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Category Archives: Futurism
You might think that you have heard everything there is to know about how long humans can live, but even in this overworked corner of human research, there is always something new.
Over the last few decades. we have watched in awe as longevity statistics have exploded. For people in industrialized countries, life expectancy, at the beginning of the 20th century, was between 30 and 45 years, rising steadily to about 67 years by the end of the century. Life expectancy continues to rise until now, people who live to age 100 or older are the fastest growing demographic. In the past, researchers have looked to improvements in health care, nutrition, and standard of living to explain why some people live significantly longer than others. Other researchers have redirected their attention to the habits of super-centenarians, or the detection of ‘blue zone’ areas of the world in which people live to an exceptional age.
Scientists and researchers are working overtime to help older people age in place. And that’s a good thing—most of us do want to stay at home as long as we can.
One company pursuing this is K4Connect, a tech firm that serves older adults with disabilities. The CEO, Scott Moody has a dream, and it has a good chance of coming true.
Moody thinks in broad strokes. He believes that in five years home automation for older adults, still very complex, will connect us to the “Internet of Things” (IoT), allowing us to seamlessly access apps that will help us age in place. He envisions:
You might have heard. If not, here is the news—Lyft, a new ride-sharing company established in the US, is coming to Canada. It’s influence is spreading, and it may be coming to your town next.
This is welcome news to people who can’t or don’t drive, especially at night, now that they are older. Ride sharing is a boon to older people. Losing our mobility is among our greatest fears as we age. It represents inconvenience, isolation and its most dreaded companion—loneliness.
With its promise of lifting people out of poverty and ending the need for food banks, the Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) sounds radical, and even subversive, an invitation to create a shiftless, dependent population—but it may be an idea whose time has come.
This is not a new thought—Thomas Moore wrote about it in Utopia, (published in 1516), in which he explored some of the problems of society. Observing the stern measures that were being taken against thieves, and recalling a conversation with John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, he wrote:
If you’ve been out lately kicking tires, thinking of owning a shiny new car, chock full of the latest innovations like rear cameras, and voice activated commands—think again.
Buying a new car now, some say, would be worse than buying a new horse just as the first Fords drove off the assembly line, and worse by far than buying a three year old iphone.
There is a huge cultural shift in all areas of the technological world, and it is led by the car. We know it is happening by the quickening of news and predictions about it, but we don’t know how fast, or in what form, the changes will come.
I’m putting aside my novel writing for the summer. I’ve decided to concentrate on other blog themes, and catch up on things like gardening, home decorating, and of course, reading, an enduring summer pleasure.
With the new TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in the news, I headed down the stacks in the local library to pick it up, but instead found myself reaching for her newest book, The Heart Goes Last.
“Why not?” I say, and add it to my take out pile. The truth is, I don’t have what it takes to read The Handmaid’s Tale again. I remember it as profoundly disturbing—a chillingly futuristic novel about Gilead, and how its female inhabitants are forced to have sex with powerful men and bear their children.
Is reading in danger? Are print books doomed? As a reader all of my life, I would be devastated if that was so.
I remember the exact moment I learned to make sense of the printed word, and I remember witnessing that moment in my students, but I could never put it better than Alberto Manguel:
“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning, and at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.”
It would be easy for me, a grandmother with over 7 decades of living to my credit, to ignore 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT), thinking I may be long gone by the time these revolutionary ideas really take hold.
But I’m not about to disregard one of the most compelling ideas to emerge in this era of change, considered by leading scientists to be the “Third Industrial Revolution”. After all, just by virtue of having access to the internet, and being able to type a few keywords into my browser, I can have a front row seat to what promises to be a thrilling journey.
The impact of automation on employment is finally making it into the news. It’s not a trending topic yet, but at least it’s no longer the “elephant in the room”. Although books like The End of Work (Rifkin) appeared as early as 2002, and online blogs have been warning about advanced technology for at least 5 years, automation and it’s effect on work has so far avoided the limelight.
In 2013, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote about the rapid advances in computer technology—blaming recent sluggish employment growth on improved industrial automation, from the use of robotics on the factory floor to automated translation services.
“Even more ominous for workers,” he said, “the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.”