Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So You Want to be a Futurist?

I'd love to be a futurist, but, alas, my visions of the future fall far short of existing futurist and I have no idea how to get paid for just sitting around all day long dreaming up new ideas.

Well respected futurist, Ray Kurzweil, uses fairly simple and reasonable assumptions upon which to base his predictions, which seem to be continuously borne out. Kurzweil is an optimist. He believes in the power of science to improve human lives and individual experience. He does not have a dark view of the future.

I like that Kurzweil focuses his discussion on practical applications of technology to improve humankind, especially his comments on solar power. Currently, solar power is not cost-effective compared to fossil fuels. But if the technology continues to improve at an exponential rate, along with improvements in energy storage technologies, market forces could help solar reduce fossil fuel consumption. But this doesn't mean taxpayers need to subsidize solar energy to make it viable. Government involvement often retards progress and innovation. The rich may be some of the few enjoying the benefits of solar energy, but as with most disruptive technologies the benefits will eventually flow down to the masses.

Kurzweil as even started his own university, Singularity University. Those who create crisis from half-backed truths and false assumptions should pay attention to the Kurzweil optimism.


  1. I had never heard of Kurzweil before. I admire those who are visionaries.

    I am going to have to learn more about him. Thanks for the info.

  2. I agree that Kurzweil is an incurable optimist. In his "The Singularity Is Near", he tends to ignore some dark aspects of the human condition, like war, resource depletion, state intervention, which are not always solvable by technological advance.
    I think the brigher future with solar power (pun not intended) is away from centralized power distribution, which can't compete on cost basis with standard sources of power gen, and more towards individual, home-basd power generation.