August 15, 2003



Seven Questions with Alex Lightman

This week's special guest, Alex Lightman, answers our Seven Questions about the Future.

  1. The present is the future relative to the past. What's the best thing about living here in the future?

    We live in an ever smarter world. An exponentially increasing number of people, places and things will be getting exponentially smarter and more responsive.

  2. What's the biggest disappointment?

    I don't have anything that's a disappointment. It's all good. Even environmental damage is teaching us to become teraformers, leading us to be much wiser and more cautious when we go out to terraform millions of planets like grains of sand around trillions of stars.

  3. Assuming you die at the age of 100, what will be the biggest difference be between the world you were born into and the world you leave?

    Going from millions of people per computer and per local digital network per person to millions of computers and a dozens of networks - local, regional, global, interstellar - per person. That's the digital big bang, and the world that 4G will create.

  4. What future development that you consider likely (or inevitable) do you look forward to with the most anticipation?

    Equitocracy, my term for "government by owners". Taking every government - national, regional, munipal - public and letting people both own and vote their shares. This will increase wealth at one go more than any other social innovation, and be part of the exponential increase in feedback loops.

  5. What future development that you consider likely (or inevitable) do you dread the most?

    None. Even pollution will cause us to go into space. Humans exist to face new and novel problems, so it's all grist for our growth. How boring and pointless to have no challenges or fears to face.

  6. Assuming you have the ability to determine (or at least influence) the future, what future development that you consider unlikely (or are uncertain about) would you most like to help bring about?

    I don't consider anything that I want to bring about unlikely, since I want things that would be for the good of the world, and, ultimately, if they are for the good of the world, others will help bring them about. Even a few dozen people can get things started and, contrary to the dreams of religious zealots, political tyrants, and would-be monopolists, there is no way to veto a technolgical or other beneficial development that is desired by many people in many countries.

  7. Why is it that in the year 2003 I still don't have a flying car? When do you think I'll be able to get one?

    Because idiotic teenagers can get a plane and crash it into building. The hazards of bad driving outweigh the benefits. Flying generally requires tremenous thrust, which requires a big engine and big wings, or hovering, which involved huge stresses on bearings or the same thrust. In either case you end up with high capital and/or maintenance costs, with few marginal benefits that can't be substituted for. Want to see the view from your flying car? Buy the pictures books, or go on the web and see the satellite photos. Want to get to meeting in less time? Telecommute with broadband. And so on.


(What's the deal with these seven questions?)

Posted by Phil at August 15, 2003 06:43 AM | TrackBack
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My personal homepage.

Posted by: Johny Hobson at August 1, 2004 08:54 PM
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