Skip

What Now?
October 14, 2001 5:32 PM   Subscribe

What Now? is a question answered by a number of a number of scientists and science writers at Edge.org, which asked them to point their vision towards the world to come. Bruce Sterling assesses the probability of certain outcomes of strife between America and the Middle East. Richard Dawkins writes about what we stand to lose if we are faced with a new Dark age. Freeman Dyson offers chilling thoughts regarding his memories of joy while listening to the bombing of London as a teenager in London in 1940. Amongst those, and many other answers are statements focusing on education, decentralization of resources, the power of consumerism, and a number of technological and social solutions. While it is important to look backwards for reasons, it's just as important to look forward. What will the future bring, and how can we act to shape that future?
posted by bragadocchio (23 comments total)

 
Wise words from Dyson:

We must learn to live with the world as it is, not as we want it to be. We must treat our enemies with respect, so that we do not appear to be trampling on their cultures and traditions. The ultimate goal must always be, not to destroy our enemies but to convert them into friends.
posted by stbalbach at 6:00 PM on October 14, 2001


What will the future bring? Beats me.
posted by Postroad at 6:03 PM on October 14, 2001


Bragadocchio, thanks for this link. I'm going to read the many contributions from the beginning, a few at a time.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:14 PM on October 14, 2001


"its...ah...ya know, a gift...ahhhh-its big-no doubt, but ahhhh...its wood and...ah...horse like, we know you like that and ahhhh....we.....ahhh... wanna give it to ya.
posted by newnameintown at 7:02 PM on October 14, 2001


Uh, I'm going to look at it but... it's going to be hard to forget someone there had a hand in the--blech--L. Ron Hubbard meets Ton Clancy Man-Kzin War series...
posted by y2karl at 7:19 PM on October 14, 2001


I read Dyson's comment about the London Blitz... he is one sick fuck.
posted by Kami at 8:46 PM on October 14, 2001


The only wisdom that I can extract from these memories is that the problem of terrorism is not a military problem. It is a problem of people's hearts and minds. Attempts to solve it by military means will only make it worse. I don't pretend to know how to solve it. A good way to start would be for our country to stop telling the rest of the world how to behave. We must learn to live with the world as it is, not as we want it to be. We must treat our enemies with respect, so that we do not appear to be trampling on their cultures and traditions. The ultimate goal must always be, not to destroy our enemies but to convert them into friends. And meanwhile, do whatever we can to defend ourselves without killing more thousands of innocent victims.

Yup. Fucks don't come much sicker 'n that.
posted by y2karl at 9:09 PM on October 14, 2001


Yr rite, karl, they don't...

"I lie in bed listening to the bombs exploding and the buildings crumbling. What joy to hear, after each explosion, the delicious sound of buildings falling down, the great British Empire audibly crumbling. The joy far outweighs any fear that my own home might be hit, or any pity for the people in the falling buildings. How many sixteen-year-olds all over the world are now seeing on television the pictures of the World Trade Center buildings collapsing, and feeling the same joy that I felt in 1940. I find it easy to imagine the state of mind of the young men who so resolutely smashed those planes into the buildings. Almost, I could have been one of them myself."

... the man's perspective is a little narrow, i guess, himself being the only focus...

... or the deaths of gays, catholics, brits, asians, children, neighborhoods, muslims, jews was just another act of resolution? Oh, was i referring to the camps or WTC?
posted by Kami at 9:24 PM on October 14, 2001


We're talking about when he was a teenager here? How dare he be a narcissistic idiot then!
posted by y2karl at 9:32 PM on October 14, 2001


God, that site bugs me. "We're a bunch of veddy veddy important, intelligent people who will only converse with each other, and then issue forth our pronouncements for the little people to consume." I could accept their egos and arrogance if they had anything exceptional to say, but they don't. None of them put forth anything that we haven't already brought up ourselves on MeFi, or that hasn't otherwise been brought up by various members of the media. (Though I'll admit a few of them came up with quite novel ways of getting around to the same old same old.)
posted by aaron at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2001


the bruce sterling one is quite good. nice speculation, taking into account the options. the personal takes, are, well, personal - and don't give a tidy wrap up. the sterling one doesn't tie it up cleanly either, but his A) to H) scenarios have verisimilitude. Even the wackier ones ring true to an extent -- check E2(b) and F.

Bruce S. again shows off a great head for speculation.

thanks for pointing this out bragadocchio
posted by artlung at 10:04 PM on October 14, 2001


We're a bunch of veddy veddy important, intelligent people who will only converse with each other, and then issue forth our pronouncements for the little people to consume.

aaron - it is really easy to get that impression from the edge.org site.

I've seen a lot of posts here, and a lot of attention in the media to keep us informed of current news, and to examine many of the causes for hostility between the western world and the middle east. What encouraged me about the link (looking beyond the egos) was the attempt to look forward. A number of these issues have been raised in comments on MeFi. I've been asking myself what I could do personally, beyond donating to the September 11th fund, or trying to be more tolerant of people I interact with, or more compassionate to those who need help.

I'm curious about how other members of this community might be trying to bring something positive for the future out of this catastrophe. There's a much wider range of professions and opinions here than at edge.org, and I think the potential for answers that are at least as good, if not much better. How would you answer the question "What Now?"
posted by bragadocchio at 10:34 PM on October 14, 2001


the sterling one doesn't tie it up cleanly either

Like I said, Man-Kzin Wars

Versimilitude!?!

Calling Dr Howard! Calling Dr. Howard! Calling Dr. Fine!

"Why, I oughta...."
posted by y2karl at 12:07 AM on October 15, 2001


What will the future bring, and how can we act to shape that future?

What? More books pitched by John Brockman. How? Don't buy them.
posted by holgate at 2:34 AM on October 15, 2001


From the Dawkins piece an interesting link: Secular Islam.
Hey, and what's your problem with Sterling? The Difference Engine that he co-wrote with Gibson was excellent....
posted by talos at 3:14 AM on October 15, 2001


What David Farber said about threats to liberty worries me most. I think we're even more under threat that you in the US because our government has a shockingly huge majority and no effective opposition.

The government is calling the broadcasters in to ask them not to transmit footage of Bin Laden, although it looks like the BBC is going to stand up to them. Jack Straw recently told us that if we object to PKI (handing over encryption keys on demand) we're supporting terrorism. And US supporters of Tony Blair might be interested to know that this was how one member of his party was acting on September 11th.
posted by Summer at 3:23 AM on October 15, 2001


Is it Sterling you're ranting about, Karl? What does he have to do with the Man-Kzin Wars? It's hard to imagine two less compatible people than Sterling and Niven. And I think Sterling's proven himself to be worth reading even if he did bear the taint of MKW.

That said--well, I've griped about Edge here before, so I won't belabor it. But...what Aaron said.
posted by rodii at 5:35 AM on October 15, 2001


I admire Dyson the scientist a lot. But his remarks are pretty disturbing and, well, not worthy of a man of his intellectual stature
posted by matteo at 7:46 AM on October 15, 2001


Rodii - Damn, you're right. I am an idiot. It was someone else. Another from the Watch My Drain Decay file.
posted by y2karl at 8:01 AM on October 15, 2001


talos,
very educational link. A dichotomy I hadn't thought about before
A Call to the Muslims of the World from a Group of freethinkers and Humanists of Muslim Origins. That shoulda been a front pager.
posted by redhead at 8:04 AM on October 15, 2001


talos, ... That shoulda been a front pager.

I totally agree.
posted by y2karl at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2001


Sterling's probabilities cast George's line ("It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.") in a much different light...
posted by p2bilt at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2001


I admire Dyson the scientist a lot. But his remarks are pretty disturbing and, well, not worthy of a man of his intellectual stature


What does that mean? His remarks are part of his 'intellectual stature.'
posted by skallas at 4:19 PM on October 15, 2001


« Older I always knew that the proper supply chain...   |   Oh, Those Crazy United Nations! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post