You can always count on John Brockman to orchestrate a different response. With the tsunami of commentary on the US election, it would seem there is nothing new to say. But members of Brockman’s Reality Club have pitched in with some truly novel thoughts.
Consider George Dyson: “In the digital universe, every bit makes a difference. In a democracy, every vote counts. Punched card ballots are where these two universes coincide.” Richard Dawkins provides a mathematical view: “Recount all the votes in Florida by MACHINE. Run all the ballot cards through the same machines again. The margin of error on so many votes is such that this will be EXACTLY equivalent to tossing a coin.”
Marvin Minsky argues that contemporary politics tends inevitably towards tied votes. His social solution? “Educate the voters to refuse to cooperate with polls. Point out that it’s in their interest to lie when they are being polled!
“Yes, lying is reprehensible � although in this realm, it’s traditional. The point is that if you’re inclined toward Candidate X � but tell them that you favor Y � this induces your opposition to spend less in your district.”
***Climate change redux
The Financial Times’s Martin Wolf never takes conventional wisdom for granted. His analysis of the climate change debate is typically refreshing. “The Kyoto process is, in essence, a fraud. But could it be made serious?,” he asks.
He concludes that there are huge dangers to economic growth caused by the drastic actions that are really necessary to slow global warming (and he means actions far in excess of what he considers the fraud of Kyoto). The economic growth could conceivably fund solutions decades from now; without that growth, you may still have adverse environmental effects, and you will also have far more poor people and less global capacity to deal with effective solutions.