End of the Long Game 2009 – 2018: Part II: The Bear Argument

Part II: the Bear Argument
We also point out our alternative scenario which, if, going to happen, is starting now. This scenario suggests stock market prices are peaking in what was a false move to the upside over 2009-2014. This implies that the stock market correction which began in 2000 is still underway and has many years left to unfold. It also implies that stock markets are about to undergo a rapid and relentless decline to their 2009 low points and most probably lower. Falling oil, gold, metal and bond prices over the last few months support this scenario which suggests economies are still undergoing this huge consolidation.

The current divergence between stock markets and commodities indicate a major topping process is underway. In addition Austrian Business Cycle Theory suggests a massive divergence between the amounts of new money coming into the system on a year on year basis is diverging with capital goods prices such as stocks and real estate. This implies the system cannot support asset prices at their current high levels. Even if the US Fed were to begin another round of quantitative easing it would not be enough to sustain asset values – especially stocks at current levels. If this scenario emerges over the next six months we can predict this will give rise to an economic depression lasting 8 to 13 years before an economic recovery gets underway. See the chart below to get a sense of the disparity between M2 Money Supply growth – non seasonally adjusted compared to the weekly DJIA close.

DJIA - M2 NSAThe alternative view suggests it is the resumption of the bear phase of an ongoing correction since 2000. The massive money supply pumping had created the sub-prime bubble that should have been left to sort itself out in the 2008-2009 phase. Since then we have seen bubbles in commodities, education, shares and real estate. The divergence seen in the above M2 NSA Money Supply – DJIA graph illustrates how much worse the situation has grown with stock prices occupying high levels and the amount of new money coming into the system remaining static. This is untenable.

Summary of expectations – short term bull market scenario
• Expect stock markets to correct more deeply over 2015 (14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)) against a growing bullish optimism before beginning an upward exponential surge in stock, commodity and real estate prices. Anticipate any decline of stock markets or economic data to be met by central banks restarting their QE programs. 14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)
• The collapse of oil prices in the last quarter of 2014 creates a potential game changer for most economies as cheaper energy prices flow through to Main Street. It is likely Crude Oil prices will be capped for the next few years at around US$80 per barrel. This takes the pressure off consumer prices but once again translates into higher share and real estate prices.
• Anticipate consumer price inflation to remain low in the US, UK, EU and Japan. At the same time higher than normal unemployment and the potential for continuing stagnant economic activity will prevail. At this time we anticipate seeing US consumer inflation increase dramatically with the potential to see 4-6% very quickly. The only thing really holding CPI figures down at present, is falling oil prices in late 2014.
• Interest rates will start to rise in 2015 as central banks try to normalize credit markets.
• • Expect credit markets to re-price themselves if inflation does kick up creating a liquidity trap for central banks.
• Anticipate the US, Japan, UK and German stock markets to benefit at the expense of emerging markets as cash gets sucked from the periphery to the centre. Similarly the US dollar will continue to strengthen as money floods back to the centre from the periphery.
• Expect a collapse in stock and commodity prices followed by economic contraction where both inflation and high unemployment are experienced at the same time after this spike in stock and commodity markets prices. This may not happen for another 3 years as the ‘Roaring Teens” finishes up.
• Anticipate social and political dislocation in many countries including the US to continue to escalate.

Summary of expectations – short term bear market scenario
• Expect stock markets to begin a relentless stair step down punctuated with savage counter rallies. The nature of the decline will tell us if this is a correction in a broader ongoing bull market or the beginning of the bear market. One clue would be if the correction points mentioned here are taken out in one continuous uninterrupted decline (14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)). Anticipate any decline of stock markets or economic data to be met by central banks escalating their QE programs. 14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)
• We might also anticipate inflation to break out in an unprecedented way especially in the US, UK and Japan and central banks will be unable to contain it. At the same time higher than normal unemployment and continuing stagnant economic activity will prevail. Interest rates may rally sharply on rising inflation and start to rise as central banks try to normalize credit markets in 2015 before plunging as evidence of the growing bear market gathers.
• The coming phase will be difficult to read as markets enter their final death throws and competing bullish and bearish forces play out.
• The coming depression that unfolds will last 8 to 13 years.
• Anticipate increasing social and political dislocation in many countries including the US.

Conclusion & End Game
Whether we have a few more months or years of twilight before the beginning of a new “Dark Age”, suffice to say, that from now onwards we can expect increasingly tough times punctuated by phases of optimism. And of course the coming generation of correction will not merely be confined to asset prices and the vagaries of fiat money and bad economics, but also to societies and politics, both domestic and geo-political. Generations of people will learn about long forgotten natural laws and how it applies to human behavior. Social mood will have become dark and this will also express itself through every aspect of society, both culturally and economically. Music, the arts, fashion, crime, politics, social mood and drama will all reflect the new paradigm. The growing social political and economic tensions we have witnessed a harbinger of what is to come. This phase will reset the stage for a new beginning for people from which a new and sustained social and economic recovery will slowly begin. By the time that point has arrived however, the nature of our societies and the way we relate with people and between nations will have changed. The wrangling about why it had to happen will be well underway.

Peak Babies, Not Oil

Patrick Cox writing for Tech Digest:

Much of my career has been spent refuting this or that doomsday scenario. From peak oil to overpopulation, I’ve been on the other side of the hysteria and often vilified for it. In the last few days, however, a Wall Street Journal headline told us that “Oil Prices Tumble Amid Global Supply Glut.” Also, a LiveScience story told us that “US Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low.”

Neither one of these headlines should surprise anybody. The math behind both of these stories has been clear for a very long time. Neither peak oil nor overpopulation fears were based on actual science. This, of course, raises questions about our species’ susceptibility to periodic Chicken Little hysteria. I have no explanation for this innate tendency, but it’s been evident for thousands of years.

In the modern cautionary tale, first published in the Anglosphere in the mid-1800s, it’s a chicken that cries that the sky is falling. Ancient Buddhists from India and Tibet told the same basic story, but the central character was an alarmist rabbit. That version was spread into Africa and then via the slave trade into America where the oral version was recorded by Joel Chandler Harris in his Uncle Remus books. What sets it apart from the older versions is that Brother Rabbit starts the panic but never actually falls for it himself. I’m reminded of some current global warming activists who fly in private jets and live in estates with carbon footprints bigger than small towns.

This isn’t to say, however, that we have nothing to worry about. In the immortal words of Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (stage name Taj Mahal), “If you ain’t scared, you ain’t right.”

So I’m not exactly scared, but there are things that concern me. The oil glut isn’t one of them, but historically low birthrates do have enormous implications for investors. The last available data, compiled in 2013 by the CDC, show 62.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in the US. That’s down 10 percent from 2007, which was already below replacement rate. In 2008, the US birthrate was 2.08 births per woman, below the 2.1 level needed to replace the population. Today, we are seeing the lowest recorded American birthrate since government started keeping track in 1909. New Zealand, Australia, and Canada are even significantly lower.

In and of itself, a sub-replacement birthrate isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem is that our ruling elite seem totally unaware that it’s happening. Routinely, in fact, we hear from certain politicians that overpopulation remains a pressing problem even as populations throughout the West are shrinking. The same trends, by the way, are already obvious in Asia and Africa where populations continue to increase primarily because people are living longer. Real demographers know that the world population is on track to contracting, and perhaps quite dramatically.

Once again, I recognize that there are upsides to reduced populations. The problem, however, is that so many government policies are still based on the assumption that every generation will be larger than the last. Growing populations are great in many ways. First of all, more young people entering the work force creates demand for all kinds of goods and services. It grows GDP and therefore tax revenues. The simplest way to achieve economic growth is, in fact, to grow the population.

While this is glaringly obvious, it’s remarkable how many economists miss this elephant in the room when talking about countries such as Japan, where economic problems have mirrored the country’s falling population. Last year, the Japanese population shrank by about a quarter million people.

Japan has the highest life expectancy and oldest population in the world, and the older Japanese people expect that the promises made in the past to help support the aged will be honored. It’s not at all clear to me that those promises can be kept, at least as things now stand.

As I’ve written many times, there were about 17 workers per retired person in the United States when I was born in the middle of the last century. Today, the ratio is less than three to one, and getting worse. Already, 30 cents out of every tax dollar collected in America flows to the aged, but much of that money is being borrowed. In effect, the bill for caring for the aged is being sent to future taxpayers, despite the fact that there will be fewer young workers and more aged people to support. This arrangement is not only unsustainable, it’s unethical. In my opinion, the older, wealthier population should help the younger, less wealthy part of the population, the reverse of the current situation.

Every time I’ve written this over the last 30 years or so, I’ve been attacked by people who claim that I’m a fearmonger and that we have plenty of money to support the aged. Today, however, we’re $17 trillion in debt and still borrowing. The current administration doesn’t even acknowledge that the problem exists, so it’s getting harder and harder to make that case.

We need to face the fact that things are going to get worse before they get better. I have little doubt, however, that we will eventually adjust to the new reality. We’ll see policymakers wake up to the new demographics, as they are in Japan, sooner than most of us think. Other countries are also facing facts and are devising solutions. I particularly like the spirit that some Danes are showing in their efforts to counter the country’s low fertility rate. Japan, however, is leading the way in terms of enabling technological solutions through regulatory reform.

The Japanese government understands that the old model is doomed and is actively looking for ways to increase the national work force. There are two obvious ways to do that. One is to bring more women, who have not traditionally worked to the same extent as Japanese men, into the work force. More working women means economic growth and more funds to support an aging population. The other, more long-term solution is to increase birthrates to grow the national work force.

The problem is that the two strategies counteract one another. Japanese women who work have lower birthrates than those who do not. Therefore, the only remaining solution is to extend health spans and working careers, increasing incomes and tax revenues while reducing medical expenses.

There are several ways that the Japanese are working to do this. The most important is the recently accomplished elimination of phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials for stem cell therapies. The second is in the field of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.

Japanese regulators exercise less direct control over the market but provide more solid, peer-reviewed information for consumers and healthcare providers. Recently, for example, the Japanese government issued a patent to Terra Biological for oxaloacetate (trade name benaGene) for use in “life extension.” Oxaloacetate is one of the NAD+ precursors that I take based on recent research. I also take the NAD+ precursor, nicotinamide riboside (trade name Niagen).

In general, Japan is leading the way in efforts to encourage new anti-aging therapies. In the next few years, I anticipate that Japan will continue to lower regulatory barriers for new biotechnologies. This is very unlike America’s FDA, which doesn’t yet recognize anti-aging or life extension as a legitimate therapeutic target.

The current regulatory environment in the US will change, however, because it has to. The only question is how soon it happens.

Fortunately, there is a growing chorus of rational voices in the US. I would recommend that everybody download and read Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective. This relatively brief presentation was written by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. On its website, the NIA states bluntly:

The world is on the brink of a demographic milestone. Since the beginning of recorded history, young children have outnumbered their elders. In about five years’ time, however, the number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children under age 5. Driven by falling fertility rates and remarkable increases in life expectancy, population aging will continue, even accelerate. The number of people aged 65 or older is projected to grow from an estimated 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050, with most of the increase in developing countries.

The interesting thing about that quote is that it was written in 2007, which means that this historic change has already come to pass. Back then, the authors warned:

Some governments have begun to plan for the long term, but most have not. The window of opportunity for reform is closing fast as the pace of population aging accelerates. While Europe currently has four people of working age for every older person, it will have only two workers per older person by 2050. In some countries the share of gross domestic product devoted to social insurance for older people is expected to more than double in upcoming years. Countries therefore have only a few years to intensify efforts before demographic effects come to bear.

More than a few years have passed since this report was written and nothing has really changed politically in the US, though the rate of demographic change and the pace of scientific progress, which is pushing out lifespans, have accelerated. Things will, therefore, get worse. The dynamics behind crippling governmental debt internationally are growing.

There are upsides to this totally predictable situation though. One is that we can anticipate many of the outcomes and devise ways of profiting from them. This is why I focus on disruptive biotechnologies that can significantly lower healthcare costs while extending health spans and careers. These biotechnologies provide the only real solution for the demographic transformation, except for the Danish solution mentioned above. I find it fascinating, by the way, that the revolution in biotechnology is happening exactly at the point in history when it’s needed.

Another significant benefit that will accrue from this convergence of forces is that many of us will be able to take advantage of these breakthrough discoveries. I’m incredibly excited about the emergence of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) vaccine which has been used widely in animals, where it seemingly rejuvenates and extends lives. Endothelial precursor therapy has similarly been shown in animals to rejuvenate cardiovascular systems. Hopefully soon, we’ll see brown adipose tissue transplantation curing obesity, diabetes and cholesterol problems. There are, however, significant benefits from recently discovered over-the-counter products.

Whenever I talk to el jefe, señor Mauldin, these days, it seems most of our conversations center on our workouts. Both of us work out and lift weights, as we have for much of our lives. Both of us, however, are making gains that we’ve never seen before. One of the Mauldin Economics executives told me recently that he’d never seen John look so good before, that his arms and shoulders are bigger than they’ve ever been.

I probably shouldn’t claim that I look good, but I can say that I’ve also put on a surprising amount of muscle in the last year. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Both John and I are in our 60s. I work out less than I did than in my 30s, but I’m suddenly lifting much more weight and have more muscle mass than ever. John’s experience is the same.

My only explanation is biotechnology. The NAD⁺ precursors that I mentioned above have been shown in animals to rejuvenate muscle tissue so I’m not surprised to see the effects in humans. I also credit anatabine citrate, though it is at least temporarily unavailable. I’m expecting word on that front soon.

Also, I’m a devoted user of the AVAcore thermogenic device. Recently, a major research organization presented evidence that it may be able to prevent the damage caused by overheating in athletes, but one of the investigating scientists mentioned, as an aside, that it also accelerates training results dramatically. Neither I nor Mauldin Economics have any interest in this privately held company, but I’m evangelical about the benefits, especially to older people. The stronger you are, the lower your risk of disease and mortality.

I realize that the current price of the device is high for many people, but I understand that the company is going to do some sort of crowd-sourcing project in the near future, probably Indiegogo, to fund a much more affordable product. I’ll let you know about the project when I have more information.

One of the reasons that I love the AVAcore device so much is that it perfectly demonstrates the unexpected and dramatic nature of emerging biotechnologies. The notion that exercise capacity and recovery could be dramatically improved by normalizing core body temperature is so unexpected, I’m still in awe over the science and the impact on my health.

It is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. As Japan is demonstrating, an aging population not only wants but demands access to the scientific breakthroughs that can significantly extend health spans. Just as Japan’s regulatory system is bending to the will of its aging population, America’s regulators will be forced to come around.

John and I talk a lot about assisting in that process, and I’ll have more information about that in the future. If you’d like to help in this effort, I suspect there are ways to do so. As it stands, our portfolio contains technologies that I believe will have dramatic impacts on some of the greatest threats to health and longer lives, including Alzheimer’s, cancers, fibrosis, diabetes, and other major diseases. A reformed regulatory system would accelerate therapies to market, which will improve and save lives. It will also allow more of us to live and invest longer.

From the TransTech Digest Research Team:

As Patrick explains above, new biotechnologies will not only extend and improve lives, they will also save the global economy from the implications of a shrinking population. Workers able to stay healthy and remain active in their careers will, quite simply, reduce overall medical spending and lead to an expansion of tax revenues over time.

Today’s transformational technologies—more than perhaps any set of advances the world has ever seen—hold the potential to increase the wealth and the health of all persons in all countries, regardless of their age. Where only a few decades ago many observers saw science fiction, breakthrough research today is working to create previously unfathomable new realities.

You can participate in this process of science fiction becoming science fact in the pages of Patrick’s Transformational Technology Alert. Each month, Patrick profiles a new publicly traded company and shows you the part it plays in the technology revolution ahead. Click here to start a risk-free trial subscription to Transformational Technology Alert today.Sincerely,
Patrick Cox
Patrick Cox
Editor, Transformational Technology Alert

Mauldin Economics

Source: http://www.mauldineconomics.com/tech/tech-digest/peak-babies-not-oil

The Satori Generation

Roland Kelts writing for Adbusters:
A new breed of young people have outdone the tricksters of advertising.

ONO KEI

This article appeared in issue #113, now available in our Blueprint for a New World Series Box Set.

They don’t want cars or brand name handbags or luxury boots. To many of them, travel beyond the known and local is expensive and potentially dangerous. They work part-time jobs—because that is what they’ve been offered—and live at home long after they graduate. They’re not getting married or having kids. They’re not even sure if they want to be in romantic relationships. Why? Too much hassle. Oh, and too expensive.

In Japan, they’ve come to be known as satori sedai—the “enlightened generation.” In Buddhist terms: free from material desires, focused on self-awareness, finding essential truths. But another translation is grimmer: “generation resignation,” or those without ideals, ambition or hope.

They were born in the late 1980s on up, when their nation’s economic juggernaut, with its promises of lifetime employment and conspicuous celebrations of consumption, was already a spent historical force.  They don’t believe the future will get better—so they make do with what they have.  In one respect, they’re arch-realists. And they’re freaking their elders out.

“Don’t you want to get a nice German car one day?”—asked one flustered 50-something guest of his 20-something counterpart on a nationally broadcasted talk show.  The show aired on the eve of Coming of Age Day, a national holiday in Japan that celebrates the latest crop of youth turning 20, the threshold of adulthood.  An animated graphic of a smiling man wearing sunglasses driving a blonde around in a convertible flashed across the screen, the man’s scarf fluttering in the wind.  “Don’t you want a pretty young woman to take on a Sunday drive?”

There was some polite giggling from the guests.  After a pause, the younger man said, “I’m really not interested, no.”

Critics of the satori youths level the kinds of intergenerational accusations time-honored worldwide: they’re lazy, lacking in willpower, potency and drive.

Having lectured to a number of them at several universities in Tokyo, I was able to query students directly.  “We’re risk-averse,” was the most common response.  We were raised in relative comfort.  We’re just trying to keep it that way.

Is this enlightened, or resigned? Or both?

Novelist Genichiro Takahashi, 63, addressed the matter in an essay 10 years ago.  He called the new wave of youth a “generation of loss,” but he defined them as “the world’s most advanced phenomenon”—in his view, a generation whose only desires are those that are actually achievable.

The satori generation are known for keeping things small, preferring an evening at home with a small gathering of friends, for example, to an upscale restaurant.  They create ensemble outfits from so-called “fast fashion” discount stores like Uniqlo or H&M, instead of purchasing top-shelf at Louis Vuitton or Prada.  They don’t even booze.

“They drink much less alcohol than the kids of my generation, for sure,” says social critic and researcher Mariko Fujiwara of Hakuhodo. “And even when they go to places where they are free to drink, drinking too much was never ‘cool’ for them the way it was for us.”

Fujiwara’s research leads her to define a global trend—youth who have the technological tools to avoid being duped by phony needs.  There is a new breed of young people, she says, who have outdone the tricksters of advertising.

“They are prudent and careful about what they buy. They have been informed about the expensive top brands of all sorts of consumer goods but were never so impressed by them like those from the bubble generation. We have identified them as those who are far more levelheaded than the generations preceding them as a result of the new reality they came to face.”

The new reality is affecting a new generation around the world.  Young Americans and Europeans are increasingly living at home, saving money, and living prudently.  Technology, as it did in Japan, abets their shrinking circles.  If you have internet access, you can accomplish a lot in a little room.  And revolution in the 21st century, as most young people know, is not about consumption—it’s about sustainability.

Waseda University professor, Norihiro Kato, points to broader global phenomena that have radically transformed younger generations’ sense of possibility, calling it a shift from “the infinite to the finite.” Kato cites the Chernobyl meltdown and the fall of communism in the late 1980s and early 90s; the September 11 terrorist attacks in the early 2000s; and closer to home, the triple earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear disasters in Japan. These events reshaped our sense of wisdom and self-worth. The satori generation, he says, marks the emergence of a new “‘qualified power,’ the power to do and the power to undo, and the ability to enjoy doing and not doing equally.  Imagine a robot with the sophistication and strength to clutch an egg without crushing it.  The key concept is outgrowing growth toward degrowth.  That’s the wisdom of this new generation.”

In America and Europe, the new generation is teaching us how to live with less—but also how to live with one another. Mainstream media decry the number of young people living at home—a record 26.1 million in the US, according to recent statistics—yet living at home and caring for one’s elders has long been a mainstay of Japanese culture.

In the context of shrinking resources and global crises, satori “enlightenment” might mean what the young everywhere are telling us: shrink your goals to the realistic, help your family and community and resign yourself to peace.

What Takahashi called “the world’s most advanced phenomenon” may well be coming our way from Japan. But this time it’s not automotive or robotic or electronic. It’s human enlightenment.

Roland Kelts is a half-Japanese writer based in Tokyo and New York. He is the author of the bestselling JAPANAMERICA: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US, and a contributor to enlightened media worldwide.

The future of working from home

 Tom Goodwin, director of The Tomorrow Group & Marketing Writer and Speaker writes:

We rarely notice it, but technology moves way faster than culture. The future of work has long been predicted to be more casual and based away from the office, yet little has changed. We still largely commute daily in order to work from the same spaces and do the same things. How do we change our approach and change the way we work in the future?

As cities swell, public transport groans under the weight of demand, train prices increase, urban house prices surge and commutes lengthen, we look again to how technology can transform the modern workplace.

It’s been a unmet future promise since the 1990’s, much like the paperless office. We’ve had Skype for years, 4G allows working from the most remote of places, the promise of working from home is always on the horizon, but never been a reality. For each company that promotes it, we’ve Yahoo and Google (of all places) look to bring workers back to their motherships.

It should obviously not be like this, most of the working environment that we construct around is a legacy of the past.

We work “working hours” which are linked to the Agrarian needs of over 10,000 years ago, where working was growing crops and daylight was needed to harvest and plant them. Lightbulbs invented over 100 years ago made this irrelevant in modern working environments, yet we still work in daylight hours obsessively, even changing our clocks twice per year to aid our “need” to work in natural light.

We have a 7 day week thanks to Babylonians who 4,000 years ago thought there were 7 heavenly bodies. Yet the 5 day working week comes from just 1908, when a New England mill to accommodate the needs of Jewish and Christian’s needs for a holy day each, coined the notion of “weekend” . It’s odd to think if the Babylonians had been able to see further, how different life would be.

We work in the same places, at the same time, presumably because the industrial revolutions had factories with set roles in production lines and needed all present continuously.

Yet none of these things make any sense any more; in a world of smartphones, lightbulbs, virtual workspaces, IM, we’re held hostage by assumptions from 4,000 years ago.

But this isn’t new, we over value the impact of technology and underestimate the impact of culture, how slow it is to change. We forget in an age of fingerprint scanning, drones, 3D printing, that we still shake hands to show we’re not carrying swords, we still chink glasses to show we’re not poisoning each other, our body language reflects behavior of cavemen, we “carbon copy” people on email, heck, some people still use Yahoo, the most primitive all all human behavior.

So how do we unbundle ourselves from this oddity, the benefits of working different hours or from working from home more are massive and well documented. They would:
1) Reduce the cost of commuting, both in terms of travel costs, energy costs and environmental destruction.
2) Reduce the wasted time and damage from stress of commuting.
3) Reduce the unhappiness of such a crappy start to the day.

But most of all working set hours from the same place, after a lengthy battle to work, with photocopies humming , hampers creativity. For me the very most unlikely place to get an idea is in an office. Put me in a museum, a weird train, let me look out of the window on a plane or overhear a conversation in McDonalds and I’ll be million times more likely to spark something.

We off course still need face to face contact, ideas are nurtured in groups, thinking needs to get small and big and be pulsed through to bigger better things with other people, but often that’s the easy part.

So with this in mind I’ve three notions that can help us unleash us from the office.

1) A change in culture – the rise of management by objectives.

For some reason we bundled ” accomplishing something” and what correlates to it which is “being at work”.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we tend to measure how hard we have worked by how many hours we’ve been at work. Sales assistants are generally paid by the hours worked, not what they sell, personal assistants don’t get paid per email or booking, but by how long they are able stand being at work. Advertising agencies / Management Consultants /Lawyers are paid by the amount of time spent on something. It’s all totally bizarre but stays in place because we’ve never been comfortable with a better way.

Because we correlate “being at work” with doing stuff, we’ve assumed that working from home was inefficient and that people abused the system. When you expect people to behave this way they do. I’ve had friends who used “WFH” as a term for a day off, it was a chance to have a big night the evening before and merely wake at 8am to announce they were online already.

The way around this is to be able to measure productivity and set goals for accomplishments. If we were paid to simple get results, we could all know that our interests were aligned and we could make decisions about the place we need to be, in order to best get that done, which oddly enough may required being in the office, but not around arbitrary hours from the Neolithic revolution.

Now I am no management theorists, but wouldn’t it be a fun exercise to think about how you would manage people in this world. What would the objectives be that people needed to accomplish? how would you monitor it? where would be need to be day to day? what are people actually doing for your business? when would people need to be in the office? how would these hours overlap? could you offer bonuses ? what do promotions look like this this world?

Many interesting questions we should all be asking.

2) Permanent Freelancing.

The idea of a job or company for life hasn’t just faded, it’s been smashed. We may assume the future generations will be job hoppers but they will likely go beyond this to work many different careers in their lifetime and often at the same time. Anyone whose spent time hanging out in painfully trendy parts of town and who dares talk to ( or WhatsApp with) someone with a deliberately asymmetrical haircut has found that people are no longer employees but jewelry makers / music producers / fashion blogger / feng shui consultant / website designer at the same time. We’re never too sure what actually pays the bill and where success lies, but that seems rather mean spirited to question.

So how do we work with this generation, how does diverse talent come together, how do we arrange a workplace around this.

It’s not been hard for me. In my company (Tomorrow), I need the very best people on the planet, to work incredibly hard for tiny amounts of time, on super interesting projects. It’s not only way more fun this way, but a future generation of experts are drawn to short, interesting, pioneering projects that they learn from. The cost of employment is slight and I get the best talent this way. We often forget in agencies that the very best people can work anywhere. If your website design agency is in a business park in Reading, you probably won’t be getting the UI star or Designer that will set the world alight, not unless you pay them incredibly, offer them the chance to work from a Montenegrin town one week and a Indonesian beach the next and offer them something they can learn from and be proud of.

So be honest with yourself, do you want the best people in the world to fit into your system, or do you want to attract the best people and give them something they value ( which is likely to be freedom not money)

3) New Environments.

Has anyone ever actually accomplished anything from a conference call? ever? Dan is always dialing in late forcing yet another re-iteration of what the call is about, Jenny is going through airport security and can’t talk and we can’t hear the call host because their hands free is crap and they are driving too fast. In 2014, the main point of a conference call is to show that you tried.

Video calls still seem awkward, how close should you be to the camera? are they still or has the video crashed? Isn’t video a bit much? Why are they looking there?

Instant Messenger is better, but why are we spending effort to ask home someones day is? Do we have to talk about the weather? Can they tell my sarcasm? This isn’t the way to ask a favor.

We’ve just not learned how to use this technology and we’ve pretended it’s not crap. So we need to use technology better but we also need a better environment to use it in. I see a new type of home office

I see this home office as a smallish space 10ft x 10ft for example, with projected images of livestreams on each wall. We may have direct video links open always to 10-20 people and other workable information on other screens.

Each person will be in super low res and blurry in real time, but have a light showing their status. In order to open a proper “gateway” to that person in full HD and with sound, you’d need to touch the screen and they’d need to accept the call, upon which a bridge is formed and a normally face to face conversation is held.

Could this be the best of both? What is this room called? How do villages and towns of the future adopt to this new working pattern?

The New Landscape.

On recent trips on trains across the UK it blows my mind how beautiful our countryside is and how dreadful our domestic architecture is. In the USA large scale architecture is typically crap, but homes ( for the middle and above) are generally well designed, optimistic, futuristic and airy, yet in the UK it’s the opposite with wonderful public buildings, adventurous railway stations, remarkable offices and the very worst new homes our planet has ever seen.

We’ve desperate calls to develop the Greenbelt, yet the question is always yes or no, never what and how? Why do our homes look like images from a 5 year olds drawing pad? Why do we hate windows? Do we need to try to replicate architectural language from the past, without any of the reasons that existed? How would a Roman temple treat a underground car port?

I’d love to see our assumptions challenged, the Greenbelt full of “digital commuter villages”, with central community work and health centers, subterranean leisure centers, vast numbers of communicable cars to subscribe to, electric self driving buses to local rail connections, decentralized power per home and above all else homes with this new “home office”

Maybe by removing every assumption we’ve ever made, we can reimagine both working from home and our entire built environment.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/future-working-from-home-tom-goodwin?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_POST

The Preeminence of Scientists

Watching the movie Interstellar, one couldn’t help noting the preeminent status scientists have attained as they explain various scientific concepts to the audience. Its as if they have taken their rightful place amongst the gods and other acclaimed mortals. Hubris has lifted them to iconic status as they work to overcome the many problems faced by humanity.

The very making of a movie about scientists signals a change of trend may be near at hand. Scientists face many challenges in their search for truth. Not just with their research but with the need for scientific protocol, impartiality, accurate reporting of data, peer review, the need for funding and competing for funding, the role of government, academia, corporations, conflict of interests, ethics etc, etc.

Art often reflects life and society. Social and artistic events like this also reflect the deep unconscious processes operating inside the minds of people. Just as we have seen the rise and fall of individuals and groups of people, often in a frenzy of social ebullience, so Interstellar may mark a turning point for the acclaim scientists have earned and the hubris our society has bestowed on them.

 

6 Trends for 2017 and Beyond.

Tom Goodwin,Director of the Tomorrow Group & Marketing Writer and Speaker:

When thinking about trends for 2015 for a new post…. ( which is now published here .. http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2014/nov/20/digital-marketing-trends-2015 ) …. I found some longer term shifts that I can feel developing and I wanted to take this chance to raise 6 themes worth consideration.

This post isn’t so much a proud proclamation of the future as a call for debate, perhaps some interesting dinner party conversation starters. What do you think?

I think the biggest changes for the next 4 years will be the following:

1) A Thinner Internet

The internet will become more seamless, more pervasive, personal and even predictive. It will spread across more devices but in thinner, more context specific layers.

From the notification layer on our phone, to “card” like app design, to apps that run invisibly in the background to wake only when required.

From fridges that on a glance show the weather, to clocks that show when we’re late with colours, to watches that tell us if we need to head right or left with a vibration. Amazon Echo as a ambient helper.

Our phones unlock in trusted places, our cars pick the coffee shop we may want, Siri, Cortana, Google now, all become personal assistants that guide us. Anticipatory or Predictive computing will be a huge development that we all talk about for the next few years as we begin to outsource our cognitive functions ( and trade privacy). Far fetched? How many phone numbers do you now know? What about birthdays?

We used to search the web, we used to go deep in, and navigate, in the near future the web bubbles up to a surface that we glance at, in more places and in less deep ways. It becomes key contextual information.

How can your business move into this thin layer, how does it become a contextual nudge or key information at the right time.

2) The post privacy age.

A generation of people simply won’t understand the concept of privacy. A generation of people who’ve grown up sharing geotagged images of their most personal moments, who’ve had every gmail read, who’ve lived with loyalty cards and financial dashboards won’t get for one second what was once possible, privacy.

Instead a generation of people will have grown up having traded it. Their Target app gave them bigger discounts, they used Facebook for free, they got retargeted ads from newspapers we once paid for.

From better healthcare from the analysis of anonymous healthcare, from more efficient smart cities from sharing user data, from thermostats that save energy by knowing where you are, or whether it’s Cortana or Google Lollypop becoming your personal assistant.

We will soon grow up in an age of near perfect information, and when we realize that when more people, know more things, there are some clear benefits, the topic won’t be about how we keep privacy but what we trade it for, where to draw the new line and how we learn to trust those with it.

What does this mean for marketers? How can they destroy assumptions about privacy, why can’t we offer more personal ads? What about more personal offers? Let’s think about how to reward people who chose to share data, it could be the new micro currency of the web.

3) The decline of the middle class in the developed world.

From Denver to Dover, Berlin to Bucharest, whether it’s the fault of the global economic downturn, quantitative easing, the internet or labor automation, it seems like a clear trend in rising income inequality and in particular the transfer of wealth upwards and it’s hard to see anything reversing this.

Will we somehow see more working and middle class jobs appearing? With the rise of automation, the global movements of talent and the rise of technology to make industry more efficient, it’s impossible to see this happening.

Will property ownership revert back to the masses? You’d be a fool to see how this can happen unless those in power stop serving their own interests.

The future “virtual” or real high street and mall from the future will be dominated by the extremes. From Burberry and Louis Vitton at the top, to the masses of bargain retailers, dollar stores, pound shops, payday loan and pawnshops of the bottom, it’s hard to see how anyone in the middle can survive. The only hope for survival are companies such as Achieve Finance and others which are ready to offer loans to people despite them having a bad credit score. As of now, they can be considered as the backbone of the middle class as despite the falling economy they still are helping people live a good and peaceful life.

The share price of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Sears, JC Penney testifies to this. Be careful where your consumer is going. The Middle is a terrible place to be.

4) Mature Money.

Advertising and marketing have always obsessed with the young, but never more so and never more pointlessly.

Not only do the young have less influence than the media would have us believe, but they also suffer from having relatively little money and no loyalty whatsoever.

Yet the everlasting debate is about how to target and segment millennials or digital natives, and never how to target the old.

The over 50’s now have over 80% of most developed nations wealth, they have more free time, look set to live far longer, are way healthier and more engaged in brands than before. Yet the world of marketing abandons them to look at the trendy money.

Youth finances have never looked worse, youth unemployment is high, the cost of living is crippling, university fees in many countries are staggering and their future looks massively uncertain.Meanwhile the baby boomers sit on assets rocketing in value, drawing healthy pensions well into the future, and look for ways to spend it.

The trend lines are clear, so what can your business do about it?

5) Non Ownership

A lot of history is cyclical, people react and rebel against our past. For a generation of people that grew up in an age of post war rations, economic hardship, expensive electrical items, we’ve seen the reaction in the ultimate in consumer boom. We can now buy massive TV’s for less than $400, that we need not replace for years. In real terms cars and clothing are incredibly cheap, we’ve chickens for 2 dollars, the only thing that is expensive and limited is time.

A generation of people who’ve grown up with this abundance may turn against it. The most expensive and best phone in the world is $1000, the most most appropriate laptop costs the same. Armed with these devices we need not buy a 100 items they now replace. From the sharing economy making renting trendy, to a group of people unable to buy houses and that don’t see the stigma in renting, to hardware that becomes new due to software updates, to the digitization and streaming of once physical items. It could be we’re on the verge of a new type of consumerism, where armed with a past of excess, a present of limited finances and a future of resource scarcity, we chose to own fewer, better, more adaptable items.

6) Euthanasia

Sadly Humans are not built to last as long, the sort of ultimate in built-in-obsolescence and as we age, we do so asymmetrically.

When expensive modern medicine is able to keep people alive for longer, with ever diminishing returns, at what point do we accept that an aging unproductive population isn’t sustainable.

What becomes of the new retiring age? When do we agree to treatments? what constitutes action that is in the interest of the person? What does this mean for countries with government provided healthcare?

It’s a bit grim to dwell on it and the marketing implications are less clear, so just a philosophical issue to chat about and think about for the holiday dinner party season.

Hope you liked them, this is a call for debate, not a proclamation of the fixed, so what do you think? What other issues do you forsee?

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141119102703-6433797-6-trends-for-2017-and-beyond

Millennials Aren’t Cheap, They’re Broke

Lynn Parramore writes for AlterNet

Pundits lament that young people are not buying cars and houses.

 Millennials, that perennial favorite topic of pundits, are back in the news. This time they’ve been dubbed the “Cheapest Generation” in a recent piece in the Atlantic Monthly.

Fair assessment? Or fairly out to lunch?  Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

“Millennials,” announce the authors, “have turned against both cars and houses in dramatic and historic fashion.” Among the many reasons given for this curious circumstance are new mobile technologies “enabling a different kind of consumption” and patterns of re-urbanization.

The authors do allow that “the Great  Recession is responsible for some of the decline” in purchasing. But they worry that young folks just don’t seem to want to spend as lavishly as their parents did, which is a problem because since the end of World War II, new cars and houses have powered the American economy. “Millennials may have lost interest in both,” they warn. They’re more interested in their smartphones than a new ride or a phat pad.

Here’s another thought: they’re broke. Granted, that’s not as sexy for magazine writers to talk about as sussing out cultural and demographic trends. But it’s awfully hard to buy a house or a car when any of the following apply:

  • You are in student debt up to your eyeballs.
  • You can’t find a job.
  • When you do find a job, that job is insecure, low-wage, with few to no benefits.

A company called Revolution, which examines consumer behavior, came out with a report October 13 that the authors of the Atlantic Monthly piece might have consulted before labeling millennials cheap:

“[The report] revealed key motivations behind why millennials are buying fewer cars. And, contrary to many of the reasons cited in hundreds of articles and reports, the bottom line is clear —they don’t have enough money to buy vehicles due to the continuing weak economy.”

Eureka!

The Great Recession amplified the unemployment and poor jobs and crap wages, but the tale began around the time millennials were born in the 1980s, when Reagan convinced much of America that laissez faire capitalism was the ticket to good times. That was true for a tiny portion of the country, which may now be observed buying McMansions and yachts. But pretty much everyone else, from the middle class on down, got screwed, and the screws are tightening every day.

Millennials have never seen a world in which union-bashing, outsourcing, shareholder value ideology, crap temp jobs, stagnant wages, and growing inequality were not the norm. Most millennials did not go to college, and if they have a high school diploma, it’s worth less than it was than for any generation that came before. Many of the college-educated started out getting exploited as unpaid interns, then didn’t get the jobs they were promised, and subsequently found themselves struggling for one gig after another with plummeting hopes of forging a meaningful career.

Yet pundits are constantly exploring the choices these young people are making as if there is some great mystery to be divined. They aren’t getting married! They’re still living at home with their parents! It must be because they are lazy, or immature, or indecisive, or turning away from consumption for ideological reasons.

No, they just don’t have any money. And money is what you need to do stuff like get married and set up your own household and buy expensive items.

True, you may lose some interest in things you can’t afford to buy and redirect your attention and efforts to stuff that is more attainable. So you think about sharing an apartment instead of a buying a house, or sharing a Zipcar instead of buying your own snazzy new automobile. But these decisions may have a lot more to do with the fact that you just can’t afford what your parents had at your age than some grand urge to live with a small footprint or not to be a spendthrift.

To be young is to be selfish and want things for yourself. It’s hard to imagine that the majority of young people are saying, “No, I don’t think I’ll opt for my own apartment, but rather deal with noisy roommates because really I’m just kind of cheap/environmentally conscious/more interested in downloading apps on my smartphone.” They may be looking for things besides cars and houses to make them happy, and maybe that’s not a bad development in many ways, but it probably isn’t because they are so fundamentally different than generations past. They are simply trying to deal with the raw deal that has been handed to them as best they can. Some pundits describe this as a pragmatic response to the “new economy.” You might also call it trying to survive. Let’s examine what they’re up against.

  • Millennials have the highest unemployment rate of any generation.
  • They have more student loan debt than Gen Xers and Boomers did at their age.
  • More millennials live in poverty than previous generations did at the same stage of life.
  • They make up 61 percent of Americans making minimum wage.
  • Having entered the workforce during an economic downturn, the effects on their future wages will likely be permanent, even if the economy bounces back.

Millennials need decent jobs. They need the power to bargain with employers. They need health insurance that does not suck. They need student debt forgiveness. They need investment in America’s infrastructure. Given that policy in America is currently dictated by the desires of the one percent, which has gotten control of much our political system, they probably aren’t going to get these things anytime soon.

But there are 80 million of them. That’s 25 percent of the U.S. population, and if they could organize themselves, they would be a powerful force to take on the forces that would deprive them of a decent future.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

Source: http://www.alternet.org/economy/millennials-arent-cheap-theyre-broke

 

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy

The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth
 A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange area in November 2011.
A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange area in November 2011. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.
With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference. The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

Robert David Steele
Former CIA spy and Open Source Intelligence pioneer, Robert David Steele speaking at the Inter-American Defense Board in 2013

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’

Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.

Steele’s book is a must-read, a powerful yet still pragmatic roadmap to a new civilisational paradigm that simultaneously offers a trenchant, unrelenting critique of the prevailing global order. His interdisciplinary ‘whole systems’ approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today.

“We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto. “Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Today’s capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive:

“Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we’ve learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”

The goal, he concludes, is to reject:

“… concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.”

Despite this unabashedly radical vision, Steele is hugely respected by senior military intelligence experts across the world. As a researcher at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, he has authored several monographs advocating the need for open source methods to transform the craft of intelligence. He has lectured to the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security as well as National Security Councils in various countries, and his new book has received accolades from senior intelligence officials across multiple countries including France and Turkey.

Yet he remains an outspoken critic of US intelligence practices and what he sees as their integral role in aggravating rather than ameliorating the world’s greatest threats and challenges.

This week, I had the good fortune of being able to touch base with Steele to dig deeper into his recent analysis of the future of US politics in the context of our accelerating environmental challenges. The first thing I asked him was where he sees things going over the next decade, given his holistic take.

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.

“My early graduate education was in the 1970’s when Limits to Growth and World Federalism were the rage. Both sought to achieve an over-view of systemic challenges, but both also suffered from the myth of top-down hubris. What was clear in the 1970s, that has been obscured by political and financial treason in the past half-century, is that everything is connected – what we do in the way of paving over wetlands, or in poisoning ground water ‘inadvertently’ because of our reliance on pesticides and fertilisers that are not subject to the integrity of the ‘Precautionary Principle,’ ultimately leads to climate catastrophes that are acts of man, not acts of god.”

He points me to his tremendous collection of reviews of books on climate change, disease, environmental degradation, peak oil, and water scarcity. “I see five major overlapping threats on the immediate horizon,” he continues. “They are all related: the collapse of complex societies, the acceleration of the Earth’s demise with changes that used to take 10,000 years now taking three or less, predatory or shock capitalism and financial crime out of the City of London and Wall Street, and political corruption at scale, to include the west supporting 42 of 44 dictators. We are close to multiple mass catastrophes.”

What about the claim that the US is on the brink of revolution? “Revolution is overthrow – the complete reversal of the status quo ante. We are at the end of centuries of what Lionel Tiger calls ‘The Manufacture of Evil,’ in which merchant banks led by the City of London have conspired with captive governments to concentrate wealth and commoditise everything including humans. What revolution means in practical terms is that balance has been lost and the status quo ante is unsustainable. There are two ‘stops’ on greed to the nth degree: the first is the carrying capacity of Earth, and the second is human sensibility. We are now at a point where both stops are activating.”

Robert Steele - preconditions for revolution
Former CIA officer’s matrix on the preconditions for revolution

It’s not just the US, he adds. “The preconditions of revolution exist in the UK, and most western countries. The number of active pre-conditions is quite stunning, from elite isolation to concentrated wealth to inadequate socialisation and education, to concentrated land holdings to loss of authority to repression of new technologies especially in relation to energy, to the atrophy of the public sector and spread of corruption, to media dishonesty, to mass unemployment of young men and on and on and on.”

So why isn’t it happening yet?
“Preconditions are not the same as precipitants. We are waiting for our Tunisian fruit seller. The public will endure great repression, especially when most media outlets and schools are actively aiding the repressive meme of ‘you are helpless, this is the order of things.’ When we have a scandal so powerful that it cannot be ignored by the average Briton or American, we will have a revolution that overturns the corrupt political systems in both countries, and perhaps puts many banks out of business. Vaclav Havel calls this ‘The Power of the Powerless.’ One spark, one massive fire.”

But we need more than revolution, in the sense of overthrow, to effect change, surely. How does your manifesto for ‘open source everything’ fit into this? “The west has pursued an industrialisation path that allows for the privatisation of wealth from the commons, along with the criminalisation of commons rights of the public, as well as the externalisation of all true costs. Never mind that fracking produces earthquakes and poisons aquifers – corrupt politicians at local, state or province, and national levels are all too happy to take money for looking the other way. Our entire commercial, diplomatic, and informational systems are now cancerous. When trade treaties have secret sections – or are entirely secret – one can be certain the public is being screwed and the secrecy is an attempt to avoid accountability. Secrecy enables corruption. So also does an inattentive public enable corruption.”

Is this a crisis of capitalism, then? Does capitalism need to end for us to resolve these problems? And if so, how? “Predatory capitalism is based on the privatisation of profit and the externalisation of cost. It is an extension of the fencing of the commons, of enclosures, along with the criminalisation of prior common customs and rights. What we need is a system that fully accounts for all costs. Whether we call that capitalism or not is irrelevant to me. But doing so would fundamentally transform the dynamic of present day capitalism, by making capital open source. For example, and as calculated by my colleague JZ Liszkiewicz, a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism.”

So what exactly do you mean by open source everything? “We have over 5 billion human brains that are the one infinite resource available to us going forward. Crowd-sourcing and cognitive surplus are two terms of art for the changing power dynamic between those at the top that are ignorant and corrupt, and those across the bottom that are attentive and ethical. The open source ecology is made up of a wide range of opens – open farm technology, open source software, open hardware, open networks, open money, open small business technology, open patents – to name just a few. The key point is that they must all develop together, otherwise the existing system will isolate them into ineffectiveness. Open data is largely worthless unless you have open hardware and open software. Open government demands open cloud and open spectrum, or money will dominate feeds and speeds.”

Robert Steele
Robert Steele’s vision for open source systems

On 1st May, Steele sent an open letter to US vice president Joe Biden requesting him to consider establishing an Open Source Agency that would transform the operation of the intelligence community, dramatically reduce costs, increasing oversight and accountability, while increasing access to the best possible information to support holistic policy-making. To date, he has received no response.

I’m not particularly surprised. Open source everything pretty much undermines everything the national security state stands for. Why bother even asking vice president Biden to consider it? “The national security state is rooted in secrecy as a means of avoiding accountability. My first book, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World – which by the way had a foreword from Senator David Boren, the immediate past chairman of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence – made it quite clear that the national security state is an expensive, ineffective monstrosity that is simply not fit for purpose. In that sense, the national security state is it’s own worst enemy – it’s bound to fail.”

Given his standing as an intelligence expert, Steele’s criticisms of US intelligence excesses are beyond scathing – they are damning. “Most of what is produced through secret methods is not actually intelligence at all. It is simply secret information that is, most of the time, rather generic and therefore not actually very useful for making critical decisions at a government level. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not prevented any terrorist incidents. CIA cannot even get the population of Syria correct and provides no intelligence – decision-support – to most cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, and department heads. Indeed General Tony Zinni, when he was commander in chief of the US Central Command as it was at war, is on record as saying that he received, ‘at best,’ a meagre 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods.”

So does open source mean you are calling for abolition of intelligence agencies as we know them, I ask. “I’m a former spy and I believe we still need spies and secrecy, but we need to redirect the vast majority of the funds now spent on secrecy toward savings and narrowly focused endeavors at home. For instance, utterly ruthless counterintelligence against corruption, or horrendous evils like paedophilia.

“Believe it or not, 95% of what we need for ethical evidence-based decision support cannot be obtained through the secret methods of standard intelligence practices. But it can be obtained quite openly and cheaply from academics, civil society, commerce, governments, law enforcement organisations, the media, all militaries, and non-governmental organisations. An Open Source Agency, as I’ve proposed it, would not just meet 95% of our intelligence requirements, it would do the same at all levels of government and carry over by enriching education, commerce, and research – it would create what I called in 1995 a ‘Smart Nation.’

“The whole point of Open Source Everything is to restore public agency. Open Source is the only form of information and information technology that is affordable to the majority, interoperable across all boundaries, and rapidly scalable from local to global without the curse of overhead that proprietary corporations impose.”

Robert Steele
Robert Steele’s graphic on open source systems thinking

It’s clear to me that when Steele talks about intelligence as ‘decision-support,’ he really does intend that we grasp “all information in all languages all the time” – that we do multidisciplinary research spanning centuries into the past as well as into the future. His most intriguing premise is that the 1% are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be. “The collective buying power of the five billion poor is four times that of the one billion rich according to the late Harvard business thinker Prof C. K. Prahalad – open source everything is about the five billion poor coming together to reclaim their collective wealth and mobilise it to transform their lives. There is zero chance of the revolution being put down. Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We’re there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting.”

The Arab spring analogy has its negatives. So far, there really isn’t much to root for. I want to know what’s to stop this revolution from turning into a violent, destructive mess. Steele is characteristically optimistic. “I have struggled with this question. What I see happening is an end to national dictat and the emergence of bottom-up clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. Individual towns across the USA are now nullifying federal and state regulations – for example gag laws on animal cruelty, blanket permissions for fracking. Those such as my colleague Parag Khanna that speak to a new era of city-states are correct in my view. Top down power has failed in a most spectacular manner, and bottom-up consensus power is emergent. ‘Not in my neighborhood’ is beginning to trump ‘Because I say so.’ The one unlimited resource we have on the planet is the human brain – the current strategy of 1% capitalism is failing because it is killing the Golden Goose at multiple levels. Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises. As Larry Summers lectured Elizabeth Warren, ‘insiders do not criticise insiders.'”

But how can activists actually start moving toward the open source vision now? “For starters, there are eight ‘tribes’ that among them can bring together all relevant information: academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. At every level from local to global, across every mission area, we need to create stewardship councils integrating personalities and information from all eight tribes. We don’t need to wait around for someone else to get started. All of us who recognise the vitality of this possibility can begin creating these new grassroots structures from the bottom-up, right now.”

So how does open source everything have the potential to ‘re-engineer the Earth’? For me, this is the most important question, and Steele’s answer is inspiring. “Open Source Everything overturns top-down ‘because I say so at the point of a gun’ power. Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power. Open Source Everything demands that true cost economics and the indigenous concept of ‘seventh generation thinking’ – how will this affect society 200 years ahead – become central. Most of our problems today can be traced to the ascendance of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism, all based on force and lies and encroachment on the commons. The national security state works for the City of London and Wall Street – both are about to be toppled by a combination of Eastern alternative banking and alternative international development capabilities, and individuals who recognise that they have the power to pull their money out of the banks and not buy the consumer goods that subsidise corruption and the concentration of wealth. The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now.”

For Steele, the open source revolution is inevitable, simply because the demise of the system presided over by the 1% cannot be stopped – and because the alternatives to reclaiming the commons are too dismal to contemplate. We have no choice but to step up.

“My motto, a play on the CIA motto that is disgraced every day, is ‘the truth at any cost lowers all other costs'”, he tells me. “Others wiser than I have pointed out that nature bats last. We are at the end of an era in which lies can be used to steal from the public and the commons. We are at the beginning of an era in which truth in public service can restore us all to a state of grace.”

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/19/open-source-revolution-conquer-one-percent-cia-spy

It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up

By George Monbiot

It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing
'The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.'
‘The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.’unga Photograph: Alamy

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.

Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.

On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.

Almost 45% of the Yasuni national park is overlapped by oil concessions.
Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis

The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east, the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it’s changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people. These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.

The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious, will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world’s diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.

Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that “global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow”. If, in the digital age, we won’t reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?

Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don’t need. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that fantasies about colonising space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced.

As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year’s predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.

The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.

Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/if-we-cant-change-economic-system-our-number-is-up

 

Guess which empire came to an end today?

 Spanish Hapsburgs

In the early 16th century, a priest by the name of Fray Francisco de Ugalde remarked to his king that Spain was “el imperio en el que nunca se pone el sol”.

In other words, the sun never set on the Spanish Empire.

And by the 1500s with its vast lands across the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and even the South Pacific, Spain (technically the House of Habsburg) had become the first truly global superpower.

The Empire’s status was so great that its silver coin (the real de ocho or piece of 8) was used around the world as a global reserve standard… including in the US colonies.

It didn’t last.

Like so many great empires that came before, Spain was beset by unsustainable spending, constant warfare, debilitating debt, and an inflated money supply.

By the mid 1500s, the Spanish government was spending 2/3 of its total tax revenue just to pay interest. Spain defaulted on its debt six times in the next century.

It finally came to an end on today’s date in 1643, exactly 371 years ago.

Historians can literally circle the date on a calendar that Spain ceased being Europe’s dominant superpower; it was the day that Spain lost the Battle of Rocroi, and effectively the Thirty Years War against France.

Just days before, a four-year old Louis XIV had ascended to the throne to become the King of France after the death of his father.

And during his whopping 72-year reign, France replaced Spain as the global superpower.

(To put this reign in context, the longest serving monarch alive today is King Bhumibol of Thailand, who at age 86 has served for 67 years. At age 88, Queen Elizabeth has served for 62 years.)

For more than a century, commerce, art, and technology flourished in France. And some of the greatest intellectual minds in history published their works during this period.

I remember being told as a West Point cadet that in the early days of the Academy in the 1800s, the only two classes were French and Mathematics, primarily because all of the great textbooks were written by French mathematicians.

France had public healthcare and free hospitals. Great monuments to their grandeur. Colonies around the world. An awe-inspiring military.

And their influence was so great that foreign governments from Russia to Prussia spoke French internally.

Needless to say, this didn’t last either.

And like the Spanish before them, France overspent, overexpanded, and overregulated. They waged excessive warfare, and they managed their affairs as if the good times would last forever.

By the 1780s, the French debt had grown so much that they were rapidly devaluing the currency and borrowing money just to pay interest on what they had already borrowed.

Sound familiar?

The US is in a similar position right now, along with most of the West (including… France and Spain again!)

Like an aging prize fighter, there is no nation that can permanently maintain its status as the dominant superpower. And certainly no nation that can defy universal economic truths.

Powerful nations believe they can borrow indefinitely and dilute their currencies without consequence.

This simply isn’t true. Wealth and power shift. The world’s reserve currency changes. It’s been happening for centuries, and this time is no different.

We are all witnessing this change unfold again. And this isn’t some wild assertion.

Objective data from the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund all show a clear decline in the dollar’s share of global reserves.

chart2 1 Guess which empire came to an end today?The US government’s own data shows a net worth of minus $16.9 trillion, over 100% of GDP in the red.

And even in their most optimistic projections, the government tells us that growth in debt will outpace growth in tax revenue.

Day to day, it’s easy to ignore these trends. But from a big picture perspective, it couldn’t be more obvious.

Just like the Battle of Rocroi in 1643, or the storming of the Bastille in 1789, there will come a time when future historians circle a date on a calendar and say, “That was the day the United States ceased being the dominant superpower.”

Perhaps it’s happened already. Or perhaps it will occur in a war yet to be fought.

But if history, common sense, and truth are any guides, that reckoning is quickly approaching.

Source: http://www.sovereignman.com/expat/guess-which-empire-came-to-an-end-today-14439/

Ukraine Is Not the Crisis You Think It Is

The crisis happening in Ukraine is not the crisis you think it is. In global economics and politics, the Ukraine situation will be seen as a tiny blip in a few short years. Fears that it would escalate into a full blown crisis with serious repercussions for the western world have been blown out of proportion painful as it may be to the Ukrainian people. The social mood of the times suggest that events in Ukraine and between Russia and the US and EU will blow over. Social mood is upbeat and compromise and forbearance are the order of this time.

Unfortunately for the Ukrainian people Russia is re-establishing its boundaries. Distance  is its security. From the Ukrainian border to Moscow is only 300 kilometers. Russia simply cannot afford to own the Ukraine as it did after WW2. Having access to warm water ports and the Mediterranean and establishing a pro-Russian influence in the Ukraine satisfies  Russian imperialism on it’s western border.

We see the Ukraine situation as now having largely played out and and attention will soon divert elsewhere. Russian stock market prices are heavily discounted as well as it’s currency and are probably a good buy looking for a strong bounce.

The End Long Game? 2009-2018

We have updated the main theme of the Emerging Events website. Click on the title to read how larger trends and cycles are moving to complete within the next few years and the implications this brings to to people and nations ……… Find it here: http://www.emergingevents.com/?p=2761 Continue reading

Pay Our Pensions Or We’ll Throw You In Jail: The Legalization Of Looting

By Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Rather than deal forthrightly with the reality that unrealistic promises made to their employees cannot be honored, local government has pursued a strategy of legalizing looting.

The gradual erosion of civil liberties, legal rights and government ethics are connected: our rights don’t just vanish into thin air, they are expropriated by government: Federal, state and local. Though much is written about the loss of civil liberties at the Federal level, many of the most blatantly illegal power grabs are occurring in local government.

This expropriation is under the radar of the average citizen because the process slowly chips away the fundamentals of legality and justice: bit by bit, due process and the rights of the individual have been eroded by state and local governments until the fundamental Constitutional protections simply cease to exist.

When local government looting is legalized, the entire system is illegal. Here are three recent examples of blatantly illegal looting by local governments.

First up: privatizing the collection of traffic fines and probation to create a modernized debtor’s prison. We turn to The Nation for the story:

The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence Most states shut down their debtors’ prisons more than 100 years ago; in 2005, Harpersville, Alabama, opened one back up.

What happened to Ford in the small town of Harpersville was tangled and unconstitutional– but hardly unique. Similar tales have been playing out in more than 1,000 courts across the country, from Georgia to Idaho. In the face of strained budgets and cuts to public services, state and local governments have been stepping up their efforts to ensure that the criminal justice system pays for itself. They have increased fines and court costs, intensified law enforcement efforts, and passed so-called “pay-to-stay” laws that charge offenders daily jail fees. They have also begun contracting with “offender-funded” probation companies like JCS, which offer a particularly attractive solution—collection, at no cost to the court.

Harpersville’s experiment with private probation began nearly ten years ago. In Alabama, people know Harpersville best as a speed trap, the stretch of country highway where the speed limit changes six times in roughly as many miles. Indeed, traffic is by far the biggest business in the town of 1,600, where there is little more than Big Man’s BBQ, the Sudden Impact Collision Center and a dollar store.

In 2005, the court’s revenue was nearly three times the amount that the town received from a sales tax, Harpersville’s second-largest source of income. Fines had become key to Harpersville’s development, but it proved difficult to chase down those who did not pay. So, that year, Harpersville decided to follow in the footsteps of other Alabama cities and hire JCS to help collect.

It was a system of extraction and coercion so flagrant that Alabama Circuit Court Judge Hub Harrington likened it to a modern-day “debtors’ prison.”

Her fines for the three charges added up to $2,922, court papers show. Ward sentenced her–and others who said they couldn’t pay their full fines that day– to probation. Once a means of allowing convicted offenders to stay out of jail on the condition of good behavior, probation had now become a court-sanctioned tool for debt collection.
Burdette reported to the JCS office in nearby Childersburg, where she paid her probation officer $100. Of that, $45 went toward her fine, $10 toward a one-time “start-up fee,” and the last $45 went to JCS as a monthly fee for service.

Next up: illegal search and seizure under the pretext of traffic violations. As if “driving while black” isn’t bad enough, now “driving with cash” is pretext enough to be stripped of your rights and your property stolen by local government:

Lawsuits over cash seizures settled in Nevada

Tan Nguyen of Newport, Calif., and Michael Lee of Denver said in lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Reno they were stopped last year on U.S. Interstate 80 near Winnemucca about 165 miles east of Reno under the pretext of speeding. They said they were subjected to illegal searches and told they wouldn’t be released with their vehicles unless they forfeited their cash.

The lawsuits claimed the cash seizures were part of a pattern of stopping drivers for speeding as a pretext for drug busts in violation of the Constitution.

Nguyen was given a written warning for speeding but wasn’t cited. As a condition of release, he signed a “property for safekeeping receipt,” which indicated the money was abandoned or seized and not returnable. But the lawsuit says he did so only because Dove threatened to seize his vehicle unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.”

“He wasn’t charged with anything. He had no drugs in his car. The pretext for stopping him was he was doing 78 in a 75,” John Ohlson told KRNV-TV. “It’s like Jesse James or Black Bart,” he told AP in an interview last week.

The district attorney’s statement said both men were stopped legally and that “every asset that was seized pursuant to those stops was lawfully seized.”

Exhibit # 3: guilty until proven innocent: State of California seizes cash from “suspected” tax evaders with no evidence, no court action, no recourse. I have documented in detail how the jackboot of the State of California has pressed on the necks of thousands of law-abiding citizens whose only crime was moving out of California.

The State of California presumes anyone moving out of the state who still has a source of income in California–for example, a few dollars of interest earned on a bank account–owes California income tax on all their presumed income, even if they have filed income tax returns in another state.

If this isn’t the acme of illegal seizure and denial of basic rights, i.e. presumed innocent until proven guilty, then what is?

Here is one reader’s account of how this legal looting works: I wrote about this inWelcome to the United States of Orwell: Law-Abiding Taxpayers Are Treated as Criminals While the Real Criminals Go Free (March 27, 2012).

I received a letter last year that we owed the state of California’s Franchise Tax Board $90,000 for taxes in the year 2008.We replied to the Franchise Tax board in a similar manner as RT stating that:

— Did not reside in California in 2008
— Did not file a State income tax return in California in 2008
— Did not have any outstanding tax issues with California in 2008
— Did no business in California in 2008
— Owned no property in California in 2008

The CA Franchise Tax board responded by putting a lien on us in the state – fortunately, our banks and assets have no business in CA or I am certain our accounts would have been robbed as well.

After a great deal of uncertainty and angst, I found an accountant in CA who advised us that we needed to file a complete CA tax return for 2008 even though we did not owe any tax. We filed the return and received a response that we owed the state $625 to cover the State’s collection fees. We paid the fee and within two weeks received a “refund” check for the $625.

On reflection, we felt as if we had been “held up” by some powerful gangsters and if it had not been for an honest tax accountant we would have suffered much financial damage.

In other words, honest taxpayers are reduced to begging the predatory state of California to return their own money. Meanwhile, the bagmen for the local government thieves, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, among others, get to keep the $100 fee they charged the taxpayer for stealing their money. If this isn’t Orwellian, then what do you call it? “Legal”? If this is legal, legality has lost all meaning.

For more on the blatantly illegal seizures of cash from people who aren’t even residents of California and who filed income tax returns in another state, please read:

Welcome to the Predatory State of California–Even If You Don’t Live There (March 20, 2012)

The Predatory State of California, Part 2 (March 21, 2012)

Just as pernicious as outright looting is the growing dependence of local government on fines and related rip-offs. Correspondent Joel M. recently submitted this article which features New York City officials whining that the recent snow storm deprived them of sorely needed revenues from parking fines.
Costs Have Piled Up Along With the Snow of a Difficult Winter (NYT.com)

“If the winter was costly for individuals, it was even more so for municipalities. The snow triggered repeated suspensions of New York City’s alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules, delighting car owners but costing the city an average of $270,000 a day in potential fines, officials said. That added up to $4.3 million during a three-week stretch in February alone, money that would have gone to help pay for city services, including the fire and police forces, city officials said.”

Everyone who believes local government is “here to fill potholes and help disadvantaged people” needs to wake up and ask what kind of government we have when due process has been replaced with “legal” looting. Is local government focused on serving citizens or on funding public employee pensions and healthcare benefits?

The erosion of ethics of those in government service is as pernicious as the rise of legal looting. Let’s be honest, shall we? Those in local government tasked with collecting all these forms of legal looting are “just doing my job,” but how many protest the process? How many public employee unions are outraged by the legal looting that fills the coffers of their pension funds?

For context, government employees constitute about 15% of the employed workforce in the U.S.: 22 million out of 142 million. Unlike the other 85%, their employer can legalize looting on their behalf.

Local government spending has soared for decades.

So has local government debt.

Promises were made to local government employees by craven, bought-and-paid-for politicos that cannot possibly be honored in a stagnating economy with widening wealth inequality. But rather than deal forthrightly with that reality, local government has pursued a strategy of legalizing looting.

From the point of view of the hapless tax donkeys and debt-serfs being looted, this strategy boils down to a stark threat: Pay Our Pensions Or We’ll Throw You in Jail.

Here’s the deal: government is supposed to serve the people, not the insiders. Please read the above news stories; can anyone claim that legalized looting is OK because the “ends” (public services) justify the “means” (legalized looting)? How many public employees care about where the money that funds their paycheck, pension and healthcare benefits comes from?

Maybe public employees should start caring about where the money is coming from, because taxation approved by elected officials or direct voter approval is one thing, and legalized looting is another. If you don’t care that your pay/pension/benefits may be partly funded by legalized looting, perhaps you should start caring.

Remember that we (the general public) can’t pull you over and “legally” steal your cash, nor can we order Wells Fargo to go into your bank account and “legally” steal your money without court review, evidence of wrongdoing or recourse. We can’t award private collection agencies the powers reserved for representative government and rig the probation system into a cash cow that benefits us.

Please don’t trot out the “good German” excuse: I only take orders. You’re the ones who are pulling the levers of the legalized looting machine; us tax donkeys and debt-serfs are on the receiving end. Given that special interests own the state legislatures, the tax donkeys and debt-serfs have only three choices: opt out, move out or stop paying, and fill your modern debtors’ prisons to the brim.

Source: http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.sg/2014/03/pay-our-pensions-or-well-throw-you-in.html

Editor Note: This is an issue faced by all liberal democratic facing large public debts. To survive the coming political and economic storm.

The Math That Predicted the Revolutions Sweeping the Globe Right Now

 

Brian Merchant writing for Motherboard

It’s happening in Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand, Bosnia, Syria, and beyond. Revolutions, unrest, and riots are sweeping the globe. The near-simultaneous eruption of violent protest can seem random and chaotic; inevitable symptoms of an unstable world. But there’s at least one common thread between the disparate nations, cultures, and people in conflict, one element that has demonstrably proven to make these uprisings more likely: high global food prices.

 

Just over a year ago, complex systems theorists at the New England Complex Systems Institute warned us that if food prices continued to climb, so too would the likelihood that there would be riots across the globe. Sure enough, we’re seeing them now. The paper’s author, Yaneer Bar-Yam, charted the rise in the FAO food price index—a measure the UN uses to map the cost of food over time—and found that whenever it rose above 210, riots broke out worldwide. It happened in 2008 after the economic collapse, and again in 2011, when a Tunisian street vendor who could no longer feed his family set himself on fire in protest.

 

Bar-Yam built a model with the data, which then predicted that something like the Arab Spring would ensue just weeks before it did. Four days before Mohammed Bouazizi’s self-immolation helped ignite the revolution that would spread across the region, NECSI submitted a government report that highlighted the risk that rising food prices posed to global stability. Now, the model has once again proven prescient—2013 saw the third-highest food prices on record, and that’s when the seeds for the conflicts across the world were sown.

 

 

“I have a long list of the countries that have had major social unrest in the past 18 months consistent with our projections,” Bar-Yam tells me. “The food prices are surely a major contributor—our analysis says that 210 on the FAO index is the boiling point and we have been hovering there for the past 18 months.”

 

There are certainly many other factors fueling mass protests, but hunger—or the desperation caused by its looming specter—is often the tipping point. Sometimes, it’s clearly implicated: In Venezuela—where students have taken to the streets and protests have left citizens dead—food prices are at a staggering 18-year high.

 

“In some of the cases the link is more explicit, in others, given that we are at the boiling point, anything will trigger unrest. At the boiling point, the impact depends on local conditions,” Bar-Yam says. But a high price of food worldwide can effect countries that aren’t feeling the pinch as much. “In addition, there is a contagion effect: given widespread social unrest that is promoted by high food prices, examples from one country drive unrest in others.”

 

Here’s the list of the countries Bar-Yam has cited as suffering from unrest related to the rise in the cost of eating:

 

  • South Africa
  • Haiti
  • Argentina
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia
  • Brazil
  • Turkey
  • Colombia
  • Libya
  • Sweden (yes, Sweden)
  • India
  • China
  • Bulgaria
  • Chile
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Bangladesh
  • Bahrain
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Bosnia

 

In Thailand, where clashes between mass demonstrators and authorities in Bangkok have claimed multiple lives, food prices have been steadily rising. In 2012, a trend towards rising food prices prompted the UN to issue a warning: the poor will be hit hard, and unrest may follow. The nation’s rampant inflation caused prices to continue to rise further still in 2013. Today, there are fatal riots.

 

In Bosnia, which erupted into violent conflict last week, high unemployment and hunger are prime drivers of a discontent that’s been simmering for months. On February 9, Chiara Milan wrote “Today, after more than one year of protests and hunger, eventually the world got to know about [the protesters’] grievances.”

 

Food shortages caused by drought helped spur Syria’s civil war. High food prices helped precipitate the fare hike protests in Brazil. The list goes on.

 

The food riots in places like wealthy, socialist Sweden and the booming economies of Brazil and Chile highlight the fact that the cost of eating can fuel unrest anywhere; even in nations with robust democracies and high standards of living. With the inequality worsening across the globe, this is worth paying special attention to—lest we forget there are millions of Americans going hungry every year too.

 

So. The cost of food is high; discontent is raging. Thankfully, Bar-Yam’s model sees at least temporary relief on the horizon.

 

“As to the trend for the next few months: Grain prices have gone down, starting with corn last summer,” he says. “This has yet to propagate through the food system to lower prices, but they should drop soon. This may help reduce the unrest that is happening.”

 

However, he emphasizes the structural threats to the global food system haven’t been addressed. Bar-Yam has written at length about what he believes to be the root cause of food price swings: financial speculation and food-for-fuel policies like ethanol subsidies. Both, he argues, artificially drive up prices on the global market and, in turn, cause hunger and unrest.

 

Conflict in Kiev. Image: Wikimedia

 

Whether or not the prices will drop, he says, hinges largely on US and European policy decisions.

 

“Everything now is very sensitive to what will happen with the ethanol mandate,” Bar-Yam tells me. “The EPA has proposed not following the mandated increase this year, keeping it about the same as last year. There is a Senate bill to repeal the mandate sponsored by Feinstein and Coburn. The European Union has stated that it will implement a regulation of commodity markets (because of the impact on poor populations), and the CFTC is still fighting the market traders in trying to regulate the US markets.”

 

The way the global food system works right now, with wheat, corn, and rice traded globally as commodities, domestic food production doesn’t necessarily guarantee a population will get enough to eat. Ukraine, for instance, produced record amounts of wheat last year—but exported most of its gains. This web of imports and exports creates a global marketplace that is vulnerable to price shocks. That’s why Bar-Yam believes that speculators and bad ethanol policy are essentially feeding global unrest.

 

“The main thing is that matters are very much in flux,” he says. “We may still have higher food prices if the policies are not implemented but if they are, we may have a significant reduction in prices and lower unrest globally.”

 

If not, in other words, the riots will burn on.

Source: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/a-complex-systems-model-predicted-the-revolutions-sweeping-the-globe-right

 

Robots And Software Eating Jobs? Let Them, You Can Create Your Own

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New technologies are eating jobs. Big deal, you might say. After all, the steam engine, cotton gin, sewing machine, and automobile all eliminated jobs. The fact is that new technologies have long created many more new jobs than they have eliminated.

But today is different. In the past, innovation advanced slowly enough that people had time to recognize and adapt to new opportunities before many of the old jobs disappeared. Today, innovation is advancing so quickly that jobs are being destroyed and new opportunities are being created faster than many people can recognize them or adapt to them. Today, we need to recognize those opportunities and adapt to them ever more quickly. The good news is that anyone can do this, and best of all, anyone can create his or her own job. Including you. In this article, we’ll see how.

Jobs Are Delicious Meat
Three noted scholars and friends of mine have written on technology eating jobs:

· In his seminal 2010 The McKinsey Quarterly article, “The Second Economy,” Santa Fe Institute’s Brian Arthur predicts that in about two decades, a “second economy” of software, servers, and sensors will rival the size of the human economy, in value added if not in revenue. This autonomous economy is already automating formerly human tasks, such as airline passenger management (reservations, check-in, security, baggage, and billing) and international shipping (registration, tracking, and forwarding).

· In Race Against the Machine (2011), MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson observes that software and automation are eating away at low- to mid-level desk jobs like accounting and customer service, a trend that will eventually extend to high-skilled professions like medicine and engineering, on the one hand, and trades like hairdressing and plumbing, on the other. Google driverless cars will replace human drivers, and IBM Watson-like technology with sensors will replace physicians’ medical diagnoses.

· Most recently, in Average Is Over (2013), George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen writes that the above trends will lead to stagnant or falling wages for much of the United States. Future employment will require skills to collaborate with and complement machines to avoid competing with and being replaced by them.

The Oxford Martin School concurs, concluding that 45% of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades.[1] Most vulnerable are jobs in transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support; next are services, sales, and construction; last will be management, science and engineering, and the arts.

Reports of Employment’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
In the early 19th century, the automated loom, famously protested by the Luddites, took jobs away from weavers. Later, electricity and the light bulb took away jobs from wood-burning stove and candle makers. The automobile took away jobs from buggy makers. Digital computers and switches took jobs away from their human counterparts. But in each case, new technologies provided many more jobs than they eliminated, in two ways. The first, more modest way was through the development, manufacture and maintenance of the new technologies, be they looms or light bulbs. The second, more significant way was through the leveraging and combining of the technologies in new, often unexpected applications and business arrangements that could not have existed without the technologies. The cotton gin and automated loom enabled large-scale production of soft, comfortable clothing, making it affordable for millions of people for the first time. Steam engines and railroads enabled goods to be shipped to distant markets, which in turn made Sears & Roebuck mail order catalogs and later department stores possible. Electricity enabled the global power grid and electrical appliances. Digital computers and switches enabled IT, telecommunications, software, the Internet, and mobile applications.

We can see easily when jobs disappear, but creating jobs takes work: it means recognizing, exploring, and adapting to needs and opportunities. As I discussed in my last column ,[2] every new product or service (i.e., solution) not only satisfies a need, but also creates new needs in three ways:

1. The new solutions themselves can be improved upon (e.g., shoes can be made more comfortable; laptops and smart phones can be made smaller, lighter, and more powerful; software can be made faster, easier to use, and more reliable)

2. The providers of those new solutions have needs (e.g., sales, marketing, accounting, software, equipment, customer and competitive intelligence, food and cleaning services)

3. New solutions create new needs around them (e.g., mobile phones need holsters; cars need navigation, keyless entry, and camera systems; video games need virtual money; electric vehicles need re-charging stations).

In his modern classic, The Origin of Wealth,[3] Eric Beinhocker estimated the number of individually coded products[4] available to New York City residents in 2006 to be on the order of tens of billions. With this mushrooming range of products and ever-faster pace of innovation, needs and opportunities are coming at us faster than we can recognize or adapt to them.

To become or stay employed in this environment, we’ll first see how to land an existing job (one someone else has created); then, how to create your own job.

Landing an Existing Job
Rather than recount job search techniques here – leverage LinkedIn, research companies you are interested in, network, adopt good grooming habits – let’s see how to make innovation work for, rather than against you in landing a job:

1. Master the very technologies that are eating jobs. Someone has to design, implement, test, build, maintain, market, sell, and apply that software and automation. That someone could be you. MIT/Harvard edX, Coursera, Udacity and CodeCademy offer free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in programming, AI, machine learning, and databases.

If you are new to IT, HTML and Javascript are a good place to start.[5] Knowing these languages will let you create and maintain simple web sites, help you market yourself online and find full-time or part-time work, even if your career plans are outside of software development. CodeCademy has free courses.

To start a career in software development, consider Python. It’s interactive, exposes and introduces you to essential programming concepts, and easily integrates into existing web services, enabling you to leverage others’ work. Job opportunities abound: see www.python.org/community/jobs/ .

Next, consider developing a web service to demonstrate your skills or to offer to others. See www.programmableweb.com/apis/directory for examples. This will require using a server-side language, likely Python, PHP, Ruby on Rails, or if you are more ambitious, Java or C++, then deploying it on one of the cloud computing ecosystems such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Services. Yet another path is creating a mobile app for iPhone or Android and connecting to your own or others’ web services.

Veteran software developer Ervan Darnell, who has worked for both Facebook and Google, reiterates that free tools and courses are available for all of the above, and further notes that the software industry weighs talent more heavily than titles or university degrees. That’s good news. Titles and degrees require entrance qualification exams and tens of thousands of dollars for tuition and expenses. In contrast, MOOCs are free and open to everyone. Increasingly, all you need to get a quality education is initiative, self-discipline, and hard work.

2. Become an early adopter of new technologies and apply them in your work. With the accelerating pace of technology, adopting new technology even slightly ahead of the mainstream of your field will give you more and more of an advantage in productivity and competitiveness. If staying one year ahead gave professionals a 10% advantage in 1992, doing so might give them a 20% advantage in 2014.

This principle applies to all trades and professions. Electricians can use new meters and testers that improve their efficiency and accuracy, and learn to install and maintain computer networks in addition to wiring and components. Plumbers can apply technologies such as SeeSnake, a video camera for inspection and diagnosis of clogged pipes. Dentists, hairdressers, and auto repair shops can use free online software to enable their clients to self-schedule for appointments. Taxi drivers can use GPS to efficiently combine deliveries with passenger service. Real estate agents can use Google Maps to customize displays of listings for clients. These innovations free up time to make trades people and professionals more productive, allow them to offer higher-quality or differentiated services, or both.

ACA (“Obamacare”) incentivizes employers to convert many jobs from full-time to part-time. Fortunately, new online services empower even those without technology skills to find part-time work, for example, as drivers for Lyft, or running errands with TaskRabbit. Going still further, Amazon Mechanical Turk is enabling those in the world’s poorest developing countries to earn income by performing simple tasks (like responding to surveys or tagging everyday items in photos) from wherever they are and whenever they are able.

3. Choose a career in strong demand. Liberal arts are vitally important, but if you are in college, landing a job after graduation is almost certainly urgent. You have a lifetime to learn about arts and the humanities, but only two to four years to prepare to support yourself. Besides IT and automation, fields generally in demand include bio-tech, nursing, network security, welding, medical technology, and analytics. Find out which are both in greatest demand and most interest you. Find more information on welding at https://weldingpicks.com/best-multi-process-welder/. Far more people are studying the arts and the humanities than will find jobs in those fields. If you choose arts or the humanities and find yourself underemployed or unemployed, see 1 or 2 above, and “Create Your Own Job” below.

21-year-old Daniel Trujillo, a student at NCP College of Nursing in Hayward, CA, is learning how Google Glass can provide real-time, mobile, hands-free patient charts and histories bedside. He will be among the first generation of hospital practitioners using wearable IT. By learning leading-edge technology in a highly demanded field, I predict he will easily find a job.

Create Your Own Job
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner, micro finance pioneer and founder of the Grameen Bank says:

All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed…finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became “labor” because they stamped us, “You are labor.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.[6]

Anyone who wants to can create his or her own job. Our ancestors – hunters, gatherers, farmers, craftspeople, and traders – knew no other options. If we were all entrepreneurial once, we can still invoke that inner strength today.

Creating your own job lets you do what you are passionate about; lets you make a long-term investment in you, your own business and brand rather than someone else’s; and lets you address opportunities that are unique to you—no one else has your unique combination of skills, knowledge, relationships, and strengths. So why don’t more people create their own jobs today? It is not that they can’t. In some cases, other paths are easier or have shorter-term pay-offs, such as landing an existing job or going on unemployment. In other cases, regulation raises major hurdles to addressing opportunities, as I discussed in a previous column .[7] I don’t promise that creating your own job will be easy. I do promise that it will expand the boundaries of your world, and possibly profoundly enrich your life.

Here is one approach to creating your own job. Choose any product or service in an area you are passionate and knowledgeable about. The area may be aerospace, boats, cars, cooking, education, electronics, fashion, fiction, films, fitness, gadgets, gardening, health, history, math, merchandising, music, politics, scuba, space, sports, statistics, travel, woodworking, you name it. Now think of limitations of the product or service you selected. For example:

· My running shoes don’t tell me how far or fast I have run, nor details of my stride or gait.

· None of the pharmacies in my neighborhood make home deliveries.

· Arthritis can prevent elderly people from using an iPhone or iPad.

· Airline ground crews lack real-time information during boarding about how many and which overhead bins have open space, sometimes requiring that bags be checked when they could be carried aboard and stowed.

If you are passionate about the product or service, you’ll recognize its limitations before others do. Limitations are simply potential needs. If those needs are shared by many others and don’t already have solutions – both of these require research to validate – bingo! – you have identified an unsatisfied customer need. That’s the first step towards creating a job for you.

Next, brainstorm possible solutions, ideally with your potential customers, that you could provide in whole or in part using the resources at your disposal. Acquiring knowledge of new technologies in the field will expand your possibilities. With whom could you team up or partner, if necessary, to enable the solution? Answering those questions is the second step towards creating your job.

Next, can you get a customer to pay you for your solution, even if rudimentary, incomplete, or unpolished, possibly on the understanding that their early payment will enable you to develop and deliver the full product or service to them? That’s the third step. If so – you have created a job! Assume that you won’t get paid for some or much of the time and effort you invest to win this first customer. After you have successfully delivered what you promised and created your first satisfied customer, find other customers you could similarly serve, refine your solution based on what you have learned, and repeat.

My video Unleash Your Inner Company has many more suggestions for creating your own job and starting your own business. Now imagine tens of millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world similarly searching for unsatisfied needs in areas they are passionate about, assessing which needs they are best suited to satisfy in whole or in part, and designing and building products or offering and delivering services that satisfy those needs. Suddenly, tens of millions of jobs are being created. Many of these efforts will take a second, third, or fourth attempt before they are successful. Every attempt increases your likelihood of success; perseverance is a necessary part of success. A small percentage of these businesses will create not just one but many jobs. This bottom-up approach to satisfying needs and creating jobs is scalable, sustainable, and has hugely raised living standards and quality of life over the decades.

So software and robots are eating jobs? Not yours.

[1]Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology . See also www.technologyreview.com/view/519241/report-suggests-nearly-half-of-us-jobs-are-vulnerable-to-computerization/ )

[2] “As Entrepreneurs Keep Reminding Us, They Lied To Us In Econ. 101 ,” September 10, 2013, Forbes.com

[3]The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics , Eric D. Beinhocker, Harvard Business School Press (2006). This magnificent work marries economics and complexity science and imparts deep understanding of the current state and future of economics. I think of it as a modern-day Wealth of Nations. It deserves a wide audience and a prominent place in any economics library.

[4]Stock keeping units (SKUs).

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnchisholm/2013/12/12/robots-and-software-eating-jobs-let-them-you-can-create-your-own/

12 Shocking Clues For What America Will Look Like When The Next Great Economic Crisis Strikes

Michael Snyder writes for The Economic Collapse blog ,

The collapse of American society is accelerating.  For the moment, much of our social decay is being masked by the tremendous level of affluence that we are experiencing in aggregate.  It has been reported that 4 out of every 5 adults in the United States “struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives”, but in general Americans still enjoy a debt-fueled standard of living that is far beyond what most of the rest of the world enjoys.  When that debt-fueled standard of living permanently disappears, it is going to unleash chaos unlike anything that America has ever seen before.

Right now, economic conditions in this country are not anywhere close to where they were before 2008 , but this is just the beginning.  We are in the midst of an ongoing economic collapse which is going to get much, much worse in the years ahead.  When the next major wave of the economic crisis strikes, millions of people are going to become extremely desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things.  We are already starting to see this play out all over the nation, but this is only a preview of coming attractions.  What we are going to witness in future years is going to be almost too horrible for words.

So how can I be so sure that this is going to happen?  After all, the United States didn’t descend into complete and utter chaos during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Wouldn’t an economic depression unfold in a similar manner today?

Unfortunately, a lot has changed since then.  A lot more Americans were self-sufficient back in those days, and the truth is that the character of our nation has been rotting and decaying for decades.  In a previous article , I described it this way...

“We are simply not the same country that we used to be.  Americans are proud, selfish, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful, treacherous and completely addicted to entertainment and pleasure.  Our country is literally falling apart all around us, but most Americans are so plugged into entertainment that they can’t even be bothered to notice what is happening.

Just last weekend, there were “mini-riots ” in several U.S. states when “technical issues” caused the food stamp system to go haywire for a few hours.

What would have happened if there had been an extended outage or if the political crisis in D.C. had caused food stamps to be completely cut off at some point in November?

Let’s be thankful that we did not have to find out.

But even though major food stamps riots may have been averted (at least for now), there are a whole host of other signs that America is going to become a very unstable place during the next major economic downturn.  The following are 12 shocking clues about what America will look like when the next great economic crisis strikes...

#1 Would you continue to work as a bus driver if you were stabbed while driving or if a passenger poured urine all over you?  Just check out what has been going on in Detroit lately ...

After two drivers were recently stabbed and another had urine poured on her by an angry rider, union officials representing bus drivers for the city of Detroit are set to protest in front of city hall at 10 a.m. on Monday.

#2 We are starting to see a lot of “group crimes” happen all over America.  For example, just the other day in Brooklyn, New York a gang of 10 young thugs dragged a young couple out of their vehicle and brutally beat them...

Ronald Russo was dragged to the ground. Then he was punched and kicked in the head. He felt more blows all over his body, investigators said. He suffered a fractured nose, a broken septum, a blood clot and abrasions to his shoulder. He was treated and released from Beth Israel Medical Center.

In the midst of the attack, there was a steady chorus of epithets. “White motherf—–!” screamed the attackers, who ranged in age from 12 to 18.

Alanna Russo, 30, was calling 911 when the 12-year-old girl pulled the woman’s hair and threw her to the ground. The victim’s head slammed into the concrete. She suffered a black eye, bleeding and difficulty breathing, prosecutors said, but she refused medical attention.

#3 A lot of people assume that they are perfectly safe inside their own vehicles but that is not the case at all.  A story in the New York Post about a gang of bikers that ruthlessly hunted down a young family that was driving an SUV made national headlines a few weeks ago...

A gang of bikers terrorized a dad driving with his wife and baby daughter on the West Side Highway — chasing after their SUV and then dragging the man out and beating him to a pulp in front of his horrified family, authorities said.

When the bikers caught up with this family they showed the father of the baby daughter absolutely no mercy...

One biker can be seen on the video ripping off his helmet and using it to bash in Lien’s driver’s-side window.

The crew pummeled Lien on the pavement in front of his wife, Rosalyn Ng, and their 2-year-old daughter, police sources said.

Lien, who also was slashed during the melee, was rushed to Columbia University Medical Center. He needed stitches to his face and chest and had two black eyes.

#4 We are living at a time when hearts are becoming very cold.  Some Americans are becoming so desperate for money that they will do almost anything to get it.  In fact, one couple in Tennessee has actually been charged with selling their four daughters for use in sex films ...

An East Tennessee couple is facing a list of charges, accused of selling their children to take part in sex films.

Connie Sue McCall, 40, and her husband, Ronnie Lee McCall, 61, of Johnson City have been charged by a federal grand jury.

Paperwork shows the couple was selling their four daughters.

Prosecutors say the four girls were between the ages of 5 and 16 when this happened.

Could you imagine such a thing happening in your neighborhood?

Perhaps it is happening, but you just don’t know that it is going on.

#5 And it is not only older people that are having their hearts grow cold.  It is happening to young people too.  Last week, a 17-year-old girl was caught carrying around a dead baby (which she probably gave birth to) in a shopping bag in a Victoria’s Secret store right in the heart of Manhattan ...

The dead baby found in the teen’s shopping bag at a Victoria’s Secret store in Manhattan was born alive and then asphyxiated, police said Friday, as the macabre discovery turned toward a possible homicide case.

Police believe 17-year-old Tiana Rodriguez gave birth to the baby at a friend’s house and that the infant was later asphyxiated. However, the city medical examiner’s office said an autopsy was inconclusive, and more tests were needed.

Who does something like that?

#6 Sadly, a lot of mothers appear to be losing the natural affection that they should have for their children.  Just check out another incident that happened in New York City recently ...

So much for no child left behind.

A stroller-toting mom who used her 1-year-old son as cover during a massive candy shoplifting spree at a downtown Duane Reade used the tot’s pram as a battering ram when workers confronted her — and then ran away without the baby, the NYPD said.

#7 One of the clearest signs that American society is decaying is the fact that groups of kids are banding together and agreeing to commit absolutely horrible crimes.  We have seen this with the “flash mob” robberies that are plaguing many cities, but what is even worse is when groups of kids band together to commit violent acts.  In Pennsylvania recently , a group of teens cheered on attackers as they beat up a 15-year-old girl...

Speaking exclusively to CBS 3, a 15-year-old high school student, whose identity we are concealing, described a terrifying attack by a gang of at least nine teenage boys as she was leaving an Interboro High School football game Monday night.

The teenage victim described first being taunted by the attackers, who followed her down a neighborhood street, cursing and spitting at her, before she was repeatedly kicked and punched, suffering at least one blow to her head.

The attackers even tried to throw her in front of a passing vehicle and nobody tried to stop them...

The victim says as at least two of the teenagers pummeled her, the others cheered them on shouting, “Come on, let’s get her!” At one point, the victim says, the gang tried to throw her under the wheels of a passing car, which swerved, narrowly missing her.

What is happening to this country?

#8 We have also been hearing about a lot of “gang rapes” lately as well.  The following is an excerpt from a first-hand account from a 14-year-old girl in Missouri that experienced this type of horrible ordeal...

About five shots tall, I drank it. I guess I didn’t know how badly it would mess me up. But the boys who gave it to me did.

Then it was like I fell into a dark abyss. No light anywhere. Just dark, dense silence — and cold. That’s all I could ever remember from that night. Apparently, I was there for not even an entire hour before they discarded me in the snow.

You can read the rest of her sobering story right here .

Are you starting to understand why I am so convinced that we have a major problem with our young men in America today?

Instead of raising young gentlemen, we are raising wild animals that seem to have very little self-control.

#9 And sometimes the public does not do anything to stop sexual assaults even when they happen on public streets.  In a recent incident in Athens, Ohio , not only did the public not stop a sexual assault, many actually took photos of the assault and posted them on social media websites...

Horrific photos of an alleged rape in progress have been shared on social media after crowds at a college homecoming celebration chose to take pictures and videos of the sex act rather than stopping it.

Would such a thing have happened in our country 50 years ago?

Of course not.

We need to come to grips with how far we have fallen.

#10 In America today, young kids can beat a homeless man to death and it barely even makes a blip on the news.  I’ll bet hardly any of you have heard about what happened recently to a homeless man in New Jersey ...

Three teenagers were in custody Saturday morning, on charges of beating a homeless man to his death in Hoboken, N.J.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory said two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were charged in the Sept. 10 death of Ralph Eric Santiago, 46.

What would cause 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds to behave so savagely?

Could it be because we are raising them in a society where basic morality is not taught any longer?

#11 Our young people certainly do not have much respect for the very elderly anymore either.  Instead, the elderly are looked at as “weak” and “easy prey”.  Just check out what recently happened to a 70-year-old man in upstate New York...

A 70-year-old man was seriously injured early Saturday morning after being attacked outside of a 7-Eleven in Syracuse.

Police say James Gifford had just left the store at the intersection of Valley Drive and South Street just after 6:00 a.m. and was attacked by a group of five or six black males, according to Syracuse Police.

Police also said this appears to be an unprovoked incident with an innocent victim.

#12 In this day and age, it is very hard to tell who you can trust.  You might meet someone on the street and they might smile and seem very nice, but inside they may be full of all kinds of garbage.  For example, just check out what one man in the Boston area planned to do

A Boston-area man, who was planning to kidnap children, lock them in a basement dungeon, rape and eat them, should be imprisoned for at least 27 years, federal authorities said in court documents filed this week.

Geoffrey Portway pleaded guilty in May to distribution and possession of child pornography and solicitation to commit a crime of violence, according to court documents. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 17.

“Portway has pled guilty to some of the most vile and heinous crimes known to our society,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing recommendation.

This is how twisted and perverted our society has become.

A lot of Americans believe that if we could just elect “the right politicians” or if we could just change our economic system or if we could just fix one particular issue that everything would be right in America again.

Unfortunately, what we are facing is not so simple.  Our problems are not just in Washington D.C. or on Wall Street.  The truth is that our biggest problem is what is going on inside of us.

America is rotting and decaying on the inside, and the next great economic crisis is going to reveal just how bad things have gotten.

Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/12-shocking-clues-about-what-america-will-look-like-when-the-next-great-economic-crisis-strikes

Top 10 Disappearing Futures

Smartphones may have a more limited future than you think (or hope) today. And the stores we buy them in could also disappear by 2030. Doctors and schools could go, too. But so might intolerance, insecurity, and other problems, according to contributors to this special “crowdsourced” report.

One of my family’s legends (unverified) was that my great-grandfather invented the coin-operated newspaper-vending machine. He never patented it, however, so watching the gradual disappearance of this sturdy, useful invention—first from my apartment building’s lobby, and then from the sidewalks outside my office—leaves me with no sense of grand, despairing loss. Today, I can read whatever I want digitally, without ever having to bash a frequently failing machine that eats my quarters.

For me, the saddest loss from my youth is the soda fountain, that countertop fixture in just about every drugstore in the United States a half a century ago. Folks could have a quick meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and cherry Cokes, and then buy sundries on the way out. As the car-crazy nation spread our lifestyles out into suburbs, it became easier and faster to order food at drive-through windows. Cars with cup holders reigned supreme, and the soda fountain disappeared.

So, what else might disappear in the next 15–20 years? And will we miss these things much? The loss of newspaper vending machines hasn’t affected our access to news, for instance. Soda fountains were replaced by alternative methods of meal dissemination. But in some cases, things have disappeared irrevocably and irreplaceably, some for better (smallpox) and some for worse (passenger pigeons).

One thing we might not see disappear: predictions. Though many futurists believe we would be better off learning to make “robust” decisions that enable us to adapt and succeed in a variety of potential future scenarios—without benefit of definitive forecasts—humans have always felt a compulsion to know the future with as much certainty as possible.

And that is why we have gone to members and friends of the World Future Society, once again, to seek out their informed and eye-opening insights about the future—in this case, the future we may not see.

Cynthia G. Wagner, editor, cwagner@wfs.org

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures

 

Disappearing Future 1. Intolerance and Misunderstanding 

Disappearance of Endangered Languages, Economic Immigration Barriers, and Mass Religious Intolerance 

By John M. Smart 

The advent of wearable smartphones could accelerate the disappearance of endangered languages, but also lowering of economic barriers and of fundamentalist intolerance.

By 2020, the ubiquity of wearable smartphones and the power of the conversational interface will give youth everywhere “teacherless education”; that is, conversation, both with remote peers and with the Web itself.

For kids in developing nations, the killer app of teacherless education will be learning a more developed nation’s language at the same time they learn their own. Their wearable will “listen in” as they learn their native language and deliver the same words in the foreign language of choice, along with images, learning aids, and games that test proficiency.

Of the roughly 6,000 languages spoken today, perhaps 3,000 endangered languages will no longer be spoken by children in 2030. Most other languages will have lost users as well, as the languages of developed nations with the most open cultures increasingly take their place. We’ll also see many more scientific, technical, business, social, and artistic “languages” (knowledge systems) taught from birth.

English, the global language of business today, will benefit the most, bringing English-speaking nations as many as a billion new “virtual immigrants” by 2030.

In the high-bandwidth 2020s, many economic barriers to participating in the global economy will disappear. Eager underemployed youth anywhere, speaking the same language and understanding the same global culture, will be able to work with large and small companies everywhere, vastly accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship.

Those who learn English or another leading language from birth, rather than relying on automatic language translation, will gain the greatest new economic opportunities and cognitive fluencies. Leading languages have by far the largest semantic vocabularies, and they allow the learner to deeply understand foreign cultures.

Now for perhaps the most controversial prediction: As long as global science, technology, free trade, resiliency, and wealth continue to accelerate, as I expect they will, all the major religions and ideologies will continue to grow more ecumenical and secular. Mass fundamentalist religious intolerance will disappear. Political and religious fundamentalist backlashes will always be with us, but they’ll be increasingly small, weak, and short-lived, driven as always by short-term catastrophes. Amen!

Counterpoint: Why Cultural Understanding May Disappear 

By Daniel Egger 

In shared social environments, we create a single cognitive and perceptive understanding of complexity through language, words, stories, music, and other cultural elements. But this could change. Globalization with a “world language” can drive cultural distinctions—and sensitivity for them—to extinction.

In the mid-2020s, technical barriers in speech recognition, translation, and speech synthesis will not exist anymore. Real-time mobile language-translation devices are going to be available to the mass market. By 2030, their world market penetration will surpass 80%. In this era of social connectivity, it will be possible to access everyone and any information. Without language barriers, world population reaches a new understanding of social connectivity.

But in this hyperconnected scenario with its streamlined “global” communication, fewer people will be willing to invest time in learning new languages and cultural immersion. This unwillingness may then reduce people’s capacity to observe, reflect, understand, and respect other opinions, leading to new cultural misinterpretation and conflicts.

We may thus see the rise of new conflicts as cultural understanding disappears. Rather than resolve conflicts, we will merely shift attention away. Rather than improve collaboration, it will change how we judge, evaluate, and create trust in our relationships.

In 2030, we will navigate our social web and filter, judge, ignore, and classify at high velocity; the risk is that we will also transform our interpretation into social realities that ignore cultural contexts.

Vanishing Languages and the Rise of English and Chinese 

By John F. Copper 

By 2030, more than a third of the world’s estimated 6,000 languages will have disappeared. First to go will be those spoken by only a small number of people. Unwritten languages will also pass early. Other languages, except for two, will experience gradual or rapid disuse.

Most people are increasingly learning and using a “dominant” language such as English and/or Chinese, both of which are growing fast in terms of their number of speakers and their usage in business and science.

English is the language of science and technology, education, business, the media, movies, and the global culture. It is the language of democracy. The English vocabulary is vast compared to other languages. Some call it the necessary or indispensable language.

Chinese is the language of more people than any other and is becoming an important business language. China is also excelling in science and technology, registering more patents than any country in the world and publishing more scientific articles. Many predict that China will be the world’s dominant economic power and military power in two or three decades.

The ability to speak both Chinese and English would allow one to communicate with half of the people on the planet. This figure will grow to 60% or more in 15 years. At that time, the dream of a universal language may be upon us.

In the future, linguists and historians will be able to study the extinct languages, as they will be recorded and preserved. Bilingualism and multilingualism will keep the ones falling into disuse from becoming irrelevant, while most of the planet’s population will regularly use English or Chinese, or both.

The End of Religion, The Rise of Spirituality 

By Alan Nordstrom 

The most revolutionary change underlying the transformative era in the next half century is the demise of religion and the rise of spirituality. Society will outgrow doctrinaire belief systems accepted on traditional “faith” and inculcated by authoritarian intimidation.

By 2030, the pervasive power of communication systems will enable human beings collectively to achieve a higher level of common sense, informed by advanced sciences (physical, social, and spiritual) that make the world of 2013 seem neo-Medieval.

We will have stabilized our population sustainably. Our former penchant for exploitation and domination will have been sanitized by education, informed by humane values promoting cooperation and collaboration on common interests and mutual benefits. Aggressive, acquisitive, exploitative behaviors are deemed pathological and regressive, even primitive.

Most distinctive in 2030 is the pervasive kindness and civility of human behavior. Only a generation earlier it would have been ludicrous to suppose that the outrageous violence of the 9/11 era could ever be transcended: ethnic cleansing, terrorism, financial exploitation, plutocracy. But the “Big One” finally brought inhumane humanity to its knees and its senses, waking us collectively to our radical sense of kinship and kindness.

Goodbye, Macho Man 

By Jed Diamond 

For millions of years, humankind lived in balance with nature, one voice among many in the chorus of life. But gradually we became disconnected from the earth and dominant over it: All other life on the planet must serve the needs of humans or die.

In the words of the philosopher Martin Buber, our relationships changed from I-Thou (sustained connections to the external) to I-It (separated from the external). Using increasingly destructive methods of violence, macho man rose to the top. Cut off from his own feelings, he could more easily control nature, other men, women, and children.

But this I-It relationship to the world is not only destructive to the life spirit, it is also unsustainable. When macho man lives as though he were separate from nature, thinking he could rule the world, it is like the brain thinking it could rule the body, demanding all the life-giving blood. “To hell with the kidneys, the lungs, or the spleen,” the head says. “I’m the most important organ in the body and I want more, more, more.

Macho man is on his way out. The I-Thou man is replacing him, and there is a chance for humanity to return to a way of life that has sustained us for millions of years. Locally sustainable earth communities are emerging throughout the world, and men are learning to be kind to themselves, each other, and the wonderful planet we all share.

About the Authors 

John M. Smart is a technology foresight scholar, educator, speaker, and consultant. He is president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation. Blog: EverSmarterWorld.com .

Daniel Egger is a business futurist, entrepreneur, and strategist, helping clients create a more comprehensive understanding of what could drive the future and how to influence the present. E-mail daniel@ foltigo.com.

John F. Copper is the Stanley J. Buckman Professor (emeritus) of International Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of more than thirty books. E-mail johnfcopper@gmail.com.

Alan Nordstrom is a professor of English at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. Email ANordstrom@Rollins.edu.

Jed Diamond is founder and director of MenAlive, a health program that helps men, and the women who love them, to live well throughout their lives. Visit MenAlive.com .

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disappe

Disappearing Future 2. Educational Processes 

Disappearing Public Education 

By Jason Siko 

Public schools are privatizing, and new ways of mastering and assessing the attainment of knowledge and skills are replacing the factory model of education.

Public education in the United States will have all but disappeared by 2030, beginning with the primary and secondary systems that have been in place since the end of the nineteenth century. The decline of the public tertiary educational system will take longer, but will be due to the same factors.

Technology will help to destroy the long-held traditions of grouping students by age. Smart systems will allow us to solve educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom’s “Two-Sigma Dilemma,” where education progresses through mastery learning and individualized instruction based on quality data analytics. As students progress, they are allowed to specialize earlier and earlier (much like athletics today)—so much so that no one has a generalized diploma, only certificates of competencies in skills that the workforce demands.

While this sounds desirable, the process was handed over to a select few companies that were directed to maintain the status quo by the elite. This change was facilitated by the United States’ inability to fund public education, as state budgets continued to fail to generate the necessary revenue for all public services.

Like current U.S. telecommunications and postal delivery systems, what the government initially set up will be handed over to three or four major companies. They will provide instruction and training online based on regional demand trends and forecasts from corporations in a particular geographic region. In addition, they will provide site-based technical and pedagogical support; the local companies will purchase the old school buildings to generate revenue for the state and convert them to tutoring stations and early childhood daycare facilities.

While students could specialize and obtain employment (which lowers unemployment numbers significantly), their choices are limited; thus, upward mobility becomes nearly impossible.

Education Abandons the Factory Model 

By Jason Swanson 

In the list of things that may potentially disappear by 2030, we might also include ways of doing things, or processes. And one process that could potentially disappear is the factory model of education, or the idea of “one size fits all.

There is already a strong case for this process to disappear in the future. Ideas such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for every student have garnered a lot of attention. Advances in technology like learning analytics will allow educators to process large amounts of data on students in order to get insights into how students learn best.

These are signposts that point to a shift away from the mass-production education model and toward a future in which each student’s educational experience is truly individualized and tailored to how he or she learns best.

The End of Grade Point Averages 

By Dan Tuuri 

In 2030, the grade point average (GPA) will no longer be the primary instrument to validate academic achievement.

The GPA is based upon the value that an instructor has provided a student. In many institutions, instructors define their own valuation of how points are distributed, in some instances with certain categories having little to do with the actual learning achieved. Furthermore, some instructors face pressures to inflate grades.

In recent years, even the U.S. government began to call for independent third-party testing of some programming. The inclusion of this data provided reference points of independent data that instructional staff could utilize for course and program improvement and could further develop comparative data between institutions.

Recently, the concept of badges has also taken off. I believe we will continue to see these developed. Noted endorsements of specific skills that a person would need for success are much more valuable than a single identified reference.

About the Authors 

Jason Siko is an assistant professor of educational technology at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a graduate of the Futures Studies program at the University of Houston, whose interests include online learning, the gamification of learning, and the future of K-12 education. E-mail sikojp@gmail.com.

Jason Swanson is a futurist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can follow Jason at twitter.com/JasonSwanson and www.eufo.org .

Dan Tuuri is a faculty member in the College of Business and a student in the Doctoral of Community College Leadership at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. E-mail dan@tuuri.us.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-0

Disappearing Future 3. Europe (Maybe, Maybe Not )

A World without a Unified Europe 

By Manuel Au-Yong Oliveira 

Long-term culture change will be needed to hold Europe together till 2030.

The European Union will have to change a great deal if it is still to be around in 2030, but no one is currently focusing on the changes necessary to make the EU a success. In business mergers, attention to the differences in the organizational cultures of the merging companies is at the forefront of managerial concerns. But this has not been the case in the European merger.

The European Union is basically a merger of very diverse nations and faces the same kinds of issues as companies do: How can we get different countries—where people with very different values, attitudes, and beliefs live—to pool together their unique knowledge capital to make the merger a success?

For instance, is it fair to say that highly assertive “Type A” Germans think and act differently from the “Type B” French, Italians, Irish, Finns, and Portuguese (to use the classification by Deanne N. Den Hartog)? Ideally, these countries would have similar economic as well as social behaviors.

To lead Europe out of its predicament, a new vision is called for. Only with a far-reaching common culture will different governments and the people they represent share the view that, for the union to prosper and to have a sustainable future, they have to put in at least as much as they want to take out.

What should a European culture, common across its borders, look and feel like? Will northern European countries need to soften toward more socially oriented values, while southern European countries converge to take a more assertive stance?

As Nobel Prize–winning economist Douglass C. North has said, structural and institutional change cannot be disassociated from long-term culture change. This is where Europe needs to focus its attention, before it is too late for the dream of a prosperous, long-lasting, unified Europe.

Counterpoint: Europe, Tear Down Your Borders 

By Neill Perry 

By 2030, with the advent of the euro as a multinational currency, the economic and commercial relationship among the nations of Europe will have changed. Restrictions on trade are eliminated, helping raise the economic condition of the poorer countries. This eliminates the need for formal borders between them, and as a result, a new central government, United Europe, emerges.

The old national borders serve as a way to maintain their history, cultural roots, and social distinction. Over the years, the differences between individual nations have dissipated. Merged into one larger central government, the former nations are now independent provinces with democratically elected officials who represent them in the central government of United Europe. With the elimination of the former borders and a common language, United Europeans have more freedom and independence.

The combined resources increase United Europe’s economic and political clout, allowing it to compete against technological and industrial giants like the United States and China. The nations that meld into one larger country of United Europe strengthen their ability to provide products and services, raise their standard of living, and gain commercial and political influence globally.

About the Authors 

Manuel Au-Yong Oliveira is an invited lecturer at the University of Porto and at the University of Aveiro (Portugal), Department of Economics, Management and Industrial Engineering, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal, and Researcher at INESC TEC (coordinated by INESC Porto), Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 378, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal. E-mail moliveira@fe.up.pt.

Neill Perry has many years of experience in the field of marketing and sales as an independent manufacturer’s rep. He writes on a variety of nonfiction topics, short stories, and how he envisions the future. E-mail 4neillperry@gmail.com.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-1

Disappearing Future 4. Jobs and Workplace Processes 

Two Billion Jobs to Disappear by 2030 

By Thomas Frey 

As technologies disrupt economies, jobs will disappear. But learning new skills will keep people in business.

By 2030, more than 2 billion jobs will disappear, roughly 50% of all the jobs on the planet. This is not intended as a doom and gloom scenario, but rather as a wakeup call for the new skillsets we’ll need in the future.

According to McKinsey’s Global Institute, 12 disruptive technologies are at the heart of this disruption: mobile Internet, automation of knowledge and work, Internet of things, cloud technology, advanced robotics, autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles, next-generation genomics, energy storage, 3-D printing, advanced materials, advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery, and renewable energy.

Pay very close attention to these 12 technologies. They will be both the job destroyers and the job creators in our future. Here are a few examples of how this will occur:

  • Driverless cars will be on the verge of eliminating millions of driver positions. Buses, taxis, trucks, limos, UPS, FedEx, and more will be transitioning into driverless forms of themselves. At the same time, we’ll see a dwindling of parking lots, gas stations, traffic cops, and traffic courts, and fewer doctors and nurses will be needed to treat injuries.
  • Education will see a mass transition from teaching to coaching, as 90% of all traditional classes will take place online by 2030, even in K-12.
  • 3-D printers will disrupt everything from manufacturing, to health care, to retail, to art, to construction and building materials. Printed clothing and shoes produced at the store you’re shopping in will replace garment districts around the world. Printed buildings and houses will eliminate the need for contractors and building materials. Pill printers will replace entire pharmacies.
  • Automated manufacturing is already eliminating tons of jobs. Bots and drones will begin disrupting many other industries along with their base of employment.

At the same time that billions of jobs are disappearing, we will be creating billions more. But to do so, we will need to streamline our systems and prepare for the skill sets and job demands of tomorrow.

The Coming Demise of Teamwork 

By Paul Rux 

In his classic 2001 study Free Agent Nation, Daniel Pink observed a growing trend toward solo practitioners instead of teams. He foresaw how relentless changes in technology and corporate greed would combine to reduce workers en masse to the level of office temps. It is hard to build teamwork around workers who constantly come and go. Despite a pop culture that lauds teamwork in sports, this is not the emerging workplace reality.

So forget teamwork. Instead, coach creative “stars.” The powerful trend toward freelance workplaces signals the coming demise of teamwork. Get ready to move, re-skill, and coach innovative individuals as leaders.

Obsolescence of Fixed Pay-Per-Time Compensation 

By Carrie Anne Zapka 

Only museums will display punch-in time clocks. Future historians will view this artifact as a failed attempt to mechanize human behavior—an unfortunate result of the Industrial Revolution. Without punch-clocks, neither performance nor compensation will be correlated to time.

Dynamic pay-per-task networks will replace fixed annual salaries and hourly pay rates. Work will be negotiated between temporal workers and “workees”—those for whom work is performed. Compensation will be volatile. Real-time supply and demand, crowd reputation ratings, experience points, and recommendation networks will replace résumés and job titles.

Whither the Board of Directors?

By Lawrence Loh 

Gone will be the days when a seat on a company’s board of directors carries a sense of prestige, a sign of arrival, and a sure way to make big bucks.

Over recent decades, a spate of corporate governance disasters has triggered fast and furious regulatory reforms, such as the U.K. Cadbury Report in 1992 and the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. Both of these have resulted in a significant tightening up of requirements, especially for being a company director.

Many qualified and experienced personnel will thus no longer want to be directors, as the risks and liabilities are getting just too high and not worth the time and effort for the returns. And that is the hollowing out of the supply of directors.

The corporate sector should go back to the basics. Stakeholders, especially investors, must take the company back from the directors, who are at present not necessarily selected by or even serving the interest of investors.

Instead of the board, companies will experience investor activism in the form of direct corporate democracy. Investors will themselves elect representative, council-like mechanisms to take charge of corporate governance.

Companies will be too important to be left to boards of directors, which will disappear by 2030.

About the Authors 

Thomas Frey is executive director of the Da Vinci Institute and the Innovation editor of THE FUTURIST magazine. His Web site is Futuristspeaker.com .

Paul Rux, PhD, is a lifelong professional educator. E-mail paulrux@paulrux.net.

Carrie Anne Zapka is a microbiologist in R&D at GOJO Industries by day and an industrial and organizational psychology student by night. E-mail nuts4ideas@gmail.com.

Lawrence Loh is a faculty member at NUS Business School, National University of Singapore, where he teaches strategic management, global strategy, and corporate governance. He is also leading the Governance & Transparency Index (GTI) project, which ranks and publishes the corporate governance performance of listed firms in Singapore. E-mail bizlohyk@ nus.edu.sg.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-2

Disappearing Future 5. Stores 

Locations, Locations, Locations 

By Barry Minkin 

All the prime retail spots will be taken, but new distribution opportunities will emerge.

By 2030, the best locations for retailers around the world will have been found and occupied.

You can already find a Big Mac or Starbucks coffee even in the most remote corners of the world. By 2030, companies will be looking for innovative low-cost distribution opportunities. For example, since Starbucks controls the retail locations, are there profitable opportunities to control the many beverage cart locations?

Innovative marketing channels will be the key to success. For instance, there are not a lot of candy stores in Russia, so Mars put kiosks in places like Red Square to sell its products. Gillette uses suppliers with trays around their necks to sell its blades in India.

There are also opportunities to sell many other products once you have developed distribution channels. Colgate distributes more than 173 products in more than 50 countries, and some of these products are manufactured by other companies.

Of course, the Internet will continue to help put “going out of business” signs in the store windows of retailers in marginal locations.

“Mommy, What’s a Store?” Consumerism in the Connected Age 

By John P. Sagi 

For Christmas shoppers at big stores, the most popular toys fly off the shelves—Furby, Monster High Dolls, Angry Birds, Legos. Parents frantically use their iPhones to check other stores and eBay for availability (and better prices), then leave the store to make the purchase.

In the future, these toys will be replaced, but even bigger change is coming to the process of shopping.

For example, my spouse recently went shopping for an iPhone. The Verizon store in the local mall had the very version of the phone she desired. The clerk then explained that her new phone was “being configured and on its way from the Midwest.” We couldn’t take our purchase home with us—it wasn’t even available in the store.

Stores are gradually becoming mere demonstration places, due to several forces: 3-D printing allows localized and instant manufacturing; radio frequency identification (RFID) tracks products at every stage; rapid transport and augmented reality promise overnight delivery (soon perhaps via drones). Our centralized, connected cities keep us ever local, and e-commerce connects us.

By 2030, shoppers will not use “stores” as we know them, but may visit membership-accessed “Demo Docks.” Beginning with items such as electronics and clothing, you’ll browse online for specifications, capability, and pricing; you’ll then visit a local dock to “play” with the product using augmented-reality tools.

These demo docks will market our favorite brands, and robots will show the items or clothes, very accurately responding to our questions. No expensive stock is on site, saving space and insurance costs. Completing the purchase online, the customer returns home, and the item arrives on the doorstep the next morning. No backorders, and no fights for the last “Furby”: Everything is available.

About the Authors 

Barry Minkin, author of The Great Unraveling (2012), 2020 Future Vision (forthcoming, 2014), and other books, is a futurist, speaker, and global management consultant. Visit minkinaffiliates.com .

John Sagi is a professor of business at Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland. He is on the board of AACC’s Institute for the Future. E-mail jsagi@aacc.edu.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-3

Disappearing Future 6. Doctors, Surgeons, and “Diagnostic Arts 

Disappearing Doctors 

By Joe Thomae 

Adults will no longer need to visit a doctor’s office for routine checkups.

By 2030, adult visits to a doctor for an annual physical, blood cholesterol screening, exams for prostate or breast cancer, and many other important but nonemergency consultations will be a thing of the past.

Several trends will drive this change:

1. Technology will enable an accurate and personalized diagnosis in your own home. The ubiquity of smartphones and sensors tied to cloud computing will allow screening for chemical indicators for cancer, blood glucose and oxygenation levels, EKG, respiration rate, heart attack and stroke precursors, and more. The information will upload into a personal medical database, and no human will ever see it until your database alerts your doctor that something is amiss.

2. Patients will, after initial privacy concerns abate, begin to understand that regular, consistent monitoring of many health indicators will act in their favor, preserving good health and indicating potential catastrophic conditions.

3. Insurers will price policies and make coverage conditional on the use of this system of monitoring and detection.

4. The efficient economics of this system address the cost implications of socialized medicine and the looming doctor deficit.

The public-health benefits begin to become evident as daily, real-time reporting of conditions like typical flu symptoms will aid in the delivery of medicines and enable people to avoid interactions where they might either become ill or spread their own illnesses.

Users will be alerted to issues via algorithms that scan daily test results. Computers may send simple text questions to obtain more information; if that questioning cannot resolve the issue, the computer will schedule an examination with an appropriate specialist.

This system will not likely be used for early childhood pediatric exams, but parents will use the same daily monitoring hardware and software on children. This allows us to catch childhood maladies early and will allow new parents to gain valuable insights related to child care.

Operating without Surgeons 

By Benjamin C. Yablon 

By 2030, America will be 150,000 doctors short, just as the median age of the country’s baby boomers hits 72. A voracious consumption of health care will far eclipse what can reasonably be provided by the current distribution model, but technological solutions are ready to fill the void.

Today, there are more than 200 robot-assisted da Vinci Surgical Systems deployed across the United States. Also in use are products such as the Socrates Robotic Telecollaboration System, which allows shared control of robotic surgical assistants operating from different locations. These machines dramatically decrease the invasiveness of many procedures, greatly improving recovery times. By 2030, this technology will be ubiquitous, allowing sought-after surgeons to perform procedures all over the world without having to leave their offices.

There are some obvious drawbacks to having your surgeon working in a distant location. For instance, what if the cardiologist performing your heart transplant lives in California and an earthquake hits, interrupting her connection with the robotic assistant whose mechanical fingers are in your chest? As many safety and redundancy features as possible will be built into these new medical service models, but it may always be better to have surgeons and patients in close proximity, robotic assistant or not.

The doctor shortage is largely due to the fact that talented people who could be doctors are moving into fields in which their skills can be more richly rewarded. By 2030, only the privileged will actually have their surgeons in the operating rooms with them; the rest of us had better hope for highly stable communication grids.

The End of the Art of Medical Diagnosis 

By Morton Chalfy 

For centuries, medical diagnosis has been an art more than a science. In the hands of its finest practitioners, the art has saved lives and averted disasters; in the hands of the less than great, it has caused unnecessary procedures, intense discomfort, and sometimes death.

Art will succumb to science as the massive power of machines like IBM’s Watson enable computers to learn from repetition. Over the next decades, medical records will be fed into “Doctor” Watson’s memory banks, and diagnosis will become scientific and statistical.

Physicians will be able to do away with guesswork and prescriptions of “Let’s try this and see if it works,” and go right to “This is the likeliest diagnosis and this is the likeliest treatment for best effect.

About the Authors 

Joe Thomae is a real estate asset manager. E-mail thomaej@gmail.com.

Benjamin C. Yablon is a prominent attorney in Denver, Colorado, and author of two novels: Pure Life and its forthcoming sequel, The Chinese Dam. Visit www.PureLifeNovel .com . E-mail bcy@appletreepublishing.com.

Morton Chalfy is a poet and novelist living in California. E-mail mchalfy@gmail.com.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-4

Disappearing Future 7. Paper—and the Places It Goes 

Paperless, Cashless, and Wireless by 2030 

By David Pearce Snyder 

A futurist ponders the fate of his data when the world is finally paperless.

I am a data-based forecaster, and for over half a century all of that data has been on paper. My colleagues and I learned about futures methodologies by reading print-on-paper books and professional journals, and we kept up with future-shaping trends and developments by reading magazines and newspapers, think tank reports, and tomes by policy wonks—all on paper, from which relevant material was clipped or copied and filed.

The long-term consequence of our paper-based operation is immediately apparent to anyone entering my office. The countertops are stacked with file folders in piles two to three feet high, over which rise bookcases filled with more files. On my desk, a dozen more piles of paper cover most of the surface.

Most futurists I’ve met have offices that look very much like mine. But all of us also understand that, by 2030, all that paper will be gone.

I’m having trouble dealing with that reality. Having all my information literally within arm’s reach has been the mainstay of my professional practice. With my paper database, I know exactly—and feel kinesthetically—where all my facts are. To be equally certain of finding that same information in cyberspace would require me to master an entirely new set of skills. It would also require a level of confidence in information technology that I do not yet possess.

Information and communication are dematerializing. Paper money will also disappear by 2030, and I’m perfectly prepared to live in a cashless future. Commerce will be cashless, phones will be wireless, and print will be paperless.

I am prepared to live with the first two of those future realities. But I still find it hard to accept that I will no longer be surrounded by my easy-to-access, user-friendly paper database.

The Private Library 

By Lane Jennings 

Even 10 years ago it would have been inconceivable, but the evidence is growing and the trend seems clear: Instead of owning works that bring us knowledge, delight our senses, and stimulate our dreaming, we will soon become mere “borrowers” sucking on an electronic straw.

My father collected books. Most of these simply interested him, a few directly helped in his profession, and the rest were useful reference volumes—dictionaries, encyclopedias, and bibliographies. But then encyclopedias and dictionaries were reduced from print to floppy disks; ultimately, they were rendered redundant by online sources more complete and current than any book could be.

Without a multivolume set of The Great Books, a well-thumbed copy of Webster’s International Dictionary, or the Encyclopaedia Britannica in my living room, how will anyone know that I am still a scholar and a gentleman? Or will those terms themselves have become obsolete?

O tempora, o mores, oh bother!

Paper Here Today, Gone Tomorrow 

By Karl Albrecht 

Communication has been digitizing inexorably, but not completely, for the past four decades. By 2030, we may finally see the disappearance of:

  • The U.S. Postal Service and Local Post Offices. The USPS is a classic example of a long-term “sitting duck” extinction. Decades ago, Sears, Roebuck & Co. left the mail-order catalog business, and “COD” (cash on delivery) service by the local USPS post offices went with it. Private firms like Mailboxes Etc., FedEx, UPS, DHL, and others began stealing the business. Then technologies like the fax machine and then e-mail radically reduced the mailing of business letters. Most residential mail now consists of junk mail and bills; both are being steadily replaced by electronic options.
  • The Personal Check. Businesses spend billions of dollars annually to bill their customers and process the checks they mail. Electronic billing and online payments are slashing costs for both. The few customers who hold out will probably have to pay penalty fees for printed documents.
  • The Newspaper. Two forces will probably make the newspaper as we know it extinct. One is the information glut that is changing the reading habits of consumers; the other is the flight of advertising revenues to Internet monopoly sites like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others. Attention spans are shrinking, information bites are getting smaller, and people seeking information expect it to be instantaneous. As conventional newspapers die or migrate to online platforms, publishers will try to develop pay-per-view models that reclaim their revenue streams. We may see the emergence of dynamically packaged online newspapers that compile stories, articles, and advertisements to suit the viewer’s unique preference profile.
  • The Magazine. Ditto what’s happening to newspapers. All popular magazines now have online versions, many for free. Most are struggling to maintain readership and subscription revenues, and online advertising has stolen a large part of traditional ad revenue. With a vast range of blogs, online news pages, streaming video, and online games, the general public may be approaching a saturation point for information. Dynamic packaging of content will probably become the primary model for magazines as well as newspapers.
  • The Book. The physical book may not go extinct completely, because it offers certain subjective experiences not replicated exactly by electronic media. However, as publishers offer e-books at lower prices, and e-readers become cheaper and more available, e-books will almost certainly outnumber physical books. The two will probably co-exist. Self-publishing will probably continue to grow rapidly. Video books, or “v-books,” with chaptered video content presented in digital format, may also become popular, especially for educational purposes. Some physical book publishers, however, will probably go extinct because they fail to make the wrenching transition to a new and more risky publishing and distribution model.
  • The Greeting Card. Ounce for ounce, the traditional printed greeting card is one of the most ecologically wasteful products that people buy. The average useful life of a greeting card is about 15 seconds—perhaps a few minutes if it gets passed around at a party. Then it usually goes into the waste stream, or a bottomless drawer. As with books, cards might survive if they can be “repurposed,” or used to provide some additional value. Reusable greeting cards, for example, might become popular. Perhaps the card can be made edible, or even biodegradable, with seeds attached so it can give birth to a garden plant.

About the Authors 

David Pearce Snyder is a consulting futurist and the Lifestyles editor for THE FUTURIST. E-mail david_snyder@verizon.net.

Lane Jennings is managing editor of World Future Review as well as a poet. E-mail lanejen@aol.com.

Karl Albrecht is an executive management consultant, business futurist, lecturer, and author of more than 20 books on professional achievement, organizational performance, and business strategy. E-mail Karl@KarlAlbrecht.com.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-5

 

Disappearing Future 8. Human Experiences 

Bad Mood Is History: A Scenario 

I awaken in a bad mood. The bed is empty next to me and I suspect Liz is working again. She works too much. Without opening my eyes, I know it’s time to get up. Every morning, at 7 o’clock, the windows change from light-blocking to transparent. The late autumn sun fills the room. I peruse some wardrobe choices, my virtual mirror reflecting my image in each selection. I wait for my choice to rotate toward the front of the rack and proceed with my morning ablutions.

As I head downstairs, our garden appears through the walls. The fall colors warm me. The walls appear completely transparent with the thin layer of LED. I open the window and the curtains billow in the fall breeze. It took some time to get used to seeing the curtains suspended in midair, like some domestic apparition. Now, I barely notice. I breathe in the fresh morning scent.

As I move into the kitchen, news begins to flow on the walls. CNN knows my bad mood and sticks to light news. Madonna and Mick Jagger are going to have a baby. At past 70, Madonna says she feels vital and invigorated to be pregnant at the same time as her granddaughter. With a life expectancy of 110 and the support of her record label, she is thrilled to bring a new pop sensation into the world.

My thoughts of children have prompted the walls to display images of my sons as babies, toddlers, and eventually young men. Emotions flow. The warmth begins to repel this bad mood.

With freshly brewed tea (my custom blend) in hand, I find my way to the office. Liz is indeed working. She smiles as I walk to her. We kiss tenderly. This is going to be another great day.—Liz Leone and Jean Georges Perrin

The End of Anonymity 

By Brenda Cooper 

Living off society’s “grid” is getting harder. We may give up trying to live our quiet, anonymous lives.

Today, our paychecks generally show up in our banks without touching our hands. We leave credit-card trails behind us, and our phones constantly beam our location to nearby cell towers so we can be helped in an emergency. But the average person we pass on the street may know nothing about us; to learn more, they need only obtain partial information and pay some money.

Anonymity is tough, but it’s still possible to live off of the grid, even in developed countries—as long as you use cash for housing and food and don’t fly on a commercial airline. An anonymous lifestyle is certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s possible.

It will be far harder to remain anonymous in a cashless society with multifactor logons to everything and biometric data that every public camera in the world can access. The loss of anonymity will hopefully cause increased accountability, decreased rates of many crimes, and a culture that is more careful.

We will know more about each other, and it will be up to us as a society to choose how personal data is treated or mistreated. Not long from now, the difficult job of staying off the grid will be close to impossible for all but the ultra-rich (who may still be able to use personal assistants and shadow companies to stay partly invisible).

To navigate this future, we’ll need to assure that single mistakes don’t haunt people forever. We’ll need to find a way for financial details, health issues, and bedroom choices to remain cloaked. We need to become prepared for our lives to be open electronic books.

The Death of Reflection 

By Lisa Gualtieri 

I love my smartphone as much as the next person and rely upon the immediacy of information access in my busy life. Is there a downside to this for me and for our society? Yes: the death of reflection.

Being almost constantly connected—and agitated when not connected—means losing those moments when disparate ideas come together, when pleasant memories lead to inspiration, or when pondering a problem leads to innovation. Accessing and using too much information all the time stifles reflection and all of its benefits.

Fitness, I believe, offers the solution of listening to one’s body, which is the antithesis of the quantified-self movement in which everything is tracked. When I run, I can feel last night’s overindulgence or, equally, last night’s eight hours of sleep. But all the devices to track where I am—my pace, the comparison to other women my age or my last run—distract me from the reflective process that often leads to great work after my run.

Letting one’s mind wander and reflecting on both one’s internal thoughts and feelings and the external world leads to great ideas—and by that I don’t mean just new and better devices.

No More Waiting 

By Apala Lahiri Chavan 

Waiting will disappear by 2030. The concept of having to wait for something or someone is increasingly shifting to another verb, unwaiting.

We once waited for the bank to open in the morning to be able to transfer money; waited for answers to our letters that arrived by post/courier; waited to travel to a shopping area, or even to a specific country/city to buy particular items.

Or we waited in queues till we got to the front of the queue. We waited at airports till it was time to board the flight. And then waited in court for the next step in the process to happen, whether a property dispute or a divorce proceeding.

There is no waiting anymore, really. The 24/7 access to the Internet via different devices means that we can do our money transfers at any time of the day or night, can shop for that specific item of clothing online whenever we want to. So whether we are at the airport or in the courthouse, we are not really waiting. We are immersed in a digital world doing other things, like e-mailing, reading news, watching a show, or shopping.

Very soon, the “intelligent cloud” that always knows us will constantly serve suggestions based on our profile and location. And 3-D printers will help enable instant wish fulfillment. What will we need to wait for?

Whatever Happened to Free Will?

By Richard Yonck 

Is free will disappearing? Are you reading this sentence because a chain of events going all the way back to the Big Bang set in motion everything that led up to this moment? Whether you agree with this premise or not, were you destined to do so?

The concepts of free will and determinism have long been debated by philosophers. Logically, if the universe is governed by a great chain of cause and effect events, then it seems plausible that, given sufficient knowledge and computing power, we would be able to state every subsequent event at any point in time. Of course, this runs counter to our intuition and experience. The world—not to mention the universe—is so vast in its scale, complexity, and randomness that such notions seem naïve.

It may be that we’ll soon discover just how much free will we actually have. As our technological world becomes increasingly intelligent, we find ourselves at a threshold. The Internet of Things, smart dust, embedded intelligence—everything that contributes to our increasingly smart environment—combined with data mining and statistical analysis, herald a new era that may challenge our notions about free will and determinism.

As ever more information about our actions becomes available from our environment, the ability to anticipate the statistical likelihood of our movements, our decisions, even our thoughts becomes possible. Which brings us to the question: Did we choose this path? Or were we destined to take it?

Losing the Ability to Get Lost 

By Josh Lindenger 

Humans are inherently curious. We have to explore. We are driven to figure out who we are and how we relate to everything around us.

Over the last two decades, we’ve had a revolution in mapping through the growth of localization technologies. Global navigation satellites, Wi-Fi based positioning, algorithms that map us around traffic—in the developed world, at least, location has become a given.

By 2030, with the continual expansion of these technologies, getting lost will have all but disappeared. Whatever the interface ends up being at the time, we’ll be technologically tied to physical space at all times. Want to go somewhere? Paths present themselves to you.

But what if we want to get lost? Will we miss the serendipity of new experiences? We humans have a need to explore, to fuel our curiosity and understand more about ourselves by experiencing new things.

In losing our ability to get lost, we may rediscover in ourselves a new wanderlust: that, in the end, we not only want to get lost sometimes, but need to because it’s part of what makes us human.

About the Authors 

Brenda Cooper is a technology professional, a science-fiction writer, and a public speaker who lives in the Pacific Northwest. She is associated with Futurist.com. E-mail brenda-cooper@sff.net.

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM, is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. E-mail lisa.gualtieri@tufts.edu.

Apala Lahiri Chavan is chief oracle and innovator at Human Factors International (HFI). She is an award-winning designer (International Audi Design Award), and has recently been made CEO of the Institute of Customer Experience (ice.humanfactors.com/ ), a nonprofit initiative by HFI to explore the future of global user experience. E-mail apala@humanfactors.com.

Richard Yonck is a foresight analyst for Intelligent Future LLC in Seattle. E-mail ryonck@intelligent-future.com.

Josh Lindenger is a futurist hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, with a not-so-secret desire to re-explore what it means to “get lost” in cities using the techniques of psychogeography. You can find him at www.thefuturesunderground.com or as @jlindenger on Twitter. E-mail josh@ thefuturesunderground.com.

Liz Leone is an editor for Rodale and a medical editor for GSK. E-mail liz@lizleone.com.

Jean Georges Perrin runs a software company, focusing on content analysis and logistics. E-mail jgp@jgp.net.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-6

Disappearing Future 9. Smartphones 

Say Goodbye to News at 6:00 

Most Americans migrated to cable television from broadcast television; now, many are cutting the television cord altogether. We watch what we want, when we want, using Hulu or Netflix or other content delivery media. And we watch wherever we happen to be, using laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

And advertising dollars that used to go to the networks are now going to social media delivered over mobile devices.

The major networks will likely survive, probably becoming subsidiaries of one of the social network juggernauts (Google, Facebook, etc.), much like ABC network is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. What is becoming expendable—and will likely disappear—is the networks’ strings of local affiliates.

These outlets are largely repeater stations of their larger networks. Except for their morning and evening newscasts, they provide little that is substantially different from the network’s product.

The 6 o’clock local news once had the advantage of timing over newspaper delivery; now, it is behind virtually every other means of communication. The nearly 900 local TV affiliates just aren’t needed in the new mass communication marketplace. And despite how essential they seemed for all these decades, when they finally go away their collective presence will hardly be missed.Rob Bencini

Highway Signs 

In 2030, the ubiquitous fixed roadway sign will have all but disappeared. This scenario begins in the late 2010s, as attention turns to decaying infrastructure. Thanks to increasing federal tax revenues driven by the shale oil boom, state departments of transportation will begin funding projects to replace bridges, repave highways, and (as an unexpected consequence) replace and update fixed-message signs.

Cars are becoming increasingly connected to their surroundings via GPS. The Internet of Place—connecting vehicles to traffic and roadway condition reporting systems—will emerge first in the more dense urban areas. Better information means there could even be fewer vehicles involved.

The old signs could be replaced by active media signs equipped with two-way communications that interact with the vehicles (rather than the drivers). These active-media posts might be updated via fiber-optic links. Some of their graphics could be sponsored by local enterprises, thus putting an end to billboards as well as roadway signs.Jim Breaux

Farewell, Smartphone. We Hardly Knew Thee 

By Paul Saffo 

Devices will be superfluous in the more-intimate age of conversational interaction.

Looking back from 2030, it is hard to imagine just how central smartphones were to life in 2013—and how quickly they disappeared. Smartphones followed a trajectory similar to that other techno-antique, the PC, but the smartphone arc was even shorter.

The first smartphones appeared in the mid-1990s, but it was Android and iPhone that changed the communications landscape. By 2010, anything with a physical keypad seemed as obsolete as a rotary-dial Princess phone, and voice took a back seat to apps, Angry Birds, and tweets.

Ironically, it was voice that killed the smartphone. Robust AI-based voice recognition started to arrive in the mid-teens, and users discovered what they knew all along: We would much rather talk than tap. Driving directions were so much safer when spoken, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Tweet-sized quips were now uttered by AIs mimicking the voices of the celebrity dead. Even commerce became voice-based.

Robust voice eliminated the need to design around screens, just as touch-screen technology once pushed out keypads. Communicators shrank to the size of hearing aids, and their functionality melted into everything from eyeglasses, watches, and jewelry to vehicles and appliances. New functions such as breathtakingly accurate real-time language translation appeared (think Babel fish in Doug Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide), making these tiny devices essential and constant companions. Screens remained, but only as marvelous peripherals, not the center of communications activity.

We entered the age of conversational interaction, and our relationship with digital technology moved from personal to intimate. Couples who couldn’t speak a common language fell in love and married. Sociologists cautioned users against over-attachment to voice-AIs to the exclusion of human contact. And at those rare moments when we happen to think back, we marvel that anyone could have ever communicated anything of consequence on a device as clunky and old-fashioned as an iPhone.

Computing’s Future Is Wearable 

By Harish Shah 

Thanks to Google, the world will soon see the commercialization of the first wearable computer for the masses, with a head-mounted display to be worn like a pair of glasses by its users. Apple is also likely to soon release a wearable computer in the form of a smart watch, which has already been dubbed by many as the “iWatch.

The same Internet-based communication currently used on smartphones or computers will likely also be utilized on the wearable computers. The need for smartphones will thus simply start diminishing, especially as prices for wearables begin to decline. That the wearable will primarily be a computer, beyond being just a communication device, will be its most attractive feature.

The first few years that wearable computers are on the market will likely be a phase of trial and error, when makers will be perfecting their technology, adjusting to the market, and meeting consumer needs and wants. Once this phase passes, we can expect history then to repeat itself, and our beloved smartphones will simply fade away, like pagers and other devices did before them.

The Concurrent Evaporation of Hardware and Privacy 

By E. Scott Denison 

Hold in your hand for a moment the sleek minimalist design that is your smartphone. Note the thin metal case, and touch the glossy, glass interface.

If you like that sort of thing, then you should keep it around as an heirloom. By 2030, we will have dispensed with much of the hardware that we carry with us, including phones and laptops, car keys or key fobs, possibly even digital cameras.

All these devices will move from silicon chips encased in industrial designs to smart surfaces, smart clothing, or biomechanically engineered microcomputers that have been implanted in or attached to the body. Retinal implants or contact lenses will carry the visual interface to the individual, or the user will transfer it to a variety of other “active surfaces” such as tables or walls.

Each app will carry its own embedded interface and, though true telepathy will still be a couple of decades away, gloves, rings, or bracelets could become the access point for manipulating the user interface. It may someday give way to subdermal implants that directly access brain imagery and transmissions to the microchips that are embedded in our bodies.

As our computers become more invisible and hardware design becomes more bio-design, we will also see our privacy nearly completely disappear. Each surface will become “aware” of our presence and our activities. Our bodies will carry an internal GPS tracking capability. Watch out for intrusive messaging, hacking, and surveillance that may come ever so much closer to our thoughts, actions, preferences, and individuality.

Passing of the Dumb Interface, Keyboard, and Mouse 

By Alexandre Pupo and William Halal 

Ongoing trend analysis at the TechCast Project suggests that the next wave of computerization will drive far more intelligent and convenient interfaces into mainstream use, relegating today’s dumb interfaces, keyboards, and the mouse obsolete—like the old slide rules and typewriters. Here is a summary of our forecasts in this area:

Advanced IT Technologies Entering Mainstream Use
Technology Most Likely Year Std. Dev.
Source: www.TechCast.org (2013)
Intelligent Interface 2019 4 years
Intelligent Web 2017 3 years
Virtual Reality 2019 4 years
Thought Power 2024 7 years
AI 2024 8 years

Humans may soon rely on these technologies to serve as virtual assistants and to automate routine mental work. Artificial intelligence, speech and emotion recognition and translation, touch controls, and other interfaces are already entering the market.

In some cases, we can extend the power of sheer thought to communicate at a distance. Experiments are finding ways that allow individuals to direct their thoughts into electrical signals that communicate silently with computers, robots, and other people.

Graphical interfaces, digital games, and augmented reality are converging to immerse us in artificial environments that simulate sensory experiences. Other trends show that the Web is evolving into an intelligent system that understands spoken inquiries, gathers relevant information, and forms meaningful answers.

Today’s dumb interfaces will soon give way to touch, voice, avatars, language translation, augmented reality, and thought. An earlier TechCast study dubbed this virtual lifestyle “TeleLiving.

About the Authors 

Paul Saffo is a forecaster with more than two decades of experience exploring the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change. He is managing director of foresight at Discern Analytics, www.discern.com , and a member of the World Future Society’s Global Advisory Council.

Harish Shah is an entrepreneur, consultant, coach, trainer, futurist, and sole proprietor at Stratserv Consultancy, Singapore. E-mail harish_shah@stratservconsultancy .com.

E. Scott Denison is a design lecturer at Ohio State University. His article “When Designers Ask, ‘What If?’” was published in World Future Review’s Summer 2012 conference edition. E-mail scott@scottdenison .com.

Alexandre Pupo is an information technology professional and editor for the TechCast Project.

William E. Halal is professor emeritus of management, technology, and innovation at George Washington University, and president of TechCast LLC, a virtual think tank tracking the technology revolution. Visit www.techcast.org .

Rob Bencini, MBA, is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and economic futurist from North Carolina. He provides trend impact analysis for businesses and local governments. Web site www.robbencini.com ; Email rbencini@earthlink.net.

Jim Breaux is a futures studies graduate student in the Foresight Master’s Program, University of Houston, College of Technology. He received the APF 2013 Student Recognition Award, Individual Graduate Student, for his paper, “Weather-Related Disaster Recovery.” He is an engineer by training and works with a major infrastructure engineering firm in Texas. E-mail breauxjw@gmail.com.

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-7

Disappearing Future 10. Insecurity 

The End of Theft 

In the country of India, a car is stolen every 6 minutes, but in the state of Texas, a car is stolen every 5.5 minutes. As every business knows, theft is a major problem, with most viewing some percentage loss as unavoidable. However, that attitude is about to change.

With improved security systems, vehicle theft has been dropping since 1998, and will be all but eliminated by 2030 with the Internet of Things.

By 2020, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, and by 2030, virtually every item of value will become traceable because of smart dust sensors.

Next-generation manufacturing will automatically embed smart dust particles with sensors and transmitters into everything we own. Whenever a purchase occurs, items over a certain dollar value will be assigned to a personal ownership network that we control.

Sensors in our clothing, cars, jewelry, shoes, and homes will be primarily used to detect everything from air quality to health irregularities, but they will also alert an “owner” when a theft has occurred.

Whenever there is a “disturbance in the force,” officials will be notified.Thomas Frey

Car Crashes Will Disappear by 2030 

By Tom Schaffnit 

The convergence of technologies that connect and automate vehicles will keep us all safer on the road.

Two technologies related to vehicle safety are converging to significantly reduce or even eliminate accidents.

1. Connected vehicle technology uses specific wireless connections to allow cars to “talk” with each other and provide a warning when a conflict situation exists that is likely to result in a crash. The vehicles each broadcast a short message a number of times every second. Other vehicles receive these broadcasts and compute a dynamic state map in order to identify potential conflict situations, such as hard-braking events up ahead in their lane of travel.

2. Automated vehicle technology. Google’s self-driving vehicle project has been able to demonstrate the convenience aspect of this advanced form of automated vehicle technology. Automobile manufacturers, meanwhile, have been conducting their own research programs and introducing automation features that assist with lane-keeping and help to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead, for example. These automated vehicle technology deployments have mainly been based upon autonomous sensors located on the individual vehicles.

A convergence of the two technologies, along with sensory fusion to allow the best use of both autonomous sensors and wireless communications from nearby vehicles, could lower costs and enhance consumer enthusiasm, ushering in connected, fully automated vehicles by the end of this decade. The disappearance of car crashes by 2030 could be a realistic possibility.

Nothing Left to Try? The End of Jury Trials 

By Clayton Rawlings 

In theory, a jury trial is a search for the truth in a way that ensures both sides can be heard. The jury itself is the fact finder. They determine what the truth is based on the evidence admitted before them.

But the types of cases that juries are asked to consider will decline. Consider that there are now 35,000 fatalities and 400,000 catastrophic injuries in the United States every year from vehicle collisions. By 2030, robotic transportation will reduce these numbers dramatically. Robotic labor will reduce the number of workplace injuries on a similar scale. We will not have thousands of jury trials rendering personal injury verdicts, because we will no longer have the huge number of injury cases to be decided.

Most drug crimes will no longer be enforced in criminal courts, as genetic manipulation and vaccinations to cure addiction will do away with these crimes. Sixty-five percent of all criminal prosecutions are drug related, so removing drugs from the equation medically will eliminate the need for juries to convict and sentence those involved in the drug trade.

Brain-scanning lie-detector tests already exist, but their results are still inadmissible, having failed to gain scientific acceptance as being reliable. Moore’s law suggests that we’ll see a scanner that will pass this last evidentiary hurdle in the next 10 to 15 years. When a reliable scanner can detect deception in the human mind, the need for a fact finder will be greatly reduced in all litigation. The fact finder (jury) will not be needed to know the truth.

This new reality will do away with the swearing match that goes on today. When the end is no longer in doubt, litigants will settle cases rather than incur the expense of a jury trial that is doomed to fail.

I predict that jury trials will all but disappear except for some special circumstances by 2030. They will be replaced by judicial intervention and summary judgment. When the facts are no longer in dispute, agreed settlements through mediation by both parties will become the norm, rather than the traditional jury trial.

About the Authors 

Tom Schaffnit is an internationally recognized expert in wireless telecommunications technology and co-author of The Comprehensive Guide to Wireless Technologies (first edition 1999, APDG Publishing). Email tom@schaffnit.com.

Clayton Rawlings is a licensed attorney in the state of Texas who has tried over 150 jury trials. He attended the Strategic Foresight program at the University of Houston under Peter Bishop. Web site HamptonandRawlings.com ; e-mail Clayrawlings@aol.com.

Thomas Frey is executive director of the Da Vinci Institute and the Innovation editor of THE FUTURIST magazine. His Web site is Futuristspeaker.com .

Source: https://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/september-october-2013-vol-47-no-5/top-10-disappearing-futures/disap-8

The New, Improved 1984

Charles Hugh Smith of oftwominds writes:

The new, improved version of 1984 is based on complicity.

George Orwell’s prescient book 1984  envisioned a technologically enabled authoritarian state of ubiquitous surveillance, propaganda and fear that constantly rewrote history to suit the needs of the present regime. Published in 1949, 1984 took the totalitarian templates of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and extended them into a future where the state employed technology to perfect not only control of the populace via police state repression but control of their minds via propaganda extolling the state and revising “facts” to support the current party line.
Welcome to the new, improved 1984, America 2013.
Ubiquitous surveillance: check.
Ubiquitous propaganda extolling the state and central bank: check
Perpetual fear-mongering: check
Perpetual war against an unseen enemy who can never be defeated: check
Police state with essentially unlimited powers to suppress “enemies of the state”: check
Continual revision of history to support the current party line: check.
Have you noticed that every key metric of the economy is constantly being revised, rewriting history and installing a shiny new set of “facts”? In a recent podcast I recorded with Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity , Chris pointed out that downward revisions in economic data are made only when the data point is safely over the horizon of history; that the U.S. GDP dipped into negative numbers in 2011 was masked at the time with the usual ginned-up positive numbers, and revised down to an approximation of reality years later when the reality has zero impact on the public perception of the state-managed “recovery.
The “headline number” is always positive, and its downward revision buried in an avalanche of new data. The revisions are so constant and so extreme that the recognition of this constant revision of history to suit the political needs of the current regime has been numbed; everyone knows the numbers are intended to paint a positive picture of a devolving, fragile economy and society, but we prefer this propaganda illusion to the harsh reality.
Why? Because half of us are getting a direct check, benefit or payment from the state. Over 61 million people get a check from Social Security, over 50 million draw Medicare benefits, another 50 million get Medicaid benefits, 47 million receive SNAP food stamp benefits, 22 million people work directly for the state on all levels, millions more work for government contractors that are effectively proxies of the state, millions more receive Federally funded extended unemployment, retirement checks, Section 8 housing benefits, and so on.
Orwell underestimated the power of complicity. Once a citizen receives a direct payment from the state, the state has purchased their complicity, for no matter how much that citizen may complain privately about the state, he or she will never risk the payment/benefit by resisting the state in a politically meaningful way.
Once you get a check from the state, you begin loving your servitude. The collusion of the state and its central bank is truly a thing of authoritarian beauty: the central bank (the Federal Reserve) creates money out of thin air and buys government bonds with the new money. The state can thus borrow unlimited sums at low rates of interest, and continue to send tens of millions of individual payments out to buy the passivity and complicity of its citizens.
The state is great when it sends you money, never mind where or how it gets the money or the incalculable costs of subservience and complicity.
We don’t hate Big Brother; we don’t care about Big Brother or the fear-mongering or the rewriting of history or any of the rest of it, as long as the state’s money flows to our individual account. Our complaints are as hollow as the state’s financial “facts.
Things are falling apart–that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify or understand. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition

1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economyComplex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).
We are not powerless. Not accepting responsibility and being powerless are two sides of the same coin: once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

Kindle edition: $9.95        print edition: $24 on Amazon.com
To receive a 20% discount on the print edition: $19.20  (retail $24), follow the link, open a Createspace account and enter discount code SJRGPLAB. (This is the only way I can offer a discount.)

Source: http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.sg/2013/08/the-new-improved-1984.html