Poster: Hank @ Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:45 pm
Interview with 'Dr LSD' by Hannibal Goodfellow, 03*15*2008
Second of three parts
See part 1 below
Q : Let's go back to your point about recreational drugs not being a part of your society. This seems counterintuitive to me, especially given the, ah, straitened economic conditions you describe. In our history, many people have responded to conditions like the ones you describe with despair and self-destruction, leading to a subculture of crime, idleness, and escapist drug use. Are you saying that desperation and its product, crime, have been licked?
A : Not really -- I didn't say anything before about crime. Crime still exists, though law enforcement mechanisms are many times more effective than they are in your era, largely due to gargantuan advances in surviellance technology. Organized or career crime is not very profitable as a result, so most of the crime we experience is a spontaneous product of what you call desperation. Things like workers robbing others for food money, mass killings when people go berserk, etc. However, repeat offenses are difficult to commit, because the law enforcement apparatus will generally catch criminals quickly and incarcerate them for very long periods of time. So the opportunity for a depressed criminal underworld to develop with a drug underpinning just isn't there anymore. At least not in society -- in the prisons, there are probably some kind of chemical inebriants being used, though I haven't studied that. If so, they're probably some kind of industrial solvent or something. Also, you mentioned idleness -- unemployment is illegal in most states. Those who can't find work and won't or can't enter volunteer service are given jobs in labor complexes run by the governments.
Q : Where does the money to run the prisons and labor complexes come from?
A : They're nominally funded by taxes, but in fact those institutions run at a pretty nice profit because everyone in them performs productive work. Bear in mind that nearly everybody has some kind of education, so the inmates and government workers are able -- and required -- to do work that creates far more value than inmates in your prison system. So, they're able to fund themselves as well as generate additional revenue.
Q : I don't see how they could be all that productive -- what's the incentive? Our prisoners generally slack off as much as possible.
A : So do ours, but how 'much is possible' is the big difference. Those who don't meet productivity quotas are subject to pretty harsh corporal punishment.
Q : What about those in the non-prison work centers? Surely it can't be legal to corporally punish free workers.
A : Well, as I said, unemployment is illegal in most cases. So if you don't meet your quota at a work center and are 'fired' from your job there, you go to prison.
Q : A lot of what you're saying about labor really runs counter to our popular wisdom. It's widely supposed here that advances in artificial intelligence, miniaturization technology, and cheap robotics will allow humans more leisure time and luxuries, not less.
A : The technological advances you foresaw did come into being. The snag that wasn't widely anticipated and that led to the current situation was the extremely steep incline in raw materials prices. This eventually meant that robotics were only really available for wide deployment to industry and, especially, the military.
Q : What sort of robotics are deployed by the military?
A : Of course, most of it is secret classified stuff that they don't tell econ professors. But what we've seen is that, from your perspective, weaponry has changed from ballistic and explosive to robotic in nature. Most weapons take the form of very small robots, similar to what you would call nanotechnological devices, that attack humans in various ways. These of course prompt the deployment of countermeasure robots. Human soldiers generally don't enter battles unless an occupation and resource harvesting is the goal, and then only after most of the enemy population has been eliminated by the weapons I described.
Q : There are people who would love to interview you more about this subject.
A : I'm sure there are. I'm happy to talk about it when I have time. People should just understand that this is the actual reality, not some "A Christmas Carol" thing that you can change by cleaning up your act or whatever. The things I'm describing already happened and are happening.
Q : You know "A Christmas Carol?"
A : Sure. You know "The Iliad," don't you?
Q : Right. Again on the subject of your Web site : it looks primitive, even by our standards.
A : I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it since it draws no revenue. But I think it looks great -- simple, to the point. What more do you need?
Q : Does the Web as we know it exist in the future?
A : More or less. As I mentioned, computers are very expensive due to resource costs, so only the very rich have personal access to the Web -- sort of like how satellite television was in the late-mid-20th century. However, most governments maintain libraries that are essentially buildings full of Web access terminals. The technical aspects like transfer protocols have changed, but the idea is at root the same as it is in your era.
Q : Back on that point about the cost of computers : are we still using silicon substrates as the basis for the logic processors?
A : No, no, those were phased out long ago with the binary era. We use quantum states now that perform operations using a synthetic substrate.
Q : So why not use silicon to make cheap equipment that is similar to what we use? We can get an mp3 player, for example, for less than an average day's wage for a laborer.
A : There are two reasons, smart aleck. First, silicon, like many raw materials, is far more expensive for us that it is for you, though silicon computers would be far cheaper to manufacture than those we use. But the biggest reason is power consumption. Electricity is astoundingly costly by your standards, and our computers use less than one percent of the power in operation that yours do. You could start a small war in our era with the power it takes to run your personal computer for a day.
Q : Electricity is expensive? You said that photovoltaics are a big energy source. I'd think that after centuries of refinement, their efficiency would be tremendously improved.
A : It has, but it's that materials and manufacturing cost that's the killer. A panel that can power, say, a housing block is only about the size of one of your cars, but costs the equivalent of millions of dollars to manufacture.
Q : What about coal, plutonium, and other fuels?
A : Your era and those preceding it were characterized by combustible fuels. Those fuels have either been exhausted, are impossible to harvest any further due to geological and technical situations, or are too valuable in non-fuel roles to use for combustion. The world has been running on solar power nearly exclusively for about five hundred years, and it defines our technology just as combustion did yours. There is a small amount of chemical power generated as well, and bad actors are used for fuel in some states. We're trying constantly to find new sources of power that are cheaper than what we're using now. Nuclear reactors are no longer built due to extreme expense and problems with waste management as well as vulnerability to sabotage.
Q : Sabotage?
A : Yeah -- when they were still a viable -- indeed, the preferred - energy source, a common war tactic was to plant teams of engineers in the enemy's nuke plants and cause them to fail and, ideally, explode. Casualties were not really big from these attacks, but people really got freaked out and the plants eventually fell from favor.
Q : Did you have formal musical training?
A : Music is taught as part of the mathematics curriculum in most American universities, so yeah, I did. Music is used to demonstrate a lot of calc-based functions and sequence theory, so most people get a fairly in-depth exposure to music.
Q : What's your favorite color?
A : Orange.
Q : Who's the richest person alive in the future?
A : Without a doubt, that's James Frake. He's the heir to the Frake fortune. His great-great-great grandfather Phil Plone Frake was the guy who first developed an efficient way to harvest polymers from ancient landfills. Old 'Pepsi One' bottles are worth more than gold.
Q : What's sex like in the future?
A : Buy my book and find out.