Monday, November 12, 2012

7 Best-Case Scenarios for the Future of Humanity

From io9:
Most science fictional and futurist visions of the future tend towards the negative — and for good reason. Our environment is a mess, we have a nasty tendency to misuse technologies, and we're becoming increasingly capable of destroying ourselves. But civilizational demise is by no means guaranteed. Should we find a way to manage the risks and avoid dystopic outcomes, our far future looks astonishingly bright. Here are seven best-case scenarios for the future of humanity....

1. Status quo
7 Best-Case Scenarios for the Future of Humanity
While this is hardly the most exciting outcome for humanity, it is still an outcome. Given the dire warnings of Sir Martin Rees, Nick Bostrom, Stephen Hawking, and many others, we may not be around to see the next century. Our ongoing survival — even if it's under our current state of technological development — could be considered a positive outcome. Many have suggested that we've already reached our pinnacle as a species.

Back in 1992, political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History and the Last Man in which he argued that our current political, technological, and economic mode was the final stop on our journey. He was wrong, of course; Fukuyama's book will forever be remembered as a neoconservative's wet dream written in reaction to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the so-called New World Order. More realistically, however, the call for a kind of self-imposed status quo has been articulated by Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy. Writing in his seminal 2004 article, "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us," Joy warned of the catastrophic potential for 21st century technologies like robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech. Subsequently, he called for technological relinquishment — a kind of neo-Luddism intended to prevent dystopic outcomes and outright human extinction. The prudent thing to do now, argued Joy, is to make do with what we have in hopes of ensuring a long and prosperous future....MUCH MORE
For the record, I don't always agree with Mr. Joy.
In "Kleiner Perkins' Bill Joy: Fail Early, Fail Small":
I always feel guilty about leaving out Caufield and Byers when I write a KP headline.
Sort of like dropping Smith and Beane from Mother Merrill....
He said:
...“I try to have a first  [investment] round that has a 50/50 mortality rate,” said Joy at MIT’s Emerging Technologies Conference on Wednesday. So essentially the early stage startups he likes to back have a 50 percent chance of not working. “Now a 90 percent mortality rate is not a good use of my time. That’s something for the government to back,” added Joy....
For the life of me I don't remember "backing commercial projects with 90% failure rates" as being among the federal government's enumerated powers.
Mr. Joy must be talking about state governments.

We have quite a few posts on innovation, here's one that echoes the Joy philosophy:
Fail Often, Fail Fast: "Are We Behind On Innovation That Matters?"

See also:
"Top Investment Trends For Futurists" (PXN; TINY)

Earlier this year Kleiner raised the $525 mil. Fund 15 and said Mr. Joy would not be involved with new investments but would rather watch over previous bets.