09 January 2006

Dangerous Ideas Of 2006

My thanks to Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman for picking up My Let's Retire Roberto Clemente's #21 post. Global Voices has picked up several of My previous posts and their interest is always welcome.

Dangerous ideas are ideas with all the limitations inherent in mere thought constructs, but with the perceived potential of doing more than just upsetting the proverbial apple cart.

Ask over 100 scientists and thinkers what their most dangerous idea is and you get what Edge Magazine has created: The World Question Center 2006. Once you scroll past the self-congratulatory press clips, (The Jenius is against self-aggrandizement for self-aggrandizement's sake) you'll start a sequence of 119 revealing and often interesting takes on what consists a dangerous idea in the sixth year of the 21st century.

The Jenius was intrigued by the number of respondents who merged science and religion in various ways: competition, conflict, merger, irrelevance or dismissal. Could be a fruitful year for more pseudo-science or pseudo-religious books on the Best Seller lists.

Dangerous Ideas worth pursuing:

--Leo Chalupa's 24-hour of absolute solitude. The Jenius will do this one this year.

-- Matt Ridley's idea that government is the problem, not the solution. Not new, but if taken to practical terms, wonderfully dangerous...to Fools. (No direct URL; must scroll down to find.)

-- Timothy Taylor's idea that the brain is a cultural artefact. Imagine that genetics takes a back seat to simple survival and social criteria in the creation of Our dominant organ. Discuss.

-- Jamshed Bharucha's contention that education as we know it does not accomplish what we believe it does. Amen. This needs to be addressed now, and the society that does it first will streak ahead of the world. Mark My Words.

-- Robert Shapiro thinks we will understand the origin of Life in the next five years. And We will discover Fools are actually plant feces.

-- Terence Sejnowski wonders when the Internet will become self-aware. The Jenius wondered the same thing back in 2000-2001, as have others. But it bears serious thinking: a global self-aware entity is a force to be reckoned with. Just ask Gaia.

-- Douglas Rushkoff sees a use for Open Source currency, i.e., self-created money with negotiable value. Puerto Rico is probably the perfect laboratory for a research project in this area: high population density, high level of consumerism, opportunistic "gray" economy and low income per capita relative to societal pressure (leads to wanting way more than you can afford).

-- David Gelernter asks "What are people well-informed about in the Information Age?" The Jenius believes the Information Age is turning Us into self-selected idiot savants...only some people don't make much of an effort to move past the first word.

-- Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that political systems be based on empathy. He argues that men, being systemizers, naturally created the political structures We have now. Baron-Cohen indicates that political systems based on empathy--a more feminine trait--could radically alter societies. The Jenius is all for it.

-- Roger C. Schank is The Jenius' New Hero. His idea, in a nutshell: "Just call school off. Turn them all into apartment houses." YEAH, BABY!!

From a total of 119 dangerous ideas, there are several more dangerous and several more equally or more interesting than the ones presented here. If you have a curious mind and a desire to challenge it, spend some time with The World Question 2006.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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