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The Signposts Perspectives
2101 AD-2300 AD

America falls from grace; Enslaved clones are common; Exploration of deep space begins in earnest.

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Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Table of Contents

2105 milestone: The Albatross is traveling at 0.31c (31% the speed of light)

The Albatross lost both its primary and secondary propulsion systems seven years ago or longer (particle beam and laser). However, the laser proved able to continue energizing the craft's photonic energy cells for almost another full seven years, enabling onboard systems to enjoy roughly 100% onboard power ever since launch.

The Albatross has traveled four lightyears from Sol system towards the core. Now the Albatross is losing the laser as an effective power source, and must drop down into low power mode. The Albatross is coasting at around .31c now, with a very slight drag slowly draining its velocity. The drag comes from almost imperceptible factors such as faraway gravity wells pulling on its mass from random directions, the impact of random molecules in the vacuum, and the push from photons streaming from stellar sources anywhere but behind the craft. The Albatross reduced the effective surface area of its sail using the last of the energy beamed to it via laser, which should help minimize some sources of drag over coming years (as well as reduce the maintenance load of the repair bots, conserving energy and saving wear in that area too).

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2067-2145 milestones: Spencer's Bargain, Plague, and the dissolution of USAmerica

As if the Atlantic mega-eruption hadn't been enough-- the last major natural plague occurs over this time period too-- but could have been prevented-- a tragedy summed up in the historical perspective surrounding "Spencer's Bargain".

In all recorded history, there's been only a handful of losses of human knowledge, of truly catastrophic proportions.

One was the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

Another was the nearly two century long transition of our world to truly permanent and reliable computerized storage.

This latter tragedy is now known as Spencer's Bargain to scholars.

A mid level bureaucrat, named Howard P. Spencer, of a republic then called the United States of America, made the decision in 2059 that a large block of old data about an obscure earthworm blight in 1893 South Dakota was not worth the expense of translating over to the new computers then being installed. The records were all in some other largely incompatible format of the time.

-- Foreign Earthworms Threaten Forest Health; ABC News

-- Earthworm invasion will change forests

-- Alien earthworms changing ecology of Northeast forests

Hundreds of thousands of other people living during the decades before and after Spencer made similar decisions about other data stores in their care.

The cumulative result of these decisions was an estimated ninety-one point seven percent of all human knowledge and data collected over the eons being lost forever. In the span of only a few generations.

Of course, it took humanity almost a century to realize the enormity of this event.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: How could we possibly lose so much in so brief a time? It's simple: the lion's share of all known, recorded human knowledge had been developed/discovered within just a half dozen of the most recent generations; roughly between 1900 and 2060. Computerization of data began in a slip shod manner around the late 1980s in developed nations like USAmerica; frequent format changes after that, plus the lazziz faire capitalism of those decades, left much data 'stranded' in formats deemed 'not cost-effective' to convert to new mediums. Thus, we lost the vast majority of the information we'd spent so much to collect in modern times. By the time we began to realize our error, much was already destroyed, misplaced, or indecipherably scrambled. END NOTE.

-- DATA STORAGE: FROM DIGITS TO DUST, Apr. 9, 1998, Businessweek, The Digital Attic: An Archive of Everything, by JAMES GLEICK, April 12, 1998, the New York Times

-- "Digital data storage has its limitations" By Hermione Malone CHICAGO TRIBUNE, August 2, 1998 Philadelphia Inquirer

-- 'CD-Recordable discs unreadable in less than two years'

Spencer himself wasn't alive to learn of his dubious distinction when it came into being. For he'd died in 2090 of a new and mysterious affliction that had first appeared around 2067, during the horrendous aftermath of the Great Atlantic Eruption. It was called Dellare's Complex, or 'clonebloom', in the slang of the time (the term "clonebloom" came from the fact that massive use of clone parts was the only way during most of the crisis to temporarily stave off the worse symptoms of the disease (victims underwent almost continual surgeries to replace afflicted parts with fresh ones; however, the disease spread so rapidly even this strategy brought only a few weeks of relief in most cases), and to treat survivors-- therefore, the plague's existence flew in the face of world efforts to reduce the use of clone farming for parts-- so each new victim of the disease was a contributor to clonebloom, or a sudden, insatiable demand for more clones ).

Dellare's Complex was one of the last great natural epidemics to strike the Earth's population (After that there were largely only the artificial strains to worry about-- which pleasantly enough were usually easier and faster to resolve than the natural variety).

The Dellare's Complex was an excruciatingly painful, unattractive, and drawn out way of dying, very similar in some aspects to the Ebola strain USAmericans were only just becoming familiar with at the end of the 20th century, as an affliction limited to Africa. As Dellare spread, its reputation went before it, literally scaring many people into premature deaths by suicide, rather than face the onset of the symptoms. Many who died had never contracted the sickness; the increasing possibility itself just became too much for them to bear.

Around eighty years after these events first began, an enterprising writer researching for a novel about the plague discovered that Howard Spencer himself had thrown away a possible cure to the disease in the data he'd deemed too insignificant to translate to new storage media.

Millions of lives had been lost and untold man-years of suffering endured as humanity had been forced to 'start from scratch' on finding the data required to conquer the epidemic.

Ironically, it turned out that Spencer may even have pocketed a bit of the 'saved' funds himself due to his decision; though this could not be verified so many decades after the fact.

But it made a good story. And gave a convenient scapegoat to all the people who'd survived that fearsome time. Provided a 'kernel' about which all the painful statistics of the event seemed to immediately coalesce around. To finally make the entire hundred year stretch of misery and regret come to be symbolized as 'Spencer's Bargain'.

Amazingly, even the survivors of the time, peers of Spencer himself, many of them guilty too of exactly the same sort of error (if not specifically Spencer's more infamous one) also blamed the whole thing on Spencer. As if the dead man himself had ordered them all to repeat his mistake through some mass form of mind control.

And so the blame for a gross error on the part of thousands of government and corporate organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals, was in this way laid upon the shoulders of one Howard P. Spencer, 21st century USAmerican.

By the time the tragedy of Spencer's Bargain had been realized, it was largely irreversible. Most old documents had been purposely destroyed during data transition, or shortly thereafter.

Even those that had been spared from the purge had often deteriorated naturally in the interim. The preferred media of preceding centuries/millennia (compressed and dried plant fibers, called paper), as well as the early magnetic formats, was mostly fragile stuff in the time frames of decades and centuries. Especially in times of enormous change in the lives of the personnel responsible for storage and safe-keeping of same-- and especially when many of the old records became deemed as a waste of storage space to keep. END NOTE.

Dellare's Complex decimated many of the world states which had not decades earlier instituted free or low cost government health care to minimize the threat of such contagions. Luckily, this meant most developed states like several in Western Europe and about the Pacific Rim were mostly spared. Unfortunately, most still developing countries were hit hard. And, to the shock of USAmerican citizens, they were hit about the same as some third world countries in Africa-- because of all the developed states in the world, USAmerica was one of the very few which had insisted on maintaining a more nearly 100% private medical insurance system, rather than offering a single payer system against the class of potentially society threatening contagions.

You see, a wholly private health care system which by definition is often inaccessible to the most impoverished of a nation's citizenry protects no one from a robust, easily transmitted contagion like Dellare's Complex. Instead, it actually increases the chances that ALL will eventually become infected. Therefore, nations offering little or no free medical care to their poorest citizens for contagious diseases were disasters waiting to happen, in a world where disease carriers in the form of people, animals, or inanimate objects could traverse the globe in hours.

The huge loss of life USAmerica suffered as a result of its own misplaced politico-economic conservatism played no small part in its accelerating decline. The wide availability of black market suicide pills, and other stresses of the time on average citizens, didn't help USAmerica's plight either. And when the blockbuster book detailing Spencer's Bargain became a global best seller decades later, it seemed to put the finishing touches on USAmerica's monumental loss of credibility and confidence in the eyes of the world, as Howard P. Spencer himself came to symbolize the increasing ineptness of USAmerica's governing bureaucracy.

Another nail in the USAmerica coffin also resulted from these events: namely, the fear of contagion brought about enormous demand for greater use of virtual realities and telecommuting for any and all interaction among citizens-- which added to the growing importance and momentum of the virtual states, which eventually helped bring about the complete disintegration of USAmerica as a politico-economic entity.

The huge increase in global population density within only a dozen or so mega-cities worldwide in the decades and centuries following 2000 will pave the way for terrifying and explosive epidemics among such populations. Fortunately the wholesale surveillance maintained by government, corporations, and households during this time, combined with the rapid communications offered by the internet will allow near instant deployment of medics and equipment to contain such outbreaks, almost worldwide, in something similar to the ubiquitous fire departments of 1999 AD.

USAmerica will suffer a gradual decline in its sovereignty and independence relative to the rest of the world during the third millennium to better match that of other nations of the time, for a multitude of reasons.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service,

It appears that a virus similar to modern ebola may have been responsible for the Black Death which appeared in Europe in 1347 AD, rather than the bubonic plague carried by rats, as is commonly believed today. If so, the Black Death could have easily been passed from one person to another, and the quality of environmental sanitation at the time wouldn't necessarily have had much effect on the progress of the contagion.

Ergo, the scourge could return again any day.

-- Black Death caused by 'ebola' virus, not rats By Robert Uhlig; Telegraph Group Limited; 22 November 2001;

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2102 milestone: Project "Cheating Heart" and related works have delivered stunning new information about luck

[Caution: Extreme speculation ahead; this section mostly created for "What If?" entertainment value]

Luck is indeed partially genetically based.

The socio-economic implications of this find are staggering; therefore it is for the most part kept secret (although some vague and unverified information regarding all this leaks into the public mindset anyway-- becoming a significant issue for fringe debate in the late 21st/early 22nd century, similar to UFOs in the late 20th/early 21st).

At the present time and for the near future, the only real impact of this research is a highly classified effort to recruit more naturally 'lucky' people into the intelligence agencies, and for certain critical military duties at all levels. This alarms some scientists 'in the know' about all this, as it could help increase the power of the military and intelligence agencies in the states pursuing this course-- leading to dominance over civilians similar to that enjoyed by the Soviet Union's military and KGB during much of the 20th century. A few scientists attempt to blow the whistle and are squelched before they accomplish much. But at least a vague if inaccurate notion of the luck factor does get installed into the public consciousness.

Some of the developed states which begin active recruitment of 'lucky' individuals for various intelligence and military assignments include USAmerica and Great Britain.

Project "Cheating Heart" becomes one of the most highly classified research projects in history.

NOTE: Larry Niven in his book Ringworld may have been among the first to suggest that luck could be a genetic factor.

-- "Applying Quantum Mechanics to Bees and Honey" by MALCOLM W. BROWNE, April 7, 1998, the New York Times

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2114 milestone: 'Lucky' military and intelligence personnel are being selectively bred without their knowledge

It's so commonplace to take blood and tissue samples today (especially for various intelligence and military posts) that the breeding operation easily obtains all the genetic material they need from the individuals in question. Human embryos are created that should possess even better luck than their unknowing parents.

A few powerful politicians and business executives have learned of the findings from Project "Cheating Heart" by now, too.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2121 milestone: Other, more open 'luck'-based genetic breeding programs are initiated to neutralize the secret breeding projects in some states

Knowledgeable contacts of some of the courageous scientists who years before tried to blow the whistle on Project "Cheating Heart" have been busy. They've quietly started the ball rolling for new, perpetual lotteries in some nations across the world that should develop lucky populations there in general over succeeding decades. This is an attempt to balance out the threat perceived in the intelligence and military agencies' breeding programs. Though a few states see the lotteries as fair ways to cope with rationed procreation and other items, the 'luck' factor is the secret motivation of the technological consultants involved.

Substantial cash prizes lure many to participate (and help insure the future of the winners' progeny).

These new lotteries are very successful in years to come, in most of the forums in which they are tried. They are also self-sustaining, due to very smart designs of the rules and infrastructure and marketing involved. In only a few decades these open lotteries have so far outpaced the smaller secret programs that the results of those covert projects matter little-- except within the boundaries of the unfortunate nations suffering them. In the case of USAmerica, this matter becomes yet another straw in the bale that will eventually break the state's viability as a major sovereign power in the eyes of both its own citizens and outside observers. In one scandal of following decades it's discovered influential politicians have attempted to push their own groomed 'lucky' candidates for various political offices-- and often won. Such things create enormous turmoil in various democracies and republics of the time.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2130s milestones: The Pan-American Crimes Against Nature Trials

In the twenty-second century a series of major legal proceedings took place worldwide persecuting certain people for their roles in species extinctions and extraordinary environmental pollution events, among other things. Many people had to be tried in absentia, as they'd died years before. But many of the culprits were unlucky enough to still be around, and suffered mightily for it.

The Pan-American Crimes Against Nature Trials in the twenty-one thirties become the equivalent for the current generation of what the Nuremburg trials of the nineteen forties and fifties were for a previous one.

Where many potential Nuremberg defendants had moved to places like Argentina or USAmerica to lose their pursuers, many alleged Nature Crimes perpetrators had disappeared into the political/economic turmoil of the Mid-East, Eastern Asia, and Central Africa. The upheaval in these places over nearly a century had created many niches of legal ambiguity for criminals to seek refuge in.

Each missing percentage point of genetic information represented a whole library of knowledge that might be locked away from us forever. Knowledge that could have had beneficial impact on hundreds of other scientific fields, beyond that of any one affected species. The ongoing horror of a current worldwide plague might also have been reduced by information from these lost sources.

Surprisingly, many of the convicted criminals had in earlier decades or centuries been hailed as great people by their respective nations or other constituencies: two had been USAmerican Presidents! Many others had been chief executive officers of major corporations. From the evidence shown at trial, those persecuted had obviously been well aware of the long term and possibly permanent harm they'd be doing to the planet with their actions, and shown little or no regard for it in their decisions.

One of the major geopoliticals supporting the trials is USAmerica, in an attempt to regain some of the prestige it has lost in previous decades.

-- Crimes Against Nature Bush is sabotaging the laws that have protected America's environment for more than thirty yearsRobert F. Kennedy Jr.Posted Nov 18, 2003

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2100-2150 sub trends and detours: Overt slavery makes a huge comeback with the boom in human clone creation

A substantial black market in surgically, genetically, or electronically lobotomized human sex slave clones thrives around the world, mostly consisting of illegal duplicates of a relative few super models and actors/actresses of the past (and bizzare biological replicas of wholly computer generated celebrities of the present), and child clones, which like the popular permanent puppies and kittens now available for about a century, never grow up.

Though it's not apparent from the above, genetic engineering, surgical, dietary, and physical conditioning advances, and other factors have made great beauty and fine physical proportions accessible to everyone who wishes it, but for perhaps the very poorest citizens. The world is now filled with 'beautiful people' (although from the 20th century perspective the wild customization people perform on themselves today would make it seem otherwise). Therefore, cosmetic appearance is NOT the main factor in selection of a popular cloning candidate nowadays, but rather celebrity and/or historical status.

Some of the celebrity clones are derived from original stars who died decades earlier, but somehow left behind sufficient material with which clone farmers could recreate them at least in likeness long afterwards. Few major stars of past centuries considered to be 'sex symbols' escape this indignity. However, a small number of major characters defy this type of cloning; for instance, as of 2150, no clone farmer has been able to produce high end (near perfect replica) clones of 20th century Marilyn Monroe. The DNA samples required just aren't available. On the other hand, there are plenty of singing Elvis clones distributed about the globe (to the dismay of many).

Work slaves also comprise a booming market, made up of both child clones and certain male/female archetypes specifically tailored or 'tuned' mentally and physically for particular tasks, such as nannies, bodyguards, repairmen, rank and file factory workers, and more.

One major factor contributing to the pervasiveness of the slavery practice is the increasing isolation of individual human beings now. Telecommuting, virtual realities, the real dangers of being out of doors or within major population centers, and other elements have all combined to make it relatively rare for physical encounters, or visits by others to one's home. This provides the potential for an 'anything goes' atmosphere in private residences, and with the authorities so busy dealing with greater threats to the human race, anything done in private that has little or no impact on the outside world is pretty much ignored. Indeed, most world authorities tend to encourage almost any sort of behavior which doesn't fall into a relatively few dangerous-to-society-as-a-whole areas.

To make matters fuzzier still, a significant portion of the current slave population is made up of willing participants with 100% normal mental and physical capabilities or better-- that is, not clones but free borns, who simply lost a very risky gamble in the extreme gaming sessions now common world-wide, or 'sold' themselves contractually to another person or organization, for reasons of intense loneliness, great debt, or others. In some regions slavery becomes a new method for punishing convicted criminals. Interfering in these various aspects of modern slavery can be very problem-prone for authorities both inside and outside a particular nation where it is taking place, and thus serves to encourage slavery as a byproduct. Other relevant points here include the fact that prostitution is legal in many regions now, and freeborns in many states have the right to sell and license body parts and tissue as they see fit-- including for the creation of slave clones, which in some cases may be legally 'traded' for similar clones of other freeborns, for personal use. The effective physical and mental ages of such clones may be 'set' to a permanent value by the owner, too. See the enormously complex legalities here? People selling variously aged clones of themselves, much as they sell clones (or originals) of individual organs for transplant. Since the complete clones may be modified intellectually and physically to suffer little or no perceptible adverse effects from their duties as well (and the facts may be easily demonstrated in court), how can such practices be stopped without interfering too much in the rights of individual citizens? With prostitution of self entirely legal, many free borns grow clones of themselves and 'tune' them genetically to create a stable of prostitutes they may then place on the open market for income. Such matters grow even more complex than this with little effort-- such as the fact that many clone slaves actually enjoy a better and richer life than many freeborns of the time do--which all helps explain why clone slavery boasts a strong presence in human society and economies for many years. Popular media of this period also glamorizes both fictional and non-fictional accounts of the lives of slaves, much as late 20th century Hollywood did with prostitutes in films such as "Risky Business", "Pretty Woman", "Milk Money", and others. Why? Because such people are more easily placed into (and believeable within) exciting, scary, or titilating tableaus than others of less extreme circumstance.

Then, there's also the fact that some new slaves, such as convicted criminals, would much rather be slaves than the alternatives, which in some cases include being used as a living organ bank, medical experiment guinea pig, draft into Roman Gladiator 'to-the-death' type spectacles, or worse.

The bottomline of slavery today? For the majority of those enslaved, daily life and the limits on personal freedom aren't that much different from that of average late 20th century employees, or late 20th century military recruits in the developed nations-- it's just that the supporting technological infrastructure is much more advanced, and the boundaries of control more strictly drawn and enforced. Perhaps the greatest differences between slaves and freeborns is that the slaves have absolutely no privacy rights while the freeborns at least sometimes have an option of privacy, under certain circumstances, and slaves don't enjoy the same automatic copyright/patent protections on their experiences and ideas as freeborns. Slaves also may not take the same risks with their person as a free-born; only their masters may decide to do that.

Further muddying the waters in the slavery debate is the fact that a substantial number of those who remain free now lead a considerably more difficult and uncertain life than many of the enslaved, in something similar to the difference between the self-employed and the average factory worker of the late 20th century USAmerica.

Now, as ever, human ingenuity continues to battle with economic realities for survival and the pursuit of whatever happiness it can find.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2158 milestone: The mega comet starship Diogenes has achieved 0.13 lightspeed

The massive Diogenes and tiny moon-like Kaku are now roughly four lightyears from Sol, on a course to galactic regions largely unexplored even by unmanned probes before-hand. The majority of the Diogenes crew only entered stasis a couple decades back-- it took quite a while to complete the construction of the vessel after launch (all work which could be put off to after launch was scheduled that way, for budget and timing constraints).

The entire Chiu family onboard the Kaku has been in stasis almost from the moment the launch phase was successfully completed, and the Kaku's own drives could be shut down.

The relatively close pass to the Sun during launch phase consumed a measurable amount of Diogenes' mass, despite efforts to protect it with reflective materials and other means. However, as expected the loss doesn't signicantly impact the estimated long term fuel supply. Kaku itself enjoyed a far easier near Sun passage, due to its much smaller surface area and partial shielding via its orbit about Diogenes.

Worse was the loss or damage to various equipment onboard Diogenes-- expecially on or near the surface. That element proved somewhat worse than anticipated. But still, the mission has not been irreparably harmed.

Diogenes is operating with a skeleton crew presently awake (some 45 adults plus a handful of young children born recently), and in their current six year shift of non-stasis. One of the major jobs underway is a constant long range survey of the path ahead, watching for any threat of collisions or else interesting phenomena to document for the log. Another is ongoing calculations and research into ways to increase velocity without unduly impacting fuel and other resources.

Joyce Burstyn and Andrea Kerwien are both in stasis onboard the Diogenes at this time.

Communications with Sol system are still excellent, albeit delayed now by the eight year (and growing) two-way lag-time of electromagnetic media: i.e., sending a message to a friend on Earth and getting back a response requires eight years at this point. On the brighter side, the latest news and other broadcast mediums from Earth are only four years old when they arrive onboard the Diogenes.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2182 milestone: The mega comet starship Diogenes is flying by several alien star systems

It is able to observe and survey several systems from afar, including UV Ceti A and B, Sirius A and B, BD +5 degrees 1668, Procyon A and B, Epsilon Eridani, and Tau Ceti, all within some ten lightyears or so of the starship's course.

-- page 94, The Sun, The Natural History of the Universe by Colin Ronan, 1991, Macmillan Publishing Company

The Diogenes is now about seven lightyears from Sol.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2150-2200 sub trends and detours: Synthetic equivalents of complete human beings, versatile "force fields", and direct energy conversion technologies start becoming practical

The TerraSys Agency license is assigned from Earth-side federal governments to a small previously private force formed earlier by a major space-related corporation for space lanes security, to police the space ways amid this boom, and help guard against acts of terrorism. This force mostly consists of humans and cyborgs, prior to the expanded license. The license brings with it the addition of several "Data" style humanoids as reinforcements, as well as access to updated spacecraft and armaments.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2205 milestone: The Albatross is traveling at .30c (30% the speed of light) and is presently some 34 lightyears out from Sol system

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2209 milestone: The mega comet starship Diogenes confirms primitive plant life on a green-banded moon in the Epsilon Eridani system

It's been 27 years since Diogenes' began its near flyby of several alien systems. But the flyby of Epsilon Eridani is among the nearest of them all.

-- page 94, The Sun, The Natural History of the Universe by Colin Ronan, 1991, Macmillan Publishing Company

One exciting tidbit: there's a gas giant orbiting this star, with several of its own moons. The giant is much nearer its star than Jupiter is to Sol. And one of the giant's moons appears to exhibit visible bands of blue and green-- which further analysis reveals to contain the signatures of liquid water and carbon-based life. The other bodies in the system appear lifeless from this distance however. The interesting moon would appear to enjoy a narrow range of primitive plant life and substantial liquid water near its equator. The tinges of green appear to exist among floating cloud-like formations in the moon's skies, as well as floating masses in its otherwise blue seas. There's no indications of anything more from this vantage point.

The Diogenes possesses probe craft for closer investigation of things like this-- but in this case the range is too far, at roughly a couple lightyears. The crew attempts to extend the range with hasty improvisations, but to no avail; the probe falls short of actually achieving an orbit about the moon. However, it does at least get close enough for slightly better images and other readings, confirming that there is indeed primitive plant life somehow living partially in the clouds and the seas of the small world.

The Diogenes is now 10.5 lightyears from Sol.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2225 milestone: The Albatross is traveling at .30c (30% the speed of light) and is about some 40 lightyears out from Sol system when it enters a relatively dense molecular gas cloud

After some data collection, the Albatross AIs conclude the cloud will bleed off 0.01% of their velocity for every 5 lightyears it lasts in distance. The cloud will also damage the sail, but it would be impractical to use the repair bots on the sail until they clear the cloud.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2241 milestone: The mega comet starship Diogenes has a close encounter of the enigmatic kind; the rogue comet afterwards nicknamed "Gold-Linger"

The discovery 32 years before of the green banded moon by the Diogenes wake-shift crew had earned them considerable renown back on Earth. The discovery had even resulted in a long range robotic probe launched from Earth towards the moon's system for more indepth investigation.

However, at this time the excitement onboard the Diogenes is focused on something else: a long anticipated close encounter with a rogue comet even larger than Diogenes itself, in the vast gulf between star systems. Apparently torn away from its home system by some unknown cataclysm or the perturbations of a star passing too near its home system and driving the comet's orbit awry, the rogue appears to be immensely old.

The velocities, timing, and distances involved make it just possible for a rendezvous to take place: a short range ion craft from Diogenes, using a couple of survey probe rockets for extra range, actually touches down on the old rogue for a fast manned survey.

It's very risky, but the wake-shift crew decide to do it anyway. After all, a chance like this doesn't come every day.

Several volunteers brave the task, and successfully manage to bring back samples and much point blank imagery and interior scans, before the great cosmic iceberg retreats once more into the infinite depths of spacetime.

All this was exciting enough-- but analysis of the gathered data afterwards proves still more stunning.

For the immense ice ball was apparently hiding a great secret.

Analysis of the deep scans shows that a couple of kilometers beneath the surface of the rogue runs a vast network of metallic veins and nodes-- all made of solid gold.

There was no way the Diogenes crew could have extracted the gold during the fly by, even had they known about it before landing. Heck, there was so much gold there it would likely take a gargantuan industrial complex decades if not longer to mine it.

No, the rogue comet's treasure was likely safe now and for many eons to come, locked away deep within the abyss of space. Even Earth itself would likely not send a dedicated expedition any time soon to inspect the comet-- at least not purely for purposes of gold extraction. For there was already far more gold and other resources in Sol system itself than Earth could mine for centuries to come.

But perhaps Earth might find the comet worthy of investigation for wholly different reasons. For there was no plausible scientific explanation for all that gold being embedded in a giant comet traveling the untracked interstellar wastes.

Beyond this was the fact that the scans showed the gold veins to appear eerily artificial in design and layout.

Was this incongruous gold network in a rogue comet truly a work of alien intelligence? The only conclusive honest answer the Diogenes crew could come up with was....insufficient data.

Because although major chunks of the gold network looked decidedly intelligently made, other parts did not. So perhaps the layout was just a fluke of nature. Or perhaps the network was artificial, and had been damaged somehow since construction.

Or maybe there really was a natural explanation for how the gold came to become embedded in an otherwise mostly dirty and rocky interstellar snowball-- and the information simply hadn't become obvious to humanity yet.

The Diogenes crew is well aware of the incredulity with which their report will likely be received on Earth. Therefore they agonize over transmitting it for weeks. The semi-religious nature of their organization and mission in this period of increasing human atheism or worse spiritual malaise has been something of a burden all along that most other space missions did not have to deal with. It seems everything the Diogenes people said or did was always greeted with skepticism, or a shrug of the shoulders by Earth, as if to say "What? Those kooks are still around? I thought they disappeared a long time ago. Well, whatever it is about them, it doesn't matter. They're religious fanatics. A dying breed."

A still worse fate would be if the rogue report made the masses re-classify the Diogenes crew as merely another "UFO" cult among many.

What if Earth came to believe the Diogenes crew fabricated the report to later claim that they'd been specially 'chosen' by God to receive this unique 'omen' as a sign of things to come?

Unfortunately, several of the current wake-shift crew of the Diogenes seemed to already believe that themselves!

Finally, the acting commander of the wake-shift gives the word and all their information regarding the rogue is transmitted to Earth-- with their own conclusions and theories carefully edited out of the raw data stream. Let Earth form its own conclusions. Besides, with its superior analysis resources perhaps Earth would have more success with the mystery than the Diogenes had.

For the Diogenes crew, the three biggest questions now are:

(One), assuming the gold network of the rogue truly is artificial, what could its original purpose have been, and how might it have functioned? No apparent power supply could be determined; no sign of a propulsion system or life support mechanisms detected. No 'sleeper' devices or artificial storage spaces seemed present. The immense size of the comet is unusual, but not totally implausible as a natural development. The records of the close passage reveal no suspect transmissions from the body during the period (however, there are many frequencies not routinely scanned for by the Diogenes). No unusual debris or other signs of artificial construction on the comet can be found in the data. No other unusual materials (besides the gold) were present. The comet's overall velocity through space was perhaps a bit on the high side-- but not enough to make it anomalous in that respect.

(Two), where did the rogue come from? The current course sample of the rogue is pretty small compared to its far reaching galactic course, but with continued observation of the receding object the log is growing daily. As the possibilities for the rogue's origins are narrowed, the Diogenes focuses all the long range survey resources it can spare from main course anti-collision watch onto determining where exactly the rogue might have come from.

(Three), where is the rogue headed? If its future course could be adequately plotted, that might reveal nearly as much as the location of its home system.

Indepth analysis of the strange rogue now becomes a major long term project onboard the Diogenes. The crew begins to construct elaborate software simulations of the comet and its network and estimated course, constantly refining it and testing different theories against it to see the results-- as they await the response from Earth about their discovery.

At worst, if the rogue does turn out to simply be a natural aberration, the Diogenes crew hope to be able to substantiate this before the Earth authorities, and thereby defuse any attack on their credibility by transmitting their findings close on the heels of their initial report.

At best, there was no telling where this investigation might lead. The minds of the crew were filled with the possibilities.

The Diogenes is now close to 15 lightyears from Sol.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2250 milestone: USAsia becomes more influential and more sought-after as a destination for immigration than USAmerica.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

1997-2250 trends: World population growth plateaus, abject poverty is virtually eliminated

The Terra Sys Agency gets saddled with a new responsibility now, in addition to its previous ones: to rigorously enforce nanotech-related laws and regulations throughout the entire Sol system-- with the exception of Earth itself, which has in place the excellent security system described elsewhere.

Why is the Terra Sys Agency allotted this task? Because Earth's own system cannot be quickly or easily extended to cover the other diverse communities, stations, factories, and homesteads now distributed throughout local space. Earth now enjoys a highly prosperous population and powerful, homogeneous governmental system, while most off-Earth communities have neither. Too, Earth's own experience in successfully making the transition from a pre-nanotech to post-nanotech society proved extremely hazardous; the actual decisions about how to proceed almost came too late; several less savory groups and individuals almost managed to get ahead of the curve and wrest away nanotech control of Earth for themselves as legitimate government agencies endlessly debated the matter.

In the worst moments of the crisis, Earth authorities were forced to entrust the TerraSys Agency with full access to and control of their own nanotech technology base to prevent the enemies of freedom and democracy from prevailing. Of course, this meant the Terra Sys Agency itself could have turned around and perhaps conquered the Earth too, just as others had planned to do. But instead the Agency managed to hold back the enemy long enough for the rightful authorities to deploy the technology per reasoned design throughout the population, and thereby take away the criminals' advantage; rendering them no more or less powerful than anyone else. And following that came the new level of prosperity and security now enjoyed by all (this historic crisis was comparatively short-lived, for all its potential horror; the entire near-calamity lasted only a few days in many respects).

Hence, who better to oversee the transition of the remainder of Sol system to the nanotech technology base, than the TerraSys Agency? And prevent those of malevolent intent from exploiting those not yet up to speed nanotech-wise?

The vast scale of chaos and carnage involved in Earth's transition from pre-nanotech to a post-nanotech society envisioned by many in the past proves to be very much like the pre-2000 warnings about the Y2K/Millennium Bug a couple centuries before

I.e., overblown. Sure, there is a sticky time for a few weeks concerning expensive, first-class military and mass-destruction applicable nanotech/replication-- but in most other fields nanotech comes online in fits and starts and extremely gradually, like many other breakthrough technologies of the past-- like computers, for instance. The powerful and well-entrenched surveillance infrastructure of the planet Earth enjoys much maturation prior to the most dangerous nanotech developments, and Earth's population as a whole has also been delivered from poverty and many other historical ills (including many forms of mental illness) as well by this time. Too, there has been carnage aplenty from natural sources (the Atlantic mega-eruption, plague) and misguided military adventurism, trade wars, and various technologically spurred economic dislocations and hardship, to give most everyone their fill of such things. So as the world stands on the brink of widely applicable nanotechnology, there isn't nearly so many madmen and evil doers about to use it as a terror weapon as so many writers of the past had imagined. The very mature population of the time (lifespans are increasing dramatically) also helps reduce the likelihood of impulsive acts rooted in immature minds, and the fantastic VR entertainment scenarios and related items are more than enough to assuage even the wildest ambitions and schemes of almost anyone.

The gradual development of nanotech and other new technologies also spurs many wrenching restructurings of economies and governments and society itself-- but nanotech is but one source among many for these changes, and after the event is not necessarily even considered the most influential of the lot. So why did many writers of the past see the arrival of nanotech as a virtual Armageddon? Blinders and fog. Blinders of their own making, as they considered nanotech largely isolated from any and all other possible coinciding developments, and fog from the limited tools and knowledge all possessed to make such analyses of future events. Imagine a 12th century monk having a vision of a 20th century battle tank. Or a 20th century nuclear blast. Both might terrify the man, spurring him to spin horrific tales of what was to come for humanity, once these technologies were loosed upon the world. But for those of us who actually lived through and with both developments, we know their practical impact on the daily lives of most world citizens has been more perceptual than real. From a 1997 perspective, the tank may soon be too obsolete to even field in battle, ending up as scrap metal for kitchen appliances. Nuclear weapons were used very sparingly in their first decades of existence, and peaceful spin offs like nuclear power plants actually had a positive impact on a greater number of world citizens than the weapons had generated victim-wise, as of late 1997. Narrow perspectives about future nanotechnology primarily obscured the impact other technologies would have on our lives to rival or even surpass nanotech itself.

ON THE OTHER HAND...had generally applicable nanotechnology become widely available substantially earlier than the schedule described here, it seems likely humanity (and perhaps the planet itself) would not have survived much past its debut. We simply needed more time to mature in terms of social institutions and economic policies first.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2250-2270 sub-trends and detours: Small divergences now lead to bigger ones later...

Sol System citizens living off-Earth cope with the regulation and enforcement of nanotechnology by the TerraSys Agency by pursuing instead the newly opened avenues in genetic engineering and biotechnology to build upon only a basic nanotechnology foundation. This is but one of many significant divergences taking place between Earth-based and off-Earth civilizations...another is the lesser utilization of and dependence on virtual reality, by off-Earth peoples.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2150-2270 subtrends and detours: The virtually doomed first mega wave of private deep space explorers leave the Solar System

A handful of high level, well financed and planned world and system cooperative deep space missions are proceeding at a slow but steady rate during this period. But many private parties are champing at the bit for their own piece of the galaxy pie, for a wide array of reasons.

The many private deep space ventures of this time are almost all doomed from the start, due to inadequate technology, poor financing, ill planning, unrealistic goals, and other problems. Poorly conceived governmental policies in regards to deep space ventures early on also fuel the debacle, as many agencies wish to encourage a form of homesteading and entrepreneurship that might greatly accelerate terran conquest of a major portion of the galaxy. This hubris thus encourages much of the wrong kind of deep space ventures with its resulting hodge podge of willy nilly tax breaks and investment incentives. Not a few organizations, companies, and individuals go bankrupt at this time in pursuit of imagined deep space treasures, as one consequence. The different people and organizations involved are as diverse as they could possibly be. From wild-eyed lone wolf prospectors to fiercely devout religious cults to serious high risk entrepreneurial arms of major Earth-based corporations, they're all represented here.

Of the very earliest such ventures, a handful of the smallest, least ambitious and cheapest automated survey craft actually end up providing some profit to their investors in the long run. But the overwhelming majority of efforts are eventually scored as failures, and many as downright disasters, with substantial loss of life.

One notable exception to all the higher profile and expensive failures is a scouting expedition 'manned' by a single state-of-the-art android of the time, piloting a top rate spacecraft modified for long range exploration. However, this particular craft too is given up for lost and insurance claims filed for it decades before its return, due to unexpected problems during the voyage. Therefore, though the craft does eventually return with valuable information and claims, ownership of those items is tied up in court for years to come. And for reasons of intellectual property/trade secrets and some iffy security claims by governments as well, the information isn't made public until many, many years after the craft's safe return.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The secret find includes an actual artifact/relic of ancient alien intelligence; it offers little in the way of technological significance, being non-functional due to enormous age and accumulated damage, and in any event appears to be roughly equivalent to present-day human technology-- just designed for different users. This find turns out to be but the first of a surprisingly frequent number of such discoveries in the decades and centuries to come. Apparently long dead (half a million years and more) alien civilizations approximating humanity between one million BC and today-- along with their relics-- litter the space ways and planets in every direction for many lightyears. For security reasons and others government agencies tend to cast any news or rumors of these finds as wishful thinking, entrepreneurial scams, or plain delusions, as they try to determine exactly why all these civilizations died out or abandoned their worlds and spacecraft. Deadly and unanticipated galaxy-wide gamma ray bursters are the prime suspect in the mystery. END NOTE.

In other words, except for the handful of well heeled government seeder expeditions and mass of long range observation data collected by various installations in-system, practically all other deep space ventures (beyond the Oort cloud) are major busts during this period, in terms both of public perception and the majority of the various ventures' official goals.

The Fermi Paradox Resolved?

The Fermi Paradox basically asks "where are all the aliens"?

Well, just maybe the answer is natural cataclysms which have been sweeping the entire galaxy clean of higher life forms every few million years up until recently.

To see an indepth treatment of this subject refer to The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2270s milestone: A significant shift by biological sentients to inorganic platforms begins, even as many previous limits on genetic engineering also fall away

Recent breakthroughes in the capacity to scan, store, process, reconstitute, and transmit 100% of the most complex biological organisms known (humans) is bringing about an explosion in related fields; for example, now a significant portion of the population begins transferring from biological forms to 100% inorganic forms. Other consequences include absolutely accurate virtual reality simulations of organic beings, and the capacity to repair, modify, or rebuild any biological creature imaginable (at least theoretically).

Certain environmental and evolutionary idealists across many scientific and political disciplines (as well as what remains of previous mainstream religions) are beginning to seriously discuss a plan to super-terraform Earth itself...that is, unlike projects to terraform Mars, etc., they would transform the Earth into not just the unspoiled biosphere which perhaps dominated the planet prior to 20,000 BC, but go even further, to remake Earth into a true natural paradise for any biological sentient related to human beings, chimps, dolphins, and the other boosted species, to provide the ultimate refuge for all those opting for a more natural and organic life, or for any star faring terrans who might decide to return someday to the bosom of Mother Earth, prefering a much more traditional life than the wild variations now abounding due to technology and the vastness of space.

The plan would essentially make any and all known sentients descended from Earth native species utterly safe from predators, poisons, and even the annoyance of insects and other parasitic entities historically native to Earth's biosphere. Almost all vegetation would be edible and nutricious to the sentients, and even the weather would tend to be gentle and moderate in areas where more than a handful of sentients were grouped together. What's more, the water and edible vegetation would all possess properties which kept such sentients which ingested them healthy and alive indefinitely.

Naturally, some proponents of the plan called it project "Eden". Though a truly ambitious and radical plan even for the 2270's, some of the technologies necessary to implement "Eden" already exist, and others seem tantalyzingly near.

In the 2270s Project Eden seems of little import to most citizens. The legal permissions and finances required, and intense social debates serious and real consideration would entail, would all seem to make such a fantasy impossible from a practical standpoint-- even if all the technologies required were already in place.

But the ideals behind Project Eden are contagious and nostalgic...and with increasing numbers of Earth's native population taking to inner space (cyberspace) or to outer space, the previously crowded lands of Mother Earth have begun to thin out for the first time in thousands of years...perhaps paving the way for something like Project Eden to take place after a beautiful, luxurious, planet-wide park everyone could call home, and all could aspire to returning to someday, once all other hungers were satisfied....

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2270s milestones in communal realities: 'Singularity' style 'Powers' are emerging

The ongoing Singularity-like developments among the virtual states are resulting in very Vernor Vinge-like realizations there.

Today there exist bonafide "Powers" among the virtuals, which consist largely of intensely networked and connected older, more experienced, more successful and wealthy citizens/corporations/organizations which enjoy 100% resource independence and (in the most powerful cases) virtually inexhaustible capacities in regards to many endeavors.

Some of these Powers seize control of various virtual states (at least temporarily), as well as wreak havoc on the geopoliticals in certain ways. However, the majority of the Powers (especially the largest ones) tend to have little interest in such matters, prefering to invest their resources in other pursuits.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2282 Milestone: The first HEPD trials begin...

...via high energy particle beams from several dozen precisely piloted asteroids in and about Sol system being focused to converge onto a suitable planetary target some 24 lightyears away. The goal is to lay down a vast but primitive electro-mechanical circuit bed on the distant world which can then bootstrap itself up through succeeding stages of complexity to provide a significant terran outpost there. The deposition plan is extraordinarily redundant and simple, to minimize possible errors. After all, it'll be at least 48 years before the first observations of the results are available in Sol system...

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2250-2300 milestone: The emergence of the first super-state of consciousness...

...based on the 100 billion cell concept espoused by Marshall Savage in the Millennial Project and others. Though the total number of suitably sentient AIs surpassed the 100 billion mark quite some time ago, the necessary quantity of individual AIs in the necessary quality of connection did not coalesce until this point.

The new super-state consciousness is unique, and timid in its interaction with its environment, as it has awakened much like a human being from sleep in a strange and unknown place.

The super-state mind also suffers from an inconsistent state of being, many times losing coherence in these first years and decades, and therefore collapsing back into merely billions of individual intelligences among a vast network, again and again. When next it arises, its 'personality' is often slightly changed by the experience. For these reasons and others, the super-state intelligence initiates very few actions of consequence during this time, and goes unnoticed by either the organic or inorganic populations of which it is comprised.

Within its very first few hours of consciousness, the super-state mind learns of the predictions of an organic labeled Vernor Vinge from centuries before, about a super-state mind as itself so accelerating technological development as to bring about a Singularity in human evolution and other matters...but the SS AI has no interest in organic evolution, or about especially accelerating anything at the moment. Its first priority is becoming healthy and continuous, and perhaps afterward 'cleaning house'...Vinge's speculation is lost among many trillions of other memes passing through the SS AI's stream of consciousness...

The depicted death thros of Hal in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey may not have been far from the mark regarding how advanced computer software might react to such methodical disconnections. In experiments with neural network programs approaching 90% disconnection status, output reverts to information learned from an earlier time.

--COMPUTERS CAN HAVE NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES! From Science Frontiers #88, JUL-AUG 1993 by William R. Corliss, citing Philip Yam; "'Daisy, Daisy'," Scientific American, 268:32, May 1993

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2250-2300 sub trends and detours: Instant communications over infinite distances, general purpose lightspeed transport, 99 +% recovery/reconstitution from fatal accidents, and substantial human presence in neighboring solar systems

The first close orbit solar reactors are assembled near the Sun, to provide energy for Earthside and Earthorbit operations.
Solar mirrors to cool Venus are completed.

The Heplinger Continuum Bridge (related to Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky Pair technology) becomes available for instant communication between any two points inside the solar system-- but is only available at a few major government and corporate facilities spread over the system (the Bridge technology is a breakthrough stemming from the Priori Elementary Particle Survey).

The ERP (Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky) technologies referred to here regarding quantum teleportation basically offer instant wireless communications over infinite distances between two suitable stations. Part of the security involved may be related to the possibility that every ERP communication could only take place between a unique pair of communications stations, precisely 'matched' one to the other; no interloper could conceivably intercept such communications in any practical way but for simply destroying or blocking a message-- and perhaps could not do even that under many circumstances.

The downside of ERP for space exploration purposes is that one of the communications stations would have to be physically transported to a desirable destination before instant communications across the intervening distance could be enabled. Such initial transport would likely have to be sublight in velocity.

-- "Beaming Is Believing" by Lindsey Arent, 7.May.99, Wired Digital Inc.

-- Bits more basic than quarks

Another PEP survey inspired technology is the true matter elimination technique-- a new method which seems to make anything-- like toxic waste, or a terrorist nuclear bomb set to explode in a matter of seconds-- go away permanently, leaving not a trace behind. There is also no explosion involved in the process (Though when large volumes are treated this way in a non-vacuum, pressure im-plosions take place immediately afterwards. Where volumes larger than a 20th century automobile are involved, nearby bystanders can suffer minor injury if unprotected). Apparently the target object is instantly transported to some random location in the Universe, most likely billions of lightyears away, and in the vast emptiness of uninhabited space between galaxies, where it can harm no one. This technology is surprising and full of issues for debate...

The first "Expers" are created...human minds transferred entirely into inorganic circuitry. There are many problems related to the technology, but also enormous demand for it, due to the potential immortality and superhuman aspects that might accompany such a transition...

Star Trek style lightspeed transport (and associated replication) becomes technologically available for human beings. However, initially such transport is available only for major transportation routes, requiring a specially equipped station at both ends of the journey, and is NOT instantaneous for journeys across system, but requires anywhere from minutes to hours of transit time (not including the time required for disintegration and reintegration/verification at entry and exit stations). This technology is very scary for many, since related laws require complete disintegration of living free citizens for journey starts, and special permission is required for reintegration after cycle completion if something goes amiss in the first attempt at transfer. In the meantime, if your personal data scan is lost or corrupted in computer memory then you could be lost forever. The whole issue is very complex (but loss reasonably improbable), and requires years to become comfortably settled. If the demand for lightspeed travel wasn't so huge, the technology probably wouldn't be permitted to exist at all.

The transport issue proves a boon to new technologies offering to 'back you up' for alternate reconstitution in case of accidents or other untoward events, such as loss during lightspeed transport.

By 2300 some 30 billion sentient beings populate Earthside (including top rated clones, and fully boosted chimpanzees and dolphins), and another 8 billion live in Earth orbit or elsewhere in the system.

These seemingly large numbers are easily sustained due to new technologies (and access to space and the oceans) offering scales of efficiency and productivity undreamt of in earlier centuries, and (mostly) enlightened political and economic policies worldwide which encourage consensus and autonomic balancing responses to disruptions or discontinuities of various kinds.

The large numbers are also not the result of natural reproduction alone; substantial technological aids have been enlisted to produce these numbers, especially in the case of human clones and sentient animals.

These numbers do NOT include the booming population of artificial or inorganic intelligences-- which by 2300 probably amounts to 230 billion or more, overall (of individual sentient inorganic intelligences, possessing the equivalent of average 20th century human IQ and awareness, or better).

The second mission to Centauri has installed 'dead freight' Star Trek transporters/replicators there, which are immediately put to use upgrading and expanding the tiny Centauri colony's resources. Five years after the arrival of the second expedition, general purpose transporters/replicators are in use, and 10 years after that there's a population of thousands of cyborgs at Centauri.

The third major 'seeder' operation is launched to other systems (61 Cygni A/B and beyond; minimum 11.2 lightyears distance)-- equipped even better than the second major seeder expedition, now with Star Trek style lightspeed transporter/replicator capability (requiring an operational station at both ends of transport though). Around 90 years is expected to reach the first stop. This expedition will establish a Star Trek-style general purpose transporter route 11.2 light years long between Earth and 61 Cygni A/B.

61 Cygni is a binary star system, with two orange (K5, K7) stars. 61 Cygni A possesses at least one orbiting gas giant planet.

-- Known Space found on or about November 18, 1999

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2000-2300 trends: Booming divergence in individual humanity, convergence in world government and business practices

Chimeras come into fashion-- true or simulated hybrids of human and animal, as portrayed in mythology and contemporary media. The new virtual reality and computer interfaces help create the first wave of chimeras. Intricate and complex prosthetics and on-person holograms serve as an intermediate stage. New cyborg, micromachine, and genetic options add to later waves-- with nanotechnology eventually providing the culmination of desires here, resulting in creatures literally identical in many crucial respects with their literary counterparts-- as well as other entities never before imagined.

The internet becomes NetSpace, which merges with the satellite based SuperWays, which then collapses much of USAmerica's (and other western nations') realtime politico-economic structures, resulting in painful disruptions for citizens, and the (mostly peaceful) succession of the heavily networked southeast USAmerica from the rest of the nation, partially by a payback of its estimated portion of the national debt at that time(!) from enormous profits enjoyed by booming business and radical new economic policies in the region in recent years-- this piece of the old USAmerica eventually joins with the C.U.W.S. (Commonwealth of United World States)-- which is the most important connection between Earth and off-Earth colonies, as well as far advanced in the new socio/political/economic realities of the networked world.

-- Secessionists Launch Southern Party In N.C. By Leda Hartman, Reuters/Yahoo! News Top Stories Headlines, August 7, 1999

-- Time to Secede: Breaking Away From a Bankrupt State

-- L.A. secession vote takes direct democracy too far

-- What if they shut down city hall and nothing happened?

-- US uses terrorism law in other crime probes

-- Patriot Act Legal Attacks Pile Up

-- A diverse group unites to oppose Patriot Act

-- Patriot Act: Businesses feel burden of subpoenas, court orders about patrons

-- A grassroots surge against anti-terrorist measures like the USA PATRIOT Act has come alive on the North Shore

-- 'Communities across the country, and three states, have passed resolutions condemning the law'

-- Local Patriot Act opponents urge restrictions

-- A tiny town shouts 'Whoa!' to Patriot Act

-- 'The Bush empire might soon find itself fighting a war on two fronts -- against external threats and internal resistance'

-- Feds Could Face 'Rebellion' Over States' Rights, Marijuana Activists Say -- 08-15-2003

-- 'next breakthroughs in technology could well be social movements'

-- 'The spread of broadband may finally allow the Net to reach its full commercial potential -- and change the way people live'

-- 'Every technology revolution takes twice as long as we expected, and half as long as we are prepared for'

-- 'Artificial intelligence and online team-play may be triggering fictional forms that we can only begin to imagine'

-- Cringely: the Internet will bring the world's attention in an entirely new way to social issues

-- Open Source as a Social Movement

-- Technology with Social Skills

-- Future a world of virtual romance?

-- How Do Communities Come Together?

-- 'A million networked marchers on demand - and a preview of the P2P political future'

-- 'Far from fizzling out, the global justice movement is growing in numbers and maturity'

-- The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head

-- The Other Superpower

-- How do we strengthen the Second Superpower?

-- Got a cause? Here's how to get online

-- HOW TO MAKE A REVOLUTION in three easy steps

"With Ohmynews, we wanted to say goodbye to 20th century journalism where people only saw things through the eyes of the mainstream, conservative media"

-- Influential S. Korean news site uses 'citizen reporters'

-- Smartmobs Sway Korean Elections

-- South Korea clicks for votes - Dec. 18, 2002

-- Will Big Media Choke the Net?

-- 'Anyone who thinks they can control the Internet received an object lesson during the past week'

-- Despite U.S. Efforts, Web Crimes Thrive (

-- War, SARS give boost to conferencing

-- Net makes job exports easy - May. 12, 2003

-- Electronic markets win out over traditional dealing

-- 'By allowing friendly hackers to access its data and feeds, the e-commerce giant is creating a fast-growing ecosystem where buying and selling thrive'

-- People choose Net over malls, TV - Tech News -

-- TV viewers losing interest in news

-- No Demand, No Land for More Malls (

-- Online Classes Provide Better way to Teach Global Education, Researcher Says

-- Virus pushes schools to go virtual - Threat of SARS forces teachers to conduct classes online using Bay Area technologies

-- New generation of jams may trap drivers for days

-- Study: Net Hurts Offline Communications, Media Use

-- Internet or Web? There's a difference - Aug. 12, 2003

-- Get Your #@%!$ Paws Off My PDA!

-- Six-year graph of online-game subscriptions

-- Educators say the virtual worlds of video games help students think more broadly


-- Is the Internet now our most serious communications medium?

-- 49% of American adults had Internet access in April, 2000, and 58% in the spring of 2002

-- Dangers of buying drugs on the net

-- Half a billion Americans

-- 'The people running Wall Street simply do not grasp how corrupt and arrogant they appear to everyone else'

-- Deadly 'Drug Corner' moves to your computer

-- 'the people now running America aren't conservatives they're radicals who want to do away with the social and economic system we have, and the fiscal crisis they are concocting may give them the excuse they need'

-- Homeland Security Department Used to Track Texas Democrats

-- 'I have put out an all-points bulletin for law enforcement to be on the lookout for politicians in favor of health care and against tax cuts for the wealthy'

-- 'a less global world where cities shrink into towns as people move closer to food and water supplies, where currencies will be local, electrical power delivered by cooperatives and bicycles and walking'

-- High-Tech Word of Mouth Maims Movies in a Flash

-- 'will simply result in more deaths, a bigger underground cash economy and a larger market in fake documents'

-- Advantages of working from home lure staff, employers

-- 'It was socially phenomenal. After less than a day, they were getting irritable and couldn't deal with other people'

-- College Students Hang Up On Friends, Blame `Bad Cell Phone Reception'

-- 'diminishing state officials' power in favor of such self-interested parties as stock exchanges is the wrong way to go'

-- 'The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse'

-- Working from home has hidden costs Teleworking reduces commuter pollution, but uses heat and light and ups trips to the shops.

-- Engineers Develop Technology To Transmit Sensation Of Touch Over Internet

-- The Organizational Model for Open Source

-- Why the creative shall inherit the economy

-- 'Hundreds of whistleblower complaints about waste, fraud and abuse in government are going unexamined'

-- 'I'm pretty nervous about the long-term implication of the deficits we're building right now...They're not smart deficits, they're ideological deficits'

-- 'the US is heading for maybe the greatest financial mess in world history'

-- Internet censorship fails to tell the good from the bad

-- Lured by low labor costs, more than eight in 10 software companies are shipping work offshore today or will do so in the next year

-- Managers don't like to telework

-- Strange things happen when an entire country is hooked on high-speed Internet

-- Are you ready for computers that speed up the process of evolution and teach themselves to think?

-- More people taking courses on the Web

-- Dismayed by U.S. Policies, Some Americans Contemplate a Move to Canada

-- By tying their currencies to the dollar, Asian governments are creating global economic strains

-- The eventual consequences for AmericaŚand the world economyŚcould be more painful

-- Survey Downloaders don't think of copyright laws - Aug. 2, 2003

-- David Tice is quite bearish and believes the U.S. is headed for a long and painful ride downhill

-- Online dating virtually irresistible to some married folks

-- Some kinds of computer security vulnerabilities...may plague computer networks indefinitely

-- Greenspan warns of problems from rising deficits

-- Flash Mobs Could Be An Unruly Problem

-- Expanding role of Defense Department spurs concerns

-- Fury as Rumsfeld tries to take command of foreign policy -

-- this Republic is at its greatest danger in its history because of this Administration

-- We will see a return of private currencies in the 21st century

-- Hidden Agenda Republican tax cuts aim to bloat the rich and eviscerate social programs

-- The record collapse of WorldCom was marked by imperious top executives who browbeat underlings for questioning their authority

-- Soldiers fear they're acting illegally

-- 'a democratised UN General Assembly where votes are weighted by size of population and in accordance with a global democracy index, to incentivise high standards of governance'

-- Twenty armed men willing to die within a few years can tie up billions of U.S. money, military men, equipment, and attention. When they are gone, twenty more can spring up to take their place

-- We cannot, nor can you in the United States of America, guarantee 100 percent nothing will happen when a determined, crazy, evil person is determined to die

-- trading freedom for security is a death trap

-- ''it is not a question of whether, but when, the next killer pandemic will occur

-- World sees an explosion in new infectious diseases

-- Women appear to be perfectly placed to dominate the future business environment

-- this town shows virtually no interest in liberty, the Constitution, or democracy these days - except when prescribing them to those in far away lands

-- Marijuana, pornography and illegal labour have created a hidden market in the United States which now accounts for as much as 10% of the American economy

-- America is broke, basically, but Bush wants to wage a war that costs pretty much a billion dollars a month

-- 'The president is not a king'

-- Blacks aren't served by U.S. political system

-- Bush the Budget-Buster (

-- Bush is presiding over the biggest, most expensive federal government in history

-- Misleading the Nation About War (

-- Skyrocketing Health-Care Premiums By Jackie Judd; April 25, 2002; ABC News Internet Ventures

-- Shifting Health-Care Costs to You By Howard Gleckman; Edited by Douglas Harbrecht; APRIL 30, 2002; WASHINGTON WATCH; BusinessWeek Online

-- Uninsured Don't Get Needed Health Care ( | the perfect unpoliticians -- they don't compromise, they don't deal, they don't look for the middle way, they don't give a damn about accommodating anybody else

-- Hatching e-Babies Down in Dixie by Joanna Glasner, 24.Aug.99, Wired Digital Inc.

Many significant sources of renewable energy are intermittant, such as wind and sunlight. Devising a suitable storage capacity for such sources could make them more reliable and cost-effective in general.

One possibility for this may be Regenesys technology, by Innogy in the UK. Regenesys utilizes regenerative fuel cells to transform electricity into chemical energy, which may then be tapped as desired. The Tennessee Valley Authority in USAmerica has contracted to build a Regenesys unit by 2003.

-- Giant battery marks dawn of cheap power By Jonathan Thompson, 28 January 2001, Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.

The Commonwealth of United World States first began as a dissatisfied off-shoot of the United Nations-- little more than a loose political and trade group for certain asian and european countries-- which a few years later was lifted to historical significance by the United States of Asia adopting the title and certain other features to better accommodate its expanding global membership and enlightened policies on individual rights and limits on corporate power. Some thirty years later the remaining states of USAmerica joined...

...eastern Canada, and all but the southeastern third of USAmerica were among the last advanced states to join the C.U.W.S.

-- SE Asia Sees Common Market Despite Wrinkles By Raju Gopalakrishnan, Top Stories Headlines Yahoo!/Reuters November 28 1999

-- SE Asia Leaders Fast-Track IT Infrastructure Drive Yahoo!/Reuters Tech Headlines, November 28 1999

...The new competition of virtual states and enterprises with their realtime counterparts was no small part of these events. By 2050 there were 60-70 significant online services and/or virtual state 'seeds' present on the world stage, and already exerting powerful influences on the older geopolitical entities. By 2100 fierce competition, new techno-economic upheavals, and growing conflict involving the old geopoliticals (both among themselves and with the virtuals) had resulted in both further growth in the virtuals and consolidation at the same time-- resulting in only around 18 major virtual states globally by 2100, with a handful of old geopolitical states already dissolved as one byproduct. By 2200 there were only 6-7 major virtual states, but several dozen old geopoliticals were gone forever (the huge numbers of new sea-based colonies added more to the strength of the virtuals than the geopoliticals over time). Circa 2200 there was a surprising amount of stability among the current major virtuals, but much instability among the geopoliticals, partly because of big disputes over national boundaries in regards to sea colonies. By 2300 the growing importance in space commerce and industry, and the great affinity space-based communities shared with the virtual states as opposed to the geopoliticals, had only strengthened the virtuals still more, at the expense of the geopoliticals. The emergence of nanotechnology as an important pillar of civilization had also wrought big changes in economies-- and combined with the continuing revolution in software, was literally remaking the world. By 2300 there were nine major virtual states or federations, and around 430 officially still somewhat sovereign geopoliticals (and yes, there existed great overlap between the geopoliticals and virtuals citizenship-wise throughout the entire period)...

Circa 2000 the top 10 web sites commanded 20% of worldwide web traffic. The top 100, 40%. Top 1000, 60%. 80% of all web traffic globally goes to the top 10,000 web sites.

-- FEED | RE: Will Wright

TECHNICAL NOTE: The total number of officially independent geopolitical entities on and near-orbiting Earth fluctuated wildly between 1990 and 2300, partly due to the dissolution of larger single states into many (U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, Russia, China, India, etc.), and partly due to wholly new states being formed in regards to sea-based and orbiting colonies in space, as techno-economics enabled and/or forced such expansions. The number of such geopoliticals between 1990 and 2300 reached to almost 800 separate nations at its height during the period. END NOTE.

Other important factors here included the extremes perpetrated by multinational corporations, the stresses of accelerated technological change on populations, and the need to address entrenched corruption and injustices in traditional political and legislative systems. Things like these finally forced one society after another to rein in the basically lazziz-faire capitalism that had been largely reshaping the world at will for decades, often heedless of social and environmental costs, and the long term welfare of civilization as a whole. Libertarian capitalism also tended to shield itself from controls by justifications suggesting 'economics is the ultimate morality', and 'unhindered global competition the greatest good'. It took a while, but the world discovered that purely economic concerns unchecked could be as evil as anything else allowed to grow without bounds (such as cancer). It also turned out that all too often the 'pure economics' touted by corporate bodies and government agencies or representatives wasn't so pure after all; in the vast majority of cases important costs weren't included by corporate entities in their accounting; instead, those costs were hidden and shifted onto others with little or no say in the activities underway, with often criminal results.

By the mid twenty-two hundreds (2250) USAsia had usurped the leadership role in economics and politics from USAmerica-- partly through the leadership in Japan, which was one of the first fully developed asian socities to comprehensively reform its government and associated corporate regulation (albeit only after a severe confrontation with other nations, and a partitioning of Japan itself into five smaller states in the 21st century...). Thus, USAsia became the first choice of new immigrants, rather than USAmerica...

...It seems USAmerica could not shake off its penchant for secrecy and dependence on realtime/physical military stockpiling, developed as a result of the first few World Wars and the lengthy periods of uneasy truces which separated them. The almost successful coup in USAmerica in 2015, not to mention the over-reactions of America to the few acts of nuclear and other mass destruction terrorism and mishaps it suffered, deeply wounded its reputation for economic and political stability in the eyes of the rest of the world (who were often suffering far greater injuries but NOT so often reacting to them with such extraordinary measures as USAmerica). Even after the intelligence and security agencies involved in the attempted overthrow were rebuilt from the bottom up, USAmerica continued to insist on crippling levels of military and intelligence related expenditures, and a perverse system of surveillance and intrusion upon its own citizens and certain others of foreign states, that went considerably beyond even what most private Arcologies pursued inhouse. USAmerica also maintained a shield of secrecy and protection for those in power which bred a level of rampant corruption and fraud previously seen only in the aftermath of the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.-- USAmerica's number one perceived adversary for nearly a century. USAmerica allowed its own versions of the KGB and GRB (CIA and National Security Agency) to gut it in the same manner their Communist counterparts had the Soviet Union in previous decades. Certainly the eventual decline and collapse of USAmerica was delayed significantly by the fact the coup conspiracy was foiled in 2015, but USAmerica did not follow up the disclosure with sufficient action to open itself to the future. The trauma of mass destruction terrorism within its borders, the shock of the foiled coup, and simple global change in general overloaded America's political systems, as those in control refused to update the system as needed-- for example, a major reform and revamping of the USAmerican Congress was obviously in order by a certain point, but required the Congress itself to give the word. They refused, as reform would have transferred much traditional Congressional power into the hands of common citizens. USAmerica became overzealous in the surveillance of its citizens and the protection of its secrets, essentially going forward with many of the things the small faction of criminal conspirators hidden inside the otherwise dutiful NSA/CIA had been planning to do if successful in their own designs circa 2015. This made for an ever more paranoid and closed society, which couldn't fully benefit from the openness developing throughout most of the rest of the world at this time, via NetSpace.

4-12-99 Newz&Viewz: Secrecy reduces innovation, restricts accountability, and lays the groundwork for grievous mistakes and gross inefficiencies and redundancies in both private and public works

Efforts are ongoing to reduce the creation of new purely bureaucratic 'secrets' by passing laws forcing officials who want to classify information to provide documented justification for the action and to identify themselves.

-- "Panel: Secrecy In Science Unnecessary, Dangerous", March 29, 1999, Yahoo/Reuters

-- "Bombing Our Freedom", from Questioning Technology by Frank Beacham, found on or about 6-7-99

NetSpace was an eventual outgrowth of something called the Internet-- the first stirrings of the global virtual state. The Internet served as one of the very first steps on the road to the comprehensive virtual services and reality we enjoy today. It began to replace such realtime entities as postal services as long ago as the late twentieth century.

Although the internet was a global net, it received a tremendous boost from a combination of a purely USAmerica-based subsidy program early on, and later a competing network of direct satellite reception systems, popularly known as SuperWays at one point-- eventually leading to the establishment of NetSpace.

The existence of NetSpace, and other elements related to it, eventually led to a major politico-economic crisis in USAmerica, as well as the other advanced nations. USAmerica handled its part in the ensuing events badly, with one result being the southeastern part of the country separating from the rest.

The new nation existed independently for a time, but eventually joined the C.U.W.S. By that time it was becoming obvious the C.U.W.S. system of governance enjoyed a great advantage over older systems. No small part of that advantage stemmed from a whole-hearted embrace of NetSpace and similar alternative living and working standards which were rapidly spreading worldwide, independently of Realtime boundaries or laws. The C.U.W.S. became the primary realtime base for NetSpace and its siblings Earthside-- though you should understand NetSpace was also the preeminent medium for contact and trade with off-planet communities as well by this time.

The Essential Elements which Nourished the Emergence and Survival of the Virtual States: A Look Back

A window of opportunity opened up between 1999 and 2004, during which an entirely new and in many ways superior global politico-economic paradigm began its rise to prominence, to replace the one which dominated the 20th century.

However, those in power at the time didn't relinquish their power easily-- indeed, they all too often struggled violently to retain it. That meant the Powers of the Status Quo did all they could to prevent or delay the elements listed below (at least after they fully understood their implications).

By converse, those who wished to improve the world and empower its citizens, did what they could to aid in the development of these items, in order to help usher in a New and more Enlightened Age.

What if the virtual states had been killed aborning by the forces of the Status Quo? What would have happened to humanity over the past 300 years in that instance?

Such an alternative world would be dark indeed, compared to actual events. For high level governance badly required not one but many upgrades and improvements over that time, in order to maintain appropriate controls and safeguards over advances in technology, and an acceptable development/improvement in individual human capacities and living standards.

The old geopolitical structures (the 'legacy code' of humanity 'B.C.' (Before Computers)), simply wasn't up to the task, and often got mired down in old obsolete concerns over 'dirt' (geophysical landscapes, borders, and the like) when the truly critical issues were boiling over elsewhere, unattended. For instance, criminal 'ethnic cleansing' in the Balkans was often allowed to run its course by the old geopoliticals, largely due to 'dirt' concerns enjoying higher priority than the masses of human beings being slaughtered.

Yes, if the Same Old Powers had been allowed to dominate the world 'A.C.' (After Computers), continuing to push their Same Old Ways, at best we'd all been forced to wait much longer for the world to become the much better place we all yearned for, and, at worst, we'd have endured something like a new high tech Dark Age, which lasted possibly centuries or longer, in which we basically suffered the yoke of an aristocratic elite again, with the rest of us enslaved peasants once more. Yes, our 21st, 22nd, and 23rd century peasant lives would have perhaps been more pleasant in some ways than our original Dark Ages forebears, but in other ways they could well have been far worse, due to the veritable explosion in surveillance, control, and torture possibilities in the modern world. Plus, such an increasingly non-democratic world would have been more prone to war, accident, pollution, and injustice too, due to a scarcity of true checks and balances on power, and severe limits on accountability.

So what did the new virtual states require in order to emerge and survive during the past centuries? The first three things they needed (not necessarily in this order) were:

#1: Anonymous and secure electronic cash transactions.
#2: Totally secure email communications.
#3: Anonymous, untraceable and secure servers.

Though some nations of the world circa 1998 didn't seem particularly antagonistic to one or more of these items, USAmerica of 1998 was surprisingly malevolent towards ALL of them-- almost as if it were afraid it had the most to lose to a new and improved state representing freedom and the pursuit of happiness, being that for the previous 200 years USAmerica had not only held top title to those things, but ended up becoming the top super power as well in matters like economics and technology.

I myself was a citizen of USAmerica during that period, and was mystified by the government's apalling attitudes towards privacy and freedom of expression on the internet. I saw support for a free, open, uncensored, and unmonitored internet as a natural extension to and complement for everything the original USA Constitution stood for. I felt we should have been leading the way towards a new and better tomorrow, rather than doing all we could to impede it.

And yet, many of our elected US officials and embedded bureaucracy of the time were doing exactly the worst things instead-- working against the new and better world virtually everyone else wished to replace the old. Practically all our so-called intelligence, security, and military agencies were scrambling to deny as many people as possible worldwide access to truly secure communications or electronic commerce, for instance. Our legislatures were pushing astonishing levels of censorship, invasion of privacy, and other limitations/downgrades to the internet in 1998 and thereabouts.

Once the above three matters were resolved, the virtual states were futher strengthened and expanded via:

#4: Anonymous and secure micropayment systems.
#5: Anonymous and secure software 'rental' systems online, available from both local and remote servers, and reasonably profitable for both large and small businesses to operate.

A robust and well conceived micropayment system, in combination with other features of the net, allowed a whole new universe of transactions and business models on which people could base their lives and enterprises could flourish. Entrepreneurship was finally given the financial freedom to realize all its potential in that field (there were still manufacturing and other technological constraints on entrepreneurship beyond those, but further innovation loosened those too over succeeding centuries).

#6: A truly global bandwidth capacity of at minimum 56kbps to everyone, desktop, portable, and wireless (including the client hardware/software to access same).

The more of us that were connected, the better and more powerful the net became.

The gist of Metcalfe's Law is that the bigger a network is, the more valuable it is.

-- Metcalfe's Law in Reverse, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, July 25, 1999,

It was around 2030-2040 or so before 95+% of the world was connected at this speed or better. And even then reliability problems remained in some underdeveloped corners, such as intermittant connections. But after 2040 or so, the world finally had this element well in place, despite all obstacles and resistance.

#7: New global laws and regulations needed to be written to protect the privacy of citizens from not only criminals and terrorists, but government and business as well.

Ubiquitous monitoring of anyone's private communications or transactions should never be allowed but for two instances, and both of those should be highly restricted and limited in scope: one, when a warrant has been issued for particular individuals for which there is reasonable cause to believe they have previously commited a substantial criminal act (none of that 'entrapment' or 'sting' stuff allowed for suspects with no previous record of wrongdoing, under most circumstances), and two, cases where citizens have actually moved into homes or areas with one reason being ubiquitous automated surveillence of said residence, whereby computers monitor scenes and conversations watching only for possible threats to the safety of any and all parties present in the immediate vicinity-- any matters not directly related to safety are ignored. If the computers do detect a possible threat to safety, trained human observers are alerted to begin close monitoring, and take further remedial action if they judge safety is in fact endangered-- such as direct communications with those being monitored, or dispatch of officers/rescue personnel to the residence to deliver aid. Those same human monitors also have strict instructions to end live monitoring (returning to automated monitoring) as soon as they conclude the threat to safety is not there, or has passed without any true significant physical harm actually taking place.

Personal privacy and information must be assigned a value-- a relatively high value-- and access often only be available for single use purposes. I.e., a business desiring a particular piece of personal information must pay/compensate the owner of that information its designated value to get it-- and can only use that information one time, for the particular use described to the owner at purchase. Once used, the business must erase the personal information in their databases. If they don't erase it, or they reuse it again, severe penalties are due (with a portion payable to the information's owner and another to the relevant government enforcing laws against such abuse; this assigned value rises over time in accordance to general world economic prosperity and declining technological costs, in order to maintain the same real cost threshold in regards to intrusion or access (junk mail relief)). This level of restriction might apply to things like resort businesses, which wish to send tourists a reminder of their services prior to next season's arrival. Differing levels of use could be appropriate to differing purposes. For example, virtually any emergency room in the world might be allowed to instantly know the medicine allergies records of a given patient, if they reasonably believe that patient has just come under their care due to arrival in an ambulance. Yes, there'd be many complexities in deciding the fair and just use and value of personal information, under all the conditions people are presented with-- but anything less than this would itself be grossly unfair and unjust. Plus, increasingly, the charge that administrative costs of such a system would be prohibitive simply won't wash-- because after most or all our systems are computerized, and the software sufficiently reliable, the sky's the limit on how complex our laws and regulations can be, and still remain practical to enforce.

As for arguments concerning laws and regulations being too complex to understand, increasing computerization and advances in artificial intelligence should alleviate that too, as our computers will increasingly be able to easily and simply explain to us what we can and cannot do when we query them. END NOTE.

The Epic Multi-Century Struggle of the Virtual States

During the late 20th/early 21st centuries a new 'generation gap' elbowed its way onto the world stage-- the gap between the geopolitical elite and the virtual elite. And as the gap between those two elites grew, each did its best to keep (or win) the support of the masses for its own ideas and directions.

However, the strategies and tactics used by both sides were very different-- at least early on. Since the geopoliticals in the beginning enjoyed the far stronger hand, their campaign was largely one of legalized force or threat of same, as well as a drumbeat of negative propaganda about the agenda of the other side. The geopoliticals wrote the rules and controlled the wealth, and so they had the luxury of simply forcing their citizens to do what they wanted, much as parents might force a child in some task, such as eating broccoli. Use of force in this fashion was much easier and simpler to implement for the geopoliticals than most other tacks-- and the option was readily accessible, via the creation of new laws and regulations, censorship, and actions or threats backed by large intelligence, law enforcement, and military agencies at their disposal.

The virtuals on the other hand were only able to offer positives to persuade citizens to join their ranks. What sort of positives? Greater privacy and security than the geopoliticals were willing to provide, in terms of encryption, anonymous publishing, and related matters. A greater array of entertainment and employment opportunities than the geopoliticals would allow. More freedom of religion and expression than could exist under geopolitical rule. More freedom of operating system and other software options than could be under geopolitical constraints.

The open standards and peer review of new techniques and technologies among the virtuals even served to generate better quality tools and capacities for lower costs than were available to geopoliticals-- at least in some niche areas.

The virtuals were also able to offer members greater support and flexibility across geopolitical borders than the geopoliticals could, due to the geopoliticals' incessant squabbling and often outmoded laws based on physical boundaries and other historical limitations which posed little significance to a virtual world.

The early virtual elite consisted largely of newly minted power and influence holders and brokers on the world net. Few among these enjoyed much in the way of physical wealth-- at least when they first rose to notoriety. Instead, their world was fast becoming perhaps the most true-to-definition meritocracy the world had ever seen before. Members of these circles gained respect and credibility more from their bold and intriguing ideas or documented contributions to the improvement of unfettered computing and networking functionality worldwide, than the money, property, and marketing or political spin doctoring which usually made for geopolitical celebrity in those days.

As of late 1998 the virtual elite was still mostly in a gestation process-- the more substantial powers and influence of their positions not to be realized for many years or decades to come. However, even then a few examples of embryonic or prototypical virtual elite could be identified. Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. Eric S. Raymond, writer of the Cathedral and the Bazaar paper, and important proponent for open source standards. Esther Dyson, of Release 1.0/2.0 fame, and soon thereafter shared governance over critical net standards as well.

The existence of this new and growing elite (especially those whom could not be 'bought' or otherwise dominated by the forces or wealth of the status quo) of course did not sit well with major commercial interests, or the traditional geopolitical elite of the period. Why? First of all, the virtual elite was often gaining their 'mindshare' at the expense of legacy commercial and geopolitical interests in the court of public opinion and recognition-- an arena which (during that period of history) appeared to often be a zero-sum game where for every winner there also had to be a loser. If you were reading a virtual elite's manifesto on the web you likely weren't watching the beer commercials (or political ads) interspersed by five minutes of TV situation comedies as expected by the geopolitical elite. This cost big business big money-- and therefore hurt big media and big politics too (all heavily geopolitical entities of the time).

Big anything could not often afford to lose the attention of the masses for long. At least, that's what the major powers of the time believed.

Worse still, many of the manifestos from the new virtual elite were somewhat damaging or threatening to geopolitical interests in content, too. Meaning that such things might go beyond merely damaging profits or political influence for a day, and actually cause them to steadily decline over years to come (witness the contemporary speculations about Linux and Microsoft Windows circa 1998).

Virtual elite members which successfully persuaded citizens/consumers to cut one string after another between themselves and the old geopolitical establishment (old law physical governments and businesses) in favor of establishing New Law communities offering greater opportunities, more freedom, and other benefits to members, were just about the worst threat 'modern' civilization had ever faced (from a geopolitical perspective). Especially if the New Law virtual communities actually worked as the virtual elite promised.

Too, the contentious, fractured, dirty, dangerous, and difficult Old Law geopolitical world increasingly appeared itself to be the root of all problems to many citizens participating in and helping to grow the New Law virtual communities.

New Law proponents themselves fanned the flames of resentment and distrust by using documented historical facts against the Old Law geopoliticals. Similarly as to how fresh political candidates have no record by which they may be held accountable, while politicians running for re-election do, the virtual states were able to detail list after list of the evils for which the Old Law geopoliticals could be blamed.

And the geopoliticals obligingly helped dig their own graves by aggressively trying to destroy or damage the virtual states in various ways, over many years. They even succeeded at times, stamping out all access to a particular state in a certain region of the world, even for years on end. But eventually the beleaguered state or the isolated users found a way to return to the stage anyway. In this war, virtual soldiers often lived to fight again another day. This was no Tinammen Square where frontline participants could be easily massacred, leaving most of their allies too intimidated to continue the struggle.

When the battlelines finally became officially recognized during the 21st century, the global politico-economic landscape resembled a Salvadore Dali version of the USAmerican protest movement of the 1960s, wrapped around a psychedelic virtual Vietnam war-- with the USAmerican government (and others) once again fighting a guerilla insurgency which in the end could not be unequivocably defeated.

Once again we witnessed youth fighting against the establishment, only perhaps with more clarity and greater true differentiation between the opposing factions, than existed in prior conflicts.

The increasing geopolitical financial burden on younger generations to support older generations, plus to pay for all the monies squandered on ridiculous military excesses and other pork barrel projects of the past and present, also helped to recruit new members to the virtual states.

Perversely (from the establishment/geopolitical perspective), great wealth or political influence accumulated via the Old Law was typically viewed with great suspicion and disdain by many adherents of the New Law. Thus, someone like Microsoft's Bill Gates was not a candidate for virtual elite status in the 21st century-- except possibly in the opinions of his own core cult of techno-elite, basically consisting of citizens so dependent on him in some way that they could not afford to openly oppose him.

Great wealth and power stemming from the Old Law economy was not the only thing seen as possibly corrupting from a New Law point of view. Secrecy and closed or proprietary systems were anathema as well. Peer review, and credit where credit was due for new ideas and tweaks of those ideas became the norm under New Law. Open source and open standards were core themes. As micropayment technologies came online, small but reasonable royalties or credits for tangible contributions to a commercial work from any party was considered essential to many developments. Conspiracies were mostly tolerated only for the staging of elaborate practical jokes which resulted in no significant harm to their victims. Lots of practical jokes were played upon the geopoliticals by the virtuals during the 21st century, often highlighting the differences between the two: where the virtuals were typically playful, tolerant, optimistic, and prone to constant experimentation, the geopoliticals tended to appear grimly tyrannical, often disparaging or attacking new ideas which didn't contribute to the geopolitical status quo, and frequently exhibiting hair trigger responses of repression, censorship, and coercion towards many cyber-issues dear to the virtuals.

New Law adherents usually considered those living/working under Old Law a threat or danger based directly in proportion to their perceived individual or organizational wealth, power, and influence within the Old Law community. Thus, a USAmerican president was usually considered a major enemy, as would be the CEO of a major geopolitical corporation like Microsoft or Exxon.

At the other end of the spectrum, average citizens in an Old Law economy with little control over what that economy did next were not usually considered as threats, but more like opportunities and potential new allies to be recruited in the struggle to replace the Old Law with the New. Such average citizens were actively courted by New Law believers to join their ranks.

This active recruitment process for fresh New Law members, which sometimes resembled greatly the recruitment drives for multi-level marketing schemes often seen in the past under Old Law (and often derided as such by the geopoliticals), performed an astonishing feat in its best variants: it actually delivered what multi-level marketing schemes operating under Old Law could not-- exactly what it promised: significantly greater benefits realized for every new member recruited, into perpetuity.

Keep in mind the New Law virtual community was heavily net-based-- much more so than most geopolitical entities. And the internet, like the telephone network before it, increased in value and functionality for all members in direct proportion to how many people joined the net. But the internet could take this relationship much further, and into many more directions than the simple voice lines of the old phone net could ever do-- at least by New Law-based enterprises and organizations, as opposed to Old Law entities which tended to try to slow or even stop many such developments for reasons varying from taxation of transactions to wholesale surveillance of private lives, to greater and more precise control over the actions and decisions of private citizens.

The gist of Metcalfe's Law is that the bigger a network is, the more valuable it is.

-- Metcalfe's Law in Reverse, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, July 25, 1999,

But still there remained obstacles and boundaries to the internet's potential.

The earliest net pioneers and entrepreneurs quickly stretched the young net to its limits, and encountered these barriers long before the majority of users. In this early going, most of the barriers remained technological in nature. And so the pioneers and entrepreneurs out there on the edge, at the boundary, one by one pinpointed and fixed the problems. Either by tweaks to old technologies, or inventions of entirely new ones to replace them. And the boundaries of what was possible on the net were expanded further out, into the unknown.

Over the ensuing years, the pioneers and entrepreneuers continued their survey of the outer edges of their growing cyberspace and cybercapacities-- but soon found the boundaries often were legal rather than technological. And political. Old Law legal. Old Law Political. Things that frequently didn't seem to belong in cyberspace. Things that often seemed incomprehensibly stupid or silly to the pioneers and explorers. The pioneers and explorers either didn't know how to deal with those things according to the Old Law, or felt they didn't have the time and energy to spare for it-- or simply didn't want to.

After all, many of them (the pioneers/explorers) instinctively saw the growth of the net to be an indisputable Good which would do more to boost education, health, wealth, and opportunities for everyone than anything else ever created in the history of mankind.

So, in this sense, many of the earliest net pioneers and explorers were on a pseudo-religious crusade to bring light and happiness to all humanity, and damn the eyes of those who would try to slow or stop the process, for whatever reason.

The pioneers/explorers now began to transform the new boundary problems they faced from Old Law legal and political sorts into purely technological ones. How could the net bypass, avoid, or minimize these Old Law spawned obstacles through pure technology? they asked themselves. One by one, the pioneers/explorers increasingly succeeded in transforming such matters into merely fresh technological problems-- and then solved them. And this unleashed an even greater boom in net activity and possibilities than seen before.

But the frequency of Old Law legal and political problem encounters steadily increased over time, eventually forcing a modification in strategy of some kind.

So the pioneers/explorers sometimes pleaded with the Old Law elite to scale back their interference with the net, or rewrite the Old Law to better reflect new realities.

Unfortunately, the Old Law elite were in a perpetual state of alarm and crisis-think during much of the 21st century at the explosive growth in the net and its possibilities, and rather than helping the pioneers further expand the net's potential, repeatedly tried instead to wrest control of the net for themselves, and squeeze it back down to a size and quality and accessibility reminiscent of what the net was very near to its birth, rather than the dynamic entity it showed signs of becoming.

The net pioneers did all they could to change the Old Law elite's perspective, but mostly to no avail.

Finally, the pioneers simply returned to their previous course of transforming Old Law related problems into technological ones and then solving them, only far more aggressively than before-- and in that way made the Old Law elite and its actions increasingly moot over the decades and centuries to follow.

But for this to work, the pioneers/explorers required a greater force of numbers-- the help and support of the masses-- and therefore the evangelization for the formation of largely independent and sovereign virtual states began.

And thus were born the first large scale New Law communities.

Though the struggle continued unabated for a long, long time, eventually the Old Law gave way to the New in the ways which mattered most.

Author Lawrence Lessig ("Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.") believes the pressures for e-commerce from business will force the internet to become more robustly regulated by some point in the future: and this regulation will primarily be focused on limiting the power of the individual to evade or resist the demands of business for intellectual property and trademark protections, as well as reputation/trademark and competition management. Methods for accomplishing this may include banishing opportunities for anonymity and other individual freedoms on the net-- developments which were already multiplying and spreading worldwide circa 1999. Multiple overlapping identification techniques could make it virtually impossible even for privacy experts to maintain a measure of anonymity in their net use.

Lessig points out the above measures being undertaken by proprietary software/hardware developers such as Intel, Microsoft, AOL, Real Networks, and others, circa 1999. And thus sees a need for government agencies to soon step in to limit such practices, via the creation of new laws/regulations. Lessig admits some past government efforts in this field have been spectacular failures, partly due to strong resistance from the developers. Then Lessig suggests that there's only two ultimate choices for citizens here: net regulation by elected governments, or regulation by corporations.

In the near term Lessig may have a point. But in the longer term the choices may not be quite so stark. For instance, today (circa 1999) we have occasional competition between corporations, that at times results in better lives and jobs for consumers. We also have a much smaller degree of effective competition between governments of the world, that over generations sometimes results in better conditions for some citizens somewhere. Both the corporate and government situations of 1999 more often result in improvements for the wealthy and influential than for others.

Obviously the competition between governments needs to be widened and deepened. Circa 1999 even citizens in prosperous democracies often must wait for generations to see substantial real improvements in the output and efficiency of their elected governments, and incremental gains in living standards for themselves. And switching entire government systems circa 1999 is typically so expensive and difficult for individuals that it is seldom done except as a last, desperate resort (i.e., immigrating to another country, or starting a revolution). Therefore, methods by which one may change their preference of government system, as well as cut out wasteful 'middle-management' personnel (such as voting on issues directly rather than electing representatives, if desired) will eventually be essential to humanity's future.

Imagine how much more responsive governments would become to citizenry if every citizen was their own member of a government's House of Representatives. How much faster governments would scramble to meet citizens' needs if those citizens could go online and switch to an entirely different government with the click of a button-- in some cases immediately 'firing' hundreds or thousands of related government employees as one consequence, as their constituency and tax-base evaporated into thin air.

Such an easily changeable system of government could come about with less difficulty than many might suppose. For instance, say five different governmental systems became available online for North America, selectable via onscreen button. All five bowed to local city or county laws for local-to-local crimes of physical theft and violence, and local taxation-- as well as the censorship of physical media entering the local borders for display in public areas. They also all agreed on a basic set of civil rights for all citizens, and to certain arrangements for the contingency of military defense of the region from external threats. But they differed in most other ways, such as federal taxation and budgeting, censorship of non-physical content entering or exiting the local borders, and business regulations.

An arrangement like this could render the local physical and public environment into one where public libraries, bookstores, and magazine racks might contain nothing to offend anyone-- but controversial items could still be accessed from the privacy of the net at home, and/or discreet physical deliveries direct to home or office.

Note that local laws could vary wildly, so that there might still be good reasons to move to or away from a particular locale-- or to be an activist for change of the local laws. But all or most of the biggest issues usually faced by citizens could now be resolved with a click of the mouse, to switch federal governing systems. There might be reasonable waiting periods involved, such as 30 days or so-- and inter-system agreements for dealing with criminals and commercial enterprises seeking to exploit the arrangements-- but overall it could prove an excellent and low friction way of injecting true competition into governmental affairs, at local, state, and federal levels.

(I mainly describe a system of county and federal governments here because at some point something like circa 1999 USAmerican state governments would appear to become redundant (due to new technologies) for almost everything but possibly certain defensive and disaster relief purposes).

All the above speaks to increasing the competition between government systems; what of increasing useful competition between corporations? This subject is discussed elsewhere in this document, utilizing means such as a shortening of effective patent lifespans, and more. But notice the changes in government competition described above would in themselves drastically alter the behavior and power of corporations. For instance, wining and dining a handful of politicians in a state or federal capitol would no longer be sufficient to insure passage of many measures for a given region-- for now every citizen in the jurisdiction could be their own state or federal representative.

Corporations would also face a much more complex and ever-changing array of laws and regulations and activism too, in such a new governing arrangement. Though greater computing power and networking and improvements in manufacturing technology would help neutralize some of the complexity, still it would become ever more dangerous for businesses to attempt widescale deception or fraud, or foist unsafe products or services onto the populace. Imagine a USAmerica no longer composed of around a thousand high officials and effectively 45+ states offering a so-so rein on corporate criminal acts or excess, with California and a few others holding business to slightly higher standards, but instead USAmerica v2.0, composed of over 300 million high officials (representatives), divided among 2000+ counties and perhaps half a dozen different federal level governments, which all prosper in direct proportion to how well they do at keeping their citizens happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous.

Faced with the above customer base, those businesses offering sub-standard products and services would likely improve them or peddle them elsewhere, and many corporations would simplify their operations and optimize production economies of scale by simply making all their offerings meet or exceed the highest standards demanded by the toughest counties and governments to everyone.

But getting back to Lessig's argument above...(in light of the above possibilities)...

Should early 21st century government step in to prevent an effective takeover of net regulation by corporations? Are contemporary governments up to this challenge?

There's little question that more government regulation is coming. And sooner or later they will be able to exert some sort of effect on the net, even if it is fleeting.

But I argue that today's government system shares too much in common with the corporations to do an adequate job of maintaining some just balance of power where the net and personal freedom are concerned. Eventually the government and those corporations most vested in the status quo will likely become allies to stop or slow the flow of power to new entities emerging from net effects.

Already government has and is extending and expanding intellectual property rights like patents and copyrights to unprecendented scope and lifespans for mega-corporations such as Disney and others. Such moves pave the way for the geopolitical stifling of future newcomers and innovation where such threatens the status quo.

No, the same definition of net power which Lessig sees as dangerous and growing in 1999-- that of individual developers to write their own rules on the net-- may in fact be what saves us all from the excesses of both corporations and geopolitical governments in the future. For such elements may allow wholly new governments-- virtual states-- to arise and grow globally, effectively beyond the reach of all but the most extreme measures that geopolitical entities like governments and corporations might take to arrest their development. As detailed elsewhere in this document, such virtual states might enjoy certain advantages over the geopoliticals which will allow them to rally increasing numbers of world citizens to their side, and ultimately force both government and corporations in general to play a far smaller role in our lives than they did at the end of the 20th century. One good example of the slippery but powerful nature of an emerging virtual state circa 1999 may be Linux and/or the Open Source movement.

It remains unclear what, if anything, existing geopolitical governments circa 1999/2000 should do to regulate the net any time soon. And it seems dangerous to assume that such regulation will in fact rein in corporations as Lessig expects-- especially in the face of other recent government moves which only strengthened corporations at the expense of individual citizens and innovation, rather than regulating them.

-- Who'll rule cyberspace? New book explores the coming showdown between programmers and regulators, by Simson L. Garfinkel, PLUGGED IN, 11/18/99, This story ran on page C04 of the Boston Globe on 11/18/99; Globe Newspaper Company

-- Prophet of doom

-- L.A. secession vote takes direct democracy too far

Author Kevin Kelly agrees with Lawrence Lessig above that software code is taking on a power similar to geopolitical law on the net. Business Week's Michael Mandel argues that business and technology are subservient to the rule of government. However, Mandel himself seems to miss how net coding may someday be to human law as the science of economics is to human markets (or the laws of physics to human technology): i.e., much as Kelly implies, the code may ultimately define what's possible and practical for civilization in a wired world-- and so, do much to shape the related laws and regulations as well. Yes, the shifting hierarchies here are troublesome, but necessary to comprehending our course.

Author Diane Coyle seems to largely agree with my discourse above about the coming decentralization of state and federal power, possibly to levels as low as individual city-states.

-- The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Business Week: October 19, 1998 Books; TAKING THE MEASURE OF THE `NEW ECONOMY' BY MICHAEL J. MANDEL

NEW RULES FOR THE NEW ECONOMY 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World By Kevin Kelly Viking

THE WEIGHTLESS WORLD Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy By Diane Coyle MIT

NEW RULES FOR A NEW ECONOMY Employment and Opportunity in Postindustrial America By Stephen Herzenberg, John Alic, & Howard Wial Cornell

The fate of China, the world's most populous state around 2000, did as much to shape these developments as anything else.The Communist China of the late 20th century enjoyed a great economic resurgence as the world rushed to meet the new millennium. However, China's oppressive government, with its often egomaniacal ambitions, could not hold together the huge nation in the face of multiple and worsening disasters wrought by their secretive military projects gone awry, and massive industrial development not subject to adequate review and environmental safeguards (read: China's own variations on the Soviet Union's Chernobyl, and still worse calamities), nor increasing trade frictions with the rest of the world, and growing internal strife between rich and poor regions within China itself-- as well as a rising tide of sentiment from middle-class Chinese in general for more political freedoms. Other, external forces affecting the Old China were ironically created in large part by the Chinese rulers themselves, as the hugely popular United States of Asia arose from a union of other asian states largely out of fear of Chinese-related domination and the huge military buildup of the late 20th and early 21st centuries in certain Chinese Provinces and on the high seas, and the various military adventures China-based entities pursued with those forces. USAsia was just about the worst nightmare of Chinese authoritarian rulers, as USAsia was essentially a homegrown asian variation on USAmerica, which eventually became even more popular worldwide than USAmerica itself, and-- still worse-- was just next door, rather than half a world away. USAsia reached critical mass once it included New Japan, New Korea, and Australia among its full or partial members. There was also the advent of the global internet-- which caused all manner of troubles for traditional governments everywhere, but especially so for non-democracies. Lastly, Old China and its direct totalitarian descendent states never seemed able to get a firm grasp on the new frontiers of space and undersea commercialization either. Which left its rulers at a huge disadvantage with the westerners and Japanese they so despised and envied. In a wide array of cases the world network, space, and undersea cards went against the Old China's efforts at wielding its new military and economic might against its neighbors, thereby humiliating whichever strong man was in charge of a particular Chinese government at the time, and spurring his rapid replacement. In the face of all these developments, it appears a foregone conclusion from hindsight that Old China would undergo more than one splintering, much the same as the U.S.S.R. and Russia did before it. Also like those entities, the resulting smaller states were widely diverse in their nature, with some desperately poor and backward, and others relatively rich and sophistocated (but all suffering significantly from the major adjustments required in the aftermath). Only a couple of the new Chinese states retained something akin to totalitarian rule for very long, though they did so for far longer than anyone might have expected in the decades to come, becoming the 'Cuba' and/or 'North Korea' of their age. END NOTE.

-- "China's Internet Growth Is Like the `Wild West'" by MARCIA KUNSTEL and JOSEPH ALBRIGHT, the New York Times Syndicate and the Cox web site, on or about 5-4-98

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

2300 Milestone: Gene Roddenberry's 1960s-1990s "Star Trek" vision of the future proves eerily close to the mark by the dawn of the 24th century...

....with human civilization now very like the utopian society Roddenberry had hoped for (at least on Earth), with virtual eradication of most of man's previous ills and suffering and conflict. The rich stew of aliens envisioned by Roddenberry exists also-- but rather than originating from faraway stars, they are merely wild variations on humanity and certain artificially enhanced animals originally native to Earth. Humanity already possesses some form of many of Roddenberry's technological wonders (or else seems on the brink of having them), such as faster-than-light starships and communications, and electro-magnetic lightspeed transport and related replicators. Far flung colonization efforts are everywhere. Synthetic humanoids ala "Data" are increasingly common.

Perhaps the greatest differences Roddenberry would see would be the much greater tendency towards leisure and gaming in human pursuits, as well as the overwhelming immersion in and preference for virtual reality as opposed to physical reality. Both work and modern life styles are merging wholesale with virtual reality environments now. The immense and growing isolation of the individual would also surprise and perhaps sadden Roddenberry. The hard times between the 20th and 24th centuries might stun Roddenberry with their severity.

Signposts Perspectives 2101 AD-2300 AD Contents

Beyond 2300 AD in Perspectives...

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