Big Brother and the next 50 years

Wednesday, 4 June 2003, 3:48 PM EST

From his home in Austin, Texas, Sterling has written popular science fiction novels such as "Islands in the Net," "Distraction," "Heavy Weather" and, with co-author William Gibson, "The Difference Engine." In technology circles, Sterling is almost as known for his droll conference speeches through which he dispatches politicians and corporate titans alike with Mark Twain-like wit and precision.

A longtime inhabitant of The Well, one of the Internet's oldest and most successful online communities, Sterling recently has returned to nonfiction ("The Hacker Crackdown" was a true story of the electronic underground's struggles against law enforcement).

Sterling's latest book is a survey of different forms of futurism called "Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years" (Random House, Dec. 2002). CNET News.com recently caught up with Sterling to capture his thoughts about the future.

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