Cross-posted fromThe End of the American Century
The election of Barack Obama sends a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. can behave differently.
In the last chapter of my book The End of the American Century, I write that “a best-case scenario for the future of the United States would have to begin with new political leadership” and that the first thing a new president could do “would be to mend American relations with the rest of the world and to temper the unilateralism, hubris and militarism that have made it so difficult for the United States to work with other countries in solving pressing global issues.”
The election of Barack Obama is a big first step for the United States in changing our orientation to the rest of the world, and the way the world sees the U.S.
As Britain’s Economist magazine put it, in its endorsement of Obama as “the next leader of the free world”—“Merely by becoming president, he would dispel many of the myths built up about America: it would be far harder for the spreaders of hate in the Islamic world to denounce the Great Satan if it were led by a black man whose middle name is Hussein; and far harder for autocrats around the world to claim that American democracy is a sham.”
He is widely seen as a leader who is open to the views of others, and willing to work with other countries. France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a handwritten letter of congratulations to the U.S. President-elect, said “your election raises immense hope” in Europe and beyond, “of an open America. . .that will once again lead the way, with its partners, through the power of its example and the adherence to its principles.”
When discussing accelerating change I often remind people that technology is a double-edged sword. Reinforcing this mantra, a new bill, the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, that would ban silent picture-taking via mobile phones to combat child exploitation has been presented to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The problem is legitimate and therefore requires what futurist John Smart would call an "immune system response", which may come in the form of a social, technological or hybrid solution.
But the proposed bill is invasive and a bit naive (not accel-aware) considering the quickly dropping component costs fueling an explosion in small devices sporting sophisticated cameras, video cameras and audio recording devices.
In other words, the problem is actually MUCH BIGGER than Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), the author of the legislation, recognizes at this time.
In just a few years we'll have micro-devices capable of always-on, persistent video streaming. Many will argue that these are critical to their health (longitudinal life logs for doctors and software to analyze, prosthetic sensing for those who need it - or even those who don't), business (reality TV x 10, regional quantification efforts, selling feeds), education (process capture for superior feedback), social life (symbionts, real-time dating services), entertainment (mixing real-time feeds with other content, critical component of augmented reality), right to document history for future purposes and so forth.
On the flipside, this will further expand the abilities of predators, criminals and other social griefers. They'll be able to remotely operate arrays of micro-cams (a world of bugs), stalk people in new ways, hack massive amounts of personal data, etc.
One of the biggest business opportunities of the next few decades will be enabling the convergence of Energy and Information systems to lower costs and improve efficiencies.
Companies such as Johnson Controls and IBM have been very vocal about their vision of a 'smart infrastructure' future. And there are a number of 'Smart Grid' startups offering utility-scale and building/home energy management solutions.
Cisco: 'Smarter' Energy Networks
Cisco Systems is widely associated with the hardware 'backbone' (e.g. routers) of the Internet, but the company is expanding into new web-based services like video collaboration and energy management.
Cisco has a very simple vision of the future of energy efficiency: If it is on the 'network', then we can make it more efficient. Why is this important? Because within a decade or two most everything that produces and consumes power will be integrated into an information (web) network.
The company has announced its new Cisco EnergyWise [PDF] technology platform that will help its customers reduce energy consumption of Internet Protocol (IP) devices such as phones, computers, and digital access points. The next step for Cisco will be offering software solutions to help manage building systems (lighting, air conditioning and heating).
The offering puts Cisco in a strong position to compete in a fully 'embedded' world where all objects and devices are on the web and energy is never wasted.
Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com
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
There are two major convergences to watch in the world of electricity. The first relates to the convergence of the auto industry and 'big grid' utility providers to service next generation electric vehicles powered by batteries and H2 fuel cells. The second deals with the convergence of software and energy flows. We expect major enterprise software providers to jump into 'smart grid' efforts in the years ahead. And IBM is leading the charge!
IBM's Smart Planet
In early November IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano delivered a speech on Big Blue's vision of a Smart Planet based on intelligent infrastructure for flows of energy, transportation and information. Now the company is now starting to go public with its formal strategic partnerships.
IBM has announced a pilot project with Michigan-based utility Consumers Energy, 'to help plan, deploy and test an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and smart grid field pilot network.'
But the most singificant project to date is with utility giant American Electric Power (AEP). IBM will serve as the overall systems integrator for AEP's gridSMART(SM) suite of customer programs and systems that create change the nature of energy delivery systems.
IBM will help to expand gridSMART initiatives for new production, delivering and local storage systems that make utility grids more reslient and profitable.
Smart Grid: Software, Sensors & Storage
After years of conceptual planning, 'Smart Grids' appear to be closer to reality. The ingrediants for disruption will be software and sensors to anticipate grid strains, and local storage to lower the cost of meeting peak demand.
More from IBM's Press Release: