This is a very long, multi-topic posting.
I want to start with something that serves as an arching theme. A bit self-serving, but bear with me....
Predictive hits from the novel EARTH (1989)... so far...
. . Blatant and Obvious
* The Web as a vehicle for personal expression
* Partition of the Soviet Union
* The Web as a vehicle for mass democracy movements
* Privacy as a vanishing commodity
* Global warming and rising sea levels
* Levees breaking and cities flooded on the Mississippi & Gulf Coast
. . Trends and Breakthroughs with Citation
* Purely mental control of electronic devices
* "Dazers" who use biofeedback to alter consciousness in druglike ways without using illegal substances (http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/mar06/3044)
* People adjusting their web "shells" or search behavior to only admit views that fit their preconceptions
* Crotchety elders using high tech to harass kids
. . Trends Needing Citation (I had the links but misplaced them)
* Subvocal silent input devices.
* Manmade black holes taken seriously
* Crisis habitat arks
* Eyeglass cams
* Eyeglass VR overlays on real environments
* Brain imaging->personality profiling
* Geological-scale sculptures
. . Trends/breakthroughs that are desperately needed, now!
* Prediction registries
* Disputation Arenas
* Henchman Prizes for whistleblowers
* A worldwide uprising by educated citizens against secrecy.
Note that I leave out a lot of stuff... after all, EARTH had everything in it, including every kind of kitchen sink. (e.g. the North American Church of Gaia, whew!) Still, the "hits" have been accelerating, lately, at such a pace that I figure it might be fun to start a running count on this blog list and invite people to contribute. Anyone care to start a wiki on this? In any event, I could use help filling in relevant links to the hits in category two.
What about that last category? Forecasts that we desperately NEED to see come true? Well, I am trying my best!
1. there will be news soon about my application for a patent in the broad area of methodologies for representing interactions between users in future Web and game applications. Hrm. Pretty good news.
2. I continue hoping that an umbrella organization might arise -- possibly funded by some visionary millionaire -- that might help seed some great ideas out there (see http://www.davidbrin.com/eon1.html )
3. Two of the ideas rise to the very top. We need them so desperately.
Henchman's Prizes: This is a generic term for some kind of private foundation action aimed at enhancing, encouraging and protecting whistleblowers. Naturally, this can only be truly effective if accompanied by legislation, especially protecting such a foundation from liability to lawsuits, if they lure accusations that are later deemed actionable. It's a complex endeavor, when examined closely. But can you think of anything that could better help the world that a million dollar prize, plus protection, for whoever blows the whistle on the "worst thing" in any given year?
Can anybody doubt that only fierce threats are forestalling a tsunami of tattles, even now, without any prize?
See the example of Stephen Heller, the man who took 500 pages of internal documents from the Diebold Company to the California Secretary of State, to show that the company deceptively introduced voting machines that did not meet state standards. He now faces prosecution for "theft".
(In fact, I do not take a purist position utterly defending Heller from all punishment. The theory of civil disobedience is a complex one, if you read Thoreau and Ghandi and King. A certain amount of punishment actually honors the protestor and is - in any event - necessary in order to separate heroes from mere opportunists. But clearly the massive felony charges filed by the LA County District Attorney are not being demanded in a spirit of honor. They are meant to repress and terrify. And to deter anyone else from standing up.)
Predictions registries: You've all heard me talk about this before. But Russ Daggatt has given the topic fresh punch.
Weeks after the invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War. "The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."
Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Around the same time as Hume's speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."
Oh, how wise! And oh! How naive! Before such an archive can be built, somebody must fund several man-years of R&D, all toward a system that can be seen as credible even when partisans see their own side proved wrong! That's not easy to do. It will take breakthroughs in the representation of opposing ideas. But the payoff could be stunning.
Till then? Well, Russ Daggatt gathered a handy list of statements from the last few years that ought to be credibility destroyers. Some of them are utter howlers, uttered by neocon shills on Fox and CNN. I will post some of them below, under “comments”, because I have taken more than enough space on the upper level, already.
Good night, and good luck.
(A wonderful movie, by the way! Especially, David Strathairn is terrific as Edward R. Murrow. There are flaws. Director George Clooney relies far too much upon our “common knowledge” about the McCarthy era and does a poor job portraying a real sense of the threat and terror. What carries the movie, in fact, is the words of Murrow himself, conveyed brilliantly by Strathairn. And, of course, the staggeringly on-target way that those words apply today.)