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
The 1st episode of The Futures Podcast is available! Join us as we talk about the origin and mission of The Futures School, and how this powerful program can help you and your organization to discover, seize and create the future.
In a recent article on LinkedIn, Ken Gosnell highlights 4 (actually 5) major characteristics of the futurist CEO, and talks about why these characteristics are critical in today's world. I'm proud to say that these 5 points are a huge part of our purpose and expertise at Kedge, and the very reason that we created The Futures School!
August 23, 2015 - I'm listening to cicadas outside my apartment window this morning. The steady high-pitched buzz saw singing that often is mistaken by those who are uninformed for the sound of electricity passing through wires. On my morning walks these past few weeks with Maya, my red miniature poodle, it has been hard not to notice cicadas.
August 22, 2015 - It is called The Shower of the Future and costs $4,412 U.S. Inspired by NASA but built to work here on Earth, this washing technology from Sweden is a closed loop system that saves 90% on water and 80% on energy.
August 21, 2015 - If we could directly harvest carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and separate and capture the carbon while converting what's left to oxygen then that would really be a technology breakthrough of consequence in our fight against global warming. Sounds like science fiction? Well it's not.
August 19, 2015 - I am often asked by readers if it is worth putting solar panels on the roof of their homes. Here in Toronto solar powered houses are few and far between. But just because Toronto is in a northern country doesn't mean solar power is not a good alternative to grid-delivered electricity.
August 18, 2015 - It goes by the acronym SALt. It is the invention of a brother and sister from the Philippines. And it is an answer to a long enduring problem in the Developing World, providing light after dark when you have no access to power from a local or national grid.