The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s newly formed (2018) Center for Strategic Foresight held its inaugural conference September 10, 2019, focusing on the policy implications arising from two major trends: increased international activity in space and the weaponization of misinformation, particularly with the use of social media.
If you follow AI, you have probably read about what happened when chess and Go masters were matched against AI using deep learning. To put it politely, AI humbled the mere mortals. Yann LeCun, formerly with Deepmind, recently co-shared the Turing Award (1 million USD) for his role in the development of deep learning and its subsequent mastery of board games. LeCun and his business partners sold Deepmind to Google for roughly half a billion dollars. He is now a professor at NYU and a scientist affiliated with Facebook.
Edward Seymour Cornish, founder and first president of the World Future Society and editor of its magazine, The Futurist, died August 14, 2019. He was 91. A longtime Maryland resident (Bethesda and Rockville), Cornish had been living at Olney Assisted Living in Olney, Md., during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
In 1984, political scientist Philip Tetlock observed at a meeting of the U.S. National Research Council’s Committee on American Soviet Relationship how contradictory many authoritative predictions the participants held on the future of the Cold War. As well, he noted their dismissal of the opinions of equally qualified colleagues on the committee.
In Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military (W.W. Norton, 2018), astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (with co-author Avis Lange, a research associate at the Hayden Planetarium) relates the history of the relationship between scientists who seek to expand our knowledge of the universe and the strategists who seek to expand their dominance of it.
Robotics has gotten a bad name in some circles from too many screen scenarios and “what if” thinking about manufacturing assembly lines that has often overreached actual development. However, robotics in medicine is seeing breakthroughs in post-stroke physical therapy and post-injury rehabilitation.
Darran Anderson’s Imaginary Cities (University of Chicago Press, 2015) has an unusual approach for a book on foresight. First, it is actually based in the discipline of architecture and spends a substantial amount of time looking at plans never built due to lack of funding, client change of heart, and catastrophes of all sorts.
Evolution and foresight are not usually considered in the same sentence, except in the area of conscious evolution, but both disciplines consider how things change and what forces shape that change. Classical evolution has long been seen as glacial and thus not especially relevant to humanity’s social, economic, or political dynamics. Darwin believed that natural selection was a very slow, almost imperceptible process, proceeding in evolutionary time.