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The Conversation #19 — Joseph Tainter

I see a set of con­straints fac­ing us in the future, and they’re all going to be very expen­sive. First is fund­ing retire­ments for the Baby Boom gen­er­a­tion. Second is con­tin­u­ing increas­es in the costs of health­care. The third is replac­ing decay­ing infra­struc­ture. The fourth is adapt­ing to cli­mate change and repair­ing envi­ron­men­tal dam­age. The fifth is devel­op­ing new sources of ener­gy. The sixth is what I see as in all like­li­hood con­tin­u­ing high mil­i­tary costs. The sev­enth is the costs of inno­va­tion.

Where to From Here?

Although we haven’t reached peak sur­veil­lance, we’ve reached peak indif­fer­ence to sur­veil­lance. There will nev­er be anoth­er day in which few­er peo­ple give a shit about this because there’ll nev­er be a day in which few­er peo­ple’s lives have been ruined by this.

Collusion episode 2: Water

Throughout the colonies of the var­i­ous European pow­ers, water engi­neers used dams, ditch­es, and sluices to con­trol the flow of water. They claimed that their approach to water man­age­ment was more ratio­nal and effi­cient than exist­ing indige­nous approach­es.

Agri-tech and the Arts: From Barns to D‑Space

I’m going to be talk­ing about how the arts engage eth­i­cal­ly and polit­i­cal­ly with the tech­niza­tion of the food chain, the chain or flow of sus­te­nance from field to din­ner plate. This is an inter-disciplinary talk but don’t wor­ry, I won’t be claim­ing quite that poems and paint­ings are com­pu­ta­tion­al machines for work­ing out social pol­i­cy, because that would be crazy. But if I’m not will­ful­ly mis­un­der­stand­ing Joscha’s excel­lent talk on the com­pu­ta­tion­al uni­verse, it seems that a like­ly can­di­date for the sub­strate of con­scious­ness is the numi­nal, the realm of ideas, and that’s pre­cise­ly where art and lit­er­a­ture lives. So it’s the ide­al place for deep pro­cess­ing of eth­i­cal issues, the big issues like food and tech.

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