After the Second Renaissance: 2022

I watched the video, The Visible College: Four Futures for Higher Education by Bryan Alexander, and decided to write about my prediction (not quite a prediction really–just a guess) of the future–society as it would be if the Renaissance scenario that Alexander discusses does occur. The Renaissance scenario is his idea of a future in which society becomes increasingly involved in and influenced by games and gaming technology. But enough introduction–

The year is 2022; I am 31. Technology has improved to such an extent that it’s funny–and a bit nostalgic–to look back on my university days. Remembering physical textbooks and desktop computers (and especially handheld cellphones!) is always enough to make me or any of my old friends chuckle. Of course, by 2022 everything can be controlled by gesture–no need for an unwieldy computer “mouse,” or keyboard typing–and with the advancement of microwave innovation most technology doesn’t require the old-fashioned idea of a “device” anymore.

This has come at no small price. The dangerous lack of protection from radio-waves in the 2000s is becoming visible now–it’s like lead paint was before the 1970s–hard to believe that people didn’t pay attention to early reports of the dangers of microwave radiation and electromagnetic sensitivity, but I guess that’s human nature. If it’s convenient, use it–and don’t look too closely. Children born in the early 1990s are suffering the most as a result of this, and I am one of them. I survived a brain tumor three years ago, but two of my best friends didn’t. My husband has a slow-acting cancer, and I am infertile–this is normal for couples of our age-group. Today, in 2022, one out of every three men and women in America, the UK, Japan, and Korea (as well as most other “developed” countries of the 2000-2015 era) is completely infertile because of overexposure to electromagnetic frequencies. Although some consider this a kind of ultimate evil, I feel that maybe it’s proof that nature regulates–population has actually decreased since 2020. Technology is safer today then it was then though–or rather, we know to use protection now, because everyone knows that electromagnetic pollution is everywhere.

Anyway, back to technology. Gaming is life for most people–and the only form of life for some. Most gaming since the inventions following the “2020 Renaissance”  take place directly in the brain–complex chemical injections, implantable “game chips,” and  attachable head-devices.I can’t condemn it, but humanity’s obsession with games makes me a little bit sad. “Applications” no longer refer to crude files we download to computers or cellphones, but directly into our brains. However, there is one application that I love–the Dream Share application is one that I was involved in the development of, and I consider it my most significant project. Downloaded directly into the deep back half of the brain (where dream activity takes place), the Dream Share application allows users to record dreams, and share them with anyone that they want to. It turns out that dreaming is almost like any other art, and now there are Dream Authors–some celebrities even–who make a living of recording any selling their original dreams. This has lead to a whole new level of “piracy” and other malware that has caused scattered cases of extreme mental trauma–we’re still developing the legal system around such applications.

Naturally, the education system has been drastically effected by the advancment of gaming. Classroom education is almost extinct, wildly expensive–attended by only the the top 1% of the financial tier. Although some testing has been done on direct chip-imbed learning (“no study needed” learning), most learning is still just done online in virtual classrooms, not essentially so different from the physical classroom learning style of the early 2000s. The main difference in educational theory is the the growth of educational gaming instead of study. Learning games are popular, and generally much more effective than their old-fashioned counterpart “study,” because gaming penetrates deeper in the brain than reading or listening to lectures. The social element of education is a big concern for some people, but the cost of going to a physical school is too great for most to fight for.

There are people who literally live their whole lives in the virtual reality of their choice–cocoons with drip-tubes supplying vital nutrients to them so that they never have to come out. Some call it endlessly surfing on sunshine, but I think someday soon no one will remember what sunshine is.

Hanami

Sometimes in Tokyo, in the spring, it is vitally important to drop everything and go contemplate the cherry blossoms. (This has nothing to do with class–I just wanted to remind you all–)

Sometimes, you should get off from Facebook, away from the virtual sunshine, and into the real sunshine.

Away from the virtual people, to be surrounded by living ones–

People who are laughing, talking, breathing the petal-laden air and smiling to be alive.

Those same people will let you join in their Hanami, even if they’ve never met you before–even if you are a stranger from a foreign land.

And they will tell you the stories of their lives, show you pictures of their children, give you the food they made, and share in the wine you brought.

And sometimes, Sometimes, it is important to let the overwhelming perfection of the shortness of this life  sweep you away–

Like boats on a gentle river, like flower petals on the soft wind.

Personal Cyberinfrastructure

Reading the article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” by Gardner Campbell was actually a kind of moving experience for me. His view of higher education in light of the concept of a “digital facelift” resonated with me deeply. I actually feel like he beautifully analyzes this concept in paragraphs eight and nine. Of the two, I want to analyze paragraph nine–the first part of which (shortened) claims that:

 Pointing students to data buckets and conduits we’ve already made for them won’t do… For students who have relied on these aids, the freedom to explore and create is the last thing on their minds, so deeply has it been discouraged.

I feel like this is really true. Although I’ve learned, in this “cyberspace and society” class for example, to make blog posts, to use twitter and flickr and various programs–ultimately, I feel like I have less freedom to express myself. I still know nothing about the internet. Although he emphasizes the stress placed on platform/medium as a facelift, I feel like in an educational sense it’s more than that. Maybe it’s the fact that a class has to be graded; when I put a lot of time and thought into the writing of a blogpost that only gets 2 or 3 out of 5 points, it makes me think that “higher education” all a bit of a contradiction. Is this what I’m supposed to care about? I wonder. Am I supposed to be catering to this professor that I pay to teach me? He mentions this in the very next sentence:

Many students simply want to know what their professors want and how to give that to them.

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think that no student starts out that way. I also hope that no teacher intends to cause their students to feel this way, but most teachers end up doing so anyway. Realistically, I think this is no fault of their own–but in a system that “grades” there are bound to be misunderstandings, mistakes, and disappointments which will cause the students to conform to this mindset, however much they dislike it. Even if the teacher he describes here–

…what the professor truly wants is for students to discover and craft their own desires and dreams…

does in fact want the students to succeed, the moment the system puts the pressure of “getting a bad grade” on them,  he can not help but stifle their innovation.

In conclusion, although I love Campbell’s article, I think that it is unrealistic in the current educational system; what I do hope for is that we as students will eventually learn more than the “mediums” of the internet, so that we can attain our personal cyberinfrastucture individually at some point in our futures.

DS Assignment:A Postcard from the Future

For my final DS106 assignment, I chose “What you want to be when you grow up” for which the prompt is-

It’s about time you thought about the big question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Design a postcard from where and what you will be 10 years from now and write a message to your current self.

I chose to complete this assignment in two different designs–one for each side of the postcard. Here is the address (to my current self):

The base of which I got from this site (which has a fascinating history of the postcard).

The back of the postcard is here–

This was a bit tricky–I used the same background, covered it, added a script layer, and then pasted on a piece of a painting I did a long time ago. I’ll let you guess about the “mood” and the “meaning” and all of that for yourself though 🙂

Second topic: ways to reform copyright law

For my second topic, I chose the article titled “Now that SOPA’s dead, five easy ways to reform copyright law.” I found this a good read because it constructive, but also optimistic. To summarize its main points: the author suggests that we should begin by…

1. Curbing abuses of copyright takedowns
and

2. Shortening copyright terms,

before going on to

3. Clear up “fair use” rules,

4. Protect against overbearing copyright claims

and finally

5. Allow the breaking of Digital Rights Management software for legal purposes.

I highly suggest you read the article for details on these points, but I would like to add a bit more information to this as well, from different sources.

This video is the most informative thing I’ve seen on copyright so far

I absolutely recommend it, although it IS a bit on the long side. Towards the end, he makes some really good suggestions for change that I think are right in line with the “ways to reform copyright law” article.

Actually, why CAN’T I copy money?

Amidst all of the controversy over copyright and censorship, I think it’s important to look at the arguments FOR copyright–for example breaking down this argument for SOPA/PIPA:

…99% of the world does not have the time, the inclination, or the technological capacity to counterfeit money. By creating those techniques, raising the barrier to “sharing the government’s money”, the anti-copying instruments that are enforceable around the world, is that “censorship?”

Framed in that way, we see a different view of the debate.

Is it “censorship” if the US government undertakes action with allies to shut down printing presses that are printing US money or any other country’s money? Why is that not censorship but “obviously” about a defensible property right that cannot be shared?  Such questions change the debate and make us view it from a different angle.

I would like to counter this pro-PIPA/SOPA argument at its very root–the “‘obviously’ defensible property right that cannot be shared.” Actually , why CAN’T I copy money? The Federal Reserve is doing it–Ben Bernanke is certainly doing it! I came across an interesting article from the Dollar Vigilante today:

[In response to an article] “Feds Seek $7 million in Privately Made Liberty Dollars“.

The news story is only about 10 paragraphs long yet it has dozens of logical absurdities.  Even in the Headline is one.
According to the headline, part of the reason they want to seize these dollars is because they are “privately made”?  Yes, we wouldn’t want to compete with the private Federal Reserve banking cartel!

And I know the Constitution is passé in the US, nowadays, but how in the world can this man be in trouble for making silver coins?  The constitution states:

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts

He is in trouble because he is making currency out of gold or silver yet, the Federal Reserve, another private organization, is not doing anything wrong by making paper currency NOT backed by gold and silver coin?

Apparently, the thing they “got him on” was the following:

Federal prosecutors successfully argued that von NotHaus was, in fact, trying to pass off the silver coins as U.S. currency. Coming in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50, the Liberty Dollars also featured a dollar sign, the word “dollar” and the motto “Trust in God,” similar to the “In God We Trust” that appears on U.S. coins.

Ignoring the fact that the dollar sign was originally used for Spanish and Mexican pesos and was stolen by the US to use for its dollars and the fact that the word dollar actually comes from the word thaler which was a silver coin minted in Bohemia, according to the Feds, he was trying to pass off coins, made of silver, worth more than $35/ounce, as quarters, which are now made from 92% copper and 8% nickel, and worth $0.06 in metal value.

Trying to “maintain” the right to counterfeit money is wrong–for any economy, government, or individual. I believe the same for any censorship. According to Steven Saville of The Speculative Investor:

Take the example of monetary inflation (creating new money out of nothing). Monetary inflation is institutionalised counterfeiting, which means it is a form of theft. Although it is (or at least should be) intuitively obvious that the economy could never, under any circumstances whatsoever, benefit from an increase in the amount of theft, it is unlikely that someone without a grounding in Austrian economics would be capable of understanding or explaining, in practical terms, exactly why this is so. After all, during a financial crisis it can seem as if a shortage of money is a large part of the problem and that ‘greasing the wheels’ with more money is just what’s needed to get us through the rough patch.

To fully appreciate why monetary inflation is always a practical problem rather than just an ethical problem, you have to understand the relationship between money-supply changes and the boom-bust cycle (“Austrian Business Cycle Theory”). More specifically, you have to understand that the most important adverse effect of monetary inflation is not the reduction in the purchasing power of money that it eventually leads to, but the distortion it causes in relative prices. These relative price distortions lead to widespread mal-investment and the large-scale destruction of wealth. Think of how much wealth was ultimately destroyed by the monetary-inflation-fueled boom in US residential real estate. The reduction in the dollar’s purchasing power is trivial in comparison.

Maybe the economy would benefit from all of us making our own money, just to take the “‘obviously’ defensible property right” away from the one percent holding it. Any censorship is not only wrong, but harmful.

Final food for thought–watch this video about the surprising history of copyright.

Design your Dream

The assignment I chose to do today prompts us to–

Take a recent dream or nightmare you’ve had and make a visual representation of it for others to see.

This is actually not based on my dream, but one that a friend had about me.

The process was time-consuming, but I had fun doing it. First, I painted the purple/red background color and drew the words “Insert sky here.” Then I took a picture of that, and did the rest on my computer–layering some geometric shapes, and adding the final text–I chose to do this because I wanted a computer font to contrast with the childish-looking painted lettering.

While it didn’t turn out exactly like I had envisioned, I had a lot of fun making this project, and would like to try it again in the future.