Saturday, February 18, 2012

Re-inventing the Future--When Incremental Advances aren't Enough

Most of our holidays look backward, honoring past victories, dead presidents or long-standing traditions. How about a day that looks forward, toward thinking creatively about building a better tomorrow? The brand new Future Day (originally proposed by Ben Goertzel at Humanity+) will be March 1. How would you (productively) observe such a day, particularly to inspire the next generation?

Solve for X: Google's new TED-style project aims for technologic 'moonshots’ to develop innovative, far-reaching solutions to the problems of tomorrow, covering topics ranging from transportation to agriculture, genetics to computing.  Google notes: “Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; they are 10x improvement, not 10%,” because we can't afford to think incrementally...

...for the future is a steamroller bearing down upon us. In Megachange: The World in 2050, Lawrence C. Smith takes at big picture look at the megatrends and forces shaping the civilization’s next forty years. We will need to anticipate the accelerating effects of globalization, climate change, population growth, and increased demands on natural resources, particularly water (which the author calls Blue Oil), which are likely to exacerbate inequalities across the globe.

Looking even further ahead, Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth, by Curt Stager, explores the potential long range impact of climate change on our planet. Stager notes, "We face a simple choice in the coming century or so; either we’ll switch to nonfossil fuels as soon as possible, or we’ll burn through our remaining reserves and then be forced to switch later on...We are faced today with the responsibility of determining the climatic future that our descendants will live in."

The future of space exploration is increasingly international—yet the U.S. has backed out of 5 joint projects with the European Space Agency. The 2013 NASA budget slashes planetary science by 20%, with Mars exploration taking a severe hit. (Fortunately, the James Webb Space Telescope avoided the axe.) NASA may abandon the joint NASA-ESA ExoMars missions scheduled for 2016 and 2018, as well as a joint venture to explore the moons of Jupiter. Europe is now courting Russia for the ExoMars mission. We need to show some consistency and commitment to our partners overseas… and how about some commitment to our heirs and descendants? The War on Science has gone too far--if we are to remain a forward looking civilization.

Universities are critical in preparing students for a rapidly changing world, yet undergraduate education has changed little over the last century—large lecture halls, blue books and expensive textbooks still prevail. Lawrence Summers notes that factual mastery, passive learning and individual effort should be of less consequence than analytical, cooperative, cross-disciplinary thinking. In the real world, fields such as science, business and government rely on an ability to collaborate and work together, yet at schools this broaches on ‘cheating.’ A recent study showed that replacing the lecture part of introductory physics with an interactive peer-based seminars increased comprehension by 20%. Moreover, this fits already-embedded American ways of education. In addition, America will need to produce one million additional graduates in math, science and engineering to remain competitive globally, according to a recent report by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

For too long we have been tolerant of planned obsolescence--for manufacturers know they can sell us a new and improved model in a year or two.  A lovely nugget from Christian Cantrell’s hard SF novel, Containment: He describes the “Nobel Prize winning concept of ‘End of Life Plans’ or ELPs” – instructions included with every single manufactured item, specifying what to do when the item is discarded. With parts no longer tossed in landfills, manufacturers were forced to develop products using recycled/converted components. Anticipating that components would be reused, manufacturers had an incentive to use longer-lasting materials that could be upgraded for next-generation models. Make it so!

More generally, how about an overhaul of our entire trash collection system? One concept straight out of Sci Fi: Pneumatic tubes to whisk away trash. Such a system is already in place in several European cities, as well as Roosevelt Island in New York City, processing nearly 6 tons a day. The upfront costs to develop infrastructure would be substantial, yet there are long term savings in personnel, vehicle and fuel costs, as well as CO2 emissions. It currently takes 6000 heavy garbage trucks rumbling down already over-crowded streets to remove trash from New York City alone (The very model of inefficiency--these trucks get all of 3 miles per gallon!) Such pneumatic systems may be the future of municipal waste collection.

And the future of energy….The United States' first new nuclear power plant in a generation won approval Thursday as federal regulators voted to grant a license for two new reactors in Georgia. Part of the promised “nuclear renaissance” to restart the road to energy independence... though with beefed up standards in the wake of the tsunami-caused problems in Japan. Finally (after 60 years) nukes will be required to have ample cooling liquid available on a purely gravity-supply basis. I mean geez, what’s so hard about that?

What do you get when you cross an accelerator with a nuclear reactor? The Accelerator-Driven Subcritical Reactor (ADSR) would use thorium instead of uranium. It doesn't generate long-lived nuclear wastes and can even consume toxic wastes from traditional nuclear reactors.

==The Possibilities are Endless==

Now and when: some radical notions for the future of Australia. Many of these concepts, presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale, portray Australians moving onto and incorporating the ocean into the urban environment.

One way to build a lunar colony: print structures directly on the moon, using lunar rocks as raw material.

Things we were promised…By 2031 we'll be flying personal blimp-jets.

Six inventors visualize the perfect toy--setting aside concerns over money, safety… and the laws of physics.

Lifebook: a single device that combines every gadget you carry.

Enter the 2012 Create the Future Design Contest – which aims to stimulate engineering innovation in areas such as Sustainable Technologies, Transportation, Electronics and Consumer Products.

==Contacting the Alien: past and future==

An essay in the New York Times asks: "If we made contact, what would we say? What answers would you expect?" A bit simplistic but fun.

Jill Tartar on Big Think: If you were an extraterrestrial looking at Earth, what would you observe?

A thoughtful rumination on the pros and cons of cloning a Neanderthal and bringing the Olde Race back to life... which I portray for you in Existence!

The Onion is nearly always worthwhile.  But this one about patronizing aliens was choice.

And while we’re on the funny-bone... here’s a rather specific “if this goes on” extrapolation that comes as a protest t-shirt. “God hates dolphins who marry chimps!”  Hm... I wonder where they got that idea! In fact... see Gorilla, My Dreams!  About this very topic. 

 ==And Finally==

Time to start pondering where I’ll visit in my coming June book tour for Existence! Want your city to be included?  It will help if I can show the Tor publicity director eager invitations from local media and bookstores... and/or possibly offers of a major talk at a notable university... Give it a little thought... and thanks.

51 comments:

Robert said...

Here you go, Dr. Brin, a truly amazing story about a teenager who at 13 decided he wanted to create a fusion reactor... and at 16 is working on it. This is a truly fascinating read. A tad scary in places... but fascinating all the same. And it caused my good friend Avens, who I consider brilliant, to feel like a slacker.

Which might be a good thing. Maybe it'll inspire her to go out and do something with her life beside working in Vegas right now setting up parties and the like.

Rob H.

tqft said...

Come down to Australia - Brisbane

Stefan Jones said...

Powell's in Portland, OR has three author appearance venues of note:

The main store downtown.

A slightly smaller suburban venue in Beaverton.

The Baghdad Theater, a fine old movie house where Powell's hosts big-crowd-draws like Neal Stephenson.

Rob said...

Gah, not Beaverton. Everything there guarantees that I have to navigate Foster Road or the Terwilliger Curves.

Downtown has better food, and I know some foodies who can guide it. Or do something eclectic at Village Books in Vancouver, or the new Library there.

johnranta said...

On the same page of Zite news that delivered Brin's complaint about incrementalism and technological baby steps was an article about the new DNA Sequencer that comes on a USB pluggable flash drive. Baby steps? Methinks Brin is looking in the wrong places...

Carl M. said...

Recycle everything? That's unnatural. Nature breaks things down through multiple stages to the point where the molecules are unrecognizable. And then rebuilds. More like plasma torch incinerator than a labor sucking sorting system.

As for why it's so hard to gravity feed a reactor: it's under pressure! That huge containment dome thingy is designed to contain a superheated steam explosion.

If you want cheap/safe nuclear, go with the abandoned liquid salt thorium breeder. No long term waste. Energy too cheap to meter. http://energyfromthorium.com/2011/10/14/thorium-remix-2011/ Watch this video if you want a Jetson's future.

David Brin said...

Johnrata give us that link? Didn't know I was on Zite.

Carl, if you have gravity-fed water supply it can pour into the $$#! POOL containing the reactor and help it stay cool enough to not damage the cadmium cladding. You are thinking about the separate pressurized water that boils and sends steam to the generators. Only one kind of plant keeps the cooling water under high pressure - aboard nuclear subs.

The problem at Fukushima was that regular diesel pumps were their backups and those were wrecked by the tsunami. If you can gravity feed, then you have time to work inside the plant and get some kind of backup electricity generator running.

David Brin said...

Huh! The two mercury astronauts who are still alive are John Glenn (90) and Scott Carpenter... the two "intellectual" astronauts who are depicted in The Right Stuff as keeping their pants zipped.

It's fifty years? Really?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-02-19/mercury-astronauts/53152814/1

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation
/story/2012-02-19/mercury-
astronauts/53152814/1

David Brin said...

PS... world future day should not have been March 1... but March 4th! Get it? March... Forth????

Robert Little said...

On the recent "Real Time with Bill Maher", the discussion turned briefly to nuclear power, with the news that the government had okayed new construction. Inevitably, the anti-nuke talk came out, even though the subject of global warming came up. The conservative on the panel immediately started throwing out numbers about alternative energy, solar and wind, and in typical fashion for that lot declared it a failure, that it wasn't economical. They ended by talking about natural gas as a viable alternative.
This sort of thing truly amazes me. We have undoubtedly gone past the point of no return for greenhouse gas emission, yet the concern is always economics. This is no longer about economics; this is now about survival, or in the least mitigating the damage done. But the conservatives simply don't see it that way, and many who do acknowledge climate change say it is either natural or that it is too late now anyway.
Yet they constantly profess concern for the children, who of course will be saddled with what we do here and now. I cry, often, baloney; my built-in BS meter frequently pegs 11 on this matter, yet they are unrelenting.
So, yes, incremental changes are not enough here.
-Robert "Living A few Feet Above Sea Level & Worried" Little
Ettogra Air - With frequent flights to Ettogra City

johnranta said...

Here's the link to the DNA sequencer story. My Zite feed includes your blog (I told Zite I "Give me more" like David Brin, and they did :)

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21495-usb-stick-can-sequence-dna-in-seconds.html

LarryHart said...

Robert Little:

This is no longer about economics; this is now about survival, or in the least mitigating the damage done. But the conservatives simply don't see it that way, and many who do acknowledge climate change say it is either natural or that it is too late now anyway.


It occured to me as early on as the Reagan years that the truly knowledgable right-wingers may in fact already know that the future is doomed. Their concern is no longer with the future, not because they don't care, but because they know there's nothing that can be done about it. So their concern is keeping "the system" in place long enough to maintain their own comforts (for the best of them) and power over other human beings (for the worst) for the duration of their own lifetimes. The party line talking-points are to keep the faithful in line as long as possible.

No, this cannot be proven, and really, I only truly believe it in my worst moments. But, if you presume it to be true, a lot of thier political tactics suddenly aren't the complete nonsense that they otherwise are.

Robert Little said...

@Larry
"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it."
- Mark Twain

BCRion said...

Dr. Brin,

"Only one kind of plant keeps the cooling water under high pressure - aboard nuclear subs. "

While, your main point remains valid in this case, I'm afraid this statement is not correct. There are two dominant designs employed, a Boiling Water Reactor (like those that were at Fukushima) and a Pressurized Water Reactor like many in the US and the one that has currently been approved to go ahead.

Also, one other nitpick. The cladding is not cadmium, but a zirconium alloy, which is used because it does not like to absorb neutrons. Cadmium is a strong neutron absorber and as such possible control rod material to manage the neutron economy in the reactor.

===

Carl M.,

As far as the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor, I don't buy all the hype, or at least will not until someone runs an actual full-scale power production unit and demonstrates capacity factors greater than 80 percent.

It took a good 20+ years from the time the first light-water reactors in the US came online until we understood how to operate them well. The early history of nuclear energy had units that were very costly to operate because they were down a significant fraction of the time. Nowadays, typical capacity factors are in excess of 90 percent, being down for refueling outages and (usually) routine maintenance. As such they are relatively inexpensive to operate per unit electric power produced, but are still very expensive to construct.

Point being, while the physics is the same, much of the engineering technology is radically different and outside of anyone's actual experience anywhere, ever. Certainly the prototypes were very promising, but I still think the Thorium MSR enthusiasts strongly understate the necessary learning curve. Not saying we shouldn't proceed in this direction, but expect us to bump our heads a few times before we get this technology right.

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry @ RobL:
"It'd be kind of silly if we killed ourselves off after all this time. If we do, we're stupider than the cave people and I don't think we are. I think we're just exactly as stupid and that's pretty bright in the long run."

- John Steinbeck (conclusion to a short sf story called 'A Short, Short History of Mankind')

Tony Fisk said...

Keep plugging safer nukes. Meantime I'll keep plugging Concentrated Solar Towers and similar.

Dennis Peterson said...

It may take a while to get liquid thorium reactors into production with a high capacity factor, but I don't see how accelerator-driven reactors are any better. Accelerators are kinda complicated and finicky.

"Nowadays, typical capacity factors are in excess of 90 percent, being down for refueling outages and (usually) routine maintenance."

Refueling outages don't exist for liquid-fueled reactors, so that's one point in their favor. Maintenance is an open question. Their safety systems will be a lot simpler, but for the LFTR there's a fair amount of chemical processing.

However, we could start with the DMSR, a simpler design which doesn't reprocess its fuel.

BCRion said...

Dennis,

Agree with you on the theoretical advantages. Refueling itself is not so much a time issue in a light-water reactor. If that's all there was to do, it would be a very quick process indeed, being limited by the ability to safely draw down power and bring it back up, which can be done in a couple days. The thing that really adds cost is the time spent doing routine maintenance, which is best done when the reactor is offline and radiation doses in containment are a much lower concern.

To illustrate my concerns, look at the history of light-water reactors in the US. Most recent example here is the Davis-Besse incident in the early 2000s where the dissolved boric acid used to control the neutron economy had caused significant enough corrosion on the vessel head. This led to a very expensive campaign to replace many such components with those made of a compatible material.

It took over three decades for this issue to arise, and with commonly understood materials of steel, boric acid, and pressurized water. Nothing terribly exotic there, but it was still a serious problem, albeit one that is a non-issue in future designs because the solution is to use compatible materials. I see every reason to expect similar issues to arise with MSRs for the simple reason that there are inevitably a lot of "unknown unknowns" out there for us to stumble over.

Again, I think we should proceed with thorium MSRs, but I do not see this one technology as necessarily the solution to our energy needs, as many will imply.

Stefan Jones said...

Errrrrrgggggh, grumble grumble . . .

I just finished watching the Isaac Asimov episode of "Prophets of Science Fiction."

What they had was OK, I suppose.

But GOL DARNIT, Asimov wrote about more than FRIGGING ROBOTS!

There wasn't a word, not ONE WORD, about the Foundation books. I'm not even sure if they showed a COVER. Nothing about The God's Themselves or Asimov's politics or goofy humor and limericks.

I expect a certain shallowness to cable shows, but this was LAZY.

David Brin said...

Yep that's disappointing, esp since I talked mostly about foundation stuff!

By the way... HELP REQUEST! Thanks for earlier suggestions for voices for the audio edition of The Practice Effect.

And now? Have you read KILN PEOPLE? It's even more fun! And I am fishing for actors you might envision playing various characters (voice only).

Reminder: we're talking about Albert Morris, Gineen Wammaker, Clara, Vic Aeneas Kaolin, Ritu Maharal, Yosil Maharal. Pal... suggestions welcome!

rewinn said...

Hey openness fans - ever wonder how Facebook decides what to censor? Read "Inside Facebook’s Outsourced Anti-Porn and Gore Brigade"

Paul451 said...

Heartland Institute is now vaguely threatening to sue anyone who comments on their anti-climate-gate scandal.

http://heartland.org/press-releases/2012/02/15/heartland-institute-responds-stolen-and-fake-documents

"The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents. We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offenses for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation"

Heh, stolen and fake.

Paul451 said...

2012: Heartland on anti-Climate-gate:
"But honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened."

2009: Heartland on Climate-gate hacked emails:
" The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly." [...] "For anyone who doubts the power of the Internet to shine light on darkness, the news of the month is how digital technology helped uncover a secretive group of scientists who suppressed data, froze others out of the debate, and flouted freedom-of-information laws. "

(Turing phrase: aspie varia)

Jumper said...

"right-wingers may in fact already know that the future is doomed"

"government doesn't work" - head of government

Carl M. said...

@BCRion: I too suspect hype. I would assume that given our modern safety concerns, a billion a year might result in a commercial reactor in 20 years. A crash program could do better.

Compared to the "hydrogen economy", fusion and wind power, it's a no brainer. The main down side is that it would displace solar, and we still need solar for unstable nations which cannot be trusted with chemically separable fissionables. Fortunately, these nations have plenty of sunlight. With the exception of Korea, the low solar nations are stable or already nuclear powers.

The main hype that I detect is the bit about not being able to make bombs with U233 because of the gamma rays. Might be true for a terrorist cell. I suspect the Iranian government could work around that obstacle. (Or would the gamma rays also mess up the detonator and missile electronics...)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

Jumping for a moment to a different Brin-related topic, specifically that (after a hiatus to read a library copy of REAMDE), I have finished Part 1 of "Glory Season". Yes, I already told you I'm a slow reader. I like to savor this type of novel rather than shoot through it at ludicrous speed the way my wife would.

I consider myself to be possessed of a writer's temprement. I can often notice and appreciate the engines of craftmanship behind the surface of a story. And while I think that gives me a greater appreciation of a good work of fiction, it sometimes works against the experience of enjoyment. Case in point, it didn't take long after the introduction of the "Renna" character for me to know the surprise inherent in that character's physical makeup. No, I didn't KNOW for sure, but I knew enough to notice that you never foreclosed the option that I was becoming more and more certain of. The same thing happened when I first read "The Postman"--I "knew" the secret of Cyclops way earlier than I was supposed to.

Having said that, I congraulate you on springing a totally DIFFERENT surprise about the same Renna character that I didn't guess at all--didn't even see coming! That's one reason I enjoy your writing so much--you don't go the predictable route, but neither do you go the "exact opposite of predictable" route, which can be just as predicatable.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

And now? Have you read KILN PEOPLE? It's even more fun! And I am fishing for actors you might envision playing various characters (voice only).

Reminder: we're talking about Albert Morris, Gineen Wammaker, Clara, Vic Aeneas Kaolin, Ritu Maharal, Yosil Maharal. Pal... suggestions welcome!

I'm less in touch with the popular celebrities than I was (say) 20 years ago, and some of my suggestions may no longer be among the living, but I'll give it a shot, having just read the book last year.

The only character I had fully "cast" when I read the book was Brent Spiner (Commander Data) as Beta. I'm not sure how well that works as a voice-only casting, but I'll stick with it. Whoever you use has to be able to pull off that "Morrisssssss" thing well.

For Gineen Wammaker, you need someone who can pull off "sultry but in control". My first thought is of Adrienne Barbeau, who voiced the Catwoman in the 1990s Batman cartoon. Actually, if Julie Newmar is still alive, that earlier Catwoman might do even better.

I'm not sure if the accent matches what you hear in your head for Queen Irene, but I'd go with Lady Gaga for that character.

Yosil Mahral would be Max Von Sydow, except that I don't know if he's still alive. (I know Vincent Price is dead, or I'd have suggested him as well).

Pal has to be the actor who voices the obnoxious bird in Disney's "Aladdin".

Morris, I have real trouble placing a correct voice for. Leslie Nielsen, possibly?

I can't really offer a good suggestion for Vic Kaolin either. Someone vaguely but not stereotypically oriental.

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and suggest Ashley Tisdale for Ritu. She's one of the stars of Disney's "High School Musical" series, and she also voices the character of Candace in the "Phineas and Ferb" cartoon. She's got the right combination of attractiveness and mania required for that character. She might also be a good choice for Dena in "The Postman".

LarryHart said...


Pal has to be the actor who voices the obnoxious bird in Disney's "Aladdin".


I was actually thinking of "Palloid" there. Not sure if you'd want the same voice for the "rig".

LarryHart said...

...which actually brings around to a question you'd have to consider before doing a radio version of "Kiln People" in particular...

Is it your expectation that the roxes would have the same voice as their rigs? Because if that's a hard and fast rule, there are going to be some plot points which will get revealed too early. And if roxes and rigs have DIFFERENT voices as a hard and fast rule, then there are some OTHER plot points which will be revealed too early. Just sayin'.

Sometimes, you have to be careful about switching between formats. I was a big fan of the novel "The Bourne Identity", but when they made it into a movie with the trailer innocuously advertising "Matt Damon IS Jason Bourne!", my first thought was "They just gave away a major surprise from the book."

Jonathan S. said...

I'm pretty sure that the so-called "conservatives" in the US (in fact, far-right reactionaries, who keep proposing radical solutions to the problems they perceive) aren't concerned about the future because, having fallen under the spell of a certain variety of Christian evangelical, they don't believe there is a future. They seem to sincerely believe that Jesus will be back to judge us any minute now, so why bother worrying about a hundred years hence when Judgment Day will come first?

(I've tried referring them to the New Testament, especially the part where Christ Himself says that nobody can possibly guess when He'll be back, but I might as well try to educate the couch I'm sitting on right now.)

(BTW, Dr. Brin - obviously, I can see the verification again. I think it had something to do with the Trojan I finally managed to burn from my system last night.)

David Brin said...

Larryhart, thanks for the kind remarks re Glory Season. One tries. And yes, my problem is that my stories attract smart readers... which makes it all the harder to surprise them.

Fun suggestions for Kiln People voices!

==

Guys, see this fellow's comments on Santorum. I never thought we'd see a real, honest to gosh Scudder this year. But he is that, in spades.

Yet I still want him to win on the 28th! Because I do not think the American people overall will lemming that cliff in November.

David Brin said...

oops here's the link:

http://www.juancole.com/2012/02/ayatollah-santorum-excommunicates-obama-mainstream-protestants.html

http://www.juancole.com/2012/02/ayatollah
-santorum-excommunicates-obama-
mainstream-protestants.html

Robert Little said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

Johnathan S:

I'm pretty sure that the so-called "conservatives" in the US (in fact, far-right reactionaries, who keep proposing radical solutions to the problems they perceive) aren't concerned about the future because, having fallen under the spell of a certain variety of Christian evangelical, they don't believe there is a future. They seem to sincerely believe that Jesus will be back to judge us any minute now, so why bother worrying about a hundred years hence when Judgment Day will come first?


You're talking about the average man-on-the-street Republican voter.

I was musing more about the wealthy and powerful establishment Republicans who don't seem to be too concerned with the afterlife, and who would also seem to be able to pull strings to get things done if, for example, they thought they were PERSONALLY in danger from global warming or Iranian nukes or whatever. You'd think some of THOSE people would belive the science and heed the warnings. That is, unless they already know that the damage is done, and that all they can hope for is that the really bad stuff waits for them to die of natural causes first.

David Brin said...

Yipes... this is the FIFTH different thing he's said TODAY!

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544
_162-57381329-503544/santorum-
defends-world-war-ii-2012-election
-comparison/

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57381329-503544/santorum-defends-world-war-ii-2012-election-comparison/

Lizy said...

More to pick on Santorum for:

"Just like we have certifying organizations that accredit a college, we'll have certifying organizations that will accredit conservative professors. If you are to be eligible for federal funds, you'll have to provide an equal number of conservative professors as liberal professors."

The interview in question

Tony Fisk said...

Gee, Rick sure looks a doll in feathers... oh wait. That's a Mardi Gras ad!

'Harder to figure out [Obama is Hitler] with no cataclysmic event....' he says???

...Nah! I've probably been reading too much paranoid sf.

Haven't I?

sociotard said...

Heh, looks like Brin has has a fanboi in the RPG world.

Eclipse Phase: Panopticon

Panopticon surveys three areas of the Eclipse Phase setting:

•Ubiquitous surveillance and sousveillance—living in a transparent society
•The inner workings of space habitats—and how to hack them
•Uplifts and smart animals—their scientific and cultural impacts
•plus new morphs, gear, habitat rules, and more!
Panopticon is a 176-page PDF (with layers, a hyperlinked table of contents, a hyperlinked index, and internal hyperlinks) and is Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) licensed.


If there were just a book about a science-fictional transparent society, I'd assume no connection. If there were a book with uplifted animals, I'd assume no connection. A supplement that focuses on both? Yeah, that sounds Brin-y.

But do check out the cover. It has an uplifted chimp and octopus in gladiatorial combat.

sociotard said...

Hah! Or this:

Eclipse Phase: Ego Hunter

Ego Hunter
is a short adventure for Eclipse Phase. Players take on the role of different forks of the same person who work together to track down their original (alpha) self, who has gone missing and is wanted for murder. They soon find the situation is even more complicated and dangerous than it seems.

Ego Hunter was designed as a one-shot scenario using both provided characters and sample characters from the Eclipse Phase core rulebook but can also be modified for use in an ongoing campaign


Are you getting royalties or anything for this?

Stefan Jones said...

The notions of uplifted animals and multiple copies of personalities (via software copies, not physical clones) have come to be standard things in "transhuman" SF-game settings.

Tony Fisk said...

Come explore the universe, all 62 orders of magnitude of it.

(You've probably done this before, but with 14 year old guides?)

'those veryfun'... indeed!

Jerry Emanuelson said...

There is a recent, and probably accurate, essay written by Walter Russell Mead called:

Beyond Blue 5: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

It argues that traditional 20th-century style jobs will be mostly fading away, and there will be a much greater need for one-person entrepreneurial companies. Mead isn't the first to discuss this change in our near futures; but his is the most succinct, yet comprehensive, article that I've seen on the subject. It is a change that has already hit a lot of us.

I hadn't ever read anything by Mead before, but the sort of changes that he discusses in his short article inevitably have a profound effect upon the larger changes that will happen in our lifetimes.

Jerry Emanuelson

LarryHart said...

Re: Kiln People voices...

Possibly a better choice for the voice of Albert Morris would be Harrison Ford.

Frank W. Summers III said...

I do not see all of these issues in terms as much driven by what you and most moderns call science, technology and engineering as you and most of your followers. However, I do think those things are very important parts of the total puzzle.

I think that for society to advance in technical matters adequately to the challenges we face and will face the laws of eminent domain will have to be applied to patents and a government or guild power will have to be able authorize the use of patented processes which compete with one another when 1> There is a clear national or global interest. 2. The combined patented technologies are clearly superior to the spearate ones. 3. Free markets have failed to produce a collaboration. 4. The effects of noncooperation are crippling important linear progress.

Like other forms of eminent domain the seizing power would be required to provide compensation in money, notification of the process and a public record of all seizures of rights and their due originators. In the end neither socialism, capitalism nor fascism will be friendly enoug to real evolution in what are called the STEM fields forthe human race to meet its challenges effectively. It will be a set of complex and humane instituions from the dreaded past which when applied to these fields will allow for sufficent protections, incentives and flexibility.

ell said...

Re: pneumatic tubes for trash.

What happens if the trash clogs up the tube? Dig up the street?

And since the illustrations shows people carrying small bags to public collectors, how about video surveillance of the collectors to discourage toxic dumping or sabotage?

Tony Fisk said...

What about recycling?

(actually, the idea of pneumatic tubes becomes more attractive when automatic separation of trash types is a bit more reliable. Currently has problems with chimeric objects and non-rigid plastics)

Talking of piped wastes...what about a comic like Robyn Williams or Eddie Murphy for (Green) Albert Morris in Kiln People?
(I have in mind a line for a film adaption: "Aw hell! How come *I* always get to be Green??")

David Brin said...

A sad comment on our times: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

what about a comic like Robyn Williams or Eddie Murphy for (Green) Albert Morris in Kiln People?
(I have in mind a line for a film adaption: "Aw hell! How come *I* always get to be Green??")


Kermit the Frog?

David Brin said...

onward

bmw bosch said...

Thanks for the marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author

Broach india said...

Great post! The fact that you means someone is reading and liking it! Congrats!That’s great advice.

metal slitting saws