What might your great-great grandchildren think of today's world?

March 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: Beyond   Rating: 11

By Dick Pelletier

I believe humans and their machines will evolve into a mind-boggling future.

We will greet new technologies with much joy. By late 2020’s and early 2030’s, advanced nanotech could be making everything from dishes to carpets self-cleaning, and household air permanently fresh. For properly designed nano-replicators, dirt would become food.

High resolution screens could project different images to each eye, giving us incredible 3D TV so real that the screen would seem like a window into another world.

Some envision systems that would share thoughts and emotions from mind to mind. It may be possible in the future to link neural structures via transducers and electromagnetic signals to provide a sort of telepathy easier to use than today’s telephones.

And of course as we trek through what some experts describe as the “golden age of intelligence” – 2035-2050 – humanity could learn to merge with their machines resulting in powerful bodies that require no maintenance. Say goodbye to human aging and unwanted deaths.

Continue Reading

Can We Outrace the Fourth Turning?

July 03 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Economics   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

Are we due for a massive cyclical U.S. crisis that finally spurs institutional change? A regular revolution not tied to the accelerating curves driving so much growth and innovation?

In large nations big spurts of institutional change tend to occur every four generations (roughly every 88 years, 1 generation = 22 years) when economic resources trapped by out-dated, inefficient systems are shifted over to efficient new systems once societies reach a cyclical tipping point for change. Generational theorists Strauss and Howe call this tipping point a fourth turning, a point in time where social power shifts to the generations too young to have witnessed the previous correction. They liken this pattern to a forest growth cycle: 1) new saplings take root, 2) the forest grows tall, 3) dead branches fall and choke off new species, 4) lightning strikes, the brambles burn and new saplings are free to grow—repeat.

As seen widely in biology, this sort of change is called Punctuated Equilibrium, which contrasts with the gradual evolution that many scientists intuitively believed to be true but ultimately was not supported by research nor the fossil record. Similarly, the historical record shows that the United States has regularly experienced punctuated social crises, aka fourth turnings, stretching all the way back to its roots in England. And just like all of the scientists that deny punctuated evolution/development, there is a huge % of the population that does not intuitively believe another fourth turning will occur because they have not encountered the historical evidence and are used to a relatively stable socio-economic situation. (Ironically, this blindness seems to be built into the very fabric of our social system and may result in more efficient growth when looked at from the broader context of inter-meshed life systems on our planet.)

Like it or not, cyclical crises pegged to human generations are real and should be considered when evaluating the future, right alongside accelerating change. So the questions we need to ask are 1) “When will the next fourth turning begin?”, 2) “Are there any dynamics that might break or trump the pattern of punctuated national change every 88 years?”

A Likely Fourth Turning Scenario

79 years ago, on October 24, 1929, the Great Wall Street Crash sparked the Great Depression and the last U.S. fourth turning. What followed was the New Deal Era, WWII, the transformation of most U.S. socio-economic sectors and ultimately the birth of what we now refer to as “The American Dream”.

79 years later the U.S. economy is facing a variety of problems that could spark a down-turn and a new fourth turning. (cont.)

Continue Reading