Changing Context of TechCast and Other Projections
Changing Context of TechCast and Other Projections
The world is experiencing, as is often stated, at least 5 simultaneous technology revolutions, IT, Bio, Nano, Energetics and Quantum, which are extensively changing society in real time. The projection of expectations and progress in any individual technology is subject to a myriad of technical issues and other aspects of the context within which they develop. As obvious examples, Genomic foods have been deemed an issue in Europe, nano particles have potential health issues, and some stem cell research was regulated in the U.S. Society is beset by several major, some even approaching existential, issues that will alter the development of specific technologies. Climate change is widely debated [ Peter Ward, "Under a Green Sky"]. Far more than warm/ hot days and wet feet. climate change is only one aspect of an overall "crashing of the ecosystem," as we require more than is available. Estimates indicate we are short some 40% of a planet now, and as the Asians acquire western living standards, we will need several more planets, but none are available. Sustainability appears to be in the offing as a replacement for "growth" per se. Machines and robotics are now becoming well enough developed to increasingly replace humans in the workforce and transforming society in the process. Thanks to the IT revolution we are increasing living via tele-everything -- tele-working, commuting, shopping, education, medicine, travel, commerce, manufacturing, politics, socialization. Artificial cochlea implants, retinas, hearts, printed organs and brain chips are creating cyborgs, merging us with the machines. Beyond the IT age we are rapidly entering the virtual age.
Technologies which make eminent sense in an industrial age or even IT age context may not be successful in the virtual age. Technologies which do not consider or foster sustainability may become less interesting from an economic perspective. The Industrial experience indicates many thousands of ideas and much research and development are required to result to create one viable new product. The major reason for this massive triage is the Technological filter, all the engineering illities, all the economic obstacles and all the regulatory rules. It is these issues, as opposed to whether the technology "works" that primarily control whether products are successful innovations. Going forward there are many serious additional aspects, several of which are discussed above, which impact the projections that TechCast Global and others attempt to provide. All of such context is obviously simultaneously operative. Finally, there are a plethora of nascent tech breakthroughs which could alter the fortunes and outlook of many other tech developments. These include 5 senses virtual reality/virtual presence, structural nanotubes proffering factors of 5 plus weight reduction, Halophyte salt plants grown on deserts/wastelands using seawater irrigation to grow food and biomass, thereby solving land, water, food, energy and climate. Also Low Energy Nuclear Reactions and biomimmetic approaching human level machine intelligence, and many other breakthroughs to be considered.
Making technology projections in the nearer term using evolutionary precepts is more successful than not. Trying to make quantitative projections for the mid and farther term becomes increasingly fraught with peril due to the above and other issues . Then there is the well documented tendency to be optimistic in the shorter term and pessimistic in the longer term, at least partially a result of the Amygdala. Perhaps the best preparation to enable accurate longer term technology projections is to be extremely widely knowledgeable and exceptionally open to the potential occurrence and impacts of "Wild Cards" and their effects as well as trends that are initially nearly subliminal in society but can rapidly emerge â?? AKA Disruptive Technologies and Societal Trends which can have great influence across a wide spectrum of societal wants and needs.
Even now, We have the following breakthroughs in progress. As they mature, everything will change. In fact no one has conjectured what the potential combinational impacts might be â?? it is Terra Incognita. We need to focus hard on the following powerful trends the way we did on OTA studies: Low energy nuclear reactions, halophytes, molecular manufacturing, and structural nanotubes. Quantum computing, cold atoms inertial navigation, 5 senses virtual reality/ immersive presence, and quantum communications ( the next big thing after nanotech) would wholly alter the cyber/ communications landscape and the perils thereof. Then there are autonomous robotics, the global sensor grid and global mind, biomimmetic human level machine intelligence, and designer humans on the way to becoming cyborgs.
Does all this scare you? It scares a lot of folks because the potential impacts are truly massive and largely unanticipatedâ?¦..this is the major issue with S&T, with massive consequences to alter all aspects of society. In the Industrial Age, culture lagged tech changes by around 15 years.. Today tech changes are so rapid and dramatic that there is essentially little relationship between today's society and these explosive new capabilities. We are now on an unguided toboggan ride into the Virtual Ageâ?¦â?¦â?¦..
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