Blogs

VR and AI Development

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

The trouble with virtual reality (VR) is that science fiction and other popular media have so raised expectations that people are always disappointed, because they all think that fully functional VR is already here. But what VR is really good at is storytelling, simulator games, and training of all sorts.

The Strange Case of the One Hundred Trillion Dollar Toilet Paper

David N. Bengston

David N. Bengston

One hundred trillion dollars is a lot to pay for toilet paper. Utterly ridiculous! But I have a piece of such toilet paper in my office to remind me of the importance of including wild cards – low probability, high impact events – in thinking about the future.

Self-Driving Cars and Wild Nature

David N. Bengston

David N. Bengston

People have been thinking and dreaming about self-driving cars for a long time. Paleofuture.com’s article about the “Driverless Car of the Future” (Novak 2010) features a 1957 magazine ad depicting a family playing Scrabble in a bubble-topped car as it cruises down a six-lane freeway, the steering wheel pointedly unattended. The ad copy reads in part, “One day your car may speed along an electric super-highway, its speed and steering automatically controlled by electronic devices embedded in the road. Highways will be made safe—by electricity!

Wool: Old Wine in New Bottles

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Wool is one of man’s oldest materials. It’s been in use for at least 3,400 years, but it was not effectively utilized until selective breeding reduced the hard outer layer (known as kemp) that protects the usable fleece. While the industrial uses for this material have grown over the years, the potential now is rapidly expanding. Wool is both water retentive and water repellant, fire resistant up to 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit (and does not melt, unlike synthetics).

Coal and the Cascading Consequences of Change

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Much has been said about clean coal, and how it is a “wave of the future.” Clean coal refers to reducing or neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions at the burn point, but regardless of China’s continuing commitment to coal-powered electrical plants, the United States has a natural gas glut and increasingly cost-competitive wind and solar power. As well, mountaintop leveling, destructive chemical processing, and byproduct disposal challenges continue to complicate any solutions that billion-dollar U.S. projects such as the recently canceled FutureGen might have produced.

Africa 2030

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss the globe in 2030 on a country-by-country basis, but one dramatic shift in employment opportunities is likely to center on the continent of Africa. Between now and 2030, population growth rates in Africa will be greater than for any other country, including China (which has in fact reversed its growth trends through its political one-child policies). Africa is expected to quadruple in population over the next 90 years, with its greatest economic and political growth likely in North Africa.

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