From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
Let Us Face the Future - "All parties pay lip service to the idea of jobs for all. All parties are ready to promise to achieve that end by keeping up the national purchasing power and controlling changes in the national expenditure through Government action. Where agreement ceases is in the degree of control of private industry that is necessary to achieve the desired end. In hard fact, the success of a full employment programme will certainly turn upon the firmness and success with which the Government fits into that programme the investment and development policies of private as well as public industry." [more inside]
Electronic Beats interviews five Detroit residents (Michael Stone-Richards, a professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at CCS in Detroit; Mike Huckaby, an internationally successful DJ and longtime producer of Detroit techno; Cornelius Harris, aka "The Unknown Writer", the label manager and occasional MC for Underground Resistance Records; Walter Wasacz; a journalist and writer based in Hamtramck, an enclave in the center of Detroit; Mark Ernestus, the Berlin-based producer, DJ and co-owner of Hard Wax record store; Mike Banks of Underground Resistance [UR]; George Clinton, the founder and leader of Parliament Funkadelic; and Samantha Corbit, who has over a decade of involvement with multiple Detroit record labels) on the past and future of Detroit, and it's (electronic) (musical) history. 72 Hours in Detroit
VC for the people - "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution - "[Charles Percy Snow] was pleading for a more adequately educated ruling class so that the suffering of the poor might be ameliorated... Snow wanted to believe something like this: political decisions in the modern world often concern how to deploy science and technology, so people well-trained in science and technology will be better prepared to make those decisions. But that's a syllogism without a minor premise." (previously) [more inside]
Global Trends 2030 Alternate Worlds is the latest quadrennial report from The US National Intelligence Council (NIC). (Report: PDF / Talking Points: PDF.) Similar to its predecessors, '2030' attempts to predict 'alternate visions of the future.' An official blog discusses their speculations. The Atlantic Council has published a "companion publication": "Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World." [more inside]
In this time of corrupt politics, police brutality, media dereliction, and increasingly vicious culture wars, there's perhaps no graphic novel more relevant today than the brilliant and blackly funny Transmetropolitan. Created by Warren Ellis back in 1997 and inspired by prescient sci fi novel Bug Jack Barron, the series covers the work of gonzo journalist, vulgar misanthrope, and all-around magnificent bastard Spider Jerusalem in a sprawling futuristic vision of New York so chaotically advanced that humans splice genes with alien refugees, matter decompilers are as common as microwaves, and a new religion is invented every hour. As a callous Nixonian thug nicknamed The Beast prepares for his re-election to the presidency, a primary battle heats up between a virulent racist and a charismatic senator whose rictus grin masks some disturbing realities. When Jerusalem delves into the machinations of the race, he breaks into a web of conspiracies that threaten the future of the country -- a problem only he, his "filthy assistants," and the power of intrepid journalism can defeat. More: Read the first issue (or three) - browse images from the new artbook - Tor's read-along blog (another) - Jerusalem's touching report on cryogenic "Revivals" - dozens of original sketches and sample pages - timeline - quotes
40 Things You Need to Know About the Next 40 Years For it's 40th anniversary issue, Smithsonian magazine asks experts in various fields for insights into our future and compiles a list of 40 predictions about the future of science, nature, the arts and technology. The feature essay is by President Obama, in which he explains why he's optimistic about America's future. (VIA) [more inside]
Acclaimed writer Bruce Sterling is back for his annual State of the World interview in The WELL's inkwell conference. It's a must-read. The first question comes from Cory Doctorow who asks him to help him plan for the future now that Cory has a kid, etc. Sterling's answer is hilarious, biting, and brilliant all at the same time. And that's only the beginning...
Margins of Error We can't seem to let the future alone. Even though we often get predictions about it so wrong. Because, as Niels Bohr once said, "Prediction is very difficult. Especially if it is about the future." What are the origins of political polling (beware of awful interface design)? And how is political polling evolving?
Countdown to a Meltdown : long but fascinating speculative retrospective on the causes and impact of the 2009-2016 economic collapse. [via Marshall Brain]
Gone by 2040: Religious Hierarchy, Japan's Passivity, The Chinese Communist Party, Auto Emissions, Monogamy, The Euro, The War on Drugs, Sovereignty... To mark their 35th year in publication Foreign Policy magazine asks 16 influential thinkers which ideas, values, or institutions will be gone by the year 2040. Also discussed on NPR radio today.
It t'was foretold by the ancients! "Come the millennium, month twelve, In the home of the greatest power, The village idiot will come forth To be acclaimed the leader." - Nostradamus  I consider myself someone with mental fortitude. I consider myself not given to listen to foolish ramblings of portents. But in this case I must concede!