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  • Welcome to the Future

    We are in an era of accelerating change, moving toward a future that will be profoundly different from the past we grew up in. But what will the nature of that change be? What will the future look like? For the last 7 days I have been in an executive program designed by Singularity University (www.singularityu.org) to give some insight into that complex question. We looked at a number of technological fields, lectured by experts assembled to give us some idea as to where current research is and to where it is going. We visited some of the cutting-edge companies here in Silicon Valley.

    Just as interesting, I got to visit with 44 of my fellow information seekers from 15 countries and extremely diverse backgrounds, along with a dozen college students, as well as the faculty. The group ranged from very successful entrepreneurs to academics to relatively high-level government workers to starry-eyed young people just starting out. There were a lot more applicants than could be accommodated, and the staff did a good job of choosing a group of people who all 'brought something to the table' besides their entry fee of $15,000. The days were typically 14-15 hours, and there was a lot of discussion amongst us on the topics of the day.

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  • Another Finger of Instability

    'To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet, anxiety attend the unknown - the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states. First principle: any explanation is better than none... The cause-creating drive is thus conditioned and excited by the feeling of fear ...' Friedrich Nietzsche

    This weekend I turn 60 and have been a little more introspective than usual. I am often told that the letter I wrote well over three years ago on ubiquity and complexity theory and the future of the economy was the best letter I have ever done. I went back to read it, and it has aged well. I basically outlined how a financial crisis would unfold, and now it has.

    On reflection, I think that there are perhaps other, even larger, events in our future than the recent credit crisis and recession; yet, just as in 2006, there is a great deal of complacency. But as we will see, there are fingers of instability building up that have the potential to create large disruptions, both positive and negative, in our future. And for the political junkies in the room, I offer a brief insight into what may be one of the more intriguing behind-the-scenes developments in recent years. Now, to the letter.

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  • A Most Disruptive Technology

    Introduction "What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. "First, it is an outlier , as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point...
  • The Visible Slowdown

    Introduction Yesterday the Philadelphia Fed Business Economic Survey came in at the lowest level since the recession in 2001. Some argue that it is just one month's worth of data, and "...besides, it is Philadelphia. Those numbers are always...
  • Aah, Brave New World

    Introduction Last week we looked at how technology has the potential to slow and possibly reverse aging within the next two decades. Marvelous cures for the main reasons of death like cancer, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer's, not to mention...