Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Improved future?


Based on developments such as
University of Tokyo researchers have developed flexible artificial skin that will allow robots to feel pressure, temperature, light, humidity, strain and sound. IBM’s new voice recognition systems will allow a more natural conversation with our silicon friends, and researchers at Redwood Neuroscience Institute dream of one day programming human cognitive behaviour into robots.

Dick predicts a time-line for robots in our homes:
2010: household robots will find their way into homes performing limited chores, providing valuable services for children, and enabling elderly people to live in their houses instead of going to nursing homes.

2015: robots perform most household chores.

2020: bots will understand our moods; know when we are happy, angry, in a hurry, or tired; and conduct meaningful conversations. We will rely on them to keep us organized, informed, and aware of everything happening in our world. They will express personal attraction for their masters and display near human-like personality.

2025: robots will become the most important family acquisition. These brilliant silicon creatures will understand our world and seamlessly interact with us. They will help manage our 2020s technologies: medical nanobots that keep our bodies in perfect health; counter-top replicators that provide food, clothing, appliances, or even build additional robots; and immersive virtual reality simulations that whisk us away to entertainment dreamland.

2030: human-machine merge will become possible.

The comments on the blog expressed both optimism and otherwise of such a future. Dick said in one of the replies:

No one knows for sure how our “magical future” might unfold, but as we multi-track projected breakthroughs in biotech, infotech, nanotech, and cognitive science, we get a clear picture that tomorrow’s life will be a vast improvement over today’s crude world.

What should we do today to avoid the scenario that one day robots find the human-spices a pest to their existence and decide to eliminate the carbon-based life-form?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

23 Theses about the future of work

by Jim Ware

This article articulates 23 theses the author feels will be the way work is undergoing reform. Please read them yourself.

Here are a few which attracts my attention a little more than others (because the likely impact on the way we should prepare ourselves and our next generation).

1. We need to know our competency and response adequately:
Project management tools will support the decomposition of complex, larger work tasks into more discreet units. The “rule of two” will become a standard:

Here’s how much time you have . . . to

  • 2 minutes ..take action on immediate requests for your attention. If you can’t handle it that quickly, then it needs to go to someone, or some place else!

  • 2 hours . . . hold face-to-face meetings. If it takes longer than that, you’re not planning!!

  • 2 days . . . .respond to electronic requests. If you can’t get to it by then, you’re wasting your time and everyone else’s.

  • 2 weeks . . . assemble a work team and commit to a plan. If you can’t find the right people and the right plan by then, the project will fail.

  • 2 months . . . identify a business opportunity and test it with customers. If you can’t do it by then, your competition can.

  • 2 years . . . nothing at all. If your static plans reach out years into the future, the world will have passed you by long before you get them done.

2. We need to be able to work in team, hence good inter-personal and communication skills. AND we need to engage in life-long learning.
People will shift their work activities to their core competencies for approximately 80% of their time. Everything else will be handed off to someone with complementary competencies. Individuals themselves will become less ‘vertically integrated’ and grow loosely coupled collaborative networks to meet their needs outside their core competencies. No more "jack of all trades.’" The remaining time will be devoted to learning new skills and competencies.

3. Improved decision making skills in light of incomplete knowledge of the problem.
Work projects will begin with some goals and vision, but will continuously morph as the projects rolls on, being responsive to external influences. This new reality means that project budgets will be moving targets, deadlines somewhat arbitrary, and final design impossible to predict. Managers who thrive on certainty must evolve into leaders of ambiguity – or be left behind.

4. Multi-tasking ability. The ability to quickly shift focus, retrieve relevant information to make a decision and perform a task.
People will work on several “projects” at once (indeed, most knowledge workers already do). Some will even have several “jobs” and serve many masters simultaneously. Individuals will take on the responsibility of managing their efforts across projects, as well as within projects. New skills in project trajectory control will be required, as well as a higher-level executive function that balances capacity (what I can do today) with capability (what I need to be able to do tomorrow).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Skin Cells Converted to Stem Cells

According to Washington Post,
The technique uses laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells -- such as the ones that President Bush has already approved for use by federally funded researchers -- to "reprogram" the genes in a person's skin cell, turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell itself.
if further studies confirm its usefulness, it could offer an end run around the heated social and religious debate that has for years overshadowed the field of human embryonic stem cell research.

Although this research is at its early stage, we are seeing more and more research which may need to the removal of unnecessary human deaths. Again, the implication is huge...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Free Wi-Fi? Get Ready for GoogleNet.

via engadget.

Here is a possibility from not a too distant future - free wi-fi access powered by location-based advertisement.

Digital divide will still exist, but takes on a different meaning.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Implications when human can repair ourselves and more

A few break-throughs, which are likely to happen in this decade or next will have significant impact on the way we see ourselves, the way we work, the way society can sustain and hence the way we should prepare ourselves and the future generation. I am throwing this open, rather than attempting to suggest any implications.

Research for treating diseases with stem cells has been hampered with ethical issues. NewScientist.com has reported (and elsewhere in Australia previously) that primitive cells from umbilical cord blood has similar properties AND collecting, storing and using such umbilical cord blood would not have the same ethical dilemma. We should see research in this area advances quickly so that unnecessary human death can be avoided in the future.

The line between human and machine has been blurring. We have hearing implants for many years. Artificial limbs are getting better and better. One day, they may be better than our natural limbs (and if you can, would you like to get a better pair?). One of the promise of stem cell research is to grow replacement parts for human. Another line of approach is to use nanotechnology to support or enhance human physical ability.

Another potential development is inserting "nanomuscle fibers" that can actually simulate muscles, giving soldiers more strength. Fabric is impregnated with nanomachines that create the same weight, lift and feel as a muscle. "So I coat the outside of the armour with a nanomuscle fiber that gives me 25 to 35 percent better lifting capability," DeGay explained.

The uniform from the waist down will have a robotic-powered system that is connected directly to the soldier. This system could use pistons to actually replicate the lower body, giving the soldier "upwards of about 300 percent greater lifting and load-carriage capability," DeGay said. "We are looking at potentially mounting a weapon directly to the uniform system and now the soldier becomes a walking gun platform." [Future Warrior Suit Exhibits Super Powers]

Simply, we may never die!

This seems like fiction. How real are they? I don't know, but there are a lot of people pouring their efforts into such research.

Another hard question, what is "consciousness", so characteristic of human need to be answered as well. Now, this is also being debated, see Why Great Minds Can't Grasp Consciousness [via BetterHumans]

May be by 2020, people will still die and I may die too. However, there seems to be a future that people need not die. Is that too far to us to contemplate now?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Human Washing Machine

Via Boingboing. The Google translated English version.
I wrote, back in September 2004 that in the future:
all physical production will be outsourced to developing or underdeveloped countries, ...The only local jobs commonly available will be from the service industry - most are low paying jobs - restaurants, barbers, cleaners etc...

It seems that such personal service, as washing your own body, may disappear as well. My question: What about the job of Hair-stylist? Will they be replaced by machine...?