I congratulate Mr. Rohani for securing the absolute majority in Iran presidential election.
This political spring certainly calls for a new set of goals in front of both people and Iranian administration which are promotion of peace and prosperity, technological leap forward, fighting poverty, and commitment to sustainable development. The outcome of the poll demonstrated beyond any doubt that we should keep our fate out of the reach of those militarists and hardliners who wish to imagine and pursue destruction and war in the future. It is my greatest hope that most if not all planners and policy makers, in particular within the new Iranian administration, will shift the application of foresight methods away from national defense and security toward establishing democratic governance and economic – cultural development not only within the Islamic Republic of Iran but also across the globe.
I hope that Iranian communities across the world become able, through focusing their efforts, to build a consistent and executable roadmap for materializing an economic epic as envisioned by the Supreme Leader. That roadmap should be based on bipartisan consensus, wisdom, and aimed at preferable futures in particular through applying soft power. Successful accomplishment of such a mission requires, and will be facilitated by, a continuous monitoring of ordered changes as well as potential surprises on the international scene. These efforts will also be helpful when exploring the feasible shortcuts to enhance important indicators that are relevant in all aspects of a quality life like education, business, health, science and technology, economics, and politics.
In the end I would like to invite all Iranians who had boycotted the government during the past years to come on board and do their best to support and help the moderate administration of Mr. Rohani in furthering a prideful vision for the nation-state of Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East region and far beyond it.
I congratulate Mr. Rohani for securing the absolute majority in Iran presidential election.
An individual or group of persons who has a record of knowledge and intellect is futurist provided that some of their behavior and actions in terms of the current logic and dominant discourse are not sensible, explainable, and admirable. In other words, attempts by others to include those thoughts, ideas, and arguments inside the common frameworks, forms, and categories will be either impossible or with great error and highly likely will only stir laugh, scorn, or overlook among the audience.
Since the dawn of time the appearance of the human head has been evolving and now artist Nickolay Lamm has predicted how our faces might look in 100,000 years time based on technological developments.
Using a state-of-the-art atomic force microscope, the scientists have taken the first atom-by-atom pictures, including images of the chemical bonds between atoms, clearly depicting how a molecule’s structure changed during a reaction. Until now, scientists have only been able to infer this type of information from spectroscopic analysis.
My interest is to lift the curtains behind the stage of science, and see what is going on in the engine room. If we want to ascertain which will be the next performance on the stage, it is better to see the organization from inside rather than just assisting with the show. In any case, I insist, I am not a prophet and it is not my mission to say how the future will be. Also, it is not my mission to give a report of all the observed trends and ideas around the world of science. What I will offer is my personal view, not necessarily reflecting the views of all conformist and non-conformist present-day thinkers. Our science is tired, exhausted. It walks entangled with economic forces rather than with human dreams.
According to the researchers, establishing a link between second language acquisition and a general capacity for statistical learning may have broad implications.
“This finding points to the possibility that a unified and universal principle of statistical learning can quantitatively explain a wide range of cognitive processes across domains, whether they are linguistic or nonlinguistic,” they conclude.
Given the recent banking crisis in Cyprus I wonder if is it possible for people not to put their money in banks at all?
Will tax authorities allow people to bypass banks altogether?
What major problem people could face if they decide to collect their cash or gold in a safe at house or office?
Can they prove that no money laundering is involved? Can they be good with tax collectors yet not putting anything in banks?
Some more insight on a bankless economy comes from China.
“The average Chinese trusts neither the Chinese banks nor the Communist Party,” said Friedrich Schneider, an authority on shadow economies around the world and a professor of economics at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz in Austria. “This is simply a mistrust of government. And so lots of people deal only in cash.”
Another way of looking at the future of banking and payment is like this
A owes B 100$
B owes C 100$
Y owes Z 100$
Z owes A 100$
Then a very intelligent machine uses big data to identify and build the closed chain or loop of people who owe each other.
Now A goes to a bank and borrows 100$ for a fraction of a second.
The outcome will be quite interesting.
Once the chain reaction starts and ends nobody in the loop owes nobody else after a fraction of a second and the bank has its 100$ again.
I was describing a “closed chain” in my message. So A takes from Z and gives it to the bank. It will be a total debt cancellation, presuming that the bank won’t ask for interest given the fact that the whole chain debt cancellation occurs in a fraction of a second.
Given the current new tools someones should begin to reconsider some age old assumptions if they are still making sense or not.
If the economy is based on mutual debts and if this big data is revolutionizing our life then why not trying some new ways of payment using advanced algorithm.
If we push this idea further you have to note that most businesses including banks are based on mutual trust. So perhaps a new form of banking will be formed around a person. I mean all players trust someone and he or she will become the center of a network of peer to peer transactions.
Again you see that the current technology may violate some age old assumption which implied that to run a bank you need to have an organization and physical offices. If by using technology a trusted person can turn himself or herself into a bank then I would say so be it!
A learner of the futures studies/research faced with the enormous volumes of texts on alternative futures of different topics and of course methods to do futures research recently asked me this: “Is it reasonable that someone aim for an specialization in this vast field?”
My quick and automatic answer was this:
That depends a lot on your personal and professional goals.
If you are aiming for a secured tenure as a faculty member in academia then a narrow focus can greatly help because in these kind of places zeroing in on a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory and so on is much a favorite career aim which also attracts trust, credibility, and respect among peers. So seeking specialization, say becoming a futurist expert only in water issues with application of cross impact analysis, could be absolutely true in this context.
But if you are aiming for a profitable line of business as a consultant then specialization is only half true because the market changing demand certainly guides your area of interest and favorite method to use. It could be the case that today working on the futures of energy sector with the application of GBN scenario planning method is much sought after. And in another day the health related futures with vision building method is more in demand. Freelance or employed business-minded futurists then has to gradually build a portfolio of interests and methods depending how long they want to survive in this business.
Moreover, this could be a big intangible asset if you decide to turn yourself from a futurist into a businessperson / trader. You can live on brokerage fee between partners to a potential deal. Two sides that know and trust you and have not heard about each other yet they can strike a deal between them if introduced by you effectively to each other.
If you are aiming to achieve wisdom and become a sage then specialization in futures studies either in terms of area of focus and the methods used is absolutely false. You need to learn and update yourself in almost all sorts of futures research methods and be an avid reader of diverse fields of knowledge. This is an ongoing lifelong journey and you cannot think of it as a clear cut career goal.
The science of sciences is not philosophy alone in my humble opinion. Today in hard sciences such as advanced physics and engineering, what you see is simply applied mathematics.
In social sciences, and particular in economics and finance, again most textbooks very much look like an advanced applied mathematics course of study. Needless to say that most of empirical studies are centered on a null hypothesis and discussing p-values, again mathematics. Advanced biology is now done through computational methods, again mathematics.
In short, a specialist generalist often exhibits a great deal of good skills in applied mathematics.
Interestingly, even within mathematics, we see also some sort of generalization called topology. Equipped with a good sense of topology you can not only follow general relativity theory but also prove most of theorems in a quite compact version as opposed to long proofs which are needed if you use lower level mathematics.
In addition, you may think like a mathematician to know how the world “could be in principle”, that is a discovered “logical world” of pure geometry. This could be a possible challenge for experts on ontology and reality. Put it another way, I’d say you do not need a touch of reality to make some credible conclusions about reality itself.
For instance, “If I stir a cup of coffee, then, at any given moment in time, some particle on the surface is stationary.”
Proof by contradiction in topology: If the velocity is nowhere zero then we can define a continuous map from the boundary to boundary. Then we can show that there is a homotopy between identity and constant maps on the boundary. But the former has a degree of one whereas the latter has a degree of zero. So there should be no homotopy between these two. Hence the velocity must be zero somewhere on the surface.
Philosophy is mostly good in hindsight, i.e. making sense of the past, but mathematics plus science fiction ideas are helpful in foresight, giving us some limited source of predictive power. Can any of you give me an example of a, say eighteenth century, philosopher who got it right, if not precisely then roughly, when anticipating the world in the twenty first century? Some sci-fi writers as well as mathematically informed people were indeed successful more or less correct with respect to what could be possible in the twenty first century. I am not trying to degrade the value of philosophy which is an integral part of any generalist set of intellectual skills. But I’d like to emphasis a reciprocal relation between it and advanced mathematics. Like the two wings of the mythological Pegasus, they both could ride us to know “how the world could be in principle.”
Moreover, given the fact that the futures field is vast and formidable for outsiders; we need to build a clear sense of specialization vs.generalization in futures studies to share it with new learners and new comers.
Most of experts who are ended up in futures studies are apparently dissatisfied with the narrow focus of their first area of expertise and graduation, be it hard sciences, soft sciences, philosophy and even mathematics. Futurists in the end could obtain and maintain a helicopter view of whatever play field.
This brings us to a conclusion that a great attraction of our field is that it somehow promises to newcomers that they may achieve wisdom, becoming a virtuous polymath and sitting on the back of Pegasus, provided that they continue to read futures studies in a nonstop manner. In other words, stressing on specialization in futures studies would be counterproductive. Hence, I won’t call persons who are only trained in GBN scenario planning in the energy sector futurists until they are open to learn other methods and study other topics as well.
As a matter of fact the learner that I mentioned in the opening asked me another sharp question:
How can I become a generalist of all generalists?
My answer was that you need two strong wings, one is mathematics and the other is philosophy.
Besides, a person with a very high command of human languages can also be the ultimate generalist, in particular if people from all walks of life can easily get his or her message.
You know there are contemporary philosophers with a strong interest in forward looking ideas. Paul and Patricia Churchland easily come to my mind.
If you are interested in the topic of how an economist should understand the world through a generalist lens you could also watch this informative interview on France 24
Tomas Sedlacek explains the subject-object reversal, the concept of de-fetishizing as well as how people should have a good understanding of myth, art, culture, religion, etc in addition to mathematics and philosophy to avoid becoming an “expert idiot”, that is knowing more and more about less and less.
Humans feel empathy for robots: fMRI scans show similar brain function when robots are treated the same as humans
From the T-101 to Data from Star Trek, humans have been presented with the fictional dilemma of how we empathize with robots. Robots now infiltrate our lives, toys like Furbies or robot vacuum cleaners bring us closer, but how do we really feel about these non-sentient objects on a human level? A recent study by researchers at the University of Duisburg Essen in Germany found that humans have similar brain function when shown images of affection and violence being inflicted on robots and humans.
Full Story: Physorg