In the first half, NY Times reporter Matt Richtel discussed his latest work satirizing Silicon Valley, and how tech is replacing human contact and functions to an increasingly absurd level of dependency. In his comedic new novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Die (written under the pen name of A.B. Jewell), a Silicon Valley scion dies under mysterious circumstances but then appears to be tweeting from beyond the grave. The idea of conquering death, he noted, has become a real goal of a number of tech entrepreneurs, who have adopted the motto "the computational will meet the biological." This notion, he explained, suggests that computer intelligence will become so profound "that it will be able to if not replace, then fully complement, human beings by...2050," some have predicted. Richtel, however, believes these promises will fall short.
One reason our cell phones have such an addictive hold over us, he cited, is that each time we interact with the devices, our bodies produce a small burst of dopamine (a stimulating neurotransmitter). Richtel recommends that people try to reduce their dependency, and attempt to go on a phone fast, starting small with just not pulling them out while waiting at a checkout line. "Your creativity, your ability to synthesize ideas...comes from moments of quiet that you are giving away...to the eyeball economy, to Silicon Valley, [and] to advertisers," he remarked. "Take back the checkout aisle, and from there, baby steps to work up to half-a-day." He also talked about how tech has "gamified" our lives, with people continually tracking different actions. He spoofs this in his novel, in which Silicon Valley drivers become better behind the wheel because they're all playing a game on their dashboard that mimics their driving.
In the latter half, former CBS-TV reporter Hugh Simpson warned that a coming solar minimum could result in a catastrophic breakdown of infrastructure because of our dependence on technology, and lack of preparation. During a solar minimum, sunspots are reduced to their lowest amount, and this causes the temperature of the sun to go down, thus making Earth a colder place. While the effect from the normal 11-year sunspot cycle is somewhat minimal, he cited the research of Professor Valentina Zharkova, whom he said has found evidence that we're likely on the verge of entering a new 'Grand Solar Minimum" which occurs every 350-400 years. This cycle can be accompanied by a mini Ice Age lasting more than 30 years.
The most desirable locations during such an Ice Age would be near the equator, he reported. During the previous mini or Little Ice Age, there were major food shortages and starvation-- Zharkova is cautioning that this could happen again, said Simpson. Areas in the US like the Midwest and the Plains could have their growing seasons cut way back, and in the winter, we'd likely see very long stretches of minus degree weather, he continued. Simpson suggests that people start getting prepared now, as Zharkova estimates that these changes could begin within five years. He has experimented with self-sufficiency using a water-based Bioponica growing system within a dome that is powered by 'Crank-a-Watt' units. For more details, Simpson is offering his free 'master plan' to C2C listeners.