December 30, 2019•848 words
In two days' time, the cyberpunk future will arrive. It just won't get evently distributed, to paraphrase William Gibson. Here are ten not-so-serious resolutions I may (or may not) want to make as I'm about to enter the most cyberpunk of years.
1. Finally abolish all paper
Paper is kipple (look this one up in the works of another master of the genre, Phillip K. Dick). Fighting kipple is a losing battle. The least I can do is fight one of the sources of kipple in my life - which is paper. Going 100% digital from next year onwards is a worthy aim. I even had a plan how to do this, written down in a notebook somewhere, let me have a look...
2. Become an idea machine
You don't always need good ideas. But generating lots of them each day turns you into an idea machine - at least according to James and Claudia Altucher. This blog is a mutated version of what they recommend - come up with ten ideas each morning, even if they're impractical, even if most of them won't ever work. The positive side effect of this is that you get to work on your creativity and resourcefulness a little at a time.
3. Build my own smart home...
I'm not super keen on AI assistants whose owners treat my life, location, information, and digital history like another bunch of commodities. So if I'm ever going to think of getting my own digital companion, I'll probably opt for the open-source solutions. Mycroft AI is one such projects, whose development has been slow but promising. The next idea sounds a lot more likely, though.
4. ...or go 100% Galactica on all this nonsense
No Alexas. No smartphone tracking. No browsing outside of Tor / VPN. No accounts with the Googles and Facebooks of the world. As little non-free software as possible. Battlestar Galactica was a disturbing lesson, and two years after I've watched it, the global news (thx to Edward Snowden) caught up with the sci-fi dystopia. The urge to go all dumb-phone-and-terminal is strong, and it gets stronger with each story I read about the dumbness of the smart devices.
5. Learn to code better...
I used to be moderately good at getting websites done. I used to understand what Python is trying to do. Now I forgot most of it (I think) and I allowed the tide of programming languages to wash over me and overtake me. So any coding classes I pick up from now on might be learning to slowly walk before I can run. Maybe the next resolution is better?
6. ...or learn to work with those who code
There is still a disconnect between the "tech people" and "everyone else" in so many companies or organisations I know. There is a familiar moment in too many meetings: the programmers try to explain, and everyone else's eyes glaze over. So it follows that there is plenty to gain - personally and on company level - by learning to collaborate, communicate, and effectively commision those who can code their way through any problem.
7. Get a set of implants in your fingers, a bit like the ones you could see in "Ghost in the Shell" where the implant owner could type on a keyboard real fast by splitting her fingers into more fingers, except mine would come with software in my brain which would allow me to play the piano like nobody played the piano in the history of piano-playing
I told you this list wasn't fully serious.
8. Build my own lifelong learning digital ecosystem
The phone in my pocket has enough processing power to land several Apollo moon landers all at once, and I'm using it to take pictures of my face with a funny filter on. I could be using all the tech I've got now to become a smarter, kinder, more curious person, and to help make this world smarter, kinder, and more curious, until I die. Cyberpunk folks promised us instant knowledge transfers, and we just know this won't happen - but we may have enough to get started on the next best thing.
9. Guide myself to racing better triathlons
A few decades ago, the first Ironman triathletes couldn't dream of the kind of tech I casually set up earlier today for my ride - an indoor trainer, a portable HR tracker, a speed sensor, instant feedback on my wristwatch...I'm happy with all these gadgets and I'll definitely make good use of them this year to help me train for my racing!
10. Use tech as force for good, hopeful things
Alasdair Gray's quote comes to mind here: "work as if you live in the early days of a better nation." The future is here, folks. And it looks like the cyberpunk predictions of doom and gloom didn't all come true. So we might as well work with what we have in the hope that it will turn out to be awesome. I know I want to give it a try.
Happy 2020, everyone.