Today I returned to doing radio commentaries. I will be doing a new commentary every other Friday on KVMR-FM 89.5, Nevada County's public radio station. This was broadcast today.
Contending ideologies and ideologues are very much in the news these days. When people hear either of those words, they usually come up with a negative response. From the media we receive the daily dose that ideologues are some kind of over-zealous and closed-minded people who promote ideas off the beaten track, ideas that maybe are even inimical to the American way. Regular Americans are not supposed to be ideologues.
Hello, my name is George Rebane. I am an ideologue with an ideology that most closely matches the conservative/libertarian mold. I am also a retired systems scientist, a local blogger, and a columnist for The Union newspaper. The management of KVMR has kindly asked me to share some of my thoughts and observations with you from time to time as part of their policy to bring you a diverse, and hopefully stimulating, compendium of opinion and commentary. You can find out more about me at georgerebane.com.
In the coming weeks I will talk to you about ideas and issues a bit off the so-called balanced center that you may find thought provoking. In general, I will be talking about things real, sometimes uncomfortable, and possibly even hackle-raising. I promise not to feed you pabulum.
Before looking at a couple of these, let me clear up the ideologue matter. As I said at the start, I am an ideologue. ‘Ideologue’ is now one of many words that recently have changed meaning in the politically charged media. In the best sense, an ideology is a structured, well-formed, consistent, and fairly complete set of beliefs or tenets. As an ideologue I claim such an ideology. But that doesn’t mean that what I believe is calcified or beyond debate. In fact, I welcome such debate, and will be grateful to my betters when they can falsify some of my ideology and improve what remains.
From the above laundry list, let’s look at two that are already impacting Nevada County - population and technology.
A little-noticed thing happened in the early nineties that economists and sociologists now call the Great Doubling. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the worldwide population of workers that would compete with the American worker doubled – it went from about 1.5 billion to 3 billion. All of these additional people who arrived on the economic scene - our economic scene – were willing to work a lot more for a lot less in order to find their place in the sun.
It turns out that the wealth, which lifts everyone’s quality of life, is today produced mostly by people good at science, technology, and math. These are hard subjects and not accessible to everyone. Americans on the whole have been turning away from learning skills in these areas. Overseas, young people are entering these fields in such droves that our businesses are importing foreign technologists in the attempt to keep America innovating. Our youngsters, entering the work force today, are overfed on self-esteem but do have a firm grip on a list of rights the world owes them. Consequently, it is harder for them to compete and sell their labor at wages that will pay for a lifestyle they have come to expect.
Finally we come to accelerating advances in all areas of technology, especially in the convergence of nanotechnology, genomics, and machine or artificial intelligence. If these terms are still foreign to you, they will not be for long, because the race between Man and machines has turned the corner into the stretch drive. And all outcomes of this race guarantee that humans, as the critters we now are, will no longer be the dominant species on this planet when the dust settles. The finish line of this race is called the Singularity – that brief moment in time when machines will be as smart as we are.
And quickly thereafter, machine intelligence will explode beyond our ken while our brains are still evolving at glacial speeds. A lot has been written about the Singularity, and much is being studied about it by universities and corporations as we speed toward the event itself. It is a complex topic that most of us understand only through spectacular science fiction movies. In the real world, workers who can no longer find jobs are the first to experience the reality of the coming Singularity.
Much of this is already happening, and it directly affects how we will live here in Nevada County. But that’s another story, one of the many we’ll be dissecting in these commentaries.
I am George Rebane.