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Metaverse and Weaponized Tech


Mark Pesce

Award-winning author and technologist Mark Pesce tells us about the deep history of today’s consumer technology in military R&D including the 30 year arc of the Metaverse which Pesce himself kickstarted in the early 1990s. Pesce points out how consumer technology has outpaced the defense innovation, and now has become a front for a new kind of warfare.

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[Music] this week on the futurists most people have only heard the word metaverse in the last year particularlywhen facebook changed its name to meta to sort of canonize that new word yeahwe've all been hearing this word for now coming on to 30 years right because snow crash was released 30 years ago andthat's sort of the first time that word became codified before that of course we called it cyberspaceand there's there's a whole history that goes back 110 years to an am foster short storycalled the machine stops which is really the first time someone plants this idea of a connected humanspace they are still pursuing the basic things that they learned and of course thefirst basic thing that they learned was that it's not about the technology it's aboutthe people [Music]hey there welcome back it's the futurists with my co-host brett king andyours truly rob turzik every week we convene this program to interview somebody who is thinking aboutand building the future and today just before we jump into it brad i want to talk about that wordfuturist you know you use that word shamelessly you're talking aboutyourself as a future yeah i know but there's some of us some of the futurists that i i work with guys like mike walshfor example who we need to get on the show yeah my mike actually is not a big fan of the wordfuturist yeah um you know but i i you know my definition of a futurist righttell me it means never being wrong today great i love that uh you know i'm areluctant futurist everybody calls me that so i suppose i've sort of embraced the term but reluctantly in the sensethat i'm not quite sure that's how i designate myself i tend to think of myself as a strategist because in thecontext of business planning forecasting is essential you have to have the ability to forecast you have to have a little creativity around thescenarios that you put together and then you have to have some analytic capability to justify those scenariosfigure out what trends are actually going to influence them and shape them i'm not quite sure that adds up to beinga futurist but of course on this show we have a little bit different definition which is that a futurist is somebody who doesn'tjust think about or talk about the future i think that actively builds yeah i think um you know if you if you lookback at the work we've done um you know most recently some of the people we've interviewed um you know um bradtempleton david orban et cetera there's there's something that a lot of futurists have in common which is we'rein a hurry to get to the future you know i mean that's that's i think if you want to say what embodies a futurist it's youknow we we want to push or pull the world towards that that potential andthat is possible um and i think that's uh that's a large part of it but umyogi yogi is somebody who's very in the present moment right the other thing i think is sort of coreum to this is um you know it depends whether you sort oftake that engineering path or more the intellectual philosophical path butum a lot of this is like trying to take what would typically havebeen thought of as science fiction and operationalize it or execute on it so um it's sort of short-term sci-fi butit's things that are imminently achievable within the next say 30 or 50 years whichever the the time frame is sobut the thing is that that's getting more and more powerful you won't be around to be to be held accountable ihope so because one of the things we're working on is immortality right so well this week we have a futurist uhsomebody who i hold in the highest regard he's been a friend for a very long time and actually the very first person i ever metwho designated himself a futurist and is well understood for that he's written a number of books eight different booksall future oriented many of them are really good really worthwhile reading especially augmented reality which willtell you all about the next big thing in the tech world he's also a tv personality in australia where he livesnow on the australian abc not the usabc owned by disney but the australianbroadcasting company where he runs the program the new inventors he's been a mentor to a number ofstartup companies he's also an early stage investor he writes award-winning columns for the register and cosmos sohere's a prolific thinker about the future but that's not all brett our guest mark pesci also invented thefuture he's one of the very first people to conceptualize and actually build the programming language for 3d on the webso really one of the original og metaverse experts mark pesci welcome tothe futurist thank you very much robert thank you very much brett what time is it inaustralia it's early it's just after 9 00 a.m so you know it's early on a saturday morning herebut i'm always happy to talk to the two of you how long have you been in my mind you guys are bending my mind we've got an australian we got an australian inthe united states and an american in australia right now and i'm trying to figure out which time zone everybody's onwe're all just we're all just citizens of the world my friend that's how we should be thinking that ummark how long have you been in oz it's almost 19 years now it'll be 19 years in octoberthere you go well so that's a you know i mean i've been offshore from oz for 23 years so umyou know hong kong then dubai than than new york but um yeah wow and you're in it's been aninteresting ride and you're in sydney or yes i'm very much okay very good i was guessing with abc umstudios up there okay conceivably melbourne but but it's you know generally things are still run out of sydney now yeah i'm a melbourne boy wentto melbourne high so that's my claim to fame from from the melbourne days but great to have you onman thank you what people used to say about australia is that it's sort of like california before they messed upcalifornia and now you can say uh you can see australia is a little bitlike the future of california in the sense that the place is on fire half the year yeah and we're only on fire for about a third of the year at this pointthanks to climate change uh yeah the future that's the only other gibson adage the future is here it's justunevenly distributed when it comes to climate change that's certainly the case right now i think we're seeing thatglobally yeah that's right you're going to feel cold it's always described as the canary inthe coal mine when it comes to climate in part because the geography of australia makes climate extremes moreextreme but weirdly new zealand has a perfectly temperate climate doesn't it so thefunny thing is this morning i woke up and one of my friends who moved to new zealand right before the pandemic started sent me a shot at the end of hisdriveway he lives in wellington which is quite hilly and the hill has come downso if you think about robert what happens to us in the canyons when i used to live in the canyon the same as you dowhen it rains too much the canyon sides bulge and then they basically just pour into the street that's what's happeningto him because they're getting the same la nina that we're getting here in australia and australia is about to haveits third la nina year which is extremely rare sydney has gotten and we'll end this year with the highestrain level ever recorded we have had three massive floods already this yearyeah absolutely so so you guys have to quit griping about the the fires because actually you're getting plenty of waternow the the floods started when they put the fires out so that's how it worked yeah that's terrible that's a terriblecycle too because then there's nothing in the ground to hold the soil in place no it's a significant problem um andaustralia would be the perfect um also the perfect climate for for example for going renewable you knowwe've already had the success of the tesla battery farm in south australia but the new south wales andvictorian grids are com you know particularly unprepared for um you know the the coming demandson the energy systems there because of the lack of uh you know support for umyou know green energy um and and sort of changes to the grid there but we could go off on a tangent on that for sureno but we've just had a change of government and part of what's happened is that uh three weeks ago the government formally committed to theparis agreement to reduce emissions by 43 by 2030. and signing that piece ofpaper seemed innocuous but in fact what it's doing is it's now backward propagating through the entire energygeneration and distribution excellent so the capital is now aligning around being able to deliver on that which was thething that was missing from this so i am quite hopeful about that excellent good to hear now some peoplesay that the one way to mitigate climate change is to build virtual worlds and that is a completely graceless andinelegant way to transition to a topic that i know is near and dear to your heart mark which is virtual worldsso for those who are listening if you can remember you have to go in the way back machine here a thing called vrmlfrom what 1993 mark is that it i'm sure that's when we first crossed paths at february1994 specifically okay okay tell us about vrml and tony parisi who was aguest on the show just a couple of weeks back yes so tony and i met inthe end of 1993 when he had moved to san francisco and i remember visiting him and his wife when they were moving intotheir apartment because they were just moving to town and he said so mark what do you do and three hours later when iexplained this crazy quest that i was on to create a 3d interface to this very new thing called the world wide web thatmost people hadn't even heard of yet much less used he's like oh that sounds fun let's do it and we putour brains together within a couple of weeks we had a prototype of a 3d interface to this thing that again noone had really used yet but we then reached out to sir tim berners-lee the father of the web i saidlook we've done this 3d interface you had mentioned somewhere that you'd like that we have it and he said well couldyou come to the big conference we're planning in may and show everyone wow that was the first internationalconference on the world wide web basically 300 researchers all gathered in cern in the room where they announcedthe higgs boson 20 years later basically all collaborating on thisvision for what we knew in our heart would be the universal human libraryright and so i've never been to and think i will probably never get to go to another conference like that wherethere was such a sense of shared purpose and you know the idea that the technology was already here we didn'thave to do much more than what had already been done all we needed to do was to scale it and pretty much everyonewent out from that and evangelized and that was pretty much when the tippingpoint began particularly within academic and some commercial institutions to start bringing content onto the webbut your specific focus there was 3d so as most people were just trying to get their arms wrapped arounda page of text you were already one or two steps down the line thinking about 3d it was it allvector at that point you know it wasn't you didn't have texture maps and skins and stuff and things oh no we had thatwe had the whole so the enabling technology here to make allof that possible on a very ordinary pc because again tony and i were not rich we didn't have access to the kinds ofsort of several hundred thousand to million dollar graphic super computers that were used to create most virtualreality but there was some enabling tech which was software rendering engines and if people remember where the first timethey saw maybe castle wolfenstein or doom these are games that are sort of 30 years old that was very fastyeah very fast 3d on machines that were not very fast because they used a lot ofvery careful mathematical shortcuts well those shortcuts were generalized and putinto software packages and we had access to one of them called render morphics reality labpeople today would know it by another name because render morphics reality lab was purchased by microsoft and becamedirect 3d so interesting pcand every xbox in the world is running direct3d the very first application thatwas built in render morphics now direct3d that wasn't built by render morphics was the veryfirst vrml browser that's incredible so that's just proof that old software never dies it just becomes a part of thenext release windows exactly and it was the enabling technologybecause it allowed us to do things on a really ordinary pc that people wouldn'teven have thought of so it wasn't just vector graphics it was fully realized worlds and we were able to show thosefrom the very beginning and the very first big public demo that we gave which was at the siggraph conference later onthat year sort of july august so we took a single room exhibition out of the u.s holocaust memorial museum calleddaniel's story which is a boy who is living in the warsaw ghetto and he's leaving notes on the wall telling hisstory we digitized that space and then presented it linked into the webat siggraph that year super cool so almost 30 years ago you were pioneering techniques and actually techniques thatreally got popular quick because i remember clearly i was hooked on doom in 1994 and i mean i played it like everyday for three months or so uh and remember the coders that went they did that and built that they wenton later after quake and so on to uh to create oculus you know so they're building 3d worlds right nowi mean i definitely was a doom and a um you know quake engine guy but i i i iuh my my the big gaming like virtual reality thing for me was half-life ithink you know the game changer um but yeah and now mark you're actually going toteam up with tony parisi to create a new podcast so can you tell us about that can we sneak that into thisplug for your next venture yeah so tony and i in fact are working really hard right now on a six episode series we'recalling a brief history of the metaverse fantastic idea heremost people have only heard the word metaverse in the last year particularly when facebook changed its name to metato sort of canonize that new word yeah we've all been hearing this word for nowcoming on to 30 years right because snow crash was released 30 years ago and that's sort of the first time that wordbecame codified before that of course we called it cyberspace and there's there's a whole history thatgoes back a hundred and ten years to an am foster short story called the machinestops which is really the first time someone plants this idea of a connected humanspace in the mind and in literature and we just in the first episode we trace throughhow it works in terms of the literature all the way to neuromancer and then wetake a turn we say look at neuromancer was so effective as an evocationthat people actually started to build it and then we bring in ship morningstar and randy farmer whocreated habitat which was the very i remember well yes the very first virtual world andthey are still at it they are still pursuing the basic things that they learned and of course the first basicthing that they learned was that it's not about the technology it's aboutthe people yeah the community that's right this is where they're getting it wrong today we talked to tony about thisuh you know he was here he was telling us a little bit about his new venture with neil stephenson at lamina oneand we talked a little bit about the way uh the current crop of metaversus seems to be getting it wrong they're focused on business model firstand community last and and if you look at the incredible durability of second life it's entirely attributable to thefact that they've made they make tools that make the community fun you know they allow the community to express themselves in wacky and unpredictableways and when you compare that to like horizons world uh facebook's shopping malluh it's it's astounding you know how do they think anyone's gonna find that appealing to build this sort of look-alike kind of cheesy cartoon-likeavatar with no legs uh walking around completely controlled and contrived environmentuh i i can't muster the energy to even delve into the thing and the other metaverses that are out there todaythings like decentral and sandbox they're digital ghost towns uh there's you know no one on the server when youget there and so there's no community whatsoever well but i mean you could say you could say the same about the web inthe early days like in in 94 and 95 you know that was how we would havedescribed the web you know well you didn't really have a people experience on the web but what you did have was anincredible ferocity of launching i remember really clearly in 94.95 if you went to netscapes what's cool the listof new things was becoming unmanageable right yahoo hired a whole team of like librarians so you had a sense thatpeople were doing stuff because there was a proliferation and it was kind of like early stage um you know kind oflike algorithmic growth in terms of the number of pages that were being generated on a daily basis so there was a science science okay all rightand then um and we're doing games and with games you found this incredible untapped or unmetneed to connect people together so people definitely crave the connection but but i think now with the metaverseif it's not community first it's gonna land with a thud and then it's gonna be really hard to get a community therelater but mark we're not letting you talk we're just talking on top of you go for it you know i you know i i feel thatwith decentral and the other sort of purely web 3 based in other words blockchain based and reallyland sale based virtual worlds that these are basically schemes to getpeople to buy land on the promise that enough people are going to buy land and come and live in these spaces that thisthis land is going to be valuable and i think that that is a chicken and egg model where there is no chicken and there's only a virtual egg yeah it'slike the 1920s in florida that's going to be a bit problematic ithink with meta the bigger issue is that the name change is effectively anelaborate misdirection play to shine the light away from the fact that facebookis without question the most socially toxic organism of the 21st centuryand as long as you can change the name and get people to look elsewhere oh my god mark is blowing 10 billion on thisthing that can't happen who cares he's still making a hundred billion dollars a year on the advertising revenue bypolluting the social space and really that's my own feeling about this i know other people feel very differently aboutit well i you know i think if you look at um you know zuckerberg's thinking on themetaverse you know one of one of the problems that silicon valley has is you know if you look at sanfrancisco and la and and so forth right now you know we have this massiveproblem of inequality it's all throughout the us right um butthe the tech boom has contributed to that and there's a there's a view in in some circles within silicon valley thatyou know while these people can live in pod houses but they'll they'll be able to live their best life in the metaverseit's not like that's not a solution to that's the ready player one scenarioyeah exactly the stacks in chicago and i'm living in a container but i sure have a good time on the internet i'm arockstar no we'll have ubi for your for your pizzas delivered by drone and and you could play all day in in themetaverse it's like no it's like we we need something we need a better model than that okay he's wheeling out the ubiso i think it's time for us to change topics hey so listen watch out for thethe brief history of the metaverse a brief history of the metaverse podcast from mark pesci and from tony parisiboth guests on the futurist and that podcast will be coming out when mark when should we look for it it'll land onthe 15th of september on nextbillionseconds.com and just on the next billion seconds podcast feedcool awesome we'll put it out on our fed too yeah yeah great excellent thank you now in parallel all of thatat the same time and actually fueling a lot of what you were just talking about mark in the history of 3d and vrml andthe metaverse and what we used to call cyberspace were companies like evans and sutherlandand i remember the weird mashup of all these cyber arts people hanging around with these kind of likemilitary you know military-industrial vendors uh from evans and sutherland and other uh other companiesit was just a weird culture clash they weren't so far apart because at the core everybody's a geek so that that part we had in commonbut at the time those companies had the rendering power so if you really want to do immersive reality of any kind of sortit just happened to be a fight fighter jet simulation um butthat ties into a topic you and i've been discussing the last couple days which is uh the the deep intertwined and kind ofweird and interesting history uh and present of internet technologies and consumertechnologies intertwined with military technology uh we see examples of thatthe internet came from dapa right 100 we should unpack that story a little butyeah that's what people always point to right so the the defense advanced research project uh has a number ofcredits it's not just the internet arpanet they're precursor to today's internet but also uh mobile phones anduh and space and satellites for communities spread spectrum technology that's thebasis of cellular technology absolutely that's right so that all came from from uhdarpa and darpa's mission is interesting the idea darpa was after the sputnik satellite the us military never wantedto be caught off guard again so their job is to look at all the weird and wonderful new technologies that are coming and evaluate them for either adefensive or offensive use and mainly the goal there is to keep people safebut they have come up with some interesting uh you know some interesting weapons as well their big new focus isbiotech they have a whole office now called the um biology as technologywhich i think is fascinating we'll have to get some of those folks on the show but mark comment a little bit about thatbecause that was fun we were chatting about that last night yeah and i think what i want to do is actually expand thethe palette a little bit and go back a little bit further because while i think we do see this relationship as a modern relationship itis not a modern relationship the most important military developmentof the last thousand years is gunpowdergunpowder began as fireworks in china it began as a technology ofentertainment and it was several hundred years of entertainment before someone in chinarealized oh we could use this for a rocket and then i believe it was the portuguese who managed to get it fromthe chinese and brought it to europe and one thing led to another so we have this idea that a lot of these technologiesactually do begin as entertainment technologies and then become military technologies then let's go to thevictorian era we have this massive industrialization we're using machines for everything to improve the standardof life for people right to increase the speed of transport increase agricultural productivity make clothing cheaper allof these different things none of that gets fully weaponized until the great war right and then bam and then we have this30-year period of war and technological acceleration and then we end at the other side at the end of the secondworld war and it's not so much that it stops at that point there is a lot of money goinginto defense during the cold war period and it's then at the end of that cold war period and all three of us are oldenough to remember exactly that point when the berlin wall comes down that the nations in the west get the peacedividend right because the money stops pouring into defense southern california goes into a severerecession because so many of the jobs in southern california were defense industry related and it took basically afull decade for la to reorganize its economy on a non-defense basis and thisis exactly the pivot point that we see now because that starts around 1990 and then interesting1995 you get the playstation and this becomes a sort of crossover point wherethe leading edge of technology development and where money is going stops being defense and starts beingconsumer electronics and it turns out that the market for consumer electronics was probably anorder of magnitude bigger than the marketand so it is now the thing that's dragging things along this is why the best chips you can find in the world aresitting in your late model smartphone not in military equipment right and nsathat has massive implications for the pentagon and for other defense departments around the world because nowthe tales wagging the dog the entertainment tale or the consumer entertainment the consumer electronics tell is wagging the military dog they'replaying catch-up we see evidence of that you know for instance right now in the war that's happening in ukraineuh the russian military uh one of the reasons russian generals are getting targeted by drone attacks is thatthey're using regular cell phones and they have to use regular cell phones because they're more reliable than the military equipment that they have forcommunications uh that probably has something to do with corruption and people not actually procuring the right things and so forthbut at any rate there the consumer tech is ahead of the military texas to kind of confirm your point theremark we need to take a little break here because we do have sponsors for this show and so we're going to make a little pause now but folks keep listeningbecause in just a couple minutes we'll be back with mark on the futurists[Music] to breaking banks the number one globalfintech radio show and podcast i'm brett king and i'm jason henricks every week since2013 we explored the personalities startups innovators and industry players driving disruption in financial servicesfrom incumbents to unicorns and from cutting edge technology to the people using it to help create a moreinnovative inclusive and healthy financial future i'm jp nichols and thisis breaking bankswelcome back to the futurists uh robert tursek and i are in the hosting chair with mark pesci today live from sydneyaustralia before the break we were talking about uh how military development and consumer technologieshave sort of been in parallel but had various elements of um you know influence overtime so to mark um you know we talked about the great war and this sort of golden age of uh you know that thatpreceded um the great war there was so much hope you know coming out of the victorian erainto the industrial age you know all of this hope that humanity was was pushingfurther and then bang we we land into these these uh wars and you know it's inmany ways it could be a little bit of the same thing today not from a warfare perspective necessarily butwe are moving from this period of extreme optimism around technology butwe have some major issues to deal with you know climate change inequality now we have you know umviruses like uh covert and so forth so we're entering a period ofdisruptiveness but we also have china um you know rattling the saber a little bituh regarding taiwan so where do you where do you see this cycle goingand the this is i think resonance here you know mark twain has the wonderful line that thefuture never repeats but it does rhyme and i want to give you an example of one of those rhymes so in 1909 uh englishmannamed norman angel wrote a book called the great illusion in which he indicated that a war between the great powers wasextremely unlikely because all of the powers were benefiting more from the rise in international trade and theywould be severely hurt by that now he does this in 1909 that book is a best seller i think it's the best seller thatyear in the uk published in america the next year again bestseller everyone's thinking we're entering this new goldenage of enlightenment and nations won't fight and of course four years later it all collapses becausegermany and the uk who are each other's largest trading partnershave the great war all right well i'll flip forward 90 years and we have bothfrancis fukuyama who codifies it as the end of history but we're going to go to tom friedman with the golden archestheory of history which the biggest index now yes simply put that no two nations that havemcdonald's franchises have had a war with one another some of the rationale for that isbecause mcdonald's won't plant franchises in a nation until it has a lot of economic stability and politicalstability and so that tends to be a marker for thelow quality of belligerence of those nations that's not going to age well well it wasn't it was true untilfebruary when ukraine and russia which both have mcdonald's in them went to war right so it didn't agein the same way that the great illusion didn't age and so in some ways we areseeing and let's face it brett we all want to be optimists i mean to be a futurist is to be an entrepreneur to beoptimistic yeah no one no one likes a dystopian futurist theydon't get invited to parties yeah all conferences yeahyou know we are professional optimists not because we're blind to the future but because we're constantly tugging atthe best elements of it but i think one of the things that happens is we get blinded by our own optimism and partspart of what's happening in 2022 now that's very true is that our own optimism is now beingtempered by the fact that people are is still as illogical and as selfishand you know i would call it foolish but other people have different names for itas they have ever been yeah if not uh if notum actually increasing in irrational um you know conceptualization of the world it's it'slike you know having these conversations like you see on social media about umyou know let's end all vaccinations and things it just blows my mind some of how how we'veintellectually declined as a species knowing certain elements right yeah i ifeel as though this is one of the things that that 300 researchers in that room in 1994 didn'tunderstand we knew we were building the global library what we didn't understand isthat we were also building an ignorance amplifier and i think if someone had explained that to us in small wordswe might not have wanted to believe it but it might have tempered our steps andwe probably would have built in more facility into the basic web to help people understand the quality of thetruth that they were reading or indulging inyeah it's interesting the web in the 90s uh was we can look back at it as a fabulous place because people wererelatively polite they were flame wars but they were pretty manageable um the thing is that in in the 1990s youhad a few hundred million people using the web i think it was less than 400 million and um they were the smart 400.you know now you've got six billion people so everybody else came in most people are new users like still mostpeople are new users on social media and they're also vulnerable in a lot of other ways uh yeah so so one thing wecan talk about mark is how militarization has also invaded cyberspace but not in the way people thinkit's the weaponization of social media an infiltration of social media with um you knowrobots that can generate hostility and drive division and wedges between different groups of people and break ademocracy uh democracy propaganda all of that's been a big part of the military uh playbookyeah it's been always moved we've been having a cold war for about 10 years we just didn't want toacknowledge it but you know it's between intellectual property theft and hacking and uh the attempts in multiple attemptsto disrupt real-world infrastructure through the network and then the militarization or weaponization ofsocial media these are all examples of concerted efforts by real people realorganizations in the real world they're not just the accidents they don't just emerge uh these are things that are deliberately donenow every government disavows it nobody takes credit for it uh in russia they have that wonderful phrase that i sharewith you mark political entrepreneurs that's what they call the people who are doing the socialmedia really yeah but that's a new front right so that's like the the fifth column uh is uh isyou know um using social media and other vectors to get to people what's remarkable about that is back in thebattle days of big media and controlled media and centralized publishing and domination of broadcast media by just ahandful of companies we had a better sense of national consensus we had a better sense of national identity we thought we knew whowe were we thought we knew what values we shared and what we're seeing now in retrospect is national identity is astory that we tell ourselves it's a very convincing story when it's well told but that story can start to fragment and umand suddenly it doesn't all hold up so well once you've got 100 different versions of that story uh tailored for differentgroups let's talk about drones let's talk about the consumerization of dronesuh you know when obama started using actually i guess they started under george bush but then obama loved itbecause he didn't have to put boots on the ground and at one point we were having a war in we were bombing eight different nationsseveral of whom were allies of ours um the united states i'm referring to not australia um but we were inaustralia was was participating in a lot of that too that's true and you know and we have a number of different droneprograms in the united states uh the uh the cia has a has a black drone program nobody knows anything about and ofcourse then there's the military drone programs uh it always seemed to me that we're going to come to regret thisand i think here we are here we are you know like suddenly it's really cheap to build a drone okay the united statesbuilds expensive drones but a country like turkey now has uh a you know a company back i mean going to get thisname wrong but it's bairaktar and they're producing drones that are relatively cheap although you can't getthe exact price it ranges between one and two million dollars and for the whole system with the ground controlfive million that's a fraction of the cost of a drone system from a u.s vendor so in a way they're democratizing uhdrone technology these are killer drones and they've been quite they've been surprisingly effective in the ukraine waryeah and i mean we're about to see now as you've probably talked about on the show we're about to see an explosion insemi-autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles right so the joby is my my favorite becauseit's kind of the first one that's gotten faa so we're seeing an explosion in that technology as well and those are notmulti-million dollar things and so what you can see is that the price curve that we're on from the 100 million dollarhalf a billion dollar u.s predator style drones to this two or five milliondollar turkish drone is only a midpoint down to say a hundred thousand dollardrone probably we'll see by oh yeah and look they're building homemade drones in the ukraine right now so they'rebuilding like super cheap you know do-it-yourself kind of drones yeah no they're just like they're using commercial drones and they're droppinghand grenades out of them you know impact hand grenades and stuff it's yeah it's like the improvised uh um theimprovised bombs that they put in the streets yeah yeah that's rightuh you know and i do remember reading about the fact that the ukrainians had used some sort of commercial dronealong with a camera along with facial recognition technology to be able to recognize russian generals in the fieldand direct artillery fire their way right so you have this combination of very off-the-shelf technologies thatwere simply being remixed into an extremely lethal form now we keep comfort comforting ourselvesin the united states because we always believe that we're going to have air supremacy it's why we we invest so much in not just our aircraft but also ourpilot training and uh we're chuckling at russia's expense because they haven't really achieved their supremacy if you had thatthen those bacteria be raktar drones those cheap drones would be they're utterlydefenseless they're like a one-hit job so uh if if the russians had air supremacy there'd be no threat at all from fromthose drones but i think we might be fooling ourselves uh because we can't stop we can't stopdrones from impacting airports in the us these small commercial drones that's right this is where i'm heading this isexactly where i'm heading i was chatting with mark about uh palmer lucky another pioneer of vr just in a weirdparallel this conversation is full of cross references but palmer lucky who created oculus after he sold that tofacebook and then got fired by mark zuckerberg he went and started a new company um and they're focused ondefense he wants to be a defense contractor high-end high-tech defense contractor in the united statesand his vision is tens of thousands of drones attacking a big military asset like aircraft carrier and his viewis that you know we have good defense systems on those ships we'll be able to defend against the first 10 000 dronesbut what happens after 20 000 or 30 000 and the idea is that you know it's relatively cheap right you can build 30000 cheap disposable drones knowing most of them will get shot down but some will get throughand if you can take out a you know multi 100 billion dollar uh ship you can actually make some serious havoc wewe should probably call this the cicada theory of military attack right becausewill emerge in the tens of billions so that the predators simply get filled up and the ones that live will breed thenext generation of cicadas now tell me again about dystopian futurists because i really want to hear that parti mean it's so i just spent a lot of time with palmer lucky he came to visit australiahe has a deal that they've tied up with the australian defense force to build what they're calling the xl ua auv sothe extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle because although you probably haven't heard too much about it inamerica we have been unable to get a new generation of submarines which we need badly to defend the land mass againstanything that might be coming from say east asia and i won't name names here but you can use your imaginationand we don't have a deal for that we had to deal with the french that fell apart we now have a deal with the americans theamericans say oh yeah we'll get your submarines in 2040 which is a long time from now that'spart of because the defense procedures around this are defense uh procurement andconstruction procedures are so slow and so long term so he wants to build us a small fleet of relatively inexpensivelot when we're talking ex the xls i think they're six meters long so they're not tiny right and theyshould be able to go out and autonomously scan all of the coast and keep things relatively safe make sure the cablesaren't being played with stuff like that and it's very compelling and i suspect he's going to be doing a lot of businesshere because he's taking that idea of a lot of drones and saying okay we will deploy them under the water insufficient numbers to allow australians to feel relatively safe and one of the interesting things youpointed out to me about about palmer lucky is that his approach is very different from an american defensecontractor in the sense that most american defense contractors provide systems on a cost plus basiswhich is in other words the government is paying them to learn how to make the product and with a high tech product that's a really lousy formula becauseyou're going to end up having a company that just extends their learning curve because they're getting paid a long way his approach is different so palmerlucky is saying here's a system it works would you like this system or would you like the next version which is coming out in six months he's doing it like theway we drop software releases you know so he's got um he's got a a planned approach to developing software anddeveloping products and you can have this release so you can wait for the next one um he's not asking to pay himalong the way to pay for his learning like tesla does yeah you know umbut what's really interesting about this is um you know if you look back you know mark you were talking about umhistorical analogies of things like communities online and of course we havethe steam machine man of the prairies and and uh rossum's universal robots uhyou know we have a lot of uh history in respect to um you know these technologies but drones weren't big insci-fi um it's one of those things that sci-fi sort of missed we do have uhsome newer sci-fi um you know like neil stephenson and others that that dealt with it but you don't hear of dronesnecessarily back in the 1940s 50s asimov type um you know eraof the drones so um it's interesting that such a ma you know because normallya lot of the cycle of development of tech comes from sci-fi right but there's a reason for that right because thecomputers that they had at that time were the size of a building exactly incredibly expensive so the idea of adisposable computer was unthinkable right but then when you get to george lucas you've got droid wars right and now youcan have uh you know kind of crappy cgi looking back at it today not a very convincing special effect but this ideaof an army of tens of thousands of disposable robots right and now what we're talking about is junk tech we'retalking about stuff the size of a shoe box you know that flies around and costs a couple thousand dollars yeah yeahdesigned for being disposable but you can imagine if you were on the deck of a cruiser or an aircraft carrier and therewere literally thousands of these things blackening the sky and you were trying to take them down with whatever system you've got that would be quitefrightening right that would be quite quite a scary scenario that's the scenario that i wonder if the unitedstates is preparing for you have to imagine that right now everybody in the world is watching what's going on in the ukraine and taking some conclusions fromit you know back in the civil war in the united states civil war in the 1860suh military experts came over to observe and they came away unimpressed with the us army which is not such abad uh assessment because u.s army wasn't very well trained and we were basically just recruiting people and throwing them into the field and so theylooked and they said these are you know not very well trained soldiers not a very professional military but they did notice things like the useof artillery which changed the battlefield completely the use of trains and telegraphsand that became material within five years you had the battle between the prussians and the french and it was allabout train timetables because they took that away and was like wow we can move huge numbers of soldiers fast if we organize the trains properly so that wasa big military improvement you have to wonder what's going to happen with tactics now coming out of this ukrainewar because quite obviously the idea of driving a bunch of tanks into a country that's not reallyhappening uh until they get some better defense systems yeah you know we are seeing umyou know we we have seen a depiction of some of this in popular um film now like angel has fallen that umyou know uh um gerard butler um film with um with morgan freeman in it where theyhave the drone attack on the president um you know overwhelming the secret service sobut yeah you know it's it's pretty interesting to see um that um you knowthe conflict between russia and ukraine has not gone the way most people thought it would be would goum and um you know i mean here's here's my view as a futurist waryou know is is is pretty unproductive as a mechanism forresolving issues but um when are we going to like evolve beyond warfare is sort of reallymy question yeah but i guess the thing that we we've all we we haven't forgotten it because we never learned itbut i think that the generation who has just passed away learned was that war is also an enormous technological accelerator right enormous right weremember the first the second world war began with a cavalry charge and it ended with a mushroom cloud right and so yeahyou frame it like that now one of the things that i think we're going to see out of this and we haven'treally talked about is that underneath and invisibly there's an enormous amount of cyber warfare that is taking placeon the battlefront between russia and ukraine we know that the nato allies aresupporting ukraine in this effort which is one reason why ukraine systems haven't been completelyoverwhelmed i know because i'm hearing it from palmer but really pretty much from everyone in the defense establishment that electroniccountermeasures warfare is a huge area now and you're talking about if we black in the sky with drones how do we knockthose drones down without having to hit them with anything how do we either interrupt their communications or shootan emp at them emps yeah that's right and we know that they're developing non-nuclearcapacitively charged emps that can shoot a particular blast you probably read recently the russiansnow have this new satellite that's just following an american defense satellite it's basically just shadowing it and youknow that thing has a way to kind of catch up and blow up and take out the u.s so basically they're going to try to take out our eyes in the skyuh and at some point in the future they're threatening to do it china has a similar approach they demonstrated a satellite killeruh so so yeah the one one big vector of attack now is going to be the electronic surveillance systems that govern allthese robotic systems uh that and help us that could be a huge problem for usbecause um you know we could have sort of runaway space junk scenario in earth orbit making it almostimpossible for us to leave earth all but for the castle syndrome exactly that'sthat's it yeah i forgot the name of it but which of course the film gravity was based on at the start but um yeah yeahwhich you'd yeah i'm obviously as a sci-fi guy i'm a space guy you know and i want to see usget to mars and i don't want you know us to clutter up earth all but to a point where we can't do that but i want tocircle back to something that you mentioned a minute ago brett which i think is relevant here uh you know andactually something you said mark mark you talked about the irrational nature of warfare and brett you asked the question when are we going to evolvepast it certainly in the united states if you're paying attention to this war in the ukraineyou think it is irrational it's like what is this aging dictator thinks that he can just go push around anothersovereign nation after having signed after having signed a treaty with them to defend themuh you know he's setting all that aside and it just seems so arbitrary and self-defeating and stupidbut bear in mind this is a resource war this is all about oil and gas and the donbass region which the russians havetaken over and they're going to defend fiercely that's the one piece they're not likely to want to give up anytime soon without a huge fightthat's the most oil rich area and it's not really tapped it hasn't been developed yet by the ukrainiansand that's by design um those oil reserves are extremely easy toaccess and if if the russians wanted to undercut if they're sorry if the ukrainians wanted to undercut russia'soil and energy business it's quite possible that they could do it and they could supply the west and they could do it quite easily uh throughuh direct lines to the west and that's a big fear for russia and this is why are we even investing in oilanyway right like you know i mean i hear you i hear you but you know the world does run on oil right nowso that's right pharmaceuticals to tires um you know just a few years back people thought why is china being a big bullyin tibet and why are they invading tibet and so on but tibet is the best water tower for china and there wassimply no way they were going to let that water tower be dominated by any other country and so they went to seize it so one thing i start to wonder aboutis war zones of the future well you know the potential for resource wars um youknow with climate change yeah it's massive right what do you think mark i think we said i i am a resident of themost resource-rich nation in the world so that's what i think about the only thing we don't have is oil but we havethe largest supplies of natural gas we have the second largest supply of lithium we have the second largestsupply of uranium we have the largest solar silica yep right so we so australia is resourcerich and i think this is one of the reasons why australia is it's the lucky country we call it thatbut it's also i think a slightly nervous country we we don't want to be come an economic colony but that saidour largest our largest trading partner for all of our resources is china yeahby a long margin yeah they say in australia you sell the country by the shovelful to the chinesewell it was i can't remember as it was a australian economist um commenting in umthe the age newspaper he said australia is a third world country but it's just gifted with all of these natural resourcesbecause without the natural resources you know what's the basis of the economy rightso when i say that as an australian this is like this is really present right now you know this summer uh justjust this week actually uh california where i live southern california has to cut its uh use of the coloradoriver and that's actually affecting nevada and arizona and other states as well that draw water from that the riveris running dry last summer i was up on the missouri river up in the headlands where normally it would be rushing withsnow melt but there was no snow to melt that summer and as a result you could walk across the missouri river which isa big wide river this summer we saw the rhine river the busiest river in the world with the mosttraffic the most industrial traffic it got to a point where some parts of the river were unpassable because therewasn't enough water and the same is happening right now in the sun river in france and so this concept of resource warsdriven by climate change but nevertheless resource wars water wars combine food scarcity eco-refugee it's it'sgoing to be chaos i mean yeah let's go back to that theory that history doesn't repeat but it does rhymethe late bronze age collapse right 1180 bcwhich was effectively when there was a combined climate change and then all of basically all of the mediterraneancivilizations imploded more or less simultaneously around that because there was should weget ready for sea people to see people with drones this time yeah actually i feel like that would bethe foundation for very interesting hard science fiction novel about the 2040s or2050s there's one other aspect here too the freelancers that we talked about some ofthis technology so cheap that you can have non-government actors and i don't know how well prepared theu.s or other big places are for um drone attacks by terrorists inside their owncountries i have to assume that there's a plan for this although i don't really have any evidence to support that conclusionyou know countries that are threatened by terrorism they're clearly sensitive to the idea i just don't know what dronecounter measures exist you know what can you do to stop a drone from flying into a football stadium i mean the easiestway is to just stop the radio signal you know have a jam jam radio signals but ofcourse you know people can work around that they could use the cell networksyeah you could stop cell networks yeah you'd have to have a range of uhof those those um capabilities um but of course youknow you don't want everyone's mobile phones to stop working as well i guess the point i'm making is it's anasymmetrical threat that's very hard to calculate and complicates the scenario planning where in the past you can kindof size up your opponent even if you didn't know that much about them you knew what they were capable of you knew what resources they had and you knewwhich terrestrial vector of attack they were likely to choose now threats can come from all over andthey might not come from a a specific country or even a named well you knowparticularly when you start thinking about ai as well in the mix of this you know umyou know we do know that um you know particularly in the banking space today that uh you know criminals um you knowparticularly in places like ukraine eastern europe and so forth um north korea these guys are making use ofartificial intelligence in fields like money laundering at a far greater pace than the bankingsystem itself yeah okay let's pull us out of this nose dive because we gotta wrap upwe're gonna get we gotta get optimistic again come on can't go out on this note mark what gets you stoked about thefuture we've talked about the scary stuff over the next 30 years you know what inspires you what excites you about theopportunities next 30 to 50 years so look i think for all of the fact that it looks very hard from where we'restanding the transition to a renewable economy is now well andtruly underway and it's only going to accelerate and it's clearly accelerating finally i think you knowthe numbers were so small at the beginning it didn't look like that acceleration was in placeit's been interesting talking to people who think about this full time so saul griffith is an australian academic who'sdone a lot of work in america and in australia studying transition and you know he saidin a public talk that he gave a couple months ago he was talking to the biden administration and the bite administration came to him and said basically what can we do to get everyeuropean a heat exchanger right a heat pump so that they could stop using russian gas to heat their homes and it'slike well you could do it if you could manufacture them you'll have to go talk to the koreans and i think they'll be hard pressed and so we're learning aboutwhat we need to do to manufacture this transition but we're also learning that there's a lot of pieces that we stillneed along the way now everyone looks at those and goes oh my god there's problems i'm looking at those and going oh my god those are opportunityopportunities here and so it feels like part of our job as futurists is to helptweak people to seeing the opportunities in the transit exactly rather than just seeing all of the roadblocks to ityou know brett to your point earlier about the the tremendous costs uh you know and the this kind of crazyaddiction to oil that we have if we are able to convey to peoplethat the cost of of transitioning to renewable energy is far less than the cost of maintaining this fragile globalsupply chain of shipping and shipping tankers of oil all over the world this is why we havestrategic errors well we've got mez ramez now i'm coming on in a few weeks i'm sure we'll get into into that withmez you know and um you know but um i you know the the the stat that i use umis that in the united states today it is cheaper to deploy a new solar farm thankeep an existing coal plant running that's that's the the stat that i use today but um you know um in in just fiveyears time um you know like that that's even that's going to be out of datewell we'll stay tuned for that hey mark pesci what a great pleasure to have you on the show thank you so very much forgetting up early in australia to join us on the futurists how can peoplemark how can people find out about the new podcast about the book um you know and about what you're uh what you'retalking about so my personal website is markpesche.com and in fact if people visit that they will be able to have aplay with that very first vrml browser that tony and i created because i found the code for it last year sitting on aserver and because nothing ever stops working in windows it still runsand then if people want to listen to the podcast that's at nextbillionseconds.com or just open up your favorite podcastingapp and search for the next billion seconds awesome fantastic well thanks for joining us anduh we really appreciate it and um you know i i feel like we should have you back on to dive into some more of themetaverse stuff as well in in the future as as that sort of unfolds but uh staystay well and stay healthy down in sydney thank you and my pleasure uh so that's it for the futurist thisweek if you're a fan make sure you leave us a five star review and wherever it is you download the cast uh you know pushit out on social media invite your friends to listen to it all of that helps us uh get some traction which ofcourse helps us find sponsors then to pay for the production of the show which keeps the content going so umyou know and uh you know above all um you know tell us what you want out of the show tell us who you'd like us tointerview next we've got some great guests coming up um some new sci-fi authors that we've already booked forthis as i said ramez naam and and others are coming on the show in the future so stay tuned for that content but onething is for certain the future is coming and we'll be here next week and we'll see youin the future in the future [Music] well that's it for the futurists thisweek if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don'tforget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find the showand you can ping us anytime on instagram and twitter at futurist podcastfor the folks that you'd like to see on the show or the questions you'd like us to ask thanks for joining and as always we'llsee you in the future [Music]

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