« Wednesday Topsight, July 11, 2007 | Main | Blade Runner »

The Futures Meme

Okay, this is one everyone can play with, and hopefully won't lead to veiled recriminations and bitter feuds in the comments. It's also perfect for a lazy summer weekend.

This one nicely riffs on a few recurring themes here at OtF: open source scenarios, human agency (that is, the future is something we do, not something done to us), and the possibility of achieving a positive future. It's one of those "web meme" things that kids today are all talking about; I'll take the traditional path and tag five people, and encourage them to tag five of their own (etc.). Please feel free to play along in the comments or on your own blogs. Here we go:

Fifteen years is a useful time period for thinking about the Future. It's long enough that we'll go through a couple of major political cycles, see noticeable improvement in common technologies, and undoubtedly experience a radical breakthrough or two. At the same time, it's near enough that most of us will expect to still be around, living lives that might not be too different from today's.

So here's the task: Think about the world of fifteen years hence (2022, if you're counting along at home). Think about how technology might change, how fashions and pop culture might evolve, how the environment might grab our attention, and so forth. Now, take a sentence or two and answer...

  • What do you fear we'll likely see in fifteen years?
  • What do you hope we'll likely see in fifteen years?
  • What do you think you'll be doing in fifteen years?

    There are no wrong answers here -- only opportunities to surprise, provoke and amuse.

    Here are mine:

  • Fear: I'm afraid that we'll have hit a climate tipping point much sooner than anticipated, Storms, floods, drought, disease, and more, all leading to millions upon millions of refugees, drawing upon dwindling resources and wondering what disasters await them.
  • Hope: I expect that we'll have working cures for most forms of cancer by 2022, probably sooner. Most of the treatments will involve inert IR-sensitive nanospheres, some types of which tend to accumulate in tumorous growths -- and when illuminated with an IR laser (which passes harmlessly through tissue) heat up enough to burn away cancer. Animal trials in 2005 saw a 100% success rate with some cancer types.
  • Doing: I figure that, by 2022, I'll be well-established in the US government's Department of Foresight (based on the UK's Foresight Directorate, which exists now), started as an Executive Office group during President Gore's first term (2017-2020), and expanded into a full Department in his second.


    Let's see....

    I'd like Jon Lebkowsky, David Brin, Dale Carrico, Siel, and Rebecca Blood to give this one a whirl. Don't forget to tag five more of your own, and link back here in the comments when you're done.

    (And if you're a regular and I didn't tag you, I'm sorry, I'm a bad person, but please don't let that stop you from giving it a shot anyway, either in the comments here or at your own site.)

  • Comments

    I fear a depression (caused by climate change dislocation, monetary policy, energy costs, or blowback from further military adventures) that evaporates all of my hard earned and invested money.

    I hope to see neurological health issues tackled. Spinal cord injuries and Alzheimer's, specifically. I'll settle for a cure for obesity and Type II diabetes (get rid of those, and overall health care costs go way down).

    I'll probably be doing some shlub technical job, high skilled but of little interest or importance, just like I'm doing now.

    Fear: Precarity, exacerbated by unemployment effects caused by combined developments in artificial intelligence and molecular manufacturing technologies.

    Hope: Universal Basic Income, to relieve aforementioned precarity without holding up positive developments.

    Doing: Fighting (and skirting) precarity, advocating Basic Income. Surviving, volunteering, reading, writing, tinkering, creating.


    FEAR: Another terrorist attack, less deadly than September 11 but somehow more frightening, leads to the declaration of a Presidential State of Emergency, acquiesced to by both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, in which our remaining civil liberties are suspended "for the duration". The majority of the population will go along with it, and will not notice (and will castigate anyone who points out) that the duration never ends.

    HOPE: Having seen what happens when belief, whether in the alleged teachings of an organized religion or merely in one's own version of reality, takes the place of objective understanding, the world see-saws back to a more rational way of looking at things. Technocrats replace the ideologues.

    DOING: I'll be the wise old hacker in an underground resistance movement against the cyber-zombies.

    FEAR: A well-coordinated international attack of deadly infectious disease.

    HOPE: That through education, massive communication, restructuring, technology, whatever, we actually guarantee everyone a decent quality of life.

    DOING: I'll be an assistant professor, perhaps considering abandoning my academic brethren for some quantum computing company.


    Fear: In the United States, a continued descent into ideologically blinkered politics that prevents us from arriving at smarter answers to our problems based on areas of well-reasoned consensus.

    Hope: A citizen-generated groundswell that acts on disgust at the systemic bad choices we’ve made and — without getting into a blame game — seeks out better answers at the individual and community levels and demands better answers at the political level.

    What I’ll be doing: Learning, writing, promoting better ways of living, traveling, loving life among my family and friends.

    Fear: Cascio's early climate tipping point plus peak oil really throwing the economy into a stagflationary cycle, just like in the 1970s.

    Hope: Economic hardship will make us think up really clever ways to conserve and do more with less energy. Also, I'll enjoy nifty gadgets that will make an iPhone look about as advanced as the original Walkman looks today.

    Doing: I'll likely be programming itty bitty networked devices, in a language far more polished and intuitive and fun than Ruby on Rails. Also, instead of wrangling toddlers and babies, I'll be wrangling teenagers.


    Fear: We might not last another 15 years. WMD technology know-how becomes cheaper, and more ubiquitous. In 15 years, orphans of today's wars will have grown up, and will be mad tech-savvy! Danger! A global holocaust might erase life from this planet.

    Hope: An economic revolution will bring super-abundance and spill some wealth over to the poorest.
    Planetary wealth redistribution will change the landscape.
    Even the poorest have the basic necessities of life ( food, healthcare, shelter, education, etc. ).
    Materially comfortable people are less war-like. Therefore, the global holocaust will be prevented.

    Doing: I will be living in a private, green paradise by the ocean. Writing, reading, making music and movies, tinkering with technology, coding, learning, traveling, painting, swimming etc. Being peaceful, creative, and contributing on my own terms.
    My private paradise might even be completely virtual.
    I might be off in a space-pod, training myself in total VR, hurtling away from Earth. We simply must launch some people on one-way trips into deep space, to mitigate the risk to Life.

    Fear: climate change tipping point, peak oil, raw materials shortages, economic disfunction, continual global guerrilla assaults

    Hope: small scale autonomous power, local production/consumption patterns, resilience built in, global guerrillas for peace using open source online ad hoc organizing

    Doing: writing, reading, connecting with about the same level of effectiveness (slim to none)

    1. Global Government established to "Fight / Stop" climate change will make it mandatory not be concerned about the planet, and ditch the species. Nice dystopia!
    2. Various groups trying to impose metaphysics at all cost, making C21 worse than godawful C20.

    1. Molecular Manufactoring. Yes, it'll be disruption, but it's also the perfect tool to show how we can both destroy and reconstruct.
    2. That C21 may be the century of biology and that people will respect and love all its various, vibrant forms. (not likely, given human nature, but this is about hope...)
    3. that an acceptable christian buddhism will rise and rise, and replace the literalist interpretation. (and hopefully catholicism too!)

    Married, kids. And established as a novelist and psychologist.

    I was at the Live Earth concert last week and the most insightful statement made was by Robert F. Kennedy. It all begins with the individual. You have to be healthy inside before you look outside. This has many meanings. I believe that there will be a focus towards the individual. This will be the beginning of the future. And I expect a bright future. I love how so many of the boomer wealthy are showing such strongs of philanthropy. The technologies are the tools and it is the people that will make the difference. I have great hope in the Generations X and Y and the We Generation!

    Fear will make people even more submissive to autocratic governements that promise protection (while promoting fear itself), in The US and elsewhere.
    Antagonisms between western world,Muslims, Russia, China perhaps will have the world in a self-sustaining cycle of terror and violence.

    Hope that the internet, computers, and information technology will help to level the field within and among nations by making the exchange and sharing of goods and information more efficient. Also enabing new forms of governance, making governments gradually obsolete,and true self-representing democracy finally viable.

    Doing whatever technology and creativity allows me to create new forms of entertainment-education experiences somewhere between movies, video-games and VR. All with the help machines that have finally broken out of the computer mold, that will resemble more a human assistant,or a symbiont.

    Fear: destructive feedback loop between peak oil and global warming, with human responses behind the curve.

    Hope: a renaissance in learning, based on networked popular media.

    Myself: helping crusty old Web 2.0, blogging, wiki-ing, Second Life-ing veteran teachers deal with the rising generation of teachers and learners

    A little late in the piece, perhaps, but you'll find my responses here

    FEAR: engineered virii, unstable arms race

    HOPE: advanced nano, mind uploading

    DOING: helping things stay on the right track

    (BTW, the TypeKey sign in is broken)


    Creative Commons License
    This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
    Powered By MovableType 4.37