Jeff Hilford's Blog Posts

Best-Selling Futurist To Run For U.S. Senate

July 18 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 7 Hot

Professional futurist and Future Blogger regular Jack Uldrich has announced that he is running for United States Senator in the state of Minnesota as a candidate for the Minnesota Independence Party nomination. He will face off against a number of candidates in the Sept. 9th primary including Jesse Ventura mentor Dean Barkley and endorsed farmer Stephen Williams for the right to face incumbent Norm Coleman-R and Al Franken-D of SNL fame.

Jack served as Deputy Director of Strategic and Long Range Planning in Governor Jesse Ventura’s administration and was previously a Strategic Planner for the Defense Department.

In a conversation I had with Jack today he emphasized that he hoped to elevate the level of discourse as only an independent can and raise awareness of issues that our society will be facing in the years ahead as a result of rapid technological advancements. These include the impact of increased life expectancy, not only as it relates to the threat of social security bankruptcy and healthcare, but other socio-political ramifications as well.

As a bestselling author on nanotechnology he is sure to take on this and other hotbed issues too and will incorporate his study of new technologies into government. (cont.)

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The New Face of Death

June 24 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: 2008   Rating: 7 Hot

Death increasingly has a new face. One that endures. One that has a life of its own.

George Carlin died Sunday. He was an innovator and a provocateur and at his best, pretty damn funny. He’s also illustrative of a developing trend – the public, multimedia epitaph. In fact, he recorded the way he would like his obituary to be, how he would like to be remembered, in this Associated Press interview 10 years ago.

This is a trend that really began with videotape, often used to read wills and say goodbye to loved ones. Now there are sites like Respectance that memorialize people in perpetuity, that people can add to in terms of memories, stories, pictures, video, etc. Where people who were brought together through that person can still connect. Social media sites. We also see this on facebook and myspace. (cont.)

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New Devices, Apps Will Change Public Interaction

June 16 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Communication   Year: 2008   Rating: 9 Hot

The release of the 3G Iphone last week (which featured GPS function and encouraged 3rd party application development) and the first prominent commercial installation of the Microsoft Surface table at Rio’s in Las Vegas signals a shift in the way we are going to interact in public spaces. It also marks the beginning of a dramatic increase in device and location driven 3rd party application development. Take a look at the Surface promo video below (warning – it’s a little cheesy).

Hybrid Mimicry

June 12 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

One of the advantages that robotics, computers and anything that uses AI in general have is that they are non-biological substrates that allow for recombination of many different aspects from the physical world. In the video below, Intel’s robotic hand incorporates “pre touch” which is inspired by the electrolocative ability found in sharks (and other fish) that is believed to be the most sophisticated of any animal. By sending electrical impulses towards an object, the robotic hand is able to prejudge and react to an articles’ position. So in essence, engineers are grafting one animal’s highly evolved ability onto a non-biological substrate, in order better replicate the ability of another’s. Pretty cool.

Via Wired

The Future of Geography - De-borderization

May 30 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

In the past, boundaries have been a function of geography. Bodies of water (rivers in particular) seem to be the most common dividers of territories, This made sense in a time when these obstacles were difficult to traverse. Cultures and cities formed around these dividers. Natural boundaries in combination with the xenophobic nature of humans (and animals in general) have played a prominent role in the territorial development of the planet. We fear what we do not know.

Over the years, improvements in transportation, navigation and information communication technologies have served to temper this innate distrust. As our natural inclination to explore, map and quantify the planet brought the peoples of the world into contact with one another, we were incented to collaborate across cultures by the desire to exchange natural resources as well as the inevitable knowledge transfers that were a byproduct of interaction. Today, though natural resource exchange is at an all-time high, it is the transfer and creation of knowledge that is exploding across cultures, bringing people from far-reaches of the planet together and chipping away at the meaning of nationality. (cont.)

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Black Gold

May 28 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

The economy is a funny thing. As oil prices, and commodity prices in general, have gone wild in the past year or so, there are many interesting ripple effects. Some are obvious and quantifiable, such as the increase in venture capital investment into green/alternative energy sources and plummeting SUV sales. But here is a micro-trend that could gain some traction if oil prices continue to rise. A farmer in Indiana installed a drill on his property that produces about 3 barrels of oil a day – worth almost $400 dollars at today’s price of about $130/barrel.

Of course you have to have oil in your backyard to actually make this work – but if oil ever gets to be the same price as gold – then we’ll really see a trend in backyard prospecting.

Aging Exponentially

July 11 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 13 Hot

One of the themes on Future Blogger and for fans of accelerating change in general is life extension and the prospect of relative immortality. We covered this topic in our very first interview with Aubrey de Grey and Dick Pelletier has addressed it many times. One of the core arguments in this debate is that, regardless of increasing life expectancy rates, humans have an upper limit. This is probably best categorized as the Hayflick limit argument . That there is a maximum number of years that a human can live and if nothing gets to you before reaching that threshhold, when you do, that’s it – it’s over. That limit is about 120 years of age, with the oldest documented lifespan being the 122 attained by Jean Calumet

Increases in life expectancy are ultimately discounted by this assumption. In response to Jack Uldrich’s recent piece on the prospect of living to 1000, John Frink correctly points out that the radical increase in life expectancy that developed societies have experienced over the last 170 years or so (roughly doubling) is largely due to advances in health/medicine and hygiene. He cites the vast reduction in the infant mortality rate as being of particular note. But that is more reflective of initial gains and merely part of a larger trend at work. (cont.)

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Big Business and Anti-Aging

April 24 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: 2008   Rating: 9 Hot

Well it’s official, Big Pharma is in the anti-aging game. Yesterday’s news of GlaxoSmithKline buying anti-aging biotech company Sirtris for a whopping 84% premium over the share price marks the cloaked entry of big pharma into the anti-aging arena.

Of course they won’t or can’t admit that that is their goal – they will say that is in service of treating age related diseases – but this is the beginning of an inevitable trend that will result in billions of dollars being poured into anti-aging research.

The FDA does not consider aging a disease that requires treatment. This has stemmed the flow of capital into this area and what has come in has always been (and continues to be) under the very real guise of treating diabetes, metabolic disorders and other diseases associated with aging. This is about to change.

The demographic bubble of aging Baby boomers combined with a growing class of seniors ahead of them already benefitting from life expectancy rates that continue to approach the magical threshold of one year of gain for every year that transpires (Ronald Bailey quotes Ray Kurzweil as putting the current number at three months per year), will lead to an explosion of investment into this area. (cont.)

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Are Professional Sports on Life Support?

May 28 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

A few weeks ago I was watching a NY Rangers game (as I am wont to do) and they had a system that allowed the trainers to monitor one player’s heart during the game. This was particularly interesting during his shift as the rate would elevate to the 170-180 bpm range. A hockey shift normally lasts about 45 seconds and a one minute shift can leave a player struggling to return to the bench for replacement. The announcer said that the Ranger staff would eventually be able to monitor all of the players hearts simultaneously (a matter of cost and technology I imagine).

Technology is making increasing inroads into our beloved, multi-billion dollar professional sports industry. Biotech and testing for performance enhancement are already huge issues, while training techniques and equipment have incorporated many advances including computer simulations for improved motion, and high tech exercise machines and programs. Instant replay and other monitoring devices have found their way into the way most professional sports are officiated and, on the production side, graphical statistics overlays are all the rage. All you have to do is watch a rerun from 30 years ago to see how far we’ve come.

So where are we headed? (cont.)

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The End of 200 Channels and Nothing On

March 17 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Entertainment   Year: 2008   Rating: 18 Hot

The release of Hulu last week, the video on demand joint venture between NBC and Fox, signals the ongoing deconstruction of television programming as well as the continued convergence of the TV and PC. We also saw evidence of this at the Consumer Electronics Show in January through devices that enable us to watch and interact with the internet on our tvs. For me this is a ‘where is my flying car’ kind of thing. I’ve been wondering for over a decade when this convergent moment would happen. I’m not ready to proclaim it’s finally here but it feels like it’s getting awfully close.

So what are the implications of being able to ‘watch’ the internet from one’s couch. Well for one, the exodus from standard tv programming to internet content will only hasten. Video on demand and these next-gen tv sets, set-top boxes and mobile devices allow you to consume what you want, when you want and where you want. This will result in an exploding market for content and big changes on the media horizon. Here are my 9 Predictions for the effects of this convergence over the next few years:

  • TV Networks struggling to maintain market share with sub-standard, more cost-effective products (reality tv anyone?) will continue to lose market share.
  • Popular blogs will produce and distribute more original video programming, some will become ‘networks’.
  • Mainstream TV (which now includes a large number of big cable stations) will scramble to adapt programming, acquire content start-ups and reformat much of their content.

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