Robots are the next big thing:
[…] But the next big thing is already here: robots. In the 1980s it was the personal computer: came out of the garage, changed the world. In the 1990s it was the web. The next big device to wander into our lives is robots,” […] Robots will soon appear in all areas of our lives and will take over things we now see as everyday tasks, said Saffo. Driving is a good example.
[…] in 2007, the vehicles of six teams [competing in the Darpa challenge] were sophisticated enough to take on an “urban challenge”, negotiating a 60-mile course in less than six hours, obeying regulations and negotiating traffic. “The same morning as the Darpa challenge there was a 108-car pile-up on a California freeway. The simple fact is that people shouldn’t drive,” […]
Most people’s day-to-day interaction with robots will not come in the form of the super-brained robots of science fiction, however, but from a cloud of pea-brained electronic insects doing household tasks such as vacuuming, finding house keys and pumping petrol or co-ordinating everyday tasks. [See Frederic Kaplan’s talk at Lift Asia 08, Robots don’t have to look like robots]
A new specie might emerge from medical innovation: the rich!
As the biological revolution spreads, Saffo sees many moral dilemmas ahead. For example, by using genetic testing and tailor-made drugs it may be possible to mitigate many common ailments that affect the ageing population — but such improvements will probably be available only to the super-rich. […]
“That’s social dynamite,” said Saffo. “I sometimes wonder if the very rich will become a completely separate species. Imagine if the very rich can live, on average, 20 years longer than the poor. That’s 20 more years of earning and saving. Think what that means about wealth and power and the advantages that you pass on to your children.”
Society is increasingly fragmentated:
“The nation state had a nice run but it’s coming to an end. Globalisation made people think of themselves as global citizens” […] In the past that community was the nation state but now, says Saffo, the centre cannot hold.
The growth of the European Union, devolution in the UK, David Cameron’s recent pledge that there would less government and more local autonomy under a Conservative administration, and the splits in the US states over gay marriage and healthcare all point towards an increasingly fractured future. [Not sure what the growth of the European Union is doing in that list. Seems it’s actually a counter argument]