In 100 years, we'll remember technology's transformation and Trump will be long forgotten


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/11/14/in-100-years-well-remember.html


#2

Unfortunately, most of us will be dead by then.


#3

In other words — if Japan survived Tokugawa Iemitsu, Trump will be no problem.


#4

Or because of the havoc he caused, you’ll be living in a world where Soylent Green is considered a underground documentary.


#5

Wrong. We still remember Andrew Jackson. We still remember Benjamin Harrison. We still remember Calvin Coolidge.

Now, we remember some of these people for reasons they would not prefer, but we need to remember these people to prevent them from gaining power again.


#6

Or we’ll still be sweeping up the ashes from his forthcoming little dispute with Mr Putin.


#7

This is the attitude that got Trump elected: Politics doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who is in charge.

It totally fucking does.


#8

In 100 years time, the few shreds of civilization remaining on the planet will remember Trump above all others as the man who destroyed our last serious effort to limit devastating global warming. Digital technology will be largely irrelevant in the ongoing struggle for survival.


#9

So according to this premise nobody today should recall the principal actors or political decisions that led to World War I? The development of aviation technology was important, sure, but not “who has time to recall 38 million dead and a drastically new power structure in Europe that set the stage for an even worse conflict less than a generation later” important.


#10

Oh look, a tech guy insisting that politics doesn’t matter.

If someone wants their tech news site to remain a tech news site despite the moment having other news fish to fry, that’s fine. But this notion that the story of tech (tech being predominately about computers in this formulation, and not, say, novel social organizations or drought resistant crops or something not made of bits or silicon) is just going to eat history is toxic. It’s how you get groups of ‘effective altruists’ getting sidetracked from talking about the truly destitute and orphaned tropical diseases to being genuinely convinced that the best use for your philanthropic dollar is to get well compensated computer scientists to sit about fretting about the Terminator. It’s how Twitter and Facebook get turned into pits, because caring about fake content proliferating or user abuse is a political act and instead it’s all about the horsepower.

No, the iPhone won’t matter in a hundred years. It’ll be set dressing for period dramas in stories about whatever manner of cultural ugliness befell the Trump years- assuming they don’t just get it wrong and give us all Nokia candy bars.


#11

Yes, because as all geeks and nerds know, the only people who really matter are geeks and nerds.

Trump will be long forgotten if he encounters enough resistance to stop his plans. But if he presides over the end of American democracy, he will be remembered for a long, long time. Cf: Julius Caesar.


#12

The work of Aristotle and Theophrastus has more impact today than probably any of their contemporaries, but they are not really who I would have advised the Persians to pay the most attention to. :unamused:


#13

To paraphrase the quotation attributed to Trotsky, “tech may not be interested in right-wing authoritarian politicians, but right-wing authoritarian politicians are very interested in tech.” Levy might want to keep this in mind.


#14

Levy picked an interesting example with Galileo. Do any of us know who ran Italy back when he made his discoveries, or even how it was run back then? Well I would need to look up the exact year, but oddly enough I still do know exactly who was pope then and what his impact was.


#15

“James Watt was more important than Napoleon” may sound like a bold claim, but I notice it wasn’t “James Watt was more important than Hitler.”

Hope you have the luxury of forgetting Trump.


#16

For sure, the internet is the real story, and the odds are Turmp will be mentioned only in passing as one of the gross slimy details of society’s pupation and metamorphosis into its post-internet form.

But I think saying “Tech needs to figure that stuff out” is equally misapprehending the scale on which the internet changes things. Twitter’s recommendation algorithm will no more interest historians in 100 years than debates over Hillary’s ad spending strategy or how Black Lives Matter played with Midwestern white men aged 35-50.

It will be generations before we even understand how decentralised, many-to-many communications has changed us. Whatever Silicon Valley Deep Thinkers believe, no one alive today is designing the answer to that question.

In other words, as interesting as that all is, we today are still left focusing on squalid, prosaic things like Turmp and his dumb bullshit.


#17

The Mel Brooks or Lin-Manuel Miranda of 2116 will write a jaunty, dark musical about Trump. His legacy, be what it is, will live on in song and jazz hands.


#18

Or at least a musical about a musical about Trump (assuming the Mel Brooks approach).


#19

Counterpoint. The electorate barely remembers George W. Bush.


#20