OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 23, 2014 - 3:35pm

I see discussion on why we write, and I'm sure there is plenty to talk about on how we write. I'm concerned with what I write. I have a social-political agenda driving the why I want to write. I'm a Sci-Fi fan and that's what I want to pursue. The books and movies I remember having the most impact on me in the genre dealt with what were seen as real iminent dangers. Comparing the then and now in some cases is revealing as to how insightful those authors were. Orwell may have gotten the dates wrong, but 1984 is here and now in more ways than one. 2001 missed on our spacefaring advances, but the HAL9000 may not be that far off. 

So I have two questions. First, what do you see as the real dangers facing our society in the next generation or so? Second, is it possible to write fiction that reflects these dangers in a way that is both relevant and compelling without becoming pedantic and preachy?

Dmcleod's picture
Dmcleod from Florida is reading Molloy January 23, 2014 - 4:38pm

Just a quick answer to your first question.

I have deep seeded fears about technology's relations to anonymity, and values. I believe that in the near future we will all be streaming our entire lives for everyone else to see. Eye implants and shit. Every person will be the star of their own constant reality show. The main goal, if it isnt already, will be to be famous. Have followers. Nothing will last, nothing will be sacred. There will be no more "fans", only aspiring "actors."

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 23, 2014 - 5:16pm

I see discussion on why we write, and I'm sure there is plenty to talk about on how we write. I'm concerned with what I write. I have a social-political agenda driving the why I want to write. I'm a Sci-Fi fan and that's what I want to pursue. The books and movies I remember having the most impact on me in the genre dealt with what were seen as real iminent dangers. Comparing the then and now in some cases is revealing as to how insightful those authors were.

Just don't get all Ayn Rand on it.  Even when she had a point, few listen because you know her writing was pretty bad.

Orwell may have gotten the dates wrong, but 1984 is here and now in more ways than one.

I would like to see 198whatever. The government spies all the time, but just can't get it together enough to be really oppressive. 

HAL9000 may not be that far off.

Unlikely.  There isn't much evidence of a computer system can, or will ever be able to think.  People just sort of assume if it goes fast enough it will become self aware.

http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/AI-is-a-dream-we-shouldnt-be-having

http://bruceleeeowe.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/artificial-intelligence-impossible/

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 23, 2014 - 5:56pm

 

HAL9000 may not be that far off.

Unlikely.  There isn't much evidence of a computer system can, or will ever be able to think.  People just sort of assume if it goes fast enough it will become self aware.

I'm not so sure, and I don't think of this as a processor/speed problem. This is more about program algorithms and system complexity. Also, does HAL have to actually -be- self aware, or would a very good simulation do? Where will 'Siri' be in 20 years or so?

The other aspect of this and more pertinent here is HAL's relationship with the functioning of the ship. If we cede complete control of critical systems to computers, what happens when they either break down or begin to function in ways we did not intend and can no longer alter?

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami January 23, 2014 - 7:25pm

The danger I'm concerned about are not within the next ten years but simply the next year at the latest. My dystopias are more individualistic in nature rather than societal. Don't show me what can happen within the next one thousand years, when one can see what can happens to the individual two minutes in the future.

That's back when I did SF though.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 23, 2014 - 7:33pm

I think the biggest threat to people, at least in the "first world," is the entitlement mentality.  People can either want to hear "you can do it," or they can want to hear "I'll do it for you."  Accuse me of romanticizing the past, it used to be that more people wanted to hear "you can do it."  Now, ugh, someone just take care of me, because it's too haaaaard!

Forget about a sentient AI taking over the world, this is how things go to shit.  It's happened before, it'll happen again.  You want government spying ala Orwell?  You need the second mentality.  You want the loss of individual freedoms?  You need the second mentality.  You want declining productivity?  Second mentality.  A lack of personal responsibility?  Second mentality.

I could go ooooooooon and on, but like the cliche says, we're our own worst enemy.  Human complacency, laziness, etc., mixed with inevitable corruption, is the real danger.

 

That said, I'd say a lot of fiction does this sort of thing without getting preachy.  I think, the key is making a really good, compelling story take place within this scenario.  It's in the background, but there has to be a lot more to the story than the lesson we're ranting about when we get all political.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 24, 2014 - 5:04am

Also, does HAL have to actually -be- self aware, or would a very good simulation do?

I'd say yes, for the purpose of a story where he is doing stuff on purpose.

Where will 'Siri' be in 20 years or so?

A somewhat better fake if I had to guess.  Even if AI takes it off, it seems unlikely that we'd put it in our phones.

If we cede complete control of critical systems to computers, what happens when they either break down or begin to function in ways we did not intend and can no longer alter?

The theory of it 'working' in ways we didn't intend is so unlikely to be only slightly more likely question than 'what do we do if Thor shows up?' How often does that happen and not be just a straight up crash?

Now if you mean unintended consequences of it working how it was designed, that is a very different issue. 

@Thuggish - You okay?

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff January 24, 2014 - 6:11am

Sorry guys, but AI can totally work in ways we didn't intend -- http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130911/srep02627/full/srep02627.html

It's fairly recent news, but as it seems "Our findings are consistent with an emerging ecology of competitive machines featuring ‘crowds’ of predatory algorithms."

That doesn't mean we're screwed and machines are winning. It does generate that special kind of sinister cloud though. And stories!

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 24, 2014 - 7:23am

 

The danger I'm concerned about are not within the next ten years but simply the next year at the latest. My dystopias are more individualistic in nature rather than societal. Don't show me what can happen within the next one thousand years, when one can see what can happens to the individual two minutes in the future.

So more an asteroid impact or Yellowstone super volcano type scenario. 

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 24, 2014 - 7:43am

Artificial Intelligence is impossible because computers will never be able to think and behave in the same way as human beings.

Dwayne, that is the first line in the second article you cited. I also read the first with interest. I think it may capsulate the disconnect we are having in trying to understand each other. First, I do think a computer could achieve a very good simulation of human intelligence through the 'brute force' method cited in the first article. It doesn't have to be 'real' it just has to be good enough you can't tell the difference. This is the "Turing Test"

 

Now back to that first line. An intelligent, or if you have difficulty with that word, highly advanced computer would not think or act like a human. It would think and act like a computer. We may even have difficulty recognizing that it happened at all. Also, I'd point out that this is a splinter conversation to the intent of my original question. I'm not refering to HAL as a "Clear & Present Danger", it was just an example to get a conversation going. 

 

Thanks for all your input, this is a very interesting exchange!

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 24, 2014 - 8:13am

I have deep seeded fears about technology's relations to anonymity, and values. I believe that in the near future we will all be streaming our entire lives for everyone else to see. Eye implants and shit. Every person will be the star of their own constant reality show. The main goal, if it isnt already, will be to be famous. Have followers. Nothing will last, nothing will be sacred. There will be no more "fans", only aspiring "actors."

That's an interesting take, had not really considered something like this. My concerns about implants are the possible use/abuse of RFID technology. You know those chips they put in your cat or dog in case they get lost, also used in the automattic toll passes on bridges and highways. It would be no big trick to implant RFID's in people. It would be for very benificial uses of course... at first. Medical monitoring or chip a baby at birth in case of abduction for example. Later, forced implants for say criminals or repeat drunk drivers, then total monitoring of everyone, for our own protection naturally. 

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes January 24, 2014 - 9:16am

Well it may or may not be dangerous, but there's a chance we could be kidding ourselves about what it's possible to find out. 1000 years from now Physics may be still be stuck on Dark Matter: "It's 97% of the known universe and we still don't know what it is!"  

Or let's say the idea of Singularity is a bust 1000 years down the road: "Yeah well that shit wasn't really possible. The robots were never smart to begin with so a priori, they could never make themselves any smarter." 

So what we're left with is a massive universe whose scale just continues to blow us away and our once mighty sciences just exert a feeble puff into the nearby air and that's it. So as TIME marches on we just realize how much we'll never know. 

So the danger becomes that you could book a trip on Virgin Galactic but miss the chance to discover space and earth for yourself.  

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 24, 2014 - 9:11am

3D printing + AI + networking + unmanned drones = SkyNet / The Matrix / whatever else

I'm not saying it'll actually happen, or that I'm realistically worried about it happening, but it's closer to possible than when they dreamed up that stuff.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 24, 2014 - 9:26am

RE: second question, original post --- Yes. By involving the issues but not overtly expounding on them, you can still raise awareness and inspire thought. This approach will leave your personal views more open to interpretation/suspicion. Or you can go ahead and be preachy, which will bother some readers regardless of whether they agree with you or not, while others might still like the story. There are people who like Ayn Rand, after all, though it seems most of them are in the metaphorical choir.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 24, 2014 - 10:07am

RE: second question, original post --- Yes. By involving the issues but not overtly expounding on them, you can still raise awareness and inspire thought. This approach will leave your personal views more open to interpretation/suspicion. Or you can go ahead and be preachy, which will bother some readers regardless of whether they agree with you or not, while others might still like the story. There are people who like Ayn Rand, after all, though it seems most of them are in the metaphorical choir.

I know the name but not very familier with anything written by Ayn Rand. My experience with the "preachy" style of sci-fi was Robert Heinlein. I've read several of his books, enjoyed every one of them, but realized after the first few that he had a political agenda and was not very subtle about it. I could swear he actually reused whole paragraphs with new characters across a number of his works. After awhile I could skip whole pages because I'd read them in his last three books already. I agreed with most of his politics, I just didn't like getting hit over the head with it.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer January 24, 2014 - 10:24am

If you want to get political, I think you could forsee a future threat of society becoming so ideologically splintered that governments and alliences collapse upon themselves through an inability to compromise on anything. That could involve a lot of things like surveillance and other future concerns as splintered groups struggle for political influence and control.

It's not really dangerous, and even if it was, why be afraid to write what might be dangerous? Write what you want to write. Say what you have to say, and if people don't like it, then they don't have to read it. Politics can definitely be written without sounding preachy. There are a lot of books that are considered classics that have poltical or social themes. I really think you should just write what you feel, and if it comes off as too preachy, you can fix it in the rewrites.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 24, 2014 - 10:45am

If you want to get political, I think you could forsee a future threat of society becoming so ideologically splintered that governments and alliences collapse upon themselves through an inability to compromise on anything. That could involve a lot of things like surveillance and other future concerns as splintered groups struggle for political influence and control.

That's another very good point. I think I would list "Political Extremism" as a top threat today. The moderate middle ground is vanishing almost as fast as the middle class. Everybody is so sure they are right and everyone who disagrees is becoming the enemy worthy of comtempt at least and extermination at worst.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 25, 2014 - 1:26am

@Flaminia Ferina - A hive mind is a slightly better idea, but still not one that shows any evidence of being intelligent the way the term is used.

Dwayne, that is the first line in the second article you cited. I also read the first with interest. I think it may capsulate the disconnect we are having in trying to understand each other.

I'm not misunderstanding you; I am disagreeing.  You are claiming it isn't inherently unreasonable to think at some point in the imaginable future computers could through deliberate design, emergent properties, or some combination could become intelligent.  I am saying statement overlooks the basics facts of the matter, so it is unreasonable.  Making the faster doesn't make the smarter. It assumes being self aware, something that so far is only proven to be a human trait, can be replicated in a computer.  This is a religious, not a scientific idea.

First, I do think a computer could achieve a very good simulation of human intelligence through the 'brute force' method cited in the first article. It doesn't have to be 'real' it just has to be good enough you can't tell the difference. This is the "Turing Test"

I'm not a 100% sure I buy the Turing Test as a good measure.  Maybe it could fake a conversation, but that doesn't mean it is simulating human intelligence in any meaningful way.

Now back to that first line. An intelligent, or if you have difficulty with that word, highly advanced computer would not think or act like a human. It would think and act like a computer. We may even have difficulty recognizing that it happened at all.

In the sense that yeah it wouldn't act like us sure, but it is hard to miss the crying of a new born baby or something giving birth.

@JHY - Even people who agree with her or just think Ayn Rand has a point are seldom into her writing as such.

If you want to get political, I think you could forsee a future threat of society becoming so ideologically splintered that governments and alliences collapse upon themselves through an inability to compromise on anything.

Some good works on that.

http://www.amazon.com/DMZ-Vol-Ground-Brian-Wood-ebook/dp/B008V56I8E/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390641078&sr=1-2&keywords=DMZ

And some ones I haven't read.

http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Orson-Scott-Card-ebook/dp/B003GY0KUM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390641189&sr=1-1&keywords=orson+scott+card+Empire

It's not really dangerous, and even if it was, why be afraid to write what might be dangerous?

So you are of the mind that nothing should be avoided in writing?  I'm of the mindset somethings are dangerous, with no upside, so should be avoided.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 25, 2014 - 2:38am

I'm not misunderstanding you; I am disagreeing.  You are claiming it isn't inherently unreasonable to think at some point in the imaginable future computers could through deliberate design, emergent properties, or some combination could become intelligent.  I am saying statement overlooks the basics facts of the matter, so it is unreasonable.  Making the faster doesn't make the smarter. It assumes being self aware, something that so far is only proven to be a human trait, can be replicated in a computer.  This is a religious, not a scientific idea.

I grasp that you disagree with me, you seem to disagree about the wrong stuff in some cases which is what led me think you may have misunderstood. Again, clock speed has almost nothing to do with a smarter machine, it's just a faster machine running a dumb program. I'm not sure I want to equate self awareness with intelligence either. Agreed it's a human trait, but is it mecessary for intelligent action? Insects act in ways that might be considered intelligent but lack self awareness. Intelligence is a common trait in many animals that lack self awareness. 

More interesting to me is that the disagrement we are having and the points we are debating are almost identical to both articles you provided. Go back and read the last paragraph of the second, the author all but endorses my position in my reading. I doubt we will resolve this and I agree you have ample existing evidence to support your position. Smarter people than us, or at least than me have failed to resolve the issue so far, there are well founded arguments on both sides. To my mind that leaves the subject solidly available for sci-fi speculation without being labled fantasy.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 25, 2014 - 7:11am

Sorry guys, but AI can totally work in ways we didn't intend --

Holy smokes Flamina, that was a heck of a read!! Took me two days and some backtracking, I get the gist but some of the details went a bit over my head. Machines forming interactions on their own faster than humans can perceive or intervene has the potential for unhappy results.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 25, 2014 - 7:16am

@Dwayne, I haven't read Orsen Scott Card in years. That book is pretty recent too, might have to put that on my book list soon.

fport's picture
fport from Canada is reading The World Until Yesterday - Jared Diamond January 25, 2014 - 8:54pm

What is self awareness to a hive mind?

What is the hiearchy of needs for a sentient program?

How permanent is a society based on concrete and steel?

Orwell was writing about his life and times. We're way beyond that. Huxely added huge insights. There's a web comic out there somewhere that compares and contrasts their viewpoints. A useless exercise at best because it would be simpler to use the mix of techniques. Neither postulated the absolute surveillance we live under now.

http://biblioklept.org/2013/06/08/huxley-vs-orwell-the-webcomic-2/

How do you keep information alive when the grid goes out, a virus claims dominance, the climate changes severely, vulcanism runs rampant or solar storms increase? How do you put Vedic writings into context? What are those cities off the coast of India? Why are there out of place maps and artifacts?

All you have to do is pick your scenario and let your story live there. A story is about people and how they react to situations they find themselves in. Unless you are going to create the next milleu to succeed the 3 act paradigm.

Tomorrow the sun flares and the grid goes down. How do you survive? Tomorrow the internet dies because of a virus that is in all the backups and any intel based processor. How do you communicate? A volcano erupts off Africa in the Atlantic and the eastern side of North and South America are hit with a 40 foot wall of water doing just over 40kmh.

http://gpstrackinginfo.com/nasa-develops-new-gps-based-tsunami-predictio...

Story one: What happens next according to trends of things happening now, ie. governments lying and misrepresenting themselves and their actions or unfettered corporatism exploiting everything from framing technologies to directed marketing from personal data?

http://visual.ly/network

Story two: Climate changes enough to extinct a keystone of our ecology and all we can do is band aid while the clock ticks down.

Story three: electronic technology fails at a software/hardware interface that cascades into cataclysm.

Story four: a change of state occurs like sublimation, <going from solid to gas in one step> where ice melts rapidly or salinity increases fifty fold and we have flood or die off.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/feb/22/information-beautif...

Story five: everything suddenly starts working better. <that's the new AI meeting its needs>

http://www.amazon.com/What-Technology-Wants-Kevin-Kelly-ebook/dp/B0043EV...

We have no way of predicting what leads where or how or when. TEOTWAWKI as a genre addresses some of the possible 'lite' disasters where we are still healthy and able to function with leftovers. What about when the sixteen week flu emerges? Or Class 5 weather spins up every 48 to 72 hours and cycles across the oceans around the world?

The way not to be preachy or pedantic is not to write preachy or pedantic prose. Tell the tale about the dangers of corporations doing nanotechnology behind closed doors as a love story between two disability hires at that lab. They're your audience's window to the tragedy. You have to espouse all the safety protocols and standards by showing them being violated in front of your two witnesses. All the intent to save the world gaining unbelievable riches while paving the road straight to hell.

 

 

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 26, 2014 - 4:29am

Story one: What happens next according to trends of things happening now, ie. governments lying and misrepresenting themselves and their actions or unfettered corporatism exploiting everything from framing technologies to directed marketing from personal data?

I'm going to go ahead with a political rant here, I'm going to use some sweeping generalizations. The kind of generalizations that are easily refuted at a micro level but still maintain a base validity at the macro level. Any snipers on the sidelines, feel free to take your shots!

I see Democracy as a political system and Capitalism as an economic system. I can also phrase Marxism as an economic system and Communism as a political system. In my view the Soviet's style of Communism undermined the benifits of Marxism. A flawed political system destroyed the promising economic system. In the same line, Capitalism is poisioning the Democratic system, a flawed economic system is set to destroy a very good political system. I just realized, if I can dispose of the two flawed systems and merge the two good systems, I can create a Marxist Democracy. That would make an excellent base for a plot with sub plots galore.

@fport, that was an excellent and very well thought out response! Thank You!!

You also hit on several credible scenarios I have considered myself. I've been aware of the La Palma volcano/tsunami threat for awhile now and I live on the east coast. I have a few friends that spend an inordinate amount of time blowing up my facebook feed with rants against GMO's. I think it's not the threat your watching that gets you, it's the threat that creeps up and blind sides you that poses the real danger. Nano tech has huge potential to transform our society in much the same way the digital revolution has. It also poses extreme risks both of the unintended and malicious variety. 

fport's picture
fport from Canada is reading The World Until Yesterday - Jared Diamond January 26, 2014 - 8:23am

JYH sayz:

3D printing + AI + networking + unmanned drones = SkyNet / The Matrix / whatever elseI'm not saying it'll actually happen, or that I'm realistically worried about it happening, but it's closer to possible than when they dreamed up that stuff.

Guess people haven't noticed google and its robots yet. 

The cycle time from the garage to world domination is compressing. From 'do no evil' to controlling everything took so little time.

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb January 26, 2014 - 10:48am

This isn't quite answering the questions in Otterman's first post, but here's a slightly different approach that I tend to have to the dangers of society in sci-fi stories:

Rather than ask what might be a threat to us in real life in the future and use that as a starting point, I create a futuristic world, put some characters in, make them do things, and then if it's relevant to the story I ask myself 'What are the dangers to THEM within this fictional world?' I find whenever I do this, certain elements of real life creep in and create an element of alegory, but it feels less forced than trying to predict a future that might come true (it probably won't, and people who live to see the times I write in would read my work and probably laugh.) Part of the fun of sci-fi is that it's made up. If I took what I imagine seriously and thought 'this could happen one day' I would soon lose the desire to continue the story.

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries January 26, 2014 - 12:36pm

Without being very imaginative, the things most likely too keep me up at night are:

1. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In a not too distant future, we'll start dying of shit most people in the west don't even realize should be deadly, not to mention diseases that current generations don't remember exist. I don't know how likely it is that someone will whip up a new drug in time (especially since the time seems to be now) but if not, the consequences will be catastrophic.

2. Global and/or regional governance. This is a terrible idea. Believe it or not, but among advocates of this mode of governance, EU is regarded as a good example. As a democratic institution, the EU is a goddamn farce. We don't currently have a system of democracy that can function on this scale, and I doubt we'll come up with one anytime soon. What's worse, even scholars that argue in favor of this model seem to acknowledge this issue, only to then go on and justify it – and we're talking about sacrificing democracy here – with an extremely naive belief in the goodness of our leaders. Could you think of one politician today that you would trust to run a world government, or even a regional one? Accountability towards voters would be nonexistent. Makes my skin crawl.   

3. WWIII. I don't know what qualifies a war as a World War, but another major interstate conflict seems extremely likely at this point. Within five years, would be my bet.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 26, 2014 - 1:22pm

Pop quiz, for fun.

Can anyone actually define "capitalism" as a term?

...

Or has it truly become a catch-all for what we see economically today when any large corporation is involved?

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 26, 2014 - 3:06pm

 

Pop quiz, for fun.

Can anyone actually define "capitalism" as a term?

...

Or has it truly become a catch-all for what we see economically today when any large corporation is involved?

Well, I don't know if anyone can define it but I'll bet we can debate it endlessly...

Start with the base word -capital-, money and resources. Capital is controlled by individuals, people, partnerships, corporations, etc.. Those supplying capital are entitled to reap a profit from their investment. The assumption being that economic natural selection will favor the efficient and productive systems and eliminate the weak. 

This is as opposed to a communist/socalist style wher all resources are owned by the state, no individuals take profits, and all benefit equally from their collective efforts. The result should be a fair distribution of wealth and the elimination of excessive wealth or poverty.

In theory each offer attractive benefits, in practice each have flaws which are difficult to avoid.

And go...

 

 

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 26, 2014 - 4:47pm

 

Without being very imaginative, the things most likely too keep me up at night are:

1. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In a not too distant future, we'll start dying of shit most people in the west don't even realize should be deadly, not to mention diseases that current generations don't remember exist. I don't know how likely it is that someone will whip up a new drug in time (especially since the time seems to be now) but if not, the consequences will be catastrophic.

There are actually a number of emergent and resistant bugs now that are posing medical challenges, that's a good point. Wondering what may be in store in the near future is troubling.

 

2. Global and/or regional governance. This is a terrible idea. Believe it or not, but among advocates of this mode of governance, EU is regarded as a good example. As a democratic institution, the EU is a goddamn farce. We don't currently have a system of democracy that can function on this scale, and I doubt we'll come up with one anytime soon. What's worse, even scholars that argue in favor of this model seem to acknowledge this issue, only to then go on and justify it – and we're talking about sacrificing democracy here – with an extremely naive belief in the goodness of our leaders. Could you think of one politician today that you would trust to run a world government, or even a regional one? Accountability towards voters would be nonexistent. Makes my skin crawl.            

Those who would surrender essential liberty in exchange for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety - Bejamin Franklin                                                      

3. WWIII. I don't know what qualifies a war as a World War, but another major interstate conflict seems extremely likely at this point. Within five years, would be my bet.

I don't know if the next world war will be the traditional bombs and bullets variety or something more like a combination of your first two points. When the post 9-11 anthrax attack was investigated the big worry was that it had been piggybacked with a modified smallpox virus. A global electronic attack on the financial and other infrastructure could be devastating. Can you picture someone hacking the air traffic control system and feeding false data. Might make 9-11 look like a high school prank.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 26, 2014 - 8:57pm

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism

:  an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 27, 2014 - 2:46pm

This topic seems to have run it's course, so I would like to take a moment to thank all who took the time to offer your input. I found it very helpful and interesting and I learned a lot. I am a relative noob here and your help is appreciated! As may infer from my profile pic, I am an avid golfer. I have been active in the forum of a golf related site for several years now. I had posted a slightly modified version of this topic at about the same time there. I received several good responses there as well and you might find the discussion interesting when contrasted to the comments found here.

Again many thanks to all, here is a link to the US Handicap forum I posted.

http://www.ushandicap.com/golf-forums/forumtopic.asp?topicID=8570

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 27, 2014 - 7:44pm

Dwayne did the smart thing- consult the dictionary!

All that makes it capitalism is that the PEOPLE control the economy, or means of production.  Not the government.

That's it.

Has nothing to with the cronyism everyone thinks, even if they go hand in hand these days, or corporations taking over the world, or selling your soul to the company store...

 

Aaaaanyway, I hadn't thought about the whole superbugs angle, that's not bad for fiction.  Especially if mixed with AI running amuck, perhaps?  

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 27, 2014 - 7:52pm

Guess people haven't noticed google and its robots yet.

Unless the robots are making themselves from parts they machined themselves, it'd still be a far cry from what I was getting at. It'd be funny(?) though if googlebots took over the world (after their company) rather than the bots of some military program gone awry (or whatever SkyNet was supposed to be).

here is a link to the US Handicap forum I posted.

Interesting, the difference in attitudes and variety of ideas.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 27, 2014 - 7:54pm

All that makes it capitalism is that the PEOPLE control the economy, or means of production.  Not the government.

Control and ownership are not always the same. And the government is made of people.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff January 28, 2014 - 5:04am

Wow. Googlebots taking over the world. Can you figure that? "What blinker? What blinker??? Let me google that for you, twat." 
*car melts into blinker fluid

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 28, 2014 - 9:43am

@Flam --- Never heard that one. I googled it. Me is twat?

I'm sick of mechanics. (Mainly because I'm cheap and my auto is busted.) If you suggest anything, they don't like it. If you tell them you've researched what goes into the repair, they don't like it. It's like they want you to view them as hermetic masters when often they're just guys with access to a lift and tools designed for the particular job. They look up how to do the work in their own service manuals (because no mechanic has first-hand knowledge of every job on every model) but they get offended if you've done the same.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff January 28, 2014 - 10:56am

Me is twat?

lol no, JY. It's pretentious googlebot calling everyone a twat. Not pretentious me, hehe.

My mechanic is the best! For starters, he works near my place. And then he always fixes ma ca without that freemason look all mechanics have. Twice or so a month, that is. And there's always that weird noise coming from the motor box, but hey, he works near my place!

Really you don't know what a blinker is?

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 28, 2014 - 11:04am

I know what blinkers are, not blinker fluid.
I mean I didn't know that was an established joke: "Check the blinker fluid."

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 28, 2014 - 11:38am

Does anyone know how to turn off the quote thingy when it gets stuck??? It's cheesing me off!

{quote} I know what blinkers are, not blinker fluid.

I mean I didn't know that was an established joke: "Check the blinker fluid."

{end quote} (take that stuck quote thingy)

When I was in the Air Force noobs would sometimes be sent to the maintenance hanger for things like a bucket of prop wash or 50 feet of flight line.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff January 28, 2014 - 12:07pm

Does anyone know how to turn off the quote thingy when it gets stuck???

Yes. You will find the instructions in the Resources for Quotes & General Stuckness page.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff January 28, 2014 - 12:10pm

Kidding. I just copy the line, press the quotes here in the editor, paste the line and Enter, Enter.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 28, 2014 - 1:58pm

@Otterman

Example

Make sure the tool bar is showing, click on the area that is in quotes (in the above example it would be anyplace that in the 'Example', and then click on the quote button.  If that isn't working you can copy and paste anything you've done so far into a notepad or such and reload the web page or submit and edit what you posted.

@Thuggish - Thank you.

@JYH - 

Control and ownership are not always the same.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/own

a :  to have or hold as property :  possess
b :  to have power or mastery over <wanted to own his own life>

To own very strong implies control, lacking control almost certainly disqualifies the standard meaning of the word.

If you tell them you've researched what goes into the repair, they don't like it. It's like they want you to view them as hermetic masters when often they're just guys with access to a lift and tools designed for the particular job.

There are guys who are jerks like that, but sometimes people are so far off that you just want them to go away and let you do your job.  Often, these are the ones most convinced they know what they are doing.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 28, 2014 - 2:34pm

 

I know what blinkers are, not blinker fluid.
I mean I didn't know that was an established joke: "Check the blinker fluid."

 

and that's what I get after pressing enter, enter but sometimes it works just fine.

another enter, and I have quit the page and reloaded and that does seem to work but not always. wonder if it's an issue at my end then...

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 28, 2014 - 2:35pm

wow that first line wasn't >even< what I tried to quote

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 28, 2014 - 2:36pm

Crap! I broke the internet

XyZy's picture
XyZy from New York City is reading Seveneves and Animal Money January 28, 2014 - 5:59pm

All that makes it capitalism is that the PEOPLE control the economy, or means of production.  Not the government.

No, it's all people. Whether capitalism, communism, socialism, or fuedalism... it's all people. The main distinction is which people. In capitalism it's the capitalists that make those decisions. The bosses, CEOs, lenders, and stockholders. When the government decides, it's socialism. When the workers decide, it's communism.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 28, 2014 - 8:44pm

Control and ownership are not always the same.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/own


a :  to have or hold as property :  possess
b :  to have power or mastery over <wanted to own his own life>

To own very strong implies control, lacking control almost certainly disqualifies the standard meaning of the word.

[I knew someone would do that.]

The whole reason there are two distinct possible definitions is that they, in fact, do not always go hand-in-hand; in other words, one might apply when the other does not. Which is why I said it was so.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 28, 2014 - 9:42pm

xyzy-

I don't undersatnd what you're trying to say?

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 29, 2014 - 2:09pm

JYH is trying to bring up the fact that you can technically own something but not control it, such as a child who has inherited money that is held in trust for them or such, which while true isn't really germane to the conversation.

An honestly no, the government/workers/capitalists aren't just 'people'.  Instutions have a certain momentum, different public personas, and different resources.  The an FBI agent and a Jewish rabbis are both people, but get different reactions when they deal with people in a professional capacity. 

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children January 29, 2014 - 3:25pm

While ownership and control are factors, I think the real difference between the two systems lies in motivation. Captialism is rooted in the profit motive. Communism/Socalism/Marxism are motivated by a collective distribution of labor and goods. In theory individual profit is removed from the equation. In one system the "State" seeks to hold assets in trust for the people and act in their collective best interest. In the other the "Free Market" rules subject to <ahem> minimal regulation by the government. The government itself is prohibited in most cases from ownership of capital resources.

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore January 29, 2014 - 6:29pm

To be clear: remove the forward slash between socialism and communism. These terms, while often used interchangeably, are not one and the same. Socialism, while a dirty word in the US, is an economic system that most modern countries operate under.

Since this is a site about writing, then likewise reading too, might I suggest Max Barry's Jennifer Government? A great look a what a truly capitalist economic system could look like. Here's an excerpt.