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Monday, December 30, 2013

Futurism As Tinpot Fiefdom

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot:

I still think the crucial proto-futurist sub(cult)ure accreted around OMNI magazine -- a periodical I devoured all the way through high school, by the way. I still remember getting breathless mailings from Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw and Gerard O'Neill. Clearly, all the necessary pieces of techno-immortalist and life extension and drextech handwaving-cum-scamartistry were already more or less in place by then. I'm pretty sure I heard about cryonics there first, too, but maybe I saw Ettinger on Johnny Carson like so many million others -- funny the "movement" remained so marginal after all that free press, isn't it? L5 was unquestionably a Drexler incubator, but so was the MediaLab. I can't remember if there was much cross-pollination between OMNoids and MIT's Media Lab otherwise -- a whole host of transhumanoid-adjacent folks, Minsky, Drexler, Hillis, Reingold milled around there with Negroponte -- there you find the cohort that will become WIRED, the Foresight Institute, the Well, the crowd, the Long Now boutique futurists all rubbing shoulders... The tropes, the dopes, the funders are pretty weirdly static, especially considering all the endless cheerleading about disruption and accelerating change, I must say. It really always has been a rather tinpot fiefdom, futurology, hasn't it?


jimf said...

> I still remember getting breathless mailings from Durk Pearson
> and Sandy Shaw. . .

Well, I never got any breathless mailings from Durk & Sandy, but
I certainly did buy their doorstop hardcover edition of _Life Extension_
back in the summer of '82, and read that more-or-less breathlessly.

(I have to admit I'd never heard of Durk Pearson before then,
though I gather he'd already accreted something of a reputation
as a "soopergenius" among uber-geeks by that time. And I certainly
never saw the '79 Tom Snyder interview with him and Jerry Pournelle
before it appeared on YouTube: ).

> . . .and Gerard O'Neill.

Ah, well, the L5 Society is something else I was only aware of
distantly, via higher-order geekdom. You were clearly a much
more advanced geek than I ever was!


Dale Carrico said...

More like I was a kid drinking Kool Aid.