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
In a conversation I had with Jack today he emphasized that he
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.
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
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
One of the themes on Future Blogger and for fans of accelerating
change in general is life extension and the prospect of relative
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
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.
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
quotes Ray Kurzweil as putting the current number at three months
per year), will lead to an explosion of investment into this area.
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.
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.