Ask A Genius 519 – The American Experiment Waning or Waxing
July 13, 2019
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Is the American experiment waning?
Rick Rosner: By “American experiment,” you mean the democratic experiment for the last 23 years.
Rosner: It is not entirely the right question to ask because the human experiment or human life, in general, about to just go haywire. The texture of daily life is going to be completely revised over the next 50 years. I assume it will continue to shift, and shift, and shift.
What results after all of these shifts will not be human-based anymore, it will be based on augmented humanity and AI. I call the Trump Administration the little end of the world before the big end of the world because a lot of the disruptions that will completely revise our lives are in their early forms largely responsible for Trump getting elected.
Job losses to automation. People not being resistant to information or bullshit they receive over the internet. Active psychological warfare by Russia and other bad actors using social media. This was the first AI election (2016). So, it is messier than asking whether Trump and his apparent impunity, the difficulty with which he and other anti-democratic/semi-fascist corruptocrats, can be expelled from politics.
I think they can. I am hopeful, slightly more than slightly hopeful; that the democrats can back control of government in 2020, in the election of 2020. But this won’t stop the corruption or the erosion of government because we won’t be able to get rid of the corruptocrats entirely. There will still be close to half of the Senate. Even if the democrats do really well, they will still be more than 40% of the House.
The larger technologically based disruption will be ongoing. So, democracy, as we knew it, as late as the turn of the century, is gone. But what might happen after the election of 2020, it might be the restoration of some democratic norms and standard, and filtered through a world becoming increasingly weird.
My guess is that politics will find it hard, in general, to keep up with technological change. Among the things that we can hope for is that national governments lose power and with the power going to mostly benign new forms of human and post-human aggregation. We’ve got a new census in 2020, which means that congressional maps will be redrawn in all the states in America except the few states with such small populations; that they only get one representative in Congress.
Gerrymandering is one of the main causes of political polarization because people running in safe districts – districts safe for one party – produce winning candidates who are extremist, whether to the left or mostly to the right, because the person who wins the primary is guaranteed to win the district. The new census and the redrawing of maps might reduce gerrymandering, which might reduce political polarization.
Although, the polarization is fed by politics as entertainment as presented by the profit for news. Any reduction in political polarization will be helpful in restoring politics, where you don’t have to watch and worry about every single day. It won’t be completely eradicated. To wrap up, we will have to look for alliances among large groups of people that aren’t based on state or national boundaries.
To see models of that, you can see Cory Doctorow who has written a lot about what some of the new alliances might be in his fiction, The Rapture of the Nerds. The books are a couple decades old. He has a new series, Radicalized, which is fun to read. But it is not that helpful in that it doesn’t portray new large-scale alliances. His previous book really went into a near future with rejiggered alliances.
Although, it’s not an overly happy book. In that, there’s so much disruption. Some characters win victories for themselves or their side, but there’s so much devastation. The optimism in the book only barely wins out over the pessimism They are worth reading to get a sense of what people might be thinking in terms of new alliances.
I am sure there are other authors poking in that direction.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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