Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cyberpunk Part 2

This is a academic and fun exercise and not intended to offend, predict or otherwise influence any potential reader (other than to consider the current world's direction and where it will be in the year 2032). This is also from a US-centric view of the world, my apologies to other readers in other countries.

A great resource for this thought process is Wikipedia ( What was significant in 1988 which leads to the events of 2010? How would those event be perceived in 1988 vs how the events shaped 2010?

Some things jump out, which serve as a basis for the events of today:

- Start of the fall of the USSR: So much of the 50s to the 80s was about the Cold War between the US and USSR. 1988 was the start of the fall of the communist USSR, following years would lead to independent nations and ultimately economic troubles. This event shows us that nothing is permanent and the actions of one leader can have a very big impact with a decent amount of public will.

- Soviet Troops in Afghanistan: This time also gives rise to terrorism. As the US tries to force the USSR from Afghanistan it militarizes the terrorist forces which would come to dominate world security from 2001 on. This shows us the care and feeding of wild animals is best left to professionals.

- Windows 2.0: While not the only technology development of the time, the introduction of Windows 2 and then in 1990 Windows 3.0 (as well as Tim Berners-Lee publishing a proposal for the World-Wide Web) is especially significant. Putting a graphical interface on computers was not new, but the idea that it was a necessary part of the user interface was a big deal. This shows the roots of the modern internet and current computing technology.

- Mobile Phone Technology: In 1988 I saw my first mobile phone. The first SMS text message was sent in 1993 with Finland and Nordic nations leading the way. Could we have the iPhone without both the universal concept of the GUI and mobile technology?

- Punk: 1991, ultimate Cyberpunk Linus Torvalds announces the Linux Kernel. There are countless examples of hackers and their activities but Kevin Mitnick sticks out the most. In 1988 he was at the end of a supervised release from hacking Digital Equipment Corporation's network and stealing software. In 1989 he hacked Pacific Bell's voice mail system and became a fugitive when a warrant was issued. He spent the next two and a half years on the run, under assumed identities with cloned cell phones he wiretapped phones and hacked computers all over the country.

So, where is our cyberpunk future in the year 2032? What current trends can add to these previous trends, and what might they look like in the future?

More on that later...

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