The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 35 – Nerd, Geek, and Dweeb Civilians, Back to Work: Welcome to the Tech Corps!
June 27, 2019
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What are some contexts in which America has big tech pushes?
Rick Rosner: World War II is the most famous tech push with the moon landing being the second most famous. Maybe, the third most famous is the science push after Russia put Sputnik up. The moon landing is a weird push, especially in the selfish context of today’s politics.
It is like we went to the moon to honor President Kennedy who got tragically assassinated. He said, ‘We need to get to the moon before the end of the decade.’ Then he was assassinated.
Everyone went, ‘We need to go to the moon to honor him.’ They did this with the super primitive computers of the time because it would be somewhat easy to get to the moon today with a manned mission given that we have 50 more years of technology now.
Getting to the moon in 1969, it was like crossing the Atlantic in a bath tub. It was an amazing deal. You could see it as, maybe, the culmination of the tech push that began with Sputnik and our fear of falling behind Russia. Now, we are a bunch of fucking retards.
We do not fear falling behind China or fear it sufficiently. Our politics has very little room for a big push, but we need a big push. Even if we do push, China may still kick our asses. Maybe, we are too dumb to see the threat.
Although, a lot of people see the threat. Maybe, it seems like less of a threat because it is less having nuclear armaments pointing at each other. We don’t think of China as wanting to obliterate us with nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons in the way we think of Russia or the Soviet Union wanting to do that.
But we do think of Russia wanting to take over the world technologically and economically, but we do think of it as a threat. We should have the same kind of Cold War or WWII push. I was talking to an old guy at the gym, in his 70s.
He was saying, “We need a draft again.” I said, “We are too spoiled and selfish. I don’t know how you would get a draft passed now.” If we don’t have a military draft, we should have a semi-draft for young people into something like a Tech. Corps.
During the Depression in the U.S., there was the works project administration. It was the Civilian Conservation Corps. These were among the several, maybe many, work programs to get Americans back to work.
The government printed a bunch of money, it came up with a bunch of infrastructure and arts projects for Americans to engage in, in the 1930s. We put up dams. We built roads. We built my high school, Boulder High School, which is a fancy high school.
The WPA, Works Project Administration, they paid for those cement sculptures in this really nice high school that has stood the test of time. It is a decent high school decades later. We need the same kind of push and “make work” deal.
It could be three-pronged. It could be military. It could be infrastructure. Because our infrastructure is falling to shit. It could be technology. People could join a tech corps the way people join a peace corps.
You could be sent to places and live in dormitory places, be educated further in aspects of tech, and become part of tech incubation projects. Non-technology people or semi-tech people could look into the corps and look into ways to apply technology to other areas, to the arts, to history, to sociology, to democracy itself.
We could engage in a giant technological push. We could fund it the same way we have funded the other tech pushes and try to stay abreast of the wave of technological change that we’re not-so successfully riding.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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