Meet Marble

13 thoughts on “Meet Marble”

  1. Have you ever read any of the Iain M. Banks (R.I.P.) CULTURE novels?

    A nice fantasy of a post-scarcity, post-singularity civilization. Definitely a fantasy, but at least he still recognizes that the foibles and flaws of human beings will still remain in place.

    1. I’m not familiar with Iain Banks, but I’ll check out his work soon.

      At the moment I’m deep into Paolo Bacagalupi’s writing – “The Windup Girl” and “The Water Knife” in particular. He was recommended by another Granola Shotgun reader. The one line near the end of “The Windup Girl” that sums up the entire book for me – “Why would I be afraid? I work for AgriGen. I’ve been inoculated against diseases that haven’t even been released yet.”

      Science Fiction isn’t escapist genre fiction as is so often assumed by literary snobs. It’s social commentary and political satire. SciFi anticipates possible futures and ruminates on the consequences of things that are already with us in their nascent forms.

  2. “History tells us that existing institutions don’t self reform. They fail and are replaced by entirely new systems.”

    I’m not sure I agree. Maybe in the US, where there seems to be a near-religious reverence for the constitution, as if it doesn’t need to be a ‘living document’ that’s constantly improved upon and updated for changing needs. The UK’s system is also very far from perfect, but it is very much in constant flux. In the last few years we’ve seen the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Government, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the creation of regional/city mayors, the Greater London Assembly and mayor, the Scottish independence referendum, the EU exit referendum, a referendum on switching to the Alternative Vote system, the creation of the UK Supreme Court, the passing of an act to standardise Westminster general elections at every 5 years, etc. etc. etc…

    We’re seeing increasing numbers of pilot programs for different types of citizen incomes and similar ideas. I don’t think existing systems *have to* fail before being replaced. But there’s a legitimate question hanging over whether the reform-averse *US system* can be adaptable enough to reform without first failing.

    1. The beauty of the U.S. constitution is that it’s a timeless document that can be used a framework for any time, not just the 18th century. Any major conflicts or issues can be addressed in the form of amendments (there have been 27 thus far). Despots have always loved “living” constitutions, since it gives them the means to secure and consolidate power. It’s nice that Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have secured a higher level of self government. In the U.S., individual states have had their own legislatures for many years.

      The “reverence” is well deserved.

  3. Your comment about the illegality of some of these projects is dead on. As an attorney I’m fascinated by what societies will tolerate in terms of illegality and the level of intrusion of “the law” into our personal lives. Lots of activities are illegal and yet common and while other activities are legal but you can catch all sorts of hell for engaging in them. I used to hitchhike and walk along back roads of Central CA and that’s an activity that I’d not recommend for the feint of heart, for example. I’ve also lived in a couple of countries where very harsh penalties are on the books for crimes like illicit drug use but the legal penetration is so low that it doesn’t really matter because cops don’t have a presence inside people’s houses or backyards. My guess is we are moving into an era in which police will primarily respond to social disturbances and property crimes for which the evidence will be electronic identification, remote cameras et al.

  4. The people who read electric meters are already long gone from my neighborhood. It’s reported by radio, now. (That may be true for the gas and water, too.)

    1. I’ve had such meters (on radiators) and they don’t eliminate the need for human meter readers since the range of the radio signal is not infinite: somebody still has to come near enough with an appropriate device to pick up the signal. The difference is that they don’t have to come into your house or flat anymore, which is much more efficient (no more protracted scheduling negotiations): they can read the meter while standing in the hallway or even outside (but near).

    1. All sorts of things are illegal and they continue anyway. Renting out your apartment as if it were a hotel room? That’s been totally illegal for a century in San Francisco. Picking up random people off the street and driving them around for money without a taxi medallion, special insurance, etc? Totally illegal for decades. If I, as an individual, do that sort of thing… I go to jail. If a multi-billion dollar corporation does it? Shrug.

    1. Everything can be vandalized… The trick is to beta test the equipment and figure out he best work arounds ahead of the curve. I’m also guessing that cameras and other electronic identification systems can be used to deter crime one way or another.

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