Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Sawyer, Schroeder are predicting the future -- again

Today's Toronto Sun, along with Sun newspapers across Canada, has a long, very good article by Vivian Song, in which Robert J. Sawyer, Karl Schroeder, and Richard Worzel predict what the remaining decades of this century have in store.

(You can skip the "astrologist's" predictions that appear at the end -- the Ottawa Sun wisely chose to do just that in their version, as did the Winnipeg Sun in theirs.)

The London Free Press also has a version of the article -- woohoo!

This is completely separate from the CBC television thing I mentioned earlier, by the way.



At January 02, 2007 1:04 PM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Interesting stuff.

With repetitive tasks falling by the wayside I struggle with what will be the engine of economy in the future. An economy built on services and information only seems too fragile and fragmented.

Today, the number of creative people is quite small compared to the consumers - and it is the vast majority of consumers who do the repetitive tasks. Without that type of work what will such people do for employment? Not everyone can become a creator.

From the information side, the shelf life or 'window of value' of information is so small as 'old' data will be constantly replaced by 'newer' data.

The loss of repetitive work may be the catalyst that starts the pandemic predicted in the article.

At January 02, 2007 3:43 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Rob, that was a great article. I like your observation about people being Googleble.

I think mankind will be in for a few surprises in the next 10 years especially in the area of astronomy. What with the French launching COROT last week to find earth like planets and the Nasa Kepler mission to expand on that in October 2008. I believe we will contact Et before they contact us. At first Govt to Govt then through computers their people to our people and the whole lid will be blown off. It won't be "Romulans" descending to meet the inventor of Warp power to herald us into the "Federation" it'll be these 2 missions. I'd say within the next ten years, real science.

At January 02, 2007 5:31 PM , Anonymous Josh said...

Robert, very interesting, but I'm curious: The impending oil problem is starting to get more and more attention (including the great piece by Richard Lovett in Analog; also, finally read the Rollback conclusion--nice!). The most sobering analysis I've read points out that (1) oil is about a lot more than gas--it's also about plastics; and (2) that no other existing form of energy is anywhere near as portable. The possible impacts are enormous.

Anyway, I've wondered for a while if an energy crisis wouldn't throw a huge wrench in humanity's ability to progress far enough technologically to get to digitizable consciousness. (If the sciences have trouble getting funding now, how much more so when it becomes more expensive to drive and heat homes?) On the other hand, improving telecommunications could offset a lot of oil usage, obviously. Is it going to be a race?

Anyway, the idea of digitizing consciousness is a popular prediction these days, and maybe I'm crazy, but it just doesn't feel that imminent to me (although you'd know much better than I). And of course, McLuhan said that artists were the antennae of the species. ;-) That includes you, but then, I also just got into the new Battlestar Galactica this Christmas (after hearing so many raves), and I was struck by how explicitly the point was made that humanity's saving grace came not from improved computer-network technology, but from a firm rooting in the past.

Sorry for the long comment! Digitization of consciousness is just starting to sound a bit too pat to me (as well, of course, as awesome and, yes, scary), and I can't help but play devil's advocate. Thanks!


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