Edward Cornish has served as the World Future Society’s lead visionary, founder, first President (1966-2004), and Editor of THE FUTURIST magazine (1967-2010). Since stepping away from daily editorial management, he has remained on the WFS Board and has been our Futurist in Residence, contributing book reviews and essays on “Futurists and Their Ideas.” And he’s come to the office faithfully every day.
We've all seen those personality quizzes on BuzzFeed and places like that (What kind of gemstone are you? Which Disney princess?). They're fun, but obviously don't tell much about you or how to improve yourself.
Our friends over at BBC's Future blog posted an interesting piece by Tom Stafford this morning on How to Win an Argument. Not that I like arguments (and I always have said that the fastest way to end one is to stop talking), but the research findings that are reported in the story have a great lesson for futurists.
Though some may argue that we rely too heavily on technofixes for all our problems, a variety of technological developments are in fact improving medicine and therapeutics, our health and overall physical well-being, and even our sex lives. But the authors in this issue suggest that one of the most important “breakthroughs” in medicine may be better communications and stronger partnerships between doctors and patients.
Learning from Our Mistakes
Things don’t always work out as we hope or plan. Take the Information Revolution, for example. When the Internet was rolled out, that Information Superhighway was supposed to open a global supermarket where everyone could sell more stuff to everyone else. We would all become more knowledgeable, thanks to free, open Web-based encyclopedias and resources, and we could all become famous authors without hassling with picky editors and publishers.
If you have taught, administered, or participated in a futuring course or program, THE FUTURIST magazine would like to hear from you! For its September-October 2014 issue, THE FUTURIST will compile articles, essays, and resources on the teaching and learning of futurism.
Best Predictions of the Year (and the Worst)
In the last issue of THE FUTURIST, the annual Outlook report offered a roundup of the year’s best forecasts appearing in our magazine. In this issue, we see what nonfuturists had to say about the future during 2013.
We were saddened to learn of the death of longtime World Future Society supporter Parker Rossman, an educator and early proponent of the global electronically networked knowledge society. He died on October 18 at the age of 94. (Read: Obituary courtesy of Parker Funeral Service.)
Rossman's work had been featured in THE FUTURIST magazine for a quarter of a century, from 1981 to 2006. Here is a transcript of his last feature article, "Beyond the Book," published in the January-February 2005 issue.
One of the concepts that futurists have been buzzing more about in recent years is the Internet of Things—the idea that interactive communication will extend beyond people and organizations to include objects communicating with each other. For instance, sensors buried on water pipelines would notify a city’s sanitation department if a leak may be imminent.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, but I’m more inclined to think the opposite is true: out of sight, out of mind. I am often startled when the landline phone on my desk rings, and then the caller wants to fax something to me. Fax? Do we still have a machine for that? Where is it?
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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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is using 3-D printing with multiple materials, proving that additive manufacturing is not just the future of manufacturing, but also the present.
The purpose of the Global Calculator website is to gather evidence about our impact on global climate. An open source tool, its developers are seeking public feedback to ensure that its modelling improves in accuracy over time. They are providing it to the world community under open license.
What happens in the Middle East reverberates across the world. There lie the roots and holiest historical places of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There lies the frontier between East and West. And much of the world’s remaining oil is found in this prized and disputed region.
When we look into space we are actually looking back in time. This is because we are looking at old light traveling towards us at 186,000 miles/second. We already know that if someone is watching us through a large telescope on the Moon, they’re seeing events that happened 1.3 seconds earlier because that’s how long it takes light to reach Earth. Using this as a very crude proof, we already know that information does indeed transcend the here and now, but can we ever access it and reassemble it into a useful form?
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has implications for world health that cannot be ignored. The disease has killed more than 660 and infected almost 1,100 in four countries since March of this year and new cases are cropping up every day.
The images that Curiosity is sending back from Gale Crateris showing soil profiles similar to the ancient soil found in the dry valleys of Antarctica and in the alto-Plano of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. The soil images and data indicate chemical weathering and accumulations of clay just as one would find them here on Earth. Phosphorus depletion, associated with microbial activity here on Earth, is evident from the information Curiosity has gathered.
Nikolai Kardashev, a Soviet astrophysicist born in 1932, devised a method of rating advanced civilizations. Technological advances, according to Kardashev, could theoretically create conditions where a society could maximize use of energy. He categorized each of these stages as Type 1 through Type 4. Based on Kardashev's speculations where does our civilization sit today?
Powdery mildew-resistant wheat has been created using a pair of DNA-clipping and insertion tools. These are tools developed by Editas Medicine for editing defective DNA and are being used in the fight against a number of genetic diseases. And with wheat they are proving to be useful in overcoming the devastating impact of mildew.