The Language of the Future

Candice eetimesYesterday, one of my readers expressed a concern that my novel, All The Stars Are Suns, was riddled with typos.  It turned out he was having trouble with some of my characters use of language.  He didn’t realize that I was trying to convey how in the future, languages would merge into creoles, admixtures of the languages of two or more cultures when they interact.  In my vision of the future, much of the advanced technological polities of the world would use what I dubbed “International Chinese English”, a creole of mostly English words, but with the simplified syntax of Mandarin along with some Mandarin words.  But in space, the cultures having developed primarily from Russian and American space programs, both governmental and corporate, would develop a creole of Russian and English.  This would leave English words as the dominant feature of both creoles as the common intersecting gloss.

All languages evolve, some faster than other during some historical periods, often from cultures interacting with each other, taking on loan words, sometimes blending vocabularies wholesale and simplifying the grammar.  Languages that evolve in isolation tend to accrete more complex grammars as a means of increasing error correction.  When one has to keep gender, case, number, etc. all the same in a sentence, then a slip in one word is caught as an error and is less likely to cause a miscommunication.  However, when two speakers of two or more different languages speak together, they will drop the complexity in favor of simplicity in order to facilitate faster learning of the new creole.

English is in some ways a mish-mash creole becoming a more complex language.  English is a creole of French (a vulgate Latin) and German with more than a bit of Norse (from the Danes / Viking occupation of the east of England).  Added to that are loan words directly from Latin and Greek, as well as others.  Though now that it is becoming (over the past three hundred years) taken up as a second language by more speakers, those speakers often drop the complex grammar in favor of a simple one.

In some ways, Mandarin can be seen as a special pidgin.  A ‘pidgin’ is a language created from the efforts of inter-language contact of traders and travellers who don’t have time to learn each other’s language but need to have a minimum vocabulary and grammar, just enough to get by on.  The vocabulary of Mandarin is greater than a true pidgin but it’s grammar is very pidgin like.  It has no verb conjugation, no gender, no articles, etc.  Yet it serves as the first language of the single largest group of speakers.  This likely developed out of the polyglot history of Imperial Chinese rule.

As Asia gains in economic influence, it needs a common language.  In a strange quirk of history, because modern technology and business in Europe and North America is based on English, that language has become the international business and technology standard.  But China is the single largest market and will soon be the largest developer of technology.  It seems inevitable that English and Mandarin will begin to merge for international business and technology exchange to become “International Chinese English”

In space, I do not see the Chinese working with the Americans and Russians, for the next century at least, since there will be military implications of the technology.  China will want to fully control its own space technology.  Thus, as people move off-planet to live more and more of their lives in space, two cultures will emerge.  Perhaps I’m just being chauvinistic, but I believe that the American/Russian partnership’s culture will eventually dominate space but will have strong economic ties to Asia such that eventually the Space Born, will speak a creole of English/Russian/Mandarin with their own unique spin to it.

So… happy reading !

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Pandora Is A GMO Ecosystem

Candice eetimesIn the wildly successful science fiction film Pandora advanced technology allows humans sitting inside a brain scanner to teleoperate genetically engineered alien-human hybrid avatars.  It was never clear how the avatars were connected to the scanners… radio?  Doesn’t matter, they had to have had fully functioning brains and nervous systems because in the end Jake Sully, a human being, has his full memories and consciousness transfered to his avatar such that his human body, and his human brain, is no longer needed.  I won’t go into discussions about how silly I found THAT.  But I do want to talk about the other unquestioned aspects of James Cameron’s vision of Pandora.  The Tree of Souls and sahalu, the ability of the Na’vi to directly interface with a number of domesticated species and to the Tree of Souls.  If this were a real alien world that we humans had discovered…

I would stay the HELL away from it!  Such an ability could NOT have evolved naturally.  No, the entire ecosystem, which has a connection to Eywa, the consciousness of the entire ecosystem, would have had to have been genetically engineered by a very advanced civilization.  My first question would be, are the Na’vi the descendents of that civilization?  Or merely one of their domesticated “pets”?  Either way… time to stay as far away from them as possible until one has established whether or not that civilization still exists at the level that was needed to create that ecosystem.  Because if it does, they would be far more advanced than the human civilization as it was portrayed in the film.

Which brings me back to my own writing.  If you have read my first novel, All The Stars Are Suns, you would know that my story is how humans as a species will do the very same thing, genetically engineer ecosystems that can turn barren worlds into living ones ideal for humans, including genetically engineered symbionts that will allow telepathic like connection to both electronic computers and to each other… and to genetically engineered symbionts in our domesticated species in genetically engineered ecosystems.

Frankly, I can’t see any other way that we will successfully colonize other worlds as we expand past the womb we call Mother Earth.  My future books will explore those new worlds our children will call home.

News Byte On Bitcoin

***In financial news today, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies crashed today.  All the exchanges have halted trading of futures as well, as news spread that a new very high qubit supercomputer set up to mine Bitcoins was said to have been finding hundreds of the previously elusive hard to find prime numbers needed for cryptocurrencies per millisecond.  Countries that had switched to cryptocurrencies are scrambling to set up conventional currencies, many switching back to the U.S. Dollar as its reserve currency.

***In related news, the powergrid of Venezuela has experienced several fluctuations due to the shutdown of energy intensive conventional computers nearly simultaneously.  These computer farms had previously been mining for prime numbers for cryptocurrencies.

***President Harris said that the U.S. Dollar and economy is still stable and that the Federal Reserve’s move to enable it own eDollar system is in no way hurt by this new technology and is in fact aided by it since the new quantum computers will be able to track and keep secure all electronic transactions using U.S. Dollars.

Now available in paperback…

My science fiction novel is now available in paperback for $7.99 for those who aren’t big fans of ebooks (or those just waiting for CLEARink to go into production… I know I’m looking forward to it).  The novel is still available as an ebook for $2.99 or FREE on KindleUnlimited.

The (Genetic) Lottery

“Please.  If you would just run this story…” pleaded the Cub Reporter.

“No way!  We would both lose our jobs!  The Owners of the network won’t allow it.  Besides, don’t you understand, the listeners won’t believe it.  They can’t believe it.  If they did, they would have to get off their couches and do something about it,” retorted the Wise Senior Editor.

“But they need to know!” demanded the Cub Reporter.

“What?  You think they need to know that the Lottery is rigged?  That they don’t have a chance to become rich?  Look kid, this is the way things are and have been for generations.  It’s how the system works.  Of course the winners of the Lottery come from families that won the lottery already.  That’s how they maintain the illusion that everyone has a shot at the ‘American Dream’, poor saps.  They sure as hell can’t win through hard work!  Kid, life isn’t fair.  To win you have to first win the genetic lottery, chosing your parents well.”

“You mean that you already knew?”  cried the Cub Reporter in dismay.

“Of course kid.  Why do you think I have this job?”

 

The One Thing Hollywood Gets Wrong in Futuristic Science Fiction

Candice eetimesEvery technologist seems to love science fiction, or so it seems.  Yet many of us cringe when we watch science fiction movies and television shows that attempt to depict the future showing advanced technology.  I’m no exception, though in my case, it seems like EVERY futuristic vision uses the same hackneyed visual trope, their vision of what an advanced electronic display will look like, the “transparent display”.

Before I get too far on this rant, let me explain that transparent displays already exist.  They have existed for several decades.  So, no, they are NOT “futuristic”.  In fact, some of the very first flat panel displays were transparent.  For example, PLATO, an early educational system used a transparent monochrome plasma screen on top of a microfiche viewer screen back in the ’70s.  So, showing a transparent flatpanel display is not only NOT futuristic, it’s downright retro, a blast from the past.

Did you know that your LCD screen that you are probably reading this from is in fact, transparent?  The LCD is transparent but has a flat white backlight behind it.  When you see black text on a white screen, the black is on the LCD, the white is actually the backlight itself.  To turn it into a transparent screen, just disassemble the display, remove the backlight and – voila, a transparent display.  Not very futuristic now is it?

As a display technologist with a strong background in designing and optimizing displays for the human vision system I have another serious pet peeve to share.  Using transparent displays for everyday tasks is DUMB !  Just plain DUMB!

avatartransparentscreenWhy?  First, the user has to look at one information plane while ignoring the image past the display plane.  This causes two problems, first it reduces the contrast of the display making it hard to use; second, it creates a high cognitive load on your vision processing centers in your brain, leading to fatigue.  You think working on a computer screen now is tiring… just try to use a transparent display !

But it’s even dumber than that.  Consider the lack of privacy.  Everyone on the other side of you is seeing a mirrored image of everything you are working on.  Imagine the loss of security!  This is as dumb as having high level strategy meetings in a conference room with large glass windows to the outside… and instead of using a white board, one uses the markers on the windows! Hard to read… and your competitors are watching what you are working on.

Hollywood, stop.  Just STOP.  You are embarrassing yourself.

A Cracked Crystal Ball

Candice eetimesI recently published my first science Fiction novel, All The Stars Are Suns.  Some thought that this represents a change in career direction.  Actually, no.  My career has always involved carefully gazing into my mental crystal ball.  Bad Hollywood images aside, the best crystal balls used by true devotees were always cracked, having many internal fracture lines that reflected and refracted the light of flickering candle light in new and unanticipated patterns such that they induced new visions.  A perfect optically clear sphere would be useless as no images would form.  Thus, I’m always filling my mental crystal with data and trying to see the future through imperfect data because to be an entrepreneur, and inventor, a science fiction author is all the same art… to see a fantastic future that may or may not come true on its own, but by seeing it, then ACTING ON IT, that future may become self-foreseeing.

An executive of a large company may rely on many visionaries, both in their employ and not.  But an inventor and entrepreneur, as I have been, must rely on their own visions.  They must both guess right about what is likely to happen and to have faith that they can steer that future towards their own vision.  So, no, I have not shifted careers.  I am still the same visionary.  The only thing that has changed is the means by which I promote my visions.

So, what do I see as the background, the ever shifting light falling upon my many cracked crystal ball?

First and foremost, we will very shortly see a dramatic shift toward both all-electric (not hybrid) and autonomous (driverless) vehicles.  This isn’t the realm of speculation anymore, but of timing.  It will happen.  And when it does happen it will cause massive disruptions in economic systems that we take for granted today.  So lets explore just a few those changes.

Fewer cars

Yes, fewer cars.  Simply put, transportation will shift from owner driven cars to transportation as a service, taxi and “Uber” to the uber (couldn’t help myself).  Why own a car when you can metaphorically whistle up a car on demand?

This will cause shifts in real estate development.  In my own neighborhood, a developer has already tried to get approval for a condo with “too few” parking spaces, arguing that by the time the construction is complete, people will drive fewer cars.  His timing was off… but his prognostication is dead on.  We will need fewer parking spaces in the future.

Service stations… remember those?  Seriously, gas stations will no longer be a thing.  Local repair shops?  Car dealerships?  Gone.  Fleet Sales/Leasing and centralized repair centers will replace them.

Strip Malls… those terrible eyesores, gone.  And with them the megamall.  People will be buying much of what they want online… but ironically, the experience of shopping in person will see a retro trend to hanging out in revitalized downtowns (or even newly constructed simulations of them e.g. Santana Row in San Jose) that have streets converted to pedestrian court yards and walk ways.

Apartments with large interior malls / food courts will be developed that look more like today’s five-star hotels.  People will dine out more as they have more time that we now use for commutes.

Suburbanites will convert their garages to more living space, their driveways to gardens, even their paved courts and cul-de-sacs will be converted to parks.

Freeways in some cities will be torn out, to be replaced with parks and greenways, some with better mass transit.

Now, given this vision… what business opportunities should you pursue?