Saturday, January 22, 2022


 "We all live under the same sky, 
but we don't all have the same horizon"

Konrad Adenauer  

        Coming across that quote this week, I thought we don't all have the same reality either, or language skills. 

       My reality was tweaked when I was in on a brief by Dr. Catherine Marsh former chief scientist for CIA's directorate of Science and Technology and now Director of  IARPA-Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity. IARPA is the Intelligence Community version of DARPA. They are about finding and funding future technologies, systems and frontier new realities. 

       How about filing data using DNA? Maybe advanced polymorphous sequencing to increase security and save space. Server farms are energy hogs, take enormous physical space and have awful carbon footprints. DNA is tiny and tidy.
       Tech companies evangelize the Metaverse, maybe just a  buzzword. Still, we've entered a dimension where media called social is a battle ground and war zone that has polarized and  destroyed truth and fact.
        We live with it. Some can't live without it. Some kill themselves because of it. Privacy has vanished because of it.
        Who is doing something about it? 
        Meta data volume builds, and builds, and builds and flows to manipulators.

        IARPA is looking to protect algorithms, defend artificial intelligence, counter "deep fakes" and more they can't talk about.
        Imagine walking through any city or village in the world, seeing and hearing all that is going on, but doing it remotely. Our tax dollars are looking for a way.

        Mixed reality.
        Some recognize global challenges. 
        Some believe lies while others see the challenge to the American way and they respond.

        Words matter more than we may realize.

     A study published by the National Academy of Sciences finds the societal balance between emotion and reason has shifted back to what it was 150 years ago.
    Scholars from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands and Indiana University studied word and language use since 1850. They discovered the shift from reason to emotion began in the 1980's and has accelerated since. 
    Truth, facts, and science have a hard time being heard in a climate where emotion trumps reason. The voices of our better angels have competition.

    Words have power and evoke a vision. 

        Journalist Ari Berman, a voting rights specialist, reported the 48 Senators who voted to reform the filibuster represent 182 million Americans, that is 55% of the population. The 52 Senators who upheld the filibuster represent 148 million Americans, only 45% of the US population.


        After that vote Republicans shook Senator Sinema's hand, glad to have a nominal Democrat join the new Jim Crow movement. Any doubt about that?  Here's a quote from Republican leader Mitch McConnell "African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."  
        Mitch, you said that out loud.

          Sinema is a play for pay grifter/grafter girl.  She took big money from big pharma and voted against legislation to control medicine costs. She took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations and voted against increasing their taxes. You have to wonder who got to her on voting rights. 

        Reality: By their actions the Republican party is anti-majoritarian and anti-democratic.  

    As David Remnick wrote, "it has become a party less focused on traditional policy values and more on tribal affiliation and resentment."

     They may have short term gains, but a truth spoken by the greatest Republican consigns them to the ignominy of history, in a pile of those without value, the dishonored. Sinema and Manchin have their own asterisk on that list. 

"We cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves...the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation."

Abraham Lincoln

       My bet is Americans will be pushed back, watch rights be stripped away, and oppressed only so long before the great majority rises up against the tyranny of a minority and hand out prostitutes like Sinema and Manchin. 

            There's a lot of dread, justifiable too. Climate, nature and resources are in trouble. It maybe unrecognizable to this generation, but human civilization will find ways to live, adapt, innovate and find destiny.

        As IARPA, DARPA, Bio tech labs, medical discoveries, exploration, discovery and all kindred renaissance thinking invent the future, the human will and spirit will protect itself. 

        It's safe to conclude there will be awful tolls, and maybe so, but I think it would be great to live 50 to 100 years from now, just to see the reality, the fixes, adjustments, innovations and all the new realities we humans create. And, to meet the people as exotically different as we are from those who survived earlier plagues and wars and human catastasis.

        I'm also curious about where artificial reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, genetic design, cyborging, algorithmic cascade, DNA data files, and more take us. 

        But before we go too deeply into the future, I wonder what becomes of the house cleaning mother of five who is exhausting herself with work and worry, trying to keep her family fed and housed. Or the emigres stuck between working to make their dreams reality in the US and an inconsistent and ill defined policy and attitude about immigrants. Or the millions of other working poor facing inflation, already out of control housing costs, and lack of insurance and health security. Or those around the world, victims of war, starvation, authoritarian  regimes. Or those growing numbers of humans displaced by lack of water, resources and a changing climate.

        Wonderous things are indeed coming. I wonder if they will help us with compassion, caring, equity and fairness. It is hard to hear our better angels in the din of word wars and social media combat. Will we listen to each other? To wisdom?

        Do you think we'll learn to take care of the garden?  

        Do you think we'll be closer to having the same horizon?

        Stay safe.
        See you down the trail. 



  1. In one of Arthur C. Clarke's short stories, a religion called "Chrislam" swept across the world. The combination of the two great Abrahamic religions broke apart, and into violence, when an argument over what to expect in the afterlife broke out. Frankly, I'd hate to think The Handmaid's Tale is a blueprint of the future.

  2. "... reported the 48 Senators who voted to reform the filibuster represent 182 million Americans, that is 55% of the population. The 52 Senators who upheld the filibuster represent 148 million Americans, only 45% of the US population."

    Anti-democratic? Uh, yeah. The whole point of the Constitution's brilliant checking and balancing structure is to PREVENT majoritarian rule and, more importantly, to secure the rights of the minority -- any minority -- which is suddenly stinging the very progressives who have (fortunately) benefitted from these protections for so long.
    As the research you cited points out, the country has gone off the deep end being driven by FEELINGS, abandoning 100 years of being driven by REASON. I suggest to you that this fact alone should make you more careful than EVER about embracing populist majoritarian rule of ANY variety. The political forces on the ignorant left and the ignorant right are eager to exert authoritarian majority rule.
    The Constitution was designed to make it very difficult for hot-blooded majorities to have their way. Thus, only 1/2 of 1/3 of the government, the House of Representatives, was designed to reflect the instant FEELINGS of the citizenry (and less than 1/2 of THAT given the extent of the franchise). The direct election of Senators eroded that protection and big money in politics post the Citizens United case has further eroded it. Nomination of presidential candidates by stupidity-inducing primaries has further eroded the Constitutional protection of minority sentiment. None of this is good.
    And as a substantive aside ... the propaganda (including the President's embarrassing address in Atlanta) promoting the so-called Voting Rights Act is obscenely hypocritical. Half of the 13 states with 100% Democrat control have voting rules (called "restricitions" when it suits them) that are more restrictive than the ones they have incited protest and endless wailing and gnashing of teeth over. A good test of whether an issue is really a matter of principle is the extent to which the supposed principle is embraced at home. Turns out, not so much, leading to much deserved skepticism.
    Take a breath. And be thankful we have a constitution that keeps government from having the power that presently tempts you. For on another day and at another time -- perhaps armed with the technology to which you refer -- "they" may come for you.