The Eleventh & Twelth Kirk Elbod Interviews:


||       Interview #11: THE FUTURE, PART 1
P|       (Before Kirk disappeared for the summer, he wrote me 
Y|  a note, indicating he would be staying at the beach, 
R|  toward the end of July. As it happens I travel to the 
I|  beach, myself, once or twice a summer. And since I still 
G|  had a number of questions I wanted to follow up, I 
H|  decided to pursue my inquiry there.
T|       So I found myself wandering around a trailer park,of 
||  all things, on a hot hazy evening around 7 PM, looking 
1|  for a specific number Kirk had given me. When I found it, 
9|  I was surprised and not surprised. His trailer, it 
8|  seemed, was the oldest in the park.
9|       I knocked on the screen door of his porch. Kirk 
||  appeared from within the bowels of the 8 ft. X 30 ft. 
B|  artifact of trailer history. I was sure he had selected 
Y|  it to match his automobile.
||       "I should have known" I volunteered. "even your 
R|  trailer is historic."
I|       "Yes," he grinned "Also the cheapest and the best 
C|  made." He guided me onto his porch, and into a 
H|  comfortable lawn chair. Next he appeared with two tall 
A|  glasses of iced tea. I leaned back, glass in hand, and 
R|  soaked up the fading sun filtering through the trees and 
D|  onto the porch.)
||       TALBOT: Why a trailer park? (I finally blurted out 
d|  spontaneously, even surprising myself.)
e|       ELBOD: Why not? (He shrugged.) It does less damage 
G|  to the environment than those huge, angular, high-rise, 
A|  cement condos you see off in the distance there. And if a 
R|  trailer washed away in a storm, it would be no great 
I|  loss. Furthermore trailer parks do not have to be ugly - 
S|  although I admit they usually are. This particular one, 
||  however, kept the old oaks from the original maritime 
D|  forest. The developer, instead of scraping the landscape 
O|  bare, worked around the grove of tree which had been here 
B|  for hundreds of years.
L|       Plus I think trailers are a vision of the future.
E|       TALBOT: (That was the last straw. Trying to control 
||  my emotions, I turned slowly to Kirk. Then in spite of 
A|  myself, I yelled.) Trailers! A vision of the future? You 
L|  must be mad. (He noticed that I was distraught. He 
L|  proceeded in a soothing, calming voice.)
||       ELBOD: Not trailers like these, but well designed, 
R|  energy efficient, modular housing. I can envision a 
I|  future when prospective homeowners, lets say a couple, 
G|  will go to a large store like Sears and order a uniquely 
H|  put together house. They will select every detail from a 
T|  huge catalog, down to cabinet knobs and plumbing 
S|  fixtures.
||       In essence, they will be ordering a custom modular 
R|  house which will then be delivered to the site in a brief 
E|  period of time.
S|       The store will have the facilities to try out 
E|  different designs on computer screens, even to allowing 
R|  the customers to walk through the rooms in simulated, 
V|  animated computer photography, so that they can get a 
E|  feel for the house they are putting together. Since they 
D|  will be able to combine a variety of modular units into a 
||  unique design, they will also be creating their own 
||  custom home. 
C|       Once the design is finalized, they will get a 
O|  complete printout of the plans including simulated 
P|  photographic prints of each room, and the exterior, along 
Y|  with a firm price and a firm date for delivery.
R|       This process should be cheaper because the units 
I|  will be modular and built in a factory, not subject to 
G|  the weather. The owners should be more satisfied because 
H|  they could try different designs and do simulated walk-
T|  throughs. 
||       The advantages of this method, over the conventional 
1|  method, are obvious. The median price for a new site 
9|  built house is now about 90,000 dollars in the U.S. Many 
8|  people are being priced out of the market. This kind of 
9|  cost is not sustainable. 
||       My view of custom modular housing would cost less, 
B|  save time, and aggravation, plus allow the owners more 
Y|  input into the final design. It would also allow them to 
||  be sure of what they would be getting.
R|       TALBOT: (I settled back into my chair, overwhelmed 
I|  by this barrage of future predictions. Finally I 
C|  queried,) Is this an an example of the Age of Design 
H|  which you talked about several months ago?
A|       ELBOD: Yes I suppose it is. But, (he added, getting 
R|  up) it is time to go.
D|       TALBOT: I just got here. (I protested.) 
||       ELBOD: No, I mean time to go out onto the water. 
d|  (And with that he lead me out the door, into his car, and 
e|  down to the sound behind the park. He pulled out a thing 
G|  that looked like an an inflatable mattress, from the 
A|  trunk of his Falcon. It turned out to be an inflatable 
R|  boat. He pumped it up quickly, clamped an engine on the 
I|  back, and threw me a life jacket. I immediately put it 
S|  on, since I never knew what might happen when I was with 
||  Kirk.)
D|       Get in. (He motioned. I hesitantly put my foot on 
O|  the undulating floor of this flimsy craft, then sat down 
B|  on a side pontoon. With gentle but steady acceleration, 
L|  we zipped out from the launch areas, and into the open 
E|  sound. We could see the afterglow of sunset on the 
||  horizon as we progressed toward two dark islands in the 
A|  middle of this body of water. On the other side, lights 
L|  came on, one by one, outlining the distant shore. I 
L|  suddenly realized that Kirk was taking me out at night, 
||  in a boat which was basically air, toward an unknown 
R|  destination, on what were, for me, uncharted waters. For 
I|  the first time with Kirk, I felt a bit of fear.
G|       He seemed to sense this and stopped the motor. He 
H|  threw out an anchor. Then he lay on the floor against the 
T|  pontoon in the bow. The boat bobbed gently like a water 
S|  bed, in the small waves of the sound. I could tell he was 
||  looking at something. I turned to see the full moon just 
R|  lifting off the horizon, a magnificent sight no matter 
E|  how jaded and cynical I became. And a sight, I realized, 
S|  I had never seen from the vantage point of the water.)
E|       TALBOT: Is this why you came out here?
R|       ELBOD: Yes, I believe that within our lifetime we 
V|  will mine the moon.
E|       TALBOT: (That was all I could stand.) You are a 
D|  lunatic! Trailers for housing, now the moon for real 
||  estate development.
||       ELBOD: Look, NASA has already done experiments with 
C|  lunar soil to determine the feasibility of making cement. 
O|  Architects are in the initial stages of designing 
P|  structures to be built with this material. It may be in 
Y|  the cards! And if it is, there is probably nothing you or 
R|  I can do about it. The moon will not just be the moon, it 
I|  will be another resource that humans develop and exploit.
G|       TALBOT: And you approve of this?
H|       ELBOD: Well, if I had my choice of mining the earth 
T|  or mining the moon, I would pick the moon.
||       TALBOT: No one can predict the future.
1|       ELBOD: You may be right, but it still "behooves us" 
9|  (he made quote signs with his fingers in the air) to look 
8|  into the future and to think about it.
9|       When I was ten years old, I was very interested in 
||  the future. I wrote stories about it and made models. My 
B|  father could not understand. He felt it was just a 
Y|  childish interest. Later I realized the difference in our 
||  attitudes. I would have to spend much more time in the 
R|  future than he would. It was important for me to play 
I|  with the idea of the future, just as it was important for 
C|  me to play with toy trucks. It was part of my learning 
H|  process, part of my preparation for being an adult.
A|       TALBOT: But what can we really know? 
R|       ELBOD: Buckminster Fuller said that he could look 
D|  into the future about about twenty-five years. I want to 
||  modify that time period slightly.
d|       I've talked about the vanishing point of history 
e|  being three generations or sixty years into the past, the 
G|  point where past events seem to disappear in the mist of 
A|  history. 
R|       Now I want to talk about the vanishing point of the 
I|  future which I think is about one generation or twenty 
S|  years.. 
||       TALBOT: What leads you to believe this?
D|       ELBOD: I'll tell you. How much do you have scheduled 
O|  for the next week or two?
B|       TALBOT: Quite a lot, my schedule is almost full.
L|       ELBOD: And for next couple of months?
E|       TALBOT: I have a quite number of things penciled in.
||       ELBOD: And next year?
A|       TALBOT: Well, I know about a conference that I have 
L|  to go to. Vacations I am planning, a few things.
L|       ELBOD: And beyond that?
||       TALBOT: Some vague ideas.
R|       ELBOD: Exactly. As you move from the present moment 
I|  into the future your vision gets less and less distinct, 
G|  just as you have illustrated. 
H|       Now government, companies, developing technologies 
T|  can be projected much further into the future than an 
S|  individual's calendar. For example, I have seen a 
||  schedule for NASA's planetary and astronomy projects. 
R|  There are firm plans for the next five years, then 
E|  tentative plans for the following five years, followed by 
S|  possible projects in the ten years after that. Roughly a 
E|  twenty year projection. 
R|       I also know a number of other firm and tentative 
V|  plans in the making. The space telescope is scheduled to 
E|  be launched into orbit by NASA at the end of this year. 
D|  This incredible instrument will see the universe for the 
||  first time without looking through the Earth's 
||  atmosphere, probably changing many of our ideas about the 
C|  universe. The European Economic Community (EEC) will be a 
O|  custom free common market in 1992, making it an economic 
P|  unit large enough to rival either the U.S. or Japan. The 
Y|  superconducting super collider is on the drawing boards.. 
R|  The mapping of human DNA, the Genome project, is being 
I|  studied seriously, but will take ten to twenty year to 
G|  complete. And it looks as if the space station will 
H|  finally come together at the next decade. 
T|       In addition there are a number of trends which can 
||  be projected into the future, such as population and 
1|  global warming which will also seriously affect us. 
9|       These projects and trends will affect our economy, 
8|  our image of ourselves, our technology, our ability to 
9|  cure diseases, and our way of life. Now, all of these may 
||  not come to pass, but a fair number will, and we, as 
B|  humans who will have to live in the future, need to think 
Y|  about it. 
||       TALBOT: But this vision of the future will always be 
R|  changing.
I|       ELBOD: I agree, as it should. The "Study of the 
C|  Future" would be a dynamic discipline.
H|       TALBOT: You are proposing a study?
A|       ELBOD: Yes. A study of the future would be a 
R|  beginning attempt to bring another critical unknown under 
D|  human control. It could certainly be as accurate as 
||  weather predictions. (He laughed.) I assume predictions 
d|  would be expressed in probabilities, like the weather. I 
e|  can imagine future predictions such as the following 
G|  hypothetical example: There is a 20% chance that a cure 
A|  will be found for AIDS in the next five years, a 40% 
R|  chance in the next ten, 75% chance in the next fifteen 
I|  years, and 90% chance in the next twenty.
S|       I think it should be a department within the 
||  university structure. Alvin Toffler the author of "Future 
D|  Shock" has already taught a college level course on 
O|  Future Sociology.
B|       Now I am aware that think tanks, the U.S. 
L|  government, the United Nations and other institutions, 
E|  corporations, and governmental bodies make future 
||  projections. But I don't believe there is an academic 
A|  discipline which would train students to put all this 
L|  information together, and come up with a reasonable 
L|  forecast from the combined information. 
||       TALBOT: What would you use for materials.
R|       ELBOD: I would start with past visions of the 
I|  future. In other words, how people in the past viewed the 
G|  period we are living in now. How right were they, how 
H|  wrong were they? How long ago did they make their 
T|  predictions? Were established scientists more accurate 
S|  about the future or out-of-the-mainstream science fiction 
||  writers such as Jules Verne? And what did they miss? What 
R|  was their basis for looking at the future?
E|       I'll give you a personal example of a past 
S|  prediction. I went to the 1962 World's Fair in New York. 
E|  One exhibit showed this marvelous monstrous machine which 
R|  was designed to march through dense jungle, such as the 
V|  Amazon. It cut a path at the head of the machine while it 
E|  constructed a road, from those trees it had just 
D|  destroyed, out the back. This vision seems very naive 
||  today, since we are now worrying about the destruction of 
||  the rain forest.
C|       But back to the college curriculum: The study would 
O|  move onto things we know are in the works. Things such as 
P|  I have just mentioned. But it would also bring together 
Y|  the plans and projections made world-wide by any 
R|  reputable source. It would put the future under one roof, 
I|  one discipline, that would gather projections from all 
G|  the different specialities.
H|       An important aspect of the discipline would be to 
T|  predict the sequence of future events, to create a future 
||  time table, a sense of order, a sense of scale.
1|       And naturally this look into the future would have 
9|  to be revised, periodically. One of the principle tasks 
8|  of the department would be to see what had changed since 
9|  the last set of predictions. Now, much of what would 
||  predicted would not come to pass, but that is to be 
B|  expected. Although I assume that the shorter term 
Y|  predictions will be more accurate than the longer term 
||  predictions. 
R|       TALBOT: So why bother with something that may be 
I|  grossly inaccurate?
C|       ELBOD: Well first of all, these predictions will 
H|  probably get better as time goes on, as the discipline 
A|  improves. And it would be useful to study what 
R|  predictions were accurate or inaccurate and why. I'm not 
D|  talking about wild guesses, I'm talking about educated 
||  predictions based on the best information available.
d|       But also for another reason: The college students of 
e|  today will need to live in this future. They need to 
G|  learn to think about it, learn to make informed, educated 
A|  guesses about the future as part of their "mind-view", 
R|  their world-view. Because it is becoming increasingly 
I|  obvious that the consequences of what we do matters and 
S|  consequences are in the future.
||       TALBOT: You don't think people understand 
D|  consequences today.
O|       ELBOD: No, not in any depth. For example, few of my 
B|  contemporaries seem to understand the true consequences 
L|  of burning coal or oil, the materials which are adding 
E|  carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the pollutant which is 
||  primarily responsible for the greenhouse effect. If they 
A|  did, they would be much more upset. They mainly 
L|  understand immediate economic consequences. I.e. they 
L|  won't curtail the emission of carbon dioxide because it 
||  might harm the economy in the near future. But they don't 
R|  understand the complete cost, the total cost of burning 
I|  these fuels. They don't understand the long term 
G|  environmental consequences which will wreck havoc on the 
H|  economy, among other things. They understand, instead, 
T|  the next quarter's bottom line.
S|       Those who do understand may protest that they need 
||  more time to adjust their technologies and economies. But 
R|  the greenhouse effect was predicted at the beginning of 
E|  this century, as I have noted earlier. And scientists 
S|  have been beating their drums pretty loudly the last 
E|  decade or so. So there has been warning. It's just that 
R|  it was ignored.
V|       I'll give you another example of our short 
E|  sightedness. Atlantic Richfield Oil Company (ARCO) is in 
D|  the process of selling it's substantial solar subsidiary, 
||  ARCO solar. It may be sold to a foreign buyer. There is a 
||  general consensus that at some point in the future solar 
C|  will be important, but no one knows exactly when. Yet it 
O|  looks as if the United States is letting another major 
P|  industry get away, just like the VCR business went to 
Y|  Japan in the seventies. So I really have to wonder on 
R|  what basis some corporate decisions are made.
I|       The college kids of today will have to live with all 
G|  these decisions, and the consequences of such decisions, 
H|  or rather lack of decisions made by our contemporaries. 
T|  But we won't have to live in that world, at least as long 
||  as they will.
1|       (With that last thought Kirk sat up, pulled in the 
9|  anchor, and started the engine. We sped toward the 
8|  landing, from were we had come. Now that my eyes were 
9|  adjusted to the moonlight, I could see almost as clearly 
||  as in the twilight. Once ashore he collapsed the boat, 
B|  and it disappeared into his trunk. 
Y|       After I had said my good-byes, I drove back through 
||  the park. The soft flickering light of color TVs glowed 
R|  from the inside of most of the trailers, like 20th 
I|  century fire places. The moon, which I was now supposed 
C|  to think of as real estate, shown down on the live oaks. 
H|  I tried to look at the trailers as Kirk suggested - but 
A|  try as I might, they still looked ugly to me.)
R|       (Toward the end of the summer Kirk and I both 
I|  realized that we needed to be in Washington D.C. at the 
S|  same time. I suggested that we take a plane together and 
||  he of course suggested something else. That we take a 
D|  train. After much persuading, I acquiesced and so we 
O|  found ourselves settling into the Amtrak "Silver Star" 
B|  about 8 o'clock one relatively cool summer evening, in 
L|  late August. When I had finally gotten comfortable, a 
E|  porter came through, announcing the last call for dinner. 
||  Kirk shot up, motioning me to come along. We wound our 
A|  way through the moving, lurching train, a skill which I 
L|  had almost forgotten, even though I had traveled the 
L|  trains a good deal when I was younger. It brought back 
||  strange memories, of moving backward in a train that was 
R|  moving forward, of getting my "train legs" so I didn't 
I|  fall into someone's lap. 
G|       In the dining car, seated at a table, I realized I 
H|  had also forgotten the heavy silverware, dishes, and 
T|  cloth napkins that were standard part of a train's 
S|  restaurant fare. We ordered and then I found myself 
||  staring out the window, mesmerized by the blur of trees, 
R|  backyards and towns, that slipped by as we sat motionless 
E|  and waited to eat.)
S|       TALBOT: I had forgotten the view from a train. The 
E|  world at a recognizable level. I can see people doing 
R|  their chores, towns going about their business, unlike 
V|  what I see on a plane which is beautiful but very 
E|  abstract, very distant.
D|       ELBOD: I agree. (with a look of I told you so) 
||       TALBOT: But it's so old fashioned!
||       ELBOD: I figure that for a short distance, it takes 
C|  about the same amount of time, uses less fuel, and 
O|  generally costs less. As well as being less of a hassle; 
P|  we have no airport security and transportation to worry 
Y|  about. When we arrive in DC we'll be downtown where we 
R|  want to be.
I|       But, actually the train is the transportation of the 
G|  future as well as of the past.
H|       TALBOT: I assume you are talking about bullet 
T|  trains.
||       ELBOD: Yes. There are many in Europe now, but many 
1|  more are planned, which will create a network across the 
9|  Europe. They are also in Japan. In the United States we 
8|  have been left behind, to hassle with traffic snarls 
9|  around the airport.
||       In the not too distant future, bullet trains will be 
B|  almost frictionless, suspended over the track by 
Y|  magnetism, which will mean even greater speed.
||       TALBOT: It makes more sense for Europe and Japan 
R|  because the distances are much smaller.
I|       ELBOD: Yes, that's the excuse that is generally 
C|  given, but the northern half of the East Coast meets most 
H|  of the necessary conditions for such a train.
A|       (Just then our dinner arrived. There is something 
R|  especially tasty about eating a meal on a train as you 
D|  see the world go by, just feet outside your window. And 
||  since I had been shanghaied onto this train I decided to 
d|  enjoy every bite. Kirk, however, wanted to talk.)
e|       ELBOD: (With a deep sigh he looked out the window 
G|  and then at me.) I'm afraid that the best we can hope for 
A|  in the future is that this world we see outside here will 
R|  stay the same, that it won't get any worse.
I|       There are so many forces right now that threaten to 
S|  permanently damage what we've got, that we will be very 
||  lucky to keep things the way they are. And we will have 
D|  to work very hard, while spending a lot of money, to do 
O|  just that.
B|       When I was growing up everyone seemed to believe 
L|  that things would get better and better. This was the 
E|  promise of science and technology. And for the first 
||  thirty years of my life, that is just what happened. But 
A|  in the last fifteen years people's real wages in the U.S. 
L|  have stayed about the same or fallen. We have also 
L|  started to see some major and expensive consequences of 
||  the technology itself, such as toxic waste. But our 
R|  expectations have not changed. We have not adjusted to 
I|  the new situation. 
G|       People in other parts of the world have expectations 
H|  as well, which they intend to fulfill. The undeveloped 
T|  world wants to develop, which means that it will use more 
S|  energy, which means that it will probably burn more fuel. 
||  This will add significantly to the greenhouse effect. 
R|  These expectations are a major problem in themselves. 
E|  Because the world cannot deal with its problems until it 
S|  changes its expectations.
E|       In addition the world's population has risen to 5 
R|  billion from 1.5 billion when I was born, which means 
V|  that by 2100 here may be between eight and ten billion 
E|  people. 
D|       No one dares to project beyond that. The United 
||  Nations has said that five billion is about all the Earth 
||  can support comfortably, so doubling that number is 
C|  really going to put a strain on a system that is already 
O|  strained.
P|       As I have mentioned before I believe the world faces 
Y|  three main threats. First: nuclear war. Second: 
R|  overpopulation. Third: environmental disaster. The 
I|  environment and population are tied together, somewhat. 
G|  But not as directly as I initially thought.
H|       TALBOT: What do you mean?
T|       ELBOD: Well, I first assumed that the population was 
||  causing most of the pollution. More people, more 
1|  pollution. But it turns out that about 75% of the carbon 
9|  dioxide pollution, for example, is coming from the 
8|  industrial nations, which have a much smaller combined 
9|  population than the rest of the world.
||       Most of the population growth is coming from the 
B|  third world. And most of the rain forest destruction, 
Y|  which is crucial to the atmosphere, is happening in the 
||  third world.
R|       TALBOT: I thought you were optimistic about the 
I|  future. That was the impression I got last time.
C|       ELBOD: Well, I'll try. There is an obvious trade off 
H|  here, a deal that could be struck between the industrial 
A|  nations and the third world. The industrial nations could 
R|  cut their polluting emissions by 50%; in addition they 
D|  would need to develop and sell relatively cheap solar 
||  energy to the third world. In return the third world 
d|  would stabilize it's populations, restrain the 
e|  destruction of the rain forest, and not expand their 
G|  burning of polluting fuels.
A|       TALBOT: Sounds reasonable.
R|       ELBOD: But can you imagine negotiating such an 
I|  agreement. It is mind-boggling.
S|       But there is a silver lining to the environmental 
||  crisis. Which is that all nations will feel threatened by 
D|  it. Pollution or rising sea levels due to a global 
O|  warming does not respect national boundaries any more 
B|  than the radiation at Chernobyl stayed within the Soviet 
L|  Union. Some radiation, for example, fell half way around 
E|  the globe in the U.S.
||       A common threat may be the only force which will 
A|  cause a world government to be formed, a bit like a war 
L|  mentality. The environmental threat has that ability. 
L|       Recently most nations of the world agreed on a 
||  standard for reducing the chemicals which have been 
R|  destroying the ozone layer, so there is hope that if they 
I|  can do this, they can work on even more comprehensive 
G|  agreements. Canada has been pushing hard for a 
H|  comprehensive treaty on the atmosphere which would be 
T|  signed by all the nations of the world.
S|       Further if the nations feel a common threat, they 
||  may be less willing to go to war against each other, 
R|  since most of their efforts will be directed against the 
E|  common environmental conditions.
S|       And my last rosy point is this: The world's politics 
E|  will be different when 50% of the politicians are women. 
R|  Women will bring a fresher, and, I think, healthier 
V|  attitude to the Earth's problems. And the number of women 
E|  in politics seems to go up a bit every year. This year, 
D|  for example, marks a high point in the U.S. There are now 
||  more women in Congress than ever before.
||       So that is the silver lining. 
C|       TALBOT: Not much of a silver lining. Can't you do 
O|  better than that?
P|       ELBOD: No, in fact the news goes downhill from 
Y|  there.
R|       Each of us needs to deal squarely with the realistic 
I|  possibility that the human race may not survive the next 
G|  one hundred years. With tens of thousands of nuclear 
H|  weapons, nuclear proliferation to numerous countries, 
T|  possibly irrevocable damage to the Earth's ecosystem, and 
||  population out of control, each of us needs to admit to 
1|  the possibility that human beings may not be around.
9|       TALBOT: Kirk, you are gloomy. Have you no words of 
8|  wisdom, the way you usually do?
9|       ELBOD: Well, I'll try.
||       I am basically hopeful. But my idea of hope may 
B|  still seem harsh.
Y|       I believe that there will be a nuclear explosion 
||  within our life time. Perhaps by a terrorist group or 
R|  between two non-superpowers. And the results will be 
I|  devastating.
C|       I also believe that there will be severe 
H|  environmental consequences which will effect the Earth in 
A|  devastating ways.
R|       However, experience is the best teacher. And the 
D|  experience of both of these things, may be the prod we 
||  need to learn to deal with the world's problems.
d|       And although I think that perhaps hundreds of 
e|  millions of people may die as a result, I believe the 
G|  human race will survive. A bit older and wiser.
A|       TALBOT: That's hopeful?
R|       ELBOD: Yes, and realistically so.
I|       TALBOT: Can we change the subject from this doom and 
S|  gloom?
||       ELBOD: Well, excuse me for spoiling you dinner. 
D|       But there is another problem that is not so dark. 
O|  Which is the problem of specialization.
B|       The old joke among PHD's was that you knew more and 
L|  more about less and less. I find that in the modern world 
E|  the money, prestige, facilities, recognition goes to the 
||  specialists, while the generalists are left in the dust. 
A|  While specialists will always be necessary, generalists 
L|  need some respect.
L|       But in order to solve all these problems I have 
||  mentioned we are going to need people whose knowledge 
R|  cuts across a number of disciplines. For example, in a 
I|  recent article in Scientific American, the authors wrote 
G|  that a correct greenhouse effect computer model would 
H|  require the input of at least nine separate and distinct 
T|  disciplines in order to do the job.
S|       The modern world is very good at specializing, but 
||  very bad at generalizing. In fact the only real 
R|  generalists we have are the politicians who must decide 
E|  among a labyrinth of conflicting businesses and interest 
S|  groups, as well as technical, scientific, and legal 
E|  issues. And we all know how much respect they get. (He 
R|  laughed.)
V|       So I would propose that we train people to 
E|  specialize in generalities. That such people be given the 
D|  money, and resources it takes to put diverse disciplines 
||  together to create the tools we are going to need. And 
||  that they be held in the highest respect.
C|       TALBOT: Sounds a bit like your Age of Design.
O|       ELBOD: In a way. These people will be trying to 
P|  solve problems which satisfy a number of needs and 
Y|  pressures at one time. This is very tricky. So they will 
R|  be using a lot of the techniques that I discussed 
I|  earlier.
G|       And there is one more less gloomy problem: the 
H|  problem of the bounded and the unbounded, I call it.
T|       TALBOT: Sounds like S&M (I said with a smile.)
||       ELBOD: (ignoring me) Have you ever looked down from 
1|  a plane and tried to identify where you were. I find it 
9|  fiendishly difficult. Even when I was flying over an area 
8|  that I knew well. 
9|       Then I realized that I was used to looking at maps 
||  which had city, county, state and national boundaries. 
B|  But when I saw the world out of a plane window there were 
Y|  no boundary lines, or latitudinal or longitudinal lines.
||       TALBOT: Obviously.
R|       ELBOD: Well this was a shock for someone who is good 
I|  at reading maps.
C|       TALBOT: So what is your point?
H|       ELBOD: That the real world is unbounded. That it is 
A|  different from our globes, atlases, and road maps. That 
R|  we need to learn to see the world without imposing our 
D|  maps upon it. I mentioned earlier the dictum of 
||  Korzybski: "The map is not the territory."
d|       In the West we have this habit of superimposing 
e|  Cartesian graph lines on just about everything. After a 
G|  while we begin to believe that the world really is that 
A|  way. But as the Science of Chaos has shown, reality can 
R|  be much more complex than this, and our grid lines may 
I|  hide even obvious things. We may not be able to see the 
S|  forest for the grid lines. (He laughed.) When the 
||  situation requires, we may need to see life or the Earth 
D|  as continuous, not chopped up in grids. This is a skill 
O|  that needs to be relearned. Because before we learned 
B|  about grid lines, we saw the world as unbroken.
L|       But at the same time the grid can be immensely 
E|  useful.
||       So I think for the foreseeable future we will have 
A|  to live in both worlds, the bounded girded, gridded world 
L|  and the unbounded, undivided, continuous world. But we 
L|  must never forget that the other exists and has its 
||  place. 
R|       TALBOT: The computer screen and at lot of 
I|  programming are based on these grid lines, on matrices.
G|       ELBOD: I'm glad you brought that up. I think the 
H|  computer, especially with a large memory and a high 
T|  definition screen may be able to put Humpty Dumpty back 
S|  together again. 
||       TALBOT: Good grief.
R|       ELBOD: Just as a motion picture is a bunch of still 
E|  images which, when moved quickly and exactly, creates the 
S|  illusion of motion; so the computer with huge amounts of 
E|  data, i.e. information from the chopped up world, the 
R|  gridded and digitized world, may be able to create a 
V|  fluid, continuous model which tells us what we need to 
E|  know in the unbounded as well as the bounded world. 
D|       TALBOT: I suppose you realize that you have let your 
||  dinner get cold.
||       (Kirk had indeed forgotten, for while he had been 
C|  talking I had been eating. He settled down to a meal, 
O|  lukewarm at best, while I looked out the window at 
P|  glimpses of peoples lives, now in the dark. And I looked 
Y|  forward to arriving in Washington, in the newly 
R|  refurbished train station, which was five minutes from my 
I|  hotel. Now if only this "Silver Star" had been a bullet 
G|  train!)

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