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Ether Mind

2010 - Welcome to the Future!
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Right Wing Critique of the Week - Cory Doctorow

Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present

I picked it up because Cory Doctorow is a cool name.

Doctorow is a Canadian and an idiot liberal, but it's not glaringly obvious in the stories. In this collected work there are prefaces where he says that GM workers are being screwed by the greedy corporation, which is trying to redirect their ire toward illegal immigrant scapegoats.

What? Maybe other greedy corporations are doing that, but the UAWs are overpaid and the union has destroyed the US car industry with the slight help of regulators. I don't think it's possible for the car makers to have agreed to the current pay and benefits without the implicit threat of government-imposed arbitration, violence against picket breakers, etc. It's possible, and in Iacocca's autobiography he has nothing bad to say about the unions, but... the UAWs are not being screwed.

Anyway, I found Overclocked to be mediocre. The writing was fine but the ideas (central to any sci fi short story) were eehhhhhhh. A row-boat with AI. Non-three-laws robots from China competing with three laws robots in the North American police state. I can't even remember the other ones.

Contrast to Robert Sawyer, whose writing is poorly executed but the ideas are original and somewhat genre-bending. I prefer his work.

Too much wasted space as well. It didn't drag, but it was not as concise as short stories should be.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Government as bacterial cultures

A model for historical progression of government... kinda like the historical dialectic tautology... came to me recently.

Picture a grey field of nutrients, or people. Entropy is high and a state of chaos, a Hobbesian state of nature, rules.

But since germs are everywhere, little black patterns of lines form and spread. Bacterial cultures don't really look like that, but we're talking about governments. These are radial patterns with very little organization, but they have an obvious center. Eventually the networks cover 99.9% of the dish. They fight wars and sometimes split, reform, die and are replaced.

There are two opposing trends:
Over time, each network/government grows older, more complex, and centralizes its power until it dies from bureaucratic inertia.
But the next generation is less centralized- there are more networks, in less space, and within the networks are subgraphs with their identifiable centers of gravity.

Information technology, as well as other factors, determine the level of decentralization/self-organization of a government at birth. It ossifies and dies. But over time, the total organization of the petri dish increases.

A dictatorship based on one warrior and his loyal henchmen, no matter how absolute, has fewer rules and less complexity of regulation than an aristocracy.

Ideally I'd like to see this progression lead to a highly regulated anarchy where the individual has sovereignty but relative peace prevails... sort of like the New World Order we have today.

Will it? ehhhhhh the trend toward decentralization will end before people take responsibility for their actions.

Nonetheless, our descendants may live in a free country one day.