|A Periodic Newsletter on
Breakthroughs in Strategic Foresight
July 18, 2020
Prof. William Halal
What Are the Most Crucial Strategic Issues To Study?
A Survey of Readers’ Interests
Bill’s Blog has been publishing for only a few months, yet we have done penetrating studies of “How to Resolve the MegaCrisis” and “The Coming Internet.” The first was opened by roughly 30% of our subscribers and the second by about 10%. This poses a tough question I would like to your help with – Which topics have the greatest strategic interest?
Here are a few hot ideas that seem exciting:
1. When Will the Pandemic End? Studies of the pandemic have become overwhelming, so TechCast will focus on more strategic aspects of the crisis, such as forecasting the return to normal living conditions. For instance, when will 90% of people no longer wear masks, social distance, etc? When will unemployment drop to about 5% again? How bad will it get? We may also estimate arrival of the next pandemic.
2. Forecasting the Trump Presidency
With the Trump presidency nearing a turning point at the 2020 elections, this could be an optimal time to update our 2016 forecast. The 2016 forecast also offer a rare opportunity to assess our accuracy. Notice that our TechCast experts proved fairly accurate on policy changes, national performance and a 50% probability for the scenario “Trump Rules.” This small test confirms the value of our collective intelligence method – gathering background data and using expert judgment to resolve uncertainty and reach the best available estimates. Next time we could forecast the winner of the 2020 elections and what happens “After Trump.”
3. AI and Future Jobs
This study is one of our most popular reads, and we could update it to establish a trendline, if you are interested. What other aspects of the topic should we cover?
4. How Does Artificial Intelligence (AI) Differ From Human Intelligence (HI)?
AI research is working hard to simulate subjective aspects of human intelligence, raising the profound question – What is the essential difference between AI and HI? When an audience is asked this question, I find that 90% plus think there is a fundamental difference, though they can’t tell what it is. This study could explore that crucial issue.
5. Technology Is Creating an Age of Consciousness
This is the subject of my forthcoming book, Beyond Knowledge. Smart phones, social media and AI are causing the Knowledge Age to mature and fade into the past, moving us into the next stage of social evolution. Today’s “post-factual” nonsense is a prescient harbinger as it based on beliefs, values and emotions and other forms of consciousness. Whatever one may think of President Trump, he is a master at shaping consciousness. This means an Age of Consciousness is here today, though we may not like its current form.
6. State-of-the-Art in Strategic Foresight
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest emerging technologies around today, yet it is fraught with obstacles, especially security issues. We struggle with hacking, identity theft, viruses and other security problems, so imagine what could happen when billions of devices are connected to everything around the globe? This study could update our IoT forecast.
8. Is Life Extension Really Coming?
Yes, life expectancy is increasing steadily, but that’s due to better health care, nutrition, public safety and other ordinary causes. Real life extension would take us beyond the 120-year limit that seems to set by genetic factors. Is it really possible to live 150, 200, 300 years? When will this be likely? By what means? Stay tuned.
9. Forecasts of the Space Age
As a former aerospace engineer on the Lunar Module of the Apollo Project, the coming Space Age is near my heart. My best thinking is that the world will enter this final frontier in earnest about 2050 after forming a unified global order. Say the word and we will explore this fascinating topic.
10. When Will Self-Driving Green Cars Enter the Mainstream?
Tesla is a step in the right direction, but it will take widespread renewable energy, much better automatic driving systems and far lower prices to make self-driving, intelligent, ecologically benign cars a widespread reality. Should we pool our collective intelligence to forecast when this will happen?
11. Top-Ten Tech Breakthroughs
A great study would use the knowledge of our experts and readers to assess the prospects for various tech breakthroughs and identify the top-ten that are most strategic. Strategic techs are those few likely to arrive in 5-10 years, with the greatest payoffs and broadest scientific influence. This would a fine study.
12. Top-Ten Social Trends
We could do the same study to select the 10 most strategic social trends.
13. Top-Ten Wild Cards
Ditto for wild cards.
14. Redesigning Capitalism
This is a hot issue today as the world is increasingly disenchanted with Big Business and the dominance of profit. TechCast has been forecasting the arrival of a quasi-democratic form of corporation for years – and it is starting now. Yes, I know this rankles those who are afraid of “socialism,” but let me assure you this is not government control. Collaborative problem solving among all stakeholders creates added value for all involved, including greater profit for shareholders. It can be a competitive advantage.
15. Rise of the Asian Century
This study would provide historical context on the "American Century" starting after WW II and the "British Century" before that. We could focus on how great powers have changed in the past, and what might happen in the future as America loses its hold on global dominance. We could forecast the rise of Asia and its strategic implications.
Please Tell Me What You Think
I really want to make Bill’s Blog a more interesting and useful source of strategic knowledge for our readers. Please take a few minutes to email me at Halal@GWU.edu with your top choices for topics to study. You can just send the numbers of topics you like (EG, No. 4,5,9, etc). I will do my best to analyze your responses and create a research agenda that will delight us all.
Be sure to tell your friends and associates to sign up for this blog at www.BillHalal.com.
William E. Halal, PhD
The TechCast Project
George Washington University
TechCast always encourages letters, comments and suggestions. Here’s a note from Jacques Malan in S. Africa followed by my response:
I have had a bit of time digesting your series on the Global MegaCrisis which culminated in the summary of 25 April 2020.
Something about the “Global Consciousness” summary kept on bugging me, but I battled to find the right words till now.
Despite humanity today living in the most healthy, progressive and prosperous time in history, there seems to be consensus that life as we know it needs to change (and I too agree - it can, and should, always improve), but I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the “things” that the mainstream “narrative” identifies as that which needs changing.
Despite my engineering background and resulting heavy scientific bias, perhaps this discomfort is rooted in over 800 years of Protestant Christian history (my lineage), which culminated in me being born on the Southern point of Africa.
Allow me to play devil’s advocate (a role I relish) and propose a different possible set of conclusions/interpretations about the global future. Fair warning, I am essentially a Conservative Libertarian with a nasty pragmatic streak and all my comments should be considered (or discarded if you so wish) with this proclivity in mind.
My thoughts in brief:
1) “Treat the planet and all life forms as sacred”: Agreed. On one condition though…. The definition of sacred is not determined by the Vegan/Vegetarian fraternity (or any ideological/religious institution for that matter), but by true conservationists in charge of the world's natural parks. Ideally we should adopt the philosophy followed by the indigenous peoples of North America as a foundation for such a movement. The overwhelming majority of people (including moi) will only switch to a meat replacement product once both its taste and texture are indistinguishable from the real thing.
2) “Govern the world as a unified whole”: This is a really, REALLY bad idea. I do not believe that the world can or will (or should for that matter) ever be governed as one big integrated whole. Not as long as religion, culture, language and tradition remains bespoke. It is much more likely that we will increasingly see people looking more favourably at smaller circles of care i.e. their immediate family, neighbourhood, town, city, region, country in decreasing levels of priority. (Personally, I expect the EU to disintegrate in due course and I would not at all be surprized by a Balkanization of the USA in a decade or two). The best we can possibly hope for is to encourage respect and tolerance for the diversity of humanity.
3) “Manage markets and enterprises to serve all stakeholders”: Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine this as a heading on a politburo memo in Soviet Russia in the 1960’s (or an election poster in modern day Venezuela). It would not seem out of place at all, would it? If so, you need to ask yourself whether this is really a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, I too believe that the modern “market capitalist” system is completely broken and needs a radical revamp. And though I have plenty of ideas (like lots of other people), I’ll admit that I don’t have the ultimate answer (maybe its 42). Nevertheless, broad-brushing it with an arguably socialist slogan is a recipe for disaster.
BTW: You should dedicate a TechCast Project to this issue alone. Call it “Redesigning Capitalism”.
4) “Embrace diversity as an asset”: Absolutely. But this should be a natural process, not a regulated one. Enforcing does not equal Embracing. Ideally, respect for diversity should be embedded in grass-roots education. And then the flipside (which almost always gets discounted as Racist/Sexist/Misogynistic/Homophobic), what to do if a community does not care for diversity (e.g. the Amish)? Do those communities deserve and receive the same levels of respect for their choice?
5) “Celebrate Life”: Difficult to argue this one. Especially as a Libertarian……. ;-)
If you have read this far, thank you for allowing me to throw a cat among the pigeons…..
Best Regards, Jacques Malan
Ir. Jacques Malan
Tel: +27 (82) 56 86 295
Thank you for your thoughts, Jacques. This is very helpful as we try to serve our readers' needs.
I understand your feelings about principles 2 and 3. Yes, these are tough issues. I think the world is moving in this direction out of necessity, however, and it will not infringe on the freedom you cherish. It's simply cooperation and that's good for everybody. Collaborative problem solving is the great need of our complex times. As for redesigning capitalism, that's what No. 3 is about and it's coming now.
Prof. William E. Halal, PhD www.BillHalal.com
George Washington University and The TechCastProject.com
TechCast founder, William Halal, kicked off the annual meeting of the Angel Capital Association’s Virtual Summit May 12 with his keynote on The Technology Revolution. Among his many points, Bill outlined how AI is causing today’s move beyond knowledge to an Age of Consciousness, and that business is now altering corporate consciousness to include the interests of all stakeholders. Angel investors are concerned about the social impacts of their companies, so this news was well received, especially as Bill stressed this historic change could be a competitive advantage.
Click here for Bill's talk
TechCast Speaks at the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association
Halal also spoke at the annual AFCEA conference on the topic of AI, noting TechCast’s forecast that AI is expected to automate 30% of routine knowledge work about 2025 +3/-1 years and General AI is likely to arrive about 2040. Expanding on the same theme delivered at ACA, Bill explained how today’s shifting consciousness is likely to transform, not only business, but also government, the military and all other institutions.
Kicking Off the Program on Engineering & Society
This first podcast in the program focused on our recent series of blogs outlining a global consciousness. Nelson and Rashidi plan to interview other authorities every few weeks in this creative program. The interviews are then distributed on Twitter to their audience of 80,000 followers. Halal’s interview is available by clicking here.
Jess Garretson's Plan to Resolve Global Mega Issues
Jess is CEO of The Cognis Group and a TechCast partner. This is how she describes her masterful plan to resolve today's ongoing crises.
"How do we realize positive global change faster? We know that doing the same thing over and over is the definition of insanity. Yet, it is actually the reality we face today in trying to create more positive impact on the world with an economic model that is geared to short term gains. It is time to rethink our approach, targeting the root causes of the disconnect versus addressing the symptoms in the many decentralized efforts. This paper provides a high-level approach to addressing our current barriers and providing clear solutions to overcoming them. The work needing to be done will not be for the faint of heart and will require influential experts and leaders to start doing things differently. Now is the time to disrupt a model that no longer serves our higher purpose."
Click here to access the plan.
TechCast offers exciting new possibilities to use our unequaled talent and resources for creative projects. I invite you to send me your questions, fresh ideas, articles to publish, consulting work, research studies, or anything interesting on the tech revolution.
Email me at Halal@GWU.edu and I'll get back to you soon. Have your friends and colleagues sign up for this newsletter at www.BillHalal.com.
William E. Halal, PhD
The TechCast Project
George Washington University
Bill's Blog is published by:
The TechCast Project www.TechCastProject.com
Prof. William E. Halal, Founder
George Washington University
Prof. Halal can be reached at Halal@GWU.edu
The TechCast Project is an academic think tank that pools empirical background information and the knowledge of high-tech CEOs, scientists and engineers, academics, consultants, futurists and other experts worldwide to forecast breakthroughs in all fields. Over 20 years of leading the field, we have been cited by the US National Academies, won awards, been featured in the Washington Post and other media, and consulted by corporations and governments around the world. TechCast and its wide range of experts are available for consulting, speaking and training in all aspects of strategic foresight.
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