Monday, May 2, 2011

An Optimist's Tour of the Future

I'm glad Mark Stevenson is so enthusiastic about the future--there are great things to come.

Of particular interest to me was the subject of poverty and the poor--subjects that, at least according to the index of this book, are of little or no interest to Stevenson. If we are going to get a handle on the future, understanding the connection between information, the gadgets that deliver that information, and how those two things can become the tools of restive populations to overthrow their own governments is a subject worth studying.

It would seem that the future holds more Arab Springs. How does the trend of making information more readily available to all levels of society square with a future where we celebrate high-end gadgets that only a handful of elites can afford? I'm glad that there are knockoffs of Apple products out there that only cost a few hundred dollars. What happens if these same gadgets drop to twenty bucks a pop and equalize everything for all in terms of information sharing and distribution?

That would make a more relevant topic to discuss, at least in terms of what I'm interested in. Stevenson's book was probably written long before the Arab Spring; the shame of it is, the Arab Spring may have rendered it irrelevant. Under threat of slaughter, disenfranchised populations are throwing tyrants to the curb and information access is helping them. Is that the future for all of us?
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