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How to Spot the Future

How to Spot the Future
Photo: Brock Davis Thirty years ago, when John Naisbitt was writing Megatrends, his prescient vision of America’s future, he used a simple yet powerful tool to spot new ideas that were bubbling in the zeitgeist: the newspaper. He didn’t just read it, though. He took out a ruler and measured it. The more column inches a particular topic earned over time, the more likely it represented an emerging trend. “The collective news hole,” Naisbitt wrote, “becomes a mechanical representation of society sorting out its priorities”—and he used that mechanism to predict the information society, globalism, decentralization, and the rise of networks. As clever as Naisbitt’s method was, it would never work today. This may sound like a paradox. So how do we spot the future—and how might you? It’s no secret that the best ideas—the ones with the most impact and longevity—are transferable; an innovation in one industry can be exported to transform another. This notion goes way back.

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Elements April 18, 2014 The Antisocial-Media App A few weeks ago, I was in a café across the street from my house, having just put in an order for the first cappuccino of the day, when a woman walked in with her young son. Census: Everybody’s moving into their parents’ basements Daniel Sherrett, 28, prepares dinner with his mother as part of his deal to live at home. Parents and children are sharing homes for longer than expected. (Michael Temchine/The Washington Post) Ever since the financial crisis hit, Americans have found it harder and harder to live on their own. According to a new report (pdf) from the Census Bureau, the number of "shared households" increased by a whopping 2.25 million between 2007 and 2010:

The Turing Problem 100 years ago this year, the man who first conceived of the computer age was born. His name was Alan Turing. He was also a math genius, a hero of World War II and he is widely considered to be the father of artificial intelligence. The future of jobs in Canada - Business Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail/CP On a recent February evening, Karl Eve received an emergency call from a restaurant owner in Canmore, Alta. The busy eatery had suddenly found itself with no hot water, even though the basement hot water tanks appeared to be working fine. A plumber with 10 years’ experience, Eve eventually traced the problem to a malfunctioning dishwasher and got the hot water flowing again—much to the owner’s relief.

Measuring Future U.S. Competitiveness SOURCE: AP/Steve Helber Workers install seals on a door frame on the Volvo truck assembly line at the Volvo plant in Dublin, Virginia. Productivity growth for the first 12 quarters of this business cycle, from December 2007 to December 2010, totaled 7.6 percent, below the average of 8.5 percent for the previous eight business cycles lasting at least three years. By Adam Hersh and Christian E. Weller | February 9, 2011

Remee - The REM enhancing Lucid Dreaming Mask by Bitbanger Labs Like Bitbanger Labs on Facebook Remee has been selected as a finalist for the William McShane Fund, by Buckyballs & Brookstone! If you think Remee deserves to be available at Brookstone, vote here! Yes, really! Charting technology’s new directions: A conversation with MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson “We’re finally getting at that seminal moment in human history when we can talk to our machines and our machines will understand us in regular, natural language,” says Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Erik Brynjolfsson. In this video, he explores the role of big data in business performance, the rise of robotics, and the decoupling of the historical relationship between gains in productivity, incomes, and jobs. He is the coauthor, with MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee, of Race Against the Machine (Digital Frontier Press, October 2011). This interview was conducted by McKinsey Publishing’s Rik Kirkland. What follows is an edited transcript of Brynjolfsson’s remarks. Interview transcript

All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup Which brings us to another shared delusion: multitasking. Our best efforts at collective denial notwithstanding, simple arithmetic reveals that even after housewives entered the workforce, the work of housewives still had to be done. Sure, some of it—especially child care—was outsourced, often at rock-bottom wages. But for many women, and a rising (though not yet sufficient) number of men, the second shift awaits each night. And it's increasingly being joined by a third shift, as we remain digitally tethered to the office in the diminishing hours we're actually home. Multitasking seems the obvious fix—let me just answer this email while I help with your homework! IBM's Quantum Computers Could Change The World (Mostly In Very Good Ways) 101010: That's the number 42 represented in binary, which is the mathematical way today's binary computers see every single piece of information flowing through them, whether it's a stock price, the latest Adele track, or a calculation to generate an MRI of a tumor. But now IBM believes it's made progress in developing quantum computers, which don't use binary coding. It is not overstating the matter to say this really may be the ultimate answer in computing machines. Quick, mop your brow and don't worry: The science isn't too hard to grasp and the revolution, when it comes, could rock the world.

Rethinking Scale: Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change Cynthia E. Coburn , Assistant Professor + Author Affiliations How Mitt Romney Followed Me Around the Internet Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in Stratham, N.H., on June 15, 2012. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) But it turns out the campaign wasn't advertising to Grooveshark listeners or a capella fans. They were targeting me. As a reporter covering how campaigns use voter data [3], I spend a fair amount of time on Romney's official website. That apparently triggered an online targeting company to send me Romney ads wherever they could find me on the web. The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) Photo: Name Withheld; Digital Manipulation: Jesse Lenz The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

The Centre for Social Innovation Annex The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) owns and operates a beautiful brick & beam building at 720 Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto. The space is made up of five floors and totals 36,000 square feet. The building is two blocks from the subway line, has plentiful light, and is in close proximity to an array of restaurants and services. A variety of permanent and part-time workspaces are available! CSI Annex is a dynamic space that's bursting at the seams with creative and entrepreneurial energy. The first floor is a community gathering place, with event spaces, the CSI Coffee Pub, and plenty of unstructured social space to chill-out and connect.