Enjoying talk to packed house at the Future of Our Children: Identifying the Issues Impacting Children sponsored by The George Foundation, The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce & Children at Risk, and held at the Texas Safari Ranch. I gave my talk on the Future of Youth Happiness study we did a few years ago for MTV. As I was prepping the talk, I heard a point about how several nations are getting ahead of the US in large part because they are spending more time in the classroom. The point was they were putting more time into learning. Agreed! But, as I was thinking about what I learned during the MTV work, it wasn’t adding up. My dissonance came from the idea that more time in the classroom is the solution. More time yes, but in the classroom? No. One thing we can be pretty sure about is that confining today’s and tomorrow’s kids into classrooms for eight hours a day year round is going to make schools seem more like prisons than places to learn. A key challenge for educators will be coming up with ways to bring learning outside the traditional classroom, to wherever it makes the most sense to take place. Admittedly, this raises a hornet’s nest of issues, but clearly the educated person of tomorrow will be much better served by more hands-on field experience type learning than sitting in classrooms listening to lectures. Andy Hines
Here is a link to my Two scenarios for the future of houston. I really enjoyed the group. Great questions and discussion. Andy Hines
I am looking forward to my talk tomorrow for Livable Houston(details here)on two scenarios for the future of Houston. I’m slowly realizing that Houston is my home, after moving around so much, and taking an interest in its future. I have a scaffolding about the future of Houston that I previously shared with my new friends at Houston Tomorrow and that I plan to continue to build on in the years ahead, and report on here in this blog as new ideas emerge. Andy Hines
Came across a nice piece by Ray Kurzweil “How My Predictions Are Faring” in which he claims that of 147 “predictions” he wrote of in the 1990s, 115 (78 percent) are entirely correct as of the end of 2009, and another 12 (8 percent) are essentially correct, another 17 (12 percent) are partially correct, and 3 (2 percent) are wrong. While one could quibble on a few here or there, they are essentially sound.
I did a similar review of our 2025 forecasts, “How Accurate Are Your Forecasts?” made in the 1990s last year and got similar accuracy numbers, though not quite as good. My “correct” was 66% (his 78%), my “essentially correct” was 22% (his 8%) and my partial/wrong was 12% (his 15%). Interestingly, a similar exercise done by the former World Future Society President Ed Cornish reported a 67% accuracy rate going back to forecasts made in the late 1960s.
The perception in the media about futurists is that we are wildly inaccurate — the flying cars, paperless office, and other whipping boys get trotted out to support that. This misses the first point that most futurists avoid the prediction game, and instead talk about a range of possibilities (thus by nature some of the possibilities are going to be wrong). It misses the second point that when we are asked to make a most probable or best-guess forecast, we are more accurate than you might think. Andy Hines
The Singularity Is Near book was one milestone. The formation of Singularity University was another. Not sure this is a third, but certainly interesting to note that an Air Force“Technology Horizons report actually accelerates 2044 timeline of the book to the 2030s. A press release notes that “Humans today are still more capable than machines, but by 2030 that is absolutely not going to be the case anymore,” said Dr. Werner Dahm, Air Force Chief Scientist, in describing one of the conclusions he reached during the Air Force’s first in-depth look at future technology in more than a decade. [BTW, the report is a nice resource]
For those not yet in the know, the Singularity is the point at time at which machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence, creating a chance in context so great that it is suggested as impossible to anticipate what the “other side” of this change looks like. My own take is that this is technically plausible; my quibble is that I suspect that the changes will be gradual enough such that life on the other side will be recognizable. It’s a quibble, as I certainly acknowledge the power of this “meme,” and if it gets our attention enough to pay more attention to the future, then that is surely a good thing. Andy Hines
I recently had the opportunity to spend a morning talking about the future of science and technology with some exchange students from China. I had them review some of the forecasts that my colleagues and I made in 2025: Scenarios of US and Global Society as Reshaped by Science and Technology that we wrote back in 1995, and I revisited last year in a piece “How Accurate Are Your Forecasts?” I noticed that they seemed to believe some of the developments I saw as breaking closer to 2025 were “already here.” Perhaps the optimism of students (or the pessimism of the professor) or perhaps the achievement orientation in China that is bullish on science and technology?
Another interesting aspect of the morning was their ranking of six proposed wildcards (low-probability, high-impact events) in terms of which seemed the most likely to occur, relatively speaking. They were given 100 poker chips to “bet” with. Here’s how the rankings turned out:
Super-Longevity. Average age could increase to 100….or beyond (385 )
Self-Assembling Nanotech. Could revolutionize manufacturing…..among other areas (313 )
The Singularity. Machine intelligence exceeds biological intelligence by about 2045 (237)
Global Pandemic. The world is overdue for a global pandemic, potentially coming from viruses (due to increased global travel) or the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, among others (225 )
Brain Enhancement. Advances in brain science could enable a wide range of new applications, from implants to mind reading to downloading consciousness. (155 )
Ecosystem Collapse. Many argue that humanity is using up resources faster than they can be replenished, presaging a “collapse.” (150 )
Pretty strong belief in the stretching life expectancy and in the prospects for nanotech — interestingly, both of these views were mirrored in my undergrad class of UH students. — Andy Hines