FM-2030 on Change

I imagine a half-human, half-machine robot, perhaps stitched together by a futurist Newt Gingrich in some sterile, state-subsidized, private, for-profit R&D facility, a sort of Frankenstein for the brave new world, when I consider the author of “The Only Real Trend is Fast-Forward,” FM-2030 (Commentary, Dec. 18).

FM-2030 has apparently been programmed to feed back that accelerating movement in a certain direction is necessarily synonymous with meaningful progress. Mere accelerating movement in the guise of NAFTA, etc., of the technologcal/mega-corporate juggernaut along the elite-determined “shining path” to a supposedly glorious future, is only progress by technological/corporate standards, not necessarily human ones.

To be fair, to write, as FM-2030 does, that “election results no longer indicate a nation’s ideological direction,” is to be in touch with reality–not just virtual reality. Surrealistically though, FM-2030 mistakes this for “decentralization” and democracy. But, to transfer power from marginally accountable public institutions to obviously centralized and authoritarian private institutions not only fails to accomplish these much-maligned goals, it is a move in the opposite direction. It is the road to serfdom, literally.

The “progress” FM-2030 beeps and whistles over giddily is indeed, as he readily admits, overturning such things as traditional community and family values. But it’s deja vu all over again. The (tactical) nuclear family, which the selective “conservatives” seek to preserve (though they wouldn’t think of it this way) against the onslaught of capitalism’s latest “revolution,” is itself a product of capitalism’s first assault on human beings and their traditional modes and values: the Industrial Revolution.

So, yes: Unaccountable and growing corporate tyrannies and “the Market” do and will continue to destroy local autonomy and control, in the name of liberty, and at a speed that is growing exponentially.

Strictly within this context, I am not only a conservative (18th century), but a reactionary too.

Written by Ron Leighton and published by the Los Angeles Times on January 2, 1996

The Only Real Trend Is Fast-Forward; Zeitgeist: During an age in which traditions are discarded daily, even the religious right can’t be termed conservative.

It is a truism that we live in an age of accelerating change. Never has progress been as rapid, global or profound as it is today. If things are changing faster and faster, what accounts for the paradox of repeated conservative election victories in North America and elsewhere? How does one explain the apparent surge of conservative movements and the proliferation and success of conservative radio and television talk shows? Is there, as often suggested, a conservative trend or revolution and will it yield more victories in upcoming elections?

The fact is that there has not been a conservative trend in the United States or anywhere on the planet in years.

Webster’s defines conservatism as “a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions and preferring gradual development to abrupt change.”

It is absurd to talk of conservative trends or a conservative revolution at a time when traditions are daily discarded, when established institutions are everywhere crumbling and when gradual development has given way to rapid-fire change. There is nothing conservative about our age.

We live in revolutionary times and therefore everyone (and every society), willingly or unwillingly, is continually propelled forward. Today’s conservatives flaunt ideas and technologies dismissed as futuristic hardly five years ago.

Even the Christian right, bastion of conservative orthodoxy, is continually lurching forward. Several years ago, the Rev. John C. Bennett, president of the Union Theological Seminary of New York, highlighted “17 inhumane moral stances formerly espoused by Catholic and Protestant church leadership, now largely abandoned: white supremacy, male superiority, inherent sinfulness of sex, support for capital punishment.” Today, the influx of activist women and lay people is liberalizing the religious right even more profoundly.

Conservatives may win at the polls, but the underpinnings of 20th century conservative values and establishments continue to disassemble: the nuclear family, patriarchy, puritanism, militarism, the hard-work ethic, patriotism. Conservatives themselves often are unwittingly involved in helping phase out the old order. For example, conservatives emphasize the need to preserve “traditional values,” yet many are avid users of computers and the Internet, which, along with other smart machines, are accelerating the pace of change and reconfiguring traditional ways of doing things.

How illogical to talk of a conservative revolution in our times of profound evolutionary transformations. Are our current efforts to establish permanent colonies in space conservative? What about high-tech reproduction, ultrasmart machines and the longevity revolution? These and other perturbations are turning reality upside down, challenging everything: our age-old mating habits, the value of human labor, even the long-held premise of a limit to human life span.

In postindustrial societies, election results no longer indicate a nation’s ideological direction. Conservatives may win elections, but the world is no longer conservative. The erosion of traditions continues unabated, even during conservative administrations. For example, “consensus management,” “shareholder power” and the “voter revolt” all began to coalesce during the 1980s. In our increasingly decentralized environments, governments can no longer derail initiatives taken by a newly empowered populace or by new global forces.

The fact that everything is evolving rapidly is reason for hope. It proves the adaptability and dynamism of our species. The only “trend” today is fast-forward.

Published by the Los Angeles Time on December 18, 1995

FM-2030 on Government

Re “Why Worry About Government? We’re on Automatic Fast Forward,” Commentary, Nov. 25:

FM-2030 (what a droll name, sounds like an e-mail nickname) raises important ideas on “traditional values” that need rethinking as we approach the 21st Century. Among them are traditional values about work and the work ethic. Business is downsizing and automating, government is looking to trim or dismantle programs, leading to even fewer jobs. High-paid employees receive “golden handshakes” or are simply fired to be replaced by lower-paid or part-time employees without fringe benefits. Increasingly, full-time workers earn poverty-level or lower wages. Yet we continue to celebrate the “work ethic” and propose to reduce or eliminate welfare, food stamps, infant nutrition programs, etc.

How can we even think creatively of FM-2030’s thesis that a postindustrial society will have sufficient prosperity so that people can “work less and coast more” when the current reality is that many people must work two or three jobs to meet basic needs and many people are in low-paying jobs that may be eliminated as we “advance” toward his ideal. Or, does he imply that an underclass, perhaps a very large one, is an inevitable part of society where the government is largely irrelevant?


Santa Monica

It’s comforting to know that there won’t be any shortage of precious irony in the future, if “visionaries” like FM-2030 continue to proliferate.

The main problem with his “Mr. Spock Goes to Washington” thesis is the one thing that ruins every social engineer’s paradigms: good old human nature.

Yes, in 2030 a kiss will still be a kiss, a sigh will just be a sigh, and guys are still going to fly into a jealous rage if they catch their significant other “encouraging new lifestyles to ensure intimacy and continuity in our new environments.”

Of course, most Americans are going to be busy preparing the right hemispheres of their brains for all the empowering leisure time those hard-working machines are going to create. After all, scanning back and forth through 5,000 cable channels of junk, instead of just 50, is much more mentally fatiguing than you might think. I’m sure my grandsons will take the aesthetic high road-holographically projecting reruns of “Charlie’s Angels” right into their bedrooms.

As for some new decentralized federal government which will rarely intrude in our lives and be virtually powerless to “decelerate the profound recontextings” of American life, don’t count on it.

There’s about as much chance of that happening as there is of living in a post-futurist/consultant world!


(a.k.a. R. TIM PHILEN)


Written by Tim Philen and published by the Los Angeles Times on December 2, 1994

Why Worry About Government? We’re on Automatic Fast Forward Future: The direction of the country is set by forces bigger, stronger than all of Washington

An ideological battle has been raging between conservatives and liberals in the United States and Western Europe-a battle that would be comical, if not for its ferocity and for the millions of dollars dissipated on political campaigns. Implicit in this conflict is the assumption that whoever controls Congress or occupies the White House will determine the direction the country takes on such fundamental issues as immigration, crime, “traditional values,” the future of the family, the work ethic, welfare reform and the size of government.

On these issues, it hardly makes a difference who is President or controls Congress. These tracks are propelled by long-term irreversible forces such as decentralization, diversification, technologization, globalization-and are hardly affected by ideology or partisan politics. Here are some examples:

* Millions of legal and illegal immigrants will continue to cross national borders no matter what policies are adopted or how massive the barricades. It is absurd to think that in our global age, when a mounting avalanche of information and goods and dollars pours across borders every single day, that somehow people would stay and marinate in their ancestral homelands.

If it no longer matters how many Portuguese or Belgians translocate freely across Europe, or how many Indonesians and Thais work in Malaysia, why does it matter how many Mexicans work in the United States or how many U.S. citizens work in Canada? In our burgeoning global economy, there are no “illegal immigrants”-only irrelevant borders. In our global age, territoriality is hopelessly anachronistic.

* It is ridiculous to continue emphasizing such traditional values as “hard work” and the “work ethic” (and by the same token, disdain welfare), yet invest billions of dollars every year on automation and ever smarter machines that permanently jettison millions of jobs and disassemble the old labor-intensive economics. Hard work was a precondition to survival at one time and therefore glorified. In our times of global surpluses and smart self-replicating machines, hard work is dumb economics. Hard work is a deterrent to greater prosperity. We can now produce more while working less. We are like the Japanese who overdose on hard work not because there is any longer the need, but simply because of workaholic programming.

In postindustrial societies, tens of millions of people are now on light-work schedules-temporary jobs, part-time jobs, telecommuting, shared jobs, flex time, etc. These are steps in the right direction. Rather than insist that everyone work simply to satisfy puritanical, workaholic traditions, why not deploy our smart machines to create greater prosperity for everyone so that people can work less and coast more?

* The persistent emphasis on family values is yet another dead issue that sets off peoples’ alarms. Even if every federal and state office in the United States were occupied by the Christian right, the nuclear family would still continue its downward slide. Nothing can reverse this trend.

Since the 1950s, the traditional nuclear family has dropped from representing around 85% of American homes to less than 10%. How illogical to think that profound changes could unfold in all areas of society but not in our homes.

Many of the people attached to the nuclear family invest in the thriving genetics industry and in new reproductive technologies, perhaps unaware that their investments are eroding age-old patterns of procreation and parenthood. Rather than attempt to salvage a 20th-Century lifestyle that is in an irreversible tailspin, why not encourage new lifestyles to ensure intimacy and continuity in our new environments?

* Government will continue to have less and less impact on peoples’ lives. The trend everywhere is away from traditional concentrations of power. The more centralized the sources of information were, the more powerful the centers of authority (family, church, government). As information decentralizes, the relative power of government declines. This is particularly evident in postindustrial societies like ours. Since the 1960s, the most profound transformations in the United States have been spearheaded by forces and people outside government-the women’s movement, the biological revolution, the globalization of life. Government no longer routinely sets the pace and is less able to decelerate the profound recontextings going on everywhere.

No matter who occupies the White House or Congress, trends that started decades ago are now on automatic fast forward. No one can derail them. An administration may call itself conservative or liberal, but the environment in which it operates and which propels it is revolutionary.

In the postindustrial world, elections are no longer an accurate gauge of a society’s direction. This is as misleading as assessing the popularity of the Vatican by the size of crowds that greet the Pope in the streets and not paying attention to the fact that these crowds then go on to ignore church teachings on divorce, abortion and women’s rights.

It is absurd to want better technologies and a growing economy, yet still call for “traditional values.” Technology and values are part of the same continuum-you cannot decouple the two. If you want advances in one area, you have to accept advances in the other.

Rather than dissipate millions of dollars on nasty campaigns that attempt to freeze frame the past, we should encourage new values and lifestyles and policies which will bring us greater cohesion, abundance, leisure and growth as we prepare to liftoff to a new century.

Published by the Los Angeles Time on November 25, 1994

PERSPECTIVE ON GOVERNMENT Our Political Process Suits the 18th Century Technology has changed but decision-making has not. Our out-of-sync `democracy’ is slow, costly and exclusionary.

News flashes across the planet in seconds. Electronic transfer zips billions of dollars from continent to continent in minutes. Entire professions and industries and nations dis-exist and coalesce overnight. The world is streaming ahead faster and faster-but the American election process creeps along slower and slower.

We are in the middle of another volatile election year. Month after endless month, candidates for the presidency and Congress wake up at agrarian hours to stand on street corners shaking hands and pleading for votes. Tens of millions of dollars are frittered away on predatory media blitzes.

What is endlessly called a “democracy” is actually a 200-year-old system of decision-making, a representative form of government totally out of sync with the realities of this late-20th Century. It is slow, costly, exclusionary, undemocratic and often trivial.

Specifically, elective government is an anachronism because:

– Modern generations are more self-reliant and less power-oriented than previous generations. Imagine asking them who the “head of household” is or who should “lead” on the dance floor. In my seminars for industry, older executives often complain that young employees don’t know how to take orders; young, educated personnel insist that senior officers are too “controlling” and out of touch with new ways of doing things.

– Information has been one of the principal tools of power. As information decentralizes, the relative power of governments declines. It is not an accident that in recent years the most profound transformations in North America-the civil-rights movement, the consumer and environmental movements, the women’s movement-have been spearheaded by activists outside government. Governments are less able to control events. Telecommunication is the powerful tool that enables these peoples’ initiatives.

– Elective governments may have worked well in the agrarian and early industrial ages, when change unfolded slowly. But this plodding process of electioneering for months is now absurdly slow. Pressing national and international policy decisions, for example the current peace talks in the combustible Arab-Israeli conflict, have to be put on hold for months.

The people of North America have changed, the technology has changed, the pace of events has changed-but the basic manner in which national decisions are made has not.

In the United States, nearly half of the eligible voters persistently do not vote. This may only be partly due to chronic apathy. There is abundant evidence that people also feel left out by the exclusionary nature of this political process. North Americans are actually more activist than ever, but are no longer content to be juvenilized by an antiquated paternalism.

The future doesn’t come with blueprints, but here’s a sketch of one possible postindustrial civic decision-making process:

Once a month, or as frequently as is necessary, a list of issues would be submitted to the people in a referendum. A certain number of “signatures,” written or electronic, would be necessary to get an issue on the referendum. All sides of an issue would get equal time in the electronic and print media. When possible, computer projections of probable consequences of each option would be aired.

People would participate in referendums by telephone or computer, logging on with personal code number to select from a menu of options. Televoting could be done from anywhere: home, office, beach, car. The maybe-candidate, Ross Perot, has nodded in this direction with his proposal for weekly opinion referendums.

An ad hoc referendum committee comprised of people selected at random by computer, somewhat as in jury duty today, could serve for a month or two at time. This committee could see to the drafting of ballot measures, supervise the voting and oversee implementation of the referendum decisions. Leaders and representatives are superfluous-we need facilitators.

Without leadership struggles, the decision-making process would be depoliticized, freeing it of the wasteful personal ambitions and partisan politics that hobble elective government. Referendums focus on the merits of different plans instead of calculating their effect on a candidate’s electability. Computer testing of consequences of each option further helps objectify the process.

The modern path to genuine democracy is to create mechanisms empowering people to vote not for leaders but directly on issues. This at last is government by the people and for the people.

Published by the Los Angeles Time on May 15, 1992

Orange County 1990 Life in the Year 1999

The 1990s, futurists say, will be a decade in which the technologies already in place will become highly sophisticated and refined: American families can expect to see a tremendous amount of computer and robotic technology in the home.

Based on 35 interviews with futurists and experts as diverse as automotive designers and sociologists, we offer a glimpse into what is likely to be in store for upscale Orange County families by the end of the next decade.

The following is a day in the life of the trend-setting Coopers, a fictitious Orange County family in the high-tech year of 1999. Meet the Coopers: John, 48; Jane, 36; and their 10-year-old son, Marty.

“John . . . John, it’s time to wake up.”

The woman’s voice was but a whisper, a hint of seduction in the velvety purr.

But John Cooper, his face embedded in his pillow, did not stir in the dimly lighted bedroom. A minute later, the voice returned, a bit louder, a bit more urgent.

“John . . . come on, John, it’s 7 o’clock. You’ll be late for work .. . it’s time to get up.”

Still no response. Another minute passed before the voice returned. This time the purr had an attitude.

“OK, John, get up. Rise and shine, big boy. I’m not kidding.”

John, wide awake now, recognized the voice: It was his wife Jane’s. He turned to look at her, but she was still sound asleep and would not have to get up for another half-hour.

Sitting up in bed, John ran his hand through his tangled hair and chuckled: Jane had recorded the wake-up message into their Smart House system’s morning sequence. John had grown accustomed to the regular, synthesized wake-up message, but he rather liked hearing Jane’s voice coming out of the bedside speaker. She must have recorded it yesterday afternoon, he thought-before their fight last night.

They rarely fight-unlike the constant battles John and his ex-wife used to have-but when he and Jane do fight, it’s always over the same old thing: money, or, more accurately, not having enough money.

It’s not easy living in Orange County in 1999, especially when you’re trying to maintain a standard of living like the upscale Coopers enjoy: One big family vacation trip a year, taking the high-speed bullet train from Anaheim to Las Vegas for the weekend, frequent dinners out and-when they don’t feel like microwaving or going out to dinner-gourmet meals delivered to their door, a big trend in the ’90s.

And while Jane spends far more money on clothes than John does, he has his own weakness: keeping up with all the latest electronic gadgetry that has become available in the ’90s.

Then there’s the monthly payment on their new home in Laguna Niguel, which the Coopers bought last year. John still lies awake some nights with a knot in his stomach thinking about making that monster payment.

But it is their dream home and at least they can afford to live in Orange County.

John’s younger brother, Larry, and his family live out in one of the new high-density developments in Riverside County and would give anything to be able to afford to live in Orange County, where the median-priced house now tops $500,000. Larry spends more than four hours a day on the freeway commuting to and from his job in Huntington Beach.

As an American executive with a Japanese multinational corporation, John is making more money than ever, but it’s never quite enough-not even with Jane now working steadily as a free-lance writer for several national magazines.

But John Cooper has other things on his mind this Friday morning.

Like many aging baby boomers in the so-called sandwich generation, he has been thinking about asking his 78-year-old mother to come live with them. He admires the way his mother, a widow since 1995, has maintained her independence, living alone in her Irvine condo. But she hasn’t been in the best of health lately and her arthritis has cut down on her mobility.

He is also worried about Tiffany, his 15-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother in Boston but comes out to visit several times a year. During his last communication with his ex-wife by computer-far less volatile than trying to talk to her over the phone-she said that Tiffany is uncommunicative, her grades are slipping and she’s hanging around a “tough” crowd at school. He would have to call and have a talk with Tiffany this weekend.

Then there’s Marty. The boy is simply spending too much time in virtual reality. They bought him the virtual reality computer for his 10th birthday this year. Even John has to admit that it’s a trip putting on the special goggles and suit and interacting in a three-dimensional simulated world of your own choosing. But virtual reality has become even more of an obsession than Nintendo was back in the ’80s for many children. Although it’s not interfering with Marty’s schoolwork, the kid literally spends hours in virtual reality. He’d have to have a talk with Marty, too.

Life seemed so much simpler in the ’80s, John thought, as he eased out of bed and headed for the bathroom, silently grumbling to himself that he has got to stop having these soul-searching sessions so early in the morning.

7:05 a.m.

As John passed the threshold sensor, the bathroom light turned on automatically-not the harsh bright light that used to force him to squint until his eyes adjusted to the glare, but a dim light at first, which gradually grew brighter.

Just as the light reached the proper level of brightness, the shower turned on, automatically adjusting to John’s pre-programmed, preferred water temperature.

The Coopers’ bathroom has taken on a more social role in their lives in the ’90s. In fact, they have to remember to stop referring to it as the bathroom and call it by its more trendy name, “the body room.” Much larger than the bathroom in their old house, the Coopers’ body room includes exercise equipment, a Jacuzzi tub and a double shower.

Like many people in the ’90s, John and Jane Cooper exercise regularly. Jane works out on the computerized exercise cycle in the morning; John works out with the electronic resistance weight equipment after work-to wind down from his “drive-time aggravation,” as he calls his freeway commute to Costa Mesa.

Like many aging baby boomers in the ’90s, John is less interested in having a “body beautiful” than in maintaining his health and adding years to his life. The same goes for nutrition. Both he and Jane are careful about what they eat, and whenever John does indulge in a big, juicy cheeseburger on his lunch hour, he feels tremendous guilt.

As John showered, the next phase of the Smart House system’s morning sequence went to work: After opening the drapes in other parts of the house, it started the coffee-maker in the kitchen and, as soon as the coffee was done, began warming the family’s oat-bran muffins in the microwave.

The first prototype for the Smart House-a gas, plumbing and wiring system that enables total home automation-was completed in 1989 in Baltimore and the Coopers toured another prototype in Covina when it opened for public tours in 1991. The system, which handles the distribution and control of all energy and communications within the home-had become commonplace in new homes a few years ago and many owners of older homes have begun having their houses retrofitted.

The computer-like operation enables the Coopers to heat or cool only those areas of their home that they choose, and to do it at the desired level in each room. The lights and appliances in each room can be activated by any switch in the house, and also by remote control, sensors, the telephone (at home or away from home), video touch screens and-the most recent development-voice recognition. Of course, everything can also be part of the day’s pre-programmed sequence.

7:25 a.m.

Now shaved and showered, John stood in front of his closet.

“Well, what should I wear today?” he said in a quiet voice, careful not to awaken Jane.

John really loves this part of his morning routine.

At the sound of his voice, the closet door glides open and a synthesized voice responds from an overhead speaker: “According to today’s weather report, it’s 47 degrees outside and likely to rain. You’re going to want a raincoat with a lining in it . . . I remember you wore a gray suit yesterday. Why don’t you wear a blue suit and red tie today? . . . And remember, you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

Bad computer humor, John thought, grinning as he began to dress.

Meanwhile, the Smart House system deactivated the home security system so that Arthur could go outside to fetch the morning newspaper. Arthur is the Cooper’s home robot.

Although even John scoffed at the idea of a robot servant a decade ago, he was, naturally, one of the first to buy one when they came on the market in the early ’90s. The first generation of home robots were a giant leap beyond the early robotic vacuum cleaners.

Of course, the early home robots weren’t as sophisticated as Arthur. The first models had limited voice recognition and could perform only simple household tasks such as cleaning the floor.

But with advances made in artificial intelligence and vision and tactile capabilities, the second generation of rechargeable, battery-operated home robots can perform a wide array of household tasks, including preparing simple meals, polishing shoes, washing the car, filling the dog’s food dish, watering the plants, clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.

John gets a special kick out of having Arthur pass out hors d’oeuvres at parties.

The new models are more humanlike than the early ones-visually they’re a cross between R2D2 and C3PO-and with their sophisticated technology, they offer true companionship. At least that’s what the dealers like to say.

The home robot was considered a luxury item when it originally came on the market, its first owners being the kind of people who had to decide whether to buy a home robot or another Mercedes. But as prices have come down, it has now become a choice between buying a computerized servant or buying a new Chevrolet.

7:40 a.m.

Sipping his coffee, John instructed Arthur, who had placed the newspaper on the kitchen table, to wake up Marty.

“And if he’s already awake, make sure he’s not playing virtual reality,” John added.

“Yes, sir,” replied Arthur, turning and wheeling out of the room.

Although John likes to read the electronic versions of several out-of-state newspapers’ business sections, he’s glad he hasn’t had to change the time-honored ritual of thumbing through a good old-fashioned newspaper while he drinks his morning coffee.

Jane, sweaty from her morning workout, walked into the kitchen for her morning cup of coffee. As if on cue, they both apologized for fighting the night before and John kissed Jane.

They were interrupted by Arthur, who had returned from Marty’s room.

“Is Marty up?” Cooper asked.

“Yes, sir.” the robot replied.

“Is he in virtual reality?”

“No sir, he is not. He is getting dressed.”

Jane began instructing Arthur what she wanted done today: Scrub the kitchen floor, wash her car this afternoon and-this one’s her favorite-clean the bathroom.

Although Jane must occasionally travel on assignments, she works mostly at home. Today she has two phone interviews lined up after she takes Marty to school and then she has to start writing her piece for Cosmo on “How to Maintain a Meaningful Relationship in the New Millennium.”

“It’s 7:50-you’re running late,” announced the synthesized Smart House voice, a pre-programmed reminder for John.

John gulped the rest of his coffee and set the cup in the sink. Arthur would wash it later in the morning.

After kissing Jane goodby, John walked into the garage and approached the driver’s side of his new slate-gray sedan. He had traded in the snazzy sports car in ’98, his sole concession to middle-aged craziness, saying he no longer felt that sporty or that crazy. Like most vehicles today, John’s new car is powered by a smaller, cleaner engine that delivers the same power as a larger engine but with less fuel consumption.

The car also has voice-printed door openings and ignition, making car keys a thing of the past.

“Hi, George,” said John, the novelty of speaking to his car having worn off long ago.

The door snapped unlocked and John eased into the driver’s seat, which automatically readjusted to his body’s pre-programmed contours and turned on the heater and the radio to John’s favorite oldies station. That reminded him: He must get two tickets to the upcoming Stones’ concert at Irvine Meadows.

At 56, John thought, Jagger’s still got it!

As the garage door swung open and John eased the car out of the driveway, a computer screen on the instrument panel lit up, giving him a readout of the time, temperature and traffic conditions.

He punched in his destination-Costa Mesa-and a map system linked to a central Traffic Control Center displayed the quickest route based on current traffic conditions as reported by roadway censors and closed-circuit freeway television cameras.

As John drove through a slight drizzle, the map on the screen continually indicated his car’s position and provided constant traffic information.

Fortunately, there were no major traffic mishaps on the 405 today-so far, at least-but traffic is still heavy as usual. Despite the Smart Street technology, tollways and more businesses allowing employees to work flexible hours, traffic is still one of biggest problems in Orange County, which now has a population of more than 2.6 million people who drive 2.1 million vehicles.

As John entered the 405, the car’s radar-controlled collision-avoidance monitor warned him of a road-hazard ahead: a ladder in the right lane, which he swerved to avoid. The adaptive cruise control adjusted the car’s speed to the flow of traffic which is, as it always is at this time of morning, creeping along at 18 m.p.h.

8:15 a.m.

Jane and Marty climbed into Jane’s electric car for the short drive to school. A breakthrough in batteries in the mid-1990s boosted the popularity of electric cars since they can now go farther and perform better. Though they look like any other compact car, they are still used only by people who don’t have to drive more than 100 miles a day.

8:55 a.m.

John pulled into the parking lot of his firm’s U.S. headquarters, slipping his Smart Card into a slot to open the gate. The Smart Card resembles a credit card, but it is actually a hand-held computer with a microprocessor and memory. It not only carries John’s employee ID number but his 100 most frequently dialed phone numbers, his car maintenance records and a host of other personal data. And because it carries both insurance and family medical records, the card saved time and paper work when John had to rush Marty to the hospital for a broken nose last month after Marty got carried away playing a game of virtual reality Dungeons and Dragons and slammed into his bedroom wall.

9 a.m.

John sat down at his desk and logged on his computer. Unlike earlier models, the computers of the ’90s have become much more user-friendly.

“Good morning, John,” the computer’s synthesized voice said.

“Good morning,” John cheerily replied, having come to view his office computer as more of a colleague than a metal box now that computers were designed more for decision-making functions than merely spewing out information on command.

After verbally running through John’s electronic messages that had come in since he logged off the night before, the computer provided John with a report of market indicators posted on the international stock exchanges.

John was then reminded that the weekly teleconference with the office in New York would begin in five minutes. He walked down the hall to the teleconference room where he and four other executives sat down facing a large, high-definition screen with a video camera mounted above. On the screen were four other American executives sitting in a similar room in New York with John’s visiting counterpart from Japan.

“Ohayo gozaimasu, Tanaka-san,” said John.

“And good morning to you, Mr. Cooper,” replied Tanaka.

9:10 a.m.

The morning reading session over, Marty’s teacher, Mrs. Brown, instructed the class to open their desks for their history lesson. Marty’s school was one of the first in the county to have fully computerized classrooms. The students’ desks look similar to traditional school desks, but the tops lift up, becoming high-definition, flat computer screens and revealing computer keyboards.

As the students logged on to their computers, Mrs. Brown informed them that they would be beginning their study of U.S. presidents with a look at the presidency of George Washington. They would start, she said, by taking a tour of Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

With their menu of classroom subjects in front of them, the students touched the word “history” on their screens. They then called up the George Washington file, and a video image of the outside of Washington’s Virginia mansion appeared on their screens.

As Mrs. Brown instructed, Marty touched the front door of the house and the screen instantly displayed the inside of Washington’s home. Mrs. Brown said she would first lead them on a tour of the house and then they’d be free to continue the tour on their own, touching different parts of their screen to enter the different rooms and listening to a narration on their earphones.

Marty enjoyed the computer-aided history lessons but, he thought, it was not as exciting as virtual reality. He couldn’t wait to get home.

10:30 a.m.

Back at the Cooper home, Jane decided to phone John’s mother to see how she was doing.

As Grandma Cooper’s living room telephone rang, a read-out on the bottom of the phone informed her: Jane Cooper calling. The high-fidelity phones of the ’90s made it seem as though the caller were in the same room. Video phones, a failure when they were test-marketed briefly by AT&T in the early ’70s, are now being used in business. However, the general public is still not interested in having that sort of invasion of privacy in their homes. As Jane told John when he said he would love to have one: “I’m not combing my hair just for a wrong number.”

The two women talked for 10 minutes and after she hung up, Grandma Cooper switched off the TV.

“Robert, I need help getting up,” she said to her home robot, which had been standing silently next to the television.

“Yes, ma’am,” the robot said, wheeling over to her chair and extending an arm to help her rise.

Robert escorted Mrs. Cooper to the bathroom and waited outside the door.

John had bought the robot for his mother last Christmas. Despite initial resistance to having the high-tech stranger in her home, Grandma Cooper had grown to enjoy Robert’s company: It helped take the edge off living alone. Her Pekingese, Lady, however, still viewed Robert as an unwelcome intruder and nipped at Robert’s wheels as the robot helped Mrs. Cooper back into her chair.

“I’m having two friends over for lunch today, Robert,” Mrs. Cooper said. “What should we have?”

The robot suggested a chef’s salad and maybe a nice bottle of white wine.

Mrs. Cooper thought that was a fine idea, adding: “I think you should open the wine at 11 so it has a chance to breathe.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Robert said, ignoring the feisty little dog’s yapping.

2 p.m.

While Jane was out of the house running errands and picking up Marty from school, the Smart House began its daily inventory of the Coopers’ refrigerator and pantry. That done, it then called the supermarket and submitted a list of needed items and the time for delivery.

Although they pay extra for the delivery, the Coopers, like many people in the ’90s, feel their time is more valuable than to spend it shopping for groceries.

While that was happening, the Cooper’s refrigerator experienced compressor failure. Most people don’t recognize that kind of failure until they open the door and smell the meat, but the Smart House was immediately aware of the problem.

Had the Coopers been home, the system would have alerted them by voice and by flashing a message on the bottom of their TV screen.

Instead, the system automatically dialed the pre-programmed number of the appliance service representative. The rep called back, addressing the refrigerator directly and running a diagnostic test on the appliance over the phone, enabling a repairman to have the correct replacement part when he came out.

John couldn’t help laughing last week when his neighbor down the street told him that when their water heater broke while they were out, their Smart House dialed the Smart House next door and asked for a referral.

4 p.m.

Although his parents had been after him to play outside more, it had started to rain again and Marty had a good excuse to stay in today. His homework was done and he knew what he wanted to do.

“It’s raining and there’s nothing to do,” he whined to his mother in her study.

Jane, immersed in her writing, told him to play in his room.

“But there’s nothing to do,” complained Marty.

Jane knew what he was up to, but not wanting to hear him whine the rest of the afternoon, she took the easy way out: “Why don’t you see if there are any virtual games?”

Marty grinned and returned to his bedroom.

Standing in the middle of his room, the boy donned his DataGloves, his Eyephone goggles and virtual reality suit, which was connected via a wireless link to a computer. The goggles have built-in headphones and a small screen in front of each eye and the suit, which resembles an aerobic outfit, contains tiny censors. First used by architects in the late ’80s to allow clients to “explore” a building before it existed, the virtual realty equipment became a home entertainment phenomenon by the mid-’90s.

As soon as he was suited up, Marty was no longer in his bedroom. Or so it appeared looking through his goggles.

He was now at a virtual reality park, standing in front of a recreation center. Because his bedroom is not big enough for walking and running in virtual reality, he stands on a special pad: Whenever he wants to walk or run, he merely leans in a different direction and his virtual reality self will glide in whatever direction he leans.

Marty experienced the feeling of walking into the virtual reality recreation center. Once inside, he walked up to a row of three-dimensional miniature dioramas. The dioramas resemble fish aquariums, only the “fish” in this case are other virtual reality players interacting, via the phone line, in different settings. In one, they’re taking archery lessons: Marty could see the children shooting bows and arrows at haystack targets. In another, they’re learning about the moon, only the children are playing on what appears to be the actual lunar surface.

Whichever diorama Marty decides to put his hand into, he will be instantly transported to that scene.

Marty dipped his hand into the baseball scene, which appeared to get bigger and bigger until it was so big that he was inside it.

The players were just beginning to choose sides and Marty volunteered to pitch.

Stepping to the mound, he wound up and hurled the ball to the plate.

The batter swung and missed. Strike one!

5 p.m.

John was stuck in traffic, as usual after work-especially on Fridays when everyone is getting a head start on the weekend. John was not in a good mood: The Stones concert was sold out. He turned on his Stones CD, the aging bad boys of rock and roll singing, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

5:15 p.m.

Tired of playing ball, Marty rubbed his hands together, causing him to return to the virtual reality recreation center lobby.

Standing in front of the bank of 3-D simulated dioramas again, he dipped his hand into the scene showing the rec center’s dinosaur class.

He instantly found himself in a prehistoric landscape watching a huge brontosaurus lumber by. Marty decided to “become” a dinosaur and experience what it feels like to thunder through the forest from the point of view of Tyrannsaurus rex.

5:20 p.m.

John, still creeping along in traffic, felt his right front tire blow out. But that was no problem. John’s car has “run-flat” tires: when punctured, the tires remain semi-rigid and are good for another 100 to 200 miles. Of course, you’re not supposed to go more than 50 m.p.h. but, in John’s case, he’s only going 10 m.p.h. anyway. He phoned Jane on the car phone to say he’d be late. Jane said she was having dinner delivered.

5:30 p.m.

Back in the virtual reality recreation center, Marty decided to join the group of kids building their own house with imaginary tools and lumber. He laughed hysterically as he squished and then stretched the house into grotesque shapes.

6:30 p.m.

John rolled into the garage, greeting Jane in the kitchen.

“No luck on the Stones,” he said.

Arthur was setting the table.

Jane: “You’re just in time.”

John: “I’m beat; I’m glad we’re staying in tonight.”

Jane, laughing: “We always stay in.”

7 p.m.

Settling into his favorite chair, John picked up the remote and turned on TV. The high-definition, digital TVs have made ghost images, distortion and outside noises a thing of the past.

As he absent-mindedly ran through the several hundred channels now available, John slipped his Smart Card into a slot on the phone next to him. He called up the local bookstore and had them electronically download-and bill to his account-the two best-sellers Jane has been wanting. When she flies on a magazine assignment to Chicago next week, she will be able to read them by simply slipping her Smart Card into her portable video viewer.

9 p.m.

With the sound of rain falling heavily on the roof and the Coopers gathered for the evening in their high-tech yet cozy living room, the scene looked like a ’90s version of a Norman Rockwell family-life tableau.

John is now watching a movie he has rented over the phone line from the neighborhood video store. Jane is reading an electronic magazine on the living room computer.

And Marty is. . . .

Where is Marty?

“Arthur,” said John, realizing he hadn’t see his son in several hours, “go see what that boy is up to.”

“Yes sir,” droned Arthur from his corner.

11 p.m.

With his virtual reality suit locked in the closet for the rest of the weekend, Marty was already sound asleep when Jane told John she was going to bed.

John, however, decided to finish reading a story in the newspaper that he had started in the morning-yet another feature on what life is going to be like in the new century. Newspapers just can’t seem to get enough of looking ahead, he mused, wondering if the first decade of the 21st Century would really turn out the way futurists were predicting.

The Smart House automatically activated the security system and Arthur, who spent most of the evening shining the Coopers’ shoes, wheeled himself into the closet-sized robot’s pantry off the kitchen and plugged himself in for his nightly recharge.

Jane was already in bed, her face turned to the wall, when John finally crawled in.

“Good night, John.”

It was that velvety woman’s voice again, still a seductive purr.

John smiled, thinking Jane must have recorded a good-night message into the evening sequence. But as he closed his eyes, he heard the velvety voice again.

“Good night, John. . . . ”

John looked over at Jane. She wasn’t asleep.

The Smart House turned off the light.

Sources for the day-in-the-life scenario:


Tim Willard, managing editor of the Futurist magazine and director of communications for the World Future Society, a Bethesda, Md., clearinghouse for information about the future.

Gareth Branwyn, computer editor of the Futurist magazine.

Tom Mandel, senior management consultant at SRI International, an international research and consulting firm in Menlo Park, Calif.

Selwyn Enzer, senior research fellow with the International Business, Education and Research program at USC.

Mark Baldassare, professor of social ecology at UC Irvine and director of the Orange County Annual Survey.

Kingsley Davis, distinguished professor of sociology at USC and associate of USC’s Population Research Laboratory.

FM-2030, formerly F.M. Esfandiary, a Los Angeles-based futurist and author of “Are You a Transhuman?”


Marvin Adelson, professor in the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UCLA.

Kenneth P. Geremia, manager of public relations for the Smart House, Upper Marlboro, Md.

Joseph F. Engelberger, chairman of Transitions Research Corp. in Danbury, Conn., home robot developers.

Jaron Lanier, CEO of VPL Research Inc., Redwood City, Calif., producer of virtual reality hardware and software.

Nicholas Vitalari, associate professor of management in the Graduate School of Management at UCI.

Joe Griffin, project director of the AT&T Smart Card.

Robert W. Lucky, executive director of Communications Science Research Division of AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Chen Tsai, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCI.

Behnam Bavarian, assistant professor of electrical engineering at UCI, and director of UCI’s Robotics Research Lab.

Tony DeLap, professor of studio art at UCI.


Toni Simonetti, General Motors Corp. spokeswoman.

Tom Scott, director of international design with the Ford Motor Co. Design Staff.

Stanley T. Oftelie, executive director of the Orange County Transportation Commission.

William C. Woollett Jr., executive director of the Transportation Corridor Agencies.

Joe Harake, director of special projects for Caltrans.


Greg Bodenhamer, director of the Back in Control Center in Orange and author of “Back In Control: How to Get Your Children to Behave.”

Judith Treas, professor of sociology at UCI.

David Juroe of Orange, president of Orange County Chapter of Stepfamily Assn. of America.

Carol Hatch, executive director of Orange County Commission on the Status of Women.

Peter Bishop, associate professor in the Studies of the Future program at University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Judy Auerbach, director of USC’s Institute for the Study of Men and Women in Society.

Family Research Council, Washington, D.C.

Tom Coleman, director of the Family Diversity Project in Los Angeles.

Sherry Novick, California Joint Select Task Force on the Changing Family.

Marcus Felson, associate professor at the USC Social Science Research Institute.

Stanley Buder, urban historian, Baruch College City University of New York.

Robbie Berns, professor and chairman of Human Development Dept. at Saddleback College, and author of “Child, Family, Community.”

David Snyder, consulting futurist, Bethesda, Md.

Additional reporting from Times staff writers Lynn Smith, Jeffrey A. Perlman and Steven R. Churm was used for this story.

Written by Dennis McLellan and published by the Los Angeles Times on December 21, 1989

Command College Pointing Cops Toward 21st Century

The futurist who goes by the name FM-2030 appears before California’s emerging police leaders during the first week of Command College, offering a rap they’ll never hear in the squad room.

Wearing a silk shirt open to the waist, he declares that patriotism, family and religion are passe, soon to be replaced by “telecommunities,” personal “linkups” and immortality. The author of “Are You a Transhuman?” is having his body frozen at death, of course.

As for law enforcement, it has earned the public’s hostility by being “oppressive and coercive,” an approach that just won’t work on generations raised not to be in awe of authority. “Humanize,” FM-2030 implores two dozen lieutenants and captains in a seminar room at Cal Poly Pomona.

The language and style would raise the eyebrows of most any audience-much less cops.

“Get out of town,” a lieutenant calls out at one pronouncement.

Changing Society

But Cmdr. Ernest E. Curtsinger later takes home FM’s self-evaluation tests to share with his staff at the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau, one of the nation’s toughest police precincts. Soon they are listing social changes they dismissed five years ago-the increasing openness of gays, for instance-only to see them become widely accepted.

Thus begins perhaps the most unusual police training program in America, one that attempts nothing less than a transformation of the best and brightest commanding officers in California.

Since 1984, when Command College was launched by the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, called POST, nearly 300 high-ranking police officials have been selected to participate in a two-year program that prods them to look toward the 21st Century. A series of futurists, Fortune 500 consultants and Japanese management types indoctrinate them in “pro-active” leadership, strategic planning and a new vision of police work: one in which women and minorities are an essential part of the team, as are computers, and intimidation is no longer a staple of the officer on the beat.

`They Know What to Do’

There is hardly a word on such law enforcement topics of today as coping with gangs, Colombian drug cartels or AK-47s.

“We assume that when the phone rings with an emergency, they know what to do today,” says Mike DiMiceli, a POST staff member. “The question is what’s going to come in on that phone in 10 years.”

Command College students joke about how they emerge as “clones,” a different breed of police executives who speak a strange language, view old-line practices with suspicion and prefer to deal with each other.

Although some outsiders worry that the program is creating a new elite, few dispute the trend in law enforcement here-Command College graduates are taking over. About 70 participants now head police departments throughout California and each Command College newsletter lists several more who are being elevated to chief.

“It seems like it is almost going to be a requirement if you’re going to be a police chief,” says Paul Walters, who was a captain in the Santa Ana Police Department when he graduated from the Command College’s second class in 1986. Now he’s the chief.

“We have a new captain in the room.”

To hearty applause, Lt. Katherine Roberts lights a candle on a Danish and carries it around a U-shaped conference table to Upland Police Department’s Doug Millmore, who was a lieutenant at the last gathering of Class 12.

“By the time we’re done, we’ll all get one of these,” declares Roberts, the night watch commander for the Ontario Police Department and one of two women in the group.

Two classes, each with about 24 members, enter Command College every year. Class 12, the newest one, had its first meeting in June, spending a week on “Defining the Future,” covering topics from demographic trends to “thinking globally”-and beyond the globe when FM-2030 started talking about colonizing other planets.

In a pattern they will repeat over the two years, participants returned to their departments after that week and have reconvened two months later at the adult conference center on the campus. There will be 10 seminar weeks in all, culminating in a six-month independent study project.

After one week, they already talk of how they’ve changed.

Lt. Joseph Peavy of San Fernando jokes to several colleagues about how he followed instructions to scrutinize the news to distinguish a mere “event” from a more important “trend.”

“I used to just read the newspaper,” he says. “Now I do environmental scanning.”

Lt. Ken Peterson says he returned to the Milpitas Police Department and suggested “flattening the organization,” eliminating layers of command.

“You don’t need a captain telling a lieutenant to tell a sergeant what to tell an officer to do,” he argues. “It’s hard to justify six levels of hierarchy in a police department. The Catholic Church has less layers than we do.”

His comment drew raised eyebrows from the boys back home.

The roots of the Command College go back a decade, when the executive director of POST, Norman C. Boehm, began looking for something different from the traditional two-week courses offered to each rank of police official, from sergeant on up.

“Those tended to be narrow in focus,” DiMiceli said. “The historic focus in police training is operational, how to shoot, how to drive, what’s the law today, how to conduct an investigation.”

A committee studied training in the military, at management institutes, in Canada and England. The result, with its long-range orientation, was a departure even from the well-respected 11-week training session offered by the FBI for police executives from throughout the country. The FBI has had one optional “futures research” class since 1982, but the curriculum remains nitty-gritty, covering payroll sciences, criminalistic analysis and the like.

Command College also departed from the traditional practice of using instructors from law enforcement. The tone was set by Hank E. Koehn, a futurist from the banking industry who supervised the opening week in January, 1984.

At the end, he had the class stage imagined versions of the evening news in the year 2000. Police captains found themselves playing anchormen, reporting the actions of California’s new governor-a Latino woman.

But one part of that first week did not work out.

“We were still a little conservative then in thinking we needed a cop to teach other cops,” DiMiceli recalled. “So we found a high-ranking police officer to make the bridge between all this fancy stuff and the real world.”

Then they surveyed class members, he said, and “the comments of the class were to keep all the instructors but this cop.”

It was a sign of changing times that Koehn-a gay man who later died of AIDS-was voted the best instructor over the two years.

The topic for Class 12 this week is “Human Resource Management.”

Under the direction of consultant David W. Jamieson, its members discuss the changing work force, leadership styles and discrimination, “subtle ways people who are different don’t get respected.”

Each has prepared an oral report, most focusing on the increasing difficulty of recruiting officers. With population projections showing that immigrant and “minority” groups will become the majority in California by 2010, a common theme is the need to broaden the applicant pool.

Someone foresees accepting people who speak no English. Another sees Asian women as promising, but cautions “this is not something their society wants them to do.”

Peterson says they will have to overcome “resistance from the top levels” to get a full complement of women. “They are not unhappy with the status quo. They don’t want to send a female into a bar fight. They still have the attitude you have to protect little sister.”

A watch commander who weighs more than 200 pounds, Peterson later is asked if he really wants a woman at the bar fight. Perhaps he was just saying what was expected.

“No, no,” he answers. “I’ve known male officers you wouldn’t want to go into a fight with.”

Training programs in law enforcement often are viewed as punishment. Someone did his job wrong? Send him to school.

“You wind up locked in a room with a bunch of 20-year veterans,” says Roberts. “All they want to know is, `What’s for lunch?’ ”

It’s different with Command College.

To make it in, they had to apply, be nominated by their department, then survive a daylong assessment center. It includes written and oral tests and a nerve-racking exercise in which they are observed interacting with other candidates in a “leaderless group.” Up to a third are rejected.

“It’s the first time I’ve been in a school where the students have Ph.Ds,” says Lt. Clifford Nannini of Newark.

It’s a playful jab at Lt. Jeff Cameron of Redondo Beach, who has his doctorate in public administration. Both men are in Class 10, which entered Command College last year and has returned for its seventh weeklong seminar, on Strategic Decision Making/Transition Management. Another classmate has a law degree.

“In your own organization, you may feel you have the corner on the market of talent,” Cameron says. Here, “you quickly learn there are bunches of smart guys.”

When the day’s seminars are finished, the students filter into a huge dining room with a wall of windows looking out on the rolling hills of the campus. After dinner, some lift weights, others run and others gather in hospitality rooms in the motel-like facilities that serve as home during the sessions.

Several members of Class 10 share beers on a patio and soon are comparing experiences that got them here, speculating why others didn’t make it. They decide that some applicants were rejected because they tried to dominate the leaderless group, while others made the mistake of clamming up.

The ones who didn’t make it are spoken of with sadness-losers in the battle for police leadership of the future.

Enhances Career

Five members of Class 10 already are police chiefs. For those in ranks just below, the program takes on an added significance. “I make no bones about it. I’m here because of the promotional opportunities,” says one of the group on the patio.

Each paper and oral presentation is graded, and there is more than casual interest in who will finish first at graduation-this is, in its own way, a Top Gun competition.

When Cameron joins the group after a bicycle ride, someone asks how he’s been doing on his projects. Cameron says he’s nailed the last few assignments, but identifies Cmdr. Gary Bennett of Pasadena as the man to beat. “Gary has all excellents,” he says. “He’s the cutting edge.”

A survey conducted last year of 25 graduates found that 23 believed Command College had measurably enhanced their careers. The other two, according to a POST report, said there had been problems, including jealousy of colleagues and “difficulties getting department heads to `buy’ into the futures perspective.”

Indeed, some police leaders are wary of the program.

Azusa’s Chief Lloyd J. Wood is offended by how Command College people “say the chiefs are resistant to change.”

Most chiefs are “maybe a little more calculating and conservative than people want,” Wood said, but they’re actually hungry for “fresh things, wild ideas.” Command College projects strike him as “not the real innovative things that we were anticipating.”

He worries that a proposal to award a master’s degree to graduates would encourage officers to bypass traditional master’s programs, which they must pay for and attend on their own time. They attend Command College on company time, and the $350,000 annual cost of the program is paid by the state.

“Let’s face it, it’s not a bad deal,” Wood said.

POST-Wrought Changes

But many others are steadfast supporters of the Command College, saying it has changed the way they handle complaints, prompted them to expand volunteer programs and become more willing to tackle head-on communications problems within the ranks, such as between patrol officers and detectives.

“We don’t just send someone out there because it’s nice to do,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, who has sent six of his officers to the program. “It has been beneficial.”

“They think at a higher level,” he said. “They have a broader view of their job, the rest of the world and the surrounding forces that affect the criminal justice system.”

The instructor for Class 10 this day is James Belasco, who is part management consultant, part stand-up comic and part motivational speaker, bounding about the room while mixing anecdotes and slides with pithy statements:

A halo has to fall only a few inches to become a noose.

The scenery only changes for the lead dog.

His topic is “Handling Conflict,” but it’s really a pitch for management sensitivity.

“With most law enforcement agencies, courtesy is almost non-existent,” Belasco tells the cops, offering as proof the time it takes to reach them on the telephone. He tested it by calling members of previous classes: 7.6 rings for anyone to pick up, then an average wait of 3 minutes, 7 seconds.

Gary Bennett suggests that police might have a better record handling the public “if we weren’t a monopoly, if we had competition. Now an officer can say, `If you don’t like it, tough.’ ”

San Clemente’s police chief, Albert Ehlow, says it’s hard to make younger officers understand that they better treat people well on the street if they want the public to back their salary demands.

“Your job is to fix the vision,” Belasco tells them.

“I used to look at all the people who came through the Command College and say, `What’s the matter with these people?’ It was like they’d been reprogrammed,” Ontario’s Lt. Roberts says during a coffee break.

“Now, I’m starting to talk like them.”

And it’s not just in California that cops now speak of “stake holders,” people with an interest in the status quo, and of “nominal group techniques,” in which committees drawn from the community help police envision and solve problems.

Other States Involved

In recent years, about eight states have included some futures forecasting in their training for police executives, according to FBI Supervisory Special Agent William L. Tafoya, who designed the first such course for the FBI Academy.

As he sees it, if states had been doing this decades ago, “we may have not had some of the problems we have today.”

“If 30 years ago, we had been studying demographic data, police could have inferred the emergence of women and minorities . . . (instead), it almost hit law enforcement like a tidal wave.”

He is amazed that some police officials still are not taking steps to combat an obvious future problem such as computer crime, “who feel it is no big deal” or say “leave it to the feds.” Strategic planning would prompt them to train their own experts now, he said, figuring it will take years to learn the ropes.

“It’s going to require a lot more states to make this commitment if professionalism in law enforcement is going to be a reality in our lifetime,” Tafoya said. “California is the model.”

Belasco asks members of Class 10 to step to the middle of the room in groups of four and form body sculptures to symbolize their experience in Command College. They look around uneasily, then one cluster clasps hands, another forms a pyramid and a third goes for humor-one officer holding his hands over his eyes, the second covering his ears, a third his mouth.

It’s an exercise designed to show how change can be uncomfortable.

Belasco then has each officer write down a goal for his department. Around the room they scribble:

“To create a workplace free of sexual prejudice.”

“To establish a work environment where the lowest-ranking individuals care about public relations.”

“Our only reason to exist is to serve the public.”

WHO GOES TO COMMAND COLLEGE? Since the state instituted a Command College for top police officials in 1984, 13 classes have been selected, the last of which does not start the program until January. The two-year series of seminars is financed by the state’s Peace Officers Training Fund-which is supplied by the fines people pay for motor vehicle violations-and conducted at Cal Poly Pomona. Total enrolled: 297 Graduated: 138 Currently in program: 134 Left program: 25 RANK WHEN ENTERING COMMAND COLLEGE Sheriff: 1 Police Chief: 39* Agency Chief: 1 Division Chief: 1 Assistant Chief: 3 Deputy Chief: 3 Undersheriff: 1 Commander: 18 Captain: 68 Lieutenant: 162 Sergeant: 1 *30 others have become police chiefs after starting the program. EDUCATION High School: 7 Associate Degree: 20 Bachelor’s: 124 Master’s: 134 Law Degree:9 Doctorate: 3 SIZE OF THEIR DEPTS. 1-24 officers: 25 25-49: 39 50-99: 55 00-199: 63 200-499: 45 Over 500: 70* *Includes 12 from the Los Angeles Police Department and seven from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. FINAL PROJECTS

The culmination of the program is a six-month independent study project that applies “futures forecasting” and “strategic planning” skills to a law enforcement issue. Some of the resulting papers: What Will Be the Extent of Drug-Related Corruption Within California Law Enforcement by the Year 2000? What Role Will Local Police Departments Assume in the Investigation and Enforcement of Environmental Protection Laws During the Next Decade? What Is the Future of Authoritarian-Based Police Recruit Training by the Year 2000? What Effect Will Domestic Right Wing Terrorist Groups Have Upon the Resources of California Law Enforcement Agencies in the Year 2000? Source: California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training

Written by Paul Lieberman and published by the Los Angeles Times on September 25, 1989

Stop With the Predictions

We do indeed live, as (author) FM-2030 points out, in a fast-changing, electronically interlocked world (“Are You Ready?” by Connie Koenenn, Jan. 11). One thing that hasn’t changed, apparently, is that a crank with a gimmick and a penchant for holier-than-thou jargon can make lots of money, even in our “post-industrial” society.

What FM-2030 has ignored (as do those who have never heard of him but who parrot his ideas) is that traditions, naming conventions, hierarchies, and old ways of doing things exist because human beings need them and the sense of anchoring and identity they provide.

Drastic changes in the human animal have been predicted or announced or attempted throughout recorded history, recently by the exponents of Marxism and fascism and more recently by the hippies and yippies. Yet in all that time, through intellectual, political and industrial revolutions, human nature hasn’t changed a bit-and is not about to transform itself overnight into the “fluid transhuman” because some guy with a name that sounds like a pop radio station teaches an Extension course at UCLA.

Written by Paul A. Berchielli and published by the Los Angeles Times on January 29, 1989

Part Trans and Another Part Human

I stand uneasily astride the past and the Brave New World envisioned by the futurist who has changed his name from F. M. Esfandiary to FM-2030.

Evidently FM-2030 adopted his new name to be more in keeping with the digital society we live in.

(Our recent story about FM-2030, by Connie Koenenn, didn’t say whether he is married or not, but if he is, I wonder how his wife likes being known as Mrs. F.M-2030. I suppose it’s not much worse than being known as Mrs. Smith.)

It is Mrs. Smith who has been trying to drag me or push me into the the Age of Transhumans, which FM-2030 describes as “a 21st Century era of new evolutionary being.”

Transhumans, Koenenn suggests, are those who take readily to such technological innovations as personal computers, mobile cellular telephones, electronic mail and telebanking.

“We live in an electronic environment,” FM-2030 says, “a fast-response environment. If you don’t avail yourself of the technology, you will find you are outdated.”

Obviously my wife is worried that I will become outdated. First she urged me to buy a computer, then she bought a modem for it, then she bought me a compact disc player, and now she has bought me a fax machine.

I resisted all the way. Now, several years into its use, I admit that the computer was a good idea. It is so much easier to write on than a typewriter. The modem was a blessing, though I didn’t even hook it up until six months after she gave it to me. The modem makes it possible for me to send my copy directly into The Times computer over my telephone, thus making it unnecessary for me (or my wife) to drive it into The Times every day.

To that degree, I am a Transhuman.

At this point, though, I consider the fax machine an extravagance and a disaster. She gave it to me for Christmas. I was dumbfounded. “What will I ever use it for?” I protested.

She said I could have The Times library send clippings to me. I pointed out that my own library, plus the daily newspaper, and all the other publications we receive, give me more information than I need. And anything else I can get over the telephone.

I saw a fax ad in the paper and was dismayed at the price. She said, “You paid that much for a dress for me.”

“Yes,” I admitted, “but you’ve already worn that dress more times than I’m ever going to use a fax machine. I don’t need a fax machine.”

She said I was being ungracious.

I don’t like being ungracious, so I asked our older son, who was an Air Force radio technician during the Vietnam War, to install it for me. He came over the other night and worked for about two hours on it. He said he had connected it to our second telephone line, which is used mainly by people calling the wrong number.

The next morning he phoned to say he was going to send me something over his fax machine, to see if mine worked. While we were talking a female voice cut in, saying the phone company was unable to complete my call. I found out that we were talking over both lines at once. I hung up and tried to call him back. I couldn’t get a dial tone. He called back. The red light by the hold button went on. I found that I could talk to him only on the hold line. Both the other lines were inoperative.

“I must have done something to the phone,” he admitted.

As I write this the phone is still inoperative and I have yet to send or receive anything on the fax machine.

I have also never used an automatic teller or a telephone credit card. I used to use the CD with earphones when I was working out on the rowing machine, but I’ve dropped both.

So here I stand, with one foot in the Age of Transhumans and one foot out.

I just pray that my wife doesn’t buy me a cellular telephone. l don’t need a cellular telephone that doesn’t work. I’ve already got a telephone that doesn’t work.

Written by Jack Smith and published by the Los Angeles Times on January 19, 1989

Are You Ready? The Future Is Here, and This Author With a Strange Name Has a Test for Those Who Wonder if They’ll Fit In

Have you traded in your typewriter for a personal computer and your plug-in telephone for a mobile cellular unit?

Do you send electronic mail instead of writing letters? Do you even know what electronic mail is? Have you relegated such routine personal chores as depositing checks and paying bills to a telebanking system?

Do you think the American presidency is slowly evolving into a ceremonial post and the nation-state is an outdated concept in today’s electronically interlocked global community? In other words, are you ready for the future?

Test yourself. Such tests can tell you a lot about your readiness to survive the fast changes ahead, says a futurist who has been in the business of forecasting change for 25 years, and recently changed his name to FM-2030 to symbolize his confidence in the future. He issues this somewhat ominous warning: “We live in an electronic environment, a fast-response environment. If you don’t avail yourself of the technology, you will find you are outdated. You will be ineffective at work and in your interpersonal relations. You will find yourself in great collision with the world around you.”

To help relieve this pain, FM-2030, formerly F. M. Esfandiary, has devised 25 self-tests, wrapped them in analytic essays, added some mental stretching exercises and packaged them in a new 226-page paperback book entitled “Are You a Transhuman?”

Despite its title, the book is not science-fiction. Although FM-2030 does look forward to the Age of Transhumans (which he describes as a “21st-Century era of new evolutionary being”), he is more concerned about the present.

“This book is intended to help the reader monitor his or her rate of personal growth in a world that I see changing rapidly,” he explained. “By regularly measuring our ability to change, we can better come to grips with how we are doing. Are we falling behind? Are we keeping up with the times?”

He has clear ideas about how to survive a changing world: One must be able to go with the flow, to develop a fluid identity. The fluid people, he writes, are those “who do not have fixed or static identities, but who continually redefine themselves.”

That philosophy accounts for his emergence as FM-2030, after years of lecturing and writing (commentary pieces for the New York Times and other periodicals, as well as two books) as futurist F. M. Esfandiary. “I sort of outgrew my old name,” he explained. “I am not who I was 10 years ago.”

FM-2030 nee F. M. Esfandiary also brushes aside conventional biographical questions regarding birthplace, family and education. “In the world of rapid information that degrades quickly,” he said, “the educational determinate is not a college degree, but `update.’ ” (The “rate of information richness” is one of his 25 self-tests).

Fellow futurist Alvin Toffler summarized: “I think his name change is an imaginative stroke. He is refreshingly original. Whatever makes people think far out ahead is useful. He is a serious guy.”

The new book, which FM-2030 prefers to call an “interactive tract,” evolved out of courses he has taught during the past two decades at New York’s New School for Social Research and UCLA Extension. In pursuing his mission to raise awareness about change he found that people love to do self-tests, so that became his format.

Gradually Move Ahead

“These tests help people pay attention to how they use the technology, to new options for how we can live,” he said. “In my classes students usually do poorly at first, but continue to take the tests and gradually move ahead because they have started paying attention to growth. I have seen this time and time again.”

The book covers a wide swath of attitudinal ground. Because everyday language is the key to attitude, the first test wants to know: “How Updated Is Your Vocabulary?”

The forward-thinking person, in the gospel according to FM-2030, does not say “broken home” (single-parent home is preferable); “test-tube baby” (in vitro fertilized baby); “masses” (people); “foreigner” (visitor from another country); “Far East” (East Asia) or “Third World” (developing regions).

In an analysis of each question, FM-2030 explains his choices. For instance, what is the “Far East” far from? The phrase is a holdover from a colonial period and not useful today. Neither is “Third World” a useful term, he says, because it tends to polarize us into adversarial camps of progressive nations and backward nations when, in fact, poverty and backwardness can be found everywhere.

But dusting off one’s vocabulary is just the beginning. Succeeding tests monitor attitudes across the board: social, economic, medical, political, religious and technological.

Jettisons Some Institutions

And along the way the author jettisons as outdated such cherished institutions and rituals as birthdays (“narcissisms left over from childhood”), hard work (workaholics are “one-dimensional people”), long books, plays or concerts (“hopelessly slow for a high-tech people who want interaction and feedback”), power positions (“Hail to the Chief” may be a “throwback to our earliest tribal days”), and all competitions from the Olympic Games to the Academy Awards (“a wasteful behavior . . . that is divisive and inefficient”).

“I want to help people retool and come to terms with the massive changes that lie ahead,” said FM-2030, who started writing and teaching courses on futurism in the mid-1960s before the concept even had a label. “I am very serious about this.”

He was sitting on a recent afternoon in his Westwood apartment, a high-rise with a panoramic skyline view. Close at hand was a telephone dragging a low-tech extension cord. It was midpoint in a week loaded with radio interviews, promoting his book. He had just finished a talk show on a Cincinnati station during which he had taken calls from people throughout the Midwest, including some who were not ready to be retooled.

“Some people get very emotional when you discuss change,” he said. “I was talking to a man who said he was very religious, and when I asked him if he ate meat, and went hunting, and favored the death penalty and watched violent sports, he said `yes’ to all those things.” FM-2030 rates indifference to violence as near-zero in his test on humanity, which he regards as the basis of religion.

A large, affable man with a courtly manner, he reviewed the genesis of his gospel of optimism.

His 1973 book, “Up-Wingers,” was well-regarded by social scientist reviewers who praised its vision of an emerging post-Industrial Age. In the introduction to that book he wrote:

Bold, New Philosophy

“We must develop a bold new philosophy of the future. A hopeful outlook which can embolden people to want to face the future. To want to plan for it.”

He has not changed his message today. Other futurists may peer ahead and see complex, interconnected problems such as pollution, overpopulation, depleted natural resources and spiritual malaise, but not FM-2030.

“I’m an optimist, and what I have to share runs contrary to the pessimism around us today,” he declared.

Also unlike most futurists, he does not shy away from making predictions. He has been doing so since the mid-1960s when he taught a course at the New School for Social Research in New York. “They didn’t have a niche for me; there was no such field as future studies,” he said. So his course was entitled “Toward New Concepts of the Human,” and listed in the academic area called Social Activism.

“But even then I was talking about solar satellites, post-industrial societies, global communities, tele-democracies and post-family life styles,” he said.

The unorthodox presentation of himself as a global citizen with a name like FM-2030 draws a “lot of flak,” he acknowledged. “I am accustomed to this,” he said. “I am doing it for a purpose. I want people to shift their consciousness from conventional labeling.”

In his opinion, the question of one’s nationality “should be obsolete in a world of global telecommunications, global travel and global economy. It seems to me the nation-state has lost viability and we ought to think in new ways.”

Futurist Toffler (author of “Future Shock”), who in 1973 heralded “Up-Wingers” as “an exhilarating voice of a new, non-mystical consciousness and a new, non-petty politics,” has known FM-2030 since the 1960s. “He is gutsy and truly a visionary,” Toffler noted. “One doesn’t have to agree with everything he says to be refreshed by it.”

Not Everyone Agrees

Although the unflagging hope that underlies all his writings has received praise from many quarters, certainly not everyone will agree with FM-2030’s total view of the future. Although he thinks, for example, that the average American taking his 25 self-tests would probably rank in the slow-growth-rate category, he also believes that a lot of progress has been made since his first class at the New School attracted 12 students and was considered “a little weird.”

“People can move easily to a moderate or rapid growth rate,” he maintains. “Just look how negligent we were about our diet only eight or 10 years ago. We became aware we needed to improve our eating habits and we have.”

His five-session course called “Fast Forward to the Future” is being offered at UCLA Extension starting Jan. 23.

Said Elizabeth Brooks, UCLA coordinator of special extension programs: “We hope it will be a consciousness-raising course. It’s a free-form format, for people willing to break out of a conventional way of thinking about things. The 1980s were a decade of denial. We hope that now people will begin to think about what’s happening to us.”

Written by Connie Koenenn and published by the Los Angeles Times on January 11, 1989