The Future

In 1983 I was researching a book about computer evolution and did a search on an ancient version of the Internet. It involved sending a check for over $100 by snail mail to a company that specialized in such things. A few weeks later I got back a computer printout of some articles and books that I could go find if I had another couple of months to look. The same topic today would elicit over a billion articles, books, and other sources in a fraction of a second – almost all of which I could read for free. Of course no one has time to read such immense quantities of information, so a solution to that problem is already being developed to deal with that. WolframAlpha launched a “computational knowledge engine” (answerbot) in May 2009 that allows technical questions to be answered directly through use of algorithms connecting queries with thousands of experts. Increasingly, raw data will be transformed into very useful information that can be accessed by a simple dialogue in any language with the Internet. This will have immense social and economic implications for the future of just about everything we can think of. What Ray Kurzweil calls the “law of accelerating returns” means that technological development is speeding up and we will become increasingly reliant on information based systems to keep up.

For Floridians, the future will belong to the flexible, the inventive, and the quick. Currently one of the few recession–proof sectors of our economy is the drug business. People are even more stressed when the economy is bad and they get sick or get high. Unfortunately most of that money is going to transnational pharmaceutical companies and transnational drug cartels, such as those operating in Mexico and Columbia. Our state policies are grounded in the old way of doing business, which will become increasingly uncompetitive and inefficient. Our economy is far too dependent on new construction and tourism. Continued population growth is unsustainable for Florida and a world that sees 200,000 more people added every day. (See Overpopulation) Sustainability is touted, but not practiced. The cities are sprawled out, inefficiently planned, and ugly. Parking lots, pavement, overhead utility lines, strip malls, and roads fills with noisy, gas–guzzling, and dangerous cars have made a toxic crudscape. Zoning and planning can direct new development and redevelopment in such a way that it benefits everyone and reduces future expenditures. Read more.

E-mail: campaign@MichaelEArth.org