what do you build at the end of the End of History?

“If we want to build a.. or live, enjoy… the fruits of a better world. If we want to make sure that the rights that we have encoded into our laws are actually reliable. That we live with them and pass them to our children. This will never be the work of politicians. This can only be the work of the people. Of the population. Because politicians do not simply do what they think is best. They do what they think people want to hear. They do what they think will gain them support. And ultimately if we want to see a change we must force it through ourselves. If we want to have a better world we can’t hope for an Obama, and we should not fear a Donald Trump, rather we should build it ourselves.”

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The words of Michio Kaku and the voice of Bruce Sterling combine to provide this concise guide to Knowing Your Type 3 Civilization Anthropologists.

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Well, for starters, Communism went away, and we’ve got a conspicuous lack of imminent nuclear armageddon. Now we’ve got a terrifying, major-league climate crisis that nobody talks about much, because oil companies and banks took over the world for a while.

The twenty-teens are about as different from the 1980s as the 1980s were from the 1950s. It’s still the same civilization, just a different point in time.

Well, look at it this way. The year 2014 is the centenary of World War One. When you hang out in Europe like I do, you stumble over the rubble of World War One, quite a lot. Humanity was in a truly dreadful place, one hundred years ago. The world situation of humanity was truly bitter and hateful and and deadly, and, well, here we are anyway. That’s the big picture.

There are a lot of times and places where “humanity” is headed in no place in particular. Those scenes interest me. Like, little European cultures with weird minority languages, who are just hanging around in obscure mountain valleys, making clay pots and singing, and knifing each other on Tuesdays. You might think that a chrome-and-matte-black science fiction writer would lack a cordial interest in penny-ante cultural scenes like that, but they have their merits. It’s not like we all line up and dash like mad for some end-goal called “The Future.” There’s no victory-condition for being human. The future is just a kind of history that hasn’t happened yet.

I recommend this high-tech dystopian flick called “Aelita, Queen of Mars.” “Aelita” was made by a crew of Soviet Communist-Futurists, and practically everybody involved in it was either rounded up by the secret police or forced into exile. Also, they had to stick a crap ending onto their sci-fi Mars movie, so that the Communist censor approved. Now that’s a really “dystopian” movie, you know? The kind where the guys *making* the movie are in a dystopia. The rest of it is kid stuff!

As for the “cyberpunk” part, forget about “the movies.” Abstract motion-graphics coded in Processing and posted on Vimeo, that’s “cyberpunk.” You don’t wanna make movies that are about guys with computers. You want to use digital composition to seize control of the means of producing cinema. And then do it all yourself! That’s “punk.” Hollywood product is commerce, it’s about fanboy culture.

Search engines are a major research aid for writers, but in the past few years, they’ve all been turning into surveillance-marketing engines. Now it’s like trying to get some fiction done, while Google is all like, “So! Finish that Coke yet? Hey, how about a six-pack?” It’s like Larry and Sergei are right in the room now, staring with Google Glass, and holding their breath.

We’ve gone away from science because our whole society’s gone away from science. We’re in a science-hostile society now, it’s politically dominated by Creationists and climate denialists.

Highlights from Chairman Bruce qna on /. – http://m.slashdot.org/story/195971

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Inspired in part by the “ugly t-shirt,” a garment dreamed up by William Gibson that would provide invisibility to CCTV surveillance, Niquille thinks of her shirts as “facial recognition dazzle,” referring to a unique brand of camouflage employed by ships in World War I. Pioneered by artist Norman Wilksinson, dazzle camouflage involved covering warships in conflicting geometric patterns to throw off an enemy combatant’s ability to gauge their speed, range, size and heading. “The shirts attempt a similar strategy. They won’t keep your face from being recognized, but they will offer distraction,” he explains. Their real-world efficacy, Niquille says, depends on how baggy the shirt is on the wearer: the tighter the better for giving Facebook’s software something to zero-in on.

* for those playing at home, the idea of the magic sigil tee in Zero History was contributed by Bruce Sterling. It doesn’t get much more #cyberpunkfuturepresent than this ugly tee.

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The Verge: Where does science fiction publishing stand now? Bruce Sterling: I think it’s basically dissolving, really. It’s like asking what about journalism? There’s a lot of stuff going on right now that calls itself journalism but that doesn’t really fit into the old-school definition of journalism at all. It’s like advertising, it’s quite like […]

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If Snowden had gotten things his own way, he’d be writing earnest op-ed editorials in Hong Kong now, in English, while dining on Kung Pao Chicken. It’s some darkly modern act of crooked fate that has directed Edward Snowden to Moscow, arriving there as the NSA’s Solzhenitsyn, the up-tempo, digital version of a conscience-driven dissident defector.

But the damage there is already done; some to Bradley himself, but mostly grave, lasting damage to the authorities. By maltreating Bradley as their Guantanamo voodoo creature, their mystic hacker terror beast from AlQaedaville, Oklahoma, they made Bradley Manning fifty feet high.

At least they didn’t manage to kill him. Bradley’s visibly still on his feet, and was not so maddened by the torment of his solitary confinement that he’s reduced to paste. So he’s going to jail as an anti-war martyr, but time will pass. Someday, some new entity, someone in power who’s not directly embarrassed by Cablegate, can pardon him.

Some future Administration can amnesty him, once they get around to admitting that Bradley’s War on Terror is history. The War on Terror has failed as conclusively as Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations failed.

Julian has turned out to be a Tim Leary at the NSA’s psychiatric convention. He’s a lasting embarrassment who also spiked their Kool-Aid. Crushing Julian, cutting his funding, that stuff didn’t help one bit. He’s still got a roof and a keyboard. That’s all he ever seems to need.

There’s nothing quite like a besieged embassy from which to mock the empty machinations of the vengeful yet hapless State Department.

Julian Assange is still a cranky extremist with a wacky digital ideology, but he doesn’t have to talk raw craziness any more, because the authorities are busy doing that for him. They can’t begin to discuss PRISM and XKeyScore without admitting that their alleged democratic process is a neon façade from LaLaLand. Instead, they’re forced to wander into a dizzying area of discourse where Julian staked out all the high points ten years ago.

More astonishing yet: this guy Assange, and his tiny corps of hacker myrmidons, actually managed to keep Edward Snowden out of US custody. Not only did Assange find an effective bolthole for himself, he also faked one up on the fly for this younger guy.

Assange liberated Snowden, who really is NSA, or rather a civilian outsourced contractor for the NSA, like there’s any practical difference.

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Next day David got out his tool chest. He made a little
unconscious ritual of it, like a duke inspecting his emeralds.
The toolbox weighed fifteen pounds, was the size of a large
breadbox, and had been lovingly assembled by Rizome craftsmen in Kyoto. Looking inside; with the gleam of chromed
ceramic and neat foam sockets for everything, you could get a
kind of mental picture of the guys who had made it-white robed
Zen priests of the overhead lathe, guys who lived on
brown rice and machine oil…

Pry bar, tin snips, cute little propane torch; plumbing snake,
pipe wrench, telescoping auger; ohm meter, wire stripper,
needlenose pliers … Ribbed ebony handles that popped off
and reattached-to push drills and screwdriver bits . . David’s
tool set was by far the most expensive possession they owned.

Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
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