I had the good fortune to attend The World Technology Summit and Awards 2012. This year's event was held at the Time - Life Building in NYC on October 22nd and 23rd. The conference started with a welcoming remark from Damian Slattery, Executive Director of Integrated Marketing at Time Magazine. Slattery pointed out that “TIME is not a magazine, it is a dashboard." He was highlighting how companies and organizations are changing and morphing into complex platforms with new digital extensions. These extensions include web, social, smartphone apps and new technologies that are multilayered.
James P. Clark, the Chairman/Founder of the World Technology Network who also recently launched Accelerosity, gave a “magical” introduction to this year's summit. The theme this year was “NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN” and Clark discussed some of the greatest issues our world will face in the near future including what he called a “phase-change.”
These phase change ideas include post-Homo Sapiens, immortality, and digital uploading of consciousness, just to name a few. Issues that most of the general public (nor the 2012 presidential candidates) are ready or willing to address. However, my futurist ears started to burn when I heard Clark ask, “Will people choose to remain in their meat bodies or will they choose to live in a matrix or simulated world?” First, who doesn't get a giggle out of the phrase "meat bodies" and second, he touched on one of my favorite subjects ...The Simulated Universe theory. Moreover, Clark also brought up an interesting idea. He suggests that we are becoming our own myths. Could we actually rework our DNA and live underwater like mermaids or mermen?
Granted, ideas like these may sound like science fiction to anyone not deeply immersed in the latest developments in science or technology. However, for the attendees and speakers at The World Technology Summit, these ideas may have seemed quite normal, like some new utilitarian futurist conversation (could you pass me the DNA manipulator).
Throughout the conference, I found myself having these kinds of futuristic conversations without the need to lay out the obligatory "I'm not making this up, it is really happening now" line I am so often forced to use with the general public.
This question of why the public is unaware or uninterested in science was a sentiment shared by several speakers and attendees, including a round table conversation titled : "WHY ARE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY INVISIBLE IN THE POLITICAL DEBATE?" The roundtable included AL TEICH, Research Professor of Science, Technology and International Affairs, Center for International Science & Technology Policy, George Washington University ; FRED GUTERL, Executive Editor, Scientific American; MATTHEW CHAPMAN, Writer-Director; and CLAUDIA DREIFUS, Journalist, Educator and Lecturer, producer of the weekly feature “Conversation with...” of the Science Section of the New York Times.
The most amazing live technology demonstrations included KMel Robotics , the Nano Quadrotor that can scan interiors and build things using multiple swarms of Nano Quads; and a fantastic demo by Ekso Bionics that allowed a paralyzed man to walk across the stage assisted by a robotic exoskeleton.
After all the talk of technology, advancement and innovation and our hopes for a possible utopian future assisted by advanced technology, we had to face a real fact. Climate change is real, and we may be too late to stop it even with future technology. We screened the upcoming movie CHASING ICE by Director Jeff Orlowski. This beautiful and heartbreaking documentary follows acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog around the world as he desperately tries to capture images of melting icecaps, and glaciers. Balog literally risks his life to show the world the undeniable proof that so many scoff at, including presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Why are Americans, in particular, so uneducated about new advancements in science and technology? And why are our "leaders" unwilling or unable to talk about this obvious tsunami of "phase-change" that we are experiencing?
Complete list of Winners for each category:
- Arts: Mark Coniglio – Composer/Media Artist, Co-founder Troika Ranch
- Biotechnology (Individual): Donald Ingber – Director, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University; Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology, Harvard Medical School & Vascular Biology Program, Boston Children's Hospital; Professor of Bioengineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
- Biotechnology (Corporate): Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
- Comm. Technology (Individual): Jun Murai – Professor, Faculty of Environmental Information, Keio University (Japan)
- Comm. Technology (Corporate) : Pinterest
- Design: Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby – Founders, Barber Osgerby
- Education: Cathy N. Davidson & David Theo Goldberg – Founders, HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition
- Energy (Individual): Laurence Kemball-Cook – Director, Pavegen Systems
- Energy (Corporate): Agilyx
- Entertainment: Olivier Bau & Ivan Poupyrev – REVEL technology developers and Researchers, Disney Research, Pittsburgh
- Environment (Individual): Derek Lam – DEHTLET & World Marketing Development Centre Ltd
- Environment (Corporate): Bug Agentes Biologicos
- Ethics: Anthony F. Beavers – Professor of Philosophy, University of Evansville
- Finance (Individual): Ben Horowitz – Co-founder, Andreessen Horowitz Co-founder & CEO, Opsware
- Finance (Corporate): New Enterprise Associates
- Health & Medicine (Individual): Aydogan Ozcan – Professor, UCLA School of Engineering
- Health & Medicine (Corporate): Ekso Bionics
- IT Hardware (Individual): Vijay Kumar – Professor of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
- IT Hardware (Corporate): MakerBot
- IT Software (Individual): Sean Gourley – Chief Technology Officer, Quid
- IT Software (Corporate): Leap Motion
- Law: Tim Wu – Professor, Columbia Law School
- Marketing Communications: Joan Casas Cervero – Founder & CEO,uWhisp
- Materials (Individual): Amit Goyal – Chair, UT-Battelle-ORNL Corporate Fellow Council
- Materials (Corporate): Thinfilm Electronics
- Media & Journalism: David Weinberger – Author, Too Big to Know & Co-Director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab
- Policy: Vivek Wadhwa – Vice President of Academics and Innovation, Singularity University
- Social Entrepreneurship: Greg Van Kirk – Co-founder, Community Enterprise Solutions
- Space (Individual): Adam Steltzner – NASA Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Space (Corporate): SpaceX
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
To sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter, enter your email in the box below and click Save.
In order to try and help understand how marijuana legalization might be done more safely and effectively, look to alcohol regulation policies in Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
For the past week or so there has been a lively ongoing argument in a LinkedIn Group about the chicken and the egg. Well it's not about chickens and eggs, it's about which global problem is real and which is not. One side argues that climate change and carbon emissions represent the most pressing problem the planet faces.
Another icon passed away at the end of July. I cannot recall a year in which so many colleagues and friends have passed on, Warren Bennis being the most recent. Warren did for leadership what Peter Drucker did for management.
No part of our highly technological economy today is free of being rethought by applying automation in the form of robots. In the past I have written about the use of field robots in agriculture. But these were largely university projects still in the laboratory. But now a new company in Minnesota is turning laboratory experiments into a commercial agricultural robot aimed at corn farmers. The company has created Rowbot, designed as a automated fertilizing machine for now but with plenty more applications to come.
On two sides of the planet, two countries describe approaches to dealing with a consequence of climate change - rising sea levels. One has unveiled a multi-decade plan to counter this coastal threat. The other isn't even acknowledging the issue and instead an independent, not-for-profit, crowd-funded group is issuing independent findings.
Quietly lost in the background of this week's NASA announcements is the news that Jeff Bezos' company, Blue Origin, is to provide United Launch Alliance, owners of the Atlas V rocket, with a next generation engine technology for a next generation rocket. Although Boeing and SpaceX got the major headlines as the companies selected to provide crew-manned capsules for the International Space Station (ISS), Blue Origin may have the last laugh.
Recent reports on areas north of 60 degrees latitude point to rapid climate change in this region of the planet. What's happening?
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.