Fully Automated Luxury … Dancing? (A futuristic conspiracy theory in the making)
Vic Grout, Professor of Computing Futures, Wrexham Glyndŵr University
Download the PDF version: Fully Automated Luxury Dancing – Download Version 1
[Note/Disclaimer: Some of the discussion in this piece is shockingly brief. A limit of 10,000 words was planned and (just) adhered to.]
We’ve encountered Michael Moorcock’s masterpiece, Dancers at the End of Time, before on these pages: both as an example of sci-fi doing what it does best (providing a blank canvas for a bigger discussion) and the problems futurologists have with not seeing key disruptive technology (the Internet, in Moorcock’s case). But, for this post, an entirely different question to ponder: who exactly ARE ‘The Dancers’?
Because answering that puzzle (there aren’t that many clues to go on in the novel itself and obviously it is only a story) takes us to considering problems in (apparently) entirely different fields: environment, politics, economics, etc. (which is the important point really, of course) and may lead us to a view of the future quite at odds with current thinking right across the political spectrum. Specifically, what’s usually wrong with long-term ‘futuristic’ political and economic prophesising? Particularly the very well-intentioned left-wing stuff. What’s the one thing that everything from Karl Marx’s Das Capital to Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism appear to take for granted? (Spoiler alert: in simple terms it’s the belief that just because a political/economic system’s crap, it will naturally yield to something better – but we’ll come to that.)
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OK, I know this is blowing my own trumpet a bit but, frankly, this is getting desperate so maybe it’s time to take the gloves off and look at some of the emerging tech. ethics predictions I’ve made over the years and how they’re turning out …
1 Comment | tags: Fake news, Future, Future technology, Futurism, Futurology, Predicting the future, Privacy, Robot sex, Technocapitalism | posted in Industry, Philosophy, Politics, Science
There’s a UK general election on Thursday 12th December. Perhaps a once-in-a-generation chance to steer the country away from fascism? The stakes are high and the issues numerous (yes, really, more than just Brexit) but here, we’ll try to keep to the technology. However, ‘keeping to the technology’ is as much to do with understanding what it can’t and won’t do, just as much as what it can and will …
Some of this isn’t new in this blog but it seems to be a timely reminder. Let’s start with a simple (rhetorical) straw poll:
- Can we all agree that the next few years are going to bring some interesting technological developments? Yes?
- Can we generally agree that those ‘developments’ can be loosely described as ‘advances’? Hmm? Not quite so certain? Depends on your point of view? Maybe? Possibly? Most of the time? Probably?
- Are we generally confident that emerging/future technology will benefit people? Ah!
This is at the heart of it. Yes, technology changes lives. Yes, it has the potential to make lives better. But will it? and for whom?
Leave a comment | tags: Automation, Automation and unemployment, Computing future, Future technology, Futurism, Futurology, Industrial revolution, Technological revolution, Vote Labour | posted in Hardware, Industry, Philosophy, Politics, Science, Software
Most people following this blog will be familiar with the notion of ‘swarm intelligence’. So here’s a question … Could ‘swarm thickness’ be a thing? (Seriously!)
Swarm Intelligence (SI) shows itself all over the place in nature and discussion goes back at least as far as Darwin. Through SI, birds and fish maintain apparently impossibly coordinated formations, ants find the best path to food and bees and termites build complex structures to name just a few examples.
The essence of SI is a wonderfully simple one. Individuals do the most basic of operations, follow the crudest of directives or instincts but the cumulative effect for the flock, shoal, colony or hive is something magnificently clever. They’re guided, by something they don’t understand, to play a small part in something good.
You can probably see where we’re going here … Could humans be doing this the other way around? Could we, guided by something we don’t understand, be playing a small part in something awful?
2 Comments | tags: Computing future, Emerging technology, Environmental crisis, Future technology, Futurism, Futurology, Human survival, Predicting the future, Social breakdown | posted in Philosophy, Politics, Science