Tim O'Reilly

CEO, O'Reilly Media

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William Gibson said "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." What futures have you seen that are here, but unrecognized?

In the late 70s, when the Homebrew Computer Club was meeting, its members were beginning to experience the world that we all now take for granted. In 1992, when I published the Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog, there were only 200 websites, but we featured the WWW in the book because it was so clearly the shape of things to come. When Jeff Han demoed his multi-touch screen at TED in February 2006, he prefigured the iPhone launch a year later. When the kids at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition are modifying bacteria, they are showing us homebrew genetic engineering around the corner. Make Magazine's enthusiasts are becoming tomorrow's industrialists, with companies like Makerbot, DIY Drones, and Willow Garage Robotics turning what once seemed like an curiosity into real businesses.

In each case, these people were already living in a future that was soon to rush upon us all.

What have you seen lately that has made you stand up and say "Whoa! That person knows something I don't, is living in a world I haven't seen yet?" The answers can be from technology, but can also be new social forms, and can be positive or negative.

Point me to companies and individuals who tell you something about the shape of the future by the way they are living or the work they are doing.

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    Feb 15 2011: 1) Places in Finland, Afghanistan where they use phones as their wallet and bank.

    2) Toddlers using an iPad.

    3) Street food trucks and Twitter.

    4) Robot battles, battle bots, robot olympics.

    5) Obsessive quantified self monitoring, fitbit, zeo

    6) Embryonic genetic screening

    7) Ultra performance techniques for athletes

    8) Laser fusion power

    9) Auto pilot cars now on the road

    10) Google translation
    • Feb 16 2011: Google Translation is a good example of a broader current in machine intelligence & recognition. Machines, in general, are not just becoming network-aware but are also becoming aware of the world around them. Simultaneously, our interface with machines is increasingly hands-free, driven by natural language, gestures, and active sensing.

      Developments pushing this larger trend include augmented reality, biometrics, mobile health monitoring, automated cars, personal & enterprise-scale robotics, chemical sniffers & environmental sensors, mobile accelerometers & GPS, and the ever-increasing dependence of humans on machines as extensions of our cognitive and analytic framework.
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      Feb 19 2011: To which I would add:

      a) You nailed it with Out of Control, a hugely important book very badly marketed

      b) Also compassion, empathy, teamwork, the return of the arts and finally, we earn our way out of quarentine and get to play in the inter-galactic sandbox.
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    Feb 15 2011: did you notice that some people make a living by playing computer games? did you notice that some other people make a living by casting these games on youtube? ridiculous, isn't it? i bet people in 1800 said it is ridiculous that someone makes a living by telling other people how to decorate their flats. or casting sport events.

    as we develop, or economy went through phases, from agriculture-dominated to industry-dominated, then to service-dominated. my forecast for the next phase is entertainment-dominated. soon, a country's progress will be measured by how much of its GDP is spent on entertainment.
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      Feb 16 2011: Wow.... youtube game casting. That is hilarious.
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      Feb 17 2011: Gilmore & Pine in their 1998 HBR article and subsequent book (The Experience economy: work is theatre & every business a stage’) forecast the emergence of the 'experience' economy to follow the 'service' economy. If 'experiences' are by definition positive (why we would we want them if otherwise?) then they are entertaining and you are correct. Entertainment is a significant tranche of the UK economy and an area that the UK government is keen to develop further.
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        Feb 17 2011: damn, i'm a decade late. anyway, "experience based" is slightly better phrase, as it includes activities that are not on the receiving end. what about charity? what about volunteers? these are parts of the new stage too, but maybe we can't call them entertainment.
  • Feb 18 2011: Along the lines of Anonymous and Revolution 2.0, mentioned above, our understanding of complex, emergent systems, as well as our more and more pervasive communications networks, hint at new possibilities of governance and organization that we haven't seen before. The industrial revolution marked a starting point where now we humans could operate vastly beyond our own scale, on a planetary level. But, the traditional methods of organizing do not scale as well as our ability to grow our societies.

    From what I've seen, the traditional top-down organizational structures won't cut it for much longer. The question is, how can we use more bottom-up approaches that can scale, and the interconnectedness provided by the Web, to better organize ourselves in more effective ways? Our current methods are relatively ancient, and have not really evolved at the same rate as our science, technological, and societal development. We need a radical rethinking of governance, and emergent systems plus the Web are a good place to look.
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      Feb 18 2011: Hi, Alec,

      I agree with you that new possibilities are appearing for organiszation and governance. In my experience though they all have to deal with the fact that our current methods (as modern society as a whole) are ancient but so is our central nervous system (as individuals).

      Ultimately I think this is the reason that an open source model works better than a crowdsourcing one, at least when ordinary, practical matters are what needs to be arranged. Crowdsourcing works particularly well when there is an existing community which commits itself to a goal. Patton said it years ago: Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with the results". This form of leadership and organization, though, denpends very much on the existence and maintenance of a healthy community.

      Most people need leaders. This seems to me to be deeply imbedded in how people work. So I think the possibilities for new forms of leadership are possible, but I do not think that an absence of leaders is possible.
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        Feb 19 2011: I believe you have touched on the heart of the matter. Bravo. Diversity is hugely important, but crowds are mobs absent some structure (such as a strategic analytic model that makes it easy for those who wish to focus on poverty to focus BUT ensuring that everyone interested in poverty is connected--right now crowdsourcing is all over the lot. You might like my graphic on open source everything, with the open source tri-fecta being Open Spectrum including OpenBTS, Free/Open Source Software, and Open Source Intelligence.

        Graphic: Open Everything
        http://www.phibetaiota.net/2010/09/2009/10/graphic-open-everything/

        However, after twenty years focused on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) I have realized I have the cart before the horse, and that connecting the five billion poor with OpenBTS etc is Phase One. My short posting on the three phases toward a World Brain and Global Game can be found at this URL:

        Strategic Phasing Toward World Brain & Global Game
        http://www.phibetaiota.net/2011/02/strategic-phasing-toward-world-brain-global-game/
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          Feb 20 2011: I do like it, thank you. I am not at all sure I have grasped it, but I am slow in these matters so you have to give me a couple of days. That is not a small and humble ambition you have outlined there. :-)
      • Feb 21 2011: Good point. I definitely agree that humans are predisposed to a leader-based structure. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, and leaders provide a good focal point to rally around a particular set of issues. Also, they're good at setting direction of a group.

        What I envision is not so much a replacement of leaders, but rather a way to enhance the interaction between leaders and followers. I see these new systems of organizing the crowd as a way to enable better feedback from the bottom up. Politicians often ramble about "what the people want", but how do they really *know*? Instead of relying solely on infrequent elections, which rarely match up to the unpredictable pattern of events, how can we really tell the leaders what we want? (And also make the system work both ways, so people can know more about what the government is doing and more about the issues.)

        On Slashdot.org, for example, people are given temporary moderation powers over comments somewhat randomly, with merit weighed in. To prevent their abuse of power, ordinary people can "meta-moderate", and moderate the moderators. Poor moderators are less likely to be given the power again. This pattern of moderation and meta-moderation causes the best comments to emerge from the pool. There are many examples of this type of model implemented online. While they are fairly limited and focused in scope, I think they hints at what's possible with a highly distributed and scalable communication network.

        I guess what I'm envisioning is a more participatory system, where it's desirable to participate in the process. People need to feel like they have a say, instead of just one of the millions whose vote doesn't really count. I think the Web is a place to look for answers, since it is something radically new, and has demonstrated a capacity for this. (Also, open source is absolutely another place where models can come from, highly merit- and transparency-based. Sounds like good qualities for government.)
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    Feb 16 2011: Unrecognized or unevenly distributed? Pedagogy of freedom, for one. Chomsky nailed it, we've spent a half century since WWII destroying ourselves because of data pathologies and information asymmetries. The future is one of infinite wealth made possible by connecting all brains to all information in all languages all the time. Not exactly what CISCO, Oracle, and the other main players want to do. Smartest thing Steve Case ever said that stayed with me was that he was not competing with Compuserv for the 10% of the market they had, he was going after the other 90%. The future is the harnessing of the distributed intelligence of the five billion poor. C. K. Prahalad, among others, gets that, but modern predatory capitalism does not. The math is simple: one billion rich, one trillion a year. Five billion poor, four trillion a year. Duh.
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    Feb 16 2011: Robotics is definitely where computers were in the 70s. We are under 10 years away from seeing a profound revolution in home and work robotics. The advances in military robotics in the past ten years are pushing the DIY community and young robotics companies into places that were science fiction in the 90s.

    www.ted.com/talks/pw_singer_on_robots_of_war.html

    3-D printing and home fab is also an area that is going to start pushing boundries but not as fast as people think. Deposit based incremental manufacturing setups are pushing to the price point of laser printers in the 80s but the lack of final assembly is going to hold things back.

    I think the DIY fab industry will at first help small local shops or cottage industries that can do some light assembly and combination with "unfabable" components before it breaks into the home. There are still just too many components you can't fab yourself.
  • Feb 16 2011: I believe that the foundation technologies for seamless Augmented Reality are here, though a lot of it still needs stitching together. Wearable inertial motion capture interface technology is something that is here (I'd point you to myself, but self-promotion is frowned upon here) but not widely accessible where developed to the point of consumer-grade robustness. Optically see-through head-mounted display technology is another piece of that puzzle that exists but is not yet consumer-accessible.

    Another technology ripe for mass adoption is mobile remote health monitoring and diagnosis by telemetry.

    3D printing is also obviously a technology that is on the cusp of wide adoption and mass accessibility, as you pointed to with Makerbot.
    • Feb 20 2011: Augmented Reality seems to be a significant part of the future to me. It will allow us to turn all this data we have into real-time actionable information, not just information. The possibilities, I feel, are truly inspiring. I would love to learn more, if you have some good sources and/or the time.
  • Feb 16 2011: You've answered your own question, Mr. O'Reilly. The future that's [here but yet to propagate] is one where we all fully understand the dissemination and recombination of the "design patterns" floating around in the infinitely expanding repositories of knowledge we now have access to;patterns that effect everything from design to social interaction. This all comes in highly digestible, parse-able forms as well. Chris Anderson's talk where he mentions kids learning to dance from youtube is a prime example. If people would only be mindful of these recurring patterns, all would "see the future" in daily life.

    I think your foreword in Collective Intelligence is a prime example of how - in this day and age - people can be oblivious to major paradigm shifts happening not just under their noses, but right in front of them. Web 2.0 was about open data and collective intelligence that could be extracted from therein.The social aspect was key but only to that end. Besides the obvious "2.0 = social" assumptions, we then somehow ended up w/ that "2.0=gradient & bubble letters" thing. ::shakin my head::

    As free knowledge increases, so will our faculties to draw parallels and complex connections btwn simple ideas to create new, innovative ones. I think we'll see more of this quiet mindfulness in people as they learn to efficiently convert what is into what will be.

    Homebrew genetics is right around the corner? I see academic programs that hybridize bio and comp sci, and Bladerunner-style "genetic designer" style black markets where you can have anything designed for cheap. Hello real life zombies.

    We still study Da Vinci and his accomplishments today, but few realize they'd see hundreds of Da Vinci's if they looked at the worlds top Flash devs/designers

    Biomimicry has not even fully popped off. Today someone attempts to mimic the neurology of the brain in the cloud. Tomorrow a whole new approach to Object Oriented software will result

    Finally, Google homemade fusion reactor
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    Feb 15 2011: Beginning with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, I think we're seeing the beginning of the final spread of democracy through online communities which cannot be held back.

    A movement of increasing global empathy and collaboration, leading to the weakening of international borders and something beyond democracy.

    My biggest question is what will happen to the recent trend towards individualism.
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      Feb 16 2011: I've been thinking about this. I have a sense that Americans may be rebounding from a hyper-individualism. I see it in the way younger folks organize their lives and seek tribes and communities, the high volunteerism and in the way things like facebook allow us to reknit friendship and family ties that may have gotten loser because of distance, the way skype for instance allows whole families to "get together", and in the way Rachel Botsman describes in her talk on collaborative consumption. The modernist human - the Ayn Randian solo hero a certainly still part of the American self concept but not so rigidly...
    • Feb 16 2011: I don't think that ubiquitous communications and instant media will eradicate individualism if any thing sites like You-tube etc, only serve to put on display the wonderful wide range of human diversity. With that it seems those that live in societies where expression is allowed, greater individuality is more readily accepted.

      You mention "Something beyond democracy." That is the thing I would like to know and understand. A government by and for the people that is a protector of freedom but also a safeguard of our security. So far for the most part democracy seems to be the only thing that does that.
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        Feb 17 2011: Democracy, however, isn't really keeping pace with social change. What we have in the West are democratic systems that were fit for purpose in the 19th century but now seem stagnant. Western democracies are increasingly looking like clubs for anti-intellectual elites. In the UK, for example, few if any of our leading politicians have had done anything of any consequence outside of the Westminster village. Democratic automatons with PPEs from Oxford. In the real world we have people with passion, opinions and perspectives that are largely ignored by democratic elites that claim to be anti-elitist. Therefore to address Tim's question I think that new social structures will have to emerge to re-embrace people who have better ideas about how to organise society. Democracy needs to embrace ideas - not just opinions. What passes for democracy has passed its sell-by date. It can be better.
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    Feb 25 2011: Democratization of internal business processes over and above the ultimate democratic external business process of consumer choice. I'm not sure how recognized the Semco experiment is but transitional technologies will steer us towards this style of management and ultimately undo corporatism's dark side.
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    Feb 25 2011: The 'Dumbing Down of America' was published about a generation ago. The children who were used as examples are now adults with children of their own. It gives me no pleasure to talk about the ignorance that I see around me. Many people can't pass a 5th grade test. They don't know the simplest facts. They can't tell you the first name of the British Monarch or find Spain on a map. TV host Jay Leno interviews 20-something people on the street and we snicker when they can't answer grade school questions. Many of my friends don't read anything, not even a newspaper. Some of my High School alumnus have not read a book since their school days. Illiteracy is endemic. I don't know how many people decide who to vote for, but then many don't vote at all. Democracy is slipping away from regular working Americans and I'm not sure if they know it. I'm not an elitist. But I can find Italy on a map; I can name the Secretary of State; I am abreast of current events. But the middle class is disappearing as jobs flow off-shore. The America I grew up in, is slipping away. Even the evening news (NBC Nightly News) has recently dumbed-down its broadcast with more fluff and less hard news. The leading broadcasters don't want to talk about this issue. If they do, they will sound like elitists. Who will cast the first stone? Which broadcaster will accuse l the American people of being ignoramuses? Tell me it ain't happening. Say it ain't so.
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    • Feb 20 2011: Are we being too paranoid or we are truly loosing our privacy?

      I was surprised that Disney World and SeaWorld are asking their visitors to scan their finger in order to be admitted (thou one has the option to use ID instead) and 99% of them comply without hesitation. Is this a dangerous trend?
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      Feb 20 2011: I recommend to you a series of books by Aries and Duby called "A History of Private Life". It's a long series, and not light reading; if you are only going to read one I personally like the one about the Middle Ages, but you can pick your poison. The series traces the changes in private lifestyle, behavior, beliefs and attitudes from the Roman Empire to the early 20th century; that is, its focus is on people who were not generals, heads of state, leaders of society. You know, everybody else.

      One of the takeaways from the series is that notions of what is private and what is public do change very greatly. I think you are right that such a change is happening right now; I am not at all sure that this change will destroy the fabric of America -- or anywhere else for that matter. It will certainly change it but I have faith that we will as usual make ourselves over again in response.

      I have not however had my 15 minutes of fame yet, despite having a Facebook account -- and a TED profile for that matter. Possibly it's an alphabetical list, in which case I expect they will get around to me.
      • Feb 22 2011: Thank you for your recommendation. Yes we will have to see where all this goes. Luckily we have organizations like EFF that ensure some degree of privacy and security on the Internet.
  • Feb 18 2011: I would say this about: www.THINQon.com

    Definitely the future, and I see TED is distributing it.
  • Feb 17 2011: What is of concern to me is that really intelligent people do not realize what the machines are doing to their own natural abilities and nature given gifts. Why are we so seduced by the antics of machines? Who invented them? We did of course from our own "machines"-- our own minds( unless like Tesla there was a UFO connection!). Why is technology so seductive when we have the most amazing abilities of our own, far superior and deeper than the machines can fathom? This is my puzzle. Anyone can find out so much about the universe, the nature of reality, the sources of everything by focusing within themselves and leaving the rather limited mind behind. This is a way bigger adventure, a more satisfying and profound direction that actually improves humanity and provides answers to those age-old questions like "Why am I here?"
    So watching Watson the computer win on "Jeopardy" was chilling. This is seducing one more generation into believing that this is the direction they need to go with their precious lives. Heaven forfend. What a waste of a human life!@
    So thank goodness there is a future with those who understand my message here, for these are the beings who will be around when the machines are rustied and shattered on the heap of history's detritus.
    • Feb 18 2011: You are taking it the wrong way. kids these days using computers is not a waste of human life, it allows for greater things to happen. Yes, they will probably miss out on a lot of really amazing things, but look at all the other things that people from the 40's and 50's couldn't even dream of that are now obsolete. Our mind is still infinitely better than a computer, but a computer can also do things that our mind can not. Using them together creates even more amazing things.

      Another way to put it.
      Knowledge is growing at such a pace, that doctors and engineers and scientists keep having to specialize more and more to keep up with the growing knowledge, and still have trouble. Machines are just another example of that happening. Kids no longer have the breadth of the experiences of living life that older people had growing up (I am only 30 and have to put myself in that category when it comes to computers), but the things they can already do are way beyond anything that I would even have dreamt of just a few years ago.

      I guess what I am trying to say is that it is progress, it is just the usually change from one generation to the next.
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      Feb 19 2011: The best short story ever for me in relation to this theme was Isaac Asimov's on how everyone took a test at 18 to see which of the machines they would serve, and the "stupid" disappeared. When one such "stupid" person woke up, he was on the moon, where all of the programmers were kept secretly to avoid busting the myth of the man-machine complex. Two of my book reviews summarize competing schools of thought:

      Review: The Singularity Is Near–When Humans Transcend Biology (Hardcover)
      http://www.phibetaiota.net/2009/01/?p=8142

      Review: Radical Evolution–The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies — and What It Means to Be Human (Hardcover)
      http://www.phibetaiota.net/2009/01/?p=8231

      For broader coverage, see;

      Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Technology & Web 2.0 to 4.0
      http://www.phibetaiota.net/2009/01/worth-a-look-book-reviews-on-technology-web-2-0-to-4-0/

      Worth a Look: Book Reviews on the War on Science
      http://www.phibetaiota.net/2008/07/worth-a-look-book-reviews-on-the-war-on-science/
  • Feb 16 2011: Homeschoolers have seen that putting children in boxes and trying to teach them things they do not want to learn does not produce the most visionary, fertile, or robust minds.

    I foresee a generation, freed from the prison-mind of school, who will evolve rapidly and wildly and poetically in ways we can not imagine.
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      Feb 17 2011: But isn't the home a box, parents too? A small and unsocial one at that.....
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      Feb 17 2011: I have to agree with Amy, I believe that the education system as we know it is coming to an end. We are hanging on to this dinosaur for all it's worth. It simply does not work any more and the demand with soon outstrip the product it supplies. We have already reached saturation point in the system where students leaving schools with the absolute top scores cannot secure a place in University.
      • Feb 20 2011: "And end" sounds to ominous. How about the evolution of the education system? The idea of entirely removing children from schools sounds cruel to me. The live action social interaction with peers and instructors is so valuable. Augmenting that experience with advances in our ability to disseminate knowledge and I feel something truly powerful can come to life.

        Unfortunately, it seems in the US we may need to wait for the pains of state and local budget crisis to subside before investing in the evolution of our education system.
  • Feb 16 2011: I have learned that if I want a glimpse of the future now, a good strategy is to look at the cutting edge of where persons with disabilities are today. Because of my work in the disability field I was fortunate to be working with voice recognition, speech synthesis, human empowering robotic arms and home automation technologies as far back as the 80s. The first application of a transistor was a better hearing aid. Alexander Bell's work with the Deaf led to the development of the telephone. Dean Kamen's Segway drew directly from his work in developing his iBot, a wheelchair that could climb stairs (among other things).The list goes on and on and the march of history includes the little know history of innovation based on human empowerment.

    This initially surprising observation actually makes sense. We have always innovated tools and technologies that empowered us as individuals. As we age and/or become disabled we reach out to develop not just tools and technologies but also environments, both physical and social, that continue to empower us. From smart human-like prosthetics to brain/computer interfaces the cutting edge of the disability field, like that of the military and space exploration, continues to generate spin-off innovations of broader appeal than initially aimed for.
  • Feb 16 2011: How about a health-based economy? Where health is profitable, not sickness.
    Surgeon Genera: "61% of adults in the United States were overweight or obese (2000)" & 50% of disease can be traced to obesity, and is preventable.

    The problem is, there's too much profit in obesity, addiction, & illness. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies, fast foods, manufactures & employees of sugar & fats, Wall Street investors in all these companies, etc. Any talk of health is seen as a "job killer". Thus we see Palin pushing sugar cookies and "govt takeover" dogma because health focus would actually destroy our economy. But the unavoidable reality is that when the mass of humans called Baby Boomers start getting sick, there are massive profits forecast, but it will wipe out the economy.

    When someone figures out how to make health profitable, create jobs, save taxes, INCREASE PROFITS, it will be a massive paradigm shift. Until someone looks at the macro economics of health vs. sickness, we'll be stuck in a world that profits from pushing addictions and servicing the ills of addicts. It will drastically change the future more than any tech gadget.
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    Feb 16 2011: There is a site in beta at the moment that, I think, is presenting a vision for the future of education that the world at large is yet to accept or embrace: www.sophia.org.

    The site allows users to create and contribute "packets" of education or tutorial content that gives its users a chance to "teach what you know and learn what you don't".
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    Feb 16 2011: A member of the Flattr community asked a similar question: "What will be the next Facebook"? I speculated a bit in the thread as you can read in full here:

    http://forum.flattr.net/showthread.php?tid=517&pid=3365#pid3365

    In short, I would guess the following:

    1. Flattr will to a large extent replace advertising such as Google Adwords.
    2. The educational system will change into something that looks significantly similar to the Khan Academy.

    This would happen within the next ten years. Speculating beyond the singularity, I humbly leave to our future robotic overlords ;).

    tl;dr:
    1. Two minute video describing Flattr: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zrMlEEWBgY
    2. Systems like the Khan Academy and its derivatives will change our educational system just as much as the invention of the book changed the ancient educational system: http://khanacademy.org
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      Feb 17 2011: Sorry, I don't get Flattr - why would I pay to consume something I currently get free because of advertising? Please explain....!
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        Feb 19 2011: As I'm interpreting your question, you're really asking "why would I pay for something I am already getting for free?".

        Do you tip your waiter at the restaurant? Do you donate to your favourite congressman? Do you donate to charities like the Red Cross?

        Even if you personally don't donate anything to any of the above, a significant percentage of the human population choose to donate. Flattr is a service that makes it significantly more effortless to make donations than doing so through for example Paypal.

        Example:
        If a street performer, Alice, would have a computer terminal running a web browser with the Paypal web page preloaded, she would earn much less money from "music consumers" passing by, than would Bob, who performs the exact same song, but has chosen to offer a simple hat "consumers" could put a few coins in. Bob earns more because his donations system, the hat, is simpler and quicker to use.

        For whatever reasons people are already donating, Flattr makes it as easy to do in the online world, as it already is in the physical world. It actually even makes it a bit easier, because when you donate by throwing coins into a physical hat, you always have to decide how many coins you're going to throw. The Flattr system is (as its name suggests) a flat rate system. It divides your donations so you don't have to.

        I'm not advocating Flattr per se. Flattr /as a system/ is what I think will to a large extent replace advertising. It might very well turn out to be one of Flattr's competitors who'll become the next Google.

        Personally I donate to various things for several reasons. It may be because people who offer a service tend to be influenced in their decisions by people who give them money. I want to influence people, not only politicians, and do so by throwing money at them. If they stop doing what I want them to do, I simply stop donating to them. But the main reason I donate is because it makes me feel good. I'm buying that feeling for just 2 € / month ;).
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          Feb 19 2011: In support of your point, I am told that several endeavors offering chiropractic services for a fee were losing money, but when they started offering the service free, asking for donations based on out-going good feeling, they actually increased their revenue against their former billing schedule.
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    Feb 16 2011: How about a dialysis-free world? The paper showing how to prevent 90% of kidney dialysis was published in 2002. For a variety of reasons, mainly coming down to money and ego (what doesn't, after all?), the paper got no media attention. The details are at: http://tinyurl.com/healthcrime.
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    Feb 16 2011: I recently attended a talk given by the president, Michael Crow of our local state university, Arizona State University. The take away I want to share here is that ASU intends to split science along different lines than the present:
    - that about which we are ignorant, and need to learn, and
    - that about which we know enough to design new stuff.

    He proposes to call the second "design science".

    As an example, ASU intends, I'm told, to place healthcare into their design school.

    Whether that's the actual future it's certainly a bold move.
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    Feb 15 2011: "Mobile phones used to be the toys of yuppies, today they are the tools for development." Nokia

    ALL machines seem to be transitioning as the (.stl) design data for making the machines moves through the web like an .mp3. From 3D printing the favelas to homemade laser cut tractors e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD1EWGQDUTQ&feature=player_embedded

    What .stl are you going to download for free tommorow
    widescreen_tv.stl,
    tractor.stl,
    Luxury_hotel_skyscraper_with_80%ensuite.stl

    Manufacturing seems to be on the brink of a shift that will see the future much more distributed as the machines are no longer in the hands of the few.
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    Feb 15 2011: We are actually living amongst many different 'species' of computers.
    Whilst Gibson is renowned for his Cyberpunk narratives of virtuality and digital computers many researchers are developing alternative 'computational' platforms with different 'hardware' and 'software'. Toulouse mathematics professor Francoise Chatelin calls for a reconsideration of 'why' we compute arguing that we're only using one kind of mathematics to operate our computing machines, which leads to one genre of outcomes, neglecting others. One group exploring this novel field is Andy Adamatzky's Unconventional Computing group at the University of West England in Bath, others are inspired by the work of Adleman and use DNA itself to 'solve' problems. I am working with scientists (The Centre for Fundamental Living Technology & The Cronin Group) that are developing programmable chemistries which can manipulate matter in time and space. These developments change the nature of manufacturing itself - from top down, energy intensive processes to ones that incorporate self-assembly and are consequently more energy efficient. Naturally, like most scientific inventions many of these systems inhabit the laboratory bench rather than our home desk-tops so most of us won't even know they exist. However, work is in progress to develop these strange computers and develop applications that will soon breathe social 'life' into these novel forms of computing.
    I am looking forward to a time where I begin to choose the species of my computer, which would most appropriately be able to help me carry out my daily routines ranging from digital communications, to environmental remediation and even augmented biologies with new medical applications.
    'The best way to predict the future is to design it.' R Buckminster Fuller
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    Feb 15 2011: I love this William Gibson quote. Alex Steffen quoted that in his 2005 TEDTalk: http://www.ted.com/talks/alex_steffen_sees_a_sustainable_future.html

    I think one of the most important unnoticed trend is that hackerspaces are sprouting all over the world in recent years, and they are poised to become the model for future work spaces. And many innovations are stemming from these hackerspaces. They are what Seth Godin called a tribe, they see the future by inventing it by hand, collectively.
  • Feb 27 2011: 1. Machine Learning
    2. Mind-Machine interfaces

    Combine the two and you have a thought-controlled computer. The applications are astounding: for creation, ideation, writing, recording dreams, etc...
  • Feb 27 2011: I see future in TED, at least the future I hope for. People who care shape the future , which defenetely is here already for those who choose to see.
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    Feb 27 2011: The future of K12 education will lie within our ability to organize virtual & tangible resources and communication within a constructive framework. This scenario will take place locally while at the same time, connecting children and educators globally. The missing ingredient of autonomy will be added to the profession that embodies teaching and learning. Human capital will be tapped from a multi-sensory perspective. A democratic education will promote a democratic society. Technology will be the great equalizer that brings this all to fruition. These changes have been evolving on a small scale since John Dewey at the turn of the 20th century.
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    Feb 27 2011: Four thoughts: 1. In 10 years there should be 5 billion people on Earth with cellphones more powerful and connected than the iPhone4. For good and bad, there will be money flowing around and through these networks in ways we can only begin to imagine. 2. Science will be influenced by hundreds of millions of people crowd sourcing data, interacting with large data mashups and helping harden the social sciences. 3. Many designers will seek training in the information sciences so they can embrace the trillions of bits that are increasingly part of large scale design. 4. More youth may find that engineering is enormously useful in dealing with grand challenges facing mankind. To do good at large scale, many more kids may turn to STEM.
  • Feb 27 2011: Tim - great topic.
    some observations...
    a. most innovation is now in areas that have no legacy resources - so by definition, most of us in the US and wealthy countries won't see it.
    b. local local local...the future investment needs to be in the our local communities and the trades that support them.
    c. rent the future don't own it...sharing of assets will irreovcably increase in the future.
    Gary
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    Feb 25 2011: A shift (a renaissance of sorts) to a mindset where humanity's interests - the deep foundations and contextually relevant insights on what is good for humans - are seen as a necessity and pulled for by decision-makers large and small.

    Disappointments in the current ways to construct our ways of being and living boost this along; including the shocks experienced by the hard-nosed commercial endeavours - running enterprises to the ground for lack of perceptiveness among other things.

    Increase in activities that seek to understand 'how humanity works' and deliver to the potential; NOT merely looking for the ways to 'manipulate' people for a buck (e.g., consumer needs) but ways to create with meaning to humanity's future.

    There are many activities - art, product creation, marketing, strategies, start-ups, thinking etc that are oriented in this way but not nearly as intrenched in it as could be; it is not easy to find the insights and inputs to create along this dimension.

    Disclosure: I am working on a means to help this along with www.hunome.com - we're not yet public but I would welcome a chat with anyone who is entrenched/supportive of this kind of thinking.

    On an adjacent note:

    - There are companies seeking to benefit from neuroscience, sensory inputs and the like for commercial interests. That's fine and much is written about what is possible but very little about the ethics and what could also happen.

    - We (humans) have gone full blast ahead with novelties before only to find that meddling with nature (in this case our own) has always unintended consequences; when we meddle with our neurological body we're getting to a tricky bit - can do good and play on singularity's progress but can also make a right royal mess of it. Any company now engaged in the research on possible consequences would be good to shine some light to. Just so we can avoid the ones we can identify.
  • Feb 25 2011: I am sorry about the nature of this information, but I have survived a horrific experience in Europe (Holland) that is directly related to technology and the modern age advancing at a pace most cannot keep up with. I was randomly targeted by an extremists organized crime family for my U.S. passport and identity. Their plan was to both make me believe I was crazy, as well as those around me and then dispose of me. What I have found in my research and working with federal agents, as well as the research of brave souls like Holland's Frank Bovenkurk and related, is that most people are completely unaware of the rapid advanced use of technology among international and national organized crime families. U.S. citizens are not necessarily safe living in Holland or Germany for example, let alone places like Turkey and elsewhere where these problems loom large and are often not disclosed to the public. What I wish more people would discuss in detail is how reasoning abilities become skewed when faced with a modern anomalous situation where technology and crime are involved. The mistake I made was renting a room as a U.S. scholar in residence through a trusted online newspaper originating in Holland and never asking if the city I was moving to were unsafe in any way. What I came to find is that the university and academics around me were unaware of the extreme extent of the problem in their country or unwilling to reason through its possibilities. I have found the same in the U.S. The only people familiar with this reality are federal agents who deal in U.S./ European crimes on this level. The room I rented was owned by a family who also had a private IT company in the legal capital of the world and were all too willing to help anyone fix their computer problems. I was targeted and monitored through a shared modem and through my emails while inside the home. I have found that most are unaware of this grave problem and rent rooms and share modems across borders all too easily.
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    Feb 24 2011: The future is visual. I've seen a lot of graphic facilitation, and I believe its not just a niche trick for long talks:
    http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/

    With more information, more complexity, and a scarcity of attention, visual communication is a must. Not only that, but the tools to communicate visually are only getting people. Its just a matter of time until this comment is a sketch instead. Until then its reserved for the people with whiteboards ;)
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    Feb 23 2011: You can see the future of social & mobile media in small town as it's sometimes difficult to see how communities will be impacted when you look where we usually first look, the early adopters in big cities.

    I went to Blacksburg, Virginia to study how a more mainstream community is adopting these new technologies. Blacksburg was the first internet wired town - I'd heard about it in a conversation with Donald Norman, and first visited in 1995 when Internet penetration there was over 60%, while the rest of the country was below 10%. How technology breaks into the mainstream is following a similar path again - the same reasons I think Kodak, AT&T, Hallmark and early AOL were the original social media - they connect us and strengthen our communities (and those communities include businesses).

    The most compelling story I heard about the potential value of Foursquare was how one of the women I interviewed said she'd look in the morning to see who was checked in at her local pool, and then she'd tweet them to see if they'd watch her kids for a bit. It seems like social & mobile media are bringing back the sidewalk and front porch and helping people get out of their backyards and living rooms.

    I posted more stories and insights, as well as video, on OgilvyOne's blog: http://sellorelse.ogilvy.com/15-years-later-the-first-internet-wired-town-is-again-worth-watching
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    Feb 23 2011: You can see the future of social & mobile media in small town as it's sometimes difficult to see how communities will be impacted when you look where we usually first look, the early adopters in big cities.

    I went to Blacksburg, Virginia to study how a more mainstream community is adopting these new technologies. Blacksburg was the first internet wired town - I'd heard about it in a conversation with Donald Norman, and first visited in 1995 when Internet penetration there was over 60%, while the rest of the country was below 10%. How technology breaks into the mainstream is following a similar path again - the same reasons I think Kodak, AT&T, Hallmark and early AOL were the original social media - they connect us and strengthen our communities (and those communities include businesses).

    The most compelling story I heard about the potential value of Foursquare was how one of the women I interviewed said she'd look in the morning to see who was checked in at her local pool, and then she'd tweet them to see if they'd watch her kids for a bit. It seems like social & mobile media are bringing back the sidewalk and front porch and helping people get out of their backyards and living rooms.

    I posted more stories and insights, as well as video, on OgilvyOne's blog: http://sellorelse.ogilvy.com/15-years-later-the-first-internet-wired-town-is-again-worth-watching
  • Feb 22 2011: The tech ‘revolution’ isn’t… it’s more like evolution. There has been no step (all right then! No large step) change. That improvements have been incremental will be readily apparent to those who have worked in the tech world during this period. If you took a really long nap and came back then things would have seemed sudden… but that’d be due to too slow an observation rate (Nyquist anyone?) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist%E2%80%93Shannon_sampling_theorem

    I worked at a place once where someone, who was not technical, wondered about how anyone could have created a laptop; “How could someone have thought of it all, it’s so daunting!” The answer, of course, is that no ‘someone’ created (this word, in this context, is really loaded!) a laptop. There’s a not-so-far-fetched analogy to deep time and misperceptions caused by inadequate sampling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_time.

    What popped into my mind when reading “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet”, is the turmoil related to uneven social and economic conditions; the first world will have to come to terms with an emerging third world and all those hungry, eager people. The third world has to adapt to all those pesky first world memes. Witness what’s happening recently in the Middle East.

    Tech (please… it’s only another tool) has fast-forwarded this and now we all see it coming, whereas beforehand, say twenty years ago, we could imagine it wouldn’t happen, or it would take a ‘real long time’, or that we had some inherent competitive advantage.

    Look for economic and social structures that can facilitate and thrive from an evening out of world wealth and society rather than those who imagine they can rely on barriers.

    We are living in interesting times. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_you_live_in_interesting_times
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    Feb 22 2011: To see, feel, know and experience the essential nature of Utopia in each and every moment. Seems such a simple easy 'future' to see....sometimes i feel the basic of basic educational experiences aren't being shared at the kindergarten level...
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    Feb 20 2011: I've got 2 examples - one good and one ''bad''. Of course, from my POV.

    First, my emarketing teacher freaked me out a few weeks ago. He started talking about how in 5 years at most, we will all be interconnected. Someone will go in the park and like a flower, take a picture with his/her camera, we will all know about it and experience the whole world through someone else's eyes. He furthermore proceeded to describe that ideal world - that everyone is interconnected, no private space - everything is monitored by us and through us. We become the natural extensions of a huge being - through virtual connection. Price discrimination will be easier to practice; insurance companies will instantly know when we have an accident and who's fault it is, and make us pay without any kind of uncertainty attached to it. Or ''better'' yet, we will all have google cars that never have one single accident. I really think he must stress out when he drives - I would not give up that experience for the world. But, of course, all he said is happening, right now, with FB, Twitter, and technology in general.

    On the other hand, there is another movement, or at least so I hope. More and more people are searching for inspiration, for acceptance. Young artists have more and more compassionate songs in which they acknowledge our differences and tell us it's ok to be different. I'm thinking about Pink, K.Perry, K'naan. There's this ''other kind'' of people that is emerging - more focused on inner peace and discovery and self worth rather than constant material progress. More seminars about being responsible for our life instead of searching constantly for more and better. More introspective search for happiness and true self.

    Psychology has gone a long way, and so has society in general - although it feels like the more we progress, the more burdens we have, in a way (pollution, technology, we took on ''saving'' the 3rd world countries mainly because we think we have the ultimate answer).
  • Feb 20 2011: Tim O'Reilly (respect) asks for "unrecognized futures"... Try ROADMUSHING BOOMERS.
    Boomers - that's 20% of the world's affluent population - retire this year 2011.
    No one has a clue what they'll do, except change the course of history (as usual).

    Clue - howsabout continue what they were doing 40 years ago ?
    1) Looove, no war
    2) Revolución
    3) My rules

    Including being these...
    1. Deep into nature
    2. Frugal / non-materialist
    3. Fit
    4. DIY/maker - constantly inventing simple/funny lifestyle mods to overcome aging constraints
    5. Friends with everyone on earth
    6. Keen for heart-warming social/cultural/artistic people-experiences
    7. Affectionate for the less fortunate
    8. Admin-free, paperwork-free, increasingly possessions-free
    9. Increasingly vegetarian
    10. Bio, but real bio
    11. Increasingly oil-free
    12. Increasingly sharing
    13. On the road
    14. Loving it

    For boomers, a new lifestyle tool is being designed open-source and local-built worldwide...
    See it at http://www.roadmushers.org

    Don't laugh - the most disruptive ideas are always the simplest. And always laughed at.

    I'm a boomer. I know what we want. I'm making the prototype right now.
    • Feb 20 2011: The boomers scare me, largely because I don't know what they want. The Boomers:

      1.) There are a lot of them,
      2.) They arguable have the most lose (especially if living off of some sort of fixed income),
      3.) They will have a lot of time on their hands (especially to become politically active),
      4.) They are not me generation (and therefore cannot necessarily be relied to understand my generation).

      Does the future really belong to the youth, or to the Boomers?
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    Feb 18 2011: The future that hasn't been distribributed yet??

    Well of course solar power and electric cars. I drive a 70 mile range electric car. Haven't been to
    the gas station since november (for my lawnmower). Combined with solar panels it costs nearly nothing
    to drive.

    The price of solar panels has plummeted. It will soon be standard practice to roof the entire house with
    some type of solar panel.

    Also...

    Population growth is negative in much of the developed world. It is moving to the developed world. When population growth truly becomes negative worldwide, some pretty unusual things are going to happen for just about the first time in recorded history.
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    Feb 17 2011: The group/collection/association/whatever you want to call it most widely referred to as "Anonymous" is one of the most interesting developments it has been my somewhat disconcerted pleasure to watch in a very long time.

    It's the shadow world of cocreation in some ways: an ever changing group of leaders, a body of followers comitted to an amorphous cause, operating an an organizationally mature way, with its own PR, its own marketing, its own branding. BUt no real identity.

    I am tempted to say it is awe inspiring. Is there a better word for exciting and terrifying at the same time?
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    Feb 17 2011: Although the influence of the internet in general and things like wikileaks in particular are common knowledge, I think the power of the transparency they will unleash is not fully appreciated.

    "Big Brother is watching you" has become "we are watching big brother". Although the idea of a camera on every corner may at first be disconcerting, think of the effect it will have on the abililty to wage war - it won't be possible.

    And even though it's a bit worrisome to have the government looking at our bank accounts, what will result when we are able to see our governor's bank accounts?

    The future in many ways will be like living in a small village. Everyone will be able to see what you're up to. And no one will be able to profit from deceit.
  • Feb 17 2011: Right now, we have clearly come to a stage of being overwhelmed by information. Searching and curating takes up more time than the grasping that they are intended to serve. It's not only the quantity of the information, but also the quality that is compromised. And not just because there isn't enough cognitive power devoted to the task, but because the barriers to publishing have been lowered. The ability to derive meaning quickly, make sense and act in real-time has always been important. Semantics is looking to be automated. Approaches like the Semantic Web have been around for several years, but have had a slow ramp up. Yet this is clearly the future. The work that the W3C (w3c.org) and others are doing are steps in that direction.
  • Feb 17 2011: Watson is clearly a major leap forward towards the Turing test. I am excited to see where this goes in the next 10 years. The real power is its application to other fields, like medical diagnosis, in my opinion.
    Also, the microsoft Kinect just blew me away with its ability to transform how we interact with our media devices.
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    Feb 17 2011: That magical future of utopia.

    When that most miraculous journey of the most amazing individual unique miraculous creative genius sperm cell travels that amazing journey into the unknown to find the most beautiful amazing individual unique miraculous historically creative genius egg cell...only to COMBINE into BEING ONESLEF.

    Then to have that ONE ...divide again and again and again ....till 100 trillion individual unique miraculous creative genius cells are all playing in PERFECTED HARMONY. THAT IS UTOPIA. Here and now. There is no more miraculous beautiful utopia that WE will ever know that is most present, more perfect or more knowable.....our mission-journey-purpose of being oneself can only mean INTEGRATING all 'without' systems to reflect that integrated magical wisdom of utopia that is at play 24/7 within.

    How WE perceive oneself....defines how we perceive and co-create the world. Dancing whole-heartedly with the ideal male and ideal female and ideal boy and ideal girl within helps to integrate that experience of 'remembering' that amazing state of BEING ONESELF....That utopian vision of knowing....is here and now....and connects with all aspects of the historical past and the future....so simple so easy...happy hands, happy feet, happy heart...happyplanetindex.org i call it...Ki Maah, the dance with the creator..that magically integrates all things past-future-present with utopia.
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    Feb 17 2011: Well Craig Ventner seems an obvious choice or Tim Robinson's ideals on Education are simply brilliant. The team where I work at maidsafe are up to really incredible and interesting stuff to change the world. The real Open Source movement and that moving into hardware is amazing. I am visiting Manchester (UK) to meet the fab lab team (Neil et al) and the professor in charge of rep rap tomorrow. These people seem to understand things in a way that's novel, like the Gremin bank idea's and much more.

    I feel the world can change for the better very quickly and surprise us all, especially as new methods of production and sharing are created and allowed to naturally propagate. Imagine locating a makerbot/rep rap in remote locations (poorer countries) and emailing them 3d parts to allow them to print them and fix machines etc. even further to allow large shared databases of stuff that allows people to get things with no physical transport requirements (even books printed or e-ink alternatives).

    The people who naturally are inquisitive, inventive and want to give freely, without ego are a growing segment of society. We need to do everything possible to smooth the way to just let these people do!

    Were very lucky to be here to witness some of this, only hope we see the time of unencumbered creativity being allowed to simply blossom.
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    Feb 17 2011: http://energyfromthorium.com/

    The idea of utilizing spent nuclear fuel to fuel gen 4 reactors is essential. Why try to find a way to bury it, when it is perfectly good fuel in and of itself?

    I have been reading this book http://www.amazon.com/Sustainable-Nuclear-Power-World/dp/0123706025

    Which does a good job of estimating the energy resources the world has.

    The future of energy, which could be started tomorrow, would be baseload nuclear power, not baseload coal power.

    Nuclear is a scary word, but its not a scary energy source. Small scale nuclear power generation is the most viable future opportunity for power.

    It does a lot towards reducing our carbon output.

    While 'sustainables' are a great idea, they are not presently economically viable on a large scale basis. With 300% capacity of the current grid running on nuclear, what could be done to reduce all use of fossil fuels?

    I would like to point out that fossil fuels could still be used, if they were not predominately our source of power.

    The US Navy has done a great job of keeping a fleet of small nuclear power plants running safely and well.

    The future of power is available, red tape just disallows it to be an evenly distributed idea.

    Thorium as a fuel source provides plenty of time for humanity to develop a truly sustainable fuel source.
  • Feb 17 2011: Coding literacy. More an more people are developing the basic ability to program, and with it gain access to a whole world of structured data and the ability to manipulate it. We will look at coding as the 21st century equivalent of reading and writing.
  • Feb 16 2011: Russia is slowly going broke again and mainstream media is ignoring it

    1) Thirty Seven (37) early warning signals of the collapse and decay of the Russian Federation (Putinism) and Ukraine (Yanukowych Regime)

    http://smarteconomy.typepad.com/smart_economy/2011/01/part-138-when-will-the-recession-end-part-138-thirty-seven-37-early-warning-signals-of-the-collapse-.html


    Similar conditions and circumstances existed just before the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.

    2) When will the recession end ? Part 134 What could trigger a Global Double Dip Recession in 2011? Russia

    http://smarteconomy.typepad.com/smart_economy/2011/01/when-will-the-recession-end-part-134-what-could-trigger-a-double-dip-recession-in-2011-russia.html
  • Feb 16 2011: In terms of alternative currencies and community values, Tom Greco is doing great work, lecturing worldwide and talking about various organizations that are developing currencies and values at the community level.
    http://www.reinventingmoney.com I would like to hear Tom deliver a talk on his experiences and travels.
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    Feb 16 2011: Every week I seem to be using my iPad to do something I hadn't even considered experiencing the previous week. Then I stop and think that one year ago we didn't even have them in our hands, and until the announcement were still arguing about whether it would be another Newton or now. I try not to take it all for granted how much it has shaped my habits.

    I recently blogged about how I'm now starting to anticipate future shock rather than react to it. I still put the NetFlix DVD in the mailbox, but as I do so, I'm already mentally set for that to be a bygone experience. (As soon as NetFlix starts streaming all 7 seasons of Star Trek Voyager). http://blog.ap42.com/2011/02/07/future-shock-adaptation/
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    Feb 16 2011: The revolution 2.0 meme - as described by @ghonim - and the experience of revolution via your computer. Though I was passive it was an incredible experience to witness the Egypt movement in real time as I did for 20 days. Being in a powerful movement that wins is a transforming experience to the participants-as perhaps is losing. Will the virtual experience of a revolution have the same impact on the virtual participant - if they experience it as not simply "watching the news" - but being in real time communication with the people on Tahrir square for instance...? Does this sort of engagement change conscious apprehension of one's power and capacity?
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    Feb 16 2011: Though many products have arrived on the market which involve nano-materials there is little public awareness of the environmental and human health impacts of the mass distribution of these materials and their eventual break down. The discussion was never had and both environmental scientists and the general public lack the information to evaluate the positives and negatives.

    I also think the wider environmental movement is not taking this new materials science into account when looking at environmental crisis. Nano-materials and nano-tech has both immense positive and immense negative potential. Unfortunately, it is simply not on the radar of most people.
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    Feb 16 2011: I think the work of public school educators like Simon Haugher, who started the innovative West Philadelphia High School afterschool program called West Philly Hybrid X Team, and Chris Lehmann, who started the Science Leadership Academy (http://www.scienceleadership.org/) are examples of educators living in the future. The West Philly Hybrid X program, for example, provides interested students from one of the most impoverished public schools with an opportunity to learn a complex array of skills through project-based learning. The team recently competed in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition. This program and Mr. Haugher's new initiative, The Workshop for Democracy and Social Entrepreneurship (http://www.workshopschool.org/drupaled/), are examples of creative thinking about how to change educational models from feeding information to passive students into a dynamic and democratic student-teacher relationship that works toward developing practical solutions for critical issues in localized communities. I hope to see this approach to education begin to percolate through our school systems and become available to all of our future generations, regardless of economic status.
  • Feb 16 2011: 1. In an increasingly paranoid world commercial medical screening devices for personal use – STDs, heart, weight, collesterol etc
    2. Increase in ‘Gaming’ based education for kids and adult
    3.Increased violence and political upheaval in parts of Europe
    4.Emergence and growth of anit-technology movement - the new religion
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      Feb 16 2011: Can you point to this "anti-technology" movement... might it not be anti dominance of mutlinationals in decision making rather than anti-technology?
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    Feb 16 2011: One future that is here but is going unrecognized - or at least extremely under-debated - is the power of search engine algorithms to shape the culture. I am concerned, not with what search engines display, but with what they don't display and how they make that decision. As they move more towards "if you like this, you will also like this" recommendation engine-style results, search engines are effectively Balkanizing society and reenforcing held beliefs. We've had a few hundred years of peer review by peer-anointed experts in science, and out-in-the-open public debate over policies in the pre-digital era. As we increasingly move online, I am concerned that the search algorithms are not only defining the debate, but giving users the "right position" and the "real facts" based on their profile results. That future is truly already here, rapidly evolving to meet the needs of investors, and going completely undebated under the assumption that the algorithms operate in a fair an neutral manner.
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      Feb 16 2011: Most people I know - really think those recommendation engines present really silly results. I imagine they may get better in the long run - but for now what we are presented we generally get a chuckle from.

      I do agree about the political Balkanization though... It has certainly happened with some folks. But I think those folks were rather rigid to begin with...
    • Feb 16 2011: You can always be adventurous and click the "I'm feeling lucky" button.
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    Feb 16 2011: The sophisticated technologists will likely look at Gibsons perspective from a networkcentric or computer enhanced position. Yet his writing was talking about consistent themes of the human condition. The computer has been with us in one form or another for thousands of years. We find ourselves in a new information revolution, or a knowledge economy, but I’d digress and as when hasn’t that been the case?

    I would think the distribution element Gibson was talking about would be a flattening of the computing and cyber ecological systems towards a holistic collective. We have seen industries begin this practice with automated teller machines and increasing self-check-out lines at grocery stores. Consider how automotive vehicles have integrated information technology structures to make vehicles more reliable, less polluting, and barely discernable to the user. The distribution of the technologies is becoming seamless and invisible.

    That I think is the key to a Gibson future where technology becomes more evenly distributed. The uniqueness and the “in your face” nature of the technology becomes integrated and the humanness of the technological future re-emerges. We will have less jobs in computing and more jobs in creation where computing technologies are factor. As the technology becomes a persistent layer the emergence of creative tasks and industrial jobs emerge on top of that layer.
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    Feb 15 2011: When I watch the show "WCG Ultimate Gamer," I always feel like watching a William Gibson novel in real life - quirky people making a life off and being really involved in a cyber medium. I love it!
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    Feb 15 2011: Currently in Love with the work of http://n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com/ even though I am not much into jewelry.

    I am drawn to the fact that they use bio-mimicry in all of their designs. Also I love that they design the algorithm, and then let the simulations of the natural processes dictate the outcome.
    They also touch on several of the DIY principles you mention in the examples.

    If more of manufacturing, architecture, and design in general adopted more of the principles of nature and natural processes, we would be living in a much healthier world.