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Tech-Related Futures and Their Impacts Upon Major Societal Issues

by Dennis M. Bushnell

The tech-related futures literature primarily concerns specific technologies and their societal impacts. This discussion is an attempt to provide a precis of the major emerging technologies and their impacts upon societal lifestyles and upon the increasing numbers of serious to existential societal issues. The discussion is based upon Bostrom’s Technological Completion Conjecture,1 wherein technologies are carried forward to produce useful capabilities.

Putative Deep Space Futures

Space business is currently approaching $500 billion a year and is composed of space science, national security space, humans in space, satellite communications, and imaging from space. These efforts are almost wholly “space for Earth” programs with strong business cases, becoming ever more capable and affordable due to the large ongoing decreases in costs of space access and to miniaturization.

Solar and Renewable Power in 2021

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Once a year I try to check in on renewable power issues, and I believe that solar has the most potential but faces the most challenges.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that 43% of new energy capacity added in the United States in 2020 came from solar—the greatest annual increase to date. This additional capacity added up to 19.2 gigawatts (GW), and new installations coming over the next decade will be close to 325 GW, SEIA estimates.

A related element in this expansion is the repurposing of brownfields:

Rip Van Winkle Futures, or Almost Anything Is Possible in Twenty Years

David N. Bengston

David N. Bengston

In Washington Irving’s classic short story, Colonial era slacker Rip Van Winkle wanders off into the Catskill Mountains and falls asleep under mysterious circumstances. He awakens twenty years later to a changed world. Most significantly, the British colonies experienced a dramatic political and military revolution during Mr. Van Winkle’s long nap. In place of the portrait of King George III on the sign of ye olde village inn—which is now a hotel—is an image of George Washington. This transformative wild card event would have been unimaginable twenty years earlier.

AI as Tyrant

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Not too long ago I wrote about the growing use of AI as a management tool to oversee online customer relations workers and human–robot relations in areas such as warehousing. Since that time, more information has come to light about moving AI decision making up the organizational ladder into human resources, including hiring and firing, and into other arenas, such as decision making in combat arenas.

Prospective Futures of Distance Education

Society is in the midst of multiple technology revolutions that are changing econometrics, national security, health, transportation, shopping, travel, cost of living, socialization, commerce, employment, and education. We have moved beyond the Industrial Age into the Information Technology Age, heading rapidly into the Virtual Age. In that process we are changing from physical activities to virtual activities, developing and embracing tele-everything, including tele-education, or distance education.

Management by AI

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

The idea of an animated talking head on a screen giving your annual review may sound fanciful, but AIs (of a sort) have been making headway in the worker oversight arena for a number of years. MetLife customer service representatives have been getting an ongoing review in real time in their screen corner with icons prompting them to “slow down speech,” “increase empathy,” and “up energy levels” (with a coffee cup) developed by Cogito.

Future Stand-Down Day

Cindy Wagner

Cindy Wagner

Just as manufacturers "stand down" operations to focus their teams on safety issues, other organizations should stand down to brainstorm about the future. As Future Day approaches (March 1), here are some tips for organizing a Future Stand-Down Day for your organization.

The Developing Econometrics Beyond COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic is and has been a singular event in the development of postindustrial econometrics, greatly accelerating several massive ongoing trends and technologies. The totality of these trends and technologies is changing and will continue to change where we live, our costs of living, independence, modes of transportation, econometrics, health, communications, housing, and the climate and ecosystem. By Dennis M. Bushnell

Book Review: Motti’s Transformational Journey into the Future

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Victor V. Motti “fell” into future studies from an initial intention to pursue a career in engineering, he tells readers at the opening of A Transformation Journey to Creative and Alternative Planetary Futures. Motti is now an international writer, speaker, foresight adviser and, since 2017, the director of the World Futures Studies Federation.

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