Every year, Bruce Sterling closes the SXSW Interactive Festival with a wide-ranging, hour-long speech about the state of the nation: the format is 20 minutes' worth of riffing on current affairs, and then 40 minutes of main thesis, scorchingly delivered, with insights, rage, inspiration and calls to action.
This year, Bruce addresses himself to the idea of technological obsolescence of humanity, the robots-will-take-our-jobs, AIs-will-do-everything, Universal-Basic-Income despair that there is no reason for us to be here anymore.
Assuming his customary mantle as gadfly of the tech set, Sterling sets about to prick the consciences and egos of technological triumphalism, enumerating a bunch of possibilities for what a post-work society might look like, before wiping them all away with a jeremiad about the reality of the human condition through history, a woo-the-muse-of-the-odd moment that says the future will be weirder, but brighter, than we presently imagine.
Along the way, Sterling promises to return to novel writing (not that he ever fully stopped), saying that with Trump in office, there will be plenty of other people to write about what's really happening, leaving him with some time to write about what might come to pass.
I'll read that novel.
Bruce Sterling speech at SXSW2017 [Bruce Sterling/Beyond the Beyond]