The Future of Halloween

October 24 2008 / by Aspirational1 / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

Cross-posted from Forward Online

Just a quickie for fun… what is the future of Halloween?

This article from PRNewsNow points to the ongoing trend of Halloween being more of an adult celebration than a time of enjoyment for children. Reason: The “Baby Boomers,” who are the “never-grow-old” generation, have made it such, desiring to remain young and re-create the fun they had at Halloween as children. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are the demographic with the financial resources to generate a market for costumes, party items, decorations, food and Halloween treats, etc. As the article states:

“When it comes to retail spending and the holidays, Halloween ranks only second to Christmas. A $5 billion industry and growing, 60 percent of consumers reported taking part in some type of Halloween celebration in 2007 and spending an estimated $1.82 billion in costumes alone, according to the National Retail Federation.”

However, the present financial crisis makes it harder for “luxury items” and non-essentials to thrive; they’re always the first to go when people are hit hard in the wallet. If this economic downturn is long-term (as it appears to be), will Halloween – and possibly Christmas – return to being a family-oriented holiday that, along with other emerging social factors, works to change the fabric of society in favor of close-knit relationships? Our holidays and traditions are often an expression of the values we hold as a society, and can in turn reinforce those values. Will changing holiday traditions restore the concept of the “neighborhood” as a catalyst for social cohesion, trust, and a stability that could transform the quality of life within our cities? Without all the adult parties taking place, the inviting porch lights could be turned on again on All Hallows Eve, welcoming children and their families to make positive and relationship-building contact with one another. (This scenario has been brought to you by the unofficial organization for global resession “silver linings.”)

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Will the New York Times get Sold-Off or Turn to New Media to Save Itslef?

October 24 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Social Media   Year: 2009   Rating: 2

Yesterday the New York Times Company announced that it has been so affected by the recent economic downturn that it may default on its debt. Coming on the heels of the worst advertising year for newspapers since 1950 things are not looking good for the typically stalwart American brand. With the prospect of more financial woes on the horizon, it is conceivable the company will be required to liquidate a significant portion of its assets come the new year.

On the flip side of the coin, this is also a great opportunity for management at the great American newspaper to guide it towards a more situationally appropriate new media model. As upstart blogs rake in the big bucks it’s about time the New York Times got hip to the times. With a bit of common sense and some luck they company will be able to avoid the sinister fate that awaits former giants such as GM.

Will the New York Time Co. weather 2009 without having to sell of its flagship newspaper?

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1.7 Million GM Cars Will Be Equipped With OnStar's "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown" Software in 2009

October 23 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Security   Year: 2009   Rating: 9 Hot

General Motors (GM) and OnStar have successfully demonstrated a prototype technology called Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, which does exactly that – it allows OnStar advisors working with law enforcement to send a signal to a subscriber’s stolen vehicle to reduce engine power, slowing the vehicle down gradually.

The exact process for Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (at right) goes as follows:

- Once the vehicle has been reported stolen to law enforcement, the subscriber can call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance. OnStar will confirm the subscriber has not opted out of the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service.

- OnStar uses real-time GPS technology to attempt to pinpoint the exact location of the stolen vehicle and provide this information to law enforcement to help them recover the vehicle.

- When law enforcement has established a clear line of sight of the stolen vehicle, law enforcement may request OnStar to slow it down remotely.

- OnStar then sends a remote signal to the vehicle that interacts with the Powertrain system to reduce engine power which will slow the vehicle down gradually.

Worried that the wrong car might be targeted? OnStar insists that “Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the correct vehicle is slowed down.”

Stolen Vehicle Slowdown comes along just as more people are installing automobile kill switches to protect their property, bring down insurance rates and protect innocent bystanders in the event of a high speed chase.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, about 30,000 police chases occur yearly and approximately 300 deaths occur as a result of those chases. Kill switches could have a major impact on these casualties.

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Hookup Maps Mashes Geography & Booty Calls - What Will it Look Like in 2013?

October 23 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Relationships   Year: 2013   Rating: 7 Hot

Have a burning desire to hook-up? Thanks to newly launched service Hookup Maps, a site that mashes up Craig’s List hook-up posts with Google Maps, it just got a bit easier to quickly locate that casual encounter you may be looking for.

Considering the persistent human demand for such meetings, I’m actually a bit surprised it took so long for such a hybrid (see map at right) to launch. But I have no doubt that this and other similar mapping services will catch on very quickly. In fact, some bloggers are already calling for a related GPS-enabled iPhone or Android app which, considering how easy it is to create such a program, I expect will be up inside of a month from now.

But what about 5 years from now? Here’s a brief scenario.

Hook-up Mapping Circa 2013: It’s Sunday morning and 21-year-old Jacob is itching for some action, having struck out at the local bar the previous night. He turns on his projector wall and accesses his Love Web account. Because he resides in rural, mountainous upstate NY Jacob is a big fan Love Web not only because it enables frequent, safe and exciting rendezvous with the local women and men that line up with his criteria, but also for the money he saves on gas and expensive dates. This helps Jacob to spend more time on his MIT distance education courses and pursue his true passion, open-ended MMORG’s, which serve as a significant source of Jacob’s scant but growing income.

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2030 Scenarios on Energy, InfoTech, Globalization & Climate Change

October 22 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

Scenarios are stories about the future. They are not predictions or forecasts, but help us explore change and fundamentally different future landscapes.

The Forum for the Future has partnered with HP Research Labs on a new publication ‘Climate Futures responses to climate change in 2030’ to explore the broad social, political, environmental and economic drivers affecting global markets and IT related industry sectors. [Download 76 page PDF 6 MB]

The five scenarios for 2030 include:

1. Efficiency first
Rapid innovation in energy efficiency and novel technologies has enabled a low-carbon economy with almost no need for changes in lifestyle or business practice

2. Service transformation
A high price of carbon has ushered in a revolution in how people’s needs are satisfied

3. Redefining progress
New priorities of ‘wellbeing’ and ‘quality of life’ are bubbling up across the world as more sustainable forms of living become established

4. Environmental war economy
Tough measures have been adopted to combat climate change, pushing markets to the very limit of what they can deliver

5. Protectionist world
Globalization has gone into retreat and countries focus on security and access to resources at any cost

The Future of Intellectual Attribution: Quantifying the Massive Idea Sea Requires Convergence

October 22 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Education   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

Intellectual attribution is far from perfect, but as we systematically quantify the nature of the vast Idea Sea in which we swim, we will also create a more effective and equitable market for new innovations.

Last week a pair of Nobel Prize winning scientists conceded that much of their research had been based on an earlier study by a geneticist who now drives a shuttle for $8/hour just to keep food on the table, but of course didn’t go so far as to offer him a share of the $1.5 million prize they’d been awarded. This example clearly brings into focus the limits of our current idea attribution economy, a system that clearly isn’t encouraging a Nobel-caliber scientist to continue innovating for broader social benefit.

But rather than jump on the IP- and patent-bashing bandwagon as many bloggers tend to do, I’d like to explore how our idea attribution system might evolve over the coming decade.

First, let me be clear about my definition of the term “idea”. Ideas can more specifically be broken down into memes – “ideas or behaviors that can pass from one person to another by learning or imitation”, memeplexes – “groups of religious, cultural, political, and idealogical doctrines and systems”, and temes – “information copied by books, phones, computers and the Internet”. These structures co-evolve with humans to ultimately form a massive sea of what we commonly refer to as ideas. Though individuals often combine memes into valuable new memeplexes, no one person can ever truly claim total ownership of a concept that is essentially an outgrowth of the idea sea.

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Geo-Spatially Mapped Life-Lines Will Soon Amplify Our Memories

October 21 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: The Web   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

A few years into the future when someone says, “I think I’ll use my lifeline,” they will no longer be referring to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but instead their geo-spatially coordinated content history.

According to John Schneider, CTO of clever geo-web annotator, we’re about to experience a powerful convergence of mirror worlds and life-logging that will enable all sorts of interesting applications including community feedback mechanisms and amplified memory.

“You’ve been to something like an antique shop last month with your wife, and you just can’t for the life of you remember where this place was or what the name of it was,” lays out Schneider, “But because you’ve life-logged you can get on your account, you can take the time slider and move it back in time to the place you were. ... Now you project that lifeline on something like Google maps, bring up the Street View, look around and there it is – there is the place you’ve been looking for.”

I totally buy that scenario. Do you?

For more interesting future videos be sure to check out the MemeBox YouTube Channel

Will the juxtaposition of personal data atop geo-spatial simulations fundamentally augment our memory?

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Flash Mobs as Cover for Criminal Activity

October 20 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Security   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Witnessing the rapid spread of the Flash Mob phenomenon, fueled by emerging driver organizations like Improv Everywhere, it occurred to me that these increasingly frequent and massive events could be used as cover for various forms of criminal activity. The first scenario that popped into my head was that of a bank robber arranging such a coordinated diversion to cover his or her tracks.

For example, imagine if the following flash mob (arranged in San Francisco just two weekends ago) was diverted to surround or walk through a bank or other burglary target:

A clever criminal dressed in bright red could then use such a crowd as cover for a quick escape.

Just how feasible is such a scenario?

As it turns out, a small-scale and version of this plan was successfully executed up in Monroe, Washington just two weeks ago.

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The Great Lunar War of 2023-2024: Helium-3, Surface Area & Solar Supremacy

October 16 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

A soft future fiction scenario.

By 2020 space had become an unexpectedly crowded place. Catalyzed by evolutionary shuttle design systems, increasingly capable robotics, and super-efficient solar cell technology, mankind’s Space Reach had expanded considerably. Orbital tourism had exploded, asteroid mining efforts were in their early stages, extra-terrestrial solar harvesting had become the new rage and the race to dominate the extensive lunar Helium 3 reserves (a critical step toward the seemingly inevitable construction of a Dyson Sphere) was on.

On April 1, 2021 the first lunar construction bots, assembled in orbit using scattered material from the McMullen Asteroid Incident of 2018, and sent forth by private company LunaFacia, parachuted to down to the moon. - Sure, it’s impossible due to lack of atmosphere, but please suspend your disbelief for the moment. ;)

Controlled by a mix of on-board AI algorithms and remote instruction from “pilots” orbiting the moon in private spacecraft, the multitude of Lunar Bots quickly deployed arrays of fold-out solar cells across the surface of the four major Helium-3 sites. It soon became clear that LunaFacia, a Chinese-funded venture, was systematically laying down the infrastructure for an extensive mining and nuclear energy operation.

Of course, the play to dominate lunar Helium-3 did not sit well with the United States and the Russian Federation, the #2 and #3 world economies, and so they formalized the secret Greiner-Blashinsky Lunar Surface Pact and commenced collaborative construction of a similar solar droid army.

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The Symbiont Scenario: Futurist John Smart on the Mental Health Benefits of Remote Peer Networks

October 16 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Relationships   Year: General   Rating: 2

Systems theorist, futurist and Acceleration Studies Foundation Executive Director John Smart presents a near-term scenario in which new comm technologies enable remote peer networks to effectively bond with and support mental patients, assisting in socialization and treatment from a safe distance.

Such “Symbiont Networks”, as Smart calls them, could be highly effective drivers of mental health, among other things, as they augment standard treatment that can consist of heavy medication and little face time for certain individuals.

Here’s a short clip from my recent interview with John in which he describes a Symbiont Scenario:

Detractors of the Symbiont Scenario will likely critique the “dehumanizing” aspects of distance communication and also point their fingers at unintended consequences. But, though I agree it’s highly probable that whole new classes of disorders (like autism, ADHD, etc) will continue to emerge as we co-evolve with the changing environment, I also fundamentally believe that because there’s no such thing as standing still in an environment of accelerating change it is incumbent upon us to use new technologies to help people, and our system, to self-actualize better.

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Half Empty, Half Full. Or both.

October 16 2008 / by Peltaire / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3 Hot

Nuclear aftermath is just another way of life.

Hope and change? How about mostly change.

Garbage Spiders: Future Robots that Efficiently Piece Together and Monetize the Past

October 15 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Security   Year: 2020   Rating: 6 Hot

Atop a garbage heap amidst the expansive Westchester Landfill an iRobot Refuse Quantifier (iRQ) deftly went about its lucrative business.

Credit card receipt: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Check fragment: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Candy wrapper: Almond Joy, smudged fingerprint, image stored to temporary cache. Comb: zoom, hair strand: 92% match. Load level 2 protocols. Letter fragment: stamp fragment, zoom, puncture, contaminated sample. Product box fragment: Nintendo Wii logo, burnt, no data. Shredded tax documents: inconclusive, coordinates tagged in case of reassembly contingent on identity correlation.

The mechanical spider legs pumped and the little scavenger-bot systematically inched left, establishing a better focus point for its frontal laser array. The iRQ began scanning the next set of coordinates.

Tax document fragments continued. Shredded letters – stamp, saliva, contaminated. Faded notebook: pen indentations still palpable, scanning Page 1, correlation 18%. Load notebook sequence.

Shifting the bulk of its weight to its hind legs, the spider freed up the instrument-loaded fore-pincers and carefully commenced flipping pages.

Page 2: read ink, map indents, cross-reference Page 1, revise correlation, 64% – nearing identity threshold. Flip. Page 3: read ink, unique phrase discovered, initiate semantic sub-routine #22. Page 4: undecipherable complex symbols, snapshot, map indents, revise correlation… Sub-routine results registered. Revise correlation, 69%. Resume indent correlation, 73%, identity threshold reached. Regional identity match: subject #D471D-MZ. Persistent video commence. Ping spiders. Stream information to local node.

An identity match for a primary target had been established! Power surged from the tertiary battery outward as the spider maxed both input and broadcast. But something was wrong. The swarm network was not responding. Thus it was highly probable that the iRQ was now invisible to its peers and ultimately its owner.

Re-broadcast for 3 seconds. No ping back. Defensive algorithm, blend. Scan for disruption, risk assessment. Attempt new frequencies. Multiple frequencies inoperable. 84% deliberate disruption, 62% location awareness, evasive algorithm.

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