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Cosmic Quote #76–YouTube and Seeking Delphi Podcast

 

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“I’m sure if Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be doing classic guitar solos on YouTube.”–Peter Capaldi

Yeah…um….NO!  I doubt it.  Shakespeare had his anachronisms, but that’s pushing it.  As for the animals in my household, well, they’ll have to be satisfied with Tales of a Veterinary Spouse.  But my Seeking Delphi podcasts are indeed now on YouTube, as well as iTunes.  All the subscription links are below. Way below.  Below the embedded videos of the first three podcasts.   Sorry, no funny cat pictures–this stuff is too important to get flippant.  Our future depends on it.

 

Seeking Delphi YouTube Channel

 

Seeking Delphi on iTunes

 

 

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Cosmic Quote #75

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”–John F. Kennedy

 

And idiot chickens with jet packs is exactly what we will get if we keep electing those clueless to the implications of 21st century technology, and the change that comes with it.  If you care about a better future, be sure to follow my other blog–the futurist one–and the podcast that goes with it.    Seeking Delphi.

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Cosmic Quote #2017-72

“I’m spending a year dead for tax purposes.”–Douglas Adams

“Another year shot to hell”–Anonymous

Douglas Adams had the right idea, though in my case I’d just spend the year dead to goof off.  In other words, nothing has changed.

But I am making one resolution.  My new Seeking Delphi podcast, on all things related to the future, will indeed debut by the end of January.  I promise.  Anyway, it’s too late for 2016, it’s already shot to hell.

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Cosmic Quote #69

“The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.”–Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

No funny chickens for this one.   The world lost its foremost futurist in the past week,  a man who was one of my heroes.   Alvin Toffler taught the world how to think about the future some 45 years ago.  It’s a lesson the world should relearn.   I read Future Shock away back in 1973–and have been thinking about it–and the future–ever since.

Writing in the New York Times on July 6, Farhad Manjoo lays out clearly and concisely why Toffler’s ideas are so relevant today.  I highly urge you to read this piece, and to read Future Shock if you’ve never done so.  I intend to reread it now.  We have never needed foresight more than we do today.

My foresight related blog is available at www.seekingdelphi.com

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New Feature, New Life: Seeking Delphi

“Never predict anything, especially the future.”–Casey Stengel

The one and only

The one and only

The Ol’ Perfessor knew what he was talking about.   Well, maybe he didn’t, but the advice is sage nonetheless.  It is notoriously difficult to predict anything in the future with consistent accuracy.  So why in the world would anyone want to become a futurist?  Why bother?  Well, to be blunt, that is exactly why!  Ignoring the opportunities and dangers of the future is what I like to call The Ostrich Syndrome.  Go ahead, hide your head in the sand.  The future is not going to go away.  And if we can’t predict it, there are certainly ways to prepare for it.  To prevent bad outcomes, or at least make them less likely.  To create good outcomes, or at least make them more likely.  And to be  better prepared to deal with whatever does come.

The sad fact is, we live in a short-term oriented society with a short attention span.  So what is the antidote to this malady?  It is more thoughtful foresight.  We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Kurt  Vonnegut compared science fiction writers like himself to the proverbial canary in the mine shaft, warning of weak danger signals before others perceive them.  That’s what futurists do, though those weak signals can signal opportunities as well as dangers as the world changes.  That’s what I aim to do with the rest of my life.  I’ve enrolled in the  University of Houston’s Masters in Foresight program.  I’m adding a foresight element to a friend’s existing market research business.  I’m becoming an advocate for taking a longer view of everything.  Economics. Education. Environment. Government. You name it.  And I’m starting a second blog, aptly named Seeking Delphi™ after the famed Oracle of Delphi.  We can’t predict the future, but we can anticipate the possibilities, avoid the catastrophes (or some of them) and create the opportunities.   So here goes something.   See you tomorrow and beyond.

The first post on Seeking Delphi is linked here.  Keep an eye out for the addition of a podcast in the coming weeks.

 

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Cosmic Quote(s) #65

“Predictions are preposterous.”–Jackie Mason

“The Best way to predict the future is to invent it.”–Alan Kay

“I don’t try to describe the future; I try to prevent it.”–Ray Bradbury

 

Most predictions are indeed preposterous.  So why would I become a futurist in my old age?  The object is not to predict the future, but it could be to invent it (per Alan Kay) or prevent it (per Ray Bradbury).  At any rate, as futile as it may seem, I predict that the next stage of my life will be highly focused on the future (as I said in a previous post, 65 is the new 45 and I need a renewed direction in life.).  I also predict that my next post will create a new feature–called Seeking Delphi–and with it a second blog.  And a very plausible scenario also includes a podcast.  You can predict some things, though what I ultimately will do is not usually one of them.  Stay tuned….

 

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Cosmic Quote #12

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”–Arthur C. Clarke

No, not that Magic!

No, not that Magic!

To say that Arthur C. Clarke was a visionary is to put it lightly.  In 1947 he published an article advocating a global satellite communication network.  That was ten years before Sputnik, when many serious scientists were still calling space travel impossible.  Yet even he didn’t always get it right.  In the 1960’s he foresaw humanity’s 2001 future in outer space, but little progress was made in the following decades.  It turned out the human future in the new millennium was in cyber space.  My future, then and now, continues to be spaced out.  I’ll see you in my dreams…

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Conjecture #3: The Future (Part One)

I Conjecture:  Every Possible Future Exists

Part One: The Post-Newtonian Wordview

“The Future ain’t what it used to be.”–Yogi Berra

Yogi

Yogi, philosopher extraordinaire, deep in thought

Yogi was right. Literally.

He had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, but he was right nonetheless.  For the way we view the future is directly related to how we view physical reality. Ergo, as our understanding of physical reality changes, so changes how we think about the future.   An entire graduate level lecture could probably be based on this conjecture.  I’ll condense the basic idea to a few paragraphs.

Before Apple, the company, there was apple, the fruit.  And before that fateful day when one of those red orbs conked one Isaac Newton on the noggin, worldviews were simplistic and not generally  based on science.   They were mostly mystical or religious.  Supernatural forces ruled the world and what they had in store for mankind was up to them; it was not to be known by us.  But when the soon-to-be “Sir” Isaac set forth his rules of motion and gravity classical physics was born.  Every action had an equal and opposite reaction, every force and its interaction with mass was theoretically calculable, and therefore predictable.  Newton’s laws ruled physics, and indeed, most science based worldviews for nearly 250 years.

Then two guys named Einstein and Planck came along and screwed up the whole thing.  They were followed by the likes of Heisenberg and Bohr and Schrodinger, who threw the monkey wrenches of quantum mechanics, and most disturbingly, quantum uncertainty, into the mechanisms of physics.  Nothing was ever the same again.**

Just how did these 20th century scientific revolutions, along with chaos and complexity theories, alter the Newtonian worldview?

The Newtonian worldview was deterministic, the post-Newtonian worldview is not.  It was theorized, under Newton’s classical laws, that if one could know the position and momentum of every particle of matter and energy in the universe, then one could know everything that has ever happened and could predict everything that ever would happen in the future.   Quantum mechanics and uncertainty skewered that notion; it killed it stone dead.  As explained in my Quantum Weirdness primers, it is not possible to simultaneously know the exact position and momentum of quantum objects, and interactions of quanta with their environment are only calculable as probabilities. 

In other words, the Newtonian worldview asserted that we could calculate exactly where any particle of matter or energy would be at any time.  The post-Newtonian worldview states that we can only calculate the probability of finding it in a given position at a given time.  The disconcerting part of that last statement is the “finding” part.  For it asserts exactly that, the probability of finding it if we look for it; it does not predict where it is, for until we look it is effectively in every possible position at once.

How does this affect our view of the future and my conjecture that every possible future exists?  In the Newtonian worldview, there is no free will; everything is determined by the existing state of the universe and there is therefore only one possible future.  That would be the one that follows from applying Newton’s laws to the current state of every bit of matter and energy in the universe.  But in the post-Newtonian world, those rules do not work on a quantum level.  Position and momentum are uncertain and results of interactions can only be stated as probabilities.  In a non-deterministic world, free will is enabled and the totality of the future is unpredictable no matter how much data we have to crunch.

Does this future exist?

OK.  Many futures are possible.  But how can I assert that every possible future exists?   I’ll take that up in Part Two of this conjecture.

**It should be noted that while Albert  Einstein, along with Max Planck, laid the foundations of quantum mechanics, he never believed its predictions of uncertainty and randomness.  Perhaps his most famous quotation, “god does not play dice,” refers to this very matter.  He spent much of the last thirty years of his life attempting to find a deeper meaning–hidden variables–that would give the lie to these notions.  He failed and was ultimately proven wrong.  More about this in a future conjecture.

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