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Foreshadowing today from 1979



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 Saturday, 13 May 2006
Saturday, 13 May 2006 07:56:21 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

Friday I was flying home from Norway, through JFK in Washington, DC. (which has to be one of the worst-thought-out airports in the world btw…)


On the plane from JFK to Minneapolis I was just wrapping up a book Billy Hollis loaned me, called Connections, by James Burke. This is an awesome book, where the author uses each chapter to walk through the connections from some primitive discovery to a modern technology. Modern as of 1979 anyway, since that’s when this was written. (remember that year, it is important!)


So I’m reading the last chapter, where Burke is wrapping up the book, doing a quick review of everything he discussed in the chapters and then projecting how and where technological discovery and invention might go into the future. And how it might be used.


One paragraph jumped out at me. A paragraph where Burke suggests that the telecommunications system, which is a powerful force for good, could be subverted by the government to chill dissent – especially were some key resource to become increasingly rare.


Right next to me is a guy reading USA Today. The big headline on the front? All about how the NSA has (presumably illegally) collected details about millions and millions of domestic phone calls by US citizens. This in the context of the fact that the amount of oil in the world is finite and we can envision the end – world politics are already reflecting the ugly truth that today’s adults will likely live to see the end of oil.


This was one of those incredible moments, where something was written 25 years ago is literally coming to pass as I read the text. I literally did a double take between the paragraph and this other guy’s newspaper, thinking to myself holy shit! It turns out Burke was prescient.


(He’s not infallible though – as one common theme throughout the book is his belief that science would have working fusion by now. Sadly, that is not the case – or this whole issue will oil would be a non-issue in the extreme. A virtually unlimited source of electric power would allow for practical use of hydrogen fuel cells…)

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