Tag Archives: Predicting the future

More Predictions Coming True?

OK, I know this is blowing my own trumpet a bit but, frankly, this is getting desperate so maybe it’s time to take the gloves off and look at some of the emerging tech. ethics predictions I’ve made over the years and how they’re turning out …

Personal privacy:

AI/Robot Sex:

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Swarm Thickness

Most people following this blog will be familiar with the notion of ‘swarm intelligence’. So here’s a question … Could ‘swarm thickness’ be a thing? (Seriously!)

Swarm Intelligence (SI) shows itself all over the place in nature and discussion goes back at least as far as Darwin. Through SI, birds and fish maintain apparently impossibly coordinated formations, ants find the best path to food and bees and termites build complex structures to name just a few examples.

The essence of SI is a wonderfully simple one. Individuals do the most basic of operations, follow the crudest of directives or instincts but the cumulative effect for the flock, shoal, colony or hive is something magnificently clever.  They’re guided, by something they don’t understand, to play a small part in something good.

You can probably see where we’re going here … Could humans be doing this the other way around?  Could we, guided by something we don’t understand, be playing a small part in something awful?

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What Will it Take for Humanity to Survive? (And Why is Trump Such a Complete Bellend?)

The first question is one we’ve considered from various angles over the years on this blog.  The second is, of course, timely – although the important emphasis here is on the ‘complete’.  As we’ll see, they’re very, very connected!

Trying to pursue a socialist argument in a world largely sold on capitalism is always a struggle.  You have to deal with every issue and answer every question in line with the rules of Monopoly, but you don’t want to play Monopoly: it’s a stupid game – there are far better ones – but no-one understands you – or wants to understand you – unless you do.

  • Q:  So, Jeremy, how will your policies ensure that the UK GDP continues to grow after Brexit?
  • A:  I don’t particularly care if it does. It’s a physical law that nothing can increase exponentially for ever: something goes ‘bang’ in the end. We need to look beyond economics for the real answers.

But, of course, if Jeremy says that, he gets carted off to a rest home.  So, instead, he has to pretend that he’s interested in GDP, and that taxing Starbucks will help it.  Well, it might or it might not – that’s close to irrelevant – but, already, we’re having to have the debate on their terms.

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Seeing the Bigger Picture: ‘STEEPLED’ and ‘The Great Curtain’

Futurology is a difficult and inexact science, with a poor history of getting it right.  However, there are ways of giving yourself a chance or, at least, avoiding some of the more obvious mistakes and oversights.  This post looks at a tool for considering the bigger picture in futurology and reflects on the results of using it with various user groups.

We’ve made the point before that technologists aren’t necessarily (or solely) the best people to ask what the future may hold because:

  1. they only tend to think about technology, or
  2. when they think about things other than technology, they’re not very good at it.

Of course, there’s probably a parallel observation to be made about any focused specialist in a particular field (economists, lawyers, politicians, etc.) but the observation doesn’t invalidate 1 and 2: it just shares the blame around a bit.  So, what can be done to help, and where does it take us?

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