Adapting Debates for the 21st Century

October 08 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

If you managed to watch the debate last night, you’re probably just as frustrated as everyone else at the way the candidates behaved. I’m not talking about physical behavior, but the verbal arguments. Every other line was about how the other candidate wasn’t telling the truth about certain subjects. I guess “not telling the truth” is the new way of saying “you’re lying” without coming off as confrontational.

This may be how debates have been run since the founding of this country (heck, the campaign of Jefferson vs Adams was probably the worst mud-slinging campaign of all time), but don’t you think in the age of instant information that twisting the truth only breeds distrust? What does it tell you about the candidates when every spin they try and weave can be blown apart by going to a site like

It’s time we adapted the political discourse to the 21st Century.

We need to sit these candidates down face to face and ask them the hard questions. If they try and spin a lie, the moderator should be informed via something akin to Twitter and call them on it right then and there. “I’m sorry Mr. Lincoln, you haven’t always been anti-slavery. In fact, just last week in Kentucky you told the audience you weren’t concerned about slave rights.” Can you imagine how incredible that would be? Facts would be facts, lies would be lies, and each politician would be responsible for the words they say.

This may seem a little harsh, but these people are vying for the office of President of the United States of America. This isn’t a show like Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann where the commentators aren’t held accountable for their lies mistakes.

The American people deserve more from the candidates and this method of debating (only three debates, are you kidding me?) is incredibly outdated. Let’s get the candidates to speak the truth and stop this incessant parlay which makes every debate seem like a tie.

image courtesy of Mich Licht at

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Website Aims to Map Every Camera That Infringes on Privacy

January 14 2009 / by John Heylin
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 3

berkeley.jpgI am pleased to announce the launch of Project Paranoid, a website which hopes to map out the location of every external camera in the world.  While some of you might think that a site such as this is unnecassary, there are enough that believe it is.  Currently the site only features about 600 camera locations are ound Berkeley, CA (the liberal stronghold) but with user help we hope to expand this all over the globe.  London itself has over 1.5 million CCTV cameras, so it's going to be a lot of work.

Currently the site is in a pretty rough form since we're going public ahead of time in order to get support.  If you're interested in helping out with designing, writing, programming, cash or even logging cameras, email us at so we can give you some sort of idea on what we're looking for.

(The image above is a screenshot of what the city of Berkeley looks like currently on our site.  Clicking the bubbles will give you a picture of the camera and soon other relevant information about it.)

Where McCain and Obama stand on Science and Technology

August 01 2008 / by justinelee / In association with Future
Category: Government   Year: General   Rating: 2

Over the past few months Americans have been trying to grasp what each presidential nominee will bring to the table once inaugurated as our Commander-in-Chief this coming January.

With looming issues that include the economy, the war in Iraq, and gas prices, there has been little emphasis placed on how either John McCain or Barack Obama feel about the government’s role in science and technology despite a growing group of citizens who want the issue debated.. These individuals believe that the future of America’s science and technology sectors are crucial to the success of our economy, world image, and ultimately our well-being.

I found this table presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), useful but not definitive.

The table compares the decisions made by McCain and Obama regarding policies on science and technology spanning energy, health care and innovation.

It is clear through this table that Obama has given each issue some more thought: his calls for change include concrete numbers and percentages, while McCain’s do not.

With some more research, I found that much of the same was reflected in McCain and Obama’s campaign websites and other articles written about their stances.

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Horgan and Kurzweil duke it out over the Singularity

October 25 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: 2008   Rating: 1 Hot

In a futurist battle-royal, John Horgan (author of The Undiscovered Mind) and Ray Kurzweil (CEO of Kurzweil Technologies, author of The Singularity is Near) held a debate over the Singularity in front of the assembled audience. What I thought was going to be rather scientific actually turned out to be a very interesting conversation.

John Horgan started off the debate on the attack. “I’m the skunk at Kurzweil’s garden party” he began, warming the audience to his stance. (To be fair, he was going up against the central figure in the Singularity movement in front of a lot of Singularity proponents – tough by any standards.)

He announced that he himself had once believed in the notion of a Singularity. Jovially, he kidded that once he had in fact experienced the Singularity as he tripped on drugs. “I became the Singularity.” What came next was a traditional thorough assault on the Singularity movement.

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