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The Signposts Timeline:
Prologue: 1990 AD-2000 AD

Humanity reaches six billion in number, even as a comet strike on Jupiter emphasizes our vulnerability to extinction. Also, open source is looking increasingly important to humanity's future (if various business/political interests don't succeed in killing it)

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BACK to the timeline: Before 1990 AD in Perspectives...

Signposts Timeline Prologue (1990 AD-2000 AD) Table of Contents

1990 milestone: Spending on defense is 5.2% of the USAmerican gross domestic product

-- RETHINKING THE ECONOMY By Michael J. Mandel, Peter Coy and William Symonds; OCTOBER 1, 2001; BusinessWeek Online; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1994 milestone: Catastrophism in action: Humanity watches in awe as comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashes piece-meal into Jupiter, incurring a string of explosions on the gas giant each larger than that possible by launching Earth's entire nuclear arsenal all at once; 11% of American households include a modem-equipped computer

Roughly 11% of USAmerican households possess a modem-equipped personal computer.

-- Trends on the Internet ["http://www.ecit.emory.edu/POINT/9.10.96/"], possible author or editor Linda Erhard, Emory University, updated August 20, 1997

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1995 milestone: Few of this time realize that a handful of CD ROM disks boasts the capacity to hold all the knowledge and memories of an average person's lifetime

[at this time one CD ROM typically holds 650 MB of uncompressed data; four CD ROMs would contain up to 2.5 uncompressed Gigabytes]

Ergo, the mass storage technology required to support artificial intelligence of approximately human level already exists at this time, and in very economical form. The raw processing power necessary for such sentience arguably may also be available at this time, though it is so expensive it only exists in a few select facilities. The most important element however-- the proper software to sustain such an AI-- appears far out of our reach (although 'niche' expert systems specializing in narrow fields of human knowledge have already been available for some time now, often yielding positive results).

The utilized memory space of a single human being may range somewhere between 200 Megabytes and 2 Gigabytes over a lifetime.

-- How Much Information Is There In the World? ["http://www.lesk.com/mlesk/ksg97/ksg.html"] by Michael Lesk (found on the web on or about 3-11-99).

Another measure of human consciousness might be not the quantity stored, but the quantity processed.

The average 80 year old person will have processed some 10 terabytes of data during their lifetime.

-- estimate from British Telecom, according to Fortean Slips: The Soul Catcher ["http://www.parascope.com/articles/slips/soul.htm"] by D. Trull Enigma Editor dtrull@parascope.com, 1996, found on or about 3-6-2000

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1995 milestone: It is not illegal to divulge someone else's medical records at will throughout most of the United States of America

A 1993 survey revealed millions of Americans felt their own medical records had been improperly accessed or exposed by others in the past, and such acts had injured or humiliated them.

15 percent said insurance companies had been responsible for the violations.

-- [beta] Chapter 6 To Know Your Future -- Database Nation; The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century By Simson Garfinkel 1st edition January 2000 (est.) 1-56592-653-6, Order Number: 6536 336 pages (est.), $24.95 (est.), http://www.oreilly.com/

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1996 milestone: As of January of this year, the internet is estimated to include nine million hosts and perhaps 32 million users; Today's state-of-the-art electric autos offer dismal value compared to internal combustion competitors

-- Trends on the Internet ["http://www.ecit.emory.edu/POINT/9.10.96/"], possible author or editor Linda Erhard, Emory University, updated August 20, 1997

The General Motors EV1 debuts in 1996. It is an electrically powered automobile with a range of between 50 and 80 miles on a single charge (recharging requires up to eight hours). It is inconvenient (using perks like air conditioning reduces range and performance), and underpowered (tackling long upgrades is challenging to the car).

-- Hybrid Vigor by Gregg Easterbrook, The Atlantic Monthly; November 2000; - 00.11; Volume 286, No. 5; page 16-18.

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1995-1997 milestone: So-called "whisper numbers" on the internet about the performance of various companies may be more accurate during this time than the forecasts of traditional analysts

Whispernumber.com is prominently featured in the article cited below.

-- The information Laundromat By Mark Gimein, salon.com > Technology Oct. 26, 1999 URL: http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/1999/10/26/whisper_numbers

A significant portion of stock traders ("noise traders") care nothing about the real value of a given stock in which they are trading. These traders make speculative decisions based on their perceptions of the effect other traders are having or will have upon a given stock's performance. Based on this it would appear that stock prices are truly unpredictable in any consistent or long term way.

"Fundamentalist" traders, on the other hand, do base their decisions on perceived differentials between a stock's price and its real world value.

Noise traders are essentially day traders-- speculative investors attempting to make a fast buck. These traders can easily bring about booms and busts in the market. In such cases it is up to the Fundamentalists to bring the market back to reality.

The volatility of a market increases markedly when the proportion of noise traders involved surpasses a certain critical value.

-- BBC News Sci/Tech: Truth lost in the noise, February 10, 1999, http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1997 milestone: The first (official) successful cloning of an adult mammal (a sheep) has been performed in Great Britain; 35.3% of U.S. households have a computer, with half of those connected to the internet; 10% of USAmericans don't have telephone service, 35% don't have cable TV

Some speculate human cloning will be technologically possible by early 1998.

Sources include Reuters and CNN, on or about 2-24-97

Up to 10% of USAmericans may have no telephone service, while perhaps 35% don't possess cable TV.

-- Trends on the Internet ["http://www.ecit.emory.edu/POINT/9.10.96/"], possible author or editor Linda Erhard, Emory University, updated August 20, 1997

35.3% of U.S. households have a computer.

Roughly half of these are connected to the internet (or about 16% of all households).

-- Consequences of the Digital Age, the San Jose Mercury News, found on or about 3-7-97

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1997 milestone: An enormous natural anti-matter source is discovered near the galactic core

Only some 25,000 light years from Earth. The antimatter exists in a galactic 'north' spewing column 3000-3500 light years tall. What's causing it? Either the giant black hole (or several?) at the center of our galaxy, or the smaller 'roaming' (clusters of?) black hole(s) a bit farther out from the core, or a whole pile of dying stars, or maybe the collision of two neutron stars, a long time ago.

Sources include Kathy Sawyer of the Washington Post ("Scientists find antimatter fountain gushing from center of Milky Way", 4-29-97, page A06), Philadelphia Enquirer, and Fox News (4-28-97)

-- "Scientists: Milky Way contains 24 black holes", The Yomiuri Shimbun, Daily Yomiuri On-Line, found on or about 7-3-99

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1997 milestone: World chess champion Garry Kasparov is defeated by the Deep Blue IBM supercomputer

-- Saving Bits and Bytes for History By ASHLEY DUNN, August 7, 2000, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/front/20000807/t000073831.html

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1997 milestone: Zyvex ["http://www.zyvex.com/"] strives to be the first builder of general purpose nanotech assemblers; The real cost of automobiles in the developed nations has fallen almost 17% since 1955, while features and quality have gone up considerably; Real costs of major appliances have fallen even more steeply; Real costs of home construction have dropped almost 14% since 1956

An average USAmerican worker in 1997 must work 1,365 hours to earn sufficient money to buy a new Ford Taurus automobile. In 1955 the average USAmerican worker required 1,638 hours of earnings to buy a new Ford Fairlane.

The real prices of major household appliances for USAmericans have fallen still more dramatically than this between the 1950s and 1997.

The price per square foot of a USAmerican home in 1956 was 6.5 times the hourly wage of the average American worker. The price per square foot of a USAmerican home in 1996 is 5.6 times the hourly wage of the average American worker.

-- The slowing pace of progress ["http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/001225/change.htm"] By Phillip J. Longman, US News & World Report, found on or about 12-30-2000

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1997 milestone: An inflation adjusted scorecard of the return on various investments since 1802 shows stocks to be the best long term investment, and gold the worst

One USAmerican dollar invested in 1802 in:

...a reasonable group of stocks for the time, would be worth a bit more than half a million dollars today.

... in long-term government bonds, would be worth $803 today.

... in short-term bills, $275.

...in gold, 84 cents today (yes, it would have actually lost value).

-- Robot Wisdom WebLog for June 1998 ["http://www.robotwisdom.com/log1998m06.html"] citing http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWfeatdisplay.cgi?1998062522F

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: Roughly 10,000 lobbyists, each earning anywhere from 100,000 to one million dollars annually, are working to influence USAmerican legislation and regulation in Washington DC

-- Robot Wisdom WebLog for June 1998 ["http://www.robotwisdom.com/log1998m06.html"] citing http://www.villagevoice.com/ink/news/24ridgeway.shtml

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: One of the first cases of 'virtual murder' is discovered

An online argument led to a Social Security claims agent entering his victim's death notification into the Social Security database-- thereby setting the stage for all sorts of identification-related problems for her.

-- 'Virtual Murderer' Strikes at Social Security Files By ANDREW J. GLASS, Cox News Service, found on or about 10-20-98, http://www.coxnews.com

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: Early development of the first table-top factories suitable for mass production of micromachines is underway

These table-top factories utilize concepts similar to that of the much larger self-cleaning carpets which many homes will possess a couple decades later. That is, a carpet-like field of electromechanical cilia controlled by computer manipulates parts too small for conventional human tools into position for micro-assembly.

-- "The Incredible Shrinking Finger Factory", March 1998 issue of Discover magazine

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is making its debut

Some hail ICANN ["http://icann.org/"] as the first stirrings of a global government for the internet.

-- A Kind of Constitutional Convention for the Internet By CARL S. KAPLAN, The New York Times, October 23, 1998

ICANN Watch ["http://www.icannwatch.org/"] is another link related to this subject.

80% of the Web is in the English language today, while only 6% of the world population speaks English natively. Some claim that the power and accuracy of language translation software for the web is improving at the same pace as microprocessors, invoking Moore's law of doubling in performance every 18 months.

Though human translation efforts would typically offer more accuracy, they would also cost around $50-$60 per page of the web, compared to the basically free services available for this on the web today.

-- Web embraces language translation ["http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/zdnn_smgraph_display/0,3441,2121254,00.html"] By Martha L. Stone July 21, 1998, http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: The first geopolitically sanctified virtual state makes its appearance on the world stage...

...and it's technically a corporate rather than government entity.

The new Iridium satellite phone network had many legal obstacles to overcome in order to secure its global reach. The company finally overcame them by having its network recognized officially by established geopolitical entities (nations) as a country in its own right.

-- "Iridium: The first virtual nation" By Kevin Maney, USA TODAY, 09/17/98, The Nation's Homepage

The advantages of virtual states and enterprises over legacy geopolitical entities are fast becoming evident to everyone. This may lead to virtual states eventually becoming the logical successors to BOTH present-day business incorporations and geo-political nations.

-- "The Internet Economy: the World's Next Growth Engine" By MICHAEL J. MANDEL With Irene M. Kunii in Tokyo, BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : OCTOBER 4, 1999

A year from now USA President Bill Clinton will make this statement at a "progressive governance for the 21st century" forum in Florence, Italy:

"We are here because we affirm the importance of the nation-state as necessary to provide the conditions of community and humanity in this very different world..."

-- Clinton sees hope in widespread Internet access Nando Media/Associated Press By ROBERT BURNS, November 21, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: The structural electronics potential of carbon composite materials is recognized; 11% of USAmerican elderly live in poverty

It will be some time before this new semi-conductor technology enters the mainstream, however.

-- EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"], on or about 3-4-98

-- Seniors Living Longer, Healthier Lives, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, August 10 2000

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: The explosive growth of the web and increasing inadequacy of its major search engines/directories is paving the way for entry of major new players

In early 1998 as much as TWO THIRDS of the web (over 200 million web pages) appears to be missing from most or all of the so-called major search engines and directories of the time. For example, Infoseek possesses only some 10% of the web in its indexes-- ergo, 90% of the web is completely inaccessible to those who use Infoseek to the exclusion of other engines.

To make matters worse, the small fraction that IS indexed by engines/directories is plagued by obsolete/out-of-date/missing pages. For example, although HotBot apparently seems to offer the highest portion of the web in its indexing compared to other engines in the survey (34%), HotBot also suffers obsolete/missing pages for over 5% of its catalog listing (pages that no longer work when clicked, or haven't been updated in years). Too, HotBot didn't actually usefully index as much of the web as indicated by the survey, either-- since many web pages in HotBot were listed NOT by individual page descriptions or key words (so far as a Hot Bot user could tell), but rather as meaningless whole server file directory lists, which typically offered users no idea whatsoever of what was on those pages. In early 1998 the entire Signposts Timeline site you're now examining was listed in HotBot this way, thereby making it effectively inaccessible to HotBot users in any practical manner.

The most popular directory of this period is Yahoo (which doesn't qualify as a search engine). Despite its popularity and financial success so far, Yahoo has all but given up in past months on doing significant cataloging of new web sites, thus burdening itself with a rapidly decaying catalog of obsolete/missing web pages (with broken links perhaps amounting to as much as 30% of Yahoo's total listings, based on random sampling taken in late 1997/early 1998 by this author).

In early 1998 the major search engines and directory services appeared to believe their present net dominance was assured, and so were ignoring or downplaying major pieces of what got them to their present positions in years past. This led to almost a complete turnover of the market players over the next several years. The Old Media (newspapers, Hollywood, and broadcast TV) eventually began getting their net legs, certain substantial software houses shifted their efforts from PC development to net development, and many existing large net players that had previously ignored the potential of their own gating or portal sites on the web, changed their plans-- which all led to much fiercer competition for companies like Yahoo and others in the years ahead.

Note that increasing tendencies by various well known search engines towards arbitrarily excluding many smaller web sites in favor of larger, wealthier ones (and in some cases offering preferential placement in engine results for a fee) is also slowly building public support for legislation forbidding such exclusions/ censorship and purposeful degrading of information credibility, in a form of online civil rights and increased disclosure on the part of engine operators. However, as of early 1998, the actual writing of these particular laws remains some years away-- because there's an insufficient number of individual voters with their own web sites at this time to push legislators.

Sources include Associated Press, April 3, 1998, Finding Web Pages Keeps Getting Harder, USA TODAY; Study: Search engines fall short, by Reuters, Special to CNET NEWS.COM April 2, 1998, "INTERNET ENGINES THAT COULD FAIL", Business Week: 5-4-98, and others

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: High end web site applications are suffering failure rates of 30%

The problems appear to stem from the need of web apps to interact with legacy applications (I assume Windows, Mac OS, etc.) and the hodge podge of ISPs through which clients are connecting. (The failure rate given refers to sites meant to field 5000+ users simultaneously).

--"Web Software Failure Rates As High As 30 Percent" By Kimberly Weisul, Inter@ctive Week 9-17-98

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: Solar power currently represents less than 1% of world energy supplies; solar power costs $4000 per kilowatt

But it's also true that only one energy source is growing faster worldwide than solar. Global solar power capacity now stands at 800 megawatts.

-- World solar power industry booms, July 16, 1998, Environmental News Network and the Worldwatch Institute

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1998 milestone: Since 1940 USAmerica has spent $5.8 trillion on nuclear arms and $19 trillion on defense

-- Robot Wisdom WebLog for July 1998 ["http://www.robotwisdom.com/log1998m07.html"], citing http://reports.guardian.co.uk/articles/1998/7/2/9308.html

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998 milestone: Since 1898 30 million people have been killed in automobile accidents

-- Robot Wisdom WebLog for July 1998 ["http://www.robotwisdom.com/log1998m07.html"], citing http://www.guardian.co.uk/gweekly/duty.html

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1997-1999 milestone: We are beginning to realize our true vulnerability to extinction

Rogue comet and asteroid impacts, nuclear/biological terrorism, accidents, and conflicts, cyberwar, and once-in-a-thousand-years solar flares (capable of frying half the world's electronics and resulting in one hemisphere with 21st century tech and the other with 19th century tech) aren't the only real dangers which could dramatically change the world as we know it at any moment....Scientists are now finding indications that the solar system could at any time pass into a vast, thick molecular gas cloud in space, which almost overnight could radically change Earth's climate (think super Ice Age or Hellfire Eon), with effects lasting for possibly thousands of years. Similar consequences could also come from radiation resulting from a far off star like Betelgeuse exploding as a super nova. Indeed, such things may have already happened to Earth in the past, prior to the establishment of human civilization. Just how big an effect could such a gas cloud or super nova explosion have on us? As big as the event which killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

But these aren't the worst of the dangers we face...it turns out that on occasion entire living worlds are destroyed by massive explosions within their home galaxy which can render even planets thousands of lightyears away from the blast virtually lifeless and uninhabitable for millions of years afterwards, by way of a bath of gamma rays....

However, human authorities choose to ignore virtually all these possibilities for the time being...

SPECIAL NOTE TO WORLD-SAVER HOPEFULS: The Edgar Wilson Award (a pot of $20,000 per year) will be divided up among amateur astronomers who report a new comet to the International Astronomical Union and have their name assigned to it (typically there's around five comets discovered annually). So you might even earn money while trying to save Earth from a world buster. -- "Pennies from heaven", New Scientist, 6-27-98 END NOTE.

Sources include an article about the Hale-Bopp comet from "the Age" (on or around 3-7-97), information in "2015: Power and Progress" from the Institute for National Strategic Studies, July 1996, edited by Patrick M. Cronin, reports about solar flares on or about 4-9-97 from CNN, a piece on the threat of dense molecular gas clouds to Earth, published in New Scientist Planet Science (around 8-16-97), a New York Times article about Los Alamos National Lab scientists running a sophistocated simulation of an impact from space (datestamp 1-8-98), "Scientific Debate Rages Over Danger of Asteroid; Interception Possible", March 13, 1998, The New York Times, "FYI Earth faces potentially devastating calamities every day By Michael Cabbage", Knight Ridder Newspapers, 4-13-98, the Kansas City Star, "Peculiar Bulges Detected on Giant Star in Orion" by MALCOLM W. BROWNE April 14, 1998, the New York Times, Staring at the Sun, 9 April 1998, the Guardian Online, "Recently Discovered Cosmic Blast May Be Biggest Since Big Bang" by MALCOLM W. BROWNE, 5-7-98, The New York Times, and others

The star Eta Carinae is 7500 light years distant from us, and is one of the largest and most powerful stars known in the universe, some 100 times the size and five times the power of our Sun. It first caught our attention in the 1840s with a massive flaring in brightness. Today it seems to be acting in a worrisome and unpredictable fashion, perhaps leading to a hypernova explosion sometime in the next 10,000 years capable of threatening even life on Earth with sporadic waves of gamma radiation.

-- "Astronomers perplexed by star's weird behavior", Associated Press/CNN, found on or about 6-7-99

But space-related phenomena don't just present a danger to cities, nations, and the world-- they may also strike at us as individuals. Specifically, solar flare activity and magnetic field fluctuations in space may sometimes spark heart attacks in some people on Earth, and perhaps in other subtle ways increase automobile accidents among us-- perhaps by slowing or interfering with brain activity at an inopportune moment.

Analysis of years of calls to Russian ambulance services indicates a 15% rise in calls related to strokes, heart attacks, and auto accidents involving fatalities, for days following substantial activity of this kind in space.

-- Storms in space 'may cause heart attacks' By Roger Highfield and Nick Flowers, Electronic Telegraph Connected, 22 July 1999, http://www.telegraph.co.uk

The gist of the Doomsday Argument is, first, assume that humanity has a long and prosperous future ahead of it. This logically implies that its numbers will increase dramatically over today's, as we colonize the galaxy. Or, in other words, virtually every human being who ever lives will do so in the far future.

Perhaps no more than 40 billion people have ever lived on Earth up through the present (including those alive today). But 40 billion would be a drop in the bucket compared to our numbers spread across the galaxy a million or more years from now.

If the above turned out to be true, then those of us alive today would make up a very unique population. Extraordinarily rare 'elders' of a mighty race yet to be. In other words, we'd be very unusual-- an anomaly of sorts. Especially when you consider the fact that (as of late 2000) it appears any and all intelligent races which may have come before us in the universe never got that far themselves (to the magnificent galactic civilization part).

On the other hand, what if the reverse happens? We go extinct very soon, for some reason. That would mean we are either at or near our peak right now. Combine this more pessimistic perspective along with the evidence that all other races in the universe never got very far off planet either (and since we're only decades from doing so we'd have to die soon to join the club), and the plausibility that we'll soon be absent from the galaxy skyrockets.

Just as there's a scientific argument that we exist in this particular universe because it's better suited to life than others, there's also one stating we exist in the present time because the past and future are less hospitable to us for some reason. There's evidence that gamma ray bursters were the rudeness which prevented us from arriving sooner-- and they might be responsible for us leaving again rather quickly, too. Or something else could do us in (there's plenty of candidates).

Anyway, Bayes theorem plays into all this, helping support some aspects of the logic. To see more about the likely fate of other civilizations like ours in our galaxy, refer to CONTACT! Alien Speculations: The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy.

-- DOOM SOON ["http://www.linguafranca.com/9710/9710hyp.html"] by Jim Holt, Lingua Franca,Inc., 1997

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1998-1999 milestone: The developed nations are experimenting with the use of invisible force fields in both medical and manufacturing processes

-- Magnetic Manipulation For Molten Metals, 29 OCTOBER 1998 Contact: Andrew McLaughlin Andrew_Mclaughlin@materials.org .uk 44-(0)171-451-7395 Institute of Materials

-- Magnetic Surgery System Tested Successfully On First Patient, 22 DECEMBER 1998, Contact: Ellen Rostand rostande@fleishman.com 314-982-9133 Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.

-- Silicon Valley turns to levitation by Duncan Graham-Rowe, From New Scientist, 23 January 1999

-- Hybrid Process Uses Electricity To Shape Aluminum Auto Parts Written by Pam Frost, (614) 292-9475; Frost.18@osu.edu, 21 DECEMBER 1999 Contact: Glenn Daehn Daehn.1@osu.edu (614) 292-6779 Ohio State University, EurekAlert!

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1999 milestone: The first high profile destruction of a known virtual state by geopolitical state forces takes place

There's already virtual entities being created on the net to represent people or states which may not possess the money or power to exist in similar form physically or geo-politically, circa 1999.

The web domain of East Timor, a region/people occupied by Indonesia since 1975, was just such a virtual entity.

But recently forces friendly to the geopolitical Indonesian government forced the virtual East Timor off the net and out of cyberspace with concerted attacks on the domain.

The East Timor domain actually existed physically on servers in Ireland (a world away from East Timor itself), and was granted in the first place by domain registrars in something of an acknowledgement of East Timor's right to exist as an independent nation. There have also been U.N. resolutions condemning Indonesia's occupation of East Timor.

-- "Virtual country 'nuked' in cyberwar, MSNBC/Reuters, 1-28-99

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1999 milestone: Disposeable desktop computers make their debut

By sometime this year a reasonably modern, capable, and flexible personal computing/networking device CPU (minus peripherals like display monitor or printer) may be purchased for the equivalent of around $400 (1997 USA dollars) by citizens in the developed countries. Other computing devices exist both above and below this price point.

Sources include February 1998 BYTE magazine and others

-- "$499 PCs coming to market", 7-1-98, by Stephanie Miles, c|net, and "Heads Up: PC Prices Set to Plunge Again" URL: http://www.zdnet.com/chkpt/adem2fpf/www.anchordesk.com/story/story_2155.html by Aaron Goldberg, ZD Market Intelligence, 6-2-98

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1999 milestone: Rising sea levels due to global warming engulf/submerge two Pacific islands

The island names are "Tebua Tarawa" and "Abanuea" of the island atoll nation of Kiribati.

-- Global warming sinks islands, UK News, found on or about 6-14-99

Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

1999 milestone: The internet continues to defy the efforts of major corporations to completely dominate and define the new medium

Just one of the techniques being used to funnel surfers through only major corporate sites is the increasing exclusion of individual and small organization web sites from the databases of most major internet search engines; i.e., as of mid to late 1999 this timeline site itself could not be found within most of the 'major' engines.

-- "Is the Web "contracting"?" By Scott Rosenberg, Technology, salon.com, Aug. 26, 1999, URL: http://www.salon.com/tech/col/rose/1999/08/26/web_contracting

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1999 milestone: Paul Zambo in Cameroon invents an electrolysis device perhaps capable of cutting energy costs for billions worldwide by up to 90%

The device economically uses a small electricity source to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which in turn may be burned as fuel. [The addition of solar cells to Paul's device might effectively make the energy produced from the invention virtually free].

Zambo unfortunately suffers the ire of gas sellers in his own nation whose business may be threatened by such developments.

-- "A miraculous new device created by an inventor in Cameroon is turning water into gas.", 30th June 1999, BBC Online - Tomorrow's World - Features - Cameroon Inventors, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (possibly found online on or around 7th September 1999)

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1999 milestone: USAmerica is approaching per capita income levels (relative to the rest of the world) comparable to those not seen since the heady 1970s

This advance seems due largely to the impact of computerization and the internet.

USAmerica appears to be well on its way to gaining a substantial new lead in ecommerce and techno-economic development over most of the rest of the world now, barring unfortunate internal political mistakes, or other untoward events of some kind.

-- "The Internet Economy: the World's Next Growth Engine" By MICHAEL J. MANDEL With Irene M. Kunii in Tokyo, BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : OCTOBER 4, 1999

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1999 milestone: A breakthrough in terrestrial solar cell technology now allows over 32% efficiency in the conversion of solar energy to electricity; Antimatter costs $1.75 quadrillion per ounce or $62.5 trillion per gram

Note that the solar cell efficiency touted above is in research labs; commercial deployment remains some years away.

Spectrolab of Hughes Electronics Corp. is responsible for the solar cell feat. Those involved expressed confidence that 40% efficiency might eventually be achieved with the same technology. One short name for the technology is four junction cells. Note that the greater efficiency means for a smaller footprint in the area required for these cells, compared to other types.

-- Solar cell efficiency makes big leaps By Stephen Schowengerdt, October 27, 1999, Environmental News Network, Inc.

-- Reaching For The Stars: Scientists Examine Using Antimatter And Fusion To Propel Future Spacecraft; 12 APRIL 1999; Contact: Dr. John M. Horack john.horack@msfc.nasa.gov 256-544-1872 NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center--Space Sciences Laboratory

Just 0.3% of the land area in USAmerica overlaid with solar cells of no higher than 10% efficiency could supply the full electrical demands of circa 1999 USAmerica.

Relatively low cost thin film (apparently transparent) solar cells of moderate efficiency could be applied to roofs, windows, and many other surfaces of human constructions.

The current generation of these offer efficiencies of only 1 to 5 %-- much lower than the 20% available in spacecraft quality solar cells of this time. However, thin film cells made of copper indium diselenide in research labs are reaching efficiency levels over 8%.

-- New Technology Offers Ray of Hope for Affordable Solar Power By LEE DYE, Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1999

Another source gives an estimate of 10,000 square miles of solar cells possibly supplying all of USAmerica's electricity needs, circa 2001.

-- Hydrogen on hold by MITZI PERDUE, with input from the National Renewable Energy Lab; Nando Times/Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, January 16, 2001, http://www.nandotimes.com

A "full-spectrum solar energy system" might offer three times the usefulness of previous solar power collection and conversion systems. It can do this due to an optimization of the solar collection process. Optical or visible solar light is collected, concentrated and distributed for interior lighting purposes via large cross section optical fibers, while the rest of the solar light spectrum (or infrared anyway) is converted to electricity (cells tend to be more efficient in the near-infrared range anyway). This reduces the waste and inefficiencies involved in converting the entire spectrum to electricity only to re-convert some of the energy back to visible light again.

Artificial lighting is still used alongside the redirected sunlight to provide a hybrid lighting scheme.

The investments made in such systems by businesses may pay for themselves in as little as five years.

Inside lighting of commercial enterprises represents a full third of business electricity demand in circa 1999 USAmerica.

-- ORNL technology could make solar energy more viable, 16 DECEMBER 1999, EurekAlert!, Contact: Ron Walli, 9rw@ORNL.GOV, 865-576-0226, Oak Ridge National Laboratory OAK RIDGE, Tenn. http://www.ornl.gov/news is a related URL.

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1999 milestone: The limits of lightspeed since the big bang mean we can only see some 15 billion lightyears deep into the Universe in every direction, as of this year

Beyond this 15 billion lightyear horizon, we are blind. But it seems likely there is more of the Universe beyond the barrier to visibility.

-- Is nothing sacred? by John D. Barrow, From New Scientist, 24 July 1999

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1999 milestone: Total human Earth population hits six billion; A new planet for the Solar System may have been discovered

-- 6 billionth Earthling was born today By Margot Higgins, ENN Daily News -- 10/12/1999, Environmental News Network, http://www.enn.com/

Less than 10% of Americans over 65 have lost all their natural teeth.

-- Upcoming Conference Highlights Changes In Dentistry, http://www.unisci.com, 20-Dec-1999

Between the early seventies and early nineties the average number of dental cavities afflicting an American teenager went from 6 or 7 to just 3. Experts attribute much of the improvement to the increased use of fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste, dental treatments, and other channels.

-- US kid's cavities decline dramatically By Alan Mozes, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 25 2000

Newz&Viewz 11-7-99: A new planet? And alien at that? Our solar system may have picked up an alien hitchhiker as it flew its way around the galaxy. A couple of astronomers believe they've found hints of a new planet in an abnormal orbit that places it far out of the system, inside the Oort Cloud itself (where most of our system comets exist).

The mystery planet may be 1.5-6 times the size of Jupiter, and offer us a tantalyzing sample of the composition of a whole different star system-- since that alien system may have been its original home. The planet's reverse orbital direction and strongly inclined orbit relative to the other worlds indicates this possibility.

The mystery planet may possess an orbit of 4-6 million years. One intriguing (and scary) thing about this discovery is the possibility that such a body could have a similar effect on us as "Nemesis"-- a black hole or distantly orbiting star some have theorized occasionally causes a slew of comets to be loosed from the Oort Cloud in our direction, causing mass extinctions in some cases from the impacts.

The alien world's existence has not yet been confirmed.

-- Then there were ten by Jeff Hecht, New Scientist, 16 October 1999

Is the unknown massive solar companion indicated by scientific research actually a distributed system? With at least a portion of the mass consisting of a collection of unseen smaller masses distributed among various Lagrangian points in our solar system?

Whatever the case, the total mystery mass involved in the gravitational effects observed within our solar system may be equivalent to as much as half the Sun's mass.

The distance the mystery mass orbits from the Sun helps determine how large it is. The further out along the edges of the system it is, the larger it must be to have the detected effect (perhaps being as much as half the mass of the Sun). The closer in it is, the less massive it would have to be. I.e., much smaller masses distributed over several inner system Lagrangian points would have a similar effect.

-- MORE ON "THE MASSIVE SOLAR COMPANION" From Science Frontiers #25, JAN-FEB 1983 by William R. Corliss, citing John P. Bagby; "Evidence for a Tenth Planet or Massive Stellar Companion Beyond Uranus," paper offered during the Tomorrow Starts Here Conference, September 1982

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"For the majority of Americans, the question is not if they will experience poverty, but when"
-- Conclusion of a study into the normal fluctuations of personal income for Americans, 1999 AD

-- Most Americans Experience Poverty Sometime In Adult Life, Study Finds; 7 APRIL 1999; Contact: Gerry Everding; gerry_everding@aismail.wustl.edu; 314-935-6375; Washington University in St. Louis

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1999 milestone: Humanity's cutting edge progress so far towards realizing the ultimate potential of computer science? Only 2%

At current rates of progress it appears another 2000 years will be required to get to the 100% figure.

Sources include statements by David Tennenhouse, scientist with Darpa, as documented in DOD Scientist: Lose the Humans by Niall McKay, 24.Aug.99, Wired Digital Inc

Note that the 2% figure relates to advances in the labs. Real world/consumer level realization of computer science potential remains but a fraction of the 2% value itself.

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1985-2000: Major USAmerican metropolitan centers increase in population by 22% and suffer a rise in time spent in traffic delays of 235%

-- The slowing pace of progress ["http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/001225/change.htm"] By Phillip J. Longman, US News & World Report, found on or about 12-30-2000

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2000 milestone: Spending on defense is under 3% of the USAmerican gross domestic product; Some US police dogs are being fitted with stun gun muzzles

-- RETHINKING THE ECONOMY By Michael J. Mandel, Peter Coy and William Symonds; OCTOBER 1, 2001; BusinessWeek Online; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

-- Bark, Bite, Stun -- All in a Police Dog's Repertoire; Yahoo!/Reuters; October 4, 2000

In 2000 the US Pell grant paid for about 39% of a four year degree program at a public college.

-- Log cabin to White House? Not any more ["http://www.observer.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,706484,00.html"] by Will Hutton; April 28, 2002; The Observer; Guardian Newspapers Limited

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1,990 AD-2,000 AD: In constant dollars, US GNP growth per capita is 24% through this period

-- INVESTOR'S GUIDE 2002 Warren Buffett on the Stock Market ["http://www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?channel=artcol.jhtml&doc_id=205324"] By Carol Loomis; FORTUNE; December 10, 2001

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"For five decades....the biggest bargain around...[was]....political influence. For many a year, it was far cheaper than anything to be found in the stock market."
-- Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., 2000

-- The Billionaire's Buyout Plan ["http://partners.nytimes.com/2000/09/10/opinion/10BUFF.html"] By WARREN E. BUFFETT; September 10, 2000; The New York Times Company

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"[If real campaign finance reform is not undertaken in the US]....we are well on our way to ensuring that a government of the moneyed, by the moneyed, and for the moneyed shall not perish from the earth."
-- Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., 2000

-- The Billionaire's Buyout Plan ["http://partners.nytimes.com/2000/09/10/opinion/10BUFF.html"] By WARREN E. BUFFETT; September 10, 2000; The New York Times Company

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2000 milestone: Pioneer 10, launched from Earth 28 years earlier in 1972, is roughly seven billion miles, 0.0012 lightyears, or ten lighthours from Earth; Hundreds of thousands of black holes likely litter our galaxy

The Pioneer 10's speed is 27,380 mph. Voyager 1, which launched later (1977), is traveling faster than Pioneer, and so sped past Pioneer in terms of distance in 1998. The two spacecraft are headed in opposite directions beyond the edge of the Solar System.

-- Pioneer 10 gets new lease on life in outer solar system By Richard Stenger, CNN, March 2, 2000, and Quirky Outburst Has MIT Researchers Hot On The Trail Of A Black Hole, MIT News, 15 APRIL 1998, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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2000 milestone: Some 5% of USAmerica's energy demands are being met by renewable energy sources such as solar power and others; Solar power is now cheaper than the electric power grid in some locations, during peak-use periods

-- Prodigal Sun by Arthur Allen March/April 2000, The MoJo Wire/MOTHER JONES magazine, Foundation for National Progress

The truly lowest cost electricity derived from solar energy may not be from photovoltaics, but collection, concentration, and conversion of solar heat. In some instances this system consists of something like a large dish antenna (similar to a radio telescope or satellite dish) which has a mirror coating, that tracks the Sun's movements across the sky and focuses collected sunlight onto a tiny crucible. Inside the crucible gas is heated in a closed system to drive a Stirling heat engine to generate electricity. This is a low maintenance system. Alternative fuels can heat the crucible during night time.

Prototypes produce 10 kilowatts, should work for 30 years, and cost at most $40,000 upfront to construct.

-- Old Concept and New Technology Reheat the Promise of Solar Power By LEE DYE, May 8, 2000, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/science/science/20000508/t000043373.html

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2000 milestone: Fuel cell produced electricity costs between $3000 and $4000 per kilowatt; Legacy natural gas or coal fueled power plant electricity costs $1000 per kilowatt on average

-- Fuel Cells May Tank in Cars by Theta Pavis and The Environment News Service, Wired Digital Inc., Sep. 27, 2000

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2000 milestone: Humanity's technology base is quietly reaching the level required to record and store ALL data collected from the ENTIRE installed base of acquirement means, worldwide

By acquirement means I refer to the currently installed base of video and audio feeds across the board, all typing input by human beings worldwide, all human broadcasts and transmissions, and phone or radio conversations. Everything that goes through or is exposed to any manmade device capable of capturing and/or storing and/or transmitting imagery or sound or digital data can theoretically be stored for posterity as well-- the means are present.

In practice however only a relatively few government and corporate entities are realizing anywhere near this potential with their equipment and policies.

The achievement also does NOT include the all new data acquisition devices coming online now and over coming decades, which will raise by many magnitudes the wholesale level of information being recorded by, for, and of humanity. Massive surveillance of both human and other events worldwide is here and expanding rapidly-- but much of the recordings are deleted within hours or days to make room for further realtime monitoring.

One significant implication of all this? Individual human beings are on the verge of being able to record forever virtually every minute detail of their daily lives, for good or ill.

-- How Much Information Is There In the World? ["http://www.lesk.com/mlesk/ksg97/ksg.html"] by Michael Lesk (found on the web on or about 3-11-99).

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Around 2000: The status quo among people living in the developed nations

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Signposts Prologue 1990-2000 Contents

Around 2000: The status quo of the world

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2000 milestone: The medical records of USA citizens are being routinely accessed and used without their permission to deny them insurance and employment...

...when such records contain information such institutions don't like.

Medical records are also being used to target consumers for telemarketing and junk mail of many sorts, and against witnesses in court cases. Records of psychological treatments are especially in demand from many quarters. Doctor-patient confidentiality largely does not exist in this state of affairs-- but the fault mostly lies in the lack of proper legislation and regulation regarding the use of databases by insurance companies and others, rather than with hospital staff themselves.

Current insurance claim forms include the requirement that the insuree agree to give up any and all rights of personal privacy wherever such rights might interfere with the insuror learning whatever they wish about the insuree and their entire family. The agreement also extends to include any other person or organization the insuror might wish to give the information to. The agreement is also forever in scope-- lasting into perpetuity. Patients have little choice but to agree to these onerous conditions under current US law, if they wish to have functional health insurance.

The Medical Information Bureau is a clearinghouse for medical information nationwide which helps insurors closely track everything a patient has ever submitted on an insurance application or (apparently) claim form anywhere. MIB's stated purpose is essentially to be a 'total recall' of everything known about a patient, so as to prevent some patients from trying to get lower insurance rates by omitting some of their past history in a new policy application. MIB records also contain life-style codes relating to the relative risk involved with how a particular individual lives their life. Some privacy advocates claim MIB codes also include judgements of sexual preference and appearance, though these cannot be verified.

Basically the MIB helps guarantee that if one insurance company refuses to cover someone, they all will.

Citizens of only 23 states enjoy the legal right to see their own medical records. But even in these they must often use subterfuge to do so.

The vast majority of citizens is unaware of these facts.

-- [beta] Chapter 6 To Know Your Future -- Database Nation; The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century By Simson Garfinkel 1st edition January 2000 (est.) 1-56592-653-6, Order Number: 6536 336 pages (est.), $24.95 (est.), http://www.oreilly.com/

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2000 milestone: The USAmerican healthcare industry has been approximately 50% computerized by now; 12% of USAmericans 65 or older report serious health problems; almost 50% experience pain daily

Though further computerization promises to help bring down costs, reduce mistakes, and improve treatment, it may also allow still worse abuses in regards to consumer privacy by the system, due to inadequate regulation by government.

-- [beta] Chapter 6 To Know Your Future -- Database Nation; The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century By Simson Garfinkel 1st edition January 2000 (est.) http://www.oreilly.com/

-- Computerized prescription system reduces errors caused by bad handwriting ["http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/rush-cps041100.html"], 11 APRIL 2000, EurekAlert! Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center Contact: Chris Martin, Christopher_D_Martin@rush.edu, 312-942-5579

39% of all USAmerican adults regard ill heath to be a big problem for those over 65. Only 32% of USAmericans already 65 or older consider it to be so. Just 12% of elderly polled say they personally have serious health problems.

Just under 90% of those 65 and older are somewhat satisfied with their lives. 44% regard the present as their best time yet.

-- Most Americans optimistic about old age By Charnicia E. Huggins, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, April 10 2000

Near 50% of USAmericans aged 65 and older experience pain daily. 69% believe the cause is arthritis.

-- Aging Americans living with pain, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, April 6 2000

The most profitable industry in USAmerica at this time may be the drug industry. Among the reasons why may be tactics such as that described below.

Drug companies charge twice as much for the same prescription drugs intended for humans as they do for animals-- for little discernable reason other than increased profits. Similar R&D costs exist in both markets. This was found to be the case for at least eight prescription drugs checked in one study.

One critic of the study noted that some reasons for the discrepancy might be the less control government agencies and large corporations have over animal drug pricing as compared to human drug pricing.

-- Human prices twice animal rates for same drugs, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, November 10 1999

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2000 milestone: E-mail is rapidly replacing "snail mail" for many; Transparent metals are becoming possible

Around 2000 internet email has essentially replaced the old style post office in USAmerica for close to 50% of citizens.

Over 50% of USAmerican adults were online by late 1999.

-- Most Americans Are Online by Margret Johnston, IDG News Service December 22, 1999, PC World Online

Transparent metal? Microscopic bubblepack? Improved sensors, filters, and micro-circuitry? These are just a few of the items seen as potentially stemming from new materials created in labs.

-- Porous "Nanobubblepack" Materials Discovered ["http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/psu-pnm020599.html"] 11 FEBRUARY 1999 AT 16:00:00 ET US Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy science@psu.edu 814-863-4682 Penn State

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"We are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil"
-- Sun scientist Bill Joy, WIRED April 2000

-- Mankind Pursues Forbidden Fruit, Via Computer [""] by JAY BOOKMAN; COMPUTER NEWS DAILY - NYT SYNDICATE/Cox News Service, found on or about 4-11-2000

Chief scientist Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems, among others, warns that technologies such as genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotech should all be carefully limited and scrutinized in near term developments-- as they could pose a threat to human survival.

Of course, Eric Drexler warned of the dangers of nanotech many years before, while Isaac Asimov in his science fiction predicted all robots/artificial intelligences would eventually require an embedded code of behavior to protect human beings from injury or worse. Vernor Vinge too had come out well before Joy, visualizing a potential technological Singularity ahead of us wherein artificial intelligences so reshaped the world that there might not be any place left for humanity.

Unfortunately, Joy added nothing new to these trepidations, or how we might successfully cope with them. Instead, he only added his weight to the age-old arguments of emperors and dictators that the masses must be controlled for their own good.

In a Salon interview Joy appears to be agreeing with Vinge's rough estimate of extraordinary developments becoming possible by 2020-2030, based on current tech trends. For example, virtually everyone might boast a personal supercomputer on their desk, by which they could devise and realize a multitude of nightmarish visions, if they are so inclined. Biochemical weapons, new diseases, and worse.

Joy sees little threat from commercial concerns in this vein, but much from the mentally deranged (What about corporate accidents or excesses, Bill? Remember Bhopal India? How about Microsoft and its ruthlessly anti-competitive behavior?).

Basically Joy seems to point the way to ubiquitous, automated, indepth surveillance of everyone, from cradle to grave, as one of the few practical ways to perhaps minimize the risk of crazies getting hold of world-ending technologies and using them. Plus reducing the transparency of and access to information, even in democracies. Thirdly, it seems according to Joy that an ever-widening blanket of tight restrictions on various technologies would have to be put into place-- something like a high tech version of gun control, only for super technologies.

Apparently Joy is not much of a student of history or economics. For his prescription is too simplistic and short-sighted. Successful implementation of his suggestions would quickly lead to technological and economic stagnation, and increased poverty and suffering, even as it made democracies ever more vulnerable to coups by their own militaries or rich elite. His solutions would also bring back totalitarianism in a big way, as everyone would be painfully vulnerable to their local secret police. Little things like the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights would have to be among the first items to be trashed, under Joy's recommendations.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the old saying goes, and under Joy's system you'd quickly get something much like the old USSR or Saddam Hussein's Iraq, only worldwide. The masses essentially enslaved and ruled by a tiny, enormously wealthy elite. Under Joy's system there'd be virtually no checks on government power-- so governments could pretty much act as they did prior to the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, and other political milestones of history. As of 2000 many multi-national corporations are becoming akin to governments in their own rights, and would represent yet another faction of the elite. With tightly restricted access to much useful information, and all their actions and communications tightly monitored and constantly analyzed by powerful artificial intelligences for signs of sedition, no popular uprising would ever be possible-- only infighting among the elite themselves could lead to future changes in the system (neglecting for the moment natural disasters). This would surely mark the beginning of a new Dark Ages for humanity, which might not end until we finally went extinct.

It should be kept in mind that every government in the world wants the ubiquitous surveillance and control of their populations Joy is suggesting-- including USAmerica. The CIA and NSA are apparently already using some portions of such a system covertly within the USA, as well as upon other nations. In places like China, North Korea, and Iran there's already (circa 2000) lots of restrictions on technology and personal freedoms among the citizenry-- as well as much censorship and denial of access to information. If our only choices are between a technological Singularity wherein artificial intelligences enslave, torture, and kill us, or a Bill Joy recommended future where a wealthy elite presides over artificial intelligences which enslave, torture, and kill us, why not take the Singularity? At least then it'll be a clearer conflict of human versus machine, and more satisfying as a possible entry into that good night...

-- Salon Technology | Killjoy ["http://www.salon.com/tech/view/2000/04/10/joy/index.html"] By Damien Cave, April 10, 2000

While ubiquitous surveillance of populations may be inevitable in some fashion, it should be two-way in nature, as described by David Brin (along with a few other safeguards). For instance, wholesale surveillance should be entirely automated (no human watchers involved in the layer where significant warning signs trigger the next higher state of observation), anonymous (the identities of those being observed being vigorously protected in ways similar to that of records described following) and all related records typically permanently sealed against disclosure to any party, except under very specific and highly controlled circumstances.

The 'two-way' nature of the surveillance would be very lop-sided, with any and all those comprising the watchers and their superiors suffering virtually no anonymity at all, compared to the watched. At least when the watchers were on-duty and have access to the monitoring equipment and other powers of law enforcement or government. Any civilian anywhere would always have the option of observing any and all local surveillance personnel while such were at their posts, as well as their bosses, at any time. And all recordings of the on-duty surveillance personnel themselves made by others would have no restrictions in duplication or distribution whatsoever-- the near reverse of the status of recordings made of citizens by the watchers.

A further concession to insure balance of powers would have to be that no longer could any government, scientific, business, or military information be classified as secret and made inaccessible to the public, for any reason, for longer than a couple weeks, at most. Period.

So what of the potential downsides of these rules? Perhaps criminals would use their basic citizen surveillance powers much like circa 2000 criminals do police band scanners, to evade police pursuits or schedule criminal actions for times and places when the police are conveniently elsewhere? Or arrange ambushes of police or high officials? Or maybe the openness of our system could be turned against us in times of war, by our enemies. What of all these concerns?

First of all, we must recognize the same thing the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution did-- the gravest threats to personal freedom and liberty will always come from within, rather than without. Thus, our internal checks and balances are always more important than the defenses we mount against external threats. Keep out of the hands of our own government the power to conquer us, and we are that much stronger against all other possible foes as well.

Secondly, no system is perfect. Everything involves trade offs. In essence, many decisions in life must involve the selection of the lesser of two evils. Sort of like USAmerican presidental campaigns of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Thus, no matter what course we choose, we will certainly have to suffer certain vulnerabilities, injuries, and other insults to go along with it. So we must usually make a judgement as to which option might offer us the most personal freedom and opportunity, at the least cost in personal security, privacy, and wealth. And our perspective must encompass the futures of our children too, at the very least-- the next generation.

So would it be best to allow our respective nations to become de facto police states, with little or no checks on government and corporate power to monitor, probe, and manipulate us and our children? Or should we force such agencies to make do with a level of surveillance power at least one notch below that we common citizens possess? I vote for the latter.

Thirdly, these policies and technologies would not be implemented or maintained in a vacuum. Many other measures and considerable other infrastructure would be present alongside them. Keep in mind criminals looking to subvert the system will themselves likely be under intense and continual surveillance from law enforcement as they lay their plans and attempt to act them out. So it is highly unlikely that they could do anything to surprise the other, by very much. The same might also be said of external threats. Sure, they could plant a spy on our own soil to watch the local law enforcement agencies in an area they wish to victimize. But if that spy tries to communicate their observations to their friends outside the country, bingo! our law enforcement net knows it. If the entire gang tries to get around that by all being in-country, bingo! they are all under the same surveillance system as the rest of us.

To be continued...

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2000 milestone: Free/low cost open source software (the Linux OS in particular) is posing a serious threat to proprietary software models worldwide; Less than 5% of the world's adults are online

Industry experts are exhibiting unusual problems pinpointing in which niches proprietary software vendors are most vulnerable-- because the new software paradigm appears formidable almost across-the-board. Developing nations and the educational institutions within the developed world both like open source because it reduces their costs while also allowing greater freedom of customization and experimentation. Many business concerns world-wide share this attitude.

Then there's the security concerns of many businesses and nations. No one wants proprietary software which may contain hidden 'backdoors' allowing others to spy upon them. Open source software is usually transparent in terms of code-- backdoors can be more easily found and rooted out, if necessary.

The more it appears that Microsoft is becoming a willing ally in US government surveillance of users, the more open source may become the preferred software of other nations, for security reasons.

-- The Spy Who Hacked Me / Will Open Source Be The Hero Of International Security? by Neil McAllister; SF Gate; March 15, 2001; http://www.sfgate.com/technology/expound/

And what of economic domination and growth potential? Using monopolistic proprietary software vastly reduces the entrepreneurial/small business profit potential in software development for a given nation-- as the monopolist comfortably commands the best and biggest proft centers in the realm. The monopolist can also continue this practice indefinitely by simply buying out or killing by other means any new startup which happens to discover a new and possibly lucrative niche in the market. Open source however helps to even the playing field-- in software anyway. It would seem to also limit the influence of even the most important open source players themselves, over the long term-- perhaps helping maintain a higher level of competition and lower costs for everyone than is possible with proprietary models.

Thus, any nation desiring to boost their own fledgling software industry might adopt open software standards as a first step, perhaps even outright banning the use of proprietary software for many purposes, such as in government and educational institutions.

There may be 20 million Linux users world-wide in early 2000.

Linux Conference Foresees Global Software Battle By Susan Taylor; Reuters/Yahoo! Tech Headlines, April 11, 2000

Under 5% of the world's adults (192 million) is online. Over 50% are non-Americans.

-- Global growth threatens U.S. reign over the Internet ["http://www.seattletimes.com/news/nation-world/html98/kinn09_20000409.html"], by Jim Nesbitt, Newhouse News Service, The Seattle Times Company, April 9, 2000

By the dawn of 2001, Linux and Microsoft products were roughly equal in web server market share (about 30% each).

Roughly 70% of Microsoft's revenues currently come from desktop-related software sales/licensing.

-- Why Linux Is Giving Microsoft a Migraine By Sam Jaffe,Edited by Douglas Harbrecht, FEBRUARY 22, 2001, BusinessWeek Online, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Jim Allchin of Microsoft has said that Open Source policies threaten the American way of life and is a destroyer of intellectual property.

He may be right on the first count-- but would that be so bad? Many believe that although the American way of life has many advantages over how many other nations live, it's still far from perfect, and could use improvements in many ways.

Maybe reducing the power and influence of mega-corporations over our everyday lives would be a pretty good improvement, even if it did mean top execs at companies like Microsoft had to suffer slightly smaller egos and paychecks as a result.

As for Open Source being a destroyer of intellectual property, Allchin appears to be dead wrong-- at least in one respect. Instead, Microsoft and other companies operating essentially on the proprietary model are the true destroyers of intellectual property. Open Source may actually be our best hope for preserving intellectual property and its benefits for humanity into perpetuity. How so?

At present software companies like Microsoft routinely abandon old products and push all new ones. This 'abandonware' is thereafter consigned to a curious status where the owner will no longer sell it or support it, even if millions of potential customers still use and love it. And nobody else is legally allowed to sell new copies or directly improve the product either. Thus, developers frequently 'trash' or 'kill' their own products, thereby creating artificial disruptions to push their customers into various behavioral responses calculated to increase profits. Doesn't this sound like a remarkably artificial and arbitrary constraint on trade? Especially since there may often be many groups or individuals willing to continue improving and supporting a particular product indefinitely-- and plenty of customers willing to buy such services-- if only it were legal to do so?

If world governments ever decide to force corporations to turn their 'abandonware' over to the Open Source arena, a remarkable array of benefits might then accrue to society and the economy as a result. And just one of them might be a much longer useful life for a given piece of intellectual property that slips into the Open Source domain, compared to those which do not.

-- Life, liberty and the pursuit of free software By Andrew Leonard, Feb. 15, 2001, Salon.com

Other possible advantages to the Open Source concept may come to light over coming decades: for instance, if laws forced companies to release their abandoned and/or obsolete products to the open source field where they could be updated and improved on a continuous basis in one form or another, proprietary model developers would be forced essentially to compete with their own abandoned products on a perpetual basis. This would likely lower their profit margins while reducing consumer costs, and raising overall product quality. Another benefit would be the world's poor enjoying more access to such products than before. It'd be more difficult for companies under such constraints to grow into monsters, or obtain monopoly status in an industry. All this could also make the future less stressful on people in general, as human knowledge and expertise would remain viable income-wise for lengthier periods, more often undergoing incremental changes rather than wholesale ones. Society would suffer less disruption as transitions from old technologies to newer ones could be made smoother than before. Technology investments might offer longer-lived returns for business, government, and consumers than previously possible too.

Such policies sadly are not in place during the earliest years of the 21st century, thereby making this century overall surely the most stressful in recent history for average citizens, and perhaps unnecessarily increasing risks across-the-board for everyone.

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"It is like a disease. It's a good one. It's going to help the evolution of humans''
-- Gene Kan, software developer, April 2000, regarding Gnutella

Gnutella is a sort of peer-to-peer network file-sharing program. It essentially allows anyone to 'publish' the contents of their personal hard drive to the internet, to share with others-- and opt in and out of the net at random. The controversy comes from such content possibly including copyrighted music and other media not designed for such distribution. As Gnutella requires no centralized server, it can be difficult to interfere with its distribution power.

If nothing else, such phenomena as Gnutella may force corporations to offer significantly lower cost and more conveniently accessed versions of their wares online-- this way they might over time replace the free and illegally copied wares already available. But the costs to consumers will have to be minimal, and the convenience level high. Other qualities of such replacement wares may have to be improved as well. Thus, corporate interests attempt easy legislative solutions first-- to ban the offenders.

-- Latest Internet freeware creates pirating bonanza ["http://www.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/merc/docs/061470.htm"], AP, April 10, 2000

Napster became a music-sharing software phenomenon on the web (based on MP3 files) that upset much of the music industry-- since all the music there was flowing for free. The popularity of the practice among college students-- who also enjoyed more bandwidth than many other net users because of their hosting institutions-- helped the Napster phenomena to take off. Legal threats from the music industry (as well as huge drains in bandwidth) were causing some colleges to try banning Napster access on their campuses in 2000. Bright students figured out workarounds to the bans, and matters escalated.

One limitation built-into Napster itself was a recognition of only MP3 files. But then along came the Wrapster concept, which allowed any file to be disguised as an MP3 file, and so work with Napster anyway. This allows virtually any other media beyond music to also be distributed via Napster. Videos, software, electronic texts, anything. This was the point at which the open source Gnutella made its debut, going Napster two better by, one, doing away with the centralized metadata record-keeping of Napster which at some point might make the network vulnerable to corporate or government interference, and two, making the universal file format acceptance a built-in rather than add-on. Gnutella's open source code has since spawned many variants of the software in development.

These events opened the taps on the free flow of intellectual property over the net. But the flow can still-- theoretically-- be stopped. Freenet is a new project designed to make such freedom of distribution deliberately difficult to track down and investigate for authorities or others, in a sort of net version for free speech (according to its creator). Freenet will be coded to sense tracking efforts regarding particular files and respond by spreading those files still wider across the world.

Increasingly the only limits on free distribution of anything on the net involve bandwidth scarcity and the related level of convenience on the part of the user. Bandwidth improvements are coming fairly rapidly, and software improvements could further enhance user convenience as well. Therefore companies wishing to head off free distribution of their wares any time soon likely need to address issues of cost and convenience regarding their products, where consumers are concerned. As of early 2000 it appears the music industry has missed the boat, and others have not yet noticed the iceberg headed their way.

-- Undernet serves as hearth and home for high-tech anarchists ["http://www.digitalmass.com/columns/internet/0405.html"] By Keith Dawson, Special to boston.com, found on or about 4-6-2000

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2000 milestone: One estimate this year classifies humanity as a Karadashev Type 0.7 civilization in terms of interstellar transmission power

Star faring civilizations may be classified according to the scale of energies they command, in a ranking termed as Karadashev levels or types I, II, and III. A type I civilization is able to utilize the power output of an entire planet. A type II, an entire star, type III, an entire galaxy.

-- page 291, The Millennial Project by Marshall Savage; Little, Brown, and Company, 1992, 1994

In terms of radio transmission power alone, based on the power of humanity's own Arecibo dish in Puerto Rico, humanity presently rates somewhere below a Type I civilization-- by one estimate humanity is a Type 0.7 civilization as of mid-2000 AD.

This conclusion is based on the wattage of signal humanity can generate, compared to that of a Type I civilization.

-- Scientific American: WHERE THEY COULD HIDE: July 2000 ["http://www.sciam.com/2000/0700issue/0700crawfordbox1.html"] by Andrew J. LePage

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2000 milestone: The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act finally becomes active, to address almost two decades of law enforcement excesses against innocent American citizens spawned by the 'drug war's' Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984

It took a seven year battle for Republican Congressman Henry Hyde and other advocates to get this law on the books and in effect. Many wonder however if the 2000 reforms will be strong enough to stem the tide of law enforcement corruption and attacks on civil liberties unleashed by the 1984 law.

-- frontline: drug wars: special reports: Reining in Forfeiture: Common Sense Reform in the War on Drugs ["http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/forfeiture.html"] by Kyla Dunn; pbs online and wgbh/frontline; found on or about 11-27-01

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2000 milestone: AT&T scientists launch the Publius system in an effort claimed to support free, uncensored, anonymous speech on the internet; Wind-generated electricity costs 3-6 cents per kilowatt-hour

The first generation of the system is designed to allow users with a web browser to post files up to 100k in size online with minimal fears of investigation and persecution by government or corporate agencies, or deletion of the file without their permission. The document itself is broken up, heavily encrypted, and distributed over many different servers in various locations. The URL of the document acts as a key to certain 'gateway' servers, which then allow the document to be re-assembled from the various data servers. In theory many gateway or data servers could be shut down and the information would still be accessible.

The small file size limit is meant to discourage use of the system for trading copyrighted works of corporations in the entertainment industry, such as videos and music. The system doesn't include a search function either-- another element hoped to minimize its use as an instrument of piracy.

Unfortunately, it appears that censorship remains alive and well in Publius-- as those in charge are essentially making it impossible for anyone to post files which they (the controllers) consider uninteresting. This selective posting filter is said to be there to prevent the system's use for pornography, piracy, and terrorism-- but there appears to be no safeguards to prevent the censors from banning political material they dislike, too.

Of course, if there developed a multitude of similar systems on the internet, each with its own standards regarding the value of posted material, perhaps censorship overall might be defeated in such a way.

-- AT&T vows no censorship on new network By John Borland, CNET News.com August 7, 2000, URL: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-200-2458275.html

According to the US Department of Energy merely exploiting the wind energy potential in Texas, Kansas, and North Dakota alone could supply 100% of the electricity required to run the entire USA.

The cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated via wind stands at between three and six cents, circa 2000.

-- There's Something in the Wind by Lester R. Brown, 08.21.00, Earth Day Network, http://www.gristmagazine.com/grist/imho/imho082100.stm

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2000 milestone: "If there's going to be a Big Brother in the United States, it's going to be us. It's going to be the FBI"
-- Paul George of the FBI, April 2000

-- Computers, Freedom and Privacy ["http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,35519,00.html"] by Declan McCullagh, WIRED, Apr. 8, 2000

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2000 milestone: First the net became 'a big shared hard drive' for everyone; now the net is becoming the OS (operating system), too

Why? Increasingly many computers users use their PCs solely or primarily as an internet terminal, to send and receive email, surf the web, chat, and/or create and maintain web sites.

But internet-related applications in general are expanding. Thus, a powerful infrastructure is being constructed online which will soon allow and encourage the creation and spread of NCs (Network Computers) and related set top boxes capable of favorably competing with net-enabled PCs in functionality.

The burgeoning feature-rich online environment is in process of relieving users of many previous client platform maintenance, upgrade, and installation chores, as well as doing much to reduce the resource requirements for end clients as well, with more and more of the processing and storage chores being performed remotely, rather than at the client station. The lowest of low end client terminals consist of little more than a display, keyboard, and modem or other net connection.

Given this circumstance, modern PCs are gradually becoming much over-engineered and expensive options for many users, compared to NCs (or to older or low end new PCs being converted essentially to NCs via software or hardware, or used primarily in that way).

However, at this early date there remain certain reliability, security, applications libraries, and bandwidth issues in regards to the net, for all but some corporate and educational users. These issues help insure (for the time being anyway) that many end users prefer to retain some standalone computing functionality on their end, rather than being totally dependent on the net. This preference offers various opportunities to established platform players like Microsoft and Sun to try to extend their own proprietary systems into the new medium.

Sources include "Tough road ahead for GeoCities", CNET NEWS.COM March 24, 1998, "Software Breathes Life Into Old PCs" (essentially turning them into low to high end NCs) by Mo Krochmal, TechWeb, 4-13-98, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for April 5, 1998: "Nielsen's Law of Internet Bandwidth", and others

-- "Network Computing: It's All About The Software" By David Cearley , CMP net/Techweb, 5-4-98

-- "Software For Rent" by Scott Liebs, InformationWeek, CMP Media Inc., 6-4-98

Many now consider the sub $1000 PC today's Network Computer...

-- "New NCs Get More Bang For Less Bucks" by Todd Wasserman, Computer Retail Week, 7-5-98, http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB19980705S0001, CMP Media Inc.

-- "The PCs' new pitch: Come surf with us" Forbes Digital Tool, (found on the web on or about 6-22-98)

-- Tomorrow's computers may not be what you think By STEVE ALEXANDER, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, April 20, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

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2000 milestone: Do many internet users believe the web contains all human knowledge and that history began in 1995?

Some teachers and corporate and government agencies are becoming concerned that such might be the case, as increasingly students and researchers worldwide eschew all information sources but the internet-- which itself offers little material related to periods prior to 1995 (as of 2000).

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This web site is certainly an exception to the rule. For it offers credible information concerning the past extending far beyond 1995-- all the way to the big bang itself. Refer to Perspectives on 1,801 AD-1,900 AD to begin your travel into the historical past. END NOTE.

The reason for the overwhelming dearth of information on the net concerning events prior to 1995? Most institutions and businesses did not create their own web site until sometime around 1995. Thus, many newspaper and magazine articles on the net were posted no earlier than that. Too, almost all organizations have been very slow to bring their archives of earlier material online. For instance, the USAmerican Library of Congress was not expected to have more than roughly 4% of its archives online before the beginning of 2001.

A couple big hurdles circa 2000 to ever bringing many archives online include high costs and negligible opportunities for profit via any obvious avenue. Uncertainty regarding reliable file formats for long term storage and access present another obstacle to such efforts.

-- Web users have case of short-term memory ["http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-2261350.html?tag=st.ne.1430735..ni"] By Rachel Konrad, CNET News.com July 17, 2000, URL: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-2261350.html

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2000 milestone: Functional quantum computers exist in research labs; Hybrid gas/electric automobiles are beginning to become available for certain market niches; however, legacy gas autos still hold the edge in lower construction costs

Fully electric vehicles appear to to be suitable for niches like mail delivery vehicles. Hybrids appear suitable for a wider variety of purposes, including many consumer uses.

The small 2000 pound two seat Honda Insight hybrid can get up to 60-70 miles per gallon of gas, and has a range of perhaps 700 miles per tank of fuel. Its performance is similar to legacy gasoline driven autos. Legacy internal combustion engine autos are only some 25% or so efficient in converting the Btu value of their fuel into forward motion.

-- Hybrid Vigor by Gregg Easterbrook, The Atlantic Monthly; November 2000; 00.11; Volume 286, No. 5; page 16-18

A five atom quantum computer has been successfully used to determine a mathematical value related to the field of cryptography.

-- IBM Says It Develops Most Advanced Quantum Computer By Nicole Volpe, Reuters/Yahoo! Tech Headlines, August 15, 2000

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2000 milestone: Net-enabled distributed processing is beginning to make use of vast amounts of previously wasted computing power on Earth

This will not only increase the efficiency and possibly productivity of global computing power, but also allow humanity to tackle here-to-fore 'impossible' computing goals, both for fun and profit. Just one contemporary example of the technology can be explored at SETI@home ["http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/"], which uses distributed processing to search for signals from alien civilizations.

One estimate places the wasted processing power of most computers today at 90% or more of the total available. Thus, in theory, if all the computers on Earth were suddenly put to use via some distributed processing application in the background as their users performed other tasks in the foreground, effective human computing power might increase by nearly a full magnitude, or ten times.

-- PC World News: PCs Hit the 'Outer Limits' ["http://www.pcworld.com/pcwtoday/article/0,1510,17580,00.html"] by Kathleen Melymuka, Computerworld Online, PC World Communications, found on or about 7-11-2000

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"We may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election."
-- US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, late 2000

Justice Stevens was appointed in 1975 by Republican President Gerald Ford.

-- Poll Says Americans Want Changes in Elections, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, December 18, 2000, and page 107, The Judicial Branch, The Universal Almanac 1996, Andrews and McMeel

The results of the 2000 USAmerican presidential election, which essentially fell deep into the margin of error for such a process, offers up a small taste of what awaits humanity in the 21st century, so far as uncertainty (and possible corruption in high places) is concerned.

The 2000 US Presidential election appears to have been basically decided by three things: (one), an electorate divided almost exactly down the middle major party-wise, (two) election fraud in Florida (the state's governor at the time was George W. Bush's brother and fellow Republican), and (three) an apparent Republican majority on the US Supreme Court.

An effectively muzzled mainstream media (due to increasing political influence), long building apathy among US voters, plus Republican control of all other branches of US government, and the expiration of Nixon era special prosecutor laws all combined to prevent any unraveling of the scheme any time soon.

-- Study: Gore Would Have Won Error-Free Florida Vote; Reuters/Yahoo!; December 3, 2000

-- '91,000 people were wrongly barred from voting in 2000 Florida' ["http://www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=15404"]

-- The Unreported Story of How They Fixed the Vote in Florida ["http://benedictus.blogspot.com/2003_08_03_benedictus_archive.html"]

-- Florida's flawed voter-cleansing program - Salon.com's politics story of the year ["http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=55&row=1"]

-- Inquiry into new claims of poll abuses in Florida (by Julian Borger and Gregory Palast) ["http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=30&row=1"]

-- Is this the future of democracy in America? Grand Theft America ["http://www.ericblumrich.com/gta.html"]

"Seven of the current nine were picked by Republican presidents"

-- Yahoo! News - Politics in the Supreme Court ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=558&ncid=703&e=10&u=/ap/20030908/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_politics"]; The Associated Press; 9-8-03

Of course, at the time most Americans (including this author) didn't think it mattered much which of Bush or Gore won, as neither seemed very appealing prior to the election (both parties needed better candidates). Plus, the Cold War was over, nuclear arsenals being downsized, peace and cooperation treaties being signed left and right, and the relevance of who happened to be President seemed to matter little in regards to the continued peace and prosperity of the nation. Unfortunately, Americans would soon learn differently.

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"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator"

-- US President-elect George W. Bush, December 2000

-- Bush's Hill tour comes to a close By Mark Sherman/ Cox News Service;12-19-2000

-- BusinessWeek Online: WASHINGTON WATCH A Gentleman's "C" for W By Richard S. Dunham; Edited by Beth Belton; JULY 30, 2001

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2000-2001 milestone: An increasingly wired middle-class in the developed nations discovers con artists, vandals, thieves, and saboteurs are also going online

There is a surge in cyber attacks on individuals and small businesses on the net during this time. Personal and business information on hard drives and similar media are frequently erased, stolen, or damaged, due to a combination of poor security in legacy PC operating systems and applications, user ignorance regarding proper configurations, and a rising tide of cracking/hacking performed not just for fun or pranks, but for reasons of revenge and profit (virtual 'hit-men' are now being hired to seek out certain people's data and steal, damage, or covertly modify it).

A large proportion of the 'virtual hit-men' mentioned above is composed of high school and college kids-- with a few even in elementary school at the time. The reasons are many; kids are easily persuaded or bought off with small sums; their sense of ethics is not yet fully developed; they don't often see these acts as serious deeds, but more as pranks; they typically require minimal resources to do the work; they rarely require a verification or check of identity of those who employ them, which helps protect the employers; and kids seldom get severely punished when caught-- the younger they are, the more likely they will get off scot-free. However, such leniency for children will steadily decrease throughout much of the 21st century.

"IP to dominate in 1999 and beyond" By Stephen Lawson and Laura Kujubu, InfoWorld Electric, 12-23-98

4-12-99 Newz&Viewz: The dangers of high bandwidth access and legacy operating systems like Windows and Mac on the net

What's high bandwidth access? Something like a cable modem, DSL, or satellite dish perhaps. All of which are becoming more readily accessible to users.

And legacy operating systems? That's Windows and Mac stuff, pretty much-- you know, what 99% of us are likely using to access the net, at least part of the time.

What's dangerous about the combination? The cores of the legacy operating systems we use today weren't designed to cope with the demands and security problems inherent in modern internet access. So they're chock full of holes in terms of security and reliability-- which you'll notice every time you crash or fall off the net while using a PC or Mac. Still worse, the user interfaces and various applications of these operating systems are still very immature in terms of user configuration and default settings, making it difficult and complex for most users to take the precautions they should in regards to net security matters, and the default settings tend to leave the users wide open to abuse or attack over the net from remote strangers.

All this becomes still riskier when a user finally attains a high bandwidth net connection, which often may be kept 'live' 24-7 (working without blocking voice telephone calls, and less subject to other disconnection vagaries like older analog modem links were prone to). This and related elements make high bandwidth users better and easier targets for crackers/hackers to exploit and attack.

What can you do to protect yourself? Not a great deal, on the cheap. Substantial protection costs either significant extra expense of money or time or both. Transforming yourself into a geek to gain the expertise to defend yourself is the most comprehensive long term option perhaps, but not very appealing. Staying abreast of the latest news can help you reduce your vulnerability to new threats like the recent Melissa email virus, but won't offer true geek levels of protection.

No, for most of us who can't afford to hire experts to secure our net connections for us, the only real solution may be to watch for the first 'killer set top' appliance or dedicated Linux net station that hits the market, and switch platforms off the Mac or PC for virtually all net use. Because those new platforms will in many cases share few or none of the vulnerabilities of the legacy operating systems-- and may be far more reliable too as a bonus.

-- above inspired by "FutureTech: Welcome to the jungle" By Cameron Crotty, MacWEEK, April 9, 1999, and others

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(For more about this period check out Perspectives 1990 AD-2050 AD)

Beyond 2000 in the timeline...

All text above explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.
Anything you see below this point was put there by a content thief who stole this page and posted it on their own server.