Wednesday, March 28, 2012

“…we are in a world where everything perishes and where nothing is permanent …”


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! │ Futuretronium Supranational Initiative │ Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
Physicist Wolfang Pauli stated, “… I have committed the ultimate sin; I have introduced a particle [that is to say the neutrino] that can never be observed….”


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! │ Futuretronium Supranational Initiative │ Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
Socrates once said, “…It seemed to me a superlative thing ─ to know the explanation of everything, why it comes to be, why it perishes, why it is ….”


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Freeman Dyson eloquently wrote, “…[As mathematician Kurt] Gödel proved the world of pure mathematics is inexhaustible; no finite set of axioms and rules of inference can ever encompass the whole of mathematics … I hope that an analogous situation exists in the physical world. If my view of the future is correct, it means that the world of physics and astronomy is also inexhaustible; no matter how far we go into the future, there will always be new things happening, new information coming in, new worlds to explore, a constantly expanding domain of life, consciousness, and memory …”


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Dr. Michio Kaku PhD. (theoretical physicist) observed, “…We are not at the end, but at the beginning of a new physics. But whatever we find, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE NEW HORIZONS CONTINUALLY AWAITING US…”


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Dr. Michio Kaku PhD. (theoretical physicist) wrote, “…The universe could have been perverse, random, or capricious. And yet it appears to us to be whole, coherent, and beautiful….”


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! │ Futuretronium Supranational Initiative │ Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
Freeman Dyson argues, “…there is nothing so big nor so crazy that one out of a million technological societies may not feel itself driven to do, provided it is physically possible…”


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“… the future is not a matter of change ─ it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for ─ it is a thing to be achieved….”


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Admiral Hyman Rickover (January 27, 1900 – July 8, 1986 and the «father of nuclear navy») indicated, “…It will be wise to face up the possibility of the ultimate disappearance of automobiles….High energy consumption has always been a prerequisite of political power…”


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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rick Hampson in a piece for USA Today wrote, “…Our fright may be our salvation …. Americans often suspect they face the worst of times and, as a result, try harder to make the best of them. Whether it’s the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the fall of Saigon in 1975, or the economic challenge from Japan in the 1980s, there’s this persistent conviction that our best days are behind us … yet American’s assumptions that they’re at the brink is what save us from going over. Instead of underestimating challenges, we overact. In a competitive world, it’s a key to our success….”


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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bill Gates argues, “…During the past two centuries, innovation has more than doubled our life span and given us cheap energy and more food. If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without continuing innovation in health, energy or food, the picture is dark…”



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History shows that the greatest innovations have been introduced in periods of severe economic stress. A 2009 Booz & Company report noted, “…Television, xerography, electric razors, FM radio, and scores of other advances were produced during the Great Depression. Companies such as Dupont, which in 1937 was generating 40 percent of its revenues from products introduced after 1930, pursued innovation not only to survive the Depression but also to set the stage for decades of sustained profitable growth….”


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
According to IBM general manager Adalio Sanchez, “…When you’re in a situation when you’ve really got to be judicious, to do more with less, that really drives a need for innovation and a level of creativity that you might not otherwise have in normal times. Increased innovation doesn’t always have to be about more dollars. It’s about how you use those dollars…”


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


World Future Society: "...A global 'megacrisis,' a perfect storm of climate change, economic turmoil, socioeconomic inequalities, and corruption, looms in humanity's future..." 

QUESTION: Global MegaCrisis: How Bad Will It Get? What Strategies?

Imagine a “category 5” hurricane churning toward the eastern United States. The experts agree on its size and ferocity, the alternative paths that it might take, and when it will hit. Politicians and the public accept the warning and take preventive action to save lives and reduce damage. In contrast, consider a possible/probable “Global MegaCrisis”—an emerging “perfect storm” of climate change, economic crises, joblessness, growing inequality, corruption, terrorism, and more. Few experts attempt such a synthesizing overview, there is little agreement on terminology or indicators, and, where there is some consensus, there is little agreement on whether—or if—the MegaCrisis will be resolved or alleviated, how, and when. If we are headed toward MegaCrisis, is there something basically wrong with our thinking—the need for a new master paradigm about the role of futures-relevant knowledge in our information-drenched society?

Veteran macro-thinkers Michael Marien and Bill Halal have been engaged in a debate for the past three years, publishing four scenarios “Decline to Disaster,” “Muddling Down,” “Muddling Up,” and “Rise to Maturity” in The Futurist and several journals to provoke comment. Halal argues that many new technologies on the horizon will probably make things better; Marien worries that, overall, the new hyperabundance of information will largely make things worse. Using other indicators, Richard Slaughter has been warning of a planetary emergency for several years—the greatest wake-up call in history. Read more at http://goo.gl/z8XoY




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Monday, March 19, 2012

Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek observes, “…We are haunted by the awareness that infinitely many slightly variant copies of ourselves are living out their parallel lives and that every moment more duplicates spring into existence and take up our many alternative futures...”


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
As MIT physicist Alan Guth has said, “…There is a universe where Elvis is still alive, and Al Gore is president….”


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Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner wrote, “…It was not possible to formulate the laws [of the quantum theory] in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness..”


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Dr. Richard Feynman indicated, “…[quantum mechanics] describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is─absurd….”


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Russia plans Moon base, Mars network by 2030

Russia plans to send probes to Jupiter and Venus, land a network of unmanned stations on Mars and ferry Russian cosmonauts to the surface of the Moon — all by 2030, according to a leaked document from the country’s space agency.

By 2020, the six-seater Angara rocket will replace the Soyuz as the spaceship of choice for launching Russian payloads.

By 2030, Russia will send robots to the Moon to collect samples. The program will be punctuated with a manned Moon landing.

The optimistic program also lays out plans for active exploration of other planets in the solar system, and ideas for a follow-up to the International Space Station after 2020.

Read more: http://goo.gl/bGqrY


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
When death becomes optional

The year is 2032. You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and you have some tough decisions ahead. You can either keep repairing your current body or move into a new one.

The growing of “blank” bodies has become all the rage, and by using your own genetic material, body farmers can even recreate your own face at age 20.

In just 20 years, this is an industry that has moved from the equivalent of Frankenstein’s laboratory to the new celebrity craze, with controversy following it every step of the way.

The combination of a few high profile “accidents” along the way, coupled with those in the religious community who claim that body farmers are playing God, and asking “where does our soul reside?” has given it thousands of top media headlines around the world.

Every person on the planet has a different opinion about this moral dilemma, or whether its safe or dangerous, or whether we should just get better at repairing our existing bodies.

As medical advances continue, and we devise an entirely new range of health-enhancing options, I propose we set a new standard, raising the bar to the highest possible level. I propose we put an end to human death.

Read more: http://goo.gl/7V1Vi


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Thursday, March 15, 2012


WHAT IS THE UNDERLYING MEANING UNDER PROFESSIONAL FUTUROLOGY?

Futures studies (also called futurology) is the study of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends.

In futures studies, especially in Europe, the term "foresight" has become widely used to describe activities such as: critical thinking concerning long-term developments, debate and effort to create wider participatory democracy, shaping the future, especially by influencing public policy.

In the last decade, scenario methods, for example, have become widely used in some European countries in policy-making.

At the same time, the use of foresight for companies (“corporate foresight”) is becoming more professional and widespread. 

Corporate foresight is used to support strategic management, identify new business fields and increase the innovation capacity of a firm.

Foresight is not the same as futures research or strategic planning. It encompasses a range of approaches that combine the three components mentioned above, which may be recast as: futures (forecasting, forward thinking, prospectives), planning (strategic analysis, priority setting), and networking (participatory, dialogic) tools and orientations.

Foresight Research is also highly influenced by systemic approaches to innovation studies, science and technology policy, and analysis of "critical technologies".

N.B: In this instance, every form that accelerates the level of change in society is a sine qua non, including the augmented progression of new scientific knowledge as well as the incessant and exponential creation and growth of disruptive technologies. ─ Read more: www.linkedin.com/in/AndresAgostini




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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) and “...A Love To Learn...”

Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) ─ a Chinese thinker and social philosopher ─ argued,
“…[lo]ove of kindness, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by foolishness. Love of knowledge, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by loose speculation. Love of honesty, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by harmful candour. Love of straightforwardness, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by misdirected judgement. Love of daring, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by insubordination. And love of strength of character, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by intractability…” Source: ISBN-10: 1594202710


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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Was Saint Augustine (around AD 400) future-ready?

Saint Augustine (around AD 400) observed: “…How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity…”  ─ Read more: http://goo.gl/zvSV7


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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

 Rethinking "Return on Investment": What We Really Need to Invest In

By Timothy C. Mack

Innovation means more than inventing new products for the world’s growing populations to consume. Innovation also means solving the problems created by consumption. By investing in sustainable innovation and creativity now, we will enhance our future returns.

A leading challenge for the twenty-first century is how to enhance innovation and creativity in the midst of a global recession. While this area of concern might seem to focus largely on technology and business issues, it is also tied to enhancing social development, academic vitality, political stability, and the standard of living worldwide—and doing so sustainably.

By several measures, the health of global business has actually been quite robust in recent years, especially for the largest multinational corporations in areas like energy. Large companies have enough resources to weather the storms of economic, market, and even regulatory reversals. But smaller, more innovative enterprises around the globe are hit much harder by the downturns in the world economy and by diminishing returns on inputs.

We see “diminishing returns” as global economic expansion generates its own dysfunctions. For example, more consumption leads to more waste products, which then lead to negative impacts like pollution and climate change. In another context, we see diminishing returns when we recognize that “working bigger” is not always working smarter, and many view the increasing acquisition of smaller firms by multinational entities as undermining productivity worldwide.

Basic examples of diminishing returns include too much fertilizer on a single field, too much additional seed without more available land to plant it in, and too many added tools without enough added workers or vice versa. In other words, diminished returns result from increasing one factor of economic production without being able to change other parts of an economic system, to keep things in balance.

The global problems we are wrestling with today are largely due to system imbalances of various types, and to the lack of a holistic systems approach overall. We must add creativity and innovation to the economic system, so as to enhance competitiveness system-wide. By innovation, I mean the ability to imagine, reconcile, and combine ideas that will improve economic health and prosperity throughout the world.

The law of diminishing returns suggests that, when complexity and scale increase past a certain point, returns will ultimately plateau and then plummet. This dynamic is often masked by the fog of ever-more-complex partnerships or ever-increasing debt, which necessarily have built-in problems that also tend to build up. These problems in turn create numerous delayed and feedback loops, which alter the ongoing operation of those systems—for better or worse.

For example, one result of large-scale mergers and consolidations is to concentrate risk on a scale never possible before. The underside of this global interconnectedness is that the individual “dominoes” within that system become increasingly aligned. And as in a crowded forest, a single falling tree can bring down far too many others.

Responses to this perceived problem often aim at classic sustainability solutions. I prefer to look at sustainable development in a broader context and to seek solutions not simply for the environment, but for social and political dilemmas, as well.

The term “diminishing returns” does not always imply a negative assessment of past, present, or future return on investment (ROI) strategies. Diminishing returns can affect any investment that involves financial, intellectual, or industrial resources. In what may come to be recognized as a new normal, it also refers to strategies for the future that rethink the traditional concept of ROI and levels of adequacy—that is, rethinking ways to assess systemic balance. To put it more assertively, a total rethinking of return-on-investment strategies could be in order.

An MIT study on innovation notes that, over the past 50 years, the vast majority of innovations have come from small organizations that actually receive little financial support from institutional investors. Accordingly, an increase in early-stage investment in smaller, innovative enterprises might buoy up the ailing global economy. However, due to the risk-averse nature of institutional investor groups, this is not likely to widely occur.

So what are our options? I believe we need to focus on a range of initiatives to promote innovation, including innovation in education and training. This would include education/private sector strategic partnerships that promote creativity and cultivate “a taste for risk.”

Local approaches that adjust for country-by-country variations are frequently more productive than one-size-fits-all policies. In France, local history favors the use of cooperatives (both manufacturing- and services-based) and a focus on improving local production, shortening channels between producer and consumer, and introducing innovation tax credits. This might be termed bringing economic prosperity through rebalancing the economic food chain.

John Holland at the Santa Fe Institute defines the concept of emergence as “much coming from little.” Similarly, as we begin to rethink return on investment, there are three common strategies for attaining much from little. The first approach is to focus on increasing efficiency, ideally producing more with fewer resources. A good example of this is Moore’s law in electronics, where diminishing costs and increasing productivity have gone hand in hand.

A second approach focuses on consistency, which concentrates on improving quality (versus just turning out more of the same product in the same manner) and emphasizes predictability and repeatability.

The final approach is the path of sufficiency, which involves rethinking the elements involved and often results in less coming to be seen as more. This could include the march of the Green Movement, with its concentration on economy, ecology, and appropriate downsizing. It could also include the industrial ecology movement—a convergent multidisciplinary approach to building integrated and sustainable industrial systems. It includes reinterpreting former waste streams as “repurposed assets” that may be utilized as raw material for an entirely different industry. A recent example is waste carbon or plastic scraps being used in nanotechnology for construction of fullerene nanotubes.

Still another example of Green approaches is resource decoupling. This involves using fewer resources per unit of economic output while also reducing the environmental impacts of resource use and other economic activities. The positive impact of resource decoupling stands in sharp contrast to the ecological degradation and resource scarcities that currently make the problems of failing financial markets and economic recession even worse.

Looking back over the course of the twentieth century, we find that relative resource balances actually remained fairly equitable. For example, while world gross domestic product rose by a factor of 23 between 1901 and 2000, global resource use only rose by a factor of eight. This was partly the result of improved technologies, including those enabling increased energy efficiency. But a balance of this sort seems far less likely for the unfolding twenty-first century.

Looking forward, the UN Environmental Program’s International Resource Panel projects that world consumption of natural resources could triple by 2050, far exceeding sustainable levels. In a 2011 report, the Panel called for the general realization that prosperity and well-being do not depend on consumption of ever-greater amounts of resources. Instead, we need to recognize that the trade off between environmental negatives and economic positives can be avoided. In other words, low-carbon, resource-efficient approaches can stimulate economic growth, increase employment, and reduce poverty, while still keeping the human footprint within sustainable limits.

Of course, successful decoupling will require significant changes in national government policies, corporate behavior worldwide, and the consumption patterns of the global public. It is also clear that any one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to succeed, given the range of economic levels and diverse national cultures worldwide.

One of the widest extremes between countries and among groups within countries remains the consumption of raw materials: The richest 20% of global population is responsible for 80% or more of consumption, while the poorest 20% consumes closer to 2% of the total. This puts the poorer groups at a disadvantage in the search for the energy resources to support creative activities. New resources can either be found or created, but in the lowest economic ranges, people lack the energy needed for effective search or creative activity. And so these imbalances continue or increase.

Any process that reduces inputs and/or increases outputs will require changes in public policy and public opinion. For this to happen, the training and education needed must be both subtle and sophisticated. The goal is to bring improved resource productivity (e.g., through materials substitution) into balance with the demands of rising affluence. This can only be accomplished with political will and coordination among governments (national and supranational), nongovernmental organizations (with their growing influence), and private industry/corporations.

At times, it seems too much to hope that political influence will ever be spread equitably—or even that enough private citizens will become involved in public policy to substantially affect outcomes. But the expansion of “Occupy ____” movements in the United States and growth of bilateral e-government capabilities worldwide all suggest at least that the number of active stakeholders is likely to continue to increase.

Over the past decade, the concept of hybrid organizations has become more popular, with government, NGOs, and private-sector entities creating new configurations. But progress has been much slower than was initially expected. Those who assume leadership of such hybrid organizations will naturally guide and shape their own agendas, but the real challenge for any organization engaged in boundary spanning is how to get the now-wider range of stakeholders to cooperate in reality versus merely for public relations purposes. Authentic partnerships are long-lasting, because they provide tangible benefits for the majority of those involved.
Enhancing Innovation

Innovation arises from applying creative approaches to problems. This is true across the economic, technological, logistic, political, and social arenas. The most radical and revolutionary technology innovations tend to emerge from formalized R&D, while less-dramatic incremental and pragmatic innovations may emerge from day-to-day operations.

Innovation can be seen as either supply-pushed (based on new technological possibilities) or demand-led (based on social needs and user requirements). But innovation also arises through a complex set of processes that link many different players together. This includes not only developers and users, but also consultancies, standards bodies, governments, and NGOs.

It is tempting to view innovation—particularly technological innovation—as a panacea. This is not always the case. While technological development continues to produce solutions, new problems continue to emerge—global warming and related economic problems, resource depletion, unmanaged waste products of consumption, population growth, and so on.

New technologies can only do so much to forge solutions or drive needed change: Building electric cars will not reduce pollution if no one buys them or if no network of convenient recharging stations exists to keep them running. Therefore, government regulation, marketplace dynamics, and public willingness to change their behaviors are also integral parts of the innovation formula. South Korea, for example, is currently building a smart grid that is expected to support 30,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030. Focused applications appear to be the most productive approach: Correctly identify a problem, then solve it.

Much successful innovation occurs at the boundaries of organizations and industries, where legacy restrictions are fewer and the problems and needs of users can be linked with the potential of technologies in a creative process that challenges both. In such networks of innovation, communities of users can help further develop technologies and reinvent their social meaning with tools like open-source software.
Innovation in Education and Learning

The goal must be to develop changes that are both relevant and valuable to users. One example of this process in action is to develop learning/lesson plans that are custom-tailored according to the abilities of individual students and responsive to stakeholder input. An articulate voice for individualization is Ben Bloom, who divides educational skill sets into cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills: i.e., mind, heart, and body. Men, he says, learn better by doing; women, through dialogue.

Will schools ever embrace these opportunities for learning and innovation? Classroom productivity has not always risen with increased online learning, but computer games do teach skills—especially analytical thinking, team building, multitasking, and problem solving under stress—which are not often learned in the classroom. There is general agreement that the social dimension of learning is beneficial because learning in a social context is usually faster, with longer retention. The challenge is how to build a working hybrid that solves problems without creating new ones.

One move in this direction is to assess social network technology in light of clear quantitative and qualitative educational outcomes, rather than worrying about potential classroom disruption. Another is to support child-guided learning, where kids and adults work side by side as peers to solve (for example) a local real-world environmental problem. Using this problem-solution approach, many school-based community environmental programs are student run: Students choose projects and do most or all of the work. In such a setting, even mistakes become good opportunities to learn and to improve the process of finding a viable solution.
Innovation and Learning in Communities

Besides creative education techniques, another innovation-friendly concept is that of Living Systems, as described by James Grier Miller in the late 1970s. Countries, societies, and even super-national organizations such as the European Union can also be much more organically interactive, given the opportunity. This principle can also be applied to mechanical systems—such as those that convert matter to energy and vice versa—as well as to information-transmission and exchange systems. In this context, information means “options to choose among” (such as signals, symbols, messages, or patterns) that can be transmitted or responded to.

One major unresolved question in this approach involves responses to subjective phenomena; e.g., different interpretations of the same structures by subjective viewers. These kinds of value differentiations are common in systemic behavior (in politics for instance), and the issues involved are anything but trivial. The goal is to build successful harmonious systems, not conflict-ridden or disruptive ones. To quote Frijof Capra, “In the end, aggressors always destroy themselves, making way for others who know how to cooperate and get along. It is much less a competitive struggle for survival than a triumph of cooperation and creativity.”

Karen Hawley Miles, executive director and founder of Education Resource Strategies and author of The Strategic School, asserts the need for leading indicators of performance versus lagging ones in order to identify and act quickly to support and change failing undertakings. But the most critical question is what changes to make in order to produce positive differences. In terms of appropriate educations tools, a significant complication arises from the wide range of individual learning styles.

Howard Gardener has identified seven distinct types of intelligence: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Digital tools and gaming software can help make self-paced and self-styled learning in many of these areas possible, because gaming’s flexibility tends to enhance this range of styles rather than ignore or combat them. But the once almost universal “precision” learning approach, built upon rote memorization and tests based upon the premise that there is only one “right answer” to a given problem, remains dominant. A more organic understanding of the learning process and a broader acceptance of the idea that different solutions are appropriate in different situations will be needed if we are ever to achieve the ideal of “educating one student at a time.”

Regulatory structures guiding education still lean toward the one-size-fits-all model, leaving many hopeful innovators trapped within networks of inflexible requirements. Continuing to focus on standard outputs rather than the quality of inputs tends to reward compliance more than success in process change.

The marketplace—the ultimate customer for individual education—could help reform such measures of output by encouraging more customization to fit locale, resources, culture, and community needs. Techniques such as scenario building, which effectively illustrate the consequences of failure to change where change is needed, can have a powerful effect by building the relevant political will within the community in question.

We have seen this approach to community innovation succeed: The Mont Fleur scenario-planning project (under Adam Kahane) in South Africa helped to end apartheid through a public win-win process, largely by illustrating the alternatives. This does not imply that scenarios are a magic technique that always works. As James Ogilvy says in Facing the Fold: Essays on Scenario Planning, “There are no guarantees. Contrary to the creationists, happy endings are not foreordained. The best of intentions can yield unintended consequences. For any single actor, tribe, species or company, there is always the distinct possibility of tragedy, defeat, extinction, or bankruptcy.”
Innovation for Improving The World

While emerging strategies and the wonders of technology always arouse intellectual interest, the more critical question is how technology actually changes our lives (for better or worse) and how we might better prepare for these changes. For example, much has been made of the impact of smart technologies on health, through such mechanisms as telemedicine, and on the lives of senior citizens, through concepts like aging in place. Both health maintenance and independent living would be enabled by wearable monitoring equipment and by enhanced automation of household tasks (such as cleaning and garbage disposal).

In addition, household appliances will soon be designed with the ability to offer advice and protection to those who use them. For example:
Smart refrigerators will be able to aid in meal planning by keeping track of what specific foods are on hand, their nutritive value, and taste combinations. Accordingly, they will be able to suggest menus based on available raw materials.
Smart bathrooms, already undergoing medical testing/assessment, could feature chemical-sensing toilets and floors that measure weight, body mass, and skin temperature, as well as monitor for falls, etc.
Smart medicine dispensers with packaging that can “recognize” contents and know a patient’s medical needs could automatically sound an alarm to help guard against accidental overdose and/or prevent harmful drug interactions.

Technology applications like these not only affect health, but also could significantly enhance the economic vitality of less-developed countries. Already, poor and developing countries are acquiring hand-held communications equipment at four times the rate of developed countries. Such devices support the growth of financial services without banks in countries like Ecuador and Kenya. Smart cash transfer also makes crowd sourcing for paid micro-tasks possible and can thus generate tracking data to reveal patterns of credit-card use.

Consider the growth of wired smart cities like London, Singapore, and Stockholm, where smart tech is helping to address such challenges as traffic congestion, mass transit, water use grids, crime map networks, etc. It is projected that, by 2020, a global broadband network with sufficient levels of penetration will be in place to bring Paul David’s productivity paradox into play. David predicts that, once a certain level of adoption is achieved, a new technology begins to generate increases in its own productivity at an expanding rate.

At that point, David believes, a sea change in the impact of smart technology will occur, one consequence of which will be the fully measured society. “The Internet of Things” will consist of an almost planet-wide sensor network constantly monitoring local changes in light, temperature, humidity, pathogens, pesticides, and many other aspects of society and the environment. Such constant sampling and testing could generate a host of health and behavior-changing knowledge.

Also, look for the coming “bodnet,” or Internet of bodies, for bio platforms will surely be part of the network. Possibilities include storing data with your thumb, such as Sparsh (MIT Media Lab), and the use of biochips printed on plastic wrap utilizing blood and memristors (tiny two-terminal variable resistors that will be able to store data far more efficiently than today’s computer hard drives), thus further narrowing the gap between machines and humans.

Even epidemiological behavior such as the spread of influenza may be identified and tracked, based on movement and communications patterns using smartphone info. In addition, social behavior trends such as obesity can become more predictable from mining data on travel and eating behavior available through smart technologies—especially since obesity often seems to behave like a communicable disease. Smartphone applications already provide analytical tools that make it possible to perform sonograms or analyze biochemical blood work from a remote location. Accordingly, public health, urban planning, and marketing strategies can all be informed and guided by smart tech’s use of information.

This can even make it possible to track behavioral indicators of growing mental illness, or identify leading influencers in any social network. Thus, we could follow the spread of ideas, including political ones; we would monitor the spread of memes the way we monitor the spread of a disease today.

The question here is how much information is too much to understand and whether that knowledge will be used wisely. Can the government or private sector be relied upon to make appropriate use of this highly personal information? Only time will tell, but we can hope that the beneficial aspects outweigh the detrimental ones.

The bottom line is that, while there are many indicators of diminishing productivity through business consolidation and the reduction of innovation, there are just as many pointing to expanded technological problem solving and enhanced positive capabilities. The creative impulse is still strong in the human spirit, and we can expect to see problems solved and new mountains climbed far into the future.

Read more: http://goo.gl/zvSV7


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
Robot Ants Invade Factories to Boost Efficiency

Robotic vehicles at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, in Dortmund, Germany, can mimic the thinking of ants, almost. Multishuttle Moves®, as the machines are known, use processors modeled after ants’ brains and body systems to independently navigate a warehouse, identify items to pick up, and coordinate with each other to carry each item to its designated picking station.

Each vehicle knows what to carry and where to carry it, based on installed software that crunches “ant algorithms,“ which emulate the actual behavior of ants searching for food. The vehicles’ software programs notify them when an order comes in, and then each vehicle interacts with the others through W-LAN to determine which vehicle will take on which task and where. The fleet increases or decreases its activity as the demands fluctuate throughout the workday.

Their on-board navigation systems also enable each vehicle to move freely without crashing into any objects or, for that matter, other vehicles. And via their scanners for location, acceleration, and distance, the vehicles independently calculate the shortest routes to any destination.

Fraunhofer’s researchers, who built a fleet of 50 of these robots in partnership with robotics firm Dematic, said that this suite of capabilities makes them far more efficient and economical than traditional, human-driven vehicles. Following further testing and development, the researchers said, autonomous vehicles like them could be clearing inventory in warehouses throughout Germany and beyond.

Read more: http://goo.gl/zvSV7


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com
Behold the Cheetah Robot. The Singularity is nigh!

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding Boston Dynamics’ development of a prototype robot called the Cheetah.

The cat-like bot managed to gallop 18 mph on a treadmill, setting a new land speed record for legged robots. (The previous record: 13.1 mph, set at MIT in 1989.)

The company has a prototype human-like robot in the works called the Atlas that can walk upright and use its hands for balance while squeezing through narrow passages on surveillance or emergency rescue missions.

It could achieve 40 mph and someday serve as a “scout robot,” and “maybe deliver some payload”; it also could be useful in emergency rescue and civilian disasters, the company says.

Read more: http://goo.gl/zQj3x


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com

Monday, March 5, 2012

Can you build a human body?

The Bionic Bodies series on the BBC News website will be looking at how bionics can transform people’s lives.

We will meet a woman deciding whether to have her hand cut off for a bionic replacement and analyze the potential to take the technology even further, enhancing the body to superhuman levels.

Read more: http://goo.gl/1drvB


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com

Friday, March 2, 2012

Giving waste water the power to clean itself

A technique that combines two novel forms of renewable energy — one relying on bacteria and the other on salt water — generates more electricity than either one alone and cleans waste water at the same time.

The Pennsylvania State University researchers show that this configuration can achieve maximum power densities of 3 watts per meter squared, much higher than either technology can achieve on its own.

One method for converting this energy to a useable form is to use microbial fuel cells (MFC). These generate electricity by using cultures of microorganisms to break down and oxidize organic matter, a process that releases electrons that migrate towards a positive electrode.

To boost the power density of the MFC system, the researchers added a second process, called reverse electrodialysis (RED), in which the salinity gradient between fresh water and sea water is harnessed to generate electricity.

The researchers’ system, called a microbial reverse-electrodialysis cell (MRC), sandwiches a reverse electrodialysis (RED) stack made up of only a few pairs of membranes between the two chambers of an MFC, where the proton-exchange membrane would normally be.

Read more: http://goo.gl/f1OFC


Global Source and/or and/or more resources and/or read more: http://goo.gl/HKcYU ─ Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at http://goo.gl/JujXk ─ www.FUTURE-OBSERVATORY.blogspot.com