[Paleopsych] Original of Grim Meathook Future, ext'd

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Mon Sep 26 23:54:30 UTC 2005

Full text of the Grim Meathook Future thing
[Thanks to Eugen for this.]

So a lot of people seem to be wanting to track this down. This was originally 
posted on a private message board as a response to a post by Matt .Blackbelt. 
Jones. This is what I originally wrote:

     .What are the fictions of .the long now. (what is the relationship of the 
long now and the long tail . does abundance and narrowcast-culture lead to the 
feeling of a thousand million divergent futures - the future got wide, again).

I think the problem is that the future, maybe for the first time since WWII, 
lies on the far side of an event horizon for us, because there are so many 
futures possible. There.s the wetware future, the hardware future, the 
transhumanist future, the post-rationalist (aka fundamentalist) future.

And then there.s the future where everything just sort of keeps going on the 
way it has, with incremental changes, and technology is no longer the deciding 
factor in things. You don.t need high tech to change the world; you need Semtex 
and guns that were designed by a Russian soldier fifty-odd years ago.

Meanwhile, most of the people with any genuine opportunity or ability to effect 
global change are too busy patting each other on the back at conventions and 
blue-skying goofy social networking tools that are essentially useless to 95% 
of the world.s population, who live within fifteen feet of everyone they.ve 
ever known and have no need to track their fuck buddies with GPS systems. 
(This, by the way, includes most Americans, quite honestly.)

You can.t blame them for this, because it.s fun and it.s a great way to travel 
and get paid, but it doesn.t actually help solve any real problems, except the 
problem of media theory grad students, which the rest of the world isn.t really 
interested in solving.

Feeding poor people is useful tech, but it.s not very sexy and it won.t get you 
on the cover of Wired. Talk about it too much and you sound like an earnest 
hippie. So nobody wants to do that.

They want to make cell phones that can scan your personal measurements and send 
them real-time to potential sex partners. Because, you know, the fucking 
Japanese teenagers love it, and Japanese teenagers are clearly the smartest 
people on the planet.

The upshot of all of this is that the Future gets divided; the cute, insulated 
future that Joi Ito and Cory Doctorow and you and I inhabit, and the grim 
meathook future that most of the world is facing, in which they watch their 
squats and under-developed fields get turned into a giant game of Counterstrike 
between crazy faith-ridden jihadist motherfuckers and crazy faith-ridden 
American redneck motherfuckers, each doing their best to turn the entire world 
into one type of fascist nightmare or another.

Of course, nobody really wants to talk about that future, because it.s 
depressing and not fun and doesn.t have Fischerspooner doing the soundtrack. So 
everybody pretends they don.t know what the future holds, when the unfortunate 
fact is that . unless we start paying very serious attention . it holds what 
the past holds: a great deal of extreme boredom punctuated by occasional horror 
and the odd moment of grace.


I.m also working on a long essay expanding these ideas. Keep your eyes open for 

September 22nd, 2005 at 1:41 pm Posted in General

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