Ask A Genius 546 – Wealth, Good or Bad?…: In Other News, a Book!
May 7, 2020
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen. So, is wealth in and of itself a bad thing?
Rick Rosner: Well, OK, here’s the deal. I’m working on a book. A novel starts about now and goes about 15 years into the future.
Jacobsen: When do you start working on this book?
Rosner: A year ago, maybe or a little less. I’ve been lazy about it the last couple of months, three, four. But I’ve almost got enough maybe to send out to see if I still have a literary agent. But I want this last chapter that I write before I send it to him to see if he thinks it is a thing to be about rich people in the future coincidentally.
Well, when we first started talking about six years ago, basically. Nobody very much was worried about AI or thought very much about how the world was going to change. Because of tech, people eagerly embraced new devices, especially smartphones but nobody really considered the implications of smartphones and what happens is they get smarter and better and more intimately connected to us.
But in that six years, shit has changed and people think about it quite a bit. Now with coronavirus, everybody has been forced to realize that the world is changing and will change. Probably throughout this one that subsides, people will be more receptive to picturing change, a changed world.
Various people will have various levels of receptivity to the changes themselves. But most people won’t have to be persuaded that the world will change and has changed. I’ve been watching this show. You know Hank Azaria?
Rosner: He got a show called Brockmire, which is about this degenerate alcoholic, drug abusing baseball announcer. Apparently Azaria has had this announcer radio voice that he developed, that he has done for fun for 20, 30 years, has developed a whole character around it.
And this last season of the show I just started watching, the season finale takes place in 2033 and 2034, roughly at the same time as where my book ends up. Brockmire, the last season, he ends up being the commissioner of baseball.
And in this world, so, he is fairly powerful and he is dealing with powerful interests. One of the interests, one of the players in this new world is a super sophisticated Alexa device. A personal digital assistant called Limon. Everybody wears a little Limon.
You have a Limon, a yellow plastic Limon, in your house, and you talk to it. You also wear a little brooch in the shape of a lemon on your lapel and it gives you advice, does stuff for you. I haven’t seen the whole episode yet.
But apparently, according to the episode guide, Limon, I guess, makes attempts to take over the world during this series finale. So this is a show about a degenerate baseball announcer and even it is moving into the future and looking at the implications of A.I.
So it is there. Once we’re done with coronavirus, people will have a lot of time and a lot of willingness to re-examine the world. Handshakes may go away. Everybody’s going to know how to do Zoom meetings.
Everybody’s going to know how to work from home to teleconference to telecommute. In the last chapter that I’m working on or getting ready to work on market forces personified by consumers and by the people making a fuck load of money off of the new devices.
And the downtrodden barely getting by, but still almost entirely are plugged in to the world as people who aren’t poor people. We are all going to be confronting this new world. So like the rich people, the dog that I’m writing about works as the public face of a company that is working on cutting edge brain information processing interfaces.
And the book so far, I’m calling it “Mach.” Because if you’re committed enough to go to the technology, you have your skull opened up or at least a hole is drilled into your skull. They’re not going to open it all the way up.
They’ll drill a hole, or they’ll stick, or they’ll jam a scroll, a metal mesh scroll and unroll it across the top of your brain. It is like two square inches. A one-by-two-inch grid of iron or maybe three, four or five wires per millimeter.
So a grid of, maybe, two hundred wires by one hundred wires forming twenty thousand nodes, which can provide a more easily addressable interface between your brain and these cubes that are the external information processors. So this is one thing the companies working on.
They’re working on a bunch of other stuff, genetic stuff, too. They start off being affiliated with UCLA and then they kind of get too big and they want their own destiny. But they poach, poach from universities. This becomes a very rich and powerful company doing all sorts of questionable shit, a lot of which they’re able to get away with.
Because they’re having a dog. A talking dog is the face of your company, makes the company seem less sinister than they might otherwise. One of the main sources of income is in certain areas, for certain departments of the company, are very rich people, who feel free to say which of this stuff sounds right and which of it doesn’t sound right or whatever.
So the people, the rich people that this company is dealing with come in various flavors. There are the people who have a bunch of money. It is not correlated with any particular cleverness, royal families inherited wealth on second generation, third generation, billionaires.
Just kind of people with regular abilities who just have a butt load of money. Then you have the same self-made rich people. Those come in a couple flavors. You have the tech people and then you have the people, the non-tech self-made rich people, who could be criminals, who could be corrupt politicians, who could be non-tech industrialists.
I do not know even people, somebody who came up with a really nice microwaveable cookie, celebrities. Each flavor of rich, and also you’ve got the stubborn, dumb rich who do not listen to their advisers. Then you’ve got the smart, the non-tech rich who are smart enough to listen to their advisers.
And there’s a whole range of things that the various flavors of rich people want. But mainly what this company is selling is if everything goes well, extra decades of life. Because one of the big end games is to replicate consciousness enough that you can go on living once your brain and your body are kaput.
So they’re working on a range of technologies. Some of which are would be considered acceptable. The things they’re working on have a range of sinisterness and acceptability. People with Parkinson’s can already get a pacemaker implanted in their brains in the real world right now.
And then they’ve been able to do this for, I do not know, probably 10 years, that sends out signals that keeps your brain ticking over where one of the problems with Parkinson’s is an inability to initiate action. You lose Will. Once you’re walking, you can keep walking.
But getting yourself to start walking is a problem with Parkinson’s. I guess this pacemaker somehow keeps goosing your brain. So you’re able to do more stuff than most people with Parkinson’s. People have cochlear implants, little computer information processors implanted in their ears, that process sound.
And in a way that a deaf person can learn to understand the signals as sound. there are various shitty attempts at providing some simulacrum of sight for blind people. So people already have shit implanted in their brains and nobody has a problem with them.
So a mesh implant in your brain for a failing brain that helps an aging Alzheimer brain continue to think competently. Few people would have a problem with that. There would be issues if it is only available for rich people. But that really, I do not know that we can talk about that.
But that’s not necessarily a huge problem with tech. I’m just thinking this out. Now tech makes its money not from charging a few super rich people a shitload of money. But from making their products cheap enough to sell them to everybody.
So there will be those kind of standard business model products this company is trying to come out with. At the same time, there will be cutting edge, experimental and morally questionable products and treatments that they’ll want to keep secret.
They want to keep sequestered from the rest of the company. They’ll want to charge people like a billion dollars for. Like an unethical approach might be that a rich guy as a kid and he meshes himself up and he messes up his baby so that they’re both smashed to a cube. I forget what I call the cube. Cube is not a good name.
Think it is the big box or something like, I do not know. It is the big block. So anyway, the dad and the baby, the infant are both linked to the big block information processor. They’re sharing thoughts through this.
So basically the old rich dad is trying to train the infant’s brain over a period of years to share thoughts with him. So they’re basically extensions of the same thinking entity. So when the old guy dies, he keeps on in the body of the kid who may be a teenager or young adult by then.
And whose thoughts have been shaped for decades by being linked. So if it works right, you’ve got a three-year-old whose sharing thoughts with a 58-year-old, billionaire. So it is a three-year-old who is only 18 months into not shitting himself at this but who at the same time has a deep understanding of the adult world.
Because he has been part of an entity that is thinking the rich guys’ thoughts and he has been part of an information feed his whole life. That seems pretty hinky, like you’ve created some kind of monster there. Rich people are going to want what rich people want.
And not every rich person is inherently evil in wanting what their money can buy. A lot of this arsenal of sinister shit will lead to widely applied products and treatment that will in the long run be beneficial for what we become.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Founder, In-Sight Publishing
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