“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” — Greek proverb

Image from the Oslo Business Region.

It’s no secret — I love reading. In particular, I love reading books, real, paper books that don’t hurt your eyes and don’t require cables or charging.

I also love future thinking and foresight.

Therefore, it is completely unsurprising that I also love the forest library of the future.

The library of the future is a forest of one thousand trees planted in 2014 with the purpose of being cut down and turned…

Belief sloshes around in the firmament like lumps of clay spiralling into a potter’s wheel. That’s how gods get created, for example. They clearly must be created by their own believers, because a brief resume of the lives of most gods suggests that their origins certainly couldn’t be divine. They tend to do exactly the things people would do if only they could, especially when it comes to nymphs, golden showers, and the smiting of your enemies.”

― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Belief makes the world go around.After all, if money makes the world go around, and money is only…

In Hans Christian Anderson’s famous tail, The Emperor’s New Clothes, a vain ruler is tricked by a pair or shrewd into walking around naked, in the belief that he was wearing clothes so fine and luxurious that only those with exquisite taste could see them.

Today, we are all close to sharing that Emperor’s delusions.

Thanks to advances in virtual reality and mixed reality, we could all be walking around in imaginary finery in the not too distant future.

Imagine an app with a photographic filter that changes the (dull/ cheap/ old/) clothes you are wearing into more stylish attire…

“You can’t really put a lid on it, even if you wanted to” ~ Dr Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR researcher

As always, the dichotomy between freedom and equality threatens to split humanity.

This time though, I’m not talking about economic freedom vs economic equality; that good old battle between free market “monopoly capitalists” and their arch enemies the red-beret wearing communists and their Marxist cousins.

Rather, I am talking about the coming conflict between procreative freedom and genetic inequality. In other words, the conflict between randomly selected Homo Sapiens (you know, mom meets dad, stuff happens, you arrive nine months later)…

Generation Alpha: The generational cohort born from 2011 to 2015. Generation Alpha are the children of the Millennial generation. Weened on cellphones, raised by robots, they are mommy’s little cyborgs.

I’m a Millennial. I have a Generation Alpha daughter. As such, I am partly responsible (that is to blame) for both the way Generation Alpha is going to turn out, and for the future world Generation Alpha is going to inherit.

That is a mildly terrifying thought.

Especially when I stop to think about the ways my generation is already screwing things up for our little Generation Alphas. I’m not…

There is no doubt in my mind that we will all shortly by ruled by machines.

I am not talking about robo-cops and terminators (just yet), but rather about technology-powered governments with increasing, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience over their subjects — that is, over you and I.

Surveillance? — Check

The cellphones in our pockets, the social media platforms that record and store our every post and the “wearables” on our wrists have us under 24/7 surveillance — even without the state-sponsored cameras that litter almost every public space and private company. We voluntarily collect and share our data with corporations in exchange for treats, such as free WIFI, free email and free calls. The resulting…

Person or Property? — That is the Question…

“From a legal perspective, this is a complicated area, as the algorithms of an AI act as a “black box” — even the creator of the artificial intelligence is not always sure why the algorithm made a certain decision,” ~ Marten Kaevats, Adviser of the Strategy Unit of the Government Office of Estonia.

There is a lot of noise right now around robot rights — that is giving natural personhood rights to artificially intelligent robots and algorithms.

Sophia the robot was given actual citizenship by Saudi Arabia.

Shibuya Mirai, a civil-servant chat-bot…

“I still have 100s of computer programs I wrote for ZX Spectrum from 1983–85 that are on magnetic cassette tapes melting again in my attic, inc my ‘chatbot,’ and other programs from 1985–87 stored on an 8″ magnetic reel. All less readable already than Egyptian hieroglyphics.” I D Pearson

There are now around 1.8 billion photographs taken a day.

Our lives are more documented and detailed than any generation, or civilisation that came before us.

And yet, almost all the detail of our contemporary human civilisation are digitised, not tangible.

Our music, pictures — even our research and information is…

In many ways, common myths are the glue that hold human society together. This does not make these myths “true”. It just makes them true enough for a large enough majority to believe in. When people believe in something, really truly believe in it, they will do almost anything to defend that belief, often to the death.

In the past these common myths included:

The divine rights of kings.

A natural hierarchy of mankind. That some people were born to be poor peasants, slaves, tax payers, lower-caste — while others were born to be rulers, slave owners and tax recipients.

The biggest threat to the financial industry right now is not robo-advisors, Bitcoin, or some shiny new tech start up. Instead, bankers and insurance brokers should be worried about brands who have cultivated their own loyal communities.

In particular, social networks, the brands that own our identities, our trust and our attention are realising the potential their networks have profit from adding financial services to their product offerings.

Considering there are already a host of fin-tech start-ups using pre-existing social media platforms to run banking and payment services, it is not surprising that the social network giants are now vying…

Bronwyn Ruth Williams

Female Futurist. Field Agent. Trend Hunter. Spy. www.whatthefuturenow.com

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