Bruce Sterling, live from 2027

The world is moving in Germany’s direction says Bruce Sterling. This is his guide to surviving until 2027 - by ignoring Britain.

Bruce Sterling is an author and journalist

WARNING: Live-blogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be updated over the next few days.

What will the world look like in 2027? Events are going Germany’s way. Not those Germans who like and admire Silicon Valley, though…

Ah, Digital. I knew her so well. I knew her when she was so young, and innocent and fresh. What sucks about digital? Wage stagnation. Health costs. 10 years of miserable austerity – while the 1% see unprecedented growth. The oligarchs get richer while they spy on us with surveillance marketing.

In Germany, the situation is better in many countries. You are immunised by the fact that you understand the problems – particularly spying – better than most. You have a better regulated economy and a more humane social policy. But the industry doesn’t want that – it wants faster computers, faster bandwidth and access to money. Well, look at Britain and the US: the had those, and they moved fast and broke stuff. The result was Brexit and Trump.

Apple’s mausoleum for Moore’s Law

If you want to see the tomb of Moore’s Law, it’s Apple’s new corporate HQ. It’s a mausoleum to that stage of technology. Apple is now selling jewellery. In California, a new servant class is being created via apps. It’s innovation aimed at suppressing the underclass. People hate Uber. They really do. It’s the end of the good feelings that Moore’s Law brought. It was an unforced error by Silicon Valley. They didn’t need to give Kalanick money. But they did. They used him to see how many laws could be broken in pursuit of their disruption. That was hubris – and nemesis is on its way.

The stuff that seems disruptive in 2017 is mainly frills for rich people. VR and AR? Entertaining and delightful, but not a big revolution. Robots? Great. Germany loves them. Rockets? Toys. There’s nowhere to go. Deep learning is more limited than people with think. The Internet of things is too fragile and insecure right now. We won’t see self-driving cars in the next 10 years. The cloud? It harms Moore’s Law and renting the means of production isn’t as good as owning it.

The lone personal computer – they’re going to be connected to the big companies. It’s the move from Steve Jobs’ garage, to the Steve Jobs theatre.

What should you do?

  1. Ignore everything Britain ever says. In fact, do the opposite. They’re like a compass that always points south.
  2. Stop worrying about the American State Department
  3. This is a golden moment for European social activism
  4. European army, European border controls.
  5. Decarbonise the economy, to protect you from Russian blackmail.
  6. Transnational parties, be nicer to the smaller countries.
  7. Be nice to Canada and Japan. They’re not crazy like the the US and Britain.
  8. Do what China says. It’s the ascendant model. It’s destroys the California ideology. The Silicon Valley companies can’t get a toe-hold there.
  9. Be more European.

The German population is ageing: soon over half the population will be over 50. Recognise that. Plan for it. Old people in bigger cities afraid of the sky is the future, thanks to digital making cities bigger, and the damage to the environment from a carbon economy.

This is the consequence of the digital order we’ve had. You’ll have 2m fewer workers, you’ll have worse weather and more refugees. It’s the three mile island of the carbon business.

What do you do with Google, Apple, Facebook, etc? Tax them. Fine them. Regulate them. Aim for a European Superstate – make America look like Brazil. It’s trying to do that by itself.

Now the British could be right. But they probably aren’t. You’ll know in 10 years. So, you might be old people in big cities, scared of the weather. But what if you’re kind to your young, and working to fix the weather? What if you were a smart city? What would happen if Hamburg stepped up and led the free world? Someone needs to.

What would it look like if Hamburg lived in truth?