May you live in interesting times

March 09 2013

We live in interesting times. A couple of weeks ago I got to attend TEDx Austin at the new Circuit of The Americas track here in lovely Austin Texas. Lots of great talks and ideas, which you can go watch.

One of the most interesting talks was by Byron Reese, who is so optimistic about the power of technology to change the world for the better that he wrote a book called "Infinite Progress" that I just finished reading. His arguments echo those of people like Ray Kurzweil - that technological change has been a force for good in the world, and that not only is that change continuing, is is increasing at an exponential rate. Apply that to the worlds problems and he thinks that we can solve hunger, poverty, even end war.

Whether he is correct or not, I certainly believe that the next few decades will bring change to our world unlike anything we have ever seen before. Some of the things will be amazing - I am looking forward to having a pair of glasses like the Google Glass concept - but there will be unintended consequences of those advances, both good and bad. We all got to see video of the Russian meteor a couple of weeks ago because the cops in Russia are so corrupt that everyone has dashcams now! What things (good and bad) will be captured when millions of people are wearing cameras all the time?

In order for us to navigate these interesting times, people need to be educated on the issues. Learn as much as you can about technology and its impact on society. Read some of the fiction that touches on these issues - some of my favorite authors in this area are Cory Doctorow, Vernor Vinge, and Charles Stross. Read some of the non-fiction, like the book I mentioned earlier, or anything by Ray Kurzweil. Talk about it with your friends. 

Its going to be an interesting ride.

Steve Donie
[email protected]
Austin, TX

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