Saturday, August 26, 2006

World Science Fiction Convention

I'm in Anaheim, California, at the World Science Fiction convention. A few quick comments about bits I've learned in panels....

Future of Cities: I'll likely do a whole article for on this, but a fellow writer, John Barnes, did some interesting statistical work that suggests our megacities could grow 3 times bigger with new technologies that are coming. So the 8 million plus people in New York could become 24 million. A lot of that is growth up, but some is growth out. A related comment from Karl Schroeder, a writer who does futurist work for the Canadian government, is that border-spanning cities such as Vancouver BC <-> Seattle (think of it as one city) or San Diego <-> Tijuana could become political forces in their own right. When I think of the tension in the Northwest between the Puget Sound and the rest of Washington (what is good for the city is sometimes not good for the country) I find it an interesting concept.

World government. A science fiction convention is a great place to discuss this. Smart people. Most of us have read the warning books like 1984 and Brave New World, but we've also read the host of books that suggest planetary or interplanetary government is a given. It's a discussion we need to have more of in the world outside science fiction. While I wouldn't say we reached any clear consensus in an hour plus, I'd say the general sense was:

We need world government to solve the problems that are bigger than nations (primary conflict and ecology, although there are others)
It has to be a strong world government with a military and police force to succeed
Its charter must be very clear and very limited in scope

Anyway, another interesting topic.


At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brenda, I was on another "Future of cities" panel at WorldCon, and the discussion went quite a different way. Kay Kenyon, who was formerly a city planner, has a great deal to say about the subject, all of it interesting, some of it surprising. The conclusion was that the megacity, ultimately, will be a refuge of the poor, while the well-to-do will escape to the suburbs or to small, well-wired cities where the quality of life is better.

An addendum to your thoughts about the great cities being political forces: cities, and states, like California, are now setting up their own environmental regulations to follow the Kyoto protocol. The national government won't do it, but these smaller entities are! I wonder what that means for the future of these communities?


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