exact in June & Sept 2012, May & Nov 2013, April & Dec 2014 and March 2015
In identifying developments around the 2012 Outgoing square we shall focus on recorded historical developments which occurred or are likely to occur while the planets Uranus and Pluto are within 10 degrees of each other. We are therefore looking at the period 24 March 2009 to 23 March 2020. This is around eleven years out of a 139 year cycle. Elsewhere this book’s coverage ends July 2010 but here because of the current importance of the Uranus/Pluto Out square coverage is extended to October 2012. However this still means that only one third of the Out square period is available for evidence as to the correlation of the cycle stage and only two exact hits out of seven are available for clues as to the key thrust of the cycle stage. Consequently any conclusions have to be highly qualified.
At the square (+90 degrees) in 2012 we should expect to see some major challenge or extension to the computer’s development both as a device and as an intellectual methodology or ‘paradigm’. It is likely that the computer as a device will in this period have to undergo a major transformation which could be challenging for the majority of its users. At the same time the mindset that has grown with this cycle, Postmodernism, should encounter its first major resistance. The meaning of the cycle implies that both the computer and the related mindset will successfully meet these challenges but not without some very unsettling problems or crises. The computer and later Postmodernism will by 2020 have become stronger (i.e. more established) through overcoming the obstacles or transitional problems they are presented with in this eleven year period.
Let us first look at the computer as a device. It started around 1965 in laboratories, universities and in offices as a rather boring large sized number crunching machine and progressed to the ubiquitous desktop or laptop that huge numbers of people use for all kinds of purposes every single day. It has had peripherals and accessories added, it has enabled software or apps as we now say. It was, and is still, used as a word processor, internet access provider and display device and a knowledge or data storage medium. But it is becoming clear that the personal computer that emerges from this cycle out square is going to be a very different device from the standard one in 2009. In particular much of its functionality will move onto smartphones
– ‘the computer’ moves to becoming essentially an access and control device with data tending to be stored centrally on the internet – so called ‘cloud computing’
– laptops, tablets and notebooks along with large screen mobiles increasingly displace desktop computers except for some secure office functions
– Touch screen technology begins to increasingly rival the mouse and the keyboard though with writing and professional or semi-professional activities the keyboard will remain the main text input device.
– researchers start working out futuristic ways in which the human body can be used as a control centre – for instance where different parts of your hand can become a phone and your wrist carry a watch size computer.
DESIGN & PERFORMANCE
– In August 2009 it is reported that DNA shapes can now be organised to serve as a scaffold for electronic components just six nanometres apart – an eightfold increase on the existing silicon chip standard.
– In November 2009 it is reported that the next generation of computers may make use of the ‘spin’ of electrons instead of the electrons’ charge – this could lead to computers that require far less power than conventional ones.
– in April 2010 it is reported that researchers at Hewlett Packard (HP) have developed memristors – tiny devices which are the ‘fourth’ basic building block of circuits, after capacitors, resistors and inductors. HP plans for them to replace transistors. Their unique property is to allow future chips to both store and process data in the same device – currently these functions have to be done on separate devices which is both slow and wasteful. Professor Leon Chua – the first person to propose memristors – describes the work as “conceptually, just the tip of the iceberg”
– In July 2010 it is reported that the way neurons (in the brain) communicate could inspire the next generation of computers.
– In July 2010 scientists make progress on reducing the energy use of computers, especially supercomputer’s. IBM’s Aquasar technology, launched in this month, cools computer processors by flowing water between each one. The technology, developed for supercomputers, is 50% more energy efficient and in a future dominated by energy costs it and similar energy reducing processes are likely to become more widely deployed in data centres worldwide.
– In 2009 and 2010 it becomes clear that Personal Computers’ Hard Disc capacity is going to be hugely larger. Western Digital produces the first 2.0 and 3.0 terabyte hard drive. In 2010 the first Drive is manufactured using the Advanced Format of 4,096 bytes a block (“4K”) instead of 512 bytes a block. In 2011 Seagate produce the first 4.0 terabyte hard drive. In 2012 Western Digital announces the first 2.5-inch, 5mm thick drive, and the first 2.5-inch, 7mm thick drive with two platters.
In time, but perhaps not during the Out square, the chips and processors inside a computer may no longer be made from silicon but from a newly discovered material ‘graphene’ – said to be the strongest and most conductive material ever measured.
– 2009 Samsung and Fujitsu join IBM in starting major research programmes on graphene. In April 2010 European startup Graphenea is established, raising $3.8 million to produce graphene. In June 2010 Samsung manages to fabricate a 30″ graphene sheet. In September 2010 UCLA researchers develop a 300Ghz graphene transistor. In February 2011 researchers develop a graphene-based high-performance bendable battery and Graphene is demonstrated to repel water very effectively. In October 2011 the UK government moves to invest £50 million (later £71m) in graphene commercial opportunities. In December 2011 the Siren alarm tag, the world’s first graphene-based product starts shipping. In February 2012 Graphene is used to create what are the world’s toughest fibres. In July 2012 it is demonstrated that Graphene can automatically repair itself. In August 2012 Sony produces a record 100 metre long graphene sheet. In September 2012 Graphene coating is shown to make copper almost 100 times more resistant to corrosion
It is likely that the Postmodernist mindset will encounter its first major challenge since its birth in the mid 1960s. Remember that we are using ‘intellectual mindset’ as shorthand for the dominant approach to the nature of reality and knowledge. The challenge is likely to come in the form of societal disillusionment with a philosophy born of disillusionment and a strong criticism of intellectual relativism (the total acceptance of plurality, diversity and fragmentation in beliefs and approaches).
INTELLECTUAL RELATIVISM REJECTED
It is likely that the effects of the financial collapse of 2008, the worst since the Great Depression, whose final manifestation may still be on its way up to 2020, will include a growing rejection of not just financial and regulatory laissez-faire and equivocation but a rejection of the intellectual mindset underlying this relativism. This relativistic mindset was one that seemed to say if a system of ideas makes sense intellectually but contradicts another set of ideas or beliefs let it develop wherever it will. Avoid any attempt to unify, inter-relate or structure society’s different approaches. Let a thousand flowers bloom ! Do not make any absolute judgement on new intellectual attitudes or theories, avoid anything that could smack of a societal worldview.
LESS TOLERANCE FOR EQUIVOCATION
As the Uranus/Pluto square comes into orb in 2009 and 2010 a degree of anger can be detected among those in society especially those most affected by the credit crunch. There is a growing perception that decision makers have been playing intellectual games – no more so than in banks where it is quite clear senior bankers did not understand what they were doing – they simply trusted that the experts who came up with the complex web of selling and sub-selling of risk and debt knew what they were doing.
The intellectual climate by 2012 has become less tolerant – there is now a stronger demand in society for high minded truths – especially on environmental and health topics. And there is a demand for judgement – equivocation is no longer flavour of the month ! These societal pressures seep through to intellectual centres such as the sometimes cash pressed universities. It would be very surprising if in this climate a Postmodernist book became a best seller or a Postmodernist writer become an icon. The next few years are going to prove a bumpy ride and relativistic abstraction is not needed.
MULTICULTURALISM BLAMED FOR ALIENATION
Multiculturalism, for political as well as intellectual reasons, has already been rejected as a societal philosophy by many European governments. Its influence has been blamed in some countries for the pervasiveness of support for terrorism since 9/11 and alienation between communities. Islamic fundamentalism itself strongly opposes intellectual relativism and faces uncomfortable questions when it comes to the co-existence of beliefs and values within its own culture’s sub-boundaries. Finally we shall see in the next section whether the right to absolute personal freedom of expression will be allowed at this time to survive this critical onslaught.
SOCIETY AWARE OF DE-HUMANISING EFFECTS
At the conceptual boundary between the Computer and Postmodernism there may arise at the cycle Out square an increasing awareness even questioning of the objectives of information technology when set against its dehumanising effects. Firstly the pervasiveness and intrusion of computers into every aspect of human life is now getting increasingly strong. In particular the erosion of privacy has surged in 2010 and 2011 as individuals allow a mass of personal data to be stored out on the internet on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter or relationship sites. And this at a time when cyber crime is mushrooming into a multi billion dollar industry. Not least, computers are getting significantly more compromised by subversive cyber activity from the Internet – the huge number of computers used as malicious ‘botnets’ is one example. Finally but more difficult to measure could there be the very beginnings of an intellectual revolt against the compartmentalisation of thought that the computer has increasingly imposed on intellectual and creative and business to consumer tasks?
KNOWLEDGE COMPLETELY FUNCTIONAL
By 2012 knowledge is becoming completely functional – you learn things, not to know them, but simply to use that knowledge. Knowledge is seen as out there conveniently on the internet despite the fact that a huge proportion of what passes for fact on the web is in fact false and risks getting duplicated daily by other factual websites. Knowing what is truth and what is false on the internet will be a key issue for intellectuals in particular. Knowledge has also now become increasingly fragmented so that the mass of intellectuals are specialist, the only generalists are journalists and authors and even many of them will only admit to being specialist. Moreover as Dr Mary Klages points out “in postmodern societies, anything which is not able to be translated into a form recognizable and storable by a computer – in other words anything that’s not digitisable – will cease to be knowledge”. Therefore one section of the population will decide what knowledge is even if the anarchic Internet will constantly seek to break that definitional circle open.
By 2012 everything that is produced, distributed and consumed in society reaches that stage through a computer. If it bypasses or ignores the computer it does not really exist or to be more precise it is something purely individual and therefore is seen as lacking full validity.
This cycle Out square is unlikely to see large numbers of people smashing up computers metaphorically or literally. The Luddites of 2012 would have to call on superhuman powers to wreck something now so ingrained in society and seemingly so needed by both the individual and society but as the power of the computer expands exponentially there are likely to be sections of society who will start to opt out of the information society – by using open information technology like mobile phones and areas of the internet.
RISE OF POPULIST POLITICAL PARTIES
We are guessing that the first half of the 1965 to 2104 Uranus/Pluto cycle ending in 2046 will see the rise and fall of PostModernism – we are suggesting that the Postmodernist disillusion with the progress of Science, with the powers of reason and with high minded truths will very slowly start to recede after 2012 at the same time as cracks begin to appear in the intellectual strength of Postmodernist doctrines. The period around 2015 starts to be a time of sweeping disillusion throughout society with the actions and status of society’s key decision makers especially politicians – and those standing up and urging intellectual unity and coherence may be striking a popular note. Those that maintain that there are some certainties in the world, some inviolable values, some tenable worldview may have a far more appreciative audience than they would have had a decade earlier – this will be seen in the rise of populist political parties.
INTELLECTUAL EXPLOSION AT CYCLE OPPOSITION
But make no mistake Postmodernism is here to stay as the dominant intellectual mindset for many decades. The key postmodernist principles of accepting the pluralism, diversity and fragmentation of contemporary society in a relativistic or non-judgmental manner could well remain till the cycle opposition when an intellectual explosion could well turn Postmodernism into a more accepting and integrating part of society’s worldview. We cannot say what the mindset of the second half of this cycle will be called but it is likely to define itself more by support than rejection of society’s intellectual history. There will no longer be a climate of disillusion with disillusion. Society is likely to move on to risk holding beliefs which may turn in time to disillusion. There may be striving for unity, universality and certainty as the intellectual debate of the past half cycle is assimilated and consolidated. Only at the cycle In square is the whole Postmodernist debate likely to become increasingly irrelevant to the world as it will by then no longer be aligned with the world of reality and knowledge.
It is worth pointing out that the schema, formula and whole approach of this website you are on is fundamentally at odds with Postmodernism – though it is written at a time when PostModernism is near its peak.
The most important cycle stage in the period in which ‘Cycles of History’ is published is the Uranus/Pluto Out square. We remain confident, despite being able to cover only a third of this period, that major extensions of and/or challenges to Computers and Postmodernism will take place though it may not be till the end of the cycle in 2020 that these changes can be clearly defined. The issues relating to Social Mindset addressed below are covered in far greater detail in the book.
We believe it possible that protests and riots, largely due to austerity measures adopted as a result of the economic downturn, may continue and may worsen – but we believe the key societal thrust of this cycle stage will be a challenge to the freedom of the individual where that encroaches on the rights of the majority – in particular freedom of expression. If someone’s right harms, endangers or corrupts the majority it may no longer be acceptable. This may be a temporary check but it may prove unpalatable to those strongly defending individualistic liberalism.
The issue of Freedom of Expression will manifest in particular in relation to individual rights and Journalistic freedom. This battle gets fought out with Populist political parties at one end of the axis and institutions like the European Court of Human Rights at the other. Freedom of Expression also has a very different resonance in the West from that found in less developed countries and the impact of that has already manifested across the world.