past & future

hi all. in a contemplative/ reflective/ wistful mood lately. one of my favorite stores Radio Shack died last year. didnt visit all that often but this was a geek nirvana store (it was one of my dads favorites stores also, growing up… he liked it for miscellaneous audio inventions etc). liked to have it around when needed it. it reminded me of all the stores that have died in the last decade or so. its a long list. we have been through a whirlwind of changes in a brief time and some bit of this is reflected in the at-times dramatically shifting retail landscape. aka toffler’s “future shock”.

  • borders books/ music
  • waldens bookstores
  • radio shack
  • circuit city
  • comp USA
  • sharper image
  • sony stores
  • virgin records
  • blockbuster videos
  • ultimate electronics

“honorable mention”: barnes & noble (one of my current favorite stores) seems to be on the ropes.[a25] the closure of these stores indicates bigger trends such as the commoditization of electronics/ computers, the shifts in music distribution away from CDs toward digital distribution (in a word, Itunes!), and also with movies eg with Netflix/ Redbox mostly killing Blockbuster videos. its hard to believe only ~1 decade ago, was driving to a store to pick up (occasionally!) VCR tapes. now have a 4K 3d tv and a ps4. wow.

can you believe its 2016 already?

this blog has had a lot of aspects of futurism in it, but sometimes the future has a brutal, darwinistic quality.

is the future utopian, dystopian, or “not much different” than today? there have been big changes in our lives wrought by electronics such as better graphics, internet and mobile phones, etc.

noticed a bunch of books on AI at the bookstores & am in the middle of reading them for a book report/ review. AI seems on the horizon, but will it change human life much?

And I think my spaceship knows which way to go

Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.” [x][a26]

there seems to be a thermodynamic equivalent of “inertia/ entropy” that shows up in progress. the future does not seem all that different than the past. visionaries like Kurzweil propose that there are some major discontinuities coming up in the human social order. but in our lives, there has been a massive story of eg wealth inequality that is persistent and shows the inherent resistance of human relations toward mass/ uniform improvement.

we have moores law for improving hardware capacity, but is there any corresponding law of improvement in human social conditions?

human politics has been a record of stymieing and gridlock for ages. sometimes, stalemate.

as a youngster one of my biggest dreams was about the possibility of less human work as automated work and machine intelligence increased. that has not played out in a staggeringly dismal/ demoralizing way. (aka an old quote by Carlyle of economics as the “dismal science”). visionaries such as Asimov predicted this about a half-century ago and the idea has widely missed the mark, with reports of long work weeks and untaken vacations.

there seems to be a mass disconnect/ gap at times between our technology and our so-called quality of life.

much of this is reflected in that evocative term with special economic meaning, but which seems often to transcend economics: scarcity.

almost feel the urge to write an entire book on this complex subject.

there is some good news on the radar about major improvements in energy systems.[b] it sounds like fusion is a possibility in our lifetimes with some predictions that commercial fusion reactors may be in operation by 2040, and solar efficiency is improving dramatically also. however, the term “free energy” seems a sort of misnomer. would it improve our lives much? my energy budget is at most say something like 1/10th of monthly expenditures.

on other hand, world energy problems seem very deeply tied with politics… aka WARS. we have ISIS oil operations/ revenues making daily headlines and this is similar to the situation in Ukraine. could a new energy system/ source take some of the pressure off the scourge of politics? it seems hopeful and naive/ panglossian at the same time.

all visionaries must face the utter/ deep inherent dismality/ futility of the canard: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

a. future
b. energy
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