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Resilience and Robots

My second column for Fast Company is now live: "Resilience in the Face of Crisis: Why the Future will be Flexible" is a "let's talk about resilience" piece for people who haven't encountered the argument before. Although it echoes some of the points I made in the "Resilience Economy" post here at OtF, it's more of a discussion as to why the concept itself is important.

One reason why the idea of resilience resonates with those of us engaged in foresight work is that, as troubling as it may be to contemplate, the current massive economic downturn is likely to be neither the only nor the biggest crisis we face over the next few decades. The need to shift quickly away from fossil fuels (for both environmental and supply reasons) may be as big a shock as today's "econalypse," and could easily be compounded by accelerating problems caused by global warming. Demographic issues--aging populations, migrants and refugees, and changing regional ethnic make-ups--loom large around the world, notably in China. Pandemics, resource collapse, even radically disruptive technologies all have the potential to cause global shake-ups on the scale of what we see today... and we may see all of these, and more, over the next 20 to 30 years.

Also new is a conversation for the CBC radio show "Spark," talking robots -- in particular the empathetic and emotional interaction we increasingly have with robots. You can play the streaming version on this page, or download the MP3 for the show; my part starts around 11 minutes in, and lasts about five minutes. But check out the Spark page anyway -- the picture of the kitten and the Roomba is sure a sign that the kitty singularity is upon us.


Jamais, are you going to try and analyze the decisions taken by the various nations recently in light of the resilience economy paradigm? For example, how do the positions of the US, Europe, and other nations at the G20 and the end result succeed or fail to prepare for a resilient economy? Or are they simply off-tracks, not yet ready for the concept and ensconced in old, unsustainable ways?
Maybe it'd be less controversial to stay out of current politics, but paving the (right) way for the next 20 or 30 years needs to be done now, not then, certainly.

Hervé, good question. I think I need to give the resilience economy model some more thought before I'd feel confident about applying it as an analytic filter. I do think it can be used in that way, but I'm not sure I'd be able to do so as thoroughly and as precisely as I'd want to.

Charlie Stross seems to have picked up the theme from a military point-of-view. (http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2009/04/paging_the_war_nerd.html)

Applying the usual cognitive biases as filters seems relevant, particularly confirmation bias (http://yudkowsky.net/rational/cognitive-biases)

Folks just don't seem to accept that change affects them.

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