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« Latest Issue of H+ Magazine | Main | Nanoscale manufacturing how-to »

March 04, 2009


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Nato Welch

Nice image. Where's it from?

Chris Phoenix

Google images, from io9.com

Chris Phoenix

Following up a little bit...

In George's article that I quoted above, he wrote:

Extreme threats may even rekindle the totalitarian urge; this option will appeal to those leaders looking to exert absolute control over their citizens.

Does that sound ridiculous? Well, as you may be aware, it has already taken place in the good ol' USA.

From Newsweek:

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday.

As Sinclair Lewis warned us, never say it can't happen here.

Tom Craver

Much as we muse about the future, you can't it. Can you?

It is possible to project individual trends with decent certainty, some distance into the future. And to carefully evaluate how specific trends might interact - accelerating or suppressing, amplifying the impact or negating it.

Could we hope to build a model with any predictive power? Maybe it is far to big and complex to contemplate? But not too long ago the idea of a large, self-generating on-line encyclopedia would have seemed impossibly naively ambitious... Perhaps a "Simiki" is equally insane and equally possible?

So how about creating an open source model of the future? Anyone could criticize the assumptions or elements, but that leaves them open to "So - think you know better? Go ahead, make your edits!"

Besides - this site needs 'A Project' - something beyond blogging, to draw attention to it. Remember "The Club of Rome" - and the attention it got?

:::Simiki Project:::
Phase ZERO: Specify project phases :-)

Phase I: Brainstorm directions and methods and goals. Is a spreadsheet adequate to get started on experiments? Is special purpose software available - or how could it get built? How might one leverage the internet? Open source? *Could* a wiki model apply, when each contributer might want their own variation on the model?

Phase II: Build small models to figure out requirements - aim to build in model power, flexibility, self-documentation, clear display of results, easy versioning/splitting/merging, etc. Expect to be frustrated, but expect to learn a lot.

Phase III: Identify key trends/events and potential relationships. Find or develop Simiki v0.1 through v1.0. In parallel, build trial models of modest size. Study stability versus predictive range.

Phase IV: Model version 1.0 - the Big Model Build, debugging, simulation and synthesis.

Phase V: Rinse, Repeat, Validate against - and update with - new information.

Scary big project. And I suppose one might object that its not a core focus here. But so much of this site does focus on projecting the future, though of course always centered on nanotech.

So do that with Simiki - keep it focused on nanotechnology and its potential effects. Simiki-Nano. If others take it and run off in other more ambitious directions, so much the better.

OK - crazy idea mode shut-down... :-)

Tom Craver

That first line was supposed to say

"Much as we muse about the future, you can't PREDICT it. Can you? "


All civilisations surely evolve technological scenarios that threaten their safety. Surely they don't all wipe themselves out? Maybe the technology itself causes the "awakening" of society that allows the safe transition?


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