Welcome to Phrenicea!
Phrenicea is a 21st-century prophecy predicting the ultimate outcome of the Internet
and biotechnology revolutions. It is an exercise in futurism a resource for budding
futurists. Written, edited, webmastered and maintained by John Herman, whose editorial
opinions can be read by clicking on the "Two-Cents" link below.
Some questions to ponder:
- Based on your own experiences, ideas and what you see today what
will the world be like in 25, 50 or 100 years? Better? Worse?
More technology? Back to basics?
- Is the quality of your life better than your parents had? Grandparents? Homo erectus?!
What is Phrenicea?
Phrenicea® (pronounced fren-EEE-shuh)
is a prophecy or vision of the 21st century it is a vision of our future. As a physical entity, it does not yet exist!
Phrenicea is a fictionalized account of what will occur in the first century of the new
millennium. The name Phrenicea® is coined from the words phrenic (of the mind) and panacea
The Phrenicea website is a not-for-profit "work in progress," whose primary purpose is to stimulate thought/discussion about the future, particularly among those that would not normally be so inclined.
In this age of microsecond attention spans, student inspiration arises more from the web than
from traditional didactic presentation. Leveraging that, while still being
ancillary to a structured program of study, the Phrenicea website intends to instigate by
presenting a fatidic scenario predicting
the ultimate outcome of the Internet and biotechnology
revolutions, which in turn affects all aspects of "post-postmodern" life. It is a
fictionalized account of what will occur within the 21st century. The Phrenicea
Primer provides a broader introduction to the
"Phrenicea Vision." In addition, the site's progenitorial
short story written "way back" in 1999, The Engagement of Phrenicea,
is available via download.
'We will harness DNA's innate elegance for many non-biological purposes.'
Our world with Phrenicea is an extrapolation based on current trends resulting from the ongoing worldwide population growth, social trends,
advances in biotechnology, and the Internet/web phenomenon. Consequently the "Phrenicea Vision" is a work-in-progress endeavor.
'In many ways life ends up being, both socially and technologically, more like the
primitive societies of yore.'
The overarching thesis of this site is that biotechnology (specifically, the harnessing of man-made DNA)
will be the predominant force of change in this century
offsetting the social and economic damage done by Information Technology.
Today, many continue to cling to the stereotypical future as depicted in the Jetsons®
cartoon, where technology reigns supreme, especially in the form of gadgets galore.
Phrenicea turns that upside down. Gone are all the gadgets. Even the Internet and web
are gone replaced with Phrenicea. Thus, in many ways life ends up being, both socially
and technologically, more like the primitive societies of yore. For inhabitants of that
time, these may be considered the "good old days."
Our premise is that our love affair with
technology will run its course and ultimately cause more harm than good.
If the 20th century could be labeled the "Century of the Computer,"
then it is our view that the 21st century will become "The Century of DNA."
We will harness DNA's innate elegance for many non-biological purposes. What was accomplished
with hardware (constructed of inorganic elements) will eventually be
achieved with software (materials made organically).
Here's a glimpse of our future with Phrenicea:
Imagine a future without TV;
without telephones; without automobiles; without the PC or the Internet. Imagine our
world with over 12 billion people with very little fresh food. Fathom a world without
schools or universities; without places of worship. Could this be the result of a nuclear
holocaust or some great catastrophe? But then why would most people live comfortably
past 100 years; keep fit without exercise; have children well into their seventies?
This is a very different planet Earth in the mid-21st century facilitated by
the ubiquitous Phrenicea.
It must be emphasized that there is always a benign risk involved in predicting the future
and there are limits to extrapolation, which traditionally infers by extending or projecting
known information from the present. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the
"Phrenicea Vision" will stimulate thought and discussion about the future
as well as present-day technological and social trends.
The Phrenicea Scenario of the Future
Phrenicea is (initially) a consortium imagined to be formed in the year 2014.
It was the penultimate consequence of the explosion in brain research,
led at first by the world's pharmaceutical companies in pursuit of
new drugs to ameliorate or cure brain disorders, particularly Alzheimer's and the like
followed by the promise of enormous profits that ensnared
tech (chip manufacturers and search engine companies in particular), biotech, nanotech and even entertainment companies;
and ultimately just about any entity with enough resources to pursue conquering the final (practically
speaking) frontier the workings of the human brain.
'Phrenicea became the central source of knowledge for the human race, accessible
by mere thought.'
The optimism was contagious, as was
the belief that the secrets of the human mind were at last going to be unveiled.
But even with the vast financial and technical resources expended,
the brain's inner machinations proved too elusive to elucidate.
What was successfully developed however was a working interface with the human brain.
This soon was followed by the ability of individuals triggered by mere
thought to connect and communicate with ("engage") a
complex of interlinked brains that were "donated" by gullibles seeking eternal
consciousness. These in vitro brains were kept alive artificially within hexagonal-shaped
capsules each becoming a contributing member (knowledge, experience, perspective,
etc.) in a gigantic beehive-like chamber fittingly called the "braincomb."
The confluence of the various technologies synergistically enabled the transmission and storage
of massive amounts of data related to human discourse. Just as the
early 21st-century Internet made the physical collection of books,
music, and other "hard copy" moot Phrenicea rendered "life's
hard copy," the physical and tactile components of daily living,
The capabilities of Phrenicea rapidly became so powerful that there was no longer a need to
produce most of the gadgets upon which modern society depended. Suddenly the rage was to
"engage," the popular term used to describe a mental hook-up with Phrenicea.
Phrenicea became the central source of knowledge for the human race, accessible not via
computer or other device, but by mere thought indistinguishable from
what was once simply "thinking." The popular business management lingo at the turn of
the century, "thinking outside the box," was prescient beyond anyone’s wildest dreams!
'Phrenicea rendered the physical and tactile components of daily living irrelevant.'
As with most trends, which often reach a pinnacle
before entering a period of decline, the distributed nature of the Internet (where information reached its most dispersed form, spanning millions of server computers throughout the world)
fostered redundancy, inaccuracy, and unseemly (in the literal sense) waste. With
the Internet also came a knowledge-based economy and the widespread copyrighting
of intellectual property and the patenting of the means to access it. The
"stake-your-claim" mania reached such heights as to stifle progress,
since there became a chain of open hands (knowledge hoarding and fighting over
copyright and patent rights) in the pursuit of just about any endeavor.
It was naïvely thought that institutionalizing Phrenicea would solve this dilemma.
Thus Phrenicea the "consortium" became Phrenicea the
"institution" in the second half of the 21st century anthropomorphized
with rights, powers and granted significant latitude.
In an about-face, the final phase of the "Information Revolution" entailed the
replacement of the information hodgepodge that grew willy-nilly for decades, with a centralized data
entity none other than Phrenicea. Now data validity and wholesomeness could be ensured.
'The final phase of the "Information Revolution" is Phrenicea.'
Phrenicea eventually became more important and powerful than government and corporations combined.
Those two powerful entities, like the goods or services they had once provided were now irrelevant.
There were many unforeseen consequences as a result of making Phrenicea the primary
source of knowledge (the former patent and copyright holders were compensated with one-time
non-negotiable settlements). The impediments to progress were indeed eliminated, but unforeseen was the loss of
incentive to pursue progressive work.
In presenting this somewhat "over-the-top" scenario, we hope to trigger intellectual
controversy and discourse and consequently an interest in the future arguably a worthwhile endeavor especially if
it stimulates thought and concern about the present (i.e., where we are headed trend-wise).
Visit Your Future® and more!
Here's an overview of what you will find as you point-and-click your
way through the Phrenicea website:
- The Phrenicea Scenario Begin with the Phrenicea Primer and
then scroll through the various individual Home-page topics describing how we will live:
- Chiphead An exposé on human hubris and egotism.
- Full Circle "This is like déjà vu all over again."
- H2Ouch! Current concerns about our fresh water supply.
- Hot Topic! Concerns about global warming.
- Two Cents! Ongoing debate over current events and relevant topics.
- Oops! Former predictions that were way out; off base; and outright wrong!
- On Target! Current events that, at first glance, indicate that
the Phrenicea Vision just might be "on target"!
- Fan mail! Phrenicea's Fan mail
- This Week's Trivia Quiz Test your knowledge of the Phrenicea scenario and website!
- Trivia Elite Be part of the Phrenicea Trivia Elite and have your name listed in the Phrenicea Trivia Elite Showcase!
- Egads! Recent predictions even more pessimistic than ours!
- Oh Yeah! Letter of the decade!
- Evolution Past versions of the Phrenicea website.
- Photo Album Phrenicea Fan T-shirt Photos.
- Quick Take Quick Take on random observations in the present.
- Visitor opinions:
- T-shirt! Your opportunity to "Wear the Future"!
- And much more!
Why bother to ponder the future?
Phrenicea's founder John Herman believes
that envisioning the future inevitably coaxes one to scrutinize the present. Unlike the
study of the past, there's no concrete data from the future to work with.
The natural tendency therefore is to extrapolate from present trends.
Often these trends are already steering towards conditions not in the best
interests of the individual, society, or the environment local or global.
Acknowledgement of problems now can be the first step
towards averting bigger problems for our children and theirs.
It should be acknowledged here that we cannot predict the future with any certainty.
Pondering the future is neither art nor science, and the pursuit is not an easy one.
Everyone is qualified and no one is qualified. Who could have
predicted the web phenomenon just ten years ago? And too, there is no immediate reward.
Time is always a prerequisite to determining success. Only time will tell if our
tongue-in-cheek catchphrase, "Chronicling the Future," has any credence!
You are invited to become familiar with the Phrenicea scenario and to Visit Your Future®
frequently at the Phrenicea website to debate its course.
More importantly, it is hoped that by pondering the future you will be
energized to have a hand in steering it by becoming more actively
involved within the present.
The Future It's All In Your Head! ®
Visit Your Future®
Chronicling the Future®
Use of this website
constitutes acceptance of the Phrenicea® Terms and Conditions.
Entire site ©2000-2011 John Herman. All rights reserved.