2020 - The Ministry for the Future

Discuss the novel The Ministry for the Future

Reading this question posed by Ezra Klein to a panel including KSR (see https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/22/magazine/ezra-klein-climate-crisis.html) led me to wonder whether anyone has constructed a narrative around this fanciful future scenario:

A critical mass of key military decisionmakers among the major world powers (spanning democratic and authoritarian regimes alike) reach a consensus that the biggest threat to their respective homelands is that of inaction on climate change by their own national governments.  Could collective military action lead to the birth of a supra-national government whose primary raison d'etre is enforcing climate change mitigation?

I'm just starting Ministry, and I noticed a phrase - and I've seen other authors make the same error - and it drives me nuts: On page 18 he writes: "Mary Murphy, an Irish woman of about forty-five years of age. . ."  Why "ABOUT?"  It's Stan's book and Stan's character; doesn't he know how old she is?  Why can't he say, "Mary Murphy, a forty-five year old Irish woman?"  Or, "Mary Murphy, whose bright red hair made her look younger than her forty-five years."  Yes, I know it's picky, but statements like that are literary potholes - they make us think about the writing instead of the story.

Has KSR ever discussed "Apocalypse Never?" Can anyo ne here say if it is worth a read? Seems the opposite of what MftF is all about.

Did anyone else pick up on Shaman echoing throughout KSR's new book? It was subtle at first - scattered mentions of Schist & Ibex, or a Mother Earth religion. For me it was explicit toward the end - Mama Mia! Mama Mia! Mama Mia!

am I reading too much into it? If you think it's intentional, why do you think KSR did this?

Just a quick issue.

The relationship between the International Criminal Court and the United States is inaccurate in the book. "The US and several other big countries had withdrawn from the court's jurisdiction after several negative rulings..." The US was never a signatory to the Rome Statute. While Clinton signed the Rome Statute in 2000, there was never really a hope that the Senate would ratify the treaty. Additionally, there has never been a US citizen tried by the ICC, though there are plenty that could be.

Also, the relationship of the ICJ to the various States is fairly accurate, but there is a way that the U.N. can ask for advisory opinions that are not binding but carry much weight in their advice given. See, the Nuclear Weapons Case, where the ICJ rules that there isn't any precedent outlawing nuclear weapons, but that their use must be within the confines of humanitarian law already established regarding war. More accurately, there is an issue with the ICJ that the jurisdiction is voluntary. And that doesn't mean, in this situation, that the State agrees the court exists to render verdicts in a situation, but that for each situation a State is brought before the court requires voluntary submission to the jurisdiction. So, the US can bring other States to the ICJ while at the same time denying jurisdiction in most (read, all) cases in which a different State brings a case against the US.

Thank you for the amazing novel! I was a little nervous about taking in another treatment of the climate change issue, but you did so well with this that I've grabbed up Mr. Robinson's California series as well.

I came to Mr. Robinson's books via the Mars trilogy, then Red Moon, and have always liked the treatment of political and scientific issues in those: the tensions, the pressures, etc. This book was a completely different book and one I feel I can take part in.

Here's my LinkedIn. I put this here to show that I have the skill, experience, and predilection for this particular task. I have already done plenty of cryptocurrency work, but more importantly, pure cryptographical work in this area. I releasing an offline first verifiable data protocol written with friends and see a lot of possibilities with the idea of p2p networks moving at the speed of snail mail some days. If you're interested in our work check out the Pigeon Protocol Consortium Spec.

The main reason I'm writing is that I believe in the world-changing power of decoupling and recoupling of various technologies, first as decentralized versions of people gaining abilities only afforded the wealthy and powerful before, then as a centralized version that aims for better ends as a society of trust. The Ministry of the Future reinvigorated that drive in me and I want to take part in the scientific efforts that this would mean.

As you can see, I already lean towards distributed computation, structures of trusts, and verifiable communication in an unverifiable world. I also am very socially minded, having been a mentor most of my life and experimented with several ways of moving beyond profit-driven capitalism. Your book showed me that profit could be trained toward a motivator for good as much as authorities can be directed towards supporting the right causes to keep their place in life. That's got me more thinking.

I've designed and have taken part in various projects to make social actions measurable and tradable: time banking, local coins, et al. I'm starting to wonder if a Service Coin would be a good idea. Not one that is decentralized in totality like BTC or Ether, but more in line with Facebook's Diem architecture has. I'm thinking of the charities and workplaces being validators of effort by running validation nodes, sharing the valid chains with each other in mutual trust with asymmetrical keys exchanges instead of proofs pushed forward for untrusted environments. This can immediately speed up chain propagation and insure markets that trade such coins that there is some stability to the coin. In addition to that, if it were tied to treasury bonds of some other federal instrument, it could become a stable coin that ensures that work done as a service to our communities, increases the stability and value of our country.

I would like to hear your thoughts, Mr. Robinson, on such a venture before I flesh it out more. Where can this be made stronger? More useful? What can go wrong? How to avoid that? Be frank, I can take it.

~ xorsense

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