Techno-realist and best-selling author of The Cuckoo’s Egg, Internet legend Clifford Stoll, has been online for over 15 years and knows the Net backwards. He built his first computer himself and was wired into Arpanet (precursor to the Internet) in the 1970s. He also writes code, has seven computers and six different online accounts. After exposing high-tech hacker hijinks in spy novel The Cuckoo’s Egg, Stoll has turned about face in his latest book, Silicon Snake Oil, and says it’s time to examine our “love affair” with computers.
RU Sirius, Howard Rheingold, Robert Anton Wilson
These three philosophers have steadfastly clung to their youthful ideals, and keep infecting society with unease, prodding our consciousness and asking “Why?” Despite their clear vision of society’s shortcomings, they’re all so enamoured of life, and endeavour to deliver their jibes with a dose of humour.
My favourite interviewees were two of the most zealous futurists – world renowned head of British Telecom’s Research Laboratories Peter Cochrane, and Max More, the president of a group that dabbles in transhumanism, cryogenics and plans to colonise the universe. I’m excited and challenged by their seemingly outrageous, cheeky and optimistically confident notions. They realise their visionary insights into new technology, life and the future may be completely wrong, but they’re not going to sit around and wait for it to happen. Onwards, and to hell with the consequences.
When millionaires party, the world watches with envy and begs for the leftovers.
The Internet can offer you a gilt-edged invite and if you turn up early you can leave with a huge party pack of squillions. Amazingly, though, the man who invented the revolutionary software for the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, explained to me why he never made a cent out of his creation. Also, the four self-made Net millionaires I interviewed claimed they’d never planned to amass a fortune. And it seems they’ve still never learnt how to become shopaholics, choose a personal trainer, psychic and tennis coach. They never want Nigel Dempster to tell the world about their every playful smirk, glance and scowl. They never rate a mention in Jennifer’s Diary in Harper’s & Queen. I’d expected to spend a couple of days following each of them around on luxury yachts and Sony jets, but they just sit around in offices all day, frantically answering emails.