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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

I'm blaming autopope for this question.

Since I stayed up too late last night reading Accelerando on DayQuil.

What do you suppose the next economic/social revolution after the information age would be? (Or, if you like the reputation economy (which on some level we've been working on for millennia, but that's a whole 'nother sailing ship) what's the next one after that?)


And if you were a Utopian, how would you get around the Marching Morons problem? (This being the economic burden of the people who don't make it through the revolution with prospects.) What about power sources, ecological impacts, social power dynamics, ideologies colliding? If you want a singularity, how do you pay for it?

(These aren't quibbles with Charlie's worldbuilding, I should say. It's more a testament to his abilities as a futurist that he's got me pondering what I'm pondering. Also, I'm in worldbuilding mode, which means I jam a lot of material into my brain and shuffle it around until a society emerges.)

I have a theory or three, but it's something I'm using in Undertow, and I don't have the implications completely worked out yet--also, I don't want to queer the data, so I'll keep it to myself for now. *g*

(I'm glad I am reading (or re-reading; I've read some of the individual stories before, but not the whole cycle together) this now; along with the Mark Budz books and some other stuff, it's reminding me of a list of things I have to be careful not to rip off from Charlie and Mark. *g*)

Anyway, Charlie is making my brain feel engaged. Which is good, because my intellectual level for the last two days has been sitting in front of the TV watching Mythbusters and Iron Chef America marathons. (Ming Tsai kicked Bobby Flay's ass. I am complete.) And that starts to make me feel pretty sluggish after a while.


No useful thoughts, just wanted to say Stross wrote two of the most exciting books I read this year, and I haven't even gotten around to Accelerando yet. (Though I read random hunks of that in its original appearences in Asimov's.)

That, and I'm very disappointed that I missed the Iron Chef marathon.
I am left with the unfortunate assessment that poor Bobby Flay is sort of the "Would you like to beat up my Klingon?" of Iron Chef America. *g*
Genetics. Designing your body and your kids to look exactly the way you want them to be. I'm sort of glad I probably won't be around for that bit of our history as I imagine those years will make what Kress dreamed up in her Beggers books a virtual utopia in comparison
The end of scarcity.
Yeah, figure the odds.

Actually, a couple of pandemics should handle it.
Biotechnology will be the next revolution after the computer/technology/information age. It's starting already.
That's a scientific revolution, not an economy. Different question. *g*

But you're right.
Hey, Mythbusters is great! (At least, the English-English overdubbed version we get over here -- they don't dub out Jamie and Oliver, just the presenter, I should add.)

My gut feeling is that our definition of "valuable" is a movable feast. Once you climb the Maslow hierarchy high enough that the basics of survival are taken care of, a lot of the other stuff isn't to do with physical comfort but with social comfort.

A while ago the social services in the UK stopped evaluating people for poverty in terms of whether they can afford to eat (because virtually everybody can) or get medical treatment (see also: National Health Service) or housing, and switched to using involuntary social exclusion as a defining characteristic of poverty. For example, if everyone else is discussing the latest episode of some soap opera, and you can't participate because you can't afford a TV set, then you're suffering from social exclusion due to poverty (as opposed to social exclusion by not being interested in soap opera, which is voluntary).

Now, let us postulate a society in which the basics are all effectively free. A society in which even stuff which is treated as luxuries today is effectively free. (An iPod is a jukebox. How many of us could afford our own personal jukebox back in the 1960s? And how long until they're giving away MP3 players in cereal packets? Plot the deflationary curve ...) But despite the free goodies, some forms of scarcity simply don't go away. Scarcity of attention, for example: if you're a storyteller and nobody will listen to you, you're a poor storyteller. We only have 168 hours in a week, and we're only able to use a few of them for paying attention to other people. So attention is scarce, and ... hell, we've got this already: it's why spam is so annoying!

So. We've got limited amounts of attention to spend on things, and lots of people competing for our attention. Sounds like attention time is a viable unit for evaluating or purchasing stuff, doesn't it?

Another possibility is: we just junk the whole idea of exchange-based economics and try something else. (Not sure what right now. My brain's fried -- too much proofreading, and besides, I downloaded all that shit into "Accelerando" while I was writing it and now I've got other stuff to fill my brain with.)
I downloaded all that shit into "Accelerando" while I was writing it and now I've got other stuff to fill my brain with.

Hah! I do this too! It's kind of frustrating in a way, especially when people ask you questions about it later, and it's like... cache cleared, sorry, don't have that in here anymore.

The lack of an exchange-based economy is one of the things I'm playing with. I'm wondering how it would work, in other than a Roddenberry-style economic-Utopia-by-fiat. (The first thing we do, let's hang all the capitalists.)

I'm also into pondering attention, and more, manipulation of perception and attention and quantum entanglement. The trick is going to be writing about it in any sort of accessible way, when I can barely wrap my brain around what I'm thinking about.

And, of course, not ripping you and Cory off in the process. *g*

I'm not sure why, but I have a feeling the next revolution may be in regards to free-thinking. Perhaps as an off-shoot of the information age, I think we'll see the eventual collapse of the people-for-the-government atmosphere that's been building, and a return to government-for-the-people. Organizations like religions and political parties will start to lose influence (though they'll fight madly to keep it) though perhaps keeping patronage (for religion isn't bad, it's just that the edicts they proclaim will carry less weight and they'll be forced to return to their roots and concentrate on helping people rather than weilding power). Intellectual discussion and transparency will finally be seen as a good thing, and people will stop doing or thinking things just because someone else told them to. And this new curiosity will lead to new discoveries, which of course things like the energy companies will fight against, but eventually they'll collapse against the weight of the movement.

Okay, maybe I'm niave. But a man can hope.
Yup. ("Come the revolution, the first people up against the wall will be: Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black, and the board of Clear Channel ...")
After the Information Society, the Knowledge Society. People will have the tools to make sense out of the information. Offhand, I'd say this would best be done with prosthetic add-on brains.

The "taped learning" in C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen (and elsewhere in that background) has one large disadvantage -- most brains and bodies will be different. Transferring handwriting skills (for example) that way is unlikely to work well.

And after the Knowledge Society, the Wisdom Society.

I'd go exactly the opposite way on this, actually. Knowledge is becoming less and less important as it becomes more and more accessible.

Knowing how to obtain and manipulate that information, however--that's key.

A resurgence in communication skills, alas, is probably too much to hope for.
I think most notions of the Singularity are predicated on automation sending the prices of many things to “negligible”.

The next big revolution after information technology will, I suspect, be automated fabricators. Biotech is going to be big, but it’s going to be a long time before we’re good enough at it to have consumer goods growing on trees. Being able to feed a design to a shop and have it implemented in matter: that is going to give a case of the shivering heebie jeebies to a number of industries.

How would you like to be able to have clothing that fits, in your choice of fabrics, without having to worry about some manufacturer’s notion of how to match a linear scale to the wide range of figures out there? Pick the set of features on your multitool, so your Leatherman-equivalent can finally have a corkscrew? Select precisely the features you want on your next car? Have a beverage that you like put into soda cans for your convenience? (e.g.: OpenCola.) Mass production will always be cheaper... but as the cost of fabrication from scratch drops, manufacturers will be threatened by people deciding that the world is their Burger King and they can have it their way.

Fabricators will bring us a plethora of really horrifying creations, just as the original Macintosh computer brought us a hideous variety of crude bitmapped fonts, but the gems will get sifted out of the dross. autopope’s speculated Free Hardware Foundation will likely spring into existence with open-source designs for all manner of useful goods. Blogs like boingboing_net will alert us to new and interesting designs to download. Popular ones will get licensed for mass production by large corporations. Issues of piracy and DRM will turn up.

Hmmm... I have one day of vacation left. Maybe I’ll finally get around to reading Cory Doctorow’s Themepunks...

Good answer! And yeah, if not fablabs, utility fogs.

Of course, the idea of automation making things negligibly expensive ignores energy requirements and resource consumption. And ecological impact. Which is the damned bugaboo of any utopia.
I'll have to track down that Iron Chef episode. It might be worth an hour of having to see Bobby Flay on screen to see him taken apart by Ming Tsai.


It was freakin' therapeutic.
If you come through "The Revolution" with the idea that people without economic prospects are Marching Morons, then you still got lots and lots of Revolving to do. And the question "whose fucking utopia is this anyway?" comes to mind. (-;
Everybody's utopia is somebody else's hell.

Real Intelligence Revolution (don't settle for Artificial)

Social revolution/evolution should be driven by the demands & needs exposed during the last social evolution.

The Information Age created access to near-infinite information (and stimulation). However, the human mind is still necessary to process abstract information into useful patterns that benefit society and the individual. It’s the valuable asset in the information age and social evolution will apply pressure to this bottleneck.

I believe this will lead to a Human Intelligence evolution driven by any drugs or enhancements that improve cognitive process, increase memory retention and/or retrieval, or decrease the physical need for sleep. Drugs that improve the ability of the pre-frontal cortex to function under stress are already socially acceptable—these are the basis of some attention-deficit disorder treatments.

Technocracy may develop from this; certainly it will create a greater division between the knowledge classes. Chasms may also develop between the “shallow & wide” and “deep & focused” knowledge-seekers. As has always been the case, it is likely the “shallow and wide” will adapt to new and complex situations better and they will dominate and utilize the “deep & focused.

It could also widen the gulf between fact and faith dramatically, and people will find it difficult to maintain values that span the gap between science and religion. That will be the next social revolution. However, I’m not sure I would want to predict the winner of that battle.

Re: Real Intelligence Revolution (don't settle for Artificial)

You need to read Peter Watts' Blindsight when it comes out later this year. It tackles just these issues.


Intriguing subject, isn't it! Google revolution! "Knowledge is like, so nineteenth century..." begins the story about wireless G-Implant's that I had rejected from Scalzi's Subterranean gig!

More seriously though, how about social revolution or (possible and, if you mix the two) entertainment revolution? What's springing to mind immediately is Matt Stover's Heroes Die and what he did with the Social Police and next level 'actors'.
Well, given that I'm largely a Kurweilian Singularitarian (with a recently-added side of Peter Watts), my view tends to be that the next economy will involve the buying and selling of personalities - artificial and pirated alike.

marching moron problem; legaize drugs and guns, license sex organs.

i think the singularity will finanace itself... More like tv and radio and the internet than canals, railroads and air travel. Information moves cheap.
In Kornbluth's story, the Intelligent Nerds didn't want a whole lot of people dying because of the pollution problem.

Holding down the birthrate is easy, and doesn't mean anyone giving up sex. Make sure that movies show graphic non-procrative sex -- for example, the kind of sex common in porn movies today. Encourage homosexuality. Sterilize anyone who comes into a hospital.

Oh -- and impregnate lower-IQ women with sperm from the Great Intellects, so they'll have smarter children. And implant Great Intellect fetuses in low-IQ women.