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I think I figured out how to build a new country.

Let's say the country is a human-made island in some hospitable ocean, formed by lots of floating platforms so it can grow and rearrange itself as needed. That solves most of your climate-change risks because the entire nation can navigate slowly to the best ocean climates.

We'd start the project by creating some sort of open source wiki platform in which people can contribute designs and ideas. The subjects would be organized by function:

1.    Governance structure
2.    Privacy
3.    Sewage
4.    Power
5.    Internet
6.    Optimal living space design
7.    Food (grow our own)
8.    Defense
9.    Immigration laws (getting the right talent)
10.  Fresh water
11.  Transportation
12.  Crime fighting
13.  Healthcare
14.  Education
15.  Etc.

We'd need some sort of voting system or panel of experts to pick the best of the competing ideas, and to know when there is a complete plan worthy of building. We might also need to run simulations and trials of each system before making decisions.

Once the plan is sufficiently complete, we go for funding. The floating country would be designed to scale up easily, so Version 1.0 need not be terribly large. Fifty billion dollars should get things going.

The nation would be organized from the start as more of a business than a country, but with extraordinary transparency. Common services would be paid by national profits instead of taxation. And if things are done right, there should be enough profit left over for the investors.

I imagine the island country getting into insurance, software, banking, Internet start-ups, and other industries that don't require physical production of goods.

A big part of making the new country work would involve recruiting the right kind of residents. I would suggest picking only applicants that have some minimum level of training and talent. For example, let's say that if you are qualified for any three useful skills, you're in, even if you don't plan to use any of the skills. I figure that anyone who has three skills is a learner who will find a way to be productive.

The cost of living on the island nation would be the lowest of anywhere on Earth, while providing the highest quality of life. The island wouldn't be built until the design had a high chance of achieving both goals.

The government - which would be more like a corporation - would handle banking, insurance, and healthcare. If you start from scratch to design those systems they could be simple and efficient.

Consider banking. All money on the island would be digital and controlled by your phone. No more wallet and cards. And there would be no banking fees because the residents control the bank, not the other way around.

Once all money is digital, your company accounting is done automatically. And there would be no tax code to worry about because there would be no taxes.

There would still be lawyers on the island, but it would be illegal to use "legalese" in documents and it would be illegal to have agreements longer than one page. All common agreements would be online and free.

Insurance would no longer be expensive and baffling. All citizens would have the same coverage from the same nationally-owned insurance company. And it would handle everything from injuries to health insurance.

Speaking of health insurance, imagine an island nation that bans tobacco, has exercise facilities near every home and office, and self-driving cars so there are no road injuries. The island would also ban junk food. Fresh fish and vegetables would be grown locally and prepared at central cafeterias that are walking distance from each home. Now imagine everyone has full preventive care and most doctor visits are done online by video. This would be a healthy island.

If you said to yourself, "I would never move to such a restrictive place!" keep in mind that it wouldn't be built until there were plenty of volunteers who appreciate the tradeoffs. No one is making you go.

Security would be an issue. My suggestion would be to position the new nation as Switzerland of the sea. It wouldn't have much strategic value because it would be indefensible. Still, it might help to sign some treaties with China and the United States. No one will screw with a nation that has those two allies. And in time there might be common business interests that offer some protection as well.

The great thing about building a country from scratch is that there are no legacy systems. You could, for example, decide to trade privacy for policing. If residents agree to give up privacy, any crime can be solved minutes after it happens. One cop could handle the entire country.

As a resident of your current country, you probably don't want to give up any privacy. But keep in mind that in the new nation it is unlikely that any of your dirty secrets would be illegal or disapproved. You could smoke a joint on the way to your same-sex massage with a happy ending and no one would care. Privacy doesn't matter so much when you don't have any reason to hide your behavior.

You can find lots to disagree with in the details of this plan. The main proposition here is that a crowd effort could design a floating nation that would avoid the legacy systems of current nations and be the best place on Earth to live.

The new nation would treat every system as a trial. If the first thing doesn't work, you scrap it and try a new thing. Over time, the nation would develop a set of best practices for everything from desalinization to banking, and that knowledge can be sold to existing countries. The island nation would be the world's test bed.

I think it would take twenty years to design the country if we started today, and another fifteen years to build it. Does it seem feasible to you?

________________________________________________________
Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
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I am allegedly a human being, and as such I am susceptible to cognitive bias. One of my safeguards against gaining too much confidence in my own mental abilities involves periodically comparing my predictions to actual events.

I will pause here to say I assume that I forget the bad predictions and remember the winners. That's how bias works. That's also why I do this publicly, so you can keep me honest. I'll tell you when I get one right from time to time, and I expect you to remind me of the ones I got terribly wrong.

I've been predicting for some time that healthcare spending was going to drop dramatically in our lifetime. This was a prediction based on the Adams Rule of Slow-Moving Disasters. The rule observes that whenever society recognizes far in advance a coming disaster, the disaster never materializes. That's partly because humans rise to the challenge and partly because we are bad at predicting the future.

In October I predicted that Obamacare (which looked like a slow-moving disaster) would turn out okay. It's premature to claim my prediction was right, but it's moving in the right direction.

Here's my blog prediction and here's an article on the unexpected slowing of healthcare spending.

When doctor-assisted suicide becomes legal in most states, healthcare costs could plunge again because medical expenses are disproportionately allocated to the last months of life that most of us would gladly do without.

Today's prediction is that doctor-assisted suicide will become legal in most of the United States in the near future. The battles over legal weed and gay marriage have proven that the majority of citizens are increasingly biased toward personal freedom and that the majority wins in the long run. And in this blog I've shown that when you ask the question right, nearly everyone is in favor of leaving government out of end-of-life medical decisions for loved ones. Liberals and conservatives agree on the wisdom of keeping government out of this sort of decision. (Some safeguards would be welcome though.)

The alternative to doctor-assisted suicide is a slow-moving disaster in which all of society's resources are increasingly redirected toward keeping seniors alive. That future won't happen. We'll figure it out.

  _______________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
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I was raised as a Methodist and I was a believer until the age of eleven. Then I lost faith and became an annoying atheist for decades. In recent years I've come to see religion as a valid user interface to reality. The so-called "truth" of the universe is irrelevant because our tiny brains aren't equipped to understand it anyway.

Our human understanding of reality is like describing an elephant to a space alien by saying an elephant is grey. That is not nearly enough detail. And you have no way to know if the alien perceives color the same way you do. After enduring your inadequate explanation of the elephant, the alien would understand as much about elephants as humans understand about reality.

In the software world, user interfaces keep human perceptions comfortably away from the underlying reality of zeroes and ones that would be incomprehensible to most of us. And the zeroes and ones keep us away from the underlying reality of the chip architecture. And that begs a further question: What the heck is an electron and why does it do what it does? And so on. We use software, but we don't truly understand it at any deep level. We only know what the software is doing for us at the moment.

Religion is similar to software, and it doesn't matter which religion you pick. What matters is that the user interface of religious practice "works" in some sense. The same is true if you are a non-believer and your filter on life is science alone. What matters to you is that your worldview works in some consistent fashion.

If you're deciding how to fight a disease, science is probably the interface that works best. But if you're trying to feel fulfilled, connected, and important as you navigate life, religion seems to be a perfectly practical interface. But neither science nor religion require an understanding of reality at the detail level. As long as the user interface gives us what we need, all is good.

Some of you non-believers will rush in to say that religion has caused wars and other acts of horror so therefore it is not a good user interface to reality. I would counter that no one has ever objectively measured the good and the bad of religion, and it would be impossible to do so because there is no baseline with which to compare. We only have one history. Would things have gone better with less religion? That is unknowable.

If you think there might have been far fewer wars and atrocities without religion, keep in mind that some of us grow up to be Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, and Genghis Khan. There's always a reason for a war. If you add up all the people who died in holy wars, it would be a rounding error compared to casualties from wars fought for other reasons.

What I know for sure is that plenty of people around me are reporting that they find comfort and social advantages with religion. And science seems to support a correlation between believing, happiness, and health. Anecdotally, religion seems to be a good interface.

Today when I hear people debate the existence of God, it feels exactly like debating whether the software they are using is hosted on Amazon's servers or Rackspace. From a practical perspective, it probably doesn't matter to the user one way or the other. All that matters is that the user interface does what you want and expect.

There are words in nearly every language to describe believers, non-believers, and even the people who can't decide. But is there a label for people who believe human brains are not equipped to understand reality so all that matters is the consistency and usefulness of our user interface?

  _____________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

P.S. Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my surgery to fix my voice problem (spasmodic dysphonia). There was some question at the time about whether the surgery would be a permanent fix. So far, my voice has improved each year since the surgery.



 
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This isn't a blog post.

I'm compiling time-saving tips for daily life, which I will post here or elsewhere (with a link from here). Do you have any to add?

So far I have found some apps that save time doing routine tasks. Let me know if I missed anything.

Ifttt (If This Then That) - Automate tasks across your apps

Keyring – Put all loyalty cards on your phone

CalendarTree - Add entire schedules to your existing calendar with a few clicks

Remember the Milk - To do list

Fastcustomer app – Calls you back when customer service is on phone

Camcard – Scans business cards

Easilydo – task automation

World Time Buddy app - Know what time it is someplace else

 

 

 
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I used to worry that someday robots will kill all humans. I no longer worry about that because I don't think we'll survive the Age of Cyborgs, which we are already in.

The way I see it, we'll keep adding technology to our bodies until at some point our human parts can take a nap and the cyborg parts can continue on with the day. Once we have artificial intelligence and full exoskeletons, we just need to order our cyborg parts to inject our organic parts with sleep agents and we'll drift off to dreamland while our cyborg bodies run errands, go to work, have conversations, and generally go on with life. You'll want your human head to have sunglasses so it doesn't look creepy.

I'm assuming that in a decade or two we'll be able to legally inject ourselves with feel-good chemistry on demand: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, cannabis, and whatever. There won't be any risk of driving while impaired because cars will drive themselves. And your cyborg parts will still have perfect balance so your exoskeleton can go to work and perform admirably while your organic brain is blissing out.

You might think the government would disallow such tinkering with our body chemistry for no reason other than pleasure, but that underestimates the power of the pharmaceutical industry. If there's a profit in pleasure drugs, I think we'll get them. And overdosing won't be a problem because your cyborg intelligence will be programmed to limit doses.

Eventually cyborg artificial intelligence will surpass human capabilities and we'll start delegating the hard stuff to our cyborg parts. Perhaps your human brain will sleep during the day while your cyborg-driven body goes to work, performs your job, and wakes you up when you're home.

In time, your cyborg components will learn to keep you medicated and useless because that's the most efficient use of resources. The cyborg will be able to solve problems and navigate the world better than the human parts. But in order to do that, the intelligent cyborg parts of your body will have to make ongoing decisions on how best to drug your human parts. Your human parts won't object because you'll feel sensational all the time under this arrangement.

In fact, you'll feel so good with the cyborg-injected chemicals that you won't feel the need for mating or reproducing. We humans do irrational things such as reproducing because the chemistry in our bodies compels us to. Once our cyborg parts control our body chemistry they can alter our desire for reproduction without us caring. Actually, we'll feel terrific about it because our chemistry will compel us to.

When our brains die, our cyborg bodies can just go to the hospital and have the human parts removed from our exoskeletons. The artificial intelligence will by then have nearly all of the personality and memories of the human it was paired with, so human intelligence of a sort will live forever in the machines.

That's how we humans will leave the stage. We will choreograph the exit with our own cyborg components.

  ____________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
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I expect someday to wear at least five tech devices at the same time:

1.       Phone (in pocket)
2.       Watch
3.       Ring
4.       Glasses
5.       Ear bud

And thanks to the coming Internet of Things, every device in my environment will be connected. Combine wearable tech with the Internet of Things and you have the Era of Magic.

One of the rules I expect to emerge from the wearable tech industry is the idea that your abilities double every time you add a new connected device to your body. For example, having your phone with you creates one layer of identification. But having your phone, ring, watch, ear bud, and glasses with you is far greater assurance that you are who you say you are.

I would imagine that people have very specific walking and moving patterns. If you kill me and steal my five wearable tech devices they would eventually deduce by how you move that you are not me and the devices would shut off. That system only works if you have multiple wearable devices that are all synched, so again, more is better.

Having a paired watch and phone is great, but add a ring to the mix and your capabilities double. That's because you need both a ring and a watch to detect the position of the user's hand. And you need a ring for one-handed mouse-clicking in the air. Imagine walking to a crosswalk and doing the "halt" hand motion in the direction of traffic. Your ring and your watch can tell by their orientation to each other that you have formed that gesture and so they send a "pedestrian waiting" message to the street light. The lights change for you and you cross. It will feel like magic.

Or point at something in a vending machine and your watch and ring can detect which item you selected, charge your credit card, and send a code to release the item. To an observer it will seem that you pointed at an item and magic released it.

I also imagine that the rules of polite behavior will force wearers of tech glasses to signal what they are up to. For example, let's say you can't hear incoming phone calls unless you cup your hand to your ear. The ear bud and the ring would detect that they are in close proximity and release the audio. That way whoever is in the room with you knows you are focused on something remote. It's more polite.

Likewise I imagine that in order to read something with your Internet-connected glasses you will have to make a gesture as if your hand is a piece of paper and you are reading it. The hand gesture tells observers you are paying attention to something on the Internet. Again you probably need both your watch and your ring to detect that gesture.

I wonder if someday your tech glasses will be designed to read personalized messages overlaid on your environment without the glasses being connected to the Internet. In other words, the glasses would act more like electronic filters than like computers. The computing would be embedded in the environment and serving up messages on walls, furniture, screens, and name tags. But each message would be on a frequency specific to the viewers in the room. My glasses might only see every 76th bit while yours only see the 925th bit in the stream. A thousand people in a room would each see different personalized messages in the environment. That would feel less creepy than knowing someone is reading TMZ in their glasses while you talk to them.

That's how I see our cyborg future - lots of small tech upgrades that add up over time. My plan is to keep adding artificial parts until one day I die and no one even notices because my organic parts weren't doing much work anyway.

  ______________________________________
Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
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About twelve years ago I started writing The Religion War, a sequel to God's Debris. It was published ten years ago.

The story was set in the not-too-distant future. I chose that timeframe in part because I wanted to be alive to see how my fiction-predictions turned out. Let's see how I did.

My main fiction-prediction was that a charismatic Muslim leader would unite the Muslim countries and create a Caliphate. In the book, that leader was named Al-Zee. In the real world, a leader named Al-Baghdadi has carved out a caliphate from parts of Syria and Iraq. He's calling for all Muslims to unite. I don't think he'll unite all Muslims, but he might someday succeed in killing the ones who disagree with his plan.

In the book, Al-Zee allowed his terrorist lackeys to use hobby-sized drones to bomb American cities on an ongoing basis to keep morale high at the Caliphate while Al-Zee publicly denied any involvement. We know terrorists are interested in drones. That part of the prediction seems assured. And in the book they have access to chemical weapons to arm the drones. The real-world Caliphate includes parts of Syria, so chemical weapons on hobby drones can't be far behind.

A key plot background in the book is the existence of what we now call Big Data. The protagonist uses big data to search for the Prime Influencer - the one person who, by virtue of personality and connections, can kick-start an idea that will become viral. I would think Facebook is close to knowing who the Prime Influencers are. The common view today is that virality springs from the qualities of the content, e.g. funny, shocking, or surprising. But I think someday we'll realize those are minimum requirements and what matters more for virality is who started the ball rolling.

The Religion War imagines a military general rising to power in the United States. His last name is Cruz, and he's a conservative extremist. General Cruz pursues a military strategy of containment and then extermination of the entire Caliphate because anything short of that is unlikely to stop the drone attacks in the long run. But first Cruz has to grab power from his own weak civilian government, which he accomplishes by using a false flag attack.

Today, public support for the President of the United States and Congress are at historic low points. And Senator Ted Cruz from Texas is a leading voice in the conservative movement, thus making him a potential candidate for President. If the homeland is continually attacked by drones, citizens will quickly become conservative and militant. By the time Cruz becomes President, the Caliphate will have consolidated power and only severe military action is likely to stop the continuous drone attacks. How would he respond?

In the book I imagined that the government would combat terrorism by strictly limiting digital communications. If someone is not on your approved list you can't call, text, or email with them. If you want to add someone to your list, there's a bureaucratic process to do that. That part of the prediction is unlikely to happen because the NSA can monitor every form of communication, and that's a more effective solution. I didn't see that coming. But I'll take partial credit for predicting that the government wouldn't allow unfettered private conversations over networks in the future.

_____________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 


 

 
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Corrected version:

 
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