[FoRK] [tt] [wta-talk] The future of politics. Can politicians prepare society for the major technology challenges ahead? With Darren Reynolds.

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Feb 9 21:05:12 PST 2010

Jeff Bone wrote:
> "Can dinosaurs help rodents prepare for their upcoming ascendancy?"
> This is hilarious.  Really.  GMAFB.  
> Politicians in general cannot and do not understand or cope with, much less help society adapt to and capture the opportunity of, *yesterday's* technology.  Instead, the political system is often the tool of those with entrenched interests in inhibiting new technology.  Tubes, remember?

As a rule, I agree.  However, there are a good number of exceptions 
where new technology is advanced and/or allowed to flourish where some, 
sometimes even perhaps the majority, might not have gone that way.  The 
military / industrial complex, (mostly old) NASA, DARPA, NIH, etc....
> Looking at the presenter's bio-blip, makes perfect sense.  Hit us with that irrational exuberance about the positive effectiveness of government, Mr. Chairman.

Trying for an ideal isn't bad, believing that it is certain or probable 
may be.
> Can (existing forms of) government have a positive impact on society?  Of course.  Does this actually happen?  Rarely, and increasingly so.

If you don't strive for it and try to make it happen, it will never 
happen.  That it seldom happens even when everyone strives for it 
doesn't mean that cynicism will produce a better result.
> Let us not mince words.  Every single technological innovation of any significance on the horizon is a disruptive threat to any centralization of control, be it within markets or within social organization.  That is *the nature* of disruptive innovation vis-a-vis establishments.  

I don't think that many politicians have any inkling of what is likely 
around the corner.  All of the rules will likely change in several major 
areas in the next 20 years in ways that will out pace existing systems 
of control.  Nano assembly, programmed chemistry (i.e. drugs/biomach as 
software / MP3-like recipes), robots from insects to fully autonomous 
agents doing farming / domestic / manufacturing / sentry / all mindless 
jobs, hyper transport (fast, semi-autonomous vehicles, planes, cycles, 
etc.), etc.  To say nothing of military / protection capabilities.  When 
people start realizing what _could_ be done with some of these new, 
powerful tools, they will freak.  Hopefully the benefits will be clear 
before that happens.

A simple rule change and a little experience with carbon fiber 
composites, even in a tough market, has brought us super-gadgets like 
this amphibious folding airplane / jetski for about the price of two 
expensive cars (i.e. retails for $139K, including avionics):


We already have perfected, to a basic but workable extent, UAV and 
in-traffic driving automation capabilities.  Imagine a slightly updated 
version of the Icon with those capabilities.
> Not only is it unrealistic and pollyanna to think that government *could* play a constructive role in this --- in fact the opposite incentives and motivations are intrinsically baked into our systems of governance themselves --- whatever individual intentions and motivations "politicians" might have.

How do we fix this?  Destroying the government is not an option.
> jb

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