Friday, July 20, 2007

In Fifteen Years...

Jamais Cascio issued an interesting challenge last week:
Think about the world of fifteen years hence (2022, if you're counting along at home). Think about how technology might change, how fashions and pop culture might evolve, how the environment might grab our attention, and so forth. Now, take a sentence or two and answer...
  • What do you fear we'll likely see in fifteen years?
  • What do you hope we'll likely see in fifteen years?
  • What do you think you'll be doing in fifteen years?
  • So, I thought I'd have a go.

    When imagining the world in fifteen years time,

    I fear that:
    • authorities will deny communities the capacity for resilience when responding to the various catastrophes that seem to be coming to a head this century. We saw this in the aftermath of hurricane Katriana (and how it needn't be so in the immediate aftermath of 9/11). Whether it be from cynical manipulation of vested interests, or the simple 'lockdown' panic reaction of incompetent administrators, monopolies and top-down centralised government structures are too rigid and brittle to be relied upon when disaster strikes. They will break, and people will suffer.
    • Melbourne reservoirs will be running dry regularly (last year's drought has broken, with extraordinary rainfalls and flooding, but I'm looking at the trend for the last ten years, and the prospect for recovery is not good)
    I hope that:
    • my daughter will have better things to worry about than governments reacting badly to sad men with a death wish.
    • people will have a far greater say in the running of their societies than at present. It really is far too important to leave to just a few politicians (however open and accountable they might be).
    • online voting systems will (finally!) be reliable and convenient, and will encourage a greater community participation in decision making
    • the two-party system will begin to be replaced by something a little less dichotomous and reactive.
    • there is a viable, low pollution alternative to jet aircraft
    I imagine myself:
    • taking a trip in a new technology dirigible airship
    • cursing myself for not taking out patents on vacuum displacement buoyancy systems
    • being cursed by companies seeking a competitive edge for making this technology open.
    • laughing at the fears I had fifteen years ago
    • worrying about what there will be to fear in another fifteen years (Apophisia, anyone?)

    OK, now! How about hearing from Brian Dunbar, Pamela Jones, Tim Bray, Emily Lakdawalla, and Alfie Dennen?

    And yourself, of course!



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