“There are no right answers to wrong questions.”–Ursula K. Le Guin
This week’s future news is dedicated to the author of my favorite Science Fiction novel, Ursula Le Guin. She died yesterday at age 88. Her 1971 novel, The Lathe of Heaven, depicted a vision of a mildly dysfunctional Portland, Oregon, on the verge of a major apocalypse, at the turn of the 20th century. But the real message, amidst the effects of chaos, complexity and unintended consequences, was “think globally, act locally.” It is a must for anyone seriously interested in how our thoughts and actions create our future.
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Artificial Intelligence–We’ve heard it before; let’s hear it again. Yet another pundit is forecasting huge job losses to artificial intelligence an autonomous vehicles. In this case, fully 1/3 of all jobs by 2030.
–If the above isn’t vexing enough, The Verge reports that artificial intelligence will, as they put it, “supercharge surveillance.” All those passive security cameras will, in effect, wake up and smell your location.
–Speaking of digital surveillance, Futurism.com reports that we are well on our way to having location tracking implants, a la a recent episode of Black Mirror. They put the time frame as some time in the latter half of the 2030’s–or about 20 years from now.
–Artificial intelligence? How about an artificial synapse? MIT engineers have apparently created such a device, which could lead to brain-on-a-chip technology,
Automation–Amazon opened its first Amazon Go fully automated convenience store, in Seattle, Washington. It uses sensors and cameras to track your movements and purchases, and charge you through an app on your smartphone. And maybe creep you out, as well.
Cryptocurrency/Blockchain–One of the allures of cryptocurrency, for its users, is the ability to fly below government radar. Unfortunately, that can mean money laundering, terrorism funding, and tax evasion. India becomes the latest country to look into this, with reports it wants to tax cryptocurrency investments.
–Another appeal of cryptocurrency–and anything executed in a blockchain, for that matter–is security. Well, maybe. According to a new report from Ernst & Young, hackers have been stealing millions from ICO’s.
Space Travel/Colonization–If you think Mars colonization is ambitious, consider what Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp is proposing: floating balloon habitats in the upper atmosphere of Venus. That sounds more like a prison colony than a “habitat” to me.