Innovating into a Whole New Species
People living a hundred thousand years from now will still be human and will still look like us, but they will have evolved from us in some significant ways, according to Daniel Berleant, an information-science professor at the University of Arkansas and an advisory board member of the foresight nonprofit Lifeboat Foundation. He explores the far-future implications of genetic change, along with social and technological change, and proffers advice to the world community on how to best begin managing the change processes in the here and now.
His accounts of far-future life will strike readers as entertaining, yet Berleant derives each from present-day breakthroughs that offer promising precedents. Artificial intelligence research could lead to computers that read our minds, for instance. Schools everywhere could be replaced by electronic “ear-top guardian angels” that teach their wearers any and every classroom lesson that a human teacher might.
Berleant also foresees work becoming increasingly optional, as nanotechnology and automated manufacturing processes render all of life’s necessities practically free; most work will take place outside the confines of physical offices. Meanwhile, genetic engineering will yield such marvels as oceangoing seaweed clusters that pull huge volumes of greenhouse gases out of the air, and land-based plants that are engineered to extract gold, silver, and other precious metals from the soil and sprout teacups, silverware, and car-engine parts instead of fruit.
Daily life on a Mars colony, Berleant imagines, may be nowhere nearly as glamorous as science-fiction might have you think, but an initial colony could grow into a thriving, planetwide population very quickly. He envisions far-future colonization of Mercury, Venus, the asteroids, and even Pluto. He depicts each technological possibility and takes stock of both the positives and the potential downsides, and then offers recommendations and cautionary notes for it accordingly.
The Human Race to the Future is an intensely imaginative look at the far limits—or lack thereof—of human innovation. It will be enjoyable and thought-provoking reading for practically any audience.—Rick Docksai
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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.