Re: Benford on Joy and the future

From: phil osborn (
Date: Sun Jul 23 2000 - 15:03:27 MDT

>Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 14:35:21 -0700
>,1282,37610,00.html describes some
>of Greg Benford's visions of future software, a marketing war between
>systems that try to build dossiers about consumers that are used for
>customized sales pitches, and interface software which will attempt to
>protect consumers' privacy. Benford also predicts the advent of the
>"comfy culture", a futuristic world where everything is customized to
>match the preferences of users. In his vision, the natural world will
>seem boring and unresponsive compared to cities, where everything will
>be alive and alluring. However there may be an increasing movement
>to extreme and dangerous sports in order to escape from the coddling
>of civilization.
>Sounds like it was quite a talk. I wonder if Benford has any essays
>elaborating on these points in more detail?
There was a short story that Benford did for a local publication - OC Metro
or OC Weekly, I forget which - five years or so ago, in which he envisioned
a day in the life of a couple of mid-21st Century OC (Orange County, CA)
yuppies who make their living as I recall as
marketing/procurement/investment specialists in CyberSpace. The CyberSpace
he envisioned was a kind of Gibson takeoff, but with full immersive VR,
bodysuits, etc.

The really important point of the story, however, was the economics. The
main character, the woman of the man/wife team, was acquiring her critical
market information via trading on "credibiity," not as an abstract normative
judgement, but as a quantifiable web currency. The only other mention I've
seen of this major conceptual breakthru is in Sterling's novel

There are, however, ways to do this. I briefly discussed a system for
instituting the basis of a credibility-based net economy with Esther Dyson
in the early '90's, as a money-making product. I also attempted to bring
this up at Extropy meetings in that period, but I think that the NIH
syndrome got in the way.

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