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Misanthropy 2.0

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Competition results So, to some unfinished business.

"One's thoughts must perpetually be challenged, tested, and pollinated by others to be kept healthy," observed our own Thomas C Greene recently, writing about the latest prognosis from Professor Stephen Hawking. "One gets the sense of a man whose ideas have not been challenged in decades, and are stagnating, even putrefying."

The same could be said for former Wired honcho and technology utopian Kevin Kelly. Kelly and Hawking appear to be engaged in a private contest to prove who hates human beings the most.

It's a crowded field out there. There's Reading University's professor of bogosity Kevin "Captain Cyborg" Warwick, of course. And the Patron Saint of the Participation Age, Tim O'Reilly, who seems to spend most of his waking hours keeping the great unwashed from participating at his events. But Hawking and Kelly surely lead the pack.

Hawking has suggested that an elite few representatives of the human race should leave the rest behind, and go off to colonize new planets. He also offered the pious hope that future technologies will magically conjure up the commonsense and consensus that we've been lacking.

"Perhaps we must hope that genetic engineering will make us wise and less aggressive," said Hawking.

That's not too far removed from Kelly's current project, which is to try and convince us that technology is wise and has a positive moral purpose (seriously) - rather than something that crashes a lot and has a lot of incompatible mains chargers.

But in the dual of the misanthropes, Kelly set the bar pretty high earlier this year, when we also got an indication of how he reacts when his ideas are challenged.

The Evangelical sage of Pacifica had predicted the end of the book - to be replaced by a giant "liquid" blob of reading matter which drips out of a computer network, leaving the reader the task of mopping up.

This gibberish was challenged by author John Updike [MP3 here], who countered that this view simply reflected Kelly's own reluctance to think clearly, or his inability to concentrate. Indeed, Kelly's own thought processes are too diffuse and tangled to repeat - we dealt with them at the time - but there's some creative use of the word "average", a grand dismissal of anyone who disagrees with him as being on the wrong side of history, and the sound of a door slamming, as Kelly flounces off, never to return.

What was that about stagnation, again? It was Kelly's rapid turn of misanthropy that caught our eye.

Does my bum look big in this exoskeleton? Kevin Kelly

"At least my exoskeleton doesn't talk back": Kevin Kelly and friend

Surely the guru needed to update his "New Rules For The New Economy"? We suggested a competition to provide the basis for a sequel - tentatively titled "New Rules For The New Misanthropy".

And how you responded.

1) "Preventing De-Evolution"

Without cybernetic "Warwick 2.0" implants our lack of future embracement will turn us back into monkeys. Upgrade now or face a lifetime of bananas.

2) "Splattergun not Sniper Rifle"

Load up with buzzwords and fire away. Brevity and clarity are your enemies.

3) "2+2="

The answer is what you want it to be. Anyone that doesn't understand that is destined for

Monkeyville on the good train non sustainable un-dis-anti-equillibrium.

4) "No poofters"

5) "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's distopian paradigm shift. Or HDTV"

Neil Armitage

A promising start which coins a neologism, too.

Luke Collins hits the right note with these:

"I'm right! - me, me, me!" "Tis better to be wrong in a complex way than right in a simple one" "The wisdom of crowds told us to watch Big Brother" "Make your own reality - you can if you just wish hard enough" "Progress - it's what we say" "Bring on the Rise of the Machines"

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