Business Insider's Chris Weller asked me to draw from our work at Institute for the Future, where I'm a research director, to take a long-distance look at the far future of what libraries could become:
In 50 years' time, Pescovitz tells Business Insider, libraries are poised to become all-in-one spaces for learning, consuming, sharing, creating, and experiencing — to the extent that enormous banks of data will allow people to "check out" brand-new realities, whether that's scaling Mt. Everest or living out an afternoon as a dog....
The definition of a library is already changing.
Some libraries have 3D printers and other cutting-edge tools that makes them not just places of learning, but creation. "I think the library as a place of access to materials, physical and virtual, becomes increasingly important," Pescovitz says. People will come to see libraries as places to create the future, not just learn about the present.
Pescovitz offers the example of genetic engineering, carried out through "an open-source library of genetic parts that can be recombined in various way to make new organisms that don't exist in nature."
"Libraries of the future are going to change in some unexpected ways" (Business Insider)
(image: "The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin")
Read the rest “Far future of libraries”
When Hugo "Award" Gernsback launched Volume 1, Number 1 of Amazing Stories in April, 1926, he created the first magazine in the world solely devoted to science fiction stories: on the magazine's editorial page, Gernsback laid out his vision for the genre. Read the rest “Hugo Gernsback's introduction to the first issue of Amazing Stories, 1926”
Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest “To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses”
Two weeks ago, pioneering futurist Alvin Toffler died. Over at Medium, my colleague Marina Gorbis, executive director of Institute for the Future, reflects on Toffler's vision and why it's more important than ever for futures thinking to be a massively public endeavor. Marina writes:
Read the rest “Why all of us need to be futurists”
Disorientation. Irrationality. Malaise. These were the sensations that in 1965 famed futurist Alvin Toffler, who died two weeks ago, suggested would run rampant in the face of the “revolutionary transitions” facing our society. According to Toffler, we would all suffer from a condition not unlike the culture shock experienced by travelers to foreign countries. He called it “future shock.”
“Imagine not merely an individual but an entire society — including its weakest, least intelligent, and most traditional members — suddenly transported into this new world,” Toffler wrote in a Horizon magazine article titled “The Future as a Way of Life.” “The result is mass disorientation, future shock on a grand scale.”
Arguably, we are living Toffler’s future today. Many of us are in a state of shock as social media enables the rise of political figures who we could never imagine as viable presidential candidates, software eats people’s jobs (according to some), massive data leaks allow loosely organized networks of journalists to uncover stories of global crime and corruption, and surveys consistently point to the loss of trust in most institutions across the globe. We are quick to marvel at Toffler’s foresight. I would argue, however, that our “future shock” is highly unevenly distributed....
We need to make futures thinking a way of life for more people outside of the enclaves like Silicon Valley, corporate boardrooms, and academic think tanks.
In Normal, Warren Ellis (previously) sets a technothriller in a kind of rehab center for futurists and foresight specialists who've developed "abyss gaze" -- a kind of special bleak depression that overtakes people who plug themselves into the digital world 24/7 in order to contemplate our precarious days to come. Read the rest “Warren Ellis's "Normal": serialized technothriller about futurists driven mad by tech-overload and bleakness”
Jan Chipchase travelled 7,100km through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) ("a remote, sparsely populated, mostly Pamiri, Kyrgyz-speaking region of Tajikistan") with only a small piece of hand luggage, and in those rugged, beautiful mountains, discovered 61 glimpses of the future. Read the rest “To see the future, visit the most remote areas of the GBAO”
From Retrofuturism on Imgur: "February 1, 1939 issue of Vogue ran this photo of the 21st Century man, noting that he 'banishes buttons, pockets, collars, ties' and 'will revolt against shaving and wear a beautiful beard. His hat will be an an antennae - snatching radio out of the ether.'" Read the rest “Vogue's 21st Century Man (1939)”
The Pew Research Center is soliciting answers for a "Future of the Internet" survey that asks a bunch of thought-provoking questions about the security of the Internet of Things; social cohesion in a social media-dominated public sphere; education and innovation; automation and robots taking our jobs; machine learning and justice; and the tone of the online public sphere in the next 10 years. Read the rest “Take the Pew Future of the Internet Survey”
Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence.
Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit
In this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially intelligent TA, folks who build learning apps, and critics who wonder if all the promises being made are too good to be true. What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?
Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.
▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest “What if school was out, forever?”
John Frost writes, "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney new documentary captures a side of Walt Disney that other recent documentaries miss. He was a lover of technology, innovation, and a futurist with an eye toward improving humanity. The whole documentary has been released online to be viewed for free by CM Films." Read the rest “WATCH: documentary on Walt Disney, the futurist”
Brian David Johnson (previously) is the futurist and theorist who used design fiction to help the company think about how its products would work in the future (I wrote him a story about the painful death of passwords). Read the rest “Intel futurist Brian David Johnson heads to ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination”
Craig Barnes, a grad student at Central St Martins in Kings Cross, London, bought and refurbished one of the last 60 Futuro houses, originally designed in the 1960s as modular ski chalets by famed Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. Read the rest “Iconic 1960s spaceship house now a venue for discussing the future”
Maciej Cegłowski's "Web Design: The First 100 Years" is a characteristically provocative riff on the past and future of "progress" that asks the question, if aviation stopped producing faster, more powerful aircraft in the 1970s, will the IT industry do the same? Read the rest “After a rush, aviation stopped "progressing" -- the Web might be next”
Paul Ford's story for Motherboard, "The Last Museum," concerns the obsolescence of a tech exec who's self worth was tied up in streaking past the Zucks and Jobses and Evs and Marissas of today, and is now confronting his own passing strangeness. Read the rest “Haunting science fiction about personal obsolescence”
Neal Stephenson's no stranger to ambition, but his new novel Seveneves
stretches to lengths (and heights) that beggar the imagination.