San Francisco was host to WorldFuture 2015 earlier this month. With around 700 attendees and professional futurists from all over the globe, it remains the world’s oldest and best known futures conference.
On Saturday, the conference’s first full day, I had the opportunity to give my session, “Cybercrime 2025 and Beyond” to a full house and it seemed very well received. I chose to take a little different tack with this talk and explored the development of cybercrime and the search for its solutions as part of the ongoing coevolution between humanity and technology. I ended with a call for building a biologically-inspired cyber-immune system that could protect not only our future digital assets, but potentially our physical infrastructure as well. While there is research being done in this area, there isn’t a focused program for bringing it to fruition. Yet.
Given the growing threat of cybercrime in recent years, it’s no surprise there were several speakers at the conference who addressed the subject. “Future Crimes” author, Marc Goodman opened the morning with an excellent talk that drew from the wide range of topics he covers in his new book. Later in the afternoon, Roey Tzezana, a nanotechnology scientist and futurist from the University of Tel Aviv spoke about his team’s cybercrime forecast model which looks at the threat profiles that are generated when different technologies are combined. Fascinating stuff.
My article on a recent and important mathematical proof regarding the beginnings of our universe was published at Scientific American today. While it may seem odd that a futurist is writing about something that happened 13.8 billion years ago, in fact I think it’s both justified and applicable. Our understanding of the origins of our universe tells us quite a bit about its future and its eventual end. As we refine our models and they become increasingly accurate, our predictions about other cosmological phenomena also improves. Not to mention it’s great fun!
“The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move?” by futurist and science writer, Patrick Tucker, comes out this week and I highly recommend it. As long-time deputy editor of The Futurist magazine and director of communications for the World Future Society, Tucker has many great insights about the world Big Data is rapidly creating around us. In my recent review of ‘Naked Future’, I’ve tried to convey the depth and breadth covered in this very readable book. Read it today so you can know more about the world tomorrow.
It’s interesting what inspires or motivates an article. It might be a conversation, a good book, a song from days gone by. Sometimes there’s just a deadline waiting to be met. In the case of “Playing the Long Game“, my latest article at H+ Magazine, it was a recent tweet by its editor, Michael Anissimov:
This is a sentiment I definitely share and it got me to thinking: Here we are, the one animal that’s capable of planning days, weeks, even years in advance. What is that keeps us locked into short-term thinking? Why aren’t we making better use of this unique and powerful ability? As it turns out, I came up with quite a few factors. How we work, how we play, how we interact — a whole lot of our modern lifestyle encourages us to avoid long-term thinking and planning.
All of this perpetuates a shallowness of thought that impacts our decision making in so many spheres. Too often, our political system is hobbled by thinking that expects simplistic, slogan-ready solutions to increasingly complex problems in an increasingly complex world. Higher education teaches yesterday’s skills for jobs that soon won’t exist, instead of developing critical thinking and other adaptive skills in anticipating the needs of tomorrow. In short, all this living for the moment makes us forget there is a world that lies beyond the fifteen minute horizon and we are suffering for it.
While we face some very big challenges in the coming century, I do think we have it in us to deal with them. But it might mean making some changes to how we think about today and tomorrow.