Favorited Achieving Our Country by Richard Rorty by Tom MacWright

I read this book myself in the summer of 2002, as part of making sense of the US response to the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001. I stood at Ground Zero three weeks after the attacks, and heard the stories and rumors in the city that were identical to those a year earlier after a fireworks explosion in my hometown. I was at Grand Central Terminal in NYC when the news of the US attack on Afghanistan in response on October 7th broke, and saw the wave of reaction going through the crowd. I understood the emotions, I did not understand, do not understand, the watershed moment the US made it for itself to be. The twisting of the global wave of empathy into the extortionist statement ‘if you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists’. I understood and felt the pain, not the lashing out. That’s when I started reading Rorty as a counterbalance of sorts. It also centered me on a pragmatist approach to philosophy and ethics in general, during the years of philosophy of technology courses I took around then, and cementing my perspective on working adjacent to tech as a political activity. A constructive yet critical approach, it has become a prime ingredient of my personal definition of optimism. I still have the book, perhaps I will reread it.

…a friend lent me Achieving Our Country. He’s been raving about it for years, that it was the most pivotal read of his political evolution.

Tom MacWright

a generated image (by MidJourney) from the prompt ‘a man is lying in the grass reading a book with Pont du Gard in the background’, which is more or less how I read the book in 2002.

Enjoyed this one by Karl Schroeder a lot. A fun extrapolation of “not your keys-not your crypto“, set in a society in ecocollapse with AI automating most work, institutions both public and private holding on to their assets while they disappear and crumble, surveillance everywhere and everyone bumping into the demands and constraints of the planet’s carrying capacity. Will explore his other books.

Schroeder is a futurist and writes for clients as foresight consultancy.
Reading it made me ask a number of questions, around the development of AR/MR glasses, specific aspects of crypto and smart contracts (also because of its role in the book I read right before this by Suarez), reducing the cost and increasing the scale of sensors in the environment, and gaming and virtualisation. I’ve jotted those down during reading and started exploring.

The follow-up to Delta-V that I read in 2021, a tech thriller by Daniel Suarez that is somewhat predictable, more because of its genre than the story itself. Just having explored the much richer world (and wildly different world) of Cage of Souls this techno-optimist tale felt a bit flat. Some fun exploration of the geopolitics of escaping Earth’s gravity well and using that to contain and reverse climate change. Some interesting thought experiments about DAO’s and blockchain set-ups that you can’t buy yourself into or convert your existing stuff into, to make it stand fully apart from the existing economies, as well as splitting governance and capital fully.

Most of what I’ve read by Adrian Tchaikovsky I’ve liked, and this book is no exception. The setting is very different, on earth in a future where the sun is dying, than his other books that play out in space on alien planets.
The prison at the end of the universe…. human evolution and science is at a dead end, the sun is changing and forcing rapid evolution everywhere else outside of the last remaining city. This book made an impression on me, twisting multiple times and adding yet another layer to the world building and the story. A gripping story in a highly oppressive setting.

This is a cool story by Charlie Jane Anders. I came across this author because Annalee Newitz, whose books I’ve enjoyed makes a podcast with her.

The book is set in human colonies on a tidal locked world. And a tidal locked society with slowly diminishing resources as a result. Out in the dark are native monsters, but there’s also intelligence out there.