Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Working fewer hours in a better world

I’m not a parent, but something we always hear in regards to parenting is that parents want their kids to do better than they did.  So if Generation 1 is able to pay for a house, car, whatever else by working 40 hours a week, wouldn’t they want Generation 2 to be able to do all of that by working only 35 hours a week?  They would have five additional hours a week to spend with their families.  Wouldn’t that count as being better?

But then, wouldn’t Generation 2 want Generation 3 to do all of that by working only 30 hours a week?  Eventually, shouldn’t there be a Generation that can have a house, and car, and whatever without having to work?  Before you start screaming “socialist fantasy,” or whatever, I’m using “work” to mean doing something you really don’t want to do for money, from flipping burgers to sitting in a cubical all day entering billing information.  If your heart is really set on building handcrafted furniture or writing sonnets, I’m not calling that work.  But those things don’t always pay that well.

How many people now hate their work?  Why should that still be a thing in a better world?  If the “Better World” we see for future generations looks a lot like the world we have now, it just means we lack imagination.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why “Deport them all!” is a stupid and dangerous idea

To many the question of what do we do with all the people in the country illegally is a simple, “Deport them all!” It’s an answer that fits on a bumper sticker, but how would you do it?

For years I’d just shake my head whenever someone said “Deport them all!” It was usually some politician or talking head, so I couldn’t ask them how they would go about it.  Because basically they were asking President Obama to set up a national task force of local, state, and federal agencies whose sole purpose was to go around the country rounding up people.  They wanted President Obama to set that in motion. 

But given that come January Obama will no longer be President, I figured I should update my response.  What I realized is that to “Deport them all!” would really require a nationwide, house by house search.  Now before all you friends of deportation start screaming that “We know where they are,” realize that you can’t put such a process into motion overnight.  There would be months of warning, and plenty of time for the illegals to go to ground or be hidden away by some bleeding heart.

So the military – which would be needed for the manpower – would probably start at the tip of Florida and start moving northward, sealing off county by county and letting the local and state police go house by house.  They’d call everyone who lived there out, and while they searched to make sure nobody was hiding you’d have to show three or four forms of identification to prove that you are you.  And just to be sure, the police would probably also take your photograph and fingerprints. 

And after however many months it would take to cover the entire country, there would be no more people in the US illegally.  And the government would have a detailed data file on where everyone lives. 

I figure the politicians who cry “Deport them all!” fall into one of three categories.  The first are the ones who don’t think of it beyond the bumper sticker stage figuring few voters will as well.  They have no plan – or intention – of actually trying to go through with it.  The second group are the ones who naively think the problem can be solved with minimum resources, as if moving some ten million people is an everyday occurrence.  (Ten million people is over fifty times the number of men who landed on D-Day.)  The third group are the ones who want a listing of everyone in the US for … reasons.

The issue of people in the US illegally is important.  Is it too much to ask we work on the issue intelligently?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

“The Future is Coming” is free this week!

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I came up with ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact and published them as “The Future isComing” on Kindle.  The point of the essays is that since I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel that I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. My hope is these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, it’s coming. 

Of course, the only way people will know about these essays is if they get a copy.  To increase the chance of that, I’m running a free promotion now through Friday, April 8.  So you can get some glimpses of the future, just for the price of a click.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay “Cloning Humans.”

Someday – almost certainly sooner than anyone suspects – a human will be cloned. There will be protests, boycotts, marches, condemnations, congressional hearings, etc., all for this one minor event. I say minor event, and here is why.

The short term issues

The biggest problem human clones will face comes from people watching too many bad science fiction movies. In those movies, 99.9% of what they show of cloning is utter crap. In reality, clones will not be mindless automatons who will blindly follow the orders of some megalomaniac out for galactic domination. Nor will you run the risk of walking into an alley where someone will jump you, and ten minutes later a clone will walk out of the alley to steal your identity. And clones will not “remember” the lives of their donors and do … whatever. A clone will just be another human. That’s it. If they can escape the mental scaring caused by “parents” or guardians bent on making them into exact duplicates of the people who donated some DNA, they will be no more screwed up than the rest of us.

Cloning will – especially at first – be extremely expensive. That combined with the fact that we already have over seven billion humans made the old fashion way begs the question, what need is there to create clones? Seriously, what will be the point? Yes, grieving families will want to replace loved ones, and companies will take their money to give them a clone who will have the same DNA as the person they lost. But the clone – because they will have lived a different life – will not be the same person. And yes, some historical figures will be cloned as well as the best and brightest of various fields, but when the Einstein clone takes up poetry instead of physics, what will be the point of continuing?

There will be clones, but they will make up a miniscule fraction of the population. But a ton of legal and ethical questions will surround them. Will the donor of the DNA have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent? What recompense will people have if they are cloned against their wishes? Will the donor be able to abort the clone, and if so, how far into the cloning process will they be able to do that? If the donor is Canadian but the cloning is done in the United States, will the clone be Canadian, American, or have dual citizenship? Will a clone be able to become President? It’s probably a safe bet that few – if any – of these questions will be answered by the time human clones walk among us.