In case you haven't noticed, I have an ambitious streak.
In 2012, I wrote a seminal paper. (Well, I think in retrospect it will be seen as seminal. It seminal to me.) I had been asked to write a paper exploring one of the world's biggest "wicked" problems. Typical problems of this genre are climate change, economic crisis, water crisis, peak oil, etc. Big disasters that threaten the END OF HUMANITY!!!!!1!!!1!!!1
While these are truly big problems, I do not get particularly worked up by them. Part of this has to do with my galactic timeline view of the human species. Sure, from our perspective, these are big deal problems, but in the scheme of the universe, I don't think these things will destroy the earth, or the solar system. These problems _will_ make it difficult to continue as a species. Anyway, with this nonchalant perspective and because I like a challenge; I decided how boring to address only ONE problem. Instead, I tackled ALL the problems. And by looking at ALL THE PROBLEMS, I found a brand new perspective.
If you know me, you know I don't think like most people.
My paper, The Human Problem, explored the results of this inquiry. The Association of Professional Futurist awarded me first place for it. (This was the third year in a row I had been awarded by the APF - I'm abstaining submitting anything this year - I think it's only fair.)
I presented an in-depth talk about the paper at Iowa Wesleyan last October. I had forgotten they filmed it, but found it online this morning. It's a pretty fantastic talk, if I do say so myself. I am fairly happy with the presentation.
If you are interested in learning HOW TO SOLVE ALL THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS (and I can't help but type this with a snark in my eye), then check it out. Enjoy!
I've talked about using Kickstarter as an experiment in crowd-funding The Future of Money TV Series. But there's another experiment hidden inside the Kickstarter...
Back in 2010 I created my first set of future scenarios about the Future of Transactions. Briefly they were:
I conceived of the Neux three years ago. While launching the Kickstarter, I was not content to merely experiment with what exists today, but with what I believe will be possible in the future.
Novenify has a innovative payment philosophy. While we accept standard currency for our Analysis and Pro-Active Extension Program, our other programs accept payment only in Neux dollars.
Neux dollars are our own currency, developed and created by our Founder, Ms Hill. Ms Hill crowd-sourced the funding for her ground-breaking research, with all early investors having the option to receive their investment returns in our currency. At that time, Novenify was the only company who accepted this payment. In the past decade, Neux dollars have been approved for transactional currency status by the Alternative Currency Consortium. Neux dollars have subsequently gone into regular circulation.
Neux dollars can be currently be earned by highly conscious and humanity contributing individuals. Please contact us to apply. (source)
I saw this experiment for real when I met the Amsterdam Artist, Dadara, in March of this year. He showed me his Love Currency. This was more than just a voucher... it was a currency with a non-financial value encoded into it. Much like I had envisioned with Janet Hill's Neux currency.
When I went to create the Kickstarter, I decided to make NEUX for real and encode certain values in it.
I'd like to introduce you to the NEUX.
The values encoded in NEUX are not financial. It is a belief in a positive, inclusive, systematic view of the financial system that abundantly offers/creates the ability for currency to circulate in the market system, for the co-existence of diverse, complimentary and even adversarial currencies, products, systems and infrastructures to co-exist.
You can get your own NEUX by financially backing the Kickstarter. You're exchanging a financial value into a non-financial valued currency. The ratio is 1 to 1 at the $100 level. Want some NEUX? Choose from one of these two levels with a bonus round:
What may become of NEUX currency? I have some ideas I will share in time. Like in the Novenify scenario, there may be a time when NEUX currency is the only form of payment for certain products, services or information.
This is an experiment in layers. Like my films show layers of the future.
Don't be left out of the NEUX experiment. Come play with us and together we will create the future.
It's been a wild ride, this Kickstarter experiment for the Future of Money TV Series. Yesterday marked the beginnig of our two week count down. Two weeks to raise the remaining amount or ....
I have been joined by 137 amazing people. People including Bank Executives, Burning Man founders, Bitcoin enthusiasts, Community Currency Creators, Bank Startup Founders, Futurists, Startup Veterans, Science Fiction Authors, Scientists, Marketers, Journalists, long time friends, brand new ones and many people I haven't met… yet!
I'm amazed to bring this diverse group of people together who believe in a positive vision of the future of money. I know this series will transform lives, will transform minds, will transform the world.
Fast or slow, this is going to happen. You can be here at the beginning. Any amount helps! Join us!
Photo by infomatique
I've spoken on Identity and participated in the Identity community for a long time, going back to my work at AOL on Account Linking for Instant Messenger (circa 2002). With that background, I'm speaking at Privacy, Identity, Innovation in Seattle on Tuesday, September 17th at 5pm.
The Future of Identity
Like privacy, the term “identity” means different things to different people. In this conversation with Mozilla privacy engineer Monica Chew and futurist Heather Schlegel, we’ll discuss those nuances and consider what the future of identity might look like. What role does contextual identity play in protecting privacy and how can companies like Mozilla enable individuals to manage their various personas? How is use of a real-name identity changing the digital experience? Will pseudonymity and anonymity as we know them exist in the future? Or, as Seinfeld’s George Costanaza might say, are our worlds colliding as our online and offline personas merge?
If you're interested in attending, you can register for the event with at 15% discount using this link.
Think technology is tearing us apart? WRONG.
[W]hat I discovered in the course of my reporting was something quite different. As traditional family structures are falling apart for working-class men, many of them are forging new kinds of relationships: two old high-school friends who chat so many times a day that they need to buy themselves walkie-talkies; a father who texts his almost-grown sons as he goes to bed at night and as he wakes up in the morning.
Christians often talk about a “God-shaped hole,” a need inside us that can be filled only by faith. But perhaps we share a “family-shaped hole.” When the old structures recede for men, they find ways to replace them with alternative attachments, bonds with one or two people that offer the warmth and intimacy typically provided by a wife or significant other. If anything, these improvised families can prove more intense because they are formed under duress and, lacking a conventional domestic routine or a recognized status, they must be constantly tended and reinforced.
From this Atlantic article: Murder by Craigslist
What's interesting about this, is the technology that facilitates these intimate familiar relationships. Based on my recent research on the Future of Intimacy, this is going to happen more and more. I think this is a GREAT thing, so my team and I have submitted a panel to SXSW to share our findings.
As the technology becomes a natural augmentation of our physical relationships, virtual interactions are becoming less of a substitute for physical proximity and rather a mechanism to extend and augment intimacy (play/engagement/closeness) between humans and machines.
Humans are drawn to create and sustain intimate connections with each other. This goes beyond a partner sex bond and includes close friends, family and work colleagues. Technology will increasingly facilitate and strengthen these deep human emotional bonds.
These deep intimate connections are not limited to human to human subjects. Technology will also facilitate deep connection with machines, computers, devices and sensors embedded in our world.
Our all-star team includes
As the virtual becomes a natural augmentation of our physical relationships, how will virtual interactions become less of a substitute for physical proximity and rather a mechanism to extend and augment intimacy (play/engagement/closeness) in 2050?
UME is the leading company in emotion extension technology. At UME, we connect how you feel with your loved ones.
This is a quick blog post following up my tweet here.
It might seem like a radical perspective, but what I'm really doing is challenging our traditional view. Before I turn the view upside down, what do I understand that traditional view to be?
For the record, I am comfortable with the scientific evidence showing a warming earth; but I really don't care.
Because I take a very long term view. (Longer than the Long Now Foundation.)
We see this problem only from a human/known life/so called earth/global view.
I think it's a little audacious to think us puny humans are going to do something so dramatic as to KILL THE EARTH?!?! Now, what global warming may do is make the environment inhabitable for human and other current life as we know it. (Past science shows our climate has not always been hospitable for the kind of life that exists today.)
But in the scheme of the universe - a universal timescale - maybe we puny humans are a mere blip. Who really cares whether we live or die? (Except us.) I don't have the kind of preciousness or urgency around this topic.
I don't have much love for the human species, even being part of it, so I frankly don't care whether we live or die. When I bubble this thinking up to life in general, I take a stronger interest. I would be seriously bummed if all life went away, ceased to exist - but that's going to happen at some point anyway, so why cry about a certain possibility? (OK, you're right, it's not a certain possibility.) The bummer for me about all life as we know it ceasing - is that then life has to start over from scratch again to do whatever it's unfolding itself to do. But life has a lot of time to develop itself, so what do I know as a puny human blip.
In my mind, the only reason global warming is a potential problem is that it might wipe out all life.
But I don't actually think that is a real possibility.
It's because life is resilient. Sure, the environment might shift so that lots of living things die. Bummer for those things. But life will continue on, in some form. It will evolve. Who knows to what?! Maybe something more awesome-better-creative-cool-new.
So now that you know where I stand, I'll share my flipped view of global warming.
I was reading/watching this article/video, sent to the WFSF (World Futures Studies Federation) listserv. It's going on and on about the very real problems of permafrost melting, glaciers melting and how this is a reinforcing feedback loop to increase warming. I totally get it. It's a big problem if you want the world to stay the same.
Watching this, fresh in my mind is a presentation/paper I wrote about BIG PROBLEMS FACING HUMANITY. The usual suspects: global warming, resource limits.
And all I could think watching that video was - AWESOME - more fresh water (solve your fresh water problem - lots of fresh pure melting ice caps!) and more land mass (manifest destiny Antarctica!). I could see, that rather than cold, white caps, verdant green fields of farms and towns. It's not that far-fetched! Forget about Mars, Antarctica is right here.
Hell, we might even find something crazy and mindboggling in the melting ice! Things revealed that we might never know if we hadn't turned on the global hairdryer. Where are the scientists and entrepreneurs to catch this fresh water melt off before it goes into the ocean? Opportunities!
Now, as I said in the first sentence, I know this is a radical perspective. I don't actually think anyone would back it up. And I'm not saying that we should stop doing anything to reduce our impact on the climate. But I am asking us to challenge our usual thinking.
We look at this situation as if we (humans) are separate from climate. We're two sides of the same coin. The (previous) climate contributed to the creation of us, just as we changed the climate.
I'm saying, shake up your thinking! Get out of your usual paradigms of thinking.
After 6+ months of work, I'm finally able to talk about this amazing project I've been part of. The Digital Asset Grid is a new platform to enable safe and secure transfer of personal data assets. With control of personal data assets with the individual. It's a paradigm shifting idea.
Here's a short documentary I did about the project, and the video, Slices of Life, that describes the scenarios will go live on Wednesday.
There is an unspoken assumption when one engages in a transaction, it is _one_ transaction. Most of the time the transaction getting the attention is the one that deals with money.
Do you pay in cash, credit card, mobile wallet, via square, via a different app on a smart phone? There's a lot of information about that kind of transaction that goes uncaptured.
Value like your Yelp rating, your LinkedIn Recommendations - experiences you have about the transaction itself. Meta-Transaction information. With the help of Information Technology, this is changing.
Still from my short future film, Fly Me to the Moon,
of a Smart Check with specific integrated rating mechanism.
We know the importance of having a good reputation. It used to be calculated by the size of your rolodex. Today, we have LinkedIn Recommendations. While I can't cash out my LinkedIn Recommendations to pay my rent, they do have a direct influence on my cash flow.
Our consumption today is more sophisticated than ever - did we really care about shade grown free trade coffee before 2002? Or whether our consumer goods were made in ethical factories? (I'm looking at you Nike and Apple.) Perhaps not so much.
These values are generally difficult to specifically track. Sure the trends are strong, but the lines are fuzzy and often understood only after a delay (and there's a positive feedback loop going here too). Information Technology could change this.
From the results of my research on transactions, I coined a new phrase: "Value-Encoded Currency." I use this term to describe a bunch of new "currencies" being explored in the marketplace. I use the term currency creatively - I do not limit it to financial instruments such as the dollar, euro, yen or renminbi. I may not go so far to say that data or reputation are currencies in themselves - in some ways they are, but they also lack some key characteristics and are generally pools of currency potential. Reputation and data have values and I consider them proto-currencies.
Bitcoin is a better example of a Value-Encoded Currency because it has both the characteristics of a traditional currency (exchange, transactions, an agreed upon value that can be exchanged) and it ALSO has specific values encoded into the DNA of the currency. The values encoded in Bitcoin are peer-to-peer, decentralization, distrust in government/central agencies and highly technical. (Based on my survey from Summer of 2011.)
To some extent the US Dollar is a value encoded currency, with (watered-down) values of capitalism, free open markets, circulation, the American Dream.
This is what I mean by a Value-Encoded Currency. The currency has certain values associated with it.
People will care about these values as we increase they ways (which includes apps and hardware dongles like Square) we can pay for things. More on that later... let me get back to Klout.
I've watched Klout since it opened. I was skeptical at first. I did not agree with the behavior its ranking system encouraged. You could game the system, rewarding people with higher scores for certain behavior. This made the system that Klout is trying to create less valuable overall. (Or perhaps only valuable to those who wanted to play within the Klout ecosystem.) Perhaps they realized that, with their two score resets (that I remember).
I interpret these score resetting or algorithmic tweaking as QA testing. They're not testing their software, they're adjusting the intelligence of the system.
Klout is one of few companies exploring these waters, and I see it as the tip of an iceberg. That is, if they don't get seduced into the world of advertising and marketing building their network audience only to sell them out to the highest bidders. The advertising model is at best short to medium term. There is a much bigger pie long term, and Klout could play a defining role in that. Klout is already playing a defining role in it.
Long-term, Klout could become a platform for currency creation based on specific values. Take their K score and a dating matching algorithm add etsy and an open market transaction. Throw in local and collaborative consumption for the icing and cherry. A platform for creating and managing value encoded currencies. As the platform for these currencies, it could create/support/enable a mechanism for inter-market exchanges of value encoded currencies.
Currently no platform for this exists. I always saw this utility provided by an entity that was more standards based (ahem, who was my last client?), but hey, the open market is a wonderful thing.
This is why I watch Klout. This is why I think this company could be poised to transform the future in a way few of us can imagine.
If I'm honest with my futurist self, based on my research and the trends extrapolating into possible futures, it's not a question of IF this functionality will be created, but only BY WHOM.
Society, consumers, people are demanding this type of currency. They're being fed a shallow version of it through marketing and brand rewards - but the hunger is not sated. The behavior has been primed by virtual (gaming) and alternate (rewards type) currencies. And many people are experimenting already with systematic work arounds (reselling gift cards network).
It's only a matter of time, and who.
Klout is one company that could execute on the possibility. And that is why I watch them.
Nootropics are drugs that make our brains and bodies better. Faster, smarter and can reduce the impact of aging. Sometimes they offer enlightenment. Nootropics are part of a larger trend that is exponentially advancing humanity. It takes our brains and bodies and makes them more efficient, pushing them farther, faster than evolution can on its own.
IT Technology is another trend and when applied to medicine it has exponentially advanced our knowledge and understanding of ourselves. One subtrend of IT technology is the use of mobile computers (phones, tablets and soon to be small specific always connected electronics). The "cloud" makes these devices and interactions possible. That's the hardware side. There's the software side with open APIs and an "app" platform that encourages development by anyone.
But what's beyond Mobile Medicine?
This is exactly the questions, Emily Empel (@localrat) and I propose to explore at SXSW in 2013 in our session entitled: Doctor in the Cloud: Beyond Mobile Medicine.
If you're curious about how you might manage our health experience in the near-future, please leave a comment and give us an upvote (you have to register, but it takes just a moment and we really appreciate it).
And while we love taking a positive view on the future, we give serious consideration to current and emerging concerns. We will include the downsides:
Emily and I will prepare the session with our usual robust research and present it with high energy and our engaging style. You'll leave our session with a broad understanding of current trends and a balanced view of what the near future promises.
We can't wait to share our results with you!
Please show your support with an upvote, like, tweet, and RT. We sincerely appreciate it!
Go to Doctor in the Cloud: Beyond Mobile Medicine submission.
Crossposted from @localrat's blog, my co-conspirator in presenting awe-some futures work this weekend.
My co-conspirator (@heathervescent) and I are participating in two sessions at The World Future Society Conference. Last year, we presented on the “Best of Houston Futures” panel and renamed it “The Future of Money, Sex and Politics”. Look out Toronto- we’re back!
At first glance, our topic areas are seemingly disparate. But think of them as your favorite cocktail combo- an unlikely mixture with intoxicating results. We’re futures mixologists and promise to inform, intrigue, and inspire. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s ahead:
Saturday 2:00 pm- 3:30 pm: The Future of Shopping: An Immersive Experience
It’s the first time we’re piloting this type of session! Heather and I have been conducting independent research on the future of transactions and retailing. We’ve decided to merge our interest areas into a scenario based futures immersion. During this session, you will have the chance to create and experience a future retail environment- complete with alternative currencies, rotique vendors, and virtual incentives.
Sunday 9:00 am- 10:30 am: Best of Houston Futures: The Demographic Transition
Heather and I were awarded third place by the Association of Professional Futurists for our systems model of the demographic transition. This is our first public showcasing of the model! If that doesn’t get you in the door, this should- two amazing futurists, Josh Lindenger and Jason Swanson, will also be presenting on the future of locomotive media and learning management systems. Best of Houston is a session for futurists who want to leave WFS tantalized by a wide breadth of topic areas they haven’t considered.
I’m now off to grab a real cocktail in the hybrid space. Tweet me (@localrat)!
I am SO EXCITED to co-present these two sessions with Emily. We got the idea to combine our research after last year's Houston Futures session (mentioned above) and submitted our idea. We've been working like mad the past week putting the final touches on our very interactive session.
The second presentation, on the demographic transition, is something I am particularly proud of. The systems model we created is decidedly complicated with more than 160 equations in it. While challenging us, it only whet my appetite for more systems analysis. I'd really love to do this kind of work for the government (gasp!). I am also especially proud of our 3rd place award. It's always gratifying to be rewarded for excellent hard work (not always the case in the business world).
If you're not able to be in Toronto and are interested in our research, invite us to present to your group or company. We'd love to share this research broadly.
If you like what we've done, let us know. And yes, we can be available for your projects.
Next week, I am headed to Vail, Colorado for the Cloud Identity Summit where we kick off the filming for my third Future Scenario Short. While my past two shorts have been design fictions, based on my research, this one is a little different.
In Fly Me to the Moon I designed the product and user interface of something that currently does not exist - but the technology to enable it does. When working with my prop-makers, one of them suggested we mock up the software and display it, while another asked when we were going to actually build it. My sound guy on the shoot pulled me aside in a quiet moment and asked me with great excitement when this would be able. He started telling me how it would make going out with his friends easier. (I was beaming with validation of the results of my research and future scenarios.)
We used the same technique for the products showcased in Flowers for Grandma (still in post-production). I'm always gratified when people ask me if the products in these films exist after they see them. Well.... they could exist. It's not technology that is the limiting factor in most cases. It's collaboration between the existing systems. And since these existing systems are mostly owned and operated by large corporations, getting them to work together can sometimes be a challenge. And it was exactly for this reason that I joined Innotribe.
Well, we might see those things change in this third video. But you'll have to wait until Fall, where we'll globally launch it at Sibos in Osaka. I bet it will show you a positive vision of the future that you can barely imagine today...
I am fascinated by possibilities. There's nothing I like better than seeing what can be, than perhaps transitioning those possibilities into this world. In the past few years I have honed my ability to see possibilities (and a process to make them real). I can see around corners, juggle variables and play a metaphorical shell game with data, research & time extrapolations to create a cone of plausability, mine the possibilities in and around it (wildcards fall on the edge or outside of them) and identify (sometimes multiple based on your valueset/variables) preferred futures.
All futures are possibilities. The future is subjunctive tense. There are no future facts, as Bertrand de Jouvenel writes in The Art of Conjecture. So by definition the future is pure possibility. Of course, with the demonstration of the cone of plausibility, some futures have an increased likelihood of occurring, for various reasons. The probability of those futures occurring is more likely or of higher probability. While others have very low probability. (Wild cards aka black swans aka STEEP surprises defined by very low occurrence probability). But low probability does not mean impossible, although for all practical purposes, it may be.
It is interesting to note, that the probability of possibilities doesn't really matter when the present arrives. The present is made up of possibilities that held all kinds of probabilities: from the habit to the wild card.
When thinking about the transition of future possibilities into present reality/action, I like to borrow an example from Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig explains quality with a train. The train is riding on its tracks with quality the ever moving place at the front edge of the train as the train moves on it's tracks. This metaphor has stuck in my mind for over two decades. Rather than use it to define quality. Let me use it to explain the transition of the future subjunctive to the present (and riff off of China Mievelle's Iron Council a bit).
The train is moving along the track (representing time) but instead of one track in front of the train to drive on, there are many tracks (sure, go quantum here), some are more solid than others. Any track is possible; the more probably the track, the more real that track seems (higher probability). (Habits and other things create solid tracks for our metaphorical trains.)
The track the train has not already passed on is the future (even if it's the daily commuter train). There is no guarantee the train will pass on it (it could get derailed or float off into the sky of it's own accord a la the Glass Hotel or the Land of Green Ginger). As the train passes the tracks, pregnant possibility ends, rendering one possibility amongst all other, now impossibilities. This happening many times each second, train clipping along the track.
So let's talk about preferred futures. A preferred future is the future you would prefer to occur. You may have some (or a lot of) control in making it occur. And the more direct control you have over the variables, the increased likelihood for you to make it happen. And by variables, I'm talking about people, companies, technologies, etc. Whatever you need to make that future real. Subjunctive present. You are laying the track you want the train to run on. You want to increase the probability of the train running on this track when it gets to it. This is your pathway to your preferred future. (And here we can go full Iron Council.)
Now let's talk about impossibilities. For every present moment (a rendered possibility), there may be a thousand impossibilities. Evaporated forever. Or perhaps for just a moment (I will not eat that chocolate today! this week! for the next 5 minutes!). As a lover of possibility, you'd think I'd hate the impossibility and yes, they do provide some sadness. But one must love the impossible, unrealized futures as much as the one that is realized. And while the train is not on the track, those tracks still exist in possible form. Perhaps never to be realized. Or realized at another time. Possible impossibilities.
I'm very excited to report my film, Fly Me to the Moon, which was created to show the results of my research at Sibos has been nominated for a Most Important Futures Work by the Association of Professional Futurists (disclaimer: I am a member of the APF). This is a huge honor and as you can see by the competition is very high with Nassim Tableb's Black Swan, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and Jane McGonigal's online game, Evoke. You can click through to see the other nominations. You can watch the video below, which was proudly shot and produced in West Hollywood, California, USA.
-Heather Schlegel, SWIFT Americas Innovation for Innotribe
(cross-posted at Innotribe's Blog)
I'm having an on-fire day today. Things are converging. The universe is sending me love letter from all sides and I'm sending my own share out too. I feel good. Stupidly happy. I enjoy the chemicals flowing positively through my body. Feeling these emotions. Knowing, that with the flow, there is the ebb.
Washing up after my morning coffee, I remember previous days. (Not necessarily the immediate preceding days.) The days of funk. Of feeling out of the groove. Not getting the love from the universe. Not making progress. As I rinse my wine glasses, I remember that many great days, follow funk days. Months of activity, follow years of quietude. Feast follows famine.
On these up days, I try to remember that this what I have, will change. A partner of years ago, the old prospector, always said, "you want to be approaching perfection, but never attaining it." I've never forgotten this. Good luck, bad luck, who knows. The tao knows no judgement. And I strive (and sometimes don't strive) to be one with /a vessel of the tao.
So my mind thusly primed, the dishes clean, I started thinking about that which I love thinking about these days: the changing state of our economy, money, currency, transactions. And right now, I think we're all in agreement that things are BORKED! But, it's not like this is the first time things have been borked, or the first crisis - and were still alive, here, transacting. (B. Lietear mentioned an amazing number of crisis's tracked since the 1600s in his talk on Monday at Compass Summit.) Then the tao flowed into my mind.
The only thing TO happen is to adjust the direction of the flow (I'm not talking stock and flow diagramming flows here). Things _are_ borked. So when things get to be completely borked, the only next step is away from complete and utter borkdom. (Ok, I realize this whole bork thing is getting out of hand, but stick with me.)
I'll translate. The only place the current financial economic global system has to go - is to get better. I realize there are still some doom and gloomers that will say it can get much worse, but I'm not talking rationally here. I'm talking taoistically. And with that, I hereby coin the phrase, "Taoistic Futures."
With all the talk of privacy going away, cameras and surveillance everywhere, and people actively fighting, I see a different way. Evolve with the technology.
So what, there are cameras tracking you, and face recognition software - where's the visually scattering make-up? I can envision a future where makeup (and clothing and accessories, shy not) have additional benefits. Not only can you have healthy glowing skin or waterproof eyeliners, but it provides a privacy fog around you. Perhaps it scatters or shifts the way your face looks (so it's not identified as a face). For example eye makeup that renders your eyes invisible to the algo processing the video feed.
Alternately, I can see using these makeups or clothes to show information, patterns or art. Could someone create a visual virus that infected algos that were exposed to it.
It's a mashup of They Live, Gully Foyle's face in the Stars My Destination, Ghost in the Shell, tattooing, beauty and tiger stripes.
The landscape in which we live, to which we are adapted, will also change; and that any one adaptation leaves the truths of the others outside its domain. - Rob Tow on Neo-enlightenment
Here's the math equation:
Facebook timeline + Dan Simmons Flashback + Stephenson's Diamond Age (Or A Young Girl's Primer) + AI = Possible future for us Gen Xers when we are old and in old age homes aka "TV" for the old people.
Here's the scene: you're old (but you don't have to be), you want to reminiscence, with/about your friends. Well, lucky you - you lived your life on Facebook (or Twitter or Google or your blog, etc.) and there is a ton of information about you to not only create your life timeline, but an avatar AI representation of you. (I've written about this in my scenario entitled, Trantor Mentors. Extra credit to anyone who gets the name inspiration.) So you can decide to jack in and re-experience certain times - or maybe just read your life like it was a book. (I admit I do that with my own blog sometimes. I am my primary reader, Oscar Wilde inspiration.) And there are different levels of media engagement. Like I mentioned, there's the book/reading, there's the watching, there's immersive VR (probably 3D).
Facebook might wanna consider teaming up with Singularity University right about now.
Protopian Flipsided View: one can use these group memories for various esoteric practices that increase self-awareness, understanding and tolerance.
Here's one from the Intuited Future:
Custom melanges, created out of high quality locally sourced spices. These personal custom spice melanges will be carried around in precious containers. And it would be safe to assume they will have additional micro/nano/cellular based ingredients.
I used to wonder why my dog seemed to know when the boyfriend (aka S.) got home while we on a walk. At a certain point in the walk, he would stop being interested with the walk, sniffing the bushes or wanting to walk more and instead - huff it back home. Mr Dog would practically drag me the last block home, breaking into a run if possible, down the driveway and up to the front door.
Yeah, sure, sometimes S. would be home; but sometimes he wasn't. Mr Dog was never upset when he ran back and there was no S. When Mr Dog ran back and S. was home = positive reinforcement that maybe Mr Dog has some secret sense. But he wasn't always right. And when S. wasn't usually home when Mr D and I got home, Mr Dog stopped dragging me that last block.
I never really got it. Until last week.
I read some research or an article (I forget exactly where - probably here on the internet or in one of my Science/Nature/Science Mags subscriptions) that explained, when a rat was randomly rewarded with a treat 60% of the time he pushed on a bar. He would push it all the time, even the times he didn't get a treat. This helped him maximize the treat - sure he only got it 60% of the time, but that 60% of the time was worth the 40% he didn't get one.
The study compared this experiment to a similar one done on humans. In the human case, the human tried to figure out what the pattern of reward was to increase the reward beyond 60%. In doing so, the human actually reduced the successful reward to 40 or 50% (I don't remember off the top of my head). So the human, in trying to figure out the pattern, actually reduced it's success.
That seemed to explain my dog's behavior.
Then I started thinking about my behavior - how I tried to understand and recogonize patterns. What if all those so called patterns are actually pure randomness? It's changed the way I've been thinking about some things.
I think I'm onto something here. I think getting caught up in patterns: trying to identify them, trying to understand them, might not always be so helpful. (Now, of course, there are times/things that do have patterns.) Maybe not everything has a pattern. And maybe some of the more complicated patterns we believe in, may be random or wild cards in retrospect.
I leaned across the cashier counter where I usually pick up my favorite pineapple fried rice; but today is different. No thai is being cooked up in the kitchen. A table where I usually enjoy the best panag curry in LA had been transformed with white table cloths, crystal and china. Surrounding the scene is an array of vision capture mechanism: actors, cameras, sound operators. And others, those who would take a vision from my mind one night in November and bring it to the screen.
I remember that night. Sitting here at my computer. Darkness surrounding me, sirens sounding in the streets, Steely Dan and Stereolab coming through the speakers. Immersed in my research results, papers strewn over my desk. Sitting back in my chair and rolling the results in my mind. How would this data become the future? What do I see - what do I want to see? I wrote these two paragraphs. It was a story, a vision: realistic, based on possible technology and a positive outlook on the future.
Watching from my vantage in the back, I took in the scene. The actors at the table, the lights, the sound equipment and boom operator, the camera, DP, Director, 1st AD, extras in the back and all the crew. Everyone here at my request - to take a vision from my mind that night, and bring it to the world.
A positive vision of the future.
During a break later, the sound guy came up to me and asked, "When are we going to have this?! I always have this problem when I go out to dinner with my friends (10+ people) at conferences. Even if we all have cash, it's still a hassle because no one has change."
Exactly. This future is coming. I don't know how long it will take to get here, but it's what the people want, and there's a LOT of money businesses and banks can make, if they'll just embrace it.
* photo by Anna Metcalf
"The battle is not here with your fellow men; but out there, in infinity" - Don Juan
"The only person worth competing with is myself." - moi
Competition. *Sigh.* I know it's suppose to motivate you to do your best, but when it comes to me, I just wanna walk away. I don't care about winning, I don't want to be the best, when it means that someone is the loser. We don't have the same skill set, levels or perceptions, perspectives, worldview. I'm interested in yours. Especially if you disagree with me or have a different perspective from mine. I'm already the best Heathervescent.
Competition can make one stretch. Competition can be the fuel for the midnight fires. Competition strips away the fat. Competition is full of pain (to get to 1st place or if you don't). Competition is divided. Collaboration is united. (If you have a very different perspective of competition, pls share with me.)
My favorite collaboration example is the work of Kaliya Hamlin and her work with user-centric identity. I've used many of her methods with the Geek Dinner and LA Barcamps with great success. If you've had a chance to participate in an event Kaliya has influenced, you'll see that it is just slightly different in the activities, but worlds apart in the intent and energy around the event.
At the WFS this past weekend I was disappointed with the use of competition in a couple sessions. Tom Frey announced his DaVinci Institute's Prize Competitions. Usually I love radical audacious ideas, but these rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't see anything in them about fixing the economy - or making the world better for people in the 8 prize competitions. I left the session distressed, confused at the non-practicality.
The next day, the morning session of the WFS Dev Seminar opened with a competition between groups with point scores and a "winner" to create the best scenario with specific data, variables, etc. Yuck! I know the people putting the session together weren't looking for that kind of reaction. They probably picked the competition metaphor to engage and excite people. I sat in the room, with sickness forming in my stomach, wondering if I had made a huge mistake pivoting my career and going into futures work.
I watched the groups form and work beginning. I sat watching, thinking, this is not that different from what Kaliya does. But why do I want to leave this room, whereas with her sessions I'm signing up to lead and participate? The difference is very slight framing and intent behind the structure.
In Kaliya's sessions, people are working together for a bigger goal, which includes competing businesses, products, architectures, philosophies. Much of this competition falls away when they come together for conversation. It's a group of people with the same long term goals: a vibrant ecosystem that supports many companies, technologies, products. The space is not about competing with each other, it's about working together to create the ecosystem so all can participate. There is no one winner at IIW, if you show up, you win.
Maybe that sounds all pollyanna, let's get along, we're all winners, yay! But consider that maybe some people don't care about winning at the expense of others.
But the zero-sum competition peppered the experience in the room at the WFS ProDev. I used the law of two feet and eventually left the seminar to check out the Surrealist Art Exhibit at the nearby Vancouver Art museum, which was phenomenal and mind-blowing. I got what I needed out of the session after all.
We're not gonna save the world competing with each other for million dollar prizes. But we could save it by working together.
His data was so good, I had tears in my eyes, my brain full of positive visions of the future and then his world collided with mine.
Jump to slide 122: The Bug in the Software: Our Market System can't effectively deal with Externalities. Our market system is very good, but it's limited to the things than can express itself in the current language of the market system. The big problems we need to solve don't fit into our existing market system. The language of the market system is money, currency, transactions. We need a way to turn our shifting values into an input to our market system. That input is a currency, something than can be transacted, tracked, traded, bought and sold.
And this is why banks and the financial industry needs to embrace, encourage, build and extend into the realm of alternate currencies. Here's where we'll jump to my presentation on the Future of Alternate Currencies and Transactions, slide 9, where I talk about Bitcoin and Ven.
The point I hear everyone missing when talking about new currencies are the additional VALUES encoded in the DNA of these new currencies. These concepts are being expressed in collaborative consumption, freecycling and lending/borrowing activities today. Companies are revolutionizing these activities. ProBono and Gift Economy are not tracked on any balance sheet because they can not be expressed in the current market economy language.
When Naam talks about a Carbon tax, why not make it a carbon currency? No one likes taxes, but people love currency: money! Wouldn't you love to trade, earn, sell carbon currency?
Let's put the values we care about into a metaphor the market can utilize: an Alternate Currency.
There's lots more money to be made with many currencies than with fewer. Wouldn't like you to have more opportunities to make buckets of money? If you do, consider embracing alternate currencies. Make more streams for the money to flow.
But back in 1999, DHTML was new. No one was using it.
I had the opportunity to usability test our first product and prototypes: a web-based presentation and a word processing application. Basically PowerPoint and Word for the web. I'm talking about creating, editing ppts and word docs in a browser. Netscape 4 browser. A whole new paradigm. My testers understood the concepts quickly and loved the ease of use. Many got how paradigm shifting this was and loved the idea. The company planned to build an entire suite of productivity applications using this technology.
But then, we got acquired. (Well, it wasn't so simple as that.) And next thing I knew, I was down in Mountain View presenting the technology to large internal groups. My role shifted and in the next year, I must have presented this technology (thanks to the amazing dev team) to over 30 groups inside AOL. Many groups immediately saw the user benefits - stuff that you and I take for granted today. Pop-ups, mouse-over dynamic windows, i-frames, divs.
Inevitable, the question would be asked about metrics. Back then, all metrics were page refresh based. Ads were displayed based on each page refresh. So if there was no page refresh (because we no longer had to refresh the page each time a user did something) that decreased the number of page views, which decreased the number of ads that could be served. Sure, we'd show that people stayed for minutes on a page, instead of leaving immediately, but even this metric was too new a concept.
Our new technology could not be "successful" in the terms of the old paradigm. Sure, we'd make the application more interactive, user friendly, basically have the user stay in the property using the application a LOT longer and increase usage, but.... it didn't show an increase in metrics that defined success at the time.
And that's because, the new paradigm was not "successful" by the metrics of the old paradigm. The mental mindset had to shift. The definition of success had to shift. And it took 4+ year before that happened.
The success metrics of the current paradigm stifled the adoption of the new paradigm.
And that's just one challenge when you're working with/creating paradigm shifts.
I'm headed to Vancouver this week to speak at the World Future Society's Annual Conference. I will be on the panel, Best of Houston Futures, 9am Sunday morning, moderated by Peter Bishop, the Director of our program. I will be joined by two excellent colleagues from the program. I've had the opportunity of reviewing Emily Empel's work on the Future of the Sex Industry and it's surprising! I've heard great things about Sara Robinson's work. You won't want to miss our visions of the future. Full panel details are below.
The Value Exchange is an alternate scenario of the future based on my Future of Alternate Currency and Transactions research results. This future world juxtaposes augmented reality, activist web cam monitoring, a weighed value exchange and a group of renegade cacophonists who target those of a certain value score for "re-programming." It's the love story between the cacophonist minion sent to acquire the target for programming, and the target - a beautiful biotechnician, the daughter of Nobel prize winner Janet Hill, founder of Novenify. But of course, not all goes as planned. And not everyone is who they say they are.
One of my favorite times in Los Angeles, was when I lived on Future Street. I'd come home and turn off Division onto a one-way alley that shot straight up the hill. I lived in a house hidden behind 2-3 story high Cypress trees, switch backed on the street. My pardner was a vivacious woman 20 years my senior whom I met when I sublet her Venice house - my first place in the City of Angeles. She was writing her first US book (having been a successful Italian Fashion Writer for decades).
Those years in the future I was pro-active about my life. I was focused on actively _creating_ the life I dreamt. Living in the future gave those activities power. I literally and figuratively lived in the Future. It delighted me to no end.
But I knew those days would come to an end. And they did all too soon. I returned to the present and my rose colored glasses got somehow packed away in the move. I came to love my new city, especially the Jacaranda trees, walks with Romeo J Puppernut and a friendship that could not have developed in the future. But I missed the blue sky and blazen possibilities of the future. So I created an artifact, an entity that could bridge the present and future worlds. A funnel. Reaching into the future, existing in the present. Pulling from the undefined, nebulous possibility and manifesting a product reality. And, of course, incorporated with the IRS.
Recently, I have been returning to those future days. I was obsessed with game levels at that time. Life was a DiabloII quest, finding gems, fighting the good fight. But I also left gems, treasures. Returning to those writings, that mindset, those goal lists, the "hidden" treasures are in full light. A perfect example of my mobius self: my past self living in the future, talking/leaving messages to my future self living in the present.
Last year, things changed. I returned to the Future with professional aspirations. I was ready to accept that I was a "Futurist" with all the baggage of failed jetpacks, incorrect "predictions" and a Hollywood vision filled post-apocalyptic BladeRunner possibilities. I embarked on a study to prepare myself to be a professional futurist. (Don't get me started on the amateur and pop futurists).
So here I am. Back in the waters of the future. Back to the Future!
There's been an idea that's been constantly vying for attention in my mind. I haven't been giving it much attention, since it's outside of my current focuses, but it's gotten more and more insistent over the past few days. I couldn't put it off any longer.
Welcome to another installment of Heather's Intuitive Future Forecasts, this time, talking about building material and the future of housing.
The Tang of Housing: Space Development driving the Future of Housing on Earth
We're going to see a dramatic change in the materials we use and way we create shelter. First, the housing many of us in the US live in are coming up on 100 years old. Even craftsmen houses are ageing. This was not a style of house that was built to last for 100+ years. (The Victorians on the other hand, with their plaster and lathe are a different story.)
Homes built in the past 20 years have even less longivity. Many were slap-dash thrown up during various housing building bubbles. (I can't imagine the state of the lofts in Potrero Hill building in 1999 that were occupied by a startup I worked for.) Thus we're going to see the decaying of the existing housing stock. Which, frankly is fine. Because technology is changing and evolving faster than the existing housing infrastructure can deal with. And people want different things anyway.
Here's the math equation:
Innovations in material sciences
+ the desire for flexible application to technology
+ gamification/quantification trend
+ limited/reducing resource use
- 70s modern design models
+ space travel as a weak signal.
You might ask, what does space travel have to do with housing?
A lot actually. A space travel industry could be jumpstarted by a revitalization in the earth housing industry. Many of the materials, modularity/repairability/extensibility needed for space, can be much simpler applied here on earth - for rapid prototyping. Our current housing stock is based on a paradigm of expanding resources that is just no longer the case. And with developing nations evolving into the developed - dense urban capacity is important more than ever.
Think Tang for the Housing Industry.
Here's the vision of the house of the future.
Using new materials developed for space use, prototype houses that have an electronic nervous system aka computer system. Walls and spaces must be flexible to allow for upgrading/switching/changing the infrastructure as the infrastructure is evolved. (Infrastructure = water, electricity, gas, air, internet/communication, waste and ??? else).
Additionally there will be tracking mechanism, although they will maintain privacy - we're not going to have Keeping up with the Jones changed to Competing with the Jones. This will monitor use and harvest/mining of resources. I see an integration with more urban gardening/green spaces plants: internal and directly external. Grass yards may be replaced with different types of plants.
There needs to be a way to recycle/evolve your living space, without having to be wealthy: permits and construction need to stop being available only for the wealthy. Government infrastructure and bureaucracy need to evolve to encourage the recycling of decaying homes utilizing old infrastructure to new homes that will pave the way for space development, travel and eventually living.
Engaging people to re-create their living spaces, while user/product testing materials, designs and mindsets that engage everyone to making the dream of space a reality.
Use this housing development improving living on earth as a base to slingshot ourselves ad astra, beyond our dreams and desires.
With that, small insistent idea in the back of my mind, you have been set free into the world.
Collaborating can be one of the best things to experience and recently I have had some new mindmelding group borg collaborative experiences - mostly due to technology.
Google Docs: The collective editing experience
My colleague and I were editing/creating the same google doc. We were exploring/creating/clarifying a project/article we decided to work on. We're on different sides of the country, three time zones apart and yet when were working on the document at the same time, I felt closer, able to collaborate more effectively than had we been in person. We were interacting fully online - with a text chat/discussion and the document editing and creating. Our places in the document were identified by different colored cursors, but there was not change tracking mechanism. We also did not stick to certain sections of the document. We skipped all around, I working on one section for a bit, then him jumping in (reading) commenting, editing/wordsmithing. The end product was one of the most collaborative documents I have co-created. And I might mention, this is with a colleague I have never met face to face.
Barcamp: Ad-hoc Do-ocracy
Myself and a team of ~8 co-organizers have been bringing back this favorite technology un-conference to Los Angeles since late 2010. What has been interesting to watch is the changing group of active participants. Although I feel there is one person driving the team (with a light hand) the experience I have had is one of "picking up the balls." Meaning, whatever needs to get done, ends up getting done by whomever can do it. Everyone has contributed their skills and expertise when it was needed. This has been a great experience in ad-hoc do-ocracy.
FutrChat: The fastest hour on Twitter
I had not participated in many Twitter Chats before participating in #futrchat. Futrchat is was started by Cindy FrewenWuellner and Jennifer Jarratt for the Association of Professional Futurists (APF), of which I am a (student) member. Each month a new topic around the Future of ____ is chosen. Some framing information is shared before the chat to set the stage. Then the firehose is turned on at a specific pre-scheduled time. In 3-5 minutes, my twitter stream goes from it's usual ticking of random information to lighting up across the globe. Futrchat participants tune in from Australia, UK and all across the US.
Then the hosts begin to pose the questions. (Each chat has 3-6 questions we explore in the hour.) And then the 50 or so conversation participants begin to answer them. In the answering, people respond to each other, chasing down an idea or querying for additional information. And all this is done within 140 characters. If this was a verbal conversation, it would be cacophony, everyone would be "speaking" at once. And online, in text, everyone is speaking at once. But because text has the ability to be linear and allow multiple responses in the same timespace, no one "interrupts," no one has to be silent to allow others their turn. Your turn is always, if you choose to take it.
Of course, one is not always "talking." There is the time needed to read (listen) to other's answers. To see who is responding to you. To think about what your response is to what you are reading (hearing). (And yes, I hear these people's voices in my head as I read their tweets.)
Although, it is generally just me, in my home office with my favorite furry companion during these #futrchats, I feel more stimulated than going to a conference. I'm in the comfort of my home, with high speed connection, able to quickly type, with my dual monitors to have various screens open to slice and dice and display the chatting data in various ways so I can follow and track the "radiowaves." This is ebonding. The intense human interaction that causes you to learn, understand and share more of yourself and others. For that hour, I am in an auditorium, that is can be filled with the voices of many people talking about things I find interesting.
And then the hour passes, and the energy and space dissolves, the twitter stream returns back to it's usual bubbling. The channel has closed, for the moment, but it always accessible.
A quick note about participating in these chats. There is no specific location we go to to have these conversations. It's not like we go to a specific chat room, or IRC or private label login. Yes, we are all on twitter, but besides that, the only thing you need to do to participate is to use the hashtag: #futrchat. It is like tuning into a radio station, but instead of only receiving, you can also send. Additionally, the technology of twitter, allows for both the sending and receiving of the information being sent on the wave (the hashtag #futrchat).
Technology is facilitating a way for the individual, completely and fully as an individual - I, to participate in a collective activity - a community - WE - if only for moments. These collaborations facilitated by technology are profound shifts in how individuals and communities form each other and participate with/in them.
I've been added as a last minute speaker for Web2.0 Expo in San Francisco next Wednesday, March 30 at 1:15pm. I will be sharing my research results on Trends Shaping the Future of Transactions.
What does the future of transactions look like? Researcher Heather Schlegel has fresh data on the future of currency and alternate transactions. In this session, she’ll share her findings, including current behaviors around transactions, emerging payment options and three invisible cultural trends that will shape our transactions. Among the critical questions she’ll answer:
If you plan to attend Web 2.0 and are interested in the Future of Alternate Currencies and Transactions, you won't want to miss my talk. Please come by!
My sharing activities have shifted this year. I used to share lots of things everywhere. I've written thousands of blog posts on multiple blogs. I used to present (and attend) at lots of events. But this year, that changed.
My circle of trust and sharing, while expanding via social networks, is also narrowing. The things that are important to me, I do not share as much. Yesterday I was interviewing someone for my academic research on the Future of Transactions, something I have actively studied for 10 months. And until a few weeks ago, no body knew. That's so not heathervescent. Or is it.
You see, the identity that's here on the Internet, is not my full or complete identity. That's no surprise, I suppose. Whereas many people keep their personal identity private and their professional one public, I and just the contrarian. And while I do make remarks from time to time about my 5 hour engineering meetings, or stressing out over bug testing, or how I feel I've did some of my best product design this summer... I don't actively talk about that.
Nor have I necessarily talked about my Impossible Futures, a project I began last spring. Nor about my academic research that I plan to make public early next year.
It's a strange thing. And I should begin to remedy it, because the world will be better with these shared futures.
In January, I began studying disruptive technologies in the Financial Sector. The most interesting areas I found were in Lending, Transactions and Alternate Currencies. After completing a high-level baseline forecast and several future concepts of those areas in May, I decided to explore the Future of Transactions in more detail this fall.
Transaction is an area to watch with the changes in the global financial markets and mobile technology trends. My own participation in non-hard currency transactions like the gift, barter and swap economies along with tracking the stock markets, global financial meltdown, gold and commodity price fluctuation leads me to believe there is a possibility of transaction disruption. Much like the slow but eventual creative/destruction blog publishing platforms had on traditional publishing.
Last week, I launched a public survey asking the question: How will we pay for things in the future? The response has been great with almost 200 participants. I plan to use the data to create multiple future scenarios and will share the data and these scenarios in a report in a few months.
To everyone who has taken the survey: THANK YOU! You're really blown my mind. There were several technologies and ideas I specifically left _off_ the survey (didn't want to go too future out there, ;) ) that several folks wrote in. Thanks for validating the viability of those ideas. I hope you're as excited about the future as I am. Let's co-create it! Oh wait, we already are. ;)
Big thanks and shout out to everyone who forward the survey, via email, twitter, FB and word of mouth. Kudos to the following folks who RTed or forward the survey via Twitter. Check em out and follow them.
I will be expanding and extending my Impossible Futures and look forward to sharing them with you in a few months.
In the meantime, the survey will be open until November 15th. Please feel free to continue to share it until then.
See you in our co-created Future!
The breakthrough came this morning:
Birds are to the Earth as Humans are to Space.
The analogy is not as simple as it may seem. There is a new Nature report out describing a type of internal GPS/internal avian magnetic compass that birds use to navigate their migrations.
Wouldn't it be cool (and perhaps it is necessary) for humans to create/develop a similar sense to navigate to cosmos?
"They’re accessible and subversive at the same time. If that isn’t the definition of great art, what is?" (source)
YES!!! Accessible and subversive. Open and Closed. Displaying both sides of the coin, along with the coin, and the limitations of a coin. Opening the art to outsiders to experience and express it their own way. To make what is not theirs, theirs and thusly important.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about green energy and environmentalism. I hate to admit it, but when someone starts talking to me about green business, sustainability or green energy, my eyes glaze over and I stop considering them a serious individual (with a few very rare exceptions for a few of my extraordinary friends). The whole green energy/conservationism/savetheworldbandwagon makes me sick. It's hard for me to see it as something other than a bunch of white $$shame trying to save the world but only from their worldview/valueset.
I've felt very conflicted (and wrong and bad) about this attitude, wondering if I'm anti-conservation/green? Maybe it's just my contrarian tendencies. Is it about control? (I don't want anyone telling me how or where I should get my energy or how to use it, thank you very much.) But here's the thing - I actually think conservation and reducing energy use is the exact opposite direction that we as a human species should be going.
It hit me this week. Energy conservation and the development of solar and wind energies is akin to caloric restriction. Sure, it has been scientifically proven to help you live longer, but you certainly can't be a body builder on it. Nor can you express your human potential on it. (Unless that is living long enough for the Singularity - a noble cause in it's own, but one I care not to achieve.) Sure solar and wind will give us some energy, but they just help us put off dealing with peak oil. The amount of energy in oil is so highly concentrated and it is so easily chemically manipulated. We are not going to stop using oil and coal before we use them up no matter how much solar, wind and bio-fuel energies are available.
Based on my studying and my gut feelings, it is CRITICAL that we have excessive amounts of free/cheap energy to evolve to the next level. It is the difference between hunter/gatherer existence, and the Iowas cornfields I drove through this afternoon. With excessive amounts cheap energy many many things will become possible and be invented that can not possibly exist today.
It is the difference between an outdoor cooking fire and the electric plug in your wall that your electronic device "breathes" from.
I'm not saying we shouldn't develop wind, solar or vegetable based energy: we should, but I do not believe that these methods of energy capture/harnessing will be the difference between the metaphorical hunter/gatherer and cornfields of Iowa. Those energy models will merely maintain the existing paradigm. (And they will only prolong our dealing with peak oil. We're gonna use all the oil in this earth sooner or later.) Which is fine, but not something I am particular interested in. I'm focused on blowing past our current place in time/space/culture/history (not maintaining it) and creating the path to the future.
Timing is essential to make such big steps ahead. Carver Mead, a leading computer scientist at the California Institute of Technology, once said, “Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you.”
Mr. Jobs is undeniably a gifted marketer and showman, but he is also a skilled listener to the technology. He calls this “tracking vectors in technology over time,” to judge when an intriguing innovation is ready for the marketplace. Technical progress, affordable pricing and consumer demand all must jell to produce a blockbuster product.