From the editor's desk: About the May-June 2013 issue of THE FUTURIST
As artificial intelligence technology advances, the event horizon known as the Technological Singularity draws near. Does that mean we must begin preparing for the inevitable domination of our robotic overlords?
Not exactly. While such science-fiction scenarios inspire us to imagine a variety of outcomes of our endeavors, there is much that the artificial—or, more accurately, nonbiological—intelligence needs to know. And so do we. As visionary inventor Ray Kurzweil argues in this issue, we need to build synthetic minds that enhance our own capabilities, and he explains just how we can do that. (See “How to Make a Mind.”)
Science fiction indeed has entertained us with both visions and cautionary tales of such technological advances. In “Asimov’s Embarrassing Robot: A Futurist Fable,” scholar Irving H. Buchen outlines the odyssey of “Andrew,” the android hero in Isaac Asimov’s seminal tale, “The Bicentennial Man.” As his ability to learn and to create made him more like his human creators, Andrew’s “fatal” flaw was his immortality. What Asimov failed to foresee in this story was the symbiosis of man and machine that Kurzweil envisions.
Another aspect of technological innovation considered in this issue is its role in tackling some of the critical problems of our time, including resource depletion and climate change. Computer scientist Ramez Naam argues that our innovations and new ideas can help us expand our existing resources, reduce waste, and build wealth. (See “How Innovation Could Save the Planet.”)
And how do we advance our own innovativeness? One place to start would be to do away with mediocre education, which may happen on its own, suggests economic futurist Rob Bencini. He argues that the soaring cost of higher education, which puts people into debt rather than jobs, is just one of the trends working against colleges that are not delivering the futures they once promised. (See “Educating the Future: The End of Mediocrity.”)
As the sluggish recovery from the most-recent global recession has illustrated, governments, too, are failing to deliver futures they once promised. However, several economic success stories in unexpected places, like Uruguay and Israel, offer hope for the rest of us. Associate editor Rick Docksai explains how, in “Five Economies That Work: Global Success Stories.”
Cynthia G. Wagner is Editor of THE FUTURIST. We encourage you to comment on the articles here at wfs.org or send an e-mail (cwagner 'at' wfs.org) with your feedback.
- About WFS
- Contact Us
- Frequently Asked Questions
- History of WFS
- Board and Council
- Press Room
- Futurist Gear
- Are You the Next CEO of the World Future Society?
- Book a WFS / Futurist Magazine Speaker
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.
Free Email Newsletter
Sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter. Just type your email into the box below and click subscribe.
December 9, 2013 - In Part 2 of this posting discussing how climate change may impact Africa's rivers we look at the areas of the continent that are sub-Saharan. The rivers here, like the Nile are all precipitation fed. In this posting we will look at the present and future of the Congo, Zambezi, Limpopo, and Orange.
December 12, 2013 - A new study appearing in the open access journal, Earth System Dynamics, analyzes energy balance in the atmosphere and its i
December 9, 2013 - For the past few years when I am out and about young people often stop me to ask me the time. I look at my battery-powered wristwatch and tell them. What I wonder about is what happened to the day when everybody wore a watch?
December 8, 2013 - How do you measure the downside of unburnable carbon assets against the balance sheets of energy companies? Enter the Bloomberg Carbon Risk Valuation Tool (CRVT), from Bloomberg Professional Service at XLTP XCO2.
This week I received two detailed reports from 23andMe (23andMe.com), the genomic organization I wrote about in an earlier blog. They sent a LOT of information, and I am still working through. The first report was about strengths and weaknesses in my health plus information about how my body might respond to various medications. The second report related more to ancestry and genealogy.
December 6, 2013 - Scientists who look at rivers and watersheds and model changes to them from climate change predict that Africa will be the continent most affected by a warming planet. Why is that?
- Today Africa is 66% arid. Two of the largest deserts on Earth can be found here.
New technology could make us a world of winners. Customer control will increase so businesses will serve customers with total dedication and focus. Here’s examples from products, services, business relationships and health care. You win in tomorrow’s economy!