GS and SF

that would be General Semantics and Science Fiction

I started from here by chance

“SF author Greg Bear probably closed the book on attempts to define science fiction as a genre in 1994 when he said “the branch of fantastic literature which affirms the rational knowability of the universe””

and follows some stories on GS and SF

General Semantics, a rationalist society


“Students’ critiques of General Semantics seems to constantly include the
following : (1) It’s nice but people can’t or don’t live that way : and, (2) How can
General Semantics be used in the ‘real’ world outside of the classroom? ”

building worlds, I guess, I should read on, Heinlein and van Vogt both attended GS groups


Future “legibility”

Charlie Stross, SF writer, on reality stickness and ability to forecast into the future:

“You don’t need a science fiction writer to tell you this stuff: 90% of the world of tomorrow plus ten years is obvious to anyone with a weekly subscription to New Scientist and more imagination than a doorknob.

What’s less obvious is the 10% of the future that isn’t here yet. Of that 10%, you used to be able to guess most of it — 9% of the total — by reading technology road maps in specialist industry publications. We know what airliners Boeing and Airbus are starting development work on, we can plot the long-term price curve for photovoltaic panels, read the road maps Intel and ARM provide for hardware vendors, and so on. (..)

(..) However, this stuff ignores what Donald Rumsfeld named “the unknown unknowns”. About 1% of the world of ten years hence always seems to have sprung fully-formed from the who-ordered-THAT dimension: we always get landed with stuff nobody foresaw or could possibly have anticipated, unless they were spectacularly lucky guessers or had access to amazing hallucinogens. And this 1% fraction of unknown unknowns regularly derails near-future predictions.”

from this speech on, of all things, AI

Legibility is a “seeing like a state” term, James Scott terminology but it sticks lately. Scott Alexander on the experts, journalism and legibility. In different terms, like Nate Silver put it, the surpirsing gap between what you read in the news about Covid and what you could gather yourself from preprints and experts’ twitter threads

The point of Scott is that experts in public position and journalists with duty to report to the public have to strip down what the want to communicate in order to make it “legible” to the wide audience, so information and even message geto lost in mainstreammedia

this is not what I wanted to write, I got carried away by the legibility concept which is probably misappropriated and used outside its intended reach. Anyway I wanted to say really, reality ius mostly sticky and the part that sticks from a decade to the next moves in ways you can guess with a proper knowledge strategy. )0% stays the same, )% changes in this way, 1% can’t be easily guessed and that probably chages the meaning of all the rest

Anarchism on Anarres

yes, I just read The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin and here i will collect ideas and links on anarchism

thanks Ursula you made anarchism real and now I got interested in it. Can Anarres be generalized?

first, complete isolation, there’s also the Berlin Wall in reverse, the incipit so metaphysical

second, Anarres is a tough planet, survival forsters solidarity, cooperation, respnsibility

but if you start with a language created from sscratch, no money, no private ownership and no family you can still create a mix that works

I love the idea of cooperatives, associtaion and similar which manage the economy and the needs of the people. L Guin hints at technology helping total decentralization and we should be there with our technology now, anarchists using slack and CRM software. Ah no, no money, no private property, non customers 🙂

so there is freedom, there is a tension keeping the society alive, there s the need to survive. Over time though the decentrilized associations ossify, become bureacratic, freedom is stifled. So, permnent revolution


Anarres is “Scarcity Anarchism”, a few year later Murray Bookchin introduces the idea of Post-scarcity Anarchism worth spending some time on it. In SF an oft quoted example opf post-scarcity anarchism is the Culture world of Ian M. Banks where humans have gone past the limits of need and things come easy, but also funnily-named spacewships are intelligent and a sort of mighty species by itself. BTW is Musk a post-scarcity anarchist because he give Culture-sounding names to his missiles ?

SF and technology lifecycle

” I have a theory about why the cyberpunks and the early industrial sci-fi writers got it so right. When new general purpose technologies (engines, electricity, computers, the internet) are emerging, it’s easy for speculative fiction writers to imagine a lot of things you could do with the new technologies. But then when writers observe continuous improvement of existing technologies — Moore’s Law, more powerful engines, etc. — they tend to project it out too far, and wind up writing about fantastic super-technologies that don’t end up getting invented for a very long time. That’s why early industrial sci-fi gave way to space opera, and cyberpunk gave way to Singularity sci-fi about artificial general intelligence, personality upload, and so on.2

that was Noah Smith and the theory is here

the quote i s taken from is substack here