Panel with Vuk Cosic, Bruce Sterling, Rob van Kranenbrug , Khannea Suntzu, & Aubrey de Grey from Share Conference Belgrade 2012
MODERATOR: Hi. Hello Everybody, nice to be here. My name is Vuk and I’m an archaeologist. which is more than enough qualifications for me to try to moderate these four crazy guys. I tried to talk to the organizers but couldn’t get anything out of them, so I’m supposing the following things: the first thing is that they’ve put these four guys together on a panel because they’re all using the word future on their business cards and it’s a good enough reason. I’m totally there. I can see that they’re very different people who are doing very different things so we’re gonna try and see what unites them what makes them interesting as a bunch. As a little bit of a frame we made a little discussion before. We decided to talk of ways we think these guys think and create their own scenarios in their heads and then try to follow those scenarios or discuss those scenarios or make them a business model if I’m not too blunt righ now. [looks at panel attendee] You happen to be making a business, right? I don’t have any set of questions for you very seriously thinking… but I believe it’s okay if we just follow some order like this way [points with hand to show in which order the attendees will talk] it would be so kind to you race a little bit on how do you create your scenario… your claim about the future then you’re describing to everybody else?
KHANNEA SUNTZU: It’s persistence. It’s being intensely stubborn. Its loving future scenarios and stories and narratives that take me away from the extremely boring part of life. Let me correct you – I haven’t made a business out of it yet I would love to but I am allergic to business and organize myself in that manner. I just do my own thing and it seems to work… of late. I’ve done this since the 1980s in some format with bunch of friends. It was this nice, well, hobby-like collaboration and it started to pan out in the early 90s for the first time that actually made, well, what you call predictions. Probably no one would remember them. It was very much resource depletion oriented… and I after years I wondered “why did I get something right and the ideas, the expression?” and at some point actually finding people that correct you and first you start out by trying to find people that correct you and then you respect them for it and then you find out you seek out people that you respect and they turn out to be the right people to actually correct you and constantly fine tune your analysis of the world.
MODERATOR: All right. You guys about Dutch, right? You both chose the sofa… I will think about that (haha) but tell me [answer the question].
ROB VON KRANENBURG:I think I was very lucky because I was talking to people in my head long before we had the internet. And now I can mail them, so that’s that’s basically it. I got more accuracy because of the net. It’s still a big mystery. It’s poetry to me so that I started to… I went to study literature because I wanted to study the most inefficient sort of thing that I could find… I thought literature would do. Now I’m stakeholder coordinator of Yoda and talking to Siemens and software and all this internet of things that I’ll get to the…sort of how I got there. But I think it’s just one big threat that I’ve been sort of stepping in being maybe a bit manic and sort of boundaryless and a lot of things. Self-discipline is very strong sort of a factor for getting things done and making things work. But I think this is basically why we are here so that we seem to tap into…yeah, this flow and I don’t know how you’re gonna call it. But I think the flow is distilling us to actually do something with it. To break it down into more concrete intelligible sort of units and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. In 2005 or 2006, when we saw that open hardware would be a possibility, we founded Brico labs (bricolabs.net) which is founded by five people. I think that is a kind of environment that keeps us all very sane so we can our own sort of crazy sales there. But it’s not enough to talk to among yourselves, so three years later in 2009 I set up a counsel basically with the idea that the internet of things was going to be the winning term, not immune to the intelligence or face computing. And it was important to sort of grap everybody would Google “Internet of things” in 2012 they would find the “Internet of things counsel.”And that sort of seemed to work so now I’m getting mails at [email protected] from companies and from institutions and from actually quite large organizations who want to revamp their entire structure because they’ve seen the light of this sort of connectedness and for that we’re going to set up a consultancy which is going to launch in Mayand called “the Internet people.eu” And that’s going to be a regular consultancy. And six months later we’re going to launch the “Internet of creatures.eu” in order to get all the people away from the singularity scam. And then I think within 10 years we push it all back to bricolabs. So if we keep on track in 10 years we will be able to do the entire hack.
MODERATOR: All right, somebody just noticed that the future is old white guys. We have to respond to that somehow.
AUBREY De GREY: I’m not really a fan of scenarios. Of course, the reason I work to try and defeat aging is because of the future, rather likely, scenario that if no one actually gets on with it I will get sick when I get old. Which is a shame. Probably die as well. But really that’s present scenario as well – people are getting sick and die of ageing right now. I find actually that speculation is more of a problem in my field because of all, well, science fiction writers who keep coming up with random arbitrary distopic features of their storyline that make the defeat of aging like a terribly bad idea. This caused me a lot of trouble because I keep having to tell people why, you know, Logan’s run isn’t actually the way we’re going to deal with the problem of population or whatever. To some of you who I talked to this morning will remember I actually feel that the uncertainty that we have and lack of any justification for any particular scenario for the distant future in terms of how we handle this or that situation, is actually all we need to be focusing on in order to justify hastening as much as we can the defeat of aging. But at the moment, what tends to happen is that people will come up with some potential problem and they’ll immediately forget that we’ve got a problem today of a 100000 people dying from this horrible thing… I’m, sort of, of an anti-scenario type.
BRUCE STERLING: Well I am a science fiction writer, and quite a big fan of scenarios too. And what I learned about futurism I learned from professional futurists… and I was hanging out with them because they’re good material for a science fiction writer. They also got a lot of things to offer us, I got to meet a lot of guys who were strategic analysts, or a tactical forecaster, historians and government planners and also guys who do scenarios. And I’ve been involved in doing a lot of scenarios and they’re really quite interesting times of structured encounters between people which, I think can have really usefull kinds of psychological effects. But my feeling was that once you learn the basics of how to spot trends and what other forecasters thought were cool and what the official future was and how to think about it fruitfully. You had to find aspects of it that you really wanted to know about. Because if some aspect of the future bores you, you’re really not gonna have joy to really get good at it. So, I ended up, lately… there’s not just one future anymore there’s just one history. There’s a lot of things going on, and there are certain kinds of trends that I’m very interested in just because I’m so engaged with them that I can study them over a long time. And if you went on to my blog where I sort of accumulate notes, or fiction, or articles I’m writing, you would see that I am very into the Internet, and that’s why I know what is ubiquitous computing, for which I’ve been like 20 years interested in, speculative designs speculative architecture, weird forms of media did, extinct media effects, motion graphics, augmented reality… they’re not all the same thing that they are things that like captured my interest. And they’re not the most important things in the world. They are very important things to the people in this room which is why I’m in this room, but they’re not all of history, okay… and they’re not the broad screen future. That’s a different matter. And the things that are interesting and not necessarily the important, and that’s the discipline of real futurism.
MODERATOR: Alright, 13:00 so I guess you guys are different people. We are all approaching 50 from different sides. Except for knowing everything about the future, we happened to cover a certain sizable portion and fast as well. remember when I was studying this archeology thing we were quite happy with paradoxes and one of the key phrases we used a lot was the unpredictability of the past, how you cannot exactly say why things happen even though they did happen, sequenced and this inability to describe causes then prevents you from claiming anything clever about effects. But now, us as historic people with historic memory and with also historic memory of predictions we were making twenty and more years ago, we have noticed something funky. Remember we’re in 2012 right now, we were supposed to go to work with space shuttles like the Jetsons. We are in that future that we read all about in our kids magazines, forty and more years ago. Obviously there’s a little bit of discrepancy. Yesterday there was a panel, I failed to see it, I’m sorry, about law and about what are the real problems of today’s Internet war that is going on between authoritarians and less authoritarians or slow authoritarians, whatever you want to call them.The theme I’d driving towards is a question that Bruce raised outside, when somebody asked you: If even thought the 4 futurist revolutions that are being proposed are different, if we agree we all have some revolutions in our minds, what are your predicted enemies? The enemy of evolution, that counterrevolutionary force that you guys will be fighting. You expect to fight along the way of your own activist struggles. Is it a fair enough question, would you like to react to that? Who’s killing you? Who is preventing you to grow?
KHANNEA: I have my own private life which is particularly eventfull, at-large I felt like Bruce Sterling whose novels I’ve read are fiction I read in the 1980s and was mesmerized by. I don’t make a career out of it yet. I’m open for proposals but it’s not my… something I seek out effectively. I just blog, and write articles and I try to call what I see as much as possible. But if you look at the world as such as this right now and you look at the dangers of the world, which concern me right now, it’s consistent throughout all of history. As soon as people have a position in life where they have privilege, they will try to keep it as much as possible like it is. So society where there are elites or groups overtaking money or power or energy resource or whatever kind wealth they’re sitting on like Louis, the son king France, who just didn’t want things changed. So all progress was in fact made by revolution. Most wars we see in history is actually a violent struggle between people who don’t want to accept it anymore. So what I’m most concerned about at this stage, while I’m not against rich people, some very good friends of mine are very rich, but on the other hand I am really concerned about decentralization. Take for instance Goldman-Sachs. I think right now, at this point, they are the enemy of humanity.
ROB: In 2000 I went to this conference in Sweden, about intelligent information interfaces. In the morning I went running around some lake. It was morning and misty and I sort of saw king arthur’s swords rizing across the lake. And then I went into this conference and somebody stood up. It was completely packed like now. And somebody was speaking: “In 10 years from now you will have a Bluetooth ring. You’ll point your ring at a tree as you walk in the woods. and a screen will pop up and tell you more about that three.” I was reaching for my gun because I thought I’m gonna shoot this guy right now. There were hundreds of Europe’s brightest security programs. There was intelligent information interface, FP6. I could not believe that these people, with no fantasy at all, would actually think that you would need a screen. uI’m not gonna hug a tree but…I don’t need RFID to mediate between me and the tree, please. So I thought these were dangerous people, I better stay very close because we have this sort of open space in the woods where becoming is still possible. And I think some people also sometimes feel as we cannot breathe anymore. I talk to people, young people…they don’t want to make anything anymore and don’t want to put something into this world, because why would you put something into this world if it’s just gonna be wasted thing anyway.This made me feel very sad. The notion of becoming itself, sort of our notion of life itself is becoming… so is it open space filled up with clutter at the moment… it’s like we cannot breathe. So the only enemy that I have at this moment is me. Because I know if I stay on course we will be… we can be… we all can be…we will be the wave of open-source hardware, software. We will also win this of thing – it’s inveitable. The fact is do we want to? That’s all. To actually forestall closure, can we sort of not want to see the feedback immediately…? That’s the thing, I think.
MODERATOR: Fair enough. I can see, I guess.
AUBREY: Who are the enemy of my mission to defeat aging? I think we can almost say that it’s easier to ask the question “Who are not the enemies?” because the fact is, the main enemy is the enormous preponderance, in society worldwide, of a tendency to make one have peace with aging. This was of course a very rational justifiable attitude to take until quite recently. The terribly ghastly thing would happen to me and you, it’s gonna happen in the relatively distant future to us, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. Then you’re gonna find something to put that fact out of your mind and get on with your miserably short lives rather than being preoccupied by it.
ROB:I have a problem with this – in the sense of dying.But I think it’s a good thing, like we have to on at some point and things have to end. When I was younger I was always wondering about the guys sitting in the villages on the benches for days… and look at the cars. And I thought “wow, I would really, really …”
KHANNEA: (takes microphone from ROB)It’s a free world, be my guest. (Laughter from audience)(Gives back microfone to Rob, with a look which means give Audrey the mic back)
ROB: So, I would like to sort of sit there, and honestly sometimes I’m getting that even now, when I think I could just sit there and sort of fade. To think that I have to play tennis and football to stay young is…
AUBREY: (takes back microphone) First of all I would remind you that the whole point of the therapy that we’re going to have to defeat aging will be to ensure you don’t have to do all this lifestyle stuff in order to stay young. But of course yes, most people… being inadequately educated haven’t got the faintest idea how to spend a currently normal lifetime. (Audience laughs) Educated people on the other hand have no chance of being the sort of person you were describing because they always have a backlog of the things they haven’t done – I have at least a thousand years of backlog already and I’m sure by the time I’m through it I’ll have another ten thousand. So there’s no real problem there. But going back to what I was saying – basically it makes no sense to make your peace with ageing. However irrational your rationalizations need to be, so long as they’re actually true, there’s nothing we can do about it. So it’s only now where we actually are within striking distance of genuinely bringing ageing under medical control, that this has become such an enormous part of the problem. That’s why I spent such an enormous amount of my time my time in outrage education – softening up the public basically, getting them to grow up and understand that these things are no longer so inevitable as they seemed. Therefore, we have very good reason to actually do what we can to hasten the development of these things. So I would say the enemy is the past – the fact that since the dawn of civilization we haven’t been able to do anything about aging, we’ve been terrified of it, we’ve been so terrified of it that the only defense was to pretend we weren’t terrified of it at all, and come up with ideas like we’ve got to move on [after death]. That’s the real enemy – the enemy is psychology.
BRUCE: For those who think we’re just old white guys sitting here on our bench, I’d like to recommend some futurists who aren’t old white guys. There’s Anab Jain who’s from the superflux group in London – JAIN superflux – she does what’s called “design futurescaping”. She’s not an old white guy. Really.I dare you to go check out superflux and the kind of stuff they’re into right now… it’s very trippy. And then there’s Sherry Terkel who is quite a well known woman of our age and you would like what she says any more than you are hearing from us but Sherry is well worth checking out out.
So to the question of enemies. Well, I don’t know, I think it’s kind of, like, soft not to go ahead and name names if somebody asks you who your enemies are. So, I think our worst civilizational problem is probably climate change, because it’s something I’ve seen that’s gone on during my entire lifetime, and it’s actually a 200-year-old problem, and it’s something futurists were talking about when I was just a teenager, and it was accepted among futurists that it was going to happen, and everybody somehow imagined that some leftist, green world government would arise, and, like, break everybody’s addiction to fossil fuels and pollution, and that didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen. And, so, climate change is no longer a speculative thing, it’s just something that happens every day. In fact, it’s been happening for many years, and it’s specifically happened here in Belgrade. And Belgrade suffers dreadfully from climate change. If you were in Belgrade this winter, it’s just like this fantastic blizzard that pretty much shut down the city, and then, you could go to the Danube, your formerly friendly, blue Danube. I was here in 2006 when it was washing splavovi around, right-left-and-center! People were fishing in the soccer fields! And then people sort of made nothing of it: “Oh, the Danube, unprecedented flood. It’ll dry up! We’re tough! Oh, and girls, try not to walk on the sandbags in your spike heels” That was the official Serbian reaction. And who caused that? Aubrey is right when he says it’s basically society and you have to go out and reach out and so forth. OK I’ve done plenty of climate change outreach, years of it. I’ve never written a book, a science fiction novel of any kind, that didn’t mention climate change. It’s here, it’s happening, it’s just the reality. Who did it? Oh I don’t know. Exxon Mobil? I mean, if somebody was gonna be hanged immediately after Goldman Sachs, the Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil would be pretty high on my hit list. Luke Oil and Gazprom, I’m not too happy about them either, by the way. Even though they’re providing the power inside this building. Oh, the Koch octopus of course, these demented Texan oil creatures with their gigantic political outreach committee. And, of course, the Rupert Murdoch media crime family who should all be in prison. But it’s a problem that’s 200 years old, and the mere fact that you could you liquidate a few of the especially egregious malefactors, much as they deserve it, is not really going to get us off the hook here. Climate change is here, it’s gonna be here for your entire lifetime. It’s bad as it is now, and worse, worse, worse. And you young people, this is your heritage. That’s your future, among many. And that’s one future that your region, the Balkans, will fully participate in with the entire rest of the world. You are nailed to that historical reality – there’s no dodging it, there’s no ducking it. It’s all yours.
MODERATOR: This is a place that has a habit of avoiding present and future, here and there, as I read your message
BRUCE: You’re just denying it! Feel free to lie to yourselves when there is no water. Go ahead! Lie.
MODERATOR: OK, guys, audience. You’re all enjoying this right now, and we can go on like this for ages, but it’s more meaningful for a long period of time, thank you, but let’s see. I’ve been reading some twitter stuff, and it’s like, what is going to happen to religion, stuff like that. So let’s get more serious and throw a microphone to the audience, and see what comes out. Who catches it. Let’s see who is the strongest among you all. So if somebody would…
BRUCE: How about that gentleman there, with the beard . He has an intelligent look about him.
MODERATOR: So, say who you are, and why you’re here…
AUDIENCE: I’m Nenad Romic, I have a long beard (haha). So, I asked that, yesterday, and I think that there are the two things which seems to me as very obvious failures. These two things the Internet made completely obvious, and these two things are like a nationstate, so that people still thinking in the framework of the nationstate. So, I’m really unsympathetic I tried to raise the solidarity with everyone who was oppressed, but after a couple of decades after the colonial, postcolonial, whatever- I have no sympathy for whoever is trying to raise the nation, especially nationstate in the 21st century. Being Syria, Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia, whatever, China, US. That’s one. So how much is the nationstate a framework for solving any problem? And another one is again on the Internet very obvious, and that’s the notion and idea, concept of property. Because that kind of works with a t-shirt, so “I can’t really give you this t-shirt” and things like that, but on the Internet, there is really no scarcity in that particular sense. There is a value of information, so if I know something which you don’t know, maybe there is a little bit more value. But is it really that you need a concept of property for that kind of the difference? So my question is like in a package: state and property.
MODERATOR: Does anyone feel like answering this?
ROB: Well, thank you. If you Google “new instruments for governments”, you’ll find a text that I wrote with by Alex Glucharch. But basically it says we can have global generic backbone TCP/IP in the real world, we all have -this is one catch- that we all have to have some sort of device that has some kind of, that we all agree on, and we all start up on that device. We all start up, we play 10% or 20% at max, and that pays for global generic infrastructure, like sewage – very important- roads, mobility infrastructure, and with that, we can sort of do away with the sole notion of nationstates, or any supranational institutions. I think this is common sense. I think there’s a convergence towards this. Nationstates were vehicles made by weary kings for war. They couldn’t really do any of their king-stuff anymore so they made nationstates. It’s an obsolete concept indeed, it was never was very much viable anyway, so we can do away with it. Property is the same sort of issue. The thing that we’re getting -these also things that are going on, in many more layers. So all things that we thought may be or may have been somehow radical in some sense, were of course radical for a reason. But they were radical because people thought that it was maybe not the best sort of ideas to have them. Actually, they are not so radical themselves. These are just plain autonomy-in-solidarity-like generic infrastructure local decision-making, autonomous decision-making on the ground. It’s crystal clear.
MODERATOR: Look, Rob, I’ll fix you a date with Marcel later on, you both read Mara testa and all that. Do you know that thing when somebody puts on the music and then leaves the room? And it’s that special sort of terror. Just all of us are victims of that same trick. Marcel asked the questions and left the room. That’s amazing! I know why, I’m joking, right? He has to fix the next thing on his schedule, he’s a busy guy and nice person. But still fuck! Like “what do you think of white elephants? Bye!” What? Ok, let’s see now how are we with the desire to communicate with these senior citizens here before we let you answer. Which you are not!
KHANNEA: No, I’m a kid.
MODERATOR: Tell me, kiddo, what’s your take on them nationstates?
KHANNEA: Yes, daddy. I think that if you look at it like that as effectively as possible, as remotely as possible -if aliens were looking on this planet- they would regard the city states or whatever kind of state structure you can imagine as something which evolved. Like, dinosaurs lived for hundreds of millions of years, more than a hundred million years on this planet, and they were a very successful life form. But they were successful because they created their own biosphere, their own context. The dung created more dinosaurs, the plants -it’sn evolutionary self-reinforcing cycle. Right now the nation state or especially if you think about the more successful, richer nationstates, they create their own dependant slaves, their own dependent citizens. The citizens need the states for subsidies and they feed from, they suckle from the tit of the citystate, but the corporations suckle from the other tit, and etc. So you can’t get rid of it! And so you might hack it, or you might deconstruct it, or at some point, a meteor falls and they’re all dead. Hopefully not humans, but…
MODERATOR: As long as states have tits, it’s good, right?
AUBREY: Well, I don’t think it’s really very controversial. In the same year that the Syrian dynasty rose to power 41 years ago John Lennon wrote a song that is still voted regularly as the world’s most popular song in the history of rock ‘n roll. Which stated, well more or less exactly that it would be quite a good idea to get rid of the nationstate, property and so on. It hasn’t happened yet, but one can live in hope.
BRUCE: Well if you look at it historically, nationstates haven’t always been powerful and there are many places in the world right now that are failed states, like Somalia. And there’s really no property business going on in Somalia, either. But Somalia’s got pretty high rates of computer penetration and everybody in Somalia’s got a cell phone. And they’re pirates. They’re yo-ho-ho pirates, they’ll go out and grab ships, ransom people, and shoot guys and they’re very much a part of our world. So if you ask for having a no-nation, you need some way to keep civil order, and I think it’s true that nationstates are dwindling, they’re really going away. The president of the United States nowadays is like the mayor of the United States compared to the power that the US had when it was the military hyperpower. And I kind of worry that cities are growing at the extent of nationstates. Places like London, Belgrade here, New York, great centers of talent seem to be sucking a lot of money especially the big financial centers of power. They seem to be sucking in youth, and power, and money from around the world. And it’s having a bad effect on the hinterland, so if you go there, there are areas of the United States where you can go now – Detroit, areas in the Midwest where the city cores are abandoned. Things are nailed up, and it’s because the population simply got up and left. They went in search of new opportunity, media, new technology, exciting new adventures, and they did not stay in these boring villages that were formerly served by national post offices, national telephony, and these earlier forms of national infrastructure, which have been ignored and allowed to collapse and go into decline, and all in all, as a futurist, I wonder if that’s the kind of world we’d want to be living in another 30 or 40 years. Do you really want to be in a Serbia that’s pretty much Belgrade and nothing else?
Yeah, absolutely! And the people from the villages agree with you, which is why they’re leaving. Well, I’ll bet if that happens, there’s gonna be trees growing in the rural villages of Serbia. They will collapse and they will go back to nature. And I don’t know what you’ll do with them. Eco-tourism. Go ahead!
MODERATOR: All right! OK, let’s see if there’s any questions more? Oh, Mitar, our friend from Slovenia. Do you have a microphone there? There use to be one downstairs. That bad person stole the microphone. Let’s give up our last working microphone to the guy. You! You shouldn’t take it away, I know where you live, OK? Then there will be no microphone on the stage.
AUDIENCE: So, one other guy with a beard. I have a question. You spoke about nationstates as one of programs, but it we didn’t speak of another famous topic in science fiction and other futuristic works, which is corporations and their influence in this. So we talked about nationstates, but I think some nations have bigger budgets than some other nations. I thing that corporations should also be in this mix, searching for future plans. So what is your take on their future? Will they resist? Will they disappear? How do you see the corporations take in our future?
KHANNEA: There’s a good movie about that, it’s literally “The Corporation”. It says that the corporations itself reinforce the moral system where the shareholders benefit and profit is maximized, and then those who run the corporation benefit, but for the rest of the world it is in a psychopathic entity. It has no moral reason to acknowledge the rest of the world at all. In fact, it is in a competitive state of war with the rest of the world -within the guidelines of law, common law. But not even that, if you look at what’s happening in the United States. Corporations are bypassing or buying the law to such a degree that it’s a free-flow. It’s a fire sale, I think, what’s happening in the US. Clearly, corporations do not have to acknowledge human beings even as labor anymore. Either they play citizens against each other for low wages, or they play countries against each other for the profitable text/context. So that is predation. The end result is that either you work for them, or if you live somewhere, probably very close to the villages that Bruce described, in a sort of pastoral condition. And I think that corporations are becoming somewhat of an enemy.
ROB: Finally 20 years, or 10 years after everybody, I am reading this book, and if you read this text from 2002, basically everything is there. The speed that we have now, and if you’re a strategic consultant you would say “we have acceleration in combinatorial innovation” which is what we’re having now, and sometimes when I sort of lay awake, i think we’re building a spaceship, the way that we are trying to sort of get everything on the smart grids, to get all the cars sort of talking to each other. If you look at all the particular things going on, everything is talking to everything. If that’s the dream, that’s the nightmare scenario, but the matrix will be here. Only thing is, we’ll be in 500 smart cities and again the favelas Mad Max in between, although we have a sort of inclusive smart city, all-inclusive smart world, some inclusiveness distributed somehow, that is attainable to all people in one particular moment in time. It can be temporary, maybe it’s not all the time, you walk into a hotspot, you walk into a cool spot, somehow, but sometimes I think we’re building a spaceship, and there’s at least one culture on this planet that thinks we are moving backwards in space. I’m beginning to sort of believe that we’re actually going to the -sort of re-creating the spaceship- that maybe once was sort of here. And the speed with which we’re doing is… Well this is more like a Bruce novel! But this is only sort of between 10 to 10, or 5 to 11 that I think this. It’s a possibility.
AUBREY: Corporations here. The only thing that I think is really going to have much chance of changing the present world in that regard is the advance of automation to a point where basically all commodity services are free. And all that’s left, that’s rare, that could cost money is entertainment. Recreation. Even that I’m not sure about, but it would be a sufficient change in the nature of how economies work that might have a profound influence on the whole concept of corporations. However, I can’t see much changing until then.
BRUCE: Well, I think worrying about corporations is a very 80s thing to do. It’s about 30 years out of date. And in fact, a lot has changed since the heyday of the corporation, when you had these Japanese corporations like Zaibatsu, or the Korean Chaebol corporation were dominating because of their manufacturing skills. Whereas, clearly the people who dominate now are not corporate guys at all. Their finance dogs are like the 1% of the planet’s wealthiest population, that’s completely dominant now. And pretty much any corporation you can name is just a front for a few individuals who are absolutely super wealthy. It sounds science-fictional to say that, for instance, guys who are moguls in the telecommunication business would build spaceships, but they do! The Amazon guy’s got a spaceship. Sir Richard Branson’s got a spaceship. These Google guys, four of them, four millionaires, just said that they’re gonna go out and mine the asteroids! There was like a press release last week! And I didn’t make that up! They didn’t tell me they were gonna go build spacecrafts and mine asteroids. They didn’t even bother to say that it was a corporate effort by Google, it’s simply a private venture by, you know, Larry and Sergei, and their other palls. And this is an area in which transition economies led the world. It’s not like it was in the 1980s, when corporations were blind governments. This is really a situation that’s a lot more alike the Russian era when seven bankers privatized everything and took over everything, and basically owned the Yeltsin government. There wasn’t anybody else. I don’t have to preach to people in the Balkans about moguls. You’ve got lots of moguls. You’ve got tons of super rich guys who dominate your economy. They’re not corporations! They’re privateers who have made just fantastic sums of wealth, privatizing your broken economy, and the past three years -that’s what happened to the entire planet’s economy. It’s the globalization of balkanization! You were there first! You were there first and if you knew anything about life in Beograd in the past 12 or 15 years, there’s very little surprise about what’s been going on since the finance crash. It’s the same business, just on a planetary scale. So, no, I don’t worry much about corporations. The ultra-wealthy, yeah. They worry about themselves. They’re really upset. You gotta hang out with people that work for them and just see what the rich tell one another. They’re very concerned about what’s happened. They don’t know, they can’t think of a way out of it. And that’s not the way corporate people behave. They were always promising peace, order, plenty, ‘mind-your-business-here’s-your-job’, “here’s your brown shoes” “we’ll look after you”. No corporation tells that to its employees. They don’t command any allegiance from people. Think about it. What is the last time you heard about a guy with a career at Google or at Apple. Even Steve Jobs didn’t have a career at Apple. They fired him and he had to take over the thing later edetate of the thing later. That’s the way they actually work now.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Bruce, I can see the future now. In the future that is, like, two minutes, we have to get off of the stage. So, we’re gonna just do that. Exactly.
So, I want to thank you, because it’s the work of you guys that is influencing the thoughts, and the later action, of all these bad people around. You cannot tell who’s reading or observing or admiring your work, and some of them are obviously. It’s great to be in the future state of Serbia, talking about this, and on that note, I want to thank you for participating, and you all for being so patient with the senior citizens. See you!