The Speculist: FastForward Radio


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FastForward Radio

Weathering Storms; The Power of Inclusiveness; The Future of Work

Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon observed Labor Day with a special between-the-political-conventions edition of FastForward Radio.

They talked about Hurricane Gustav and the future of humanity's relationship with the weather, the future of labor, the changing face of politics, and what a Speculist looks for in a presidential candidate.

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Click "Continue Reading" for the show notes:

The topics:

  • Happy Birthday Phil!

  • Stephen's off the grid in beautiful Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

    Murfreesboro is home to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Visitors are allowed to take away any diamond they find on the grounds. Small diamonds are found regularly. But every now and then a big one is found.

    The 4.25 carat Kahn Canary was found in the park in 1977. It was lent to Hillary Rodham Clinton to wear at all of her husband's inaugurals, both as Governor of Arkansas, and as President of the United States. Because of its unusual beauty, this diamond was mounted to this ring setting uncut:


  • The guys were concerned about New Orleans weathering Hurricane Gustav.

  • Caller "Pastor Pat" thought that American stubbornness is the reason that many of us live in inhospitable places.

  • Phil and Stephen agree that we have reached a landmark of inclusiveness in U.S. politics. In November we will elect either our first black President or our first woman Vice President. Stephen said that if we are willing to accept excellence regardless of where it comes from, we'll tend to get excellence much more often.

  • Phil played part of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The guys agreed that Dr. King was a Speculist. He had an optimistic view of the future fueled, in part, by the belief that change could be accomplished nonviolently by calling on the U.S. to more fully realize its belief of universal equality.

    Here's the whole speech:

  • What future civil rights battles are ahead? Artificial Intelligence, cyborgs, modified humans, or once that has been realized, the civil rights of MOSH culture. Phil had more to say about the destiny of MOSH culture here.

  • Phil and Stephen are starting a new FastForward Radio contest. This contest is open to only two individuals: John McCain and Barack Obama. The candidate that outlines the most Speculicious proposal gets a coffee mug. Obama is ahead at present - having promised to wean the country off of Middle Eastern oil in ten years. McCain has been an early advocate of a flex fuel nation, and he has a chance to pull into the lead with his acceptance speech this week. We'll announce a winner just prior to the election.

    The guys are in agreement that any mention of a space elevator will win this contest.

  • The guys started to say that in the future it will be illegal to barbeque with a gas grill (sure you can cook with it, but you won't be able to call it barbeque). Then they backtracked. They want this to be a "big tent" show.

  • Phil and Stephen also talked about the future of work. Computers and other labor saving devices haven't eliminated work - as it was once thought they would - but practically no job remains unchanged by technology. Michael Sargent stated that "if your job can be expressed as an algorithm, then it will be done by a computer."

    Phil asked Stephen when attorney's will lose their jobs to computer. Stephen thinks it will be awhile. Michael Sargent mentioned the controversy over expert legal systems in Austrialia. One research paper reached this conclusion:

    We have seen that the idea of `the computer as a robot lawyer' is a misconception of the aims of legal expert system research. The only feasible model is one based on the continuing interaction between an expert user-interpreter (a lawyer) and a semi-expert program, with control of the reasoning process alternating between the two partners to the interaction.

    Seen from this perspective, the task of developing legal expert systems is feasible, useful and still just as challenging.

    And, really, that's the way it has been for most jobs.

    Phil mentioned that some "labor-saving" devices have, instead, allowed people to be more self-sufficient. Fewer people have maids or get full service at the gas station. The typing pool is, largely, a thing of the past. Efficiency has been increased, but we work just as hard if not harder.

    The distinction between labor and fun is blurring.

    Stephen believes that the ultimate result of telecommuting would be a system where we work for one company in the morning for a single project and another company we've never heard of before doing something else in the afternoon. Perhaps we need an ebay-like middle man system to expedite that future.

Our front bumper is a sample of Marginal Prophets' "The Difficult Song."

Our exit music this week is from Black Lab. The song is "See the Sun."

Don't miss the FastForward music compilation:

The Best of Sunday Night Music, vol. 1

You can subscribe to FastForward Radio for free with any podcast receiver software. Just copy and paste the following URL into your software's subscribe window:

Click here to download iTunes, or here to find other podcast receivers.

We love audience participation. If you'd like to call in to the show, or get in on the FastForward Radio text chat, listen live! FastForward Radio goes live again next Sunday night:

10:00 Eastern/9:00 Central/8:00 Mountain/7:00 Pacific.

Get all the details at Blog Talk Radio. While there, check out the past shows in the archive.

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