JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 41 : April 26, 2001

Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....

  • The World in 2015 - CIA Report
  • 5 Patents to Watch - MIT-Tech Review
  • More on MEMS
  • New Frontiers - Newsweek Report
  • Robot Toys
  • eFeedback
    • Free-MIT
    • The Singularity

Global Trends 2015 : CIA Report

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Intelligence Council (NIC) have worked actively with nongovernmental institutions and experts to produce a significant forecast on global trends. Here is my summary, to stimulate further review.
Key Drivers & trends
Demographics :
World population will be 7.2 billion (up from 6.1b in 2000) 95% of the increase from developing countries. Increasing life spans will have significantly divergent impacts. In the advanced economies, declining birthrates and aging will combine to increase health care and pension costs while reducing the relative size of the working population and leaving significant shortfalls in the work force. In some developing countries, these same trends will combine to expand the size of the working population - increasing the potential for economic growth and political stability.

Natural Resources & Environment :
Overall food production will be adequate to feed the world's growing population. Despite a 50 percent increase in global energy demand, energy resources will be sufficient to meet demand; the latest estimates suggest that 80 percent of the world's available oil and 95 percent of its gas remain underground. Water scarcities will pose significant challenges in some areas of the world.

Science and Technology :
The world will encounter more quantum leaps in science and technology. Continuing revolutions in information technology, biotechnology, materials science and nanotechnology will further stimulate innovation within the more advanced countries. The information technology revolution represents the most significant global transformation since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-eighteenth century. Biotechnology will drive medical breakthroughs that will enable the world's wealthiest people to improve their health and increase their longevity dramatically. At the same time, genetically modified crops will offer the potential to improve nutrition among the world's one billion malnourished people.

Global Economy and Globalization :
The networked global economy will be driven by rapid and largely unrestricted flows of information, ideas, cultural values, capital, goods and services, and people. The globalized economy will be a net contributor to increased political stability in the world in 2015, although its reach and benefits will not be universal. In contrast to the Industrial Revolution, the process of globalization is more compressed, its evolution will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide. Regions, countries and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it. They will force the United States and other developed countries to remain focused on "old-world" challenges while concentrating on the implications of "new-world" technologies at the same time.

National and International Governance :
States will continue to be the dominant players on the world stage, but governments will have less and less control over flows of information, technology, diseases, migrants, arms and financial transactions, whether licit or illicit, across their borders. Business firms and nonprofit organizations will play increasingly larger roles in both national and international affairs. States with competent governance, including the United States, will adapt government structures to a dramatically changed global environment. States with ineffective and incompetent governance not only will fail to benefit from globalization, but in some instances will spawn conflicts at home and abroad, ensuring an even wider gap between regional winners and losers than exists today.

Future Conflict :
The United States will maintain a strong technological edge in technology-driven "battlefield awareness" and in precision-guided weaponry in 2015. The risk of war among developed countries will be low. The international community will continue to face conflicts around the world, ranging from relatively frequent small-scale internal upheavals to less frequent regional interstate wars. Internal conflicts stemming from religious, ethnic, economic or political disputes will remain at current levels or even increase in number. The potential for conflict will arise from rivalries in Asia, ranging from India-Pakistan to China-Taiwan, as well as among the antagonists in the Middle East. Their potential lethality will grow, driven by the availability of weapons technologies. Prospects will grow that more sophisticated weaponry, including weapons of mass destruction, will get into the hands of state and nonstate belligerents, some hostile to the United States.

Role of the United States :
The United States will continue to be a major force in the world community. US global economic, technological, military, and diplomatic influence will be unparalleled among nations as well as regional and international organizations in 2015. This power not only will ensure America's preeminence, but also will cast the United States as a key driver of the international system. The United States will remain in the vanguard of the technological revolution from information to biotechnology and beyond. There will be increasing numbers of important actors on the world stage to challenge and check - as well as reinforce - US leadership: China, Russia, India, Mexico, Brazil, the European Union and a vast array of increasingly powerful multinational corporations and nonprofit organizations with their own interests to defend in the world.

Click Read the text of this important CIA report, or download a pdf file

5 patents to watch - MIT Tech-Review

No one can really guess which of the 182,223 patents issued last year by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will prove to be the most significant in the long run. The editors of MIT Technology Review have selected "5 Patents to Watch," a special section in their May 2001 issue which highlights some of last year's most intriguing and potentially world-changing patents.

  • Distributed Computing : The future of big computing - distributing the work.
  • Edible Vaccines : Making immunization less painful and more accessible worldwide.
  • Raman Amplification : Key to building an all-optical Internet.
  • Tissue Engineering : Repairing and even replacing damaged body parts.
  • Nanowire Chips : Replacing silicon with organic molecules for tiny supercomputers.

Click Worthwhile MIT-Tech-Review summary

More on MEMS

MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) technology is emerging strongly, to the extent that it is has many immediate practical applications and the market is expanding rapidly. The latest issue (April 2,m 2001) of Forbes ASAP has an excellent collection of articles on several exciting applications of MEMS : sensors and actuators the size of silicon chips and human cells.
  • Medical - releasing drugs into the body from tiny silicon chambers, disposable blood-pressure sensors, in-body DNA testing
  • Micro satellites (small and inexpensive to launch)
  • Tiny "inchworms" that seek out aircraft bombs
  • Vision implants - helping the blind to see
  • Smart dust - micro sensors to measure pollution
  • Automobiles - airbag-triggers, tire-pressure sensors

Forbes ASAP says :
    "Keep in mind: Although the style may be breathless and the illustrations straight out of Weird Tales, the products are real and may soon debut in a doctor's office - or a smart dust cloud - near you."

Click Take a look at The Amazing, Incredible Shrinking Future

New frontiers - Newsweek Special Report

The tech economy seems to have slowed down, with the stocks of leaders like CISCO and Yahoo declining to fractions of their recent values. But technological advances continue to create new fields, new gadgets and new ways of doing business.

The latest issue of NEWSWEEK (30 April 2001) launches four special reports focusing on how cutting-edge technologies and inventions will transform the way we work and live. How old cities like Oakland, CA. are being transformed by attracting technology investments. The jobs of the future include bioinformatics, a field that scarcely existed a few years ago and is already a magnet for talented young workers. Take a look at "intelligent" business cards, passports, virtual secretaries and credit cards - and a first look at Microsoft’s coming (a year away) Information Tablet.

Click First of the four Newsweek sections

Robot Toys

Sony humanoid robot We previously discussed Sony's AIBO - a Robot Dog (JimPinto.com eNews 28 Jan. 2001) and the latest humanoid version SDR-3X (eNews 12 Jan. 2001). Most people were amused - though 45,000 people have reportedly bought an AIBO at about $ 2,000 (with all accessories). The price for the experimental humanoid has not yet been announced.

AIBO in Japanese means "companion". It is also an acronym for Artificial Intelligence roBOt. But Sony insists that AIBO is not a toy! It is a true companion with real emotions and instincts. With loving attention from its master, it can even develop into a more mature and fun-loving friend as time passes. Like any human or animal, AIBO goes through the developmental stages of an infant, child, teen and adult. Daily communication and attention will determine how AIBO matures. The more interaction you have with AIBO, the faster it grows up.

Cyber pets have some advantages over real animals: they “eat” but they don’ t mess the carpet, they’re hairless and they have a convenient “off” switch. The latest Newsweek (April 23, 2001) compares four of the latest interactive pets : a cat, a clam, a chameleon and a chirping bird. The most expensive - A TechnoKitty - sells for $39.99. My wife is still waiting for the Robo-housemaid and says she is willing to pay $ 100. Any takers?

Click Online 3-D demo of Sony's AIBO - throw a ball, and see AIBO fetch

Click The Future of RoboPuppies : MIT Tech-Review (April 20, 2001)

Click Sony Press release (Nov. 2000) on The humanoid SDR-3X

Click Interested in a robo-pet? See Newsweek's Cyberscope


Inge Jackson [ijackson@overlanddata.com] wrote about free-MIT :
    "I found the MIT idea fascinating. Is the thought behind this maybe that we really should not have the internet taking the place of professors and should not award degrees that carry the same pull to people who strictly rely on this service. At the same time for people who otherwise would not have an opportunity to have access to the educational services, may it be for financial reasons or time and access restrictions, this could be a whole new opportunity to learn and reap the awards that one would not have had otherwise and free of charge at that!!!"

Lou Heavner [Lou.Heavner@frco.com] provides more MIT insights :
    "As an MIT alum, I have always been told that tuition didn't come close to meeting the cost of a student's education. And their tuition is pretty steep. A lot of professors wrote the books which were used in class, another source of income for them at the inflated prices of textbooks. Now so much will be posted to the web. I had already heard this through alumni news channels and it is exciting. I guess their endowments and grants and other sources of income must be up! Of course, most of the value of an MIT education comes from the close association with so many bright people and the competitive educational environment fostered there. The expression "drinking from a fire hose" comes to mind. You won't get that kind of interactivity on the web, I'm afraid. At least not for a while. But what a tremendous technical library they are creating!"

Lou Heavner continued with comments on The Singularity :

    "The idea of the singularity is absolutely fascinating. I believe the potential is there and look forward to observing the actual adoption rate. It may come to pass that there will be more discord between early and late adopters than we have ever experienced due to differences of race, religion, wealth, or politics in the past. Or perhaps technology will sweep everybody up and finally obliterate racism, prejudice, and other social problems. In any case, crystal ball gazing is getting more difficult everyday. Imagine that our parents may now get to see advances that we never expected our children to ever see. Beam me up, Scotty!"

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