By Cory Doctorow at 6:04 pm Mon, Jun 25, 2012
I did a series of interviews with Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, as part of my involvement in The Tomorrow Project, which resulted in my writing Knights of the Rainbow Table. Here they are!
An Intel futurist has a pretty narrow portfolio. For example, corporate dystopias are definitely off the table. And considering that corporate interests led us to calamity in the last business cycle, I’m not particularly interested in hearing what an Intel (or any other fortune 500 company’s) futurist might have to say on most matters.
Ask them what your retirement age might be, and whether you’ll have medical coverage. These are the things that affect most people’s lives.
If you’re working when you’re 70 do you think your primary concern will be how impressive your gadgets are? And what’s the point of ‘progress’ if the only people who benefit are chip designers and gadget mfg’s?
I don’t think that’s a terribly interesting take on things. We all have filters through which we view the future, current, and past. However, not every person who works for a corporate entity is worth dismissing, and corporations have within them many interests, often competing with one another. A “futurist” is not typically concentrating on the super-near-future, and often will look at macro-trends versus micro-trends. From this perspective, I think a futurist working from Intel might have very interesting perspectives on certain issues, especially those relating to, say, just how powerful we can expect computers to be in, I dunno, 10 or 20 more years. If this guy were to say, for example, that hacking through 256-bit AES was going to be something an iPhone could do trivially in the year 2025, I would pay attention. Of course, all futurists are worth listening to with a grain of salt.
Sure a corporate dystopia is within the portfolio of an Intel futurist. For example, they could postulate a grim world where AMD makes the majority of CPUs. Such a horrible future must be avoided at all costs…
Imagine if Blackwater (Xe?) has a futurist on staff, the dark wasteland tales those kind would find exciting worlds of opportunity.
You should try reading A Song Called Youth.
The Eclipse trilogy? Excellent books. I recently went back and reread some of Sterling, Gibson, and Stephenson’s early cyberpunk… great suggestion to go along with that.
For real world examples of futurists paid specifically to give advice on how to create corporate dystopias for fun and profit, there’s the Citibank Plutonomy Report:
Maybe watch a bit… you are basing your comment on the reverse of the roles in the video.
Brian is interviewing Cory, not the other way around.
Is that the genesis of the term “rainbow table?” I’ve run across it in layman’s discussions of cryptography, but assumed it was just an old part of the jargon. The story sounds pretty hilarious, in any event… like math-prodigy versions of shoemaker elves.
The idea of the engagement spectrum is interesting, and definitely something that is more understanding of activist burnout. So many times I don’t get involved at all with campaigns because once you do one thing people hassle you to do more and more things. I’m just wondering what kind of tools this might include. You’d need them to allow people to not feel guilty for stepping back from campaigns, but also be open enough that people can jump in with it being an intimidating jump.
Habitat for Humanity may be one good model of such a project.
Outstanding topics. I find them very engaging and could easily listen to a half hour of this type of conversation. We should come up with a problem and try the Engagement Spectrum approach and see if we could get it to work. It would be very interesting to see the levels of involvement as a three dimensional shape.
Will.i.am, huh? The last time I saw his guy he was creating computerized beats that put the listener into an alpha trance. His corporate band was ironically dressed up in various foil outfits and dancing to a prerecorded mix of corporate insipidness that passes for art these days. Next, he was campaigning for the Obama campaign, which has turned out to be an intel operation used to further the banking cartel’s global agenda. Now, I see Will.i.am here, with a group of people considering how best to shape the future in accordance with the corporate agenda. Who is this guy? Are all mainstream “artists” directly or indirectly tied to global banking and corporation agenda?
Now he’s hanging with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge.
To be fair, the same could be said of all of the members of DEVO. If the world knew that the people who brought you Whip It wrote the music for the Rugrats movie…
The difference, I guess, is that I see DEVO as genuinely subversive and infiltrating the corporate egregore, rather than an agent provacateur sent from a plutocratic regime to turn people who like synth and yetis and strange time signatures into consumerist pinks.
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