My own 2013 book Catalyst: A Techno-Liberation Thesis offered a prediction of the political future, viewing the near-term future as a time of crisis shaped by the nature of technology and the slowness of states to adjust to it. As this struggle becomes more acute, guarded new technologies will also get stolen and overflow across borders, going global and penetrating every country before they were intended to. States and large companies will react with bans and lies as they try to save their monopolies. Ultimately, over a longer time-frame, the nation-state system will collapse because of this pressure and an uncertain successor system of governance will emerge. It will look like “hell on earth” for a time, but it will stabilize in the end. We will become new political animals with new allegiances, shaped by the crisis, much as the Thirty Years’ War brought about our Westphalian nation-state model. Six years on from my book, are we any closer to what I predicted?
- The internet is “liberating” and “empowering” in a political sense (pp. 2, 3)
- Uncertain outcome. Will current habits of censorship, de-platforming and other techno-enslavement as a result of controversies like “Russiagate” persist or are they temporary? If the economically or commercially favorable course is one of freedom and the removal of all filters and bans, will we see a reversal in the next few years? As younger politicians replace the old, will the internet become a sacred anarchy again?
- “Duplicitous policies” preserve the status of rich countries as exploiters and bullies (p. 11)
- Yes, and it is increasingly obvious. Such policies became exposed and visible under the Trump administration, which openly declares its national interest to lie in the economic deprivation of others and sabotage of their tech. This has been criticized as harmful to free trade, and has been described as “de-globalization”. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked that the tech war complicates the issue of global inequality (a rare observation seemingly asserted only in the Catalyst Thesis before recently).
- “Nano” and “bio” appliances will be in the household and will “shrink” production processes, abridging these processes so they are not corporate or state controlled and are in the “hands of the people” (p. 15)
- This is uncertain. If there has been progress towards this outcome, it is not visible and has not had a major impact on world events. The possibility of it has started to cause concern for states and monopolistic schemes, but this is more in the ‘alarm’ stage rather than the ‘ban’ stage. More time may be needed, before this trend has a deeper impact on society.
- The nation-state system is being weakened by technology, media and globalization (p. 16), anti-state forces are “winning”
- Well, not really. As of 2019, unless everything we just saw was a hiccup in the grand plan of history, the “ideological mask” of exploitation and division — the nation-state system — has reasserted itself. In almost every policy area in every country, the clock is running backward towards nationalism, censorship, borders, walls, and deep paranoia. Almost everyone on the political left and right is part of the problem, wittingly or unwittingly. Whether you support Trump or think he’s a Russian asset, or even care, your views and values are right out of the Nineteenth Century. We have seen the defeat of net neutrality, along with the passive acceptance of censorship on social media in the foolish assumption it will only be used on targets we dislike or who went too far. There seems to have been a lack of any major follow-up disclosures of government abuses on the scale of Edward Snowden’s, and whether it will ever happen again is questionable. With all these things considered, “losing” might be a better description of the situation for anti-government techno-politics as of 2019. If what is happening is not a minor disruption in the flow of history, it is consequential for the Catalyst Thesis and severely undermines its value. If the “soft” battle is lost as described above, and we revert to a society dominated entirely by strong states and corporations, the “hard” battle of techno-liberation may never start in our lifetimes.
- Historical transitions are “dark and filled with reaction” (p.23)
- Yes. This appears to still be the case. The reaction may be what we are already facing, as all elites invested in the old system desperately try to suppress the global political will, motivated by fear of a new world order in which they are demoted.
- “Open-borders global political will” will form as a result of the internet, translation software, and the difficulty of statists in managing the overflow of popular technologies and their users (pp. 24, 25)
- Yes. Almost every attempt by the media conglomerates and/or state to create a uniform public opinion about an election, a global issue, a scandal, etc. is failing because of alleged foreign “trolls”. They cannot be stopped because the internet’s circulatory system is not for one nation, but completely open to the world. That is the whole point of it, the reason it is the internet. The US 2016 election was the most visible example of the loss of control. Repressive and paranoid statements ensued. But, as of 2019, governments and media still gasp at the results they are getting.
- We will see new or experimental technologies shared illegally, the way information is leaked (p. 37)
- Uncertain. Edward Snowden and Wikileaks do not seem to have captured as many imaginations as they should have, given how central they have been in the story of the internet. It is difficult to argue that the next generation will be even more rebellious, if they are to grow up in a much more monitored and conformist society. If the anarchy of the internet is going to be stopped and the smallest infractions punished as treason, this will damage the thinking of younger people who should have grown up noticing the contradictions in society. If, on the other hand, younger people are increasingly trained to be highly capable in the cyber-world (e.g. coding classes), we may see an even bigger generation of cypherpunk rebels accidentally raised by the state.
Catalyst is read in less than a day, and can be found on Kindle as well as in print. It was written to bring together a number of ideas and predictions I presented in articles at the IEET website, h+ Magazine, and other websites and includes full lists of sources. If you prefer to see more first, follow @CatalystThesis on Twitter or sign up to the email newsletter.
Dear Mr Howard Bloom-The modern Einstein,next Stephen Hawking and Freud,
Its an honor to be known by you. Your work on Space Sciences are revolutionary Sir. Your association and projects with CalTech and other scientific organizations will change the world we live in.I also have great passion in Space and Astronomy Sciences and that led me attending multiple workshops of NASA apart from attending its three credit course and organizing its prestigious essay contest in Indian schools in India and Abroad. I have searched NASA websites for close to 16 years and have found that it stores trillions of pages of materials where you can learn and research without help of any other source. I also have written my fundamental concept called The Cosmic Mask which I have sent to National Research Council and The American Astronomical Society for their review. I plan to publish it on AAS website.My two books–The Cosmic Mask(Not the Fundamental Concept) and NASA-The Story of Manned and Unmanned Missions is dedicated to youths of this world for their love and passion in Space and Astronomy Sciences.
I want to know how you can associate me with National Space Society and other organizations you are associated with.
You asked me few things and here is what I think.
Yes I am a Journalist also and I write for Russian International Affairs Council,Moscow,Life Boat Foundation,Nevada,USA,Global Ethics Network,Washington and few more places.
I think the concept of Globalization has brought many developments in countries. I traveled to China thrice and I am quite amazed kind of progress China has achieved in last 30 years. I will not be wrong if I say that in many aspects its way ahead to USA or western World. They care about their culture,language but at the same time have welcomed and have adopted foreign companies on their soil. Deng Xio Ping and his many successors including current President Xi Jin Ping has metamorphosed China in a way that its now called second super power in exiting world.
As for as Russia is concerned its now a bit stable but it still has to go a long way ahead. Russia and USA relation or Trump and Putin relation are in much better shape than their predecessors and its good for both countries.
Now about country which is my mother land-India. India has all potential to grow and is growing rapidly. From the days in immediate post independence time where it had to import literally everything it is now a giant nation in IT sector and launches satellite every month if not every week . The Great Indian Middle Class is back bone of Indian economy due to its spending capacity and Agriculture its soul. Railways,Metros,New Airports,Thousands of Kilometers of Roads,Seaway-Starting on 15th August from Varanasi to Kolkata’ Bullet train and curving corruption,Demonetization are few tasks out of many which Narendra Modi gov has achieved. I guess he needs a second term to make those schemes sustainable to make India a super speeding nation.
Sir you are called modern Einstein,next Stephen Hawking and Freud you tell me how you rate India’s progress via returning message and I will publish it on my social media pages as I am publishing this.
-P.S. Howard Bloom is a Revolutionary Scientist who work with Caltech,NASA,NRC,AAS,NAS and many more.His website is;
Reply of Howard Bloom
The recent efforts to remove Net Neutrality have given many a sense of impending doom we are soon to face. What happens to an Internet without Net Neutrality? Advocates have a vision of the possible results — and it is quite the nightmare! In this segment of Future A to Z, The Galactic Public Archives takes a cheeky, yet compelling perspective on the issue.
Tune in tomorrow (Thursday, Nov 10, 2016) at 4:30PM Eastern. Find out what Edward Snowden has to say on the future of the US. [Source: StartPage via Engadget]
American technology policies could change significantly under Donald Trump, and that includes its stance on privacy. How will the new leader alter government surveillance, for example? Edward Snowden might have an answer. The whistleblower and Dutch search engine StartPage are hosting a live event on November 10th at 4:30PM Eastern to address what happens to privacy in the Trump era, among other questions. Snowden speaking engagements are nothing new, but this is special — he’s more than a little familiar with government spying activities, and this is his first chance to opine on how things might be different under a new administration.
Snowden hasn’t said much of anything about the subject as of this writing. However, Trump doesn’t exactly have a stellar record on internet privacy so far. He has proposed reauthorizing the Patriot Act and the previous, less restrained NSA mass surveillance that took place while the Act was in force. He tends to “err on the side of security” over privacy, even if he’s not especially fond of it. As such, Snowden probably won’t have many kind things to say. He’s in favor of more privacy wherever possible, and that could easily put him at greater odds with the US government than he is now.
“Brittan Heller has a hard job. The Anti-Defamation League’s first director of technology and society, she’ll be working with tech companies to combat online harassment.”
There is a stark contrast between the cover stories in current issue of Boys’ Life –vs- Girls’ Life. [see it here]. The Boys cover effectively urges males to learn, build, think and question assumptions. But, the Girls cover wonders “Oh My! What will you do with your hair and nails today!”
Although I am a feminist—and readily jarred by the juxtaposition of contrary messages—I am giving editors at Girls’ Life a ‘get out of jail’ pass this time. It may not be the sexism that it seems.
[Originally published at AWildDuck under my pen name, “Ellery”]
Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) kicked up a firestorm last week, when she tweeted a photo of two side-by-side magazines on a newsstand. The contrast between cover features of Boy’s Life –vs- Girl’s Life is startling. With characteristic sarcastic wit, she tweeted:
“Why are you feminists always complaining?
We treat boys and girls exactly the same.”
For those who are reading without the above image, the current issue of these magazines calls out to readers like this:
- Boys: Would you like to build and fly the next generation of jet fighters?
- Girls: What on Earth can you do with your hair and nails this weekend?
The difference between these covers suggests that the respective magazine editors are pushing 19th century aspirations onto the next generation of 21st century women. It’s a reminder of lingering differences in the way we perceive the sexes. But does this contrast present a fair and balanced comparison?
Certainly, there is work to do—but, the stark difference between these magazine covers may not point to a societal ill in the way that seems to jump off the screen.
- Despite similar titles, these magazines have very different audiences and goals. I doubt that Girls’ Life is aimed at the broader demographics of Boys’ Life. The subscriber base evolved to target the girls of Toddlers and Tiaras. I am exaggerating by pointing to a narrow demographic, of course! but it sells to girls who already aspire to be future homemakers, or who simply have the fashion obsession that is still the hallmark of many preteen girls.
- Unlike boys, girls really do have more options for viewing their future and their careers. Feminism and technological/political empowerment is not yet universal or even universally embraced. Some families, particularly among the south, among religious conservatives, and among hard-hat towns dependent upon muscles and mining, still promote the notion of TFRs onto the next generation (traditionally female roles). Right or wrong, it brings us to point #3…
- It’s clear that there is a stark difference between covers: “How can I build a jet fighter?” –vs- “What will I do with my hair tonight?” But, it is all too easy to assume that we understand cause-and-effect. That is, the difference is likely to be a reaction to market forces, rather than the publisher’s attempt to shape desires. One cannot find fault with delivering content based on consumer demand.
If you tell me that there are plenty of girls that hope to build or fly a jet fighter, I will nod in violent agreement. But if you tell me that there is an equal fraction of boys who obsess over their nails, hair and the color of a blouse, I will wonder if we live on the same planet.
My teenage daughter is clearly in the former group: She imagines, asks tough questions, builds, tears down, and then builds a better gizmo from scratch. She codes Android apps and creates massive murals for the local shopping mall. But, some girls care about classic ‘girly’ things, at least during their early years. And here’s a surprise…
Many of these gilrly girls exhibit just as much technical proficiency and self-confidence as their empowered peers. They are assertive, independent, financially savvy, and aware of their equal political and career footings. Yet, many of us feminists bristle at the thought of a female child who obsesses about their hair and nails (at least to the point of subscribing to a magazine in that venue). In fact, the two are not mutually exclusive.
So, can I still call myself a feminist in the mold of Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem? Perhaps not. I am more likely to identify with a less militant Helen Gurley Brown. She was all about empowerment and sexual equality. Yet, somehow, she avoided pushing the sexes to be completely indistinguishable and androgynous.
Do you disagree? Do you think that I exhibit a Luddite attitude that is at the core of a chauvinistic society? Don’t just let it grate on you—Be a Wild Duck! Leave a comment here, next to the original article.
Human civilization has always been a virtual reality. At the onset of culture, which was propagated through the proto-media of cave painting, the talking drum, music, fetish art making, oral tradition and the like, Homo sapiens began a march into cultural virtual realities, a march that would span the entirety of the human enterprise. We don’t often think of cultures as virtual realities, but there is no more apt descriptor for our widely diverse sociological organizations and interpretations than the metaphor of the “virtual reality.” Indeed, the virtual reality metaphor encompasses the complete human project.
Virtual Reality researchers, Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson, write in their book Infinite Reality; “[Cave art] is likely the first animation technology”, where it provided an early means of what they refer to as “virtual travel”. You are in the cave, but the media in that cave, the dynamic-drawn, fire-illuminated art, represents the plains and animals outside—a completely different environment, one facing entirely the opposite direction, beyond the mouth of the cave. When surrounded by cave art, alive with movement from flickering torches, you are at once inside the cave itself whilst the media experience surrounding you encourages you to indulge in fantasy, and to mentally simulate an entirely different environment. Blascovich and Bailenson suggest that in terms of the evolution of media technology, this was the very first immersive VR. Both the room and helmet-sized VRs used in the present day are but a sophistication of this original form of media VR tech.
Keith Kirkpatrick | Communications of the ACM“‘There’s this whole realization that if news organizations are to attract an audience, it’s not going to be by spewing out the stuff that everyone else is spewing out,’ says David Herzog, a professor at the University of Missouri …‘It is about giving the audience information that is unique, in-depth, that allows them to explore the data, and also engage with the audience.’” Read more