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.
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.
KEEP UP WITH WFS NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS
November 27, 2015 - This sounds like science fiction at its spookiest but a Los Angeles-based artificial intelligence company called Humai, short for Human Resurrection Through Artificial Intelligence, is working on reinventing afterlife.
November 26, 2015 - Genome editing tools are about to make an enormous impact on the environment. Just in the last few days the Food and Drug Administration in the United States made a decision that a genetically modified salmon was approved as safe to eat.
November 25, 2015 - Yesterday in Van Horn, Texas, Blue Origin launched and recovered its New Shepard launch vehicle.
November 25, 2015 - Yesterday while walking my dog I entered into a conversation with a neighbour on the subject of climate change. He began by stating, "Do you really believe it's real?" I began by listing the enormous amount of scientific evidence accumulated over the last four decades.
November 24, 2015 - When Costa Rica submitted its
November 24, 2015 - The most recent mind sharing from Peter Diamandis is truly about the mind and how technology interacts with it today and what's coming down the pipe. It's, how we say, mind boggling. Let me know through comments what's on your mind.
November 22, 2015 - Vancouver's D-Wave continues to be the quantum computing pioneer. Among its early adopters are Google, NASA and Lockheed-Martin. Each D-Wave quantum computer has cost these companies a cool $15 million U.S.