sxswi: Outlook Is Bleak?

At least, according to Closing Keynote Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling at Spiderhouse
Bruce Sterling at Spiderhouse (photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

In anticipation claimed of his Keynote address today (5pm, ACC Ballroom D), the Chronicle chatted up Austin/Belgrade/Turin-based futurist and Hugo Award-winning cyberpunk "visionary in residence" Bruce Sterling. Bleak soundbites after the jump.

On the Twitter/Facebook uprisings in the Middle East and what they may portend for internet freedom in the U.S.:

"On a larger basis it's about an international order versus a global internet. Nations talking to nations is not the same thing as general populations talking to general populations. We're in for a decade of revolution, sometimes violent – guys with shotguns and axes standing in the street stopping cars. Events are outpacing people's ability to control them. It's not that net neutrality isn't important, it's that it's going to be overwhelmed by events. Stuff is just going to start collapsing."

On generational inertia and international internet-assisted youth malaise:

"There's a generation of people and it's not that they're stymied, it's that they can't get real fucking jobs. They're overwhelmed by options because they don't have any real duties. Youth unemployment was huge in Tunisia. I mean, some guy set himself on fire because he had a college degree and was selling apples off of a cart. That guy's got generational cohorts all over the planet."

On the corporate and political power structure in the U.S. and the in sustainability thereof:

"'Do you have a bunker?' Hey, there's no place to hide from the sky. The question is, do the [corporations and politicians who control U.S. policy] have bunkers, and how well armed are they? And how stupid are they? Do they really think they're going to make money by vampirizing a productive economy of well-educated, disciplined people? They're pulling a Milosevic here and it's not going to work out."

Editor's note: A version of this story previously ran in the Guardian's SXSW supplement, which can be found in and around the Convention Center.

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