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Giulio Prisco (M, 62)
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    Back to the 60s, back to the future, and onwards to the stars


    I am honored of having been included in the 200th episode of The Future And You: "Over a hundred never before heard predictions about the future from dozens of past guests, a few possible future guests, several listeners and an assortment of people actively building the future we are all going to live in."

    The Future and You's host, my good friend Stephen Euin Cobb, interviews a variety of authors, futurists, scientists, celebrities and "pioneers of the future" as to what they believe both the near future and distant future will be like for individuals as well as for humanity in general. I had already been interviewed for the February 20, 2008 Episode.

    Stephen's question for the 200th episode was: "The next episode of my show (The Future And You) will be the 200th episode. If you would, please send me a prediction of the future I can read into the show. Especially good would be a prediction based on a trend most people have been ignoring or just not aware of."

    Here is an annotated and commented version of my own prediction. I am hoping to bring attention to what I consider as a very important issue that should be discussed, and a very dangerous trend that should be avoided:

    "My long term predictions are as optimist as ever. I am confident that we will develop human empowerment technologies such as radical life extension, mind uploading and synthetic realities. I am confident that we will go back to space, back to the Moon, and then onwards to Mars and to the stars. I am confident that those who wish will someday have have the option of leaving biology behind, move to new high performance substrates, and beam themselves to the galaxies."

    The paragraph above is an introduction where I start with an optimist attitude on things that are very important to me, but it is not the main point that I wish to make. Read on.

    "Sadly my short term predictions are far less optimistic, at least as far as the future of our "western" society is concerned. I see that we are becoming old, ossified, with far too much obsession for safety, control and political correctness, like old people afraid of their own shadows in a safe, PC and sad retirement home."

    This is my main point, and I think I can safely assume that you know what I mean. There is this clear feeling that over the last few decades we have been slowly and gradually walking from a (more or less) free world to a prison, without even noticing it. This is especially evident to those who are old enough to remember. Governments make more and more intrusive (and completely useless) regulations on what we can or cannot eat, drink or smoke. Sooner or later they will be making regulations on which hand we must use to wipe our own butt. And sex will be illegal when it is not practiced in presence of a qualified nurse who can give emergency treatment in case one of the participants has a heart attack.

    What really worries me is that nobody seems to notice and complain. I hope younger people will wake up and say ENOUGH someday soon. Many young persons cannot remember what personal freedoms feels like, because they have been over-protected since they were toddlers. When I was a kid, we were not over-protected from life and reality, yet most of us are still here and have grown into responsible citizens, so I think we should give our children the same respect that our parents have given us. But even if we don't, kids are much smarter than us, and they will quickly find their way around our stupid intrusions in their privacy: if a kid really wants to watch porn, have sex, smoke or participate in Internet chats with adults, (s)he will find a way. And this is good.

    "If this trend continues, we will cease to be relevant and other cultures, younger and more dynamic, will take the lead."

    I am an Italian, a European and a person with ethnic and cultural roots in the "western" civilization, and I think our culture has produced a lot of good things. I do not consider our culture "better" than others, whatever that means, but I do not consider it worse either. And of course I wish we could continue to play an important role in this century and beyond. But I see myself mainly as a citizen of the planet and a member of the human species, I think we can build a great future for everyone, and I think this is much more important than the preservation of specific nations and cultures. So if we become a relic of the past, I hope other cultures will take the lead and I wish them the best.

    "I see, but perhaps this is wishful thinking, also some counter trends: Wikileaks, the Pirate Parties, new spiritual movements such as Terasem, citizen scientists, file sharing, Bitcoin, DIY tech movements, citizens everywhere beginning to realize that we must take the power back in our hands and build the future that we dreamed of in the 60s."

    These are little signs that citizens everywhere are beginning to become really fed up and to take some action. Subversiveness and civil disobedience are, I believe, not only our right but also our duty if we think our intrusive nanny-states have gone too far and must be stopped. Of course a society of sheeple is the wet dream of nanny-state bureaucracies and control-freaks, which now dominate both the Left and the Right. I think we citizens must stop them, encourage positive subversion and disruption, work around stupid regulations and laws, and take the power back in our hands where it belongs.

    "In the 60s we used to think of 2011 as "the future". Now I realize that the 60s WERE the future, and later we as a society have lost our imagination and let nanny-state control freaks take us back to the past. Let's go back to the 60s, back to the future, and onwards to the stars! But it is going to take some work."

    Yes, the 60s have been the most beautiful decade that I can remember. I was too young to really _participate_ in the 60s, but I could appreciate the flavor. Of course, I say this also because I was a kid in the 60s and we all tend to think the world was more beautiful when we were kids. But I think the free spirit of the anti-authoritarian 60s, the hippie and New Age movements, the cultural and social experimentation and the widespread protests were healthier than our contemporary, geriatric western societies. The cultural roots of the Internet revolution and the beautiful "Californian Ideology" can be traced back to the counterculture of the 60s, as RU Sirius shows in "How the Sixties Shaped the Personal Computer Revolution" in the book "True Mutations." What has the nanny-state culture of sheeple produced instead? The 60s began with Yuri Gagarin's flight and John Fitzgerald Kennedy's "Moon speech", and ended with Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon. Then, we have walked back from space, and we have walked back from freedom. Let's go back to the 60s, back to freedom, back to the future, back to space, forward to the next phase of our evolution as a species, and onwards to the stars!

    Sun, Jun 26, 2011  Permanent link

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    syncopath     Tue, Jun 28, 2011  Permanent link
    here is a quote-collage a propo 60's u may like -)
    giulio     Tue, Jun 28, 2011  Permanent link
    Wow thanks! I love it.
    giulio     Tue, Jun 28, 2011  Permanent link
    Interesting comment from a reader who prefers to be anonymous (or Anonymous?;-), posted with permission:

    Hello Giulio;

    I think that it's fresh time for a new countercultural wave much like what we had in the 60s, except this time, based in such things as rationality and scientific literacy - The trick is, how do we convince the others that it's something to be seen as better and funner than what they're up to now? On the other hand, how do we stop such positive changes from being derailed by agents who don't want it to happen, like what has happened in the past?

    I think it's also important to consider the generational/cultural substrates of the mood of the nineteen sixties. I think that a lot of the antiauthoritarian/creative aspects of the 60s were made by people who weren't 'of' the 60s - I'd argue that they were people of the 40s and 50s. The 70s, you look back and see the 'Me generation' of baby boomers screwing themselves up pretty badly with sex drugs and rock and roll... Now they're the people in positions of policymaking, screwing absolutely everything else up with their lack of critical thinking skills, media literacy, and scientific literacy. I see a fair lot of that spew age junk as ridiculously unthought out, and 'established' as much as the 'establishment' was known to the hippies before they became a bunch of yuppies. I don't really think my generation of the past wasted decade of nostalgia-sucking hipstertrash is much better on the full of shit front, but I got hope for the kids of today growing up with a better culture. They're growing up in an age of choices!

    I think it was the intellectuals of a generation before the boomers, that didn't grow up spending a lot of time in front of the TV, who pushed forward many positive things you're espousing here. Consider also that anti-intellectualism was also a pretty huge aspect of the culture in America of the late 60s and forwards on. It sorta seems that part wasn't a thing in Europe so much, but maybe I'm wrong? Anyways, the invention of the internet could be credited to the boomers (hahaha al gore comes to mind), but really, it was the people of that age who were separated culturally from the rest of the boomers, the (newly founded culture of, they weren't a thing before things started getting extra screwed up culturally, check an etymological history on the following words) nerds, geeks and freaks who pushed information democratization forward. Post-prohibition psychedelic culture (No longer widely socially accepted, the majority of boomers seemed to have moved on to put a lot of coke up their noses as yuppies in the wake of not being keen enough to handle acid without going nuts etc) had something to do with it, as I'm sure you know. Now, in an age of information flow democratization with the internet, the intelligent have finally gained their respect&credibility back in popular culture, and can be at the forefront of cultural change once again. Only after we get a clear picture of where we want to go with that will things start really bearing fruit. Again, I think the best course of action is one that makes salient the —fun— aspect. Nobody will want to follow it if it doesn't look like fun!

    So, what can we do to make intelligence gain look more appealing? I think getting artists on board is the first step. Let things catch the eye and flow from there. I'm looking to work towards a cultural movement based on learning to love learning. Pro-autodidactic, pro-rational, pro-peer review, yet anti-academic. The public school system I went through taught everyone I know round my age to really fucking hate learning. I feel I only ended up loving learning because of being lucky enough to grow up poor enough not to be able to afford TV, but fortunate enough to live in an apartment building with internet access included in the rent & a computer too crappy to waste time playing video games. Now so many more people got internet accessibility, and on the other hand, the high school dropout rate continues to rise like mad! There's a really important gap to be filled if we don't want societies to collapse even further in a pool of dumb... I'm liking the work of things like khanacademy.org in that direction, but it's still not FUN enough. If we can make all this sort of business look as exciting as sex drugs and rock n roll did in the 60s, then I think we can go really far with it. Maybe a syncretic meld between sex, drugs, rocknroll, and the love of learning could work out, but I think the field of inspiration needs to be widened a bit if something like that is to succeed.

    any thoughts?
     
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