BoingBoing: Bruce Sterling SIGGRAPH 2004 speech Aug 16 2004
It’s possible to live in a cleaner way. We live in debris and detritus because of our ignorance. That ignorance is no longer technically necessary. Those who know, know. Instead, our problem is becoming obscurantism, which is a deliberate hiding of the facts by vested interests who know they are injuring us. Such acts of evil must be combated. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Wanting to know, wanting to do it, that’s half the struggle right there. Our capacities are tremendous. Eventually, it is within our technical ability to create factories that clean the air as they work, cars that give off drinkable water, industry that creates parks instead of dumps, or even monitoring systems that allow nature to thrive in our cities, neighborhoods, lawns and homes. An industry that is not just “sustainable,” but enhances the world. The natural world should be better for our efforts and our ingenuity. It’s not too much to ask.
You and I will never live to see a future world with those advanced characteristics. The people who will be living in it will pretty much take it for granted, anyway. But that is a worthy vision for today’s technologists: because that is wise governance for a digitally conquered world. That is is not tyranny. That is legitimacy.
Without vision, the people perish. So we need our shimmering, prizes, goals to motivate ourselves, but the life is never in the prize. The living part, the fun part, is all in the wrangling. Those dark cliffs looming ahead — that is the height of your achievement.