or contribute anything useful? It’s very strange to be living through the collapse of your own civilization, but with each passing day it becomes more and more clear to me that that’s what is happening. It looks to me like our resources are going to be funneled increasingly toward the military as we struggle to maintain what we already have, instead of pursuing inspirational projects that ordinary people can understand. A sad time to be alive for those of us who grew up with bigger dreams, but maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

Comment Dune as modern Islamist parable (Score 1) 589 589

Isn’t Dune an interesting parable for our time – religious, desert-dwelling tribesmen rebel against an Empire that is extracting their precious resources, and are led in their jihad by the Mahdi. Will Hollywood really want to make a movie in which al Qaeda are the good guys? Granted, Avatar painted all of industrial civilization as the bad guy, but this still might be a bit of a stretch

Comment Re:might *does* make right (Score 1) 217 217

My theory is that we’re moving into a post-progressive, negative sum, Malthusian paradigm, and China is way ahead of the curve. The neoliberal notion that the U.S. has some supreme model of socioeconomic organization that will inevitably spread to the entire world is looking more and more delusional to me. China plays hardball because they’re smart; the West is led by people like Obama and Clinton who try to be the “good guys”, which the rest of the world interprets as weakness. We’ll eventually wake up when things really start to go downhill and competition for the planet’s remaining resources becomes a matter of survival. That’s when the peaceful acceptance of China’s rise will end, and World War III will begin. Unless one side collapses like the U.S.S.R. did, I see this outcome as almost inevitable.

Comment Re:Morally good, but long term bad? (Score 1) 477 477

LOOOOL yes industrialization is the answer! This glorious form of civilization that is destroying the ecosystems we depend on for life must be spread to every corner of the globe! We must turn the planet into a landfill faster! We must burn more fossil fuels, spew more CO2, raze more forests, kill more sea life, deplete more soil and aquifers, and poison the oceans faster! Who still finds this kind of thinking rational? Does anyone really think this will end well? Are you expecting techno-miracles? Let's recall the wise words of that stone age primitive, Chief Seattle, who experienced the full glory of industrialization in a land where people had lived for more than ten thousand years without it:

"But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. Your destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say good bye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival...."

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 477 477

Excuse me sir, but despite your rhetoric, the Western do-gooder imperative to save lives is exactly why there are so many ecological and humanitarian disaster areas on this planet . Antibiotics, agricultural revolutions and global capitalism do not magically produce sustainable, modern cultures -- more often than not, it destroys them. When was the last time you visited Port au Prince or Bangladesh? Simply creating more humans is not an ethical imperative any longer; our planet is in rather obvious overshoot, and the idea of letting more people onto the lifeboat until we all drown is insane. The idea that we will be able to life billions of people in the third world to a Western standard of living in the face of climate change, ecocide, resource depletion, etc. seems rather fanciful. If this is your hope, all I can say is, I hope you have a plan B. If you want to know where this is probably headed, study the history of Easter Island and extrapolate to a global scale. If someone really wants to be a hero, a clever molecular biologist needs to find a way to humanely reduce the global population back to a sustainable level. It's either that or uncontrolled die-off, imo.

Comment Re:Solar powered nanotechnology paint cars.. (Score 1) 254 254

It's not an either/or proposition. I'm visualizing Ray Kurzweil in a flying nano-car smirking as the spears of the cannibal gangs below ricochet harmlessly off the vehicle's unobtainium chassis -- a minor amusement en route to his daily nanobot transfusion and the Singularity conference later that evening.

Comment Re:What "exponential change? (Score 1) 254 254

Now here's someone who gets it. It's hardly coincidental that science fiction really took off in the 1950's and 1960's, during an era of tremendous material progress and optimism fueled by abundant cheap energy. The science fiction that will probably turn out to be most prescient for the times ahead isn't Heinlein, Clarke or Asimov, but dystopian novels like these:

The Drowned World, by J.G. Ballard: in the late 21st century the ice caps have melted, iguanas and alligators inhabit a drowned London and humanity has retreated toward the poles. Kind of a dull story that reads like a post-apocalypse Heart of Darkness, but very visionary considering it was written in 1962.

Wolf and Iron, by Gordon R. Dickson: A man and a wolf band together to survive in an America devastated by financial collapse.

Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart: civilization is destroyed by a plague, and humans have reverted to tribes that survive by scavenging from the old civilization or Paleolithic-style hunter-gathering.

The Sheep Look Up, by John Brunner: set in a corporate-controlled U.S. with a devastated environment. William Gibson said of this novel: "No one except possibly the late John Brunner, in his brilliant novel 'The Sheep Look Up', has ever described anything in science fiction that is remotely like the reality of 2007 as we know it."

To the commenter below who accused you of being Malthusian: anyone who thinks that on a planet with an exploding population of nearly 7 billion people (compared to say 1.5 billion in 1890), supported by ecosystems and climate that are in disarray, new technology can prevent a large die-off is, shall we say, optimistic.

In general, I agree that SF serves a useful function by imagining the dark side of technological progress, which in our present situation seems much more prophetic than the more sterile, utopian visions of more celebrated authors.

Comment Re:Welcome to the last Days of The United States . (Score 1) 131 131

This is absolutely correct. There are so many parallels between the U.S. now and the U.S.S.R. in the 1980's it's scary. We are a rapidly failing state, and now we have our Gorbachev. We peaked around the Apollo moon landing, and it's been all downhill from there -- the space program is a great barometer of the state of our nation. Oh well, it was a nice dream, now it's about to turn into a nightmare.

Sometimes, too long is too long. - Joe Crowe

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