Taking on Ambitious Projects

== Ambitious Projects: Compatible? Or Conflicting? ==

Our silly, insipid “culture war” crams people along an absurd “left-right axis” while ignoring the real fault line… It’s the chasm between those working for an ambitiously better future and those dragging us down into bitter nostalgia, yearning for a golden past that never was.  The latter dwell on both ends of the political axis.

Here are several projects that share the former goal – an eagerness to transform tomorrow! Can we look past the surface politics to see a way forward for some of them?

–The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act. If passed, this act would allow entrepreneurs to crowdfund. That means they could raise money over the Internet through relatively small donations from people they don’t know. (This model has been pioneered – for the arts – by Kickstarter, but only for “donations” not for the crowd-sourced buying of actual investment shares.) The bill removes barriers to doing business – but this time for the little guy.

The New Yorker, July 12, 2004

–The Prevail Project is still kind of amorphous – one of many efforts to get people thinking about problem-solving and solution-generating in general, rather than obsessing over which tool to use – (e.g. market vs state). “In the Prevail Scenario, what really matters – as always – is not how many transistors we get to talk to each other, but how many ornery, imaginative, unpredictable human beings we can bring together to arrive at surprising ways to co-evolve with our challenges. Because only in this bottom-up way will humans really control their destinies, rather than have them controlled by our creations.”

The site is worth visiting, if for no other reason, than to read the quotation from William Faulkner’s Nobel speech: “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.…”

–Not incompatible! Recall the “seasteading” proposals I discussed here, a couple of months back? Pointing out many aspects that no other pundits seem to have mentioned – a few of them critical, but mostly fascinating and several quite supportive! (I portray seasteading in my next novel.)

Well, things appear to be picking up. “Blueseed” is creating a high-tech visa-free entrepreneurship and technology incubator on an ocean vessel in international waters. “Our facilities will be a short ferry ride away from Silicon Valley so that great ideas and talent from around the world can live, work, and play while having convenient access to the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Of course, this is not quite creating a new national sovereignty. A vessel at sea is still subject to many external rules. It will be within the US 200 mile economic and environmental zone, but outside the 12 mile visa/passport/commercial law reach of the US or California.  Those entities could make things hard, though, if Blueseed isn’t careful.  Blueseed will also be answerable to Panama or Liberia or wherever they register their ship.  This might help provoke a long-overdue fresh look at those flags of convenience.

In any event, I wish them luck!  It sounds like a fun experiment.  It might even make some money while stimulating productive activity. (Still I wonder. Won’t most visitors still have to transit through Bay Area airports? Who would use s ship to visit them, avoiding US customs? A pretty long voyage… to accomplish what?  Hey, just askin’.)

–Thinking Big: io9 offers a list of Ten mega construction projects that could save the environment — and the economy. These large-scale concepts (not all practical!!) include:

– The ‘Lunar Ring’ of solar panels placed on the moon

– A space elevator to lift cargo into orbit

– Geothermal plants to extract lithium, zinc and manganese

– The world’s first carbon-neutral city.

– One far-out idea: coral-like chemically-engineered structures that would grow, self-repair and respond to the environment.

-Darpa’s Sci-Fi Ambitions: A few of Darpa’s long-range projects include:

– Cognitive Computing ( a computer chip that mimics a brain)

– The 100-Year Starship Study

– Synthetic blood

– A Battery-powered human exoskeleton

– Others: Insect cyborgs, a flying submarine, and mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

Some of these grand-scale projects have the potential to revolutionize our world. …

We need an ambitious, future-oriented, scientific, problem-solving civilization filled with both creative competition and lots of heart. Believers in the positive game know we can have all of the above.  We had better! And fie on those zero-summers who claim we have to choose!

1 Comment

Filed under future, society

One response to “Taking on Ambitious Projects

  1. kevin

    We’ve gotten very close to a “blood substitute.” Unfortunately, the complexity of the chemistry has led to complications. Players included Baxter, Northfield Labs and Biopure.The desire to use such products universally has led to poorly designed protocols and failure to get such products approved in the US. (there has been a product approved, at least for veterinary use, in South Africa by Biopure) The US Army has done significant work based upon the Baxter technology.

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