November, 2011

Nov 11

THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS on Spaceship Earth: Some general predictions…

This article–the basis for my TEDx talk but about twice as long–is at i09 magazine, online. Here’s there intro and a link to the article.

‘With everything rolling towards the abyss, our only hope for a bright future seems to be the Singularity, a technological transformation of what it means to be human. But in a talk for TEDx Brussels, science fiction and horror writer John Shirley argues that there are really two Singularities — and yes, everything will be terrible in the short term. So why is he optimistic about the future of the human race? Read on.’

Here’s the link to the article at io9.

Nov 11

As we Contemplate a Black Friday Shopping Death…

In my TEDx talk I said: “And empathy may be a precious commodity in the future. Most people unconsciously cut off their empathy when they’re feeling endangered—when the population increases to 8 and 9 and 10 billion, we may instinctively become, as a race, proportionately less empathetic—unless we actively struggle against that kind of degeneracy.”

Consider that and look at the linked article. The big crowds at a Black Friday shopping event replicate overpopulation; it is future overpopulation modeled in contemporary life.

U.S. News – Report: Shoppers unfazed as man dies at Target

“Family and friends were stunned by the loss of a West Virginia man who died while shopping on Black Friday as fellow bargain hunters reportedly walked around — and even over — the man’s body. Family members told WSAZ-TV …”

Nov 11

Running the Airport Gauntlet

Going through the airports I was subjected to the full body TSA scanner for the first time; also had to have a guy grope my thighs. It was fairly humiliating (and I assume the scanner is an increase in cancer risk). It beeped, the guy showed me an anomaly blinking–I’d forgotten to take off my belt, under my coat, with its big buckle. He sent me over to an unhappy, bored looking blank faced woman who ran some sort of chemical-sensing paper over my palms, looking for traces of explosives chemical. Nope. She looked miserable–clearly she’d never had a positive reading. Her life seemed meaningless.

It’s stressful, going through airport security and part of the stress is never complaining aloud about it, keeping your face neutral even when you’re annoyed for fear of being dragged aside for a grumpy remark or a facial expression…

We also observed the enormous number of people working in related security in the airports, just SO MANY of them, it seems that terrorism is responsible for a major part of our economy–terrorism seems to be an important employer. I pondered writing a story, which I won’t get to, in which terrorist attacks are staged in order to keep the economy going because security has become the top employer and security is the only real govt subsidy allowed any more. However I don’t want to encourage anyone’s 9 11 conspiracy fantasy.

Nov 11

Preparing to leap across a continent and an ocean to speak at TEDx…about…

Soon, on November 22nd I’ll be at TEDxBrussels, speaking with a lot of really clever people, each of us with a little less than 20 minutes. I’ll be desperately trying to hold my own with such luminaries as Rudy Rucker, David Brin, Jacques Vallee, and many others, listed here:

Here’s a little sample of my talk–or the notes from it, as I’ll be speaking off the cuff to a large extent. This is an almost randomly chosen swatch: …in a lab in Glasgow, UK, one man is intent on proving that metal-based life is possible. He has managed to build cell-like bubbles from giant metal-containing molecules and has given them some life-like properties. He now hopes to induce them to evolve into fully inorganic self-replicating entities.

“I am 100 per cent positive that we can get evolution to work outside organic biology,” claims researcher Lee Cronin. If he’s right we could breed the next form of technology. And it’s a little worrisome when you consider that researchers in Seoul Korea and in Bristol England using the venus flytrap as a model have developed plans for something they’re calling an “ecobot” – it’s a robot that eats. It will be able to ingest flesh and turn it into fuel…Put that together with the evolving inorganic self replicating entities planned by the scientist at the university of Glasgow and feel a long slow chill at the thought.

It’s time for a philosophy of technology–one that acknowledges its dark side and thinks pro actively about the consequences of new technology so that technology can be tweaked and negative consequences prepared for…

One great advance that I believe will come from the real singularity—developed by the new computing power and perhaps by the collective intelligence described by researchers at MIT—will be a redefinition of what money is, and how it will flow. There’ll be nothing Marxist in this—probably we’ll move toward ever more efficient versions of the free market and socialism—but it will be propelled by a computerized awareness of nearly every significant financial transaction…

This talk and the others can be found streaming live on the 22nd of November, at

Nov 11

Walking the Monkey Bars Blindfolded

When I was a kid I could walk along the top of the “monkey bars” to show off, it was easy when I was looking, and I’d walk across a dangerous railroad bridge that way. You just have to pay attention. But once i thought I had the monkey bars thing so well learned I could do it with my eyes closed. I tried it, and fell, of course, got bruised up. Learned to keep my eyes open, to do it consciously.

It took me 45 years to learn to do that to the degree I have–far more–with life.

There’s an inner version I’m trying to learn, which might well have something to do with enlightenment.

Nov 11

For Gamers: My Take On “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ – Single Player

Read the piece at TECHMONKEY magazine:

Nov 11


Do people look at you and click their tongue and shake their heads and mutter, “He seems…troubled.”

Don’t worry about it.

Anyone who isn’t troubled isn’t paying attention.

Nov 11

“World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns”

“The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.

“Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this “lock-in” effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world’s foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.

The foregoing is from:

Nov 11

Implications of Mississippi’s Zygotes are Babies Law

Mississippi says zygotes are babies. Maybe my suggestion that they be given cellphones, then, is premature–but photos of each zygote can be taken & they can be given picture ID & Soc Sec numbers. Also we need to develop tools to poke into the uterus through the cervix specific to burping zygotes, singing to them, patting them on the back and diapering them.

Another consideration re fertilized eggs (George Carlin had a whole routine about this) is that many of them are not implanted and are lost. If life begins with the fertilization of the ovum by a sperm, but the zygote thus created does not become a baby…then truly we’re abandoning millions of little babies to die every day. So, every woman who might conceivably (ha ha) have a zygote that is being shed must instantly see to it that it is removed from her uterus and put in a tiny little crib and nurtured, no matter how many zygotes there are…

Nov 11

Call Any Zygote, and the Chances are good–that the Zygote will respond to you

Since the “Life Begins at the Moment of Fertilization Amendment will appear on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot in the state of Mississippi” it’s important to stay up to date with social mores–therefore let us begin a campaign of including zygotes, fertilized ova, in civilized discourse; let us give zygotes cell phones and laptops; let’s invite zygotes to our houses for social occasions…eg invite them to play board games. One could be your Monopoly piece.

(Jon Richards suggests that Mississippians start using the zygote as a dependent for tax purposes.)