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Three Eras of Technology Foresight Harold A. Linstone University Professor Emeritus of Systems Science Portland State University

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Presentation on theme: "Three Eras of Technology Foresight Harold A. Linstone University Professor Emeritus of Systems Science Portland State University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Three Eras of Technology Foresight Harold A. Linstone University Professor Emeritus of Systems Science Portland State University

2 TECHNOLOGY 1. The Industrial Era The Information Era Computers Communications Networks 3. The Molecular Era Biotechnology Nanotechnology Materials Science The Agricultural Era U.S. farm labor force 1790: 90%; %

3 K WAVES

4 Glocalization Local Global Media facebook, desktop publishing Technology Distributed (internet) Religion small sects Conflict individual can incite protests Everyman as Faust Governance tribalism, separation Corporations product customization – in sales: Amazon, Netflix - in manufacturing.: 3D printing CNN, giant media conglomerates Centralized (coal, oil, nuclear energy) quasi-global Islamic nation social networks can rapidly spread and amplify local to global scale integration (EU) global markets -McDonald, Starbucks

5 New Concepts 1. Complexity science –> nonlinear complex adaptive systems (CAS) Phase states: stable, stably oscillating, chaotic with predictable boundaries, and unstable Many interacting elements (agents), simple rules agents interact locally (cooperating/competing) -> their behavior cannot be decomposed result: self-organizing patterns and emergence

6 A cascade of S curves representing major technological shifts

7 New Concepts 2. Multiple perspectives To bridge the gap between models and the real world T: the technical perspective O: the organizational/institutional perspective P: the personal/individual perspective Each offers insights not attainable with the others. O and P vital for link to action.

8 T O P World view science/technology group/institution individual, self problem solving process, action power, prestige Ethical basis objectivity fairness, justice morality Mode of inquiry analysis satisficing intuition observation bargaining learning cause - effect agenda challenge - response Planning horizon far - no discounting moderate discounting high discounting for most Uncertainty view uncertainties noted uncertainties used aversion to uncertainty Risk criteria logical soundness political acceptability aversion to loss Scenarios exploratory preferable visionary

9 A Comparison of Eras 4th to 5th peak 5th to 6th peak Overarching technologies Information Communication Nanotechnology Biotechnology Major paradigm shift Time as critical dimension Molecular scale Nanomaterials Management Glocalization Virtual corporations Adaptive enterprise Self-assembly Energy sourceChemical Nanoenabled energy Industrial commodity Silicon, softwareHome health care Genome based medicine ThreatsNuclear, cyberwarGNR-related risks

10 Four Characteristics 1. Pervasive, small an invisible technical infrastructure 2. Unlimited reach IT > everything becomes information MT > everything controllable at the molecular level

11 + 3. Specificity MT > custom tailored materials, drugs and sensors 4. Engineering for the human mind as well as the body IT, MT > prostheses to extend capabilities implantable biocomputers (molecular doctors)

12 IT + MT: Impacts on TFA CAS phase states– chaos: forecast limits. emergence TOP: O and P essential Technology-based to science-based foresight Traditional to biology-based foresight Exploratory to normative foresight Foresight to rapid adaptability and robust planning

13 IT and MT Eras: More implications Governments becoming unmanageable-> The social rate of change may for a while be faster than the technological rate Need to rebalance globalization localization centralization decentralization Need to balance perspectives


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