juldrich's Blog Posts

The Next Great Political Debate of the Future?

February 12 2009 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: 2009   Rating: 7 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

In one of those wonderful historical anomalies, February 12, 2009 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

Lincoln is recognized as one of the greatest American presidents for helping end slavery. Darwin, of course, is the father of evolutionary biology.

534px-Abraham_Lincoln_seated__Feb_9__1864-1.jpg467px-Charles_Darwin_02.jpg

It might appear these two historical giants have little else in common except the same birthday, but Darwin’s theory of evolution will soon call forth a new political debate which could, if not peacefully resolved, rip this country apart as surely as slavery did.

In today’s Wall Street Journal there is an article describing how advances in genetic technology are ushering in a new era of “designer babies” and some parents are pre-selecting embryos based on cosmetic characteristics such as eye and hair color.

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The Future of Water: Unfiltered

November 25 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2008   Rating: 2 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

Late last week, it was announced that NASA had, pardon the pun, pissed away $154 million by creating a urinal/water fountain system that didn’t work. To witness how a more simple technology can have huge implications down here on this planet, watch this amazing video (Note: it is a little graphic, but it helps to remember that these are the real life conditions under which billions of people must actually get their water):

The Zoo of the Future?

November 20 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Biotechnology   Year: 2013   Rating: 3 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

In my book, Jump the Curve, the final chapter is dedicated to the idea of “doing the impossible.” In short, it is my contention that unless you internalize the notion of accelerating change you will dismiss as “impossible” many things that will be imminently possible tomorrow due to the exponential nature of technological progress.

A wonderful case in point is this fascinating article from today’s New York Times claiming that it might soon be possible to regenerate a Wooly Mammoth for $10 million because DNA sequencing technology is continually getting more inexpensive.

Regardless of what one may think of the moral and ethical wisdom of recreating Wooly Mammoths, it is imprudent to dismiss the idea as impossible. Yet this is precisely what Rudolph Jaenisch, a biologist at the Whitehead Institute, has done by proclaiming the idea: “a wishful-thinking experiment with no realistic chance for success.”

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Voice Recognition Technology Takes a Baby Step into the Future

November 19 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2009   Rating: 2

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

Late yesterday, Google released a very cool new mobile application which employs voice recognition technology. The question is not so much what the technology can do today, the question is what will the technology be able to do in the near future – and how might it change education, health care, and a host of other daily activities?

I’d love to hear other “Future Bloggers” thoughts on how this technology could unfold and how it might alter people’s behavior. Below are my initial thoughts:

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Change is in the Air - We Need a President Who Can Help Us Prepare for It

November 04 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2012   Rating: 4 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

An opinion piece. Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

Our elected officials should spend less time promising that they will “deliver” change and more time helping society prepare for the change that is coming because it is going to be massive.

After almost two years of campaigning, it is finally here: Election Day! Change is in the air, but not for the reasons one might expect.

Regardless of a person’s preference for Obama, McCain, Nader or one of the other candidates, I don’t actually believe they (or any politician for that matter) will be the primary instrument of change in the near future. That mantle will instead belong to technology.

Let me just provide a quick glimpse from the world of technology through the lens of a single day—today.

I began my morning by reading this article on a “solar power game changer.” The piece describes how a new antireflective coating now allows for the “near perfect” absorption of sunlight. In other words, society is one step closer to solar technology replacing a number of conventional energy sources. Politicians can clamor all they want about “clean coal” and “more drilling” but my hunch is that technological advances will render their opinions and policy suggestions moot.

Next, I stumbled across this article discussing a new “heart-patching” technology. Combined with yesterday’s announcement by a Medtronic official that the “medical device industry is done,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that health care is quickly moving in the direction of preventative care.

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Future Flash: "100 Years"

November 03 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: Beyond   Rating: 6 Hot

FutureBlogger contributor and futurist, Jack Uldrich, uses history to outline three traits people will need to embrace in order to prosper in an era of accelerating change.

Editor’s Note: Congratulations to Jack on the launch of his new video enterprise! Jack, we eagerly await all of the forward-looking goodness you’ve got to offer in the new format.

The Future is Converging All Around Us

October 15 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2015   Rating: 9 Hot

One of the biggest and most exciting trends in technology is that of “convergence” – or how different technologies will combined with one another to create entirely new devices. These devices, in turn, will go on to change human behavior in unique and unexpected ways.

Convergence, as a trend, is nothing new. The printing press did not materialize out of thin air. First, paper, and then ink, and ultimately moveable type had to be created before Gutenberg could create his historic device. The radio, television, computer and Internet are also the result of a convergence of various technologies.

To this end, I recently came across three articles on three different technologies which, when they converge, could change everything from how we educate and entertain ourselves to how key aspects of our economy operate.

The first is virtual reality technology. This insightful article from TechCrunch discusses the new “RealityV experience” developed by Intelligence Gaming. It is part virtual reality and part video and it is now being used by the Army to help soldiers train for real-world situations – such as dealing with a hostile crowd in a foreign country.

The video below provides an excellent overview of the technology:

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A Wave to the Future

September 26 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2011   Rating: 6 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted at www.jumpthecurve.net

Toshiba has developed a new gesture-based interface for flat-panel displays. It is easy to see how the technology might someday be used to replace the remote control, and it is also easy to envision how the technology will make for more interactive video games. But how else might the technology take root in the workplace of the future?

I envision a couple of possibilities. For one, doctors and surgeons will be able to access medical information without needing to touch anything (and, thus, not risk picking up any germs); students will be able to access educational information in new and innovative ways (imagine spinning around a complex 3-D molecule or a strand of DNA); advertisers will engage potential customers in unique ways; architects and designers will be able to more quickly manipulate models; physical therapists will be able to design programs that patients can practice on their television; athletes will be able to hone their reflexes on custom-made programs; and, more innovatively, manufacturers should be able to use a reverse version of the technology to show customers how to repair and fix things.

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Will I Die?

September 25 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Biotechnology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve

I ask this question from neither a deep-seated fear of dying nor an egotistical desire to live forever. I simply ask it from the perspective of someone who is deeply interested in the accelerating pace of change and is concerned we are heading into a future for which few of us are really prepared.

Let me begin by sharing a couple of recent news items which speak to the astounding progress being made in the field of health care.

To begin, if I am in need of surgery sometime within the next few years, it is likely that that surgery will be conducted with the assistance of a robot. Given that these robots are already better than many human surgeons, this suggest I will not only get out of the hospital faster but that I will be in better condition when I do so. Continued advances in robotics will only improve surgical outcomes over the coming years.

Next, say, I am in an accident. There is now a very good chance – due to advances in the Nationwide Health Information Network, personal electronic records and the ever-improving capability of the Internet – that my providers will be able to rapidly access a growing wealth of medical knowledge in order to keep me alive.

Much of this knowledge will likely be genetic in nature and it is not unreasonable to believe – given the extraordinary advances in genomics as well as the possibility that I will within a few years be able to sequence my own genome for less than $1000 dollars - that I will soon be able to avail myself to a growing category of drugs individually tailored to treat me for everything from heart disease and diabetes to a wide variety of cancers.

Assuming then that I dodge some of these pesky middle-age risks, there is a very real chance, according to this article, that I’ll soon be able to “grow replacement body parts.” We can already replace our aging hips and knees, but what happens when I can replace my lungs and, eventually, my heart?

The question is a serious one because society is closer to this future than most people realize.

Alas, these advances – which I remind you are only from the past few days – are just the beginning. I am now 44 years and it is not unreasonable to think, given recent medical progress, that I will live to 100.

But even this is the wrong way to think about this issue. The question I – and all of us, really – need to ask is what further advances will be made in the next 56 years of my life and how might they extend my life past 100 years of age?

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A Penny for Your Thoughts

September 23 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 3

Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.unlearning101.com

ThoughthelmetLast week, a colleague of mine at Future Blogger, Alvis Brigis, suggested that the coming reign of online video broadcasting as the "most ubiquitous and accessible form of communication" may be short-lived. In its stead, he suggested that brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) may replaced it.

To many people the idea of brain-to-computer or even brain-to-brain communication might seem a little "out there." I disagree and think that Alvis is on the right track. As evidence, I submit this recent article on the U.S. Army’s plans to invest in a "Thought Helmut" for voiceless communication. And lest anyone think that voiceless communication is some far-off, fuzzy, futuristic technology just check out this amazing video demonstrating an early prototype of this technology.

Until I can read your thoughts directly, I’d be interested in reading your reactions to this possibility and how you think it may necessitate that we unlearn some things—such as, perhaps, how we communicate in the future.


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