One future datapoint to check

Here‘s a metric to check for one possible future:

“The Air Force now buys more unmanned than manned aircraft every year, and that trend is not going to change,” said Lance Janda, a historian at Cameron University. “Within our lifetime, I think you’ll see an end to manned combat aircraft, because unmanned planes are more capable and a lot cheaper.”

It’s also a bracing vision to consider.

(thanks to Steven Kaye)


Envisioning a future: True Skin

“True Skin” is a short video imagining a near future dominated by human augmentation.  It begins with physical augmentation, bionics, along with digital skin channels and Google Glass-style contact lenses.  Then it moves into problems: class differences, IP infringement (maybe), uploading…

TRUE SKIN from H1 on Vimeo.

Jeff Selingo gave a talk on five forces disrupting higher education.  Interesting set:

“swirl” refers to students attending multiple schools, rather than one.

It’s a good mix, hitting major themes.  I can quibble with parts: “Value” should be “Perceived value”, to emphasize the culturally contested form of this, for example.


A day in a Slashdot future

Imagining a day in the future is a useful exercise. This Slashdot example show why: a series of trends, assumptions, and foci appearing in the very accessible day-in-the-life-of.
For instance, lunchtime:

The server robot finally rolls up to your table and deposits your sandwich, along with a glass of water (soda is a rare treat these days, because of the tax). After eating half your meal and picking at the rest, you realize it’s not hunger that’s making you feel poorly. You briefly remove the CID from your phone and wave it across the table to pay for your food. You leave a small tip for the robot maintenance engineer, then walk to your car, calling work on your way to notify them you’re feeling ill. Once you’ve instructed the car to go home, you recline the seat and take a short nap. The car gently chimes to wake you when you’re safely home. Heading inside, you walk to the bathroom and root around in a drawer for your phone’s medical attachment. Once connected, you instruct it to contact the CDC’s servers for a virus definition update. You quickly swab your nose and throat, and place the samples on the attachment’s sensor, then step into the kitchen to make some tea while you wait. In 20 minutes, the results come back, showing a very strong likelihood that you have the seasonal flu. Your results are automatically sent to the CDC, where their algorithms verify your CID and confirm you had contact with several other people now exhibiting symptoms. An antiviral drug is prescribed for you immediately. You dispatch your car to pick it up.

Ubiquitous computing future

What does the future look like, if computing becomes ever more ubiquitous?  “Plurality” is a short film exploring such a world.

The first half is design fiction, taking us through a series of artifacts and humans interacting with them.  The end veers in a very different direction.

(via MetaFilter)

What happens next in a big economy?

Forecasting the next moves of a big, complex economy is very challenging.  This post about a possible recession demonstrates those challenges well.

Notice, for example, conflicting indicators in this chart:

Industrial production (purple) and personal income ex. transfers (blue) are dipping down, while manufacturing and trade sales (red) and nonfarm payroll employment (green) bode well.  How to assess their relative influence?

Compare with the economists’ survey at the end.

Scanning STEEPly

How can we best perform environmental scanning?  The Center for the Future of Museums offers a good example
(in two parts: 1, 2) of using the STEEP approach (social, technological, environmental, economic, political).