Unintended Consequences ...

An interview with Jorge Vanegas & Rodney Hill of Texas A&M University at World Future Conference July 21, 2013.Last weekend we had a chance to attend the World Future Conference down at the Hilton. This is run by an organization that Ed has been a long-time member of, and the whole thing (with classes, etc. bracketing the actual Conference) ran nearly a week. We would have had more video than we ended up with, but I had to be out-of-town on Saturday, and Ed’s camera decided that it would cease to function that day, so we just have the ones we shot on Sunday.

The Conference was something of a “fire hose”, with multiple simultaneous sessions happening in nearly every time slot, so one did have to choose carefully which to attend, as one would be missing the other eight options available at any given time.

We started out with the “Promise and Unintended Consequences of Technology” presentation by Jorge Vanegas & Rodney Hill of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. This was in a classic “futurist” modality, ranging across a wide swath of technological and cultural concerns. I got permission from the presenters to bring you their slide deck, which I’ve converted into a video that can be downloaded HERE.

Since they didn’t have a web site specifically dealing with the subject of the presentation, I snagged some copy off a handful of their slides, opting (in the interest of clarity) for a few choice quotes from various sources:

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – General Eric Shinseki

“Humans are wired to expect linear change from their world. They have a hard time grasping the accelerating exponential change that is the nature of information technology” – Ray Kurzweil

“By the 2040s, the bulk of our thinking is out in the cloud. The biological portion of our brain didn’t go away, but the non-biological portion will be much more powerful. And it will be uploaded automatically the way we back up everything now that’s digital” – Ray Kurzweil

“The other way to beat the clock is not to focus on solving problems but on discovering them. Discovering new problems is something that computers can’t really do, and are unlikely to be able to do in your lifetime. Discovering new problems is otherwise known as ‘creativity'” – Don Peppers

Their talk was quite interesting, and, while there is no audio, you can get a pretty good sense of it going through that (it’s a bit over a half hour – so be prepared), as the video preserved all the animations, etc. from their PowerPoint presentation.

After their talk, we were able to grab them for a brief interview:

Much of the session dug into the concept of “systems thinking” that Dr. Vanegas mentions in the interview … looking at how disparate elements work together to drive change, and how that change then ripples through the culture. An example of this comes from both the Google self-driving cars, and military advances in drones … what happens to the 3 million long-haul truck drivers when self-piloting semi-trailers become commonplace (and running a more efficient 24/7/365 schedule without the rest stops needed by human operators)? And, how ugly will it get as the Teamsters (and other old-tech unions) try to stave off their evolving irrelevance and the apparent inevitable extinction of those jobs?

Again, fascinating stuff … and I hope you enjoy delving into it in the above links.

  • Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button.
    Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Filed under: Green Tech Events

Leave a comment