- Hotter Temperatures Could Lead to More Violence, Study Finds
- Soldiers' Emotional Attachment to Robots Could Affect Battlefield Performance
- Brain Differences May Hard-Wire Some People for Chronic Pain
- What’s Hot in THE FUTURIST Magazine
Higher temperatures are commonly associated with an increase in crime rates. Now, a study from Princeton University suggests that worsened weather conditions may actually directly affect human conflict. Researchers examined a wide range of cases throughout history, from modern-day domestic violence rates to the collapse of ancient civilizations to drivers exhibiting signs of road rage.
"We attained a huge amount of the data that was available and we used the same method on all of the data so that we could directly compare studies," says Solomon Hsiang, the study’s corresponding author. "Once we did that, we saw that all of the results were actually highly consistent—previously they just weren't being analyzed in a consistent way."
The study distinguished between three types of conflict: personal violence and crime, such as assault and murder; group-level violence and political instability, such as civil war; and institutional breakdown, such the fall of an empire.
The researchers found that, in each case they examined, higher temperatures and/or increased rain was associated with an uptick in violence. Adjusting for factors including time period and the country’s economic development did not affect the outcome.
Weather does not affect all types of conflict in the same way. For example, violent crimes are more common as temperatures climb. Meanwhile, acts of terrorism increase with rainfall. And even relatively small changes in weather can have a strong effect. When temperature or rainfall is one standard deviation higher than the mean, personal violence and crime increase by 4%, while interpersonal violence increases by 14%.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently updated its projections for average global temperature increase for the end of the century. The panel projects temperatures to rise anywhere from one degree Fahrenheit (with extremely steep cuts in CO2 emissions) to almost nine degrees.
A changing climate isn’t the only cause of conflict, or even the most important. But as the earth’s temperature rises over the next several decades, human violence will likely increase. –Keturah Hetrick
Sources: "Cooler heads likely won’t prevail in a hotter, wetter world," Princeton University, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (PDF), "Humans almost certainly cause global warming, scientific panel says" by Darryl Fears, The Washington Post.
The Annual Conference of the World Future Society
July 11-13, 2014 * Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek * Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
Though next July is nearly a year away, WorldFuture 2014 is already shaping up to be another can't-miss experience. Building on the success of the 2013 conference, 2014 will offer interactive and participatory activities, fascinating speakers on cutting-edge topics, and a luxurious resort setting.
Confirmed Speakers Include:
- Futurist Paul Saffo, co-founder and managing director of Foresight at DISCERN, consulting associate professor at Stanford University, visiting scholar at Stanford Media-X.
- Nanotechnology pioneer Raj Bawa,
- Arnulfo Valdivia, director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.
- Karen Moloney, a Chartered Psychologist, consultant, writer and speaker, and the founder and director of Moloney Minds.
- Delos Smith,who is working on new initiatives by the dyslexic community that connect brain and cognitive development research, early childhood evaluation and development, and education system reforms.
- Gil Meyer is director of Global Issues Management & Trend Analysis, DuPont Company. He has been with DuPont for 26 years, serving in a wide range of public affairs and regulatory affairs roles. His current assignment includes nanotechnology issues management, recall preparedness, chemicals risk management, synthetic biology, crisis preparedness, and pandemic planning.
Robots were originally conceived of as "slaves," or at least as substitutes for doing our dull, difficult, or dangerous jobs. But what if a robotic aide saves a soldier’s life on the battlefield? Would that soldier then become too attached to this nonhuman buddy and perhaps avoid sending it into danger again?
Concerned about such questions, University of Washington researcher Julie Carpenter studied troops’ relationships with their robotic comrades to determine the possible effects of battlefield attachments.
"They were very clear [the robot] was a tool, but at the same time, patterns in their responses indicated they sometimes interacted with the robots in ways similar to a human or pet," she says.
Some of the robot operators viewed these tools as extensions of themselves; others treated them like pets or named them after their sweethearts back home. So if the robot malfunctions or is damaged, the soldiers may take the failure personally.
"They would say they were angry when a robot became disabled because it is an important tool, but then they would add ‘poor little guy,’ or they’d say they had a funeral for it," says Carpenter. "These robots are critical tools they maintain, rely on, and use daily. They are also tools that happen to move around and act as a stand-in for a team member."
Carpenter says she hopes that the military will take these human feelings into consideration when designing the next generation of battlefield robots. —Cynthia G. Wagner
Source: University of Washington
Chronic pain is, to an extent, in your head. A new U.S. National Institutes of Health-sponsored study suggests that your patterns of "white matter"—a type of brain tissue that influences nerve signaling, can predict the likelihood you will one day suffer chronic pain.
Vania Apkarian, a Northwestern University physiology professor and a senior author of the study, led a team in scanning the brains of 46 participants who had started experiencing recurring lower back pain within the three months prior. The researchers then conducted follow-up interviews with the participants over the following year. About half said that their back pain subsided, while the other half said their pain persisted.
Apkarian and his team next analyzed the brain scans. The pattern of white matter in the persistent-pain group’s scans differed distinctly from the white-matter pattern of the group whose pain subsided, and closely matched that of a third group of participants who had reported suffering back pain for a year prior to the study. The group that recovered from pain, meanwhile, showed white-matter patterns more in common with another control group of participants who had been pain-free all along.
This study adds to a growing body of research that indicates links brain activity and chronic pain. It is promising news for pain treatment, Apkarian adds: If doctors can predict a patient’s risk for chronic pain, they will be better able to help him or her avert it. —Rick Docksai
By Members and Friends of the World Future Society
Smartphones may have a more limited future than you think (or hope) today. And the stores we buy them in could also disappear by 2030. Doctors and schools could go, too. But so might intolerance, insecurity, and other problems, according to contributors to this special crowdsourced report. Read more.
By K. Eric Drexler
The father of the concept of “nanotechnology” shows how the goals of atomically precise manufacturing got sidetracked and where its future really is. With technologies enabling us to make things with lower costs and less resource consumption, we could all live in a radically abundant world. Read more.
By Ben J. Novak
What if extinction could be undone? The disappearance of the once-numerous passenger pigeon inspired one budding young geneticist to right a great ornithological wrong. Read more.
By Rick Docksai
From utopian ideals to dystopian nightmares, the narratives we create about ourselves color our visions of our futures.
By Rolf Jensen
People’s trust in government, major businesses, organized religion, and other traditional institutions is at a historic low, but there is a silver lining: We are placing more and more trust in each other. An unprecedented age of individual initiative will soon be fully upon us. Read more.
By Patrick Tucker
Species loss is real threat, but what would a mass extinction event look like? How would we be affected? Biologist Joseph Levine looks at a future where less biodiversity has a very real effect on humans. Read more.
World Trends & Forecasts
- The Neurotechnology Revolution Has Arrived A futurist reviews brain-powered gadgets that may soon change our lives. By Gray Scott
- The Tsunami Whisperer The Tohoku tsunami’s "acoustic signature" could have provided 15 to 20 minutes’ warning, researchers find.
- A Mindful Approach to Learning: New research shows potential for "mindfulness training" to boost student productivity.
- Predicting Pedophilia: Researchers hope to prevent individuals who are oriented toward children from acting on their impulses.
- Saving Bucky’s Dome Home Efforts are under way to preserve the experimental architecture of R. Buckminster Fuller
FUTURIST magazine Update is edited by Patrick Tucker
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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!
December 6, 2013 - An article in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago caught my eye.
Exactly 80 years ago today, city streets across the United States went into celebratory mode: President Roosevelt had just signed a repeal of the prohibition on alcohol. On Dec. 5, 2013, however, a new challenge is under way against another set of U.S. prohibition laws. And the arena isn’t just the United States, but the entire globe. The present-day forbidden fruit: illegal drugs.
December 5, 2013 - At this blog site we have looked at artificially-induced vortices as a novel approach to generating energy, but this one seems less like science fiction, a technology that captures wind from any direction and funnels and compresses it to drive a generator.
December 5, 2013 - You have to admire Jeff Bezos for what my culture calls chutzpa. He has been in the headlines twice in the last week. First with a proposal to start shipping goods from Amazon to customers using drones. And second, successfully firing his new Blue Origin rocket engine at the Van Horn, Texas test facility. The latter simulated a suborbital mission.