Futuristic roll call
William Gibson, Greg Egan, Charles Stross, Philip K. Dick, Hannu Rajaniemi, Neal Stephenson, Cory Doctorow, Walter Jon Williams, Ted Chiang, China Mieville.
Nuclear fission, nanotechnology and 3D printing provide a technical fix for our environmental quandary. Over-supply of material things renders their accumulation meaningless. Intangible ownership becomes the new source of status. But intangibles can’t be owned, for showing them off is the same as giving them away.
A creative meritocracy evolves, driven by competition in a price-less marketplace of delightful ideas and beautiful concepts. The main growth bottlenecks in this pure knowledge economy are time and cognitive bandwidth. Great efforts are invested on developing forms of expression to concisely convey the state-of-the-art as it stretches towards infinity.
Music retakes its lost throne as the universal, gestalt language that captures our collective advance in the real-time unfolding of a progressive jam.
And religion is rendered trivial, for heaven is here.
Mist’s House is a collection of prophesies about the day-to-day of this poly-mathematic future, and a tribute to the pioneering work of the Kosmische school that first calibrated its main parameters, and anticipated its sentiment.
In it, the fundamental relations in the science of harmony are expressed mechanically by marshalled regiments of numbers marching with irresistible power*.
*- Paraphrasing Lady Ada in The Difference Engine.
Deeply ingrained prejudices about the superiority of the material over the virtual are finally overcome, and the Singularity ensues. The vast majority of the population migrates to a consensual hallucination composed of an ever-expanding array of compatible online gaming platforms. Salaries and profits earned there pay for bandwidth, server space and nutrients, which are pumped into mankind’s stasis-preserved physical remnants.
Reproduction consists of the recombination of parental behavioural traits (laced with some snippets of randomly generated mutant code) into the kernel of an artificial intelligence able to learn organically. Particular attention is paid to the design of the kindergarten where Turing’s grandchildren take their first steps.
The Passenger’s \_| proves particularly popular in these synthetic classrooms. This is not surprising, seeing as it combines Armando’s optimistic bass rumbling, Orbital’s playful chimes, Wendy Carlos binary fairy-telling and the sort of acid riffs that Plastikman would have come up with if he had been commissioned to update Maurice Sendak’s bibliography, in collaboration with Paper Rad. Everything that those gifted whippersnappers need to grow strong and mischievous!
This one has ‘20jazzfunkgreats album if the year’ encoded all the way through.
The Lords of the Clouds have it their way and society splits into two diverging tracks – a privileged cartel that controls and leeches on the distribution of information, energy, commodities and content from its placid Californian campuses, and an underclass treading the shallow waters of the low-value added, hard to automate service/informal economy.
The paradox of a system that destroys the purchasing power of the majority by offering them cheaply what they were previously paid to supply becomes apparent. Yuri Milner’s awful epiphany (‘the same ocean of advertising revenues that had gone to traditional media might now go to the internet, but without the offsetting cost of creating content’) is the stark summary of this new reality.
Salarymen scout the streets looking for originality and creativity on which to invest strategically, not to generate a return, but to feed the entertainment infrastructure on which they suck parasitically. They expect gratitude, and encounter rage. Some of them never make it back to their luxurious condos.
Steve Moore’s Enhanced Humanoid describes the violent edge of the lumpen-proletariat LA culture (petri dish) over which Vangelis levitated in Bladerunner. The nihilism of Electronic Body Music is clearly there, but also an undercurrent of revolutionary agit-prop embedded in its upwardly projected synthetic lines. Its silence is a closed fist that demands an answer.