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Orbital Issues: Space Junk

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

While space is too vast to imagine, and there are few who are actually capable of littering there, the orbital space surrounding our own planet is considerably smaller. In recent years, the number of launches and functional objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) have increased dramatically, and the amount of orbital trash from a variety of sources has grown at an even greater rate. Meanwhile, strategies to deal with potential problems in this arena are still problematic.

Future Impacts in Renewable Resources Industries

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

It is a measure of the times to see economic sectors that have historically been substantial producers of byproduct waste take a hard look at what they have been ignoring. One such sector is the forest products industry, which had normally burned its sawdust—much like natural gas was initially burned off by the petroleum industry until they began storing it back underground elsewhere, initially in salt mines.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Electric Power in the Future

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

It has been said that foresight as a field has occasionally been short on systems thinking. I do not mean systems thinking as a discrete discipline in itself, which has had its ups and downs over the years, but instead as a through understanding of logistic structures and cross-disciplinary dynamics. In this context, it is also the case that engineering (especially electrical engineering) has not always had a significant voice in setting policy on renewable energy systems development, especially in the United States.

Searching for the Future

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, once said to me (when I worked for him) that studying the future was not so useful as the past, as that was where he found guidance for most of his business decisions. Unfortunately, this was less than a year before he overleveraged his massive merger and acquisitions campaign and the stock value of WPP on the London Stock Exchange fell almost 80% in under a week.

On Methodology: Technology Foresight (Event Report)

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

As part of its executive education webinar series on workforce planning in the “next normal,” Vanderbilt University hosted a Zoom lecture June 23 on “Technology Foresight: Predicting and Planning for the Future” led by Professor Andy Van Schaack of the School of Engineering Management. The goal was to present futures techniques needed to redesign workforces for a new business landscape.

Growth of AI Partnership in Medicine

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Not all doctors view artificial intelligence (AI) with favor. However, instead of replacing medical personnel, using AI capabilities allows doctors and technicians to deliver medicine that is more personalized, proactive, and effective. This includes preventive medicine by proactively monitoring early warnings of illnesses, combining digital connectivity and AI analysis, and focusing on wellness in a cost-effective manner.

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