Showing posts with label Futurist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Futurist. Show all posts

October 11, 2017

Amazon + Teva = A Marriage Made In Heaven


Amazon has upended so many industries--and you can basically buy almost anything there.

And yes, what you can't buy today, you will be able to buy tomorrow. 

What started as books and DVDs is now virtually synonymous with e-Commerce itself!
Next up for Amazon is pharmaceuticals!

Some people may think that Whole Foods gives Amazon the footprint it needs to sell these and dominate.

But what people aren't considering is that Amazon can sell the pharmaceuticals online.

Amazon can do what other online drug distributors can't.

Why?

Because Amazon has the most unbelievable distribution network in the world. 

Currently, people can order drugs through the mail, but these tend to be for regular reoccurring prescriptions that have lead time. 

However, Amazon can outdo these mail order pharma companies, because they can get you the drugs you need when and where you need it. 

- You don't feel well and can't make it to CVS, Amazon will deliver to your door. 

- Need same-day delivery, no problem. 

- Plus do all your shopping together in one fell timesaving swoop. 

My prediction: 
Amazon the low cost, efficient online seller of everything to everywhere is going to partner with Teva Pharmaceuticals, the #1 world leader in low cost generic drugs.

Teva already produces 120 billion tablets and capsules every year, operates in 80 countries, and currently fills 1 in 6 generic prescriptions in the U.S. 
Together, Amazon and Teva can make beautiful music, that is medicine + money!

Who needs CVS when pharmaceuticals perhaps soon can be gotten at Whole Foods or at your Trusty Amazon.com.  

One more time, I see some radical disruption--and this time it will bring you cheaper and more convenient drugs--make a l'chaim to your health. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

(Endnote: I am a big fan + investor in Teva, and of course, all opinions here are my own.)
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October 5, 2017

Facebook Is Dead!

So folks, here is my absolutely contrarian prediction. 
Facebook Is Dead!
Who in their right mind would say something like that?

Facebook has 2 billions users! 

Well I am one of those users.

But even though I use it. 

I recognize that it is essentially useless and a waste of time. 

Yes, there are cute videos and messages and photos on there. 

But basically if you're honest, it's mostly a lot of garbage and time sink!

Twitter has a newsfeed purpose. 

Instagram has a photo sharing purpose. 

LinkedIn has a professional networking purpose. 

But Facebook is a glorious made-up fad!

I believe that people are getting tired of the:

- Meaningless, mind-numbing posts of what they had for breakfast today (and every other fart, literally). 

- Phony self-branding veneer as if everything is always perfect in their lives (look I'm on another vacation skydiving!)

- Virtual relationships rather than genuine friendships and real connections (I'm fiends with over 3,000 people!)

- The millions of empty slogans, political statements, and impersonal wishes to everyone for every occasion (have a really happy birthday!)

Frankly, I think that people are reaching the point of realization where they want more from the time they spend online.

- More depth of feelings

- More substance of thought

- More reality than superficiality. 

Yes, we all need some downtime too to mellow and just laugh a little, but I am fairly certain that the time people are putting into Facebook is not really meeting their true social networking needs. 

In the end, we will find out that Facebook is the epitome of the greatest fool theory--where everyone dumps their shit from the day, hoping that there is some greater fool who will superficially lopping it all up. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 21, 2016

The Pundits Know Sh*t

If you haven't seen any of the many videos flying around about everyone who said "Trump will never be president," then you should.

Presumably, these were people in the know--senior politicians and statesmen, experts galore including scientists and professors, news media, talk show hosts, comedians, and Hollywood stars.

Virtually none could even imagine him winning as they "promised" and "guaranteed" it and even swore they would leave the country otherwise.

But as we all now know, they were completely wrong and misguided. 

Similarly, in a book review today in the Wall Street Journal of "Public Intellectuals," the big mouth know-it-alls out there or what my friend's father used to call "intellectual idiots" failed to predict all the black swan events.

From the fall of the Soviet Union to 9/11, the Internet bubble and recession of 2001 to the mortgage meltdown and financial collapse of 2008, from the Arab Spring to Brexit...the pundits are all left looking like schmendricks!

Whether this is caused by personal biases, shortsightedness, herd mentality, or incompetence, the educated intellectuals just don't seem to be able to see around that next bend anymore than the rest of us. 

Moreover, because of their walled-off elite status, they are functioning and talking through loud speakers from their ivory towers rather than from the real man's world of everyday hardships and challenges. 

As I often tell one of my esteemed colleagues, it's not how often or how loud you say something, but how sincere it is. 

The pundits typically miss it (although they seem so smart when talking with 20-20 hindsight about what happened and why), and as contrarians already know, it typically pays to do the opposite of what the so-called experts tell you. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 9, 2014

Robots, Who's Telling Whom What To Do

There was an interesting quote about jobs of the future by Tom Preston-Werner in Bloomberg Businessweek:

"In the future, there's potentially two types of jobs: where you tell a machine what to do, programming a computer, or a machine is going to tell you what to do. You're either the one that creates the automation or you're going to get automated."

Already, we've seen manufacturing get outsourced by the millions of job to cheaper labor oversees or automated in factories by machines and robotics.

Similarly, agriculture has seen a large decrease in small family-owned farms, in lieu of mega farms run by multinationals and run by automated farm equipment with GPS and drones. 

The military is moving quickly to warfare by drones, robotics, and people geared-up in high-tech exoskeletons. 

Now in the sacrosanct service sector, where it has been said that it could never be done by anyone by local people within their communities, services are moving in the direction of robots. 

Perhaps we can ask if even in government, can there be a future where robots can govern better than we can--and get things done speedily and efficiently!

In one Sci fi hit after another, from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica to Terminator, a future of humanity embattled by cyborgs predominates. 

Like in the show, Lost in Space, where the robot in wont to say, "Crush, Kill, Destroy," perhaps we can understand this as not jsut a physical threat as people's lives, but also to their ability to earn a living in a world where automation challenges us with the children reframe:

"Everything you can do, I can do better. I can do everything better than you. Yes you can, no you can't..."

At this point, I am not sure it is really a debate anymore, and that Preston-Werner is predominantly right...technology is the future--whether we are end up being eaten alive by it or are its earthly masters. ;-)
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June 22, 2014

From Pepper Spray to Champagne

Shhh! This is the story of drones. 

Drones continue to go from battlefield to backyard. 

Initially, developed for advanced persistent surveillance and later weaponized for targeting terrorists, we heard the like of Jeff Bezos promise drones for Amazon delivery. 

Once again, the double-edge of drones continues...

This week we saw the introduction of scary, "Riot Control Drones" developed by Desert Wolf (a military contractor) that can shoot 4,000 rounds of pepper spray, paint balls, and non-lethal plastic projectiles, employs bright strobe lights and blinding lasers, and issues commands and warnings through loud speakers, and monitors crowds of protesters by high-definition and thermal vision cameras. 

At the same time, we saw drones being used as Flying Bel Hops in the luxury Casa Madrona hotel and spa in California for delivering champagne, treats, toys, and even sunglasses to their $10,000 a night guests on their guest deck or even to a boat out on the bay. 

And we are still only at the beginning, with drones, and robotics in general, moving to revolutionize our world.  

Robots will surveil, they will attack and kill, and they will serve people everywhere from restaurants and retail to hospitals and homes.

You can't shush the robots, they are on the march and they will have the means to help and hurt people--it won't be simple, but it definitely will be completely invasive. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 25, 2013

Kurzweil, Right and Wrong

Ray Kurzweil the famous futurist is an amazing person, but like everyone he has his good and bad days.

When it comes to the Singularity--Kurzweil had a very good day. 

With the accelerating speed of technology change, the advent of super intelligence and superhuman powers is already here (and continuing to advance) with:

-  Smartphones all-in-one devices give us the power of the old mainframe along with the communication capabilities to inform and share by phone, text, photo, video, and everything social media. 

- Google Glass is bringing us wearable IT and augmented reality right in front of our very eyes.

- Exoskeletons and bioengineering is giving us superhuman strength and ability to lift more, run faster and further, see and hear better, and more. 

- Embedded chips right into our brains are going to give us "access to all the world's information" at the tip of our neural synapses whenever we need it (Wall Street Journal).

In a sense, we are headed toward the melding of man and machine, as opposed to theme of the Terminator movie vision of man versus machine--where man is feared to lose in a big way. 

In man melded with machine--we will have augmentations in body and brain--and will have strength, endurance, and intelligence beyond our wildest dreams.

However, Kurzweil has a bad day is when it comes to his prediction of our immortality. 

Indeed, Kurzweil himself, according to the Journal "takes more than 150 pills and supplements a day" believing that we can "outrun our own deaths."

Kurzweil mistakenly believes that the speed of medical evolution will soon be "adding a year of life expectancy every year," so if only we can live until then, we can "Live long enough to live forever."

But, just as our super intelligence will not make us omniscient, and our superhuman powers will not make us omnipotent or omnipresent, our super advances in medicine will not make us, as we are, immortal. 

Actually, I cannot even imagine why Kurzweil would want to live forever given his fear-inspiring Singularity, where advances in machine and artificial intelligence outpaces man's own evolutionary journey. 

Kurzweil should knock off some of the pills and get back to humankind's learning and growth and stop his false professing that humans will become like G-d, instead of like a better humans. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 13, 2013

Colonize and Survive

It was interesting to read in Popular Science (12 April 2013) that the famous physicist and futurist, Stephen Hawking, stated that humans would face extinction on planet Earth within the next 1,000 years. 

Hawking says we need to colonize other planets--and I believe that is sound advice. 

While Mother Earth has an incredible ability to rejuvenate and self-heal, let's face it, the planet cannot sustain us forever in our current state.

According to the United Nations, the world population is expected to hit 9.22 billion by 2075, and life expectancy is expected to rise varying across countries from 66 to 97 by 2100.  

Moreover, according to research institution, Transatlantic Academy (May 2012), over the next 10-20 we are likely to see "accelerating demand for most natural resource commodities...increasingly volatile markets, [and] scarcities are likely to be more common." 

In the absence of major technological breakthroughs, increased social equity, and peaceful coexistence on this planet, we will need to find resources outside of Earth and colonize other planets--this is our future.  

Already, as reported by National Geographic (10 April 2013), the administration has funded NASA to capture an asteroid and set it in orbit around the moon  to not only study and develop capabilities to help protect our planet from a collision, but also to eventually be able to mine asteroids for precious minerals. 

As much as we love Earth--although sometimes we don't show it by being gluttonous with its resources, polluting, destroying the ozone, and generally not following sustainable practices--we need to have a "Plan B" whereby we explore for water, food, land, minerals, and energy elsewhere and be ready to make a move to survive another 6000 years and more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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March 6, 2013

Really Smart Cities


This is unbelievable design work by Jacque Fresco--architect, futurist and only 96-years old!

As you watch this video, you just have to ask yourself, why didn't we think of that sooner?

His design for the city of the future just seems so intuitive--and in aggregate looks almost like the Internet with a mesh design of interlocking cities working together harmoniously. 

Great concepts:

- Circular cities--with a city center or central hub of essential services (medical, fire, police, etc.) and shopping, and radiating bands of living quarters, agriculture, and recreation. 

- Build from the ground up--rather than build piecemeal, you build the entire architected city from the ground up--first underground infrastructure then building foundations, structures, and all modular, interlocking, interchangeable, and constantly maintained.

- Transportation Conveyers--transport up, down, and around by speedy conveyers or between city hubs by underground maglev trains. 

- Recycle Everything--this is an environment where nothing is wasted and everything gets recycled. 

- Energy Sustainability--all buildings have photovoltaic or solar cells for generating their own renewable energy resources. 

- Clean Water/Air--vital resources like water and air is piped in, cleaned, and constantly monitored for safety. 

Wow, this is a day and night difference from any city that I have ever seen--wouldn't this be the type of place you'd like to raise your family in the future.

Maybe there are times when starting over with a fresh architecture perspective versus just tinkering with the old is necessary to make a bold leap forward--do you think this one of them? ;-)

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August 11, 2012

Technology Forecast 2013















I am an avid follower of everything technology and trends, but am tired of hearing about cloud, mobile, and social computing. 

It's time to get over it with the agenda of the past and get on with it with the future of technology. 

Here is my "Technology Forecast 2013" and the top 8 trends I see going forward:

1) Service Provision--Cost-cutting and consolidation into the cloud is a wonderful idea and it has had it's time, but the future will follow consumer products, where one flavor does not fit all, and we need to have globalization with a local flavor to provide for distinct customer requirements and service differentiators, as well as classified, proprietary and private systems and information. 

2) Service Delivery--Mobile is here and the iPhone is supreme, but the future belongs to those that deliver services not only to remote devices, but in wearable, implantable, and even human augmentation. 

3) Human Interaction--Social computing epitomized by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more is a cool way in interact with others virtually, but wall posts, email, and chats are getting cliche--next up conjoining with others with capabilities such as telepathic communication, mind melding collaboration, and even virtual sex for the outlandish. 

4) Robotics and Artificial Intelligence--With something like 10,000 drones flying the friendly and not-so friendly skies and even drones that autonomously land on aircraft carriers, the next robot is coming to the ground near you--drones will become (an)droids and will eventually have the AI to become part of our everyday society. 

5) Service Assurance--Enough playing defense with a sprinkling of offense against our worst enemies--it's past time to move from trying to stop-gap infiltrators and do damage control once we've been robbed blind, and instead move to a hunter-killer mentality and capability--the price of being a bad boy on the Internet goes way up and happens in realtime. 

6) Data Analytics--Big data isn't a solution, it's the problem. The solution is not snapshot pretty graphics, but realtime augmented reality--where data is ingrained in everything and transparent realtime--and this becomes part of our moment-by-moment decision processes.

7) Biotechnology--Biometrics sounds real cool--and you get a free palm reading at the same time, but the real game changer here is not reading people's bio signatures, but in creating new ones--with not only medical cures, but also new bio-technological capabilities. 

8) Nanotechnology--Still emerging, quantum mechanics is helping us delve into the mysteries of the universe, with applications for new and advanced materials, but the new buzzword will be nano-dust, where atomic and molecular building blocks can be used on-the-fly to build anything, be anywhere, and then recycled into the next use.   

Overall, I see us moving from mass produced, point-to-point solutions to more integrated end-to-end solutions that fit individual needs--whether through continued combinations of hardware, software, and services, man-machine interfaces/integration, and building blocks that can be shaped and reused again and again. 

From my perspective, there a seeming lull in innovation, but the next big leap is around the corner. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 12, 2012

Not A Cloud In The Sky

I thought this picture was sort of humorous. 

This lady is walking down the street with this big green umbrella, but there is NOT a cloud in the sky. 

In fact, you can see in the upper right that it is a beautiful and clear sunny day. 

Also, where she is walking, it is clearly shady and cool--so the umbrella is not needed as a sun screen either. 

From a technology annoyance perspective, it is long past time to invent something more creative than a cheap, crappy umbrella--like from Charlie Chaplin and The Umbrella--to protect us from elements. 

Someone, please come up with a push-button protective bubble that envelops us--clear for visibility, of course--and keeps us dry and temperate. 

A beautiful, futuristic clear dome over the city would be nice too, but probably cost prohibitive and not as adjustable for each indiividual and their respective needs. 

Hopefully, someday soon. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 1, 2011

Replacing Yourself, One Piece at a Time

Here is a wonderful idea to help people who use prosthetics--a smartphone built right in to the artificial limb.

What was once a challenging task to hold a smartphone and make calls, write emails and texts, or just search the web is now just a push of a button or voice command away.

This is a user-centric and functional integration of technology with medical science to help those who have either lost limbs or been born without them.

While a step forward for the disabled, perhaps this is also a move towards future technological augmentation of regular body parts as well.

What was once a tattoo or body piercing on the periphery may soon become an implanted smartphone in the body part of your choosing.

The concept reminds me of the MTV show "Pimp My Ride" where run-of-the-mill cars are completely made over into new awesome vehicles by stripping them and rebuilding them with better, cooler parts.

Is this where we are going with our human bodies--where one day we are an old beat-up minivan only to have our parts swapped out and replaced with biotechnology to become a new hotrod convertible once again.

Now we are moving from leveraging technology for medical purposes to tinkering with our our physical bodies, using technology, for preference.

Yes, this is already being done with facelifts and other cosmetic surgery, but how about replacing entire body parts not because they are diseased, but because you want or can afford an upgrade?

Lot's of exciting and scary implications to think about with this one--as our body parts become replaceable almost like legos--snap on and off.

In the future, becoming a better, stronger, faster person may not be just a function of what you do, but how much you can afford to replace.

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August 21, 2011

Deus Ex-Overtaken By Technology

Deus Ex is an action role-playing game (RPG) and first person shooter game. It sold more than a million copies as of 2009 and was named "Best PC Game of All Time."

A prequel Deus Ex: Human Evolution is due to be released this month (August 2011).

You play a coalition anti-terrorist agent in a world slipping further and further into chaos.

The time is 2052 and you are in a dystopian society where society has progressed faster technologically than it has evolved spiritually--and people are struggling to cope with technological change and are abusing new technology.

The challenges portrayed in the trailer show people using/abusing technological augmentation--the integration of technology with their human bodies--replacing damaged limbs, adding computer chips, and even "upgrading themselves".

There are many issues raised about where we are going as a society with technology:

1) Are we playing G-d--when we change ourselves with technology, not because we have too (i.e. because of sickness), but rather because we want to--at what point are we perhaps overstepping theologically, ethically, or otherwise?

2) Are we playing with fire--when we start to systematically alter our makeup and change ourselves into some sort of half-human and half-machine entities or creatures are we tempting nature, fate, evolution with what the final outcome of who we become is? As the end of the trailer warns: "Be human, remain human"--imagine what type of cyborg creatures we may become if we let things go to extremes.

3) Technology may never be enough--As we integrate technology into our beings, where does it stop? The minute we stop, others continue and we risk being "less intelligent, less strong, and less capable than the rest of the human race." In short, are we facing a technological race toward dehumanization and enhanced machines.

4) Drugs and other vices follow--To prevent technology augmentation from being rejected, mankind relies on ever larger and more potent doses of drugs. We not only risk losing elements of our humanity to technology, but also to drugs and other vices that make us forget the pain of change and rejection (physical and perhaps emotional).

Deus Ex literally is Latin for "G-d out of the machine." Perhaps, future dystopian society starts out by people trying to play G-d, but I think the risk is that it ends with the proverbial devil displacing the best laid intentions.

While technology holds the most amazing of promises from curing disease, solving world hunger, and endless innovations (even including developing the archetype bionic man/women--"We can rebuild him...we have the technology"), without a solid moral compass and frequent check-ins, we run the risk of technology getting away from us and even doing more harm than good.

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August 6, 2011

The World Peaceularity

Futurist, Ray Kurzweil laid out his vision for a time when artificial intelligence surpasses the pure human kind--this he called The Singularlity.

Now people from around the world are building a presentation in Google Docs with alternatives visions of our future--it is both fascinating and humorous.

The image on World Peacularity was my contribution with a vision for a future as stated in Isaiah 2:4 "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

Hope you like it and that we can share the desire for and pursuit of World Peace together.

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March 6, 2011

The Exponential Road To Peace




When Charlie Rose interviewed Ray Kurzweil, the renown futurist (BusinessWeek--March 7-13, 2011), Kurzweil assures us that in just 8 more doublings of solar power output (each, which is happening every 2 years), we will be able to meet 100% of our energy needs.

This is the amazing power of the speed of exponential technology change to potentially solve our seemingly unsolvable human problems.

As always, Kurzweil's optimism about our future is noteworthy.
I hope that Kurzweil and the Prime Minister of Israel who discussed energy advice also shared insights about the prospect for Middle East peace.

Let the amazing promise of technology coupled with the ultimate in faith (and a strong military deterent) bring genuine peace to us soon. Amen!

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February 21, 2011

Glass, More Than Just Window Dressing

This is FANTASTIC!

Video by Corning on glass uses for the future and what a future it is going to be (G-d willing).

Called: "A Day Made of Glass...Made possible by Corning."

This made me want for more of these capabilities NOW.

Imagine everything you do, but doing it better with glass display powered by technology and lots of information--all around you, as you need it!

I was aware of Corning's use of glass in high-tech ways for fiber optics transmission (i.e. Internet) and for the Hubble Telescope.

Now so many types of glass for seemingly every functional area of our lives...

  • Photovoltaic
  • LCD Television
  • Architectural
  • Surface
  • Appliance Veneer
  • Handheld
  • Automotive
  • Large-Format
  • All Weather
  • Wall Format
  • Work Surface
  • Electronics Ready
  • Large Panel
  • Flexible
  • 3-D TV
  • Portable

Smart products, great vision, and a future that I want to buy into.

Thanks to my relative, Alex S. for sending this video my way.

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February 19, 2011

Technology and The Workforce Seismic Shift

The Wall Street Journal this week (17 February 2011) had a scary and thought-provoking editorial called “Is Your Job an Endangered Species.”

The thesis is that “Technology is eating jobs—and not just obvious ones like toll takers and phone operators. Lawyers and doctors are at risk as well.”

The notion is that while technology creates opportunities for some, it is a major threat to many others.

The opinion piece says to “forget blue-collar and white-collar-workers.” Rather, think in terms of workers who are either “creators” or “servers”.

Creators—these are the innovators: programmers, researchers, and engineers. They are “the ones driving productivity—writing code, designing chips, creating drugs, and running search engines.”

Servers—these are jobs to service the creators: “building homes, providing food, offering legal advice,” etc. These jobs are ripe “to be replaced by machines, by computers, and by how business operates.”

These two categories of labor are similarly portrayed in the movie I. Robot with a vision of society by 2035 that has engineers (“creators”) from U.S. Robotics building robots and then masses of robots walking around side by side with people and performing everyday tasks from the delivering packages to caring for the sick (“servers”).

With manufacturing jobs continuing to move overseas to the “lowest price bidder” and service-based jobs at risk as we continue to make advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, there are a number of important questions that will challenge us:

1) Are the Creator jobs (augmented by the left-over service jobs that don’t go to robots or AI) enough to keep our population fully or even near fully employed?

2) Can almost everyone (no matter what their intellectual capability and curiosity) be expected to perform in the functional job category of creators?

3) Can we transition the preponderance of our society to be engineers and programmers and scientists and inventors—especially given our challenges in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and is this even desirable?

According to the WSJ editorial, there are a few givens:

- Momentous change in the job market is upon us: “Like it or not we are at the beginning of a decades-long trend” in changing employment prospects.

- Jobs are going to be destroyed: “There is no quick fix for job creation when so much technology-driven job destruction is taking place.”

- New jobs will be created: “History shows that labor-saving machines haven’t decreased overall employment even when they have made certain jobs obsolete.”

One of the major problems with the rapid pace of the technology boom we are experiencing is that job market has not had time to adjust—and the “legacy” labor supply is out of equilibrium with the emerging market demands.

Therefore, until new jobs and the associated education and training catch up to meet the demands of a changing society, we are going to suffer severe job dislocation and unemployment that will be enormously painful for many years yet to come.

In terms of what the gamut of new jobs will end up being in our society, surely it will involve areas of critical need such as energy independence, ongoing medical breakthroughs, necessary security advances, high-speed transportation, and so much more.

In all cases though, we can expect that those workers that bring innovation and modern technical skills “to the table” will have the distinct advantage over those that cling to jobs past their technological prime.

Digital natives will have the advantage here; digital immigrants need to adjust to the seismic shift to the employment landscape that is still only just beginning.


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February 13, 2011

Singular Future Or Nightmare Scenario

Time Magazine (10 February 2011) has an interesting article called “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal.”

No, this is not about the typical quest of man for immortality, but rather it is a deep dive on The Singularity—Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge’s concept of technological change becoming so rapid (through exponential growth) that there will be a “rupture in the fabric of human history.”

In astrophysics, the term Singularity refers to the point in the space-time continuum (such as in a black hole) where the normal rules of nature (i.e. physics) do not apply.

In terms of technology, the notion of The Singularity is that computing gets faster and faster (related to Moore’s Law) until finally the radical change brought about by the development of “superintelligent” computers make it incredibly difficult for us to even predict the future.

Yet predictions are exactly what these futurists attempt to provide us for the post-Singularity era, and while science fiction for now, these are viewed as serious contenders for human-kinds’ future.

Here are some possibilities posited:

- Human-Machine Blending—“maybe we’ll merge with them [the computers] to become super-intelligent cyborgs.”

- Physical Life Extension (or Even Immortality!)—“maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old-age and prolong our life span indefinitely.”

- Living In Virtual Reality—“maybe we’ll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever.”

- Man-Machine At War—“maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us.”

Whether you can believe these specific predictions or not, Kurzweilians all seem to adhere to a common belief “in the power of technology to shape history.”

Certainly technology enables us to do amazing things, which we would never have seriously dreamed of not so very long ago—I am still trying to get my mind around a computer, smartphones, the Internet, and more.

Yet, I worry too about the overreliance on technology and the overlooking of the hand of G-d guiding our journey towards a purpose with technology being the means and not the ends.

Often I marvel at both the pace of technological change and the capabilities that these advancements bring us. But at the same time, I think of these great technological leaps for mankind the same way as I do a Beethoven symphony or Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece—that it is inspired by a higher source, it is a gift from above.

So in this light, as I think about the four Kurzweilian predictions, I must essentially discount them all, since I do not believe that in G-d’s love for us that his intent is to turn us into either cyborgs, aimless immortals, virtual human beings, or to be utterly annihilated by a race of machines.

Nevertheless, these predictions are still valuable, because they do provide a “north-star” for us to guide us to constructive improvements in the human condition through robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, virtual reality as well as warnings of the potential destructive power of technology unconstrained.

One thing is certain about Kurzweil and the other futurists, they have my admiration for taking a strategic, big picture view on where we’re headed and making us think in new and unconventional ways.


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January 17, 2011

3 Things A Robot Can Do That Your Employees Can't

A little Monday morning humor...not that you'd necessarily want them to do these things...but if you're already shelling out, you may as well get your money's worth. :-)
1. "Stand on one foot, twist its waist and strike poses" (well, some of us can do that...)
2. "Travel 86 miles around the office without stopping."
3. Point at things in the office using a laser pointer in it's right eye.
But the best thing of all, seriously, is that the new wave of robots coming off the assembly line can "fetch lattes from Starbucks."
Make mine a double!
(Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek 17-23 Jan. 2011)























(Robots pictured: HRP-4, PR2, and Anybots QB)

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December 23, 2010

Anatomy, The Google Way

The new Google Body Browser (released 16 December) provides an incredible view into the human anatomy.

Here is the link to the download.

This is the a long way from the classic Anatomy of the Human Body by Henry Gray (1918).

I'm looking forward to seeing the hologram version some day soon.

All this may just be cool enough to make me want to go back and become a M.D.!

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September 23, 2010

World 2020

Forbes Magazine (7 September 2010) has an interesting look ahead at the world over the next ten years.

There were some notable predictions that stood out in terms of the good, the bad, and the ugly:

  • 2011: The Terrafugia flying car goes on sales for $200,000. (GOOD—roads are congested)
  • 2012: Oil prices skyrocket following Israeli raid on Iranian nukes. (GOOD—nuclear non-proliferation/ BAD—oil prices) Facebook IPOs at $40 billion. (GOOD—social media still sizzling)
  • 2014:Marines deploy tens of thousands of HULC3 exoskeletons—robotic suits—to soldiers in Afghanistan. Lockheed Martin suits increases strength and endurance. (GOOD—“the edge” goes to our warfighters)
  • 2016: First Internet balloting for U.S. President with 7% of votes cast online. (GOOD—the old ballot machines are so like “yesterday”)
  • 2018: Trans Euro-Asia Express—world’s fastest train arrives in Paris from Bejing, break 300 MPH record. (Good—alternative to airlines)
  • 2019: U.S. Life expectancy declines for first time in a century; doctors blame 55% obesity rate. (UGLY—“meaning really bad”—national health is in serious jeopardy)
  • 2020: WalMart sales pass $1 trillion...now employs 5 million worldwide. (GOOD—low prices/BAD—low paying jobs) First privately owned spacecraft lands 6 men and 2 women on moon. (GOOD—Thanks Virgin Galactic; Star Trek is a closer reality: "To boldly go...")

Here are ten more predictions I’d like to see (from Forbes or others) in terms of what happens to:

  1. World peace (e.g. Middle-east)
  2. Cure for cancer (and other horrible illnesses)
  3. Economy
  4. Federal deficit
  5. Freedom and human rights
  6. Environment (including global warming)
  7. Osama bin Laden (and his terrorist henchmen)
  8. Everything new technology (insatiable appetite for this one!)
  9. Best careers (so I can advise the youngsters)
  10. Stock market (hey, wouldn’t it be great to know) :-)

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