Wed, 11 February 2009
Jerry Pournelle (author, journalist, editor, technology columnist, and military textbook writer) is today's featured guest. (This is the third and final portion of his two-hour long interview.)
Topics today include: Why political debates are not debates, why the U.S. electoral college was devised, and why the 1787 Congress was more successful by being a closed-door session. Comments on the Cray-1 supercomputer; the remarkable fact that Moore's Law has held so long and still seems to be going strong; and what he tried to accomplish in his long-running column in the iconic computer magazine Byte. His observation that today's computer hardware has become so powerful that our software has not kept up; and his feeling that, 'The next big step will be to make programming obsolete.' The possibility that electronic piracy is what's killing the publishing industry, and his ideas on the possibilities of an 'Enhanced Electronic Book.' The advantages of space-based solar energy compared to ground-based; and a few comments on Escape from Hell: his and Larry Niven's sequel to Inferno.
Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the February 11, 2009 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 48 minutes]
Doctor Jerry Pournelle has written more than thirty novels and at least thirteen books of non-fiction. More than a dozen of his novels, he coauthored with his friend Larry Niven, including The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer, Footfall, Inferno; and their new sequel to Inferno: Escape From Hell.
Novels, however, have been only a portion of Jerry Pournelle's work. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he acquired Master's degrees in both experimental statistics and systems engineering, and Doctorates in both psychology and political science. He co-wrote a military textbook called The Strategy of Technology which was required reading at West Point and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He helped to write a portion of Ronald Reagan's State of the Union Address concerning a missile defense system which the media at the time enjoyed making fun of and calling Star Wars, since they believed the technology needed to shoot down incoming missiles with our own missiles was impossible. He worked in operations research at Boeing, The Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division. He was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. He was campaign manager for Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., as well as for Mayor Sam Yorty. And he was a columnist for Byte Magazine beginning in 1982.
News Item: A new university dedicated specifically to teaching about the technological singularity was announced on February 3, 2009. Singularity University will be housed at NASA's Ames base in California and will begin classes this summer. It is the brainchild of Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, and has the backing of NASA and Google.