State of the World 2012

by Marc on January 26, 2012

Futurism fascinates me, as do truly intellectual, big picture discussions of the world. Each year Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowski get together on The Well, one of the world’s oldest (and smartest) on-line communities, to discuss the year past, and the year ahead. Not only are their insights great, but because The WELL is populated by brilliant minds, the discussion is terrific. Okay, sometimes it’s also more than a little depressing.

I sure wish I could interview the Mossad guy who designs and builds magnetic limpet mines for Iranian nuclear scientists. What a career this dude must have.

When the results of his labors hit Google News — “men on motorcycles blow nuclear scientist and unnamed companion to bits” — what’s his personal reaction, I wonder? I’m guessing it’s something like, “hey sucker, my personal assassination bomb trumps your city-wrecking bomb!” Yet he must be aware that this vastly expands the legitimacy of terrorist bombs as state-sponsored weapons.

IEDs have been popular for ten years now. Drones are IEDs with cellphones and wings. These magnet bombs are IEDS with magnets and motorcycles. If they’re good enough for the holy men of Al Qaeda, they’re good enough for Big Satan and Little Satan.

Maybe our bomb designer is an open-source guy who’s way into “bottom-up innovation.” They probably call him in to defuse bombs on the days he’s not building ’em.

War, politics, culture, technology, music, and the future: something for everyone with an open mind and the wits to try to keep up.