We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Sometimes experts get it right!

I now lurk on Twitter, and more recently, also on Facebook. Today, on Facebook, via Matt Ridley, this:

Still don’t know the link etiquette when quoting social media discoveries on a blog, so no link.

Usually, the most remembered prophecies are the ones that were proved totally wrong. Metal ships will all sink, aeroplanes can’t fly, cars will never catch on in Europe because chauffeurs, and so on. But this prophecy was – pretty much – right. And what’s more it came from someone running the very business he is prophesying about. He didn’t get everything about the mobile phones we now have. (No explicit mention of texting.) But, as Matt Ridley says: “Pretty good.”

Somewhere on the www there are presumably collections of such successful prophecies. Links please!

Also, what’s still to come for the telephone? Brain implants? 3D virtual reality transmission? Thought control of children? (Thought control by children?)

For a more immediate prophecy, I recently read this fascinating little blog posting by Jordan Peterson, about high tech telephone conmanship. Jordan Peterson being Jordan Peterson, it’s very grim and dark and miserable, and yet another circumstance that The Individual will have to defend himself against, and go a bit mad failing to defend himself against. But still, well worth a read if you missed it.

And also, e-scooters.

And, inevitably, see what Natalie said yesterday in the previous posting, which I only just read.

9 comments to Sometimes experts get it right!

  • Ian Bennett

    In a similar vein, my late mother (born in 1927) related that when she was a young child her father told her that “soon, people will have something hanging on the wall, like a painting, that will let them see what’s happening on the other side of the world.”

  • William H. Stoddard

    In Robert Heinlein’s Space Cadet, the protagonist is standing in line waiting to apply for admission to the Space Patrol. His phone rings and he takes it out and talks with his father. After he hangs up, the boy next to him comments on having made sure to pack his phone in his luggage so that he couldn’t get calls while he was on his way to the exams. That’s pretty good—not only the invention but some of the social usages and evasions that grow out of it!

    Less happily, in Between Planets, in the course of travelling about at the start of the book, the protagonist first is told that his camera will be X-rayed before he gets on his flight, and it will fog his film (security obsession), and later is told he has to present his ID before he can get onto another flight, and in fact has it taken away for examination for a time. The last time I reread it it struck me that when Heinlein wrote that (ca. 1950), it was not a routine detail, but evidence of a repressive legal system provided to shock his readers with the idea that the United States was no longer a free society. . . .

  • staghounds

    The way we handle deepfakes will depend on who its poster victims and most famous users are as the problem makes its way through the legal/legislative system. If someone “good”- Greta Thunberg, Elizabeth Warren- gets to be heard first, and the deepfaker is some right wing nobody, deepfake technology will be bad, a threat to everything we hold dear, and heavily penalised.

    If the whiners are evil racists- President Trump, Jordan Peterson- and the deepfaker is on our Masters’ team, deepfakes will be harmless good fun, an exercise in free speech, and how dare you try to silence democracy, deepfake away!

    See Hustler V. Falwell.

    Meanwhile, in real life, you can’t stop the signal.

  • John W. Campbell made many predictions in his Astounding/Analog editorials. There’s a nice collection of them at https://www.archive.org/stream/collectededitori01camp/collectededitori01camp_djvu.txt Might be interesting to look ’em over.

    I do have a wonderful prophecy about the telephone from the latter half of the nineteenth century, by Miss Caroline Smith. Unfortunately, it is too large to fit in the margins of this blog. It’s uttter pessimism, but read from the twenty-first century, it contains a grain of truth. It’s in a TIFF file, but I don’t feel up to OCR today. Ask for it, and I’ll see what I can do. If nothing else, I could e-mail it – get in touch via my site.

  • Hedgehog

    Thought control by children?

    We’re there already, as shown by the reaction of purported adults to Greta Thunberg the malignant muppet’s ramblings.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    E-scooters are a highly contentious issue. My country just banned them on pedestrian walkways.

    It’s crazy. These PMDs are the best substitutes for cars for distances less than 5 km, and can be a major factor towards pushing for a car-lite society.

    But a series of accidents, some fatal, made the government give in to the online mob and make a knee-jerk response for once.

    The root cause is inadequate planning to cater for these PMDs with widened walkways/dedicated cycling n PMD lanes and over-emphasis on roads for cars.

  • Julie near Chicago


    May the Good Great Frog bless and praise you! I’m all over the Campbell writings. So nice to have something cool to read. :>)))

    Thanksabunch. 😀

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hmph. I never heard of “e-scooters” until they showed up here. From the picture they look like scooters, only not red.

    Be that as it may, the three dumbest road decisions by our road-planning geniuses that I ever heard of are (1) bicycles must use regular roads except in the relatively few cases where there are bike lanes, (2) bikes are to ride with rather than against the traffic!!! and (3) heaven help you if ride on the sidewalk.

    I dunno. If a car hits a bike-rider, things can easily come out deadly indeed. If a bike-rider hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian may be in for some hospital time, certainly not good, but I’d think he’s not so likely to get dead. I mean, it’s not as if he’s been hit by a car.

    Bikes oughta be ridden against the traffic for the same reason that pedestrians on the road are supposed to walk against the traffic. That way they can see what’s coming at them, rather than having to rely on their ears to hear what’s behind them, and often can make maneuvers that will save them from being hit by an oncoming car.

    But then, maybe some people trust drivers (and their automobiles, vans, and 18-wheelers) more than I do.