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.
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Every Government Official Should Read This: Choosing Between Economic Growth and Fighting Climate Change Is No Longer an Issue
In today's Financial Times, Pilita Clark has written an article titled "Growth and fighting global climate change not incompatible." Did you hear that? Economic growth, the creation of jobs, increased Gross National Product - you in government no longer have to concern yourselves that enacting climate change mitigation strategies is going to drive your country into depression or worse.
One of my readers shared the following infographic, titled NASA Spinning Off Since 1962. It highlights the inventions, discoveries and economic return on investment resulting from NASA. For every dollar invested by the government the American economy and other countries economies have seen $7 to $14 in new revenue, all from spinoffs and licensing arrangements. That amounts to in $17.6 billion current NASA dollars spent to an economic boost worth as much as $246.4 billion annually.
Think of human services as something you guide through collaborative Governances that share ideas and advances at the speed of networks. When we work together vendors will learn to design the products and services you want.
America appears to have reached the Singles' Singularity—and one of the reasons may be the proliferation of dating sites. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50.2% of the adult U.S. population are unmarried, up from 22% in 1950.
By 2050, we will have to invest in a new road network 25 million kilometers in length to keep up with human population growth and infrastructure requirements. This represents a 60% increase from 2010, with almost all of these new roads located in the developing world.
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For some of you this is a very disconcerting question because it attempts to put a dollar value on a person, something we value in far different ways.
The other day, I realized that years of systematic study of the future had turned me into what can only be defined as a "neo-progressionist."
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