Archive for the ‘The Future’ Category

Time-Limited Small Arms for Revolutions

The “civil” war in Libya has me thinking about what’s going to happen to all those weapons that have been provided to the rebels by NATO.  Here’s an advertisement from the near future…

We’ve all been there:  You smuggle a few thousand guns to rebel fighters in a country where you’d like to topple a dictator.  Next thing you know, the dictator’s gone but now you have all those guns floating around.  Most of them end up in the hands of insurgents (who were your buddies a couple of weeks ago but are now definitely anti-you), and some of them make their way to the black market and end up getting used against your drug enforcement agents and/or the drug cartels that are propping up your government.

Not anymore!  With our exclusive line of DisposArms™ time-limited weaponry, not only do you minimize the risk of your own weapons being used against you but you can also prevent flooding the lucrative secondary arms markets with spare weapons.

Design and Features

  • Critical components of the weapons are built to fail due to corrosion or use after a predetermined time period or a given number of rounds have been fired.  Special composite materials cause the components to fuse together upon failure, rendering the weapon inoperable.  The components fuse in such a way as to make re-manufacturing/cannibalization of the weapon highly impractical.
  • Non-critical components, such as grips, stocks and other furniture, are made from biodegradable plastics with a predetermined lifespan.
  • The usable lifespan of the weapons can be custom-tailored to your specific revolutionary or counter-revolutionary timetable.
  • Failsafe explosive devices can be implanted in the weapons and remotely detonated should the need arise.  The size, composition and lethality of the explosive can be customized according to your needs.
  • GPS tracking devices are also available to ensure that your guns stay on-task and in-country.
  • We also offer an extra-special feature that ties the self-destruct system into the GPS locator.  If a weapon leaves a boundary area that you have defined, the weapon automatically detonates.  You can even modify the boundary from our convenient phone app!
  • DisposArms™ can be crafted to use a variety of locally-available calibers or you can choose from our line of proprietary, time-sensitive ammunition for even better control of your arsenal.
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Putting Kids to Work: Thoughts on Making Schooldays Productive

About a hundred years ago, various regions of the United States began banning or limiting child labor.  It was a hard-fought battle.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we turn back the clock to those horrible times.  Before child labor laws, kids would operate dangerous, dirty equipment for 12 hours at a time for the inflation-adjusted equivalent of twelve cents a day and an inflation-adjusted three kicks in the ass.  But hear me out, and I’m not saying this in a satirical Modest Proposal kind of way:  I think children would benefit by performing simple, real-world computer-related tasks during school time and that they should be paid for their efforts.

Apparently the business world needs a lot of menial tasks to be performed, and a lot of it can be done via the Internet.   Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” is an example of a service that will pay you to do stuff that’s really dull but wouldn’t be cost-efficient to make a computer do it.  I say we should have kids, from say 4th grade on up, get paid to get this work done.  We could give them an allowance for personal expenses, but the majority of the profit would be stashed away in the child’s college fund.

A small percentage of the profits could go to the school.  You talk of “No Child Left Behind” –  how about “No Child Gets A Free Ride”?  But all kidding aside, think about it for a minute:  what better way to make schools more self-sufficient than to have the kids earn as they learn?  You can tell the plan is brilliant because it rhymes.

As a child gains more experience and knowledge, they could perform more complicated – and thus higher-paying – tasks.  Not only would they earn money, but also valuable real-world experience as well as mental exercise.  Imagine if you’d been given the chance to actually apply learned knowledge for a couple of hours per day while you were in school?

In addition to the money and experience, kids would gain perspective, motivation and self-discipline.  “Man, if I nail that algebra test I can step up to Level 6 math tasks…which means more money and experience points.”  Yes, experience points!  Achievements!  Tangible, braggable, look-what-I-did measurements of a child’s progress that would mean a lot more to them than a report card that comes out of nowhere every six weeks.

As the kids enter high school, they could choose from a more varied set of vocational interests.  Imagine trying out a few different jobs before you even get to college?  It might give you more perspective when it comes time to choose a major.

Of course, there would have to be protections put in place to ensure that kids don’t end up working overtime, or letting work get in the way of learning.

You could argue that rich kids wouldn’t have any motivation to participate, or that schools would just become sweatshops, or that any kind of child labor is just exploitation.  I disagree with that last point, naturally, and the other two points are issues that would need to be addressed.  And since there are no other conceivable arguments against my proposal idea, I urge that it be implemented with all speed!  Good day.

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There may come a time, if humanity makes it long enough and science isn’t suppressed, that we will unravel the complexities of mental illness.  We will realize how various bacteria and genetic flaws, and other factors we cannot yet imagine, commingle to cause all the types of maladies of the mind.  And we will look back on how we’ve treated the mentally ill throughout the ages, and we will be ashamed.

I’d wager that we’ll find that most mental illnesses can be fixed through medical treatment; be it surgery or gene therapy, or some implanted device that adjusts sensory input or compensates for damaged reasoning centers.

One day we’ll know.  One day we’ll be able to stop tossing drugs at a mental condition, hoping that something will numb the patient enough to make the problem manageable.  I don’t mean to be critical of modern medical/psychological practice…we don’t know any better at this point.

One thing we need to remember is that nobody chooses to be psychotic, schizophrenic, depressed, insane or bipolar.  Every human civilization has been cruel to those who are different, and there will be a time when we realize what tiny difference there is between “normal” and not.

Covert and Overt Systems for Networked Uprisings

The recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have shown how important Internet access is to protesters, especially if their goal is overthrowing a government.    Even though the governments of those countries seem to lack the expertise necessary to completely cut off Internet access, they have nonetheless severely hindered it for most of their citizens.

I’m not going to get deep into the politics of these two examples.  As naiive as it may sound,  I think Egypt could benefit from some democracy.  Hell, I think the whole region would benefit .

The Israelis, however, are understandably wary of a power shift that would see a reliably peaceful Egyptian regime tossed into exile – especially if its replacement took a turn toward fundamentalism.  And you can see why the US government is being very non-committal with regard to this push for democracy.  In case Egypt’s dictatorship fails to crumble, we need to appear fully supportive of our Cold War leftovers.  (Remember, we support democracy all over the world, unless somebody we don’t like gets elected.)

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say in the somewhat-near future there’s a regime somewhere in the world that you wanted to get rid of.  The people are ready to revolt.  They need Internet access to communicate their plight to the outside world, and to coordinate and plan their protest activities.  But the government has clamped down on all forms of electronic communication. It’s time to send in the drones.

The first step is to get Internet access in-country.  Unmanned aerial vehicles take position throughout the country, establishing satellite links with fat bandwidth.  Some cut their engines and quietly parachute onto rooftops, disguised as common objects such as smokestacks or HVAC equipment. Some latch onto radio towers or telephone poles.

To extend the reach of these nodes, thousands of tiny, solar-powered routers are deployed by air almost like cluster munitions.  Some are disguised as rocks or other natural objects, while others are enclosed in high-visibility orange or green static-proof bags with instructions on how to activate them, where to distribute them, and how to conceal them.

Since the standard mobile phone service is out of commission, thousands of ruggedized smartphones are airdropped as well.  Though they are rudimentary, each phone has the ability to capture and stream full-motion video.  The phones come pre-loaded with popular social networking apps in the country’s predominant language, as well as instructions on effective protest methods (much like these leaflets in Cairo).  These phones are encased in sturdy foam packaging with instructions for activating them.  About one in ten phones come with a hand-crank charger.

It will be important to ensure that implementers of these overthrow networks don’t scope-creep these toys.  The organic nature of social networks in an uprising must be preserved, lest the participants catch on that they’re just pawns.  Ooops, did I blog that out loud?  How cynical of me.

Anywho, let’s hope that one day we won’t need a UN commission for finding and destroying landmines, but instead a commission dedicated to cleaning up and recycling all the e-trash leftover from popular revolts.