inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #126 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 10 Jan 17 08:33
    
Each team followed the Toolkit process, which includes four steps:
* Investigate (understand the context of change/challenges)
* Re-think (make foundational assumptions explicit)
* Design (create systemic responses or solutions)
* Prototype (build, test, improve designs)

The deliverable for each team is a pitch that has five parts:
* State the name you've given  your team, your guiding value, two
"truths" about the culture relative to the value you're considering,
and a challenge/complaint you addressed.
* A response or solution to the challenge or complaint.
* How it would work.
* How it might fail.
* What could we do today to make this vision happen?
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #127 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 10 Jan 17 08:34
    
I worked on the balance team. We called ourselves the
"Teeter-Totters," an acknowledgement that balance is hard, that
weights shift from one side to another. This has an impact on
governance, and in a context where balance is valued, the challenge
is to make informed decisions given the constant shifting from one
side to another. For instance, in Austin you have new urbanization
vs neighborhood groups, or developers vs no-growth
environmentalists. The best solutions for the city would require a
degree of compromise or balance, how do you achieve that?

Austin has a City Council with ten members, each representing a
geographical district, and constituencies that are diverse. This is
relatively new; before, Council members were elected at-large and
most of them represented West Austin neighborhoods - an inherent
imbalance, but less potentially chaotic than than the more chaotic
system of representation we have - which is better because it is
more democratic, more inclusive, but it also carries the challenge
of finding solutions and making decisions with diverse perspectives
represented - how can you bring those together?  Another issue is
that most members of the Council, as with any governing body, have
limited expertise - they may be making decisions about issues they
don't completely understand.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #128 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 10 Jan 17 08:34
    
Our solution: augment council governance with a mandated delegative
process. Significant decisions would be delegated to groups of
citizens selected for their expertise, and they would decide the
solution, or at least provide informed support.

Potential failure points: the process could be unwieldy, and could
take too much time where urgent solutions are required. 

How to make this happen? We'd have to present it to the Council, and
before that, we should seek champions at City Hall, hopefully
including the mayor and his staff. 

That hopefully gives a sense of the process. We could no doubt use
more of this kind of brain wrangling, especially if we can follow it
with effective process to create innovative governance models.  And
I agree that innovation at the city level is the most practical and
likely to succeed. Governance at scale is difficult, which is why
our current system separates State power from Federal power in the
USA. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States'_rights] It's
controversial, of course, where the lines should be drawn.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #129 of 198: Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 10 Jan 17 12:24
    

i dunno, jon, always debbie downer here. i commend you to gray brechin's
'imperial san francisco' (among other things, about the global resource and
trade dependencies of great cities) and remind you what the US was like
during the yrs of the articles of confederation and that blue-state nyc gets
its water from red-state upstate ny.

resources, interdependence, and trade --- hard messy non-theoretical devil-
is-in-the-details operational constraints.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #130 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 10 Jan 17 13:05
    
One week down and one week still to go!!!

For those of you reading this from the WWW please address your
questions, comments, etc to inkwell@well.com and we will post them
for you here.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #131 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 10 Jan 17 14:25
    
<loris>: I'm not necessarily advocating, and I don't think Jake was,
either. There are lots of possibilities. Just prior to the meetup,
Jake posted this link to the event page on Facebook:
http://io9.gizmodo.com/12-futuristic-forms-of-government-that-could-one-day-ru
-1589833046 That's a dozen possible future approaches to government. As Jake pointed out, we're well into #11, "Dark enlightenment." 

"If a band of wingnut anarcho-capitalists get their way, we'll take
one step forward by overthrowing liberal democracy — and then take
two steps back by re-instating a monarchist or authoritarian
system."

Actually referring not to Trump, but to the "Neoreactionary
Movement": http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Neoreactionary_movement

"Hostility to modernity and democracy is the main point of agreement
among neoreactionaries. Moldbug writes that 'a reactionary is a
believer in order, stability, and security. All of which he treats
as synonyms ... Thus, the order that the rational reactionary seeks
to preserve and/or restore is arbitrary. Perhaps it can be justified
on some moral basis. But probably not. It is good simply because it
is order, and the alternative to order is violence at worst and
politics at best. If the Bourbons do not rule France, someone will –
Robespierre, or Napoleon, or Corner Man.'"
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #132 of 198: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Tue 10 Jan 17 20:29
    
From Stefan Jones, via email:

RE science fiction and The Singularity:

Twenty years ago this spring I was between the grind of grad school
and the grind of a new career. I was reveling in the free time and
the heady Dot Com Boom zeitgeist. Spent the time writing game
material, contributing the bruces' Dead Media Project, reading WIRED
and mainlining the still-young Web as best I could via Dial-Up. And
I went, for what would be the last time, to the campus SF convention
I used to help run. They managed to snag Vernor Vinge as GOH.
Another alumni board member and I had great fun BSing with him in
the green room.

The next day there was a panel talk about The Singularity. Besides
Vinge, and another guest I've forgotten, we had Frederik Pohl. He
wrote what was arguably the first SF story to hint at the
Singularity, the dizzying "Day Million," a snarky story about a
metal-skinned cyborg and a prenatally transgendered otter-woman who
meet, fall in love, and then part ways never to see each other again
but not before trading profiles so they can boff in VR.

Pohl asked, before the panel begun, "what IS this Singularity
thing?"

I explained it.

His reaction -- close paraphrasing:

"What a load of *crap*. Let me tell you what's going to happen.
We're going to be stuck on this planet. We're going to run the
environment and deplete the resources, and the survivors will
bitterly regret it and despise us for letting it happen."

Man, what THAT profoundly uncomfortable, with Vinge sitting five
feet away.

But man . . . Pohl had, by this time, seen plenty of stupid faddish
shit run through the SF community. Technocracy, Dianetics, Psionics,
L-5 colonies. You had to take that kind of perspective seriously.

Stefan Jones
sej@aol.com
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #133 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 00:49
    
Italy now suffering a quite strange cyberintrusion scandal where
some unknown Italian technician, who seems to be a modest
middle-class Roman engineer, Mason and real estate speculator, got
his hands on a "Remote Access Tool" called "EyePyramid." He then
proceeded to deftly spearphish almost all the top people in the
Italian government.  He's been reading their email since 2008,
apparently.

And so has his big sister, who apparently was in on this
individual's weird surveillance hobby.

There's about a hundred centipede shoes left to drop in the scandal
here.  Why did he do it?  Was he working for anybody else?  Is he a
spy, a crook, what?   What gives with the Masonic angle (because
Masonic conspiracy groups are actually quite big in Italy -- the
"P2" Masonic cell of Licio Gelli was a huge, corrupt, and very
successful favor-trading racket). 

What benefit did he get from reading the email of  all these
bureaucrats (including the mayor of Turin, by the way) for ten solid
years?  He's in jail now, but what are they gonna do to him?  Etc
etc

If this reminds me of any other modern scandal, it's "Silk Road,"
where the incredible mastermind of a vast dark net Bitcoin narcotics
empire turns out to be a Texan solar-power engineer hiding out under
fake ID in a modest Californian apartment.  Signor Occhionero
("Black Eye," "Eye of Pyramid," there seems to be some continuity
here) may never see daylight again for an act so vast and daring,
but you have to wonder about a modern technological situation that
affords that kind of behavior.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #134 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 00:56
    
"Guccifer2.0" is likely a guy like Mr Occhionero.  The CIA likes to
pretend that he's been FSB all along, but I don't think he was. 
Guccifer1 was almost as hairy a hacker as Guccifer2, and obviously
he wasn't a Russian intelligence asset, he was a Rumanian taxi
driver.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guccifer

It wouldn't surprise me much if the FSB knows who Guccifer 2.0 is
and is reading his email.  Anybody can get spearphished.  

If you're a modern spymaster, what would you rather do -- bribe a
guy to become your secret agent, or just know everything that he's
doing with his Android and his Windows machine?  If you don't own
him, well, you can't give him assignments and orders, but if you
pown him, wow, that's sort of great.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #135 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 02:35
    


From: Matt DeCata (dekeita) Tue 10 Jan 2017 (01:37 AM)

"Dear Bruce and The Well Community,

"First let me say, that this site seems rather archaic, which I
imagine is because it's slightly older then I am."

*The WELL is flat-out archaic, actually.  The horseshoe crab of
digital media.  God bless 'em.

"But nonetheless I ended up here, as a millennial, of course through
a series of
youtube videos that lead to me reading the transcript from your 2010
talk on our current "atemporal" era. I found this interesting for
two reasons. One, because obviously I agree with you. And secondly
because you offered the prediction that it would only last 10 years
or so."

*Yeah, I think the Trump election probably put-paid to that
atemporal sensibility I was describing in speeches at art fairs. 
We're entering a different cultural mini-era now.  Instead of being
"atemporal," meaning "without a proper time or a sense of temporal
progress" it's more like "post-all-forms-of-truth." But you can see
pretty easily how the one sensibility emerged from the other.


"As it happens, I know what comes next. The era of consilience.
Marked by the unification of our spheres of knowledge."


*Y'know, Matt, I have the warmest possible feelings for this kind of
metaphysical handwaving.  Consilience, not a new idea for me.  I
even did a sci-fi story about ten years ago, where a character does
some modest consilience-riffing about the nature of ultimate
reality.  "Black Swan," it's called.

http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2016/03/02/starshipsofa-no-425-bruce-sterling
/
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #136 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 02:35
    

*With that said, I don't think your own personal consilience
riffing, about the underlying basic unity of physics, information,
life etc, is gonna get a lot of cultural legs in the next few years.
Why? Because, it's a cool brainy scifi idea among a million cool
scifi ideas.  It's not an actual cultural way of life.  You haven't
personified your idea.  You haven't identified it with a region or
some particular avant-garde of lived experience.

*Whereas the avant-garde of atemporality are pretty clear.  They're
Russian "hybrid warriors" in the Ukraine who are effectively
battling Ukrainians, and the European Union, by simply making up
imaginary Russian countries using Russian-language social media,
arms smuggling, and just fantastic billows of weaponized bullshit.  

*They've got a political message, but it's a very OODA-loop kind of
message.  "Are we the past?  Are we the Future?  Are we
antifascists, or Czarist costume players, or Russian Orthodox
religious crusaders, or secretly Communists?  Or are we regional
patriots, imperialists, Ukrainian blood and soil racists, the
Russian Lafayette Escadrille of Global Freedom From Capitalism? Are
we a floor wax, a desert topping, a ghost battalion, are we tools of
the FSB all along?  Etc. In an "atemporal" situation you want to
cultivate the ability to generate and shed those identities really
fast.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #137 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 02:36
    

*These are the culture heroes who've had the wind at their back
recently.  For a while.  In 2017, though, they're like a pack of
coyotes who caught a taxi four or five years ago. 

*Now they have to deal with the upshot of their victor.   Okay,
chameleon warlords -- you're gonna get away with your depredation.
NATO, Europe, the Trump regime, they won't lift a hand against you. 
So how are you gonna put food on the table and repair the potholes? 
Can the people of Donbass eat your crowdsourced velcro badges for a
living?  What kind of lived experience does your leadership actually
offer?

"Repeal, and Replace With Bullshit."   I'm thinking this is already
the bumper-sticker stuck to the Trump Administration, too.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #138 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 02:37
    

*This too will pass, though.  I'm thinking it's indeed possible for
some knowledge-unifying "consilience" to emerge out of these
contemporary mists of deliberate confusion.  That could happen. 
But, given people's demonstrated behavior worldwide, I have to doubt
it will be rational and scientific in its basis.  It won't be made
up by American techie guys who have a coder, engineering,
solutionist mindset.

*No, it looks to me like we're entering a rather mystical Ghost
Dance and Witch-Hunt era, the kind of cultural circumstances where a
new world religion might arise.  The Middle East is in such a
starkly dreadful condition now that maybe they'll find it in their
bowels, once again, to invent something huge and unheard-of.  The
proverbial Yeatsian dark beast to shamble toward Bethlehem.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #139 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 11 Jan 17 03:50
    
*I know that a brother-sister pair of Masons spying on the
government of Italy sounds like something out of bonkers Illuminati
paranoia, but, well, my working conjecture is that they just liked
to do it 'cause they could.

https://apnews.com/f4819bd348544ca19e070d1251a8c1fc

*They seem to have been a tad careless with their servers, so
imagine somebody just stumbling over and archive of everything they
grabbed and Wikileaking all that.  Why wouldn't they?
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #140 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 11 Jan 17 15:07
    
I do like that term "architrope," though I have a bit of difficulty
aligning the root words with the "transitional space" definition.
The concept made me think of the TAZ (temporary autonomous zone):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporary_Autonomous_Zone I have that
book in hand at the moment, subtitled "Ontological anarchy, poetic
terrorism."  Hakim Bey, aka Peter Lamborn Wilson, describes the TAZ
as a conscious radical tactic, and says that "the apparatus of
Control - the 'State' - must... continue to deliquesce and petrify
simultaneously, must progress on its present course in which
hysterical rigidity comes more and more to mask a vacuity, an abyss
of power. As power 'disappears,' our will to power must be
disappearance."

As Wikipedia says at that link, "The book describes the
socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude
formal structures of control." Burning Man was/is a TAZ, no doubt
the best known and largest realization of the concept.

You can read the book here: https://hermetic.com/bey/taz_cont

Transitional spaces and autonomous zones could probably be essential
contexts for a re-imagining of the human project; where else is this
sort of thing happening? Is Casa Jasmina a current or potential TAZ?
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #141 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 12 Jan 17 02:10
    
https://www.dni.gov/files/images/globalTrends/documents/GT-Main-Report.pdf

*Well, here's the latest trendspotting pitch from the USA's
intelligence directorate: "Global Trends: Paradox of Progress."

*I tend to read these public spook reports.  I've even come to
almost enjoy their inside-the-Beltway mandarin prose style.

*There's one thing you can always depend on in these intelligence
reports: the American intelligence community itself is never a
hazard to American national security.  Obviously they've screwed up
a whole lot lately, but they never put their own disastrous
misjudgments front and center.  No they always cling to their
ambience of being clear-headed and objectively on-top-of-things,
even though, in a lot of ways, the world's second-oldest profession
has a lot of the same institutional problems as newspapers and news
magazines.  The spooks used to be in a situation where they knew
almost everything unfit to print, but now, even though they're still
fact-oriented, they have far less institutional credibility and
clearly just don't understand what's going on.

*There's a distinct air of institutional defeat in this particularly
report.  It's as if the American intelligence agencies were all
brothers of Andrei Karlov, aware that they may be shot in the back
in an art gallery, and slowly coming to the realization that nobody
will gonna miss 'em all that much.   With Trump elected, "their
idols are dead and their enemies are in power."  The year 2017 is
gonna be a dismal time to be an American spy.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #142 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 12 Jan 17 02:11
    

*On its largest scale, this report describes "Old big in big cities
afraid of the sky," which is what the world of the mid 2iC is pretty
much bound to look like, short of a huge black swan such as nuclear
war, climate collapse, mass epidemics, or the always-popular
Screaming Meteor of Death.

*But the authors also cook up three rather entertaining futurist
scenarios, "Islands," "Orbits" and "Communities."  Meaning
disintegrative nationalism, regional power-blocs, and maybe new
global-scale agreements.

*They're not bad as scenarios go.  Probably, as with most scenarios,
all three of them ail happen at once.  

If you're and footloose, you're gonna live in "Communities:" only
it's an elite community, something like Davos plus Panama money
laundries.   

If you're getting by, you're in "Orbits," where you're grateful for
a flag, health insurance and a mortgage.

Lastly, if you're in a frozen conflict zone, a hot war, a state
under economic sanctions or any luckless place that even smells like
Muslim belt-bombs, you're an inhabitant of "Islands."
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #143 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 12 Jan 17 03:04
    
    
http://csi.asu.edu/imaginary-college/

Thinking along the lines of some of your comments above
Bruce...how's ASU's Imaginary College going? A great idea, is it
working?
  
*They're doing okay in their science-fiction/scholastic activities
Arizona State University, or they were last time I checked.  

*I wrote a story for one of their fiction collections.  An
interesting set of conceptual problems there.

http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/story/tall-tower/
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #144 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 12 Jan 17 03:07
    
The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, hosted at
University of California San Diego, is also going gangbusters along
that line.  Here's a new anthology they sponsored, edited by David
Brin, which features original fiction by me and also William Gibson,
among other glittering genre luminaries.

http://www.davidbrin.com/chasing.html

By the way, the year 2017 is the centenary of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. 
The first science fiction writer I ever met personally.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #145 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 12 Jan 17 04:24
    
Conclusion of this year's Global Risks Report from WEF:
(http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GRR17_Report_web.pdf)

"The 12th edition of The Global Risks
Report is published at a time when
deep-rooted social and economic
trends are manifesting themselves
increasingly disruptively across the
world. Persistent inequality, particularly
in the context of comparative global
economic weakness, risks
undermining the legitimacy of market
capitalism. At the same time,
deepening social and cultural
polarization risks impairing national
decision-making processes and
obstructing vital global collaboration. 

Technology continues to offer us the
hope of solutions to many of the
problems we face. But the pace of
technological change is also having
unsettling effects: these range from
disrupting labour markets through
automation to exacerbating political
divisions by encouraging the creation
of rigid communities of like-minded
citizens. We need to become better at
managing technological change, and
we need to do it quickly

Above all, we must redouble our efforts
to protect and strengthen our systems
of global collaboration. Nowhere is this
more urgent than in relation to the
environment, where important strides
have been made in the past year but
where much more remains to be done.
This is a febrile time for the world. We
face important risks, but also
opportunities to take stock and to work
together to find new solutions to our
shared problems. More than ever, this
is a time for all stakeholders to
recognize the role they can play by
exercising responsible and responsive
leadership on global risks"

Lovely collection of colorful inforgraphics, but nothing new. Same
old, same old. Only thing for sure, as Leon Russell might sing ...
there's going to be a shootout on the Plantation.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #146 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 12 Jan 17 05:11
    
It's a precarious world out there, especially for the proletariat.
So they get a new word 'precariat'. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precariat
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #147 of 198: Matt DeCata (dekeita) Thu 12 Jan 17 07:22
    
@jon I asked a friend to come up with a single word for the "edge of
chaos" And he suggested "archichaos" archi meaning the beginning, I
believe, but it also has a connotation or use as meaning like "the
master of". But I changed it to architropy, to align with entropy.
And then noticed there was some usage of architrope in a similar way
so it seemed right.

@bruce Thanks for the input. Of course, yah consilience isn't a new
idea. I spend a lot of time wondering if im ever saying anything
even slightly original. And then if not why what I'm saying isn't
already in use to address problems like economics. But of course
that process is itself a reflection of architropy. I mean I couldn't
possibly ever say something meaningful wholly disconnected from the
history of the English language, science, etc. But the exact order
that words, and concepts, etc are used makes a difference.

I'm going to have to think a lot about your comments on
"personifying the idea" though. Because of course I write from the
perspective of an American techy, I'm not saying my perspective is
solely right, just that it is consistent with a broader and more
complete view. So I give a solutionist view to questions asking for
solutions.

But lately I'm much more interested in the art of it all, and that's
something I want to explore.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #148 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 12 Jan 17 07:58
    
http://callingbullshit.org/syllabus.html
Introduction to bullshit
Spotting bullshit
The natural ecology of bullshit
Causality
Statistical traps
Visualization
Big data
Publication bias
Predatory publishing and scientific misconduct
The ethics of calling bullshit.
Fake news

'bout covers it
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #149 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 12 Jan 17 11:11
    
Someone had to quip this well before me:

Welcome to the post-truth world; if you post it, it must be true.
https://www.facebook.com/ted.c.newcomb/posts/1205604269526685?notif_t=like&not
if_id=1484229466124728
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #150 of 198: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 12 Jan 17 11:24
    
nyer cartoon about the importance of a miminimalist home aesthetic
at the end of the world:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-life-changing-magic-of-declu
ttering-in-a-post-apocalyptic-world
  

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