Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A day deep into the future

This morning I had plans to do regular work, but as I checked twitter I saw TEDx trending on top. I had to check it out - it was live streaming and I was hooked for the rest of the day. This was one of the most mind-blowing days I´ve had at work for a long time.

Very strange to experience the real power of having access to some of the greatest thinkers of today - right at my own desk in a regular office in Bergen. Although I like to watch TED videos regularly, It is different with an event that is broadcast real-time with a twitter stream as the collective stream of consciousness for all the people watching, listening, thinking and tweeting at the same time.

The theme of the TEDx event was - What does the world look like in 2061?
In my own mind I extracted the following mega trends inspired by the talks:
See also my post with great quotes and notes from the talks

Technology will fundamentally change our view on education, both in the western world, but also by enabling education for a large group of people that have not had access to this before. The cost of going online for an east-African be reduced with 90% this year according to Leila JanaKushal Chakrabi who have started a project for micro financing education in the third world describes the importance this way: "Education is about opportunity..The single most powerful tool we have to radiate poverty". Education is not to be confused with literacy that is strongly increasing in this part of the world.
It makes me think : What could a solar powered amazon kindle with free access to books mean to a child that have no school to go to !

Resource shortage and distribution challenges
An increasing population will  lead to resource shortage, need for better solutions to fair distribution and regulations of usage. Pöyry´s report "Norway 2050 et paradigmefremsyn" also points out that renewable resources like fish can  permanently be eroded when they are consumed in a larger quantities than nature are able to reproduce. Water and a wide range of metals are obvious resources that will be in demand and scarce in parts of the world.

In the western world there is a melting of the work sphere and private sphere. We can work from home, or wherever we may be with few hinders. For the last years, smart phones have contributed to work invading the private sphere. Maybe the pendulum will swing in another direction where our private life to a larger extent will invade our work places. A tendency I feel we already experience; a larger emphasis on the people as whole humans, rather that focus on the companies, both in social media and on conferences.

An increasing part of the worlds population will be enabled to do intellectual work from where they are. They way we work, and our perception of what work is, will change dramatically in the years to come.

Innovation happens in the intersection between various professions and sciences.
We could at TEDx experience a hilarious illustration on how arts and science meet in new ways, in the project "Dance your PhD" where complex economical or molecular biology structures are visualised and made accessible via dance. TED is in itself a very good example of an arena where various fields meet. Rob Spence showed us how a lost eye could be replaced by a new digital retina.
Dramatic innovations are expected to happen when the so called NBIC technologies (Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information technology and Cognitive science) meet. The technological singularity brought up by several speakers can also be inerpeted as an expectation of this.

Economical paradigm shift
Capital follows ideas and not the other way around stated Julie Meyer. So if ideas change, it will also affect the economy. Profit maximization will not necessary be rational for all parties facing environmental crisis and other global challenges. The Pöyry report aso predicts a "techno-economical" paradigm shift to happen long before 2050. Existing rules will be replaced by new ones.

Global warming and environmental challenges.
There is almost full acceptance now that global warming is a fact, and the question is rather ; How much, and what will the effects be ? UN´s climate panel suggest between 3,5-6 C° for the next 100 years. John Shirly states very candidly that "We will feel the consequences of global warming, survive and learn from it......The social cost of all this will be brutal intimidating". If we flip the coin and look at it from a perspective of opportunities - right now renewable energy is the worlds fastest growing business.

Crime and challenges related to privacy on the net.
Mikko H. Hypponin,  one of the worlds leading experts on Cybercrime, says that "Its more likely that anyone will be the victim of a crime online than anywhere else."  Kaliya Hamlin, also known as Identitywoman is expert on digital identidy emphasis the importance of controlling our own digital identity, in a future where many people argues that :
"privacy is unstustainable" as Hasan Elahi coined it.

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