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As the Future Kills Us December 7, 2009

Posted by Muckzak in As The Future Catches You.

“The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope.  Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

Sound familiar?  It’s the voice of optimism from a cynical Sarah Connor in Terminator II – Judgment Day.  Her doomsday narration voice resounds in my mind as I navigate through chapter after chapter of the reading assignment for our Systems Design class.

I’m within the first thirty pages of the book and I already want to stop.  I inherently dislike rhetoric that dwells on negative paranoia themed ideas without substantiating facts.  Is the disparity between the rich and poor widening because the poor are getting poorer?  My instinct tells me, not necessarily – technology has enabled us to increase the potential of capital creation.  I’m unclear as to why multiplying the amount of global wealth is a bad consequence.  Would the author be more satisfied with a smaller ratio than 427:1 if it meant that the total global wealth was reduced? 

Now that I’m on page 50, I’m waiting for the epiphany.  I’ve read more facts but they are in a vacuum.  For instance, it’s amazing how quickly opinions can change:

                But before Microsoft became the behemoth it is today . . . Apple built a simpler and better    operating system… But it did not share . . . It kept its program “exclusive.”           Programmers found it       easier to work with Microsoft’s “open” system… So today you can      buy 70,000 Microsoft-     compatible programs… and 12,000 Apple programs… Even though it had a better product…             Apple lost. (p 37)

 Apple lost?  That’s a very definitive statement.  Apple has 29 billion in cash today and has rebounded beyond conceivable expectations.  It unquestionably grew consumer markets for online music sales, MP3 players and smart phones.  It evolved from just a personal computer company to a multimedia conglomerate.  Results and conclusions are always dependent on the referenced moment in time.    

I’ve skimmed through page 150.  Growth in genome research, development in nano technologies…  Interesting…  but not interesting enough to keep reading at such a high level of generality.  All these sound bites just sound condescending.  Sleepless (and angry) in Berkeley. 

I give up.  You had me at page 196.  1984 came and went 25 years ago. 

You never know what the future holds.  I face it, not for the first time, which a sense of hope.  There are plenty of people out there who value human life, and as our society and resources change and evolve with continued technological innovation, I believe the world gets smaller and more personal.  Our collective conscience grows.  There is nothing to fear. 







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