Futurist Transparent Society | David Brin | Talks at Google

>> male presenter: I would like to introduce David Brin, who is, despite that trip, still alive David Brin has been a science fiction author for a very long time As a result of having a fair amount of insight, over the years written books like, “Earth” and has ended up working as a scientist with groups like NASA and JPL, over the years doing very ordinary kind of scientific work as well as doing the kind of science fiction work that people like me appreciate He’s recently been working on a book called, “Existence, ” which seems to bare some resemblance to other books he has written, but, that books not out yet It will be coming out in June So, probably you’re looking forward to it as much as I am He sent us an excerpt for us to read, which I have the suspicion a fair amount of people have looked at And thank you very much for coming [applause] >> David Brin: Sure thing [applause] >> David Brin: What Alex doesn’t mention is that we’ve known each other a long time Back when I lived in England Back in the mid-1980s, I lived in London for a couple of years Very interesting times The Thatcher years [laughter] And later on when I finished “Earth,” my then fiancé got her doctorate at Cal Tech We packed up our belongings and we had to be at her post doc in Paris in six weeks So, we took the long way around the world If you ever go to India, don’t get a round trip without first looking into an around the world pass I don’t know if they’re still done the same, but you can take an entire year to finish it, zigzagging around the world And we arrived back in L.A. a year to the day after we left in order to get married She still says, “You never gave me a honeymoon.” [laughter] Well, because most of the trips after that were with kids I said, “I took you to Easter Island I took you to Australia I took you around the world.” And she says, “That was before we were married.” [laughter] The day after we were married, we went on a plane to the number one honeymoon spot in the world And she said, “That was going home to our apartment in Paris.” [laughter] A hard woman, but worth it OK So, I’m going to do just a lot of song and dance just about ideas because here I feel very much at home I feel very much at home at Google And besides, which I was born about 20 miles from here So, went to L.A. High Same high school as Ray Bradbury As a matter of fact, the one time my kids gave me unalloyed respect for a two-hour stretch, all three of them at the same time, was when I took them to meet Ray at his house He got up from his walker, “David.” “That was Ray.” Two hours, solid respect, amazing [laughter] OK So, in any event, a hometown crowd So what I’m going to do is I’m going to leap and hope and jump around So, what I’m best known for is the science fiction novels “Postman” was Kevin Costner-ized Don’t ask me about that [laughter] “Earth ” is credited with having web pages two years before the web was invented Big deal For a lot of us it seemed obvious where the world was going “Transparent Society ” is one of the only public policy books from the 20th Century that’s still in print and still selling more every year, partly because of some very, very creepy prescient predictions that came true Partly because it’s one of the only places that is standing up for “sousveillance” as a solution to our modern information problems Rather than trying to use, as the Europeans want, use law to protect people’s privacy As a short-term solution, I don’t object to such things Over the long term, it’s not going to work The most recent book, which is coming out with the cover on the left, in the States, and in the really creepy ominous cover on the right It’s going to be in 3D, by the way They’re going to use new experimental process in Britain for the cover of “Existence “there And both of them will have this I’m going to tell you guys for the first time I just found out about it Big, nice, glowing cover blurb from, Temple Grandin How about that? Have you ever heard of her? >> male #1: [inaudible] >> David Brin: Most, well, the– Yeah The Clair Danes movie Yeah

Most famous autistic person in the world OK But I’m going to get to talking about something entirely different And now for something completely different I’m gonna talk about the big picture Now, here’s a big picture asp One, just one of many And that is the fact that for the last 500 years, western civilization has been having breakthrough after breakthrough having to do with three things And that is our ability to see, our ability to know, and our ability to allocate our attention And the first of these crises was precipitated by lenses, which empowered the ability to see The printing press, which expanded the public’s access to knowledge and perspective This is a little more complicated than this, because about the same time the discovery of the Americas and the vastness of the world also have major effects upon people Now each time, I’m gonna race through this, each time what happened was, you had augmentations of memory, vision, and attention And one might also argue reach Because your ability to do physical things expanded as well But these are the three I’m paying attention to And the result was not always an expansion of people’s wonderfulness, kindness, or even empathy Empathy did come from eventually, from augmentations of memory, vision, and attention But not at first At first, these things were used for polemic And the printed books that were produced after Gutenberg’s era for 150 years, tended to exacerbate social problems To exacerbate hatreds And each time a quandary was developed, the Renaissance versus rage of doctrine, and new concepts spread The notion of progress The notion of the value of an individual Now I’m not going into these in detail, but down here at the bottom, the knowledge mesh is expanding our ability to have access to memory in profound ways It’s almost as if you remember that This or that or the other Omniveillance, television was one of the major– radio and then television; these were major forces that drove our ability to empathize with people far away Radio, the broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow from the London Blitz helped to convince Americans to get involved in World War II Coverage from Vietnam helped to convince Americans that this was not an undertaking that seemed very worthwhile Visualization, simulation and gaining, these are all areas in which we are running into the crisis that Linda Stones talks about when she speaks of continuously divided attention And as a parent of a kid in high school, who wants to do his homework while Facebook is up and while listening to music on the headphones, I have to explain, “No, this may not be the best approach.” And yet his generation insists that it is The- But you see my attitude is always the attitude of the grouchy earlier generation And that is that the people are not going to be able to adapt With each new tech wave, godlike expansions of vision, knowledge, attention and reach led to fear of hubris Trying to take on God’s power, or self-destruction Future shock I think your neighbor Alvin Toffler here in town deserves to be considered one of the great visionaries of the 20th Century Because it’s very clear that for the first decade of the 21st Century, America has been in horrible shape State of future shock At least a third of our citizens don’t want to have anything to do with the new era and the new century Which leads to cause for renunciation and control by a trusted elite This is something I go into in “Existence.” And yet despite painful adjustment we never refuse these new prosthetics Always these godlike powers become the new norm Now who would have imagined that we would be able to with this ape-like, or Garden of Eden like, this ape-like organ in here to be able to adapt to these floods of information, vision, attention Well, part of the answer is that as Carl Sagan pointed out, we share the medulla and the cerebellum with fish

The mammalian cortex is laid upon it The primate cortex is laid upon that The portions that we share with apes are layed upon that But then you go farther and what you get is something that is just above the eyes Little nubs above the eyes Who can name them? The prefrontal lobes The prefrontal lobes are the organs that we now know are the organs of the future They are the seat of what Einstein called the Gedanken experiment, or thought experiment Relativity was 50 percent him imagining riding a streetcar at the speed of light leaving the burning clock tower And figuring out where all the rays would go and where they would arrive Only the– only 50 percent of it was math And he left half of that to his wife The point is that the Gedanken experiment is what you do when you think with these prefrontal lobes What would happen if I raised this at the meeting today? What would happen if I wear this? What would happen if I tried to run this yellow light? And as you guys, you males know, we have to make those decisions about these Gedanken experiments all the time We’re constantly saying, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah Now we know about this because pre-frontal lobotomies, they are snipped and people lose the interest in doing these thought experiments about what they’re going to do They remain intelligent people But that’s why I would much rather have a free bottle in front of me, than a pre-frontal lobotomy All right All right I saw the head shakes starting there [laughter] The point is that this layering effect is arguably, what we are doing with these prosthetics We’re simply adding external layering’s onto this layered set of cortexes that has already been taking place And that is one theory to explain why we have so gracefully adapted to orders of magnitude Increases in our ability to know, remember, to see, and pay attention I’m going to veer aside a little bit and get even more general here Most human civilizations were shaped like this A few lords at the top lording it over vast numbers of peasants below And what was in the interest of those rulers? These were the allocators And it made some sense for a while, because we had very little surplus, frequent starvation If you’re going to have any kid live his whole life without ever having an episode in which his brain was starving, it might as well be the kids of the priests and the lords You had to have somebody And so feudalism made some sense And Locke’s social contracts was, just rule us well or we have the right to cut off your head and replace you with somebody else It seems likely to rule us well That’s the implicit social contract of Locke Now we are supposedly moving toward what Heinlein prescribed as the explicit social contract Where every 19 year old will negotiate with the state and sign a contract And if not interested in living by this contract, go someplace else and sign a looser contract Heinlein laid that out and it’s a very interesting potential end point for this process from the implicit to the explicit social contract And we’re not going to go there at all today The point is that this was all an attractor state propelled by Darwin and human nature Once you’re allured up there, it is in your own Darwinian self-interest to persuade hundreds and thousands of virile young males to go off and fight and die to protect your seraglio for you And the awesome thing is we’re all descended from guys who pulled that shit off [laughter] They actually succeeded at that We’re descended from the harems of guys like that Wow So this is a major, major attractor state And I defy you to take Dungeons and Dragons dice, go home, roll up random decades across the last 6000 years, and random locations Any place that had metallurgy and agriculture, big males teamed up, picked up metal instruments and took other men’s women and wheat Find for me the exceptions Even the Soviet Union was run by nomenklatura that acted exactly like the czarist ruling class The alternative is called the Western Enlightenment

And it is very, very different in a number of ways Including its shape The first human civilization in which the well off outnumber the poor And therefore, the poor is a small enough portion of the population that we feel guilty about it That we feel something can be done Instead of a bitter sea that could never be drained, it’s a bitter lake And therefore somebody’s fault In every way, it’s different The Churn effect The notion that no one should inherit automatically the status of their parents And the fact that we believe in the positive sum game that the rising tide will lift all boats Now, one can argue that we are in a position right now that our parents faced and their parents faced and their parents faced Because this is inherently unstable If it’s an attractive state– attractor state, it is a meta- stable attractor state And every single generation, some of those who got rich by these methods, do their best to try to make it into a pyramid Because it’s in our genes I don’t think the Koch brothers are inherently evil for obeying what their genes tell them to do We just have to stop them [laughter] Our parents did Their parents did The Enlightenment is over 200 years old I’ll have you know Do you know what the first acts, political acts, done by our founding fathers as soon as the Treaty of Ghent was signed and the United States was officially independent? Two things A seizure and distribution of over one third of the land in the colonies And an utter ban of prima geniture You could not for 100 years leave all of your belongings to a single child It was fiercely- it’s not fiercely enforced today, but it was fiercely enforced then Because they had, the large families divide it up equally Your oligarchy problem goes away Most people don’t realize how radical our founders were about this notion Now, here’s another big concept for you You have hierarchical institutions We’ve had them since Sumeria Since the pharaohs And, these are inherently pyramidal You have commander in chief You have pyramidal structures that are supposed to do various things, enhancing their communications Among these various portions of our government is something I’ve been consulted on, and you guys are engaged in that as well Here you have a different type of institution Here you have the four accountability arenas Accountability arenas are the driving engine behind the enlightenment They harness creative competition, the greatest force for creativity in the history of- in nature We are all result of creative competition Darwinism made us and creative competition isn’t necessarily sweet It isn’t necessarily fair Usually in the last 6000 years when it took place in marketplace, we wound up with lords who then tried to cheat to prevent further competition from happening But instead to have their own kids, own other people’s kids The brilliance of democracy, markets, science, and law courts is that they are designed to harness competitiveness through ritualized combat In each case, there is highly ritualized regulated form of combat that minimizes the blood and waste on the floor But maximizes rewards to those who actually deliver a better product and service Now, in some cases like markets, it’s inefficient and not always accurate But we can afford that in order to have it be more freewheeling But supposedly, you aren’t supposed to be able to wind up at the end of a round of competition with a monopoly that would then stop all further competition Instead, once you’ve created the new product of service it’s supposed to engender more And if this is not what’s happening then something is wrong with the regulations of the system Same is true with democracy Democracy can be filthy You can get wrong results Boy, can you But the point is, that supposedly you wind up- Look, 2012 is the year that Robert Heinlein forecast in his “Future History” back in the 60s and 50s that America would be taken over by a fellow named, Nehemiah Scudder Ever heard of him? Oh, you really need to know more sci-fi

Nehemiah Scudder does not even win a plurality But a Supreme Court decision gets him the Presidency anyway I think we’re mixing this with a different year And then he clamps down, shuts down the constitution, declares himself Prophet of The Lord And there is a 70 year theocracy in America Very, very chilling The point is that each of these has its own rituals and that’s why we usually don’t think of them in parallel, but their similarities outweigh their differences There’s always a centrifugal phase in which through safety you can prepare your product Your company, your political party, attorney client privilege, or your laboratory and your tenure in science but then there is ritualized call to battle The scientific conference, the publication, the marketplace, the court trial and the degree of ritualization is determined by the need, or not need, for explicit accuracy In courts, everything is extremely meticulous because you can’t afford a more than one percent error rate but it keeps things slow All right Didn’t need to get going on that What I really care about is this one You can see that these are entirely different processes This is the old pyramidal structure of decision making, hierarchical decision making We have needs for it, but it should devolve to here wherever possible Here you have structured competition Here you have the people And this is where web is starting to make a difference in the ability of people to converse and their ability to get involved in the problem solving process and perhaps lead to an age of amateurs Now we spoke of the lamps on the brow, if you’re ever in Rome be sure to visit the greatest piece of sculpture ever carved Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses It’s a few- it’s about ten blocks away from the Vatican in a little side church It’s amazing You swear he’s about to stand up And he’s formidable He makes you look like a little guy OK So the main reason why I show this slide is, I do a lot of consulting for the Defense Department, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, CIA After this trip, I go off to the Air Force And I talk about the Professional Protector Caste The Professional Protector Caste has had its budget increased tremendously since 9/11 And yet here’s the interesting thing, on 9/11 they failed completely at what they aimed to do And that’s use these prefrontal lobes To try to anticipate using data collection, total information awareness You’ve heard about the new two billion dollar facility NSA is building in Utah To hear everything and then analyze it and then proactively act on dangers Fine God bless them As long as they are subject to scrutiny and sousveillance That’s s-o-u-s- veillance That means looking from below Surveillance means looking from above Incredibly important term I helped Steve Mann coin it some years ago Very important term If we have sousveillance and supervision on these professional protectors, then we will have a choke chain to remind it- the watchdog-it’s a dog and not a wolf I need to be less chaotic here and spontaneous because these things get recorded [laughter] It’s just- Ahh [laughter] But the other thing is to remember, is that anticipation wasn’t even involved on 9/11 Every single act performed by our professional protector cast on that day failed There was not a single success by any level of professional protectors that day Including the brave heroes in the New York Fire Department Remind me to get a link so you can see my abortive TV show that I was supposedly going to be one of the stars of, called “Architecs”, without a T. In which we slept in New York’s fire stations and interviewed the surviving heroes of Rescue 1 And their comrades went charging into those buildings Very brave Didn’t work What worked? I’ll tell you what worked Soon as I can get it This worked Average citizens out in the street saying, “I know the 911 operators are telling you to stay by your desk and help is on the way Get out!” 30,000 lives saved by that It was New Yorkers who fought the fires when the professionals died And it was people armed with this stuff that rebelled, who rebelled on Flight UA 93

Ending the war that day because the war was a test of our manhood It is- it was essentially Every decade Americans are challenged by opponents who believe in the zero sum game The fundamental ethos of the West and of the Western Enlightenment is the positive sum game If you must read any book during the next year read Robert Wright’s “NONZERO.” That explains the distinction between these two things In a zero sum game, if I win a point, you’ve lost a point The positive sum game, I’m going to get rich making Google and all my employees are going to get rich just a little less than me And all the people out there are gonna have plenty of opportunity to get richer because we set everything up We all benefit from the positive sum game Well, the point is there are many cultures in which people are not raised assuming positive sum games So, they look at America and they say, “You guys are rich, you’re happy, sexy You must have traded something for it “Hitler said so The south said so The Soviets said so So on, and so on Every generation makes this calculation and says, “Americans, they have all this stuff but they’re decadent They have no manhood They have no courage They have no guts.” And the heroes on Flight UA 93 disproved it that afternoon They won the war Through the other thing, you have anticipation and then you have resilience So this is Steve Mann This is the goggles arrangement he had in 1980 And it got smaller, smaller, smaller And now of course, you guys are doing it And this is a character from my new novel where she has these little cyber activated doogies that come up and look around in all directions out of her hair You can barely make out the stuff going on, on the inside And at lunch we were talking about how the tooth clickers and the sub vocal checkers, and all that sort of thing And the main thing is, that- Oh, have you heard about the latest DARPA Challenge? These annual things, a couple of years ago it was to find the red balloons And the- Last year it was to remake shredded documents This year’s it’s the challenge, and there’s a team in San Diego you could join if you want to, is to track five teams of fake jewel thieves all across America and Europe and to catch images of them So the notion is you get smart mobs And if you had read that scene, those scenes that Alex told you about Some scenes from “Earth”, and some scenes from my new novel, you’d see this in action But this is from Patrick Farley’s wonderful web comic called “Spiders” Where basically this little girl in America is the one who finds Osama This was pre Osama dying Back when I was at Cal Tech as an undergraduate, we were worried about something called the overspecialization problem It seems logical It seemed to be completely where things were going And that is the notion that the- Every year we know more, and more, and more Right? Chemical abstracts used to be all on paper And when the chemical abstracts would come out every year, would be bigger, and bigger, and bigger And these are just abstracts of chemical papers What does this mean? It means that every year in order to be a specialist about something, good enough to get a PhD, you have to know more and more about less, and less It seemed an unstoppable trend And with the vocabulary getting narrower and narrower, you would not know if someone in the next building over there using a somewhat different vocabulary was studying the same thing you were So you get duplication of effort You get slowing down of accomplishment You’re 60 years old before you know enough to get your PhD It seems terrifying Likely, it seemed unstoppable There seemed to be no way out And now it seems that no one ever mentions this anymore It seems a bizarre, quaint thing to ponder Now the way I just described to you, it sounds logical And we may hit that wall again

Why didn’t we? Well obviously, I was there at the beginnings of computer literature searches and I could see I could get links to things that were obscure in various directions And the trick was, I had to do the Google tricks myself and come up with different vocabulary twists that would sometimes bring in things from other departments But the other thing is that people got smarter Down at UCSD, we just won the right to establish the Arthur C. Clark Center for Human Imagination It’s gonna be wonderful All the deans in all the departments, art sciences They’ve all signed on Cognitive Science and Neuroscience is gonna study the process of imagination While getting involved the artists and the authors And then determining new ways of using computers to enhance the imaginative process in kids It’s going to be very exciting and please keep track of it OK? We’ll have an announcement by the summer But, the point is, that is reflective of cross discipline Of breaking down of guild boundaries And the fact that, you guys there’s a word that starts with G It’s become a verb and a noun The point is that, that is the principle way in which people have been able to get past the problem of narrow-minded overspecialization And now Nicholas Carr and the cyber grouches are talking instead about a problem of broadminded, scatterbrained, shallow mindedness And that’s the doom and gloom scenario people are talking about I’m sure you’ve all seen this cover of “Atlantic.” The notion that this is not necessarily making us smarter; It’s making us more aware But they aren’t necessarily the same things Wish I had time to go into that in more detail Now we won’t go into huge detail about the big picture issue But another important book from the last few years, get you nice and depressed about how likely it is that we’re going to have a collapse of human civilization The opposite extreme, the singularitarians, as a contrarian who loves to be in the presence of people he can say, “yes” back to you know, libertarians who I can sound like a liberal Liberals I can tell about Adam Smith This is the golden age for me I was garroted and burned at the stake in all of my other lives I get to live to be in my 60s and see my kids And get paid for this because–yeah, but Yes, but The people who think we are all gonna be gods in 25 years, remind me of Porgy and Bess, ” It ain’t necessarily so.” OK The one big perspective thing that pins it all is the Fermi paradox And that is the question of why we see no signs of anybody out there The great big constructs that our descendants may build, the visitations The earth was prime real-estate for two billion years with a no oxygen atmosphere And nobody above the level of slime molds to defend it Why in all these movies do they show up now? [laughter] The Drake Equation of course, in one of my papers I’ve been engaged in this for 35 years And in one of my papers, which is the only major review paper about the field, I expand the Drake Equation because it doesn’t predict anything in that sense But the whole notion- You’re all familiar with the Drake Equation right? The notion of the fraction of planets that are out there The number of planets That’s one part of the Drake equation that has been expanded just in the last ten years It’s amazing times to live in And we’ll live to see whether or not there’s oxygen and methane on some of these atmospheres and all that But whether or not this pale blue dot, by the way I consider this picture of the earthrise from the Apollo 8, from that horrible year, 1968 It’s like Pandora’s Box got open All the evils leapt out and there was this little gleam of hope at the bottom of the box The Christmas message from the moon showing a little oasis in space One of the two most important works of art in the history of humanity and it was done by scientists The other one was too Who can name it? It changed us forever Changed our attitudes towards war The image of the Atom Bomb Both of them Because visual art is changing human hearts and minds without verbal persuasion

And the two most powerful symbols that changed human hearts were the image of the Earth and the Atom Bomb So, the question is, will there be life? Will there be the development of intelligence? Technological intelligence that survives a series of traps A series of crises that might leave us like Mars In fact, there’s evidence that this is our second planet We originally came from Mars Because, don’t you want an extra hour every day? Because wouldn’t you be happier with half the gravity? [laughter] Huh? Huh? We miss our homeland Let’s just hope we don’t do to this planet what we did to that one The point is, I forget why I put that guy there [laughter] The point is, is there a great filter? Why are the numbers small in the cosmos? >> male #2: [inaudible] >> David Brin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah That’s the honey pot The honey pot is one of the more popular notions of, what keeps the– It empty And that is, we all, all the races go down into cyberspace And I don’t believe it because if even one race has a bunch of grouches who like to ride motorcycles and are techies, then they’ll become Hell’s Angels and they’ll be the ones who have the kids and go off into space Everybody will be descended from them While their distant cousins are back home, ooooo, living forever in the web This whole question of whether the great filter lies behind us And it may very well be that we are very rare in our technological intelligence Or, it may be, catch me some other time, and I believe there’s a good chance of this, that 99 percent of life worlds are water worlds And that ours, with a lot of continental land area, the ability to make hands and fire species may be relatively rare You have the guys who think it’s coming right away Good old Ray, he’s very optimistic because he’s one of the oldest of the singularitarians So he thinks it’s gonna come in time for him And his younger colleagues are going “Oh Ray sorry.” It’s harder than you think Yeah It’s going to be at least another 20 years after that But in time for me [laughter] So anyway, this gives you the whole range of some of the possibilities He’s a character in my new novel [laughter] I couldn’t resist I couldn’t resist Everything that you see to this slide show is all in the new novel I want to get into some practical stuff that is standing in our way of being resilient civilization that practices the age of amateurs, not in order to get rid of the professional protectors But in order to augment them Because we are going to need healthy institutions We are going to need healthy accountability arenas Those arenas, the markets, and courts, and science, and democracy And we’re going to need to have the enhanced resiliency that comes from a fully empowered populous In this argument that you saw In that Google is making us stupid thing You have the cyber grouches like Nicholas Carr saying that It’s not helping Clay Shirky and the cyber optimists are all saying, “Look how many people are expressing themselves All connected and expressing themselves.” And the average length of self-expression goes smaller, and smaller, and smaller and then had the major lobotomy down to 140 characters Another major lobotomy when Facebook made the return an automatic post [laughter] I could out do Facebook Just, just, 20 million dollars The point is, he’s- they’re both right Do you remember how I mentioned this pattern in the accountability arenas that have developed over the last 300 years? A pattern of centrifugal gathering in safety Creating product, but then a ritualized call to combat that could not be refused and would result in maximizing the test of products, while minimizing the cost that use to accrue to that, to competition Death, blood on the floor, monopolization That pattern exists well in those old systems It’s always under threat Several of them are under profound threat right now in the west But, we’ll deal with it We’re no less people than our ancestors

The point is that the internet is missing half of it Think about it It’s got this You’ve got people able to separate out into little Nuremburg rallies They can argue They can stew They can perfect their product But war is the ritualized combat that makes bad stuff go away I’m not talking about creating an elite that says, “That’s a bad idea, no one will discuss it anymore.” I’m talking about a kind of ritualized combat that made the Edsel go away Most of you don’t get that So, what? What’s something more recent? That really- [laughter] >> male#3: Horror movies Myspace [laughter] >> David Brin: All right, MySpace That makes inferior stuff go away How many of you have been on a blog in a comment section? And you wrote something that absolutely devastated an untrue statement And a dozen other people said, “Right Yes Dead.” And the next day you see it again somewhere else Nothing dies And death is how creative competition works All right Let’s just go through a few of these Your phone This phone was the hero on 9/11 On Katrina, and again at Fukushima You had hundreds of thousands of people with these in their pockets, fully charged, unable to do squat Fukushima they found several people had made text messages and all of that they were clutching their cell phones under rubble They’d had time-hours-nobody came The cell towers were down I go at this again, and again, and again in- at these defense meetings It’s insane All it would take is a simple law demanding that Verizon and the others include a simple crude baron packet switching, text passing, tier-to-tier system in the cell phones You could even have it, so that if you don’t have a cell, it doesn’t turn on unless- If you are detecting a nearby cell tower I think that’s chicken shit I mean if you could not come up with a system that would tattle tale along the way from cell phone to cell phone and tell who passed it on until it reached a cell tower, give them a penny each and charge an extra nickel to the person who sent it Then you don’t deserve to be an engineer at these companies You should be able to make money doing that [coughing] But there’s no excuse not to have it Think about it You’re buried under a building, you can send a text and then put it down go to sleep and at some point when someone’s passing by it takes the text away With a few dozen repeaters across the Great Plains and the Rockies, we could have a crude telegraph system across the entire country if all the cell towers were down But this should give the cell phone manufacturers a way to go into that dark mile You can say in most places, you will be able- even in the dark mile, you’d still be able to send texts Especially if people are encouraged to leave their phones at the edge Hooked and logged in, “Oh, I earned a buck last night passing on”… Why? I talked to a vice president of Verizon; all he could give me was just hate filled glares I couldn’t even get why Other examples abysmal self-organizing software on the internet No emergency modes of access There are people working on that There’s all sorts of examples on the web where you can see where there are people who are working on possible Wi-Fi based systems Blue tooth based systems There are lots of other examples I’m putting solar on my roof right now I’ve been asking about this Do you know we have billions of people in America with rooftop solar? You know what happens in a power blackout It shuts off You cannot draw power from your own solar roof in a power blackout There are some clues There are some rotten work-arounds that cost thousands and thousands of dollars What would it take to come up with a box that people could add to their solar system that

would power one plug inside their house? With all sorts of warning labels on it You know, flashing lights and all of that Just for their fridge and their rechargers Why are we still vulnerable to EMP? We’ve known about it for 40 years It would surprise you now, but say Newt Gingrich was right about that Actually, he’s the only one of the bunch who would invite me to the White House [laughter] Because he’s a sci-fi fan He’s a sci-fi author I mentioned the other sci-fi fan, Temple Grandin Dull, dull, dull cell phone designs! Awwwww! Horrible! Stupid Oh, now I’m gonna take em- [laughter] No Now I’m gonna show you what a cell phone design Show you this I’ll talk meanwhile My son came up with this I was part of a workshop in which we talked about snap-on phones In which you snap-on peripherals that could do sensing That could do detecting That could put the laser display or the laser-projected keyboard All these things that you aren’t normally using Interface Web interface You can see that- Let me tell you something, I am old Back in 1973, I sat at a teletype–there was not a single computer monitor on the planet– I sat at a teletype at Cal Tech and there was one of the first networks in the world A computer A couple of other computers on campus And I typed away at the teletype and in black ink, D-B, colon, and part of what I said Interrupted, C-K, colon, in red What someone else was saying Then, R-L, colon, and what someone else was saying And, D-B, finishing what I had typed Now, here’s the weird part All of you know exactly what I am talking about It wasn’t at all surprising You understood exactly what I am saying Why? Because sometime in the last few months you did exactly that Why did you whippersnappers have a clue what I was talking about? Alternating, interrupting, scrolling chat I’m sorry the example here is Myspace, but it’s the same damn thing Lobotomization, lobotomization, lobotomization Have you ever been to Second Life? I’ve had some of the most populated events ever there I’m sitting on stage, interviewing away Wonderful buxom bods out there And the actual exchange of informational content is down here in the low half alternating, interrupting scrolling chat Now in fact, conversation goes back to the Neolithic I think our ancestors had cocktail parties Seriously I mean, you knew where you usually had a successful hunt You would send boys up ahead to gather firewood, and to crush berries into gourds, and hang them way up high in the trees You had this year’s successful hunt, you drag the carcass over, you’d start the firewood, and you invite the Ugrug tribe over, pulled down the gourds and chat We’re good at it And you know how in a conversation you adjust who you’re talking to by proximity, by angle of orientation, by your estimation of their reputation >>male#4: [laughter] >> David Brin: By the public estimation of their reputation By how interesting what they have to say is Whether its topic related But you’ve been in a restaurant and you’ve seen when somebody mentions your name two and three conversations away What happens? It pops out of the buzz And you know, here’s the scary part A sentence or two before your name came up Several words of lead in What does that mean? It means your brain is providing services to you Constantly sifting and controlling what enters into your conscious awareness

Now, all of these things that I’ve just described to you- Ha Ha, this is very funny When are you going to stop wasting your time with that science fiction nonsense and start dealing with reality? This being horse and cart Very funny We give high priority when we are able to allocate our attention We adjust attention by, criteria, topic, time, reputation, etcetera, etcetera The point is that everything I just described to you is not existent in interaction on the web Even though it’s proved important and useful in allocating what do we see, what we know and how we pay attention in real life These are real life phenomena that have not made it onto the web and I can prove that to you If you look at the old Google Tech Talk, I’m sorry I had a lot more caffeine that day [laughter] And that’s taking breaks with my co-deliverer, Sheldon Brown He’s going to be head of the Arthur C. Clark Center For Human Imagination Well, what I did during that talk is I looked at my watch and said, “I know because I was just granted a patent.” It happened to be on the day that my patent came through Every one of those things I own Now, does that surprise you? Does that make you skeptical? Well, it should I don’t expect any of those things Any of those claims to survive heavy-duty attacks Undoubtedly, there is some graduate student somewhere who adjusted screen allocation values by reputation Another who did it by angle of orientation We even found a couple at IBM that we had to modify the patents What the patent means is that nobody is currently making a billion dollars off of us, those things Nobody at all Let me see if I can remember where this goes How’s this work? Oh yeah, that’s right That’s right That goes there That goes there It’s been a little while since I’ve done this It’s gonna look a little awkward Now, you’re all used to answering the phone like this and emanating into the world How about, there’s your watch This watch is on your watchband Ring ring, ring ring Ah shoot Hello? Microphone is here This happens to bring your phone right up next to your ear Well, yeah, it did OK, hello? Now you’re covering your voice You’re covering your mouth It will at least sell in Japan [laughter] Now, hey take a look at this Oh wow, man that’s incredible Hey [laughter] It’s just an example of where you gotta think, people say outside the box You gotta think outside the playground Because group-think is everywhere Now, if you like, this is the Exorarium, I’d love to set this up It is a both computer game and museum place where you would go from creation station to creation station And, you first choose your star, then your solar system And then your planet and then your ecosystem And at the end of it you get your own alien And we were invited up to talk to Will Ryman about his thing, “Spore.” Because he was way behind He was a couple years behind on “Spore” and he was scared of us And so, we laughed and we said,” if we had four orders of magnitude and better funding, you should be scared of us [laughter] And so, he described to us “Spore” where you buy attributes for your race And we said, “Oh, I see You do creative design We do evolution.” [laughs] Now I thought he’d laugh, but Sheldon said, “No, no, no He was angry.” But, then you take your alien race down to the extraterrestrial terrarium and you have

encounter scenarios You can do this online of course as a computer game too You know, I would complain about the fraction of my ideas that ever see real life Except for the fact that I have a fair number of them that see real life And so, nobody’s going to listen to me or give me hearts and flowers It’s frustrating I don’t even get any pity So, my objective was to not be your typical talk To not have a particular focus but to dance around and poke at ideas That perhaps some of them you hadn’t thought of before Big perspective Are us Anybody? >>male#5: Ok In that case, if you knew about Street View, MySpace, and Facebook and other modern sharing stuff that we’ve got now At the time, you had written “Transparent Society”, you’d had many of the ideas back then but things have turned out a little bit different in various ways How would you have written the book differently? >> David Brin: It’s all going inconsistently, pretty much consistent I would have more examples The fact of the matter is that we are seeing a drift towards hierarchical institutions having more and more power to see The defenders of liberty are rightfully concerned about that because the image that we have of Big Brother with the telescreen, is pyramidal And the main thing about the telescreen is not the existence of the telescreen in 1984, it is the fact that it is one way Thereby enforcing power in a pyramidal structure If the telescreen operated two ways, and the people, even the Proles, were able to listen in on every secret party meeting It would not matter that the party has absolute power of physical control Nevertheless, within a generation everything would change It is not the equivalence of power that matters It is some degree of equivalence of knowledge There are all sorts of potential equalizers For instance, you as an individual can join non-government organizations ACLU, electronic free- Electronic Frontier Foundation, and all of these things By pooling together proxy power, you are enabling them to hire professionals who are in range of the professionals run by the Koch brothers These techniques exist These equalization techniques exist And we see this sort of thing happening all the time And, a recent example was WikiLeaks I know the digital, top digital guy of Hillary Clinton in the State Department And he said, he confirmed to me, that “If she could give a secret medal without risking anybody knowing about it, she would give a medal and a great big wet kiss on the mouth to Julian Assange.” Because, he created what democracy and transparency is supposed to create for our public leaders And that’s inconvenience He was highly irksome But that was it There were a couple dozen embarrassing cables that he released And the storm over those went away Meanwhile, there were thousands of cables released that showed our diplomats hating Hosni Mubarak Hating the dictators that they had to work with And totally within the cables being consistent with our public statements The result was when the Arab spring burst, and Assange says it was all because of him, when the Arab spring burst there was not one American flag burned There was not one hint of anti-Americanism in the Arab spring In a large degree that is credited to the fact that this asshole went ahead and leaked a quarter of a million cables And the only loser out of this were our enemies and that idiot who’s going to go to prison for the rest of his life Because he thought he was being an internet hero And all he was blowing the whistle on was people doing their jobs So, should we hurry through questions? And those of you interested we could show you that But, thank you very much You’ve been a lovely audience and go Google [applause]