Thursday, September 13, 2007

The State of the Future

Posted by goatchurch at 2:27 PM
What a treat this is. Just look at these covers of a series of gigantic books from the United Nations. You have got to love it. Check out the table of contents from the 2007 edition:
1. Global Challenges (1,100 pages)

2.1 Global State of Future Index (286 pages)
2.2 National State of Future Indexes (89 pages)
2.3 Global Challenges Assessment (94 pages)

3.1 Normative Scenario to the Year 2050 (21 pages)
3.2 Exploratory Scenarios (41 pages)
3.3 Very Long-Range Scenarios-1,000 years (23 pages)
3.4 Counterterrorism-Scenarios, Actions, and Policies (40 pages)
3.5 Science and Technology 2025 Global Scenarios (21 pages)
3.6 Global Energy Scenarios 2020 (103 pages)
3.7 Middle East Peace Scenarios (91 pages)

4.1 Future Science and Technology Management and Policy Issues (400 pages)
4.2 Nanotechnology: Future Military Environmental Health Considerations (21 pages)

5. Education and Learning 2030 (59 pages)

6. Future Ethical Issues (69 pages)

7. Global Goals for the Year 2050 (24 pages)
I mean, why isn't everyone getting it? Well, it's not available for download, and no one has summarized it in the wikipedia article, though that place does lead you to entities like the futures wheel and the World Transhumanist Association...

Anyways, enough surfing. Back to the executive summary, which contains a lot of bunk about "genetically increased intelligence", "chemical brain enhancement", "artificial microbes enhancing intelligence", and "Web 17.0".

Okay, okay, we get the point. You have something about making humans more intelligent. I feel there is quite enough intelligence already in this world, it just doesn't get to be The President.

Paleontologists have observed that intelligence is a just another of those evolutionary experiments in the life history of this planet, like fish growing legs and coming onto the land, or lizards growing to gigantic proportions. Time may yet prove that it was a tragic mistake.

Maybe if it came onto us as a species gradually over a period of ten million years, rather than what appears to be a sudden big bang a hundred thousand years ago, one could have more confidence that it wasn't going to end in tears.

I can't tell from the summary whether any apocalyptic scenarios made it into the report, or if these were ruled out as being not interesting. The last two paragraphs could be included in a mundane manifesto, however.
There are many answers to many problems, but there is so much extraneous information that it is difficult to identify and concentrate on what is truly relevant. Since healthy democracies need relevant information, and since democracy is becoming more global, the public will need globally relevant information to sustain this trend. We hope the annual State of the Future reports can help... decision-makers and educators who fight against hopeless despair, blind confidence, and ignorant indifference -- attitudes that too often have blocked efforts to improve the prospects for humanity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of mundane manifestos, I seem to remember reading one a while back, but I can't find it online anymore. Any help?

9/14/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

It should be on Wiki.

9/16/2007 05:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "central ideas" are summarized on the Wikipedia article, but there's no link to any official manifesto. I would have sworn the latter had been available online in the past, but now I can't find it anywhere.

9/16/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

I'll hunt down the original, but I'm tied up with classes until the end of the week. Can you post or email me to remind me next weekend? Or is this related to some research that a looming deadline?

9/16/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous suelange said...

Yeah, that ol' brain upgrade seems to be a foregone conclusion. Don't worry though, as the world becomes more "democratic," the market will drive all technological advancements. And if you take that thought further you'll realize that most people are not interested in getting smarter. What most people want is more sex. If you'll remember correctly, the brainy kids in school never got any, so I don't see any market driven push for all this fabulous new brain enhancement and power learning ability. Muscle enhancement to grotesque proportion, now that might sell.

On the other hand what I find really scary is the preoccupation with the environment. Environment mixed with radical new idealogical and earth-saving technology usually means catastrophe for the environment. When will we leave well enough alone?

Stay tuned.

9/18/2007 01:04:00 PM  
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