/blog > Future

futurenextexit

At Huffington Post, Kay Koplovitz writes: To Succeed in the 21st Century, Leaders Need to Apply ‘Exponential Thinking’ Exponential thinking is the discipline that Singularity University founders Ray Kurzweil, author of Singularity is Near, and Peter Diamandis, author of Abundance, teach to incorporate the rapid development of technologies in industry and science. Exposing leaders in industry and innovation to understand the great potential we have at our command today is critical to their mission to improve the human conditions for the 7.2 billion people on earth. It sounds like a lofty goal, but it is possible. Since there will be more progress in science and technology in the next two decades than there has been in the last 200 years, the exponential rate at which technology is changing gives us the tools for advancing the health and well-being of mankind at rates never before seen. So you see, exponential thinking…

Read More…

RadicalAbundance

I’m reading K. Eric Drexler’s new book Radical Abundance, which explores the impact of atomically precise manufacturing (APM). Drexler predicts that APM will be with us soon and that it will transform the global economy in ways that can be compared to the industrial revolution of the 18th century or the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. That is to say, he predicts it will be among the biggest shifts that have ever occurred. Drexler compares the introduction of APM with the digital revolution of the past few decades, asserting that APM will essentially turn the production of physical goods into a form of information technology. Just as digital technologies made it possible to produce unlimited copies of information products (books, recorded movies, music) at essentially zero cost, APM will enable the production of physical goods at a tiny fraction of the cost of producing them today — enabling…

Read More…

dollarfeatured

[UPDATE: due to the recent interest (thanks, Glenn!) I have bumped this piece back to the top.] More bad news about jobs. With the unemployment rate at 7.6%, the recent euphoria about it dropping to 7.2% a while back is all but forgotten. (And perhaps wasn’t all the called for to begin with?) But the news is worse than just a persistently high jobless rate: The labor force participation rate has not been this low — 63.3 percent — since 1979, a time when women were less likely to be working. Baby boomer retirements may account for part of the slide, but discouragement about job prospects in a mediocre economy still seems to be playing a large role, economists say. “The drop in the participation rate has been centered on younger workers,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at MFR Inc., “many of whom have given up hope of finding a…

Read More…

Inspiration-Mars-0213-mdn

Dennis Tito, billionaire and space enthusiast, has a plan to send a mission to Mars in 2018. You have got to credit the man both for thinking big and for thinking outside of the box. Already all that talk about moonshot ideas seems a bit out of date although — when you think about it — Tito’s proposed Inspiration Mars mission is definitely a “moonshot” idea. One of the most interesting items to emerge surrounding this announcement is the proposed makeup of the crew. The plan is to send a married  couple on the 500-day voyage:  “…[T]his is very symbolic, and we really need it to represent humanity with a man and a woman,” Taber MacCallum , chief technical officer and potential crew member told the media. He said if it is a man and a woman on such a long, cramped voyage, it makes sense for them to be…

Read More…

moonshot

Astro Teller, Google’s Captain of Moonshots (and my personal nominee for Guy with the Coolest Job Title in the World) says that it’s easier to make a 10x improvement in performance than it is to make a 10% improvement in performance: Because when you’re working to make things 10 percent better, you inevitably focus on the existing tools and assumptions, and on building on top of an existing solution that many people have already spent a lot of time thinking about. Such incremental progress is driven by extra effort, extra money, and extra resources. It’s tempting to feel improving things this way means we’re being good soldiers, with the grit and perseverance to continue where others may have failed — but most of the time we find ourselves stuck in the same old slog. But when you aim for a 10x gain, you lean instead on bravery and creativity —…

Read More…

extreme-poverty

Transparency Revolution has devoted a lot of attention lately to some pretty serious problems: everything from long-term unemployment to uncertainty about the future of the middle class to PhD’s on food stamps to the chronic and utterly baffling avoidance of hat-wearing on the part of the general public. Okay maybe that last one is not quite as serious, but we’ve also spent time talking about automation leading to systemic unemployment and the elusive goal of providing equal opportunity across the socioeconomic spectrum. Whew. Heavy stuff. And speaking of heavy, over on my future-related podcast we did a show this week reviewing some of the items from Edge.org’s annual question, pithily summarized at Motherboard as The 150 Things the World’s Smartest People Are Afraid Of. It’s an impressive list, including such crowd-pleasers as the end of science, Chinese eugenics, unmitigated human arrogance, looming idiocracy, and — perhaps scariest of all —…

Read More…

middle-class

The Associated press is sounding a warning similar to one that we’ve been issuing for some time now: Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs NEW YORK (AP) — Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over. And the situation is even worse than it appears. Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers. They’re being obliterated by technology. Year after year, the software that runs computers and an array of other machines and devices becomes more sophisticated and powerful and capable of doing…

Read More…

lonelydesk

Brian Merchant at IEET provides a shocking statistic: Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon Are Worth $1 Trillion, but Only Create 150,000 Jobs Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook combined account for over $1 trillion dollars of market capitalization. Yet they only employ around 150,000 people total. That’s less than half the number of people who work for GE. And it’s roughly the number of people that enter the U.S. job market every month. In other words, it’s a farce to believe that tech giants, internet startups, and app developers will ever be able to employ the same number of people that manufacturing once did. It’s astounding to consider that so much market value can lead to relatively so little employment. If every employee of the companies listed makes an equal contribution to the trillion-dollar bottom line, they are each kicking in about $6.7 million worth of value. That’s not too shabby…

Read More…

bestyearever

The Spectator has a take on 2012 that you won’t find in many other places — would you believe that it was the Best Year Ever? Few ideas seem to get people more viscerally upset than the notion that the world might NOT be going to hell in a handbasket. But there’s plenty of evidence that it’s not. Quite the contrary, really. Worldwide, poverty is down, hunger is down, violence is down. Unfortunately, we tend to take good developments for granted. Case in point: Take global poverty. In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap…

Read More…

The_Eye_of_future

Today we celebrate a brand-new holiday: Future Day. Brainchild of AI genius and futurist Ben Goertzel, who points out that most (if not all) existing holidays are rooted in the past, Future Day gives us a chance to look ahead. So how do we celebrate a new holiday?When I mentioned that today is a holiday my two-year-old insisted on getting out the Santa hats, which we normally don when opening Christmas presents.  I doubt Santa hats will stick as a tradition, but I do like the idea of future-day hats. Some kind of space helmet, perhaps? Most of the celebrations that have been planned are some kind of party — which of course is always a good way to celebrate anything. But holidays call for traditions; so here we have this unusual opportunity to start some traditions. I’ve got a few ideas. Let’s see if any of these stick. 1….

Read More…