Today, many voice long-familiar concerns about technological unemployment, where computers, robots, and machines are automating our jobs out of existence. In fact, some have gone so far as to call this the “robot jobs Armageddon.” So is this time truly different? Here are six overarching shifts in the world that are causing many to say, “Yes, this time may really be different!”
Self driving cars, 3D printing, robotics, these are just a few of the major technologies that are likely to bring massive disruptions in about every aspect of life. What do we eat? What would our work be like in the future? How do we travel? Where does our energy come from? The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure, the primary strategic advisory board for the Dutch government and parliament in matters relating to the physical environment and infrastructure, has initiated a foresight study to stimulate the public debate about the impact of disruptive technologies. It is not a traditional research project, but includes future imagery, crowd sourcing and technology assessment.
What is harder than finding the right answers? Asking the right questions.
In Zen Buddhism, a koan is a short story or question that is simply worth meditating on. There might not necessarily be a single good answer, but the process of contemplating the question itself is a worthwhile pursuit that may lead to sudden insights or enlightenment.
About a dozen years ago, we asked members of the World Future Society what they thought was the most valuable return for investing in the serious study of trends. We included a summary of their responses in our special report, The Future: An Owner's Manual (September-October 2002, adapted from March-April 2002 FUTURIST). The reasons are still apt today:
Who has better stories to tell than retired CIA officers who were not able to speak before? After over three decades in the CIA, Jack Devine, currently working in corporate intelligence with The Arkin Group (TAG), is now able to share his experiences and wisdom with the public.
Do you control your screens or do they control you? In tomorrow’s digital world you’ll decide what’s on your screens. With a personal paywall you will be paid for your attention. You’ll be able to sell your mind as often as you like.
Bacteria are being genetically modified for a range of roles, including conversion for easier extraction (e.g. coal to gas, or concentrating elements in landfill sites to make extraction easier), making new food sources, carbon fixation, pollutant detection and other sensory roles, clothing and cosmetics, special surface treatments, biodegradable construction or packing materials, self-organizing printing, and more.
As big data have shown their advantages in commerce, governance, surveillance and many other areas, now is the time to explore how to put them to use for humanity. Data generated by people, unstructured texts, digital traces and everything else could be used for agile responses to changes regionally. There is great potential to use data for well being and doing good. Leiden University's Peace Informatics Lab has hosted a high-level panel session on Big Data for Humanity. The discussion focused on meaningful ways to capture the world of data for designing deescalation programs and support systems for peace building and humanity.
WFS’s professional journal, World Future Review, seeks committed readers—both specialists and generalists—to join us as peer reviewers. Peer reviewers serve as volunteer referees for manuscripts submitted to the journal, so applicants should include a CV explaining their qualifications.
The year is 2024. It seemed like a piece of nostalgia to open a new bank account and get a free toaster, but this wasn’t any ordinary toaster, and it certainly wasn’t any ordinary bank. The new Internet of Things Toaster was one of the coolest gadgets of all times, and the Global Bank of Bitcoin was a charter member of Bitcoin’s new Central Bank based in Luxembourg.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
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