Originally posted on the IEET weblog

“The antiscience tendency in anarchism, which does exist, is completely self-defeating on this score [questions of technology and revolution]. I mean, it is going to take, it is going to require sophisticated technology and scientific discoveries to create the possibility for human society to survive -- I mean, unless we decide, well, it just shouldn't survive, we should get down to, you know, 100,000 hunter-gatherers or something. Okay, except for that, if you're serious about, you know, the billions of people in the world who -- and their children and grandchildren, it's going to require scientific and technological advances.” – Noam Chomsky

In the next 30 years there can be a world wide revolution. The U.N. estimates that there will be over 8 billion people on earth by 2040. Currently there are 6.8 billion people on earth. But don’t let these numbers scare you, especially if you’re a lefty radical who dreams (literally) of a world wide workers/peoples movement. Within the next 20-30 years we will see the rise of smartphones and other “Personal digital assistants”, which we can only dream of. If the worldwide capitalist system looks something like it does today with the G8 and G20 nations controlling trade while trying to maintain a failing capitalist system (where the only ones who win are the rich), poor people will not be getting the eyeglass computers, or the computers in contact lenses, nor the computers which will be part of your clothes. However, during this time we should see that the spread of faster more affordable mini computers, smartphones, and PDA’s.

If people from developing countries can get their hands on older PDAs and smartphones (imagine a computer from just 15 years ago, you wouldn’t want it, even though you could get onto the web, use word-processing, play simple games, etc) In my experience computers come and go, and so do cell phones. As smartphone usage goes, hopefully low income people will have the ability to acquire one. A fast one, one that can translate any text or speech, hooked up to an open-source “shadowy” network, a network much like the internet.

“Now imagine that each of these shadowy smart phones actively stays in wireless contact with whatever of its fellow shadow smart phones happen to be within range (a few hundred feet), and each one acts as both an access point and a communal router to pass along text and data for its user and for the community as a whole. Since none of the shadow phone owners can be identified, no enforcement can be imposed on them. And because the network has no specific boundary (it might cover a city or a continent) it is impossible to prevent information from getting into the network from outside, or out of it from within.” - Stephen Euin Cobb

People could educate each other about the G8, G20, IMF, World Bank, and WTO, and understand how each plays a role in their life, how each one keeps them in poverty. This is revolution, a world-wide revolution, one made of 0s and 1s, put together to produce the ultimate information packed networks. All that needs to happen is that the people care enough to act, care enough to take real action. By real action I mean revolution in the sense of taking over workplaces, educating each other about patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, capitalism, etc.

Lets say 10 years from now, 80 percent of low income people in the world have a smartphone, but these wont be any ordinary smartphones, well actually they may be, but a bit tweeked up with software Kurzweil and crew have been working on. Imagine taking a picture of words, words in books, words outside in the real world, on billboards etc, and having the phone read it back to you after you take a picture of it, but imagine that these books and billboards are in another language which you cannot read, the smartphone will interpret it and read it to you in your native language.

Now imagine having a network like that of Facebook where everyone, including the poor can really communicate, utilizing software that can break down the language barrier. And imagine if a peer-to-peer network that could not be shut down by governments were implemented in these smartphones, computers and PDAs so the people of an uprising can communicate with each other from all around the world. Self organizing local, national, global communities hooked up to a network would allow for cooperation and even democracy, for they could be used to vote in world wide elections.

Newer software which allows people who are illiterate to simply click a button and point at an object containing letters in any language and have that read back to them in their native language would be amazing. We need hackers, anarchists, socialists, etc. to be part of this, to put together a network that will act like peer to peer, but can be utilized like Wikipedia, and perhaps setup similar to Facebook and the like.

Poor people in certain areas of the world who can’t read will be able to use these phones because they will have voice activation on them. I know my phone from 7 years ago has voice activation, so I believe that if the world’s poor people unite utilizing technology to communicate no matter what language one is speaking to the other, would be incredible. The rate at which people would learn could increase dramatically, and the possibility of a technoprogressive future would accelerate at astonishing speed. Its all about information and organization which looks promising in the next 30 years by way of technological innovations.


Noam Chomsky, http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20100312.htm