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Monday, July 01, 2013


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I'm going to disagree here. We live in the future that many writers and film-makers portrayed in the best of late 60s to early 80s SF. We should It's too late to fear the future: we should fear the present we've made and work to change our destiny.

Hamlet, you have seen China. We are systematically wrecking the planet's ecosystem in a way that will make civilization difficult to sustain, and in the US at least, the disparity between the wealthy and everyone else has widened gradually since 1970.

Pinker is a great thinker and respected psychologist, but I would also recommend to you, Maria, and NWN's technophiles the work of social critic and New Urbanist James Howard Kunslter, in particular his last work of nonfiction, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation. Best critic in this area since the late Lewis Mumford.

As Kunslter puts it so well, it's delusional to think that we can continue to consume the planet's resources as we are doing. VR and other technologies may well help us mitigate some problems, but they are embedded in a rotten system of Cowboy Capitalism in the US. It's the same system holding back alternative energy development, curtailing political compromise, and making money off the deaths of the uninsured.

My hope--Socialism being a term of Righist ridicule here--is that some better Cowboys ride to the rescue as the old farts die off (and not a moment too soon). Cue Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen in white electric cars and Spaceship 2s.

Thank God other advanced nations are rising, even as the old threat--something like Soviet-style totalitarianism--recedes as a Boogey Man. Yet from what your view outside the hotel in Shanghai reveals, I'm not too sanguine about that option, either.

The crisis is plain: can we use our willpower and technology to stabilize the climate and human population before civilization tumbles? Our avatars and VR rigs won't help much, then. See Octavia Butler's series of "Parable" novels or Atwood's Oryx and Crake too for a look at such a dark time.

Arcadia Codesmith

Is it fear that draws us into dystopian realms? Or is it perhaps something else nearly as primal? These are worlds where the social order has broken down, or become so constrictive that it must be torn down. Who hasn't daydreamed of tossing the rules out the window and living on our own terms, not those dictated by society?

Virtual Reality is an easy metaphor for a life of false structure that must be torn asunder to reveal the more truthful reality beneath. It's a trope employed by Descartes in his metaphysics via the device of a deceptive demon, and Plato also posited that reality was but a distorted shadow of an unseen realm of ideal forms that were more "real" than those we perceive.

So I think it's something beyond fear. I think it's driven by a longing for freedom, when VR is cast as a constraining and smothering illusion. But I think it's also curiosity, the desire to pull back the curtain and gaze upon the little man pulling the levers.



SL for years had a that "utopian community" sim Extropia core.. an then that "dark cybernightmare dystopia sim(s) sl paid for? whatever it was called..run by the same folks who wrote code to rip off everyones objects.

Look who Linden Labs "sponsored" over and over again. Look at which "vision" got all the "attention".

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