The other night, Vika said to me that the system is a way of selling you on uncertainty. Our government preaches fear daily. Corporations expend exraordinary sums to figure out how to best inform you of an inadequacy you never knew you had, then pitch you the solution in the same breath. When Anthony Giddens talked about this in 1999 he used the phrase Manufactured Uncertainty.
There’s still a huge chunk of people out there whose manufactured uncertainty is around matters of survival; uncertainty about food, shelter, clothing, safety from violence, treatments for disease.
I thought I had read some more formal study of the posessions of the very poor, and by memory these came up: a bowl with a utensil, an outfit, a knife maybe, and a handmade hut or shanty.
It’s been this way for thousands of years, so let’s not pretend it’s going to change soon. I think what can change is the nature of those devices.
The bowl of the peasant of the future is a bowl that you can fill with biological waste, put the lid on, and have it power the hut. It does this by converting waste to methane, and the methane to electricity. There’s an extraordinary dairy farmer in Marin County has built a 75kw methanogen-based power generation system: it runs on decaying cowshit.
The same bowl that can break greens – stems, bark, leaves – into starches or sugars, good for those lean times before harvest comes. a bowl you can put the foulest of water in, and drink from in an hour.
A little 180˚ lens bindi that contains a supercomputer, can see in all the directions it can; communicates at around 10gb/sec any bindi within 100m via ultrawideband RF and at terabit speeds within eyesight via on-silicon quantum cascade lasers. The bindi does voice recognition and video projection, and has to be put into a bowl once a week to be charged.
The hut is made from bamboo that grows in a greenhouse (itself made of bamboo) in the local center; the bamboo that grows there is cured in a bacterial broth that exudes xylose polysaccharides that give it enhanced structural properties and dramatically extends its usable life.
Cellulose is basically paper. Sheets of this cellulose are used to fill in the spaces between bamboo stalks. Also in the greenhouse, Algae are used to produce acrylic acid – which, combined with the methane from the bowl, can be made into methyl and ethyl acrylatewhich the cellulose can be dipped in to make it transparent and plastic-like. Rayon is a fairly straightforward set of transformation from cellulose, one I’m sure you could get microbial assistance in.
The utensil is a spork.