Let's Debate the Future, Please!

April 28 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

(An opinion piece)

Cross-posted from jumpthecurve

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, recently had a thoughtful opinion piece bemoaning the media’s lack of meaningful coverage of today’s important issues. To emphasize her point, she noted that many American’s can now tell you Barack Obama’s bowling score but can’t recite one major plank in his health care plan.

It is a valid criticism and I wholeheartedly agree with her critique but Edwards, the candidates, and the media are missing another serious issue – the accelerating pace of science and technological change.

More specifically, no candidate is approaching today’s important issues of health care, education, the environment and war from the perspective that the near-term future of all of these issues will almost certainly will be different – and perhaps radically so – because of the accelerating pace of technological change.

Let me provide just a few recent examples. Late last year, the Pentagon reported that it had begun arming robots with guns for the first time ever. It then announced, to little fanfare, that it intended to triple the number of robots in battlefield situations by 2010. And by 2015 – a date that would place it near the end of the next president’s second term – the Defense Department has publicly stated that it expects one-third of the U.S. fight force to consist of robots. (cont.)

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Rising Oil Prices Fueling Broad Economic Disruption

May 29 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

With crude oil hovering at an all-time high of $130/gallon people all over the globe are feeling the pain and starting to react in different ways.

Some are finally choosing to drive less frequently. CNN reports that “compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less—that’s 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it ‘the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.’”

Others are increasingly making the switch to higher-mileage and hybrid vehicles.

In Europe, where environmental taxes roughly double the cost of gas, groups of French and British workers are demanding public assistance by staging protests .

A few particularly pinched and pro-active folks in rural regions are shifting around their work week and travel schedule. According to the Wall Street Journal “a handful of small towns and community colleges are switching to four-day workweeks in an effort to help employees cope with the rising gasoline prices, and could soon be joined by some larger local governments.”

And of course there are the enterprising individuals who’ve decided that enough is enough and that it’s time to take drilling for oil into their own hands.

This is just the beginning. (cont.)

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McCain on Mars, Future of Flying & First Space Vacation Booked

June 13 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

The Future Scanner Daily Top 5 serves to highlight 5 of the best scans submitted to the Future Scanner during the last 24 hours.

Accelerating Change Meme Hits the National Stage

August 27 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

If you think there’ve been dramatic changes in the world and in technology over the last ten years, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The race is on, and if you watched the Olympics, you know China’s going for the gold. – Mark Warner, last night at the DNC

The accelerating change meme finally hit the national stage last night at the Democratic National Convention when former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who earned his fortune in the cell phone industry, framed the current Presidential contest as a “race for the future” that “won’t be won with yesterday’s ideas”.

This marks the first time in recent memory that any candidate for national office, barring of course Future Blogger favorite Jack Uldrich , who incidentally has been calling for high profile politicians to start debating the future , has directly appealed to voters on a national level by articulating the fundamental concept of accelerating change that most everyone on this site takes for granted.

I had been biting my nails during and after the primaries, hoping that the future, science and punctuated change would at last become election issues. And now I am relieved that this meme has finally infected enough minds to enter the popular debate. Whether you’re a transhumanist, singularitarian, trans-systemist, neo-luddite, or anything else inbetween, it’s essential that we as a society begin to tackle the reality of runaway techno-info-social change, first by acknowledging its existence, if we are to control our collective destiny in any meaningful way.

Now, I’m not sure that Warner or Obama will be able to deliver on promises to begin building “100 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid vehicles right here – with American technology and with American workers” in two years time, but it’s certainly not impossible. Such future-forward initiatives must be spearheaded by the likes of Presidential candidates like Obama and McCain lest another 4 years of opportunities pass us by as we journey deeper into the acceleration era.

Carpe Postremo.

Photo credit Mark Warner, CC 2.0 license.

Adapting Debates for the 21st Century

October 08 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

If you managed to watch the debate last night, you’re probably just as frustrated as everyone else at the way the candidates behaved. I’m not talking about physical behavior, but the verbal arguments. Every other line was about how the other candidate wasn’t telling the truth about certain subjects. I guess “not telling the truth” is the new way of saying “you’re lying” without coming off as confrontational.

This may be how debates have been run since the founding of this country (heck, the campaign of Jefferson vs Adams was probably the worst mud-slinging campaign of all time), but don’t you think in the age of instant information that twisting the truth only breeds distrust? What does it tell you about the candidates when every spin they try and weave can be blown apart by going to a site like FactCheck.org?

It’s time we adapted the political discourse to the 21st Century.

We need to sit these candidates down face to face and ask them the hard questions. If they try and spin a lie, the moderator should be informed via something akin to Twitter and call them on it right then and there. “I’m sorry Mr. Lincoln, you haven’t always been anti-slavery. In fact, just last week in Kentucky you told the audience you weren’t concerned about slave rights.” Can you imagine how incredible that would be? Facts would be facts, lies would be lies, and each politician would be responsible for the words they say.

This may seem a little harsh, but these people are vying for the office of President of the United States of America. This isn’t a show like Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann where the commentators aren’t held accountable for their lies mistakes.

The American people deserve more from the candidates and this method of debating (only three debates, are you kidding me?) is incredibly outdated. Let’s get the candidates to speak the truth and stop this incessant parlay which makes every debate seem like a tie.

image courtesy of Mich Licht at NotionsCapital.com

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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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Where McCain and Obama stand on Science and Technology

August 01 2008 / by justinelee / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: General   Rating: 2

Over the past few months Americans have been trying to grasp what each presidential nominee will bring to the table once inaugurated as our Commander-in-Chief this coming January.

With looming issues that include the economy, the war in Iraq, and gas prices, there has been little emphasis placed on how either John McCain or Barack Obama feel about the government’s role in science and technology despite a growing group of citizens who want the issue debated.. These individuals believe that the future of America’s science and technology sectors are crucial to the success of our economy, world image, and ultimately our well-being.

I found this table presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), useful but not definitive.

The table compares the decisions made by McCain and Obama regarding policies on science and technology spanning energy, health care and innovation.

It is clear through this table that Obama has given each issue some more thought: his calls for change include concrete numbers and percentages, while McCain’s do not.

With some more research, I found that much of the same was reflected in McCain and Obama’s campaign websites and other articles written about their stances.

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Global Opinion on U.S. Elections

November 04 2008 / by DSMason / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

For those of you who live outside the U.S., come to my website and post your comments on how you view the U.S. elections and the presidential candidates.

This is a momentous election for the U.S. and for the rest of the world.

Let’s hear from the rest of the world about what it means.

The End of the American Century