Rethinking universities

Robert Hickson Mar 10, 2016

A few years ago “disruption” in the university space was mostly about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The hype on that is over, with providers in this area rethinking their strategies.  But a lot of venture capital is still going into these types of “ed tech” companies. There are also other approaches to improving the … Read More

Poor robots?

Robert Hickson Mar 03, 2016

Hard on the heals of robots getting “bullied” …   … are humans now “stealing” robot’s jobs? No. As Forbes notes, it is more an evolution of robotics within the auto industry. Big clunky first generation industrial robots are being replaced by smaller more agile machines which can work more safely and efficiently alongside human workers. A … Read More

Global risks 2016

Robert Hickson Jan 20, 2016

It’s Davos time again. As usual the World Economic Forum publish their Global Risks Report to coincide with that. Source: World Economic Forum   Also as usual, it mostly seems to be the here and now issues that pop to the top. That’s not surprising, given that it is based on a perceptions survey. It … Read More

Fashionable futures

Robert Hickson Dec 24, 2015

Tis the season of prediction. However, the Wonkblog “re-discovers” a whimsy from 1893 predicting the future of fashion. The original article, written by W. Cade-Gall, has popped up previously. The revealed truth from a dreaming gentleman in Cade-Gall’s piece is that during the 20th Century the “immutable laws” of fashion were discovered, and fashion became a science … Read More

Santa’s not redundant yet, but …

Robert Hickson Dec 22, 2015

I was in Mega Mitre 10 on the weekend and noticed that they had a Dremel 3D printer for sale. For $1700 you can print your own little plastic figurines. It’s a bit cheaper on-line, but I still prefer to look at the woodworking tools. Nonetheless, I thought it interesting since it is the first I’ve … Read More

Sweden’s “Ministry of Future Issues”

Robert Hickson Nov 30, 2015

Motherboard has a short interview with Kristina Persson, whom they call the Minister of the Future. Although her official title is Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Cooperation.   Her work involves: “… pursuing the long-term development of ideas at the Government Offices. This will include the green transition, jobs and distribution, and initiatives to influence the global agenda … Read More

Blindspots to the future

Robert Hickson Nov 18, 2015

Why is it more commonplace to attempt to predict technological developments, but not to be as speculative about cultural changes? Tom Vanderbilt, writing in the Nautilus, discusses this. I’ve touched on this previously (and here) but Vanderbilt does it in more depth. He suggests that we both fail to notice some changes, and fail to … Read More

Commodified futurism

Robert Hickson Nov 13, 2015

An article by Lee Billings in the September edition of Nautilus caught my attention this week. While it looked at some of the forgotten work of Polish science fiction writer and philosopher Stanislaw Lem (someone I haven’t, yet, read), what struck me most was Billings’ phrase “commodified futurism”. He applied this to “Silicon Valley billionaires”, and meant those … Read More

Energy scenarios for New Zealand

Robert Hickson Nov 04, 2015

It’s good to see more futuring emerging in NZ. A few weeks ago, the Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand released a report on the risk to jobs of automation.  I’ve previously noted the research from Oxford University that this is based on, as well as the caution that it’s a relatively simplistic model … Read More