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.
Although we have had many decades of projections and warnings about climate change, it is only fairly recently that actual impacts have stirred serious societal interest in mitigation efforts. Such efforts will involve changes, and changes are always difficult. In fact, although renewable energy is a bedrock mitigation approach, they have been taken very seriously only as technology has reduced renewable costs below parity with fossil carbon. Renewable energy technologies are already producing some 25 percent of electricity worldwide and constitute some 65 percent of new generation.
Due to emerging technologies, most sectors of the economy are expected to undergo a transformation over the next several decades, and manufacturing is no exception. As a result, manufacturing executives will have to make costly and crucial decisions on how to invest in the manufacturing revolution for their own manufacturing facilities. This could be is great news for manufacturing executives’ bottom line depending on how they forecast the path to the new manufacturing paradigm and invest accordingly.