The future is not here yet

An (imho) very interesting and entertaining interview with James Burke published on The Mind Renewed.

I do feel some of his visions may be overly optimistic. In a future were nanotech is in every person's hands, what will stop the control by the few of the many? By land ownership and raw materials and also patents and other "IP"? We see more and more draconic global "IP" laws, we see land grabbing, we see the hailing of urbanisation. Even if everyone has a machine to make food and other stuff, I don't think we can make stuff out of air. Or will it be the great (small) circle of poo, to be a bit blunt? :p

It reminded me slightly of reading Alvin Toffler, from a school mate's enthusiastic recommendation, back in the early 80s. If I remember correctly, Toffler did predict net connected computers for everyone, and an increased democracy, or unregulated creativity, non-hierarchical communications and something like that. But still so much is in big silos, even if technology does not force us into such. Being a dour duffer even in my early 20s, I felt Toffler was overly optimistic and somewhat of an utopian. I do remember my feelings more clearly than I remember Toffler's arguments, so maybe this is a Mandela moment... 😉

All in all, the interview with Burke I recommend. He is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, rather non-PC, drastic (e.g. comparing 3D printers with BetaMax 😀 ) and also has a long perspective on technological development. A LOT more interesting than some Silicon Valley whippersnapper with dollar signs for eyes and a creepy agenda.

P.S. This post has a lousy title. I know.

P.S. 2 If you want more Burke in conversation settings, he has been on Dan Carlin's podcasts. If you don't know him, I recommend them, too.


  1. To me, it is fascinating and creepy at the same time; the way the world is changing.

    If it was up to me, I would move us all into the forest and take away all technology, its doing more harm than good.

    Impressive predicted though of him, nonetheless!

    Hah, dollar signs for eyes; those can make any politician appear as a comedian…Oh, wait, they do not need dollar signs for eyes for that, do they 😉

    Thank you for the recommendations 🙂

  2. Sam Harris has several times on his podcast discussed the technological future, with an emphasis on AI rather than the material bases for human existence, although of course they are connected. The recent episode 84 had Kevin Kelly as guest, and imho it was one of the better ones. For a rather different discussion than the Burke mentioned in post above.

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