Bill’s New Book

TechCast is pleased to announce the imminent publication of Prof. Halal’s latest book, Beyond Knowledge. Below are the Table of Contents, the book cover and the first few pages of Chapter One. Copies should be available at Amazon sometime in July.

About the Cover

The stunning cover symbolizes a modern goddess giving humans a vision of  “global consciousness” needed to develop a mature, sustainable and unified world. The goddess is female to recognize that surviving today’s massive threats requires the feminine qualities of wisdom, cooperation and love. She also represents the younger generation that must lead this transformation.

Beyond Knowledge:
How Technology Is Driving an Age of Consciousness

 

Contents

Forewords    Hazel Henderson, Michael Lee and Amy Fletcher

Preface          Blessings of Maturity                                                    
 
One                Introduction:
                        The Noosphere is Here                                

 
Two                Promises and Perils of the Technology Revolution:
                        Eating Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge 
 
Three             Uniting Science and Spirit:
                        Technologies of  Consciousness

 Four              Democratic Enterprise:    
                        Collaboration Between Business and Society
 
Five                A New Social Contract:   
                       Centrist Politics and Government Markets
 
Six                  Virtual Education:
                       The Uneasy Shift from Teaching to Learning
 
Seven            From Religion to Spirit:
                       The Ultimate Technique of  Consciousness
 
Eight             Managing Our Minds:
                       Living and Working in Spirit

Nine              Toward a Global Consciousness:
                       Start by Being  Responsible 

 Ten               Evolution’s Climax:
                      The Flowering of Human Spirit 

  
 
 

 
Exerpt from Chapter One


Introduction: The Noosphere Is Here

The great Jesuit anthropologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has long fascinated us with his vision that the world would evolve into a “noosphere,” [1] a great web of consciousness enveloping the Earth. It seemed a lovely but distant ideal, yet the Digital Revolution has now made that dream a reality. As this book will show, the noosphere is here today, and it promises to transform our lives, our work, social institutions, the global order, and our very minds and souls.

Not too long ago, we relied on telephones and newspapers to communicate. We now use two billion personal computers (PCs), 14 billion cell phones and laptops, and two billion TVs. The information flows through 30 million Internet servers, 3,500 space satellites and almost one million miles of undersea cables. This planetary layer of digital connections knits eight billion people into a living overlay of thought – the noosphere.

Although the world has an abundance of communication, it is not a very happy place. Just as the Gutenberg printing press unleashed a flood of information that led to wars and the Protestant Reformation, today’s deluge of knowledge has brought a “post-factual” wave of nonsense, government gridlock, raging pandemics, the climate crisis and other global threats. We will see later that a “global consciousness” able to handle such threats is likely to emerge soon. But, in the meantime, the noosphere has highlighted the limits of knowledge.

Beyond Knowledge

You would think we should have been enlightened by the past two decades of the Knowledge Age, so why do people seem badly misinformed, emotional and unreasonable? Despite the great evidence readily available, many do not believe in evolution, climate change, vaccination and other established science.

Even national policies are often based on emotions, as when the English left the EU and Americans elected President Trump. Political “rebellions” like this are common, of course, with their own logic and patriotic goals. But today, the technology can amplify disinformation. Trump, for instance, gained power using digital media to deny inconvenient facts as “fake news” and “conspiracy theories.” An entire cottage industry has sprung up to warn of this “Assault on Intelligence,” “The Death of Truth,” “A World Without Facts” and “Truth Decay.” [2]

It does not help that large parts of the public embrace this confusion. TV and the Internet have produced what has been called “the dumbest generation” with a disregard for general reading in favor of news sources echoing their beliefs. [3] Here are some choice bits of willful ignorance:

  • The US ranks near the bottom of nations whose citizens believe in evolution, with less than 40 percent saying they accept the science. [4]
  • Two-thirds cannot name the three branches of government. [5]
  • As of early 2021, more than 70 percent of Republicans still believe the presidential election was stolen, after this was discredited by the courts and Republican officials themselves.

Extensive studies confirm that attitudes, beliefs and values are shaped by a variety of well-known biases, allegiance to political parties and other extraneous factors. [6]  Even hard-nosed business people admit that bias in decision-making is a major problem. [7] Demagogues use self-serving fantasies to blind people to reality and mobilize them into violence. [8] It seems that objectivity is a thin veneer shielding base impulses as well as noble motives.


Norman Lear, the famous American TV producer, said: “We just may be the most-informed, yet least self-aware people in history.” [9] 

This dilemma poses one of the great ironies of our time. The Digital Revolution has created a wealth of knowledge that is almost infinite. The smartphone alone has made the world’s store of information available at the touch of a finger. There is no shortage of knowledge, but the power of facts is badly limited. Knowledge cannot tell us what is worth doing, or what is right morally and what is wrong. Rational logic does not explain why people are altruistic or selfish, kind or cruel, enlightened or ignorant. Knowledge can never replace love, wisdom or a guiding vision.

This rule of unreason pervades life, and it is rampant in politics. The US government, for instance, has been locked in stalemate for decades, though Congress has more knowledge than it can handle. Emotional issues like abortion, gun control and immigration supported by strong majorities have been studied to death. Still, gridlock persists because of conflicting values, reluctance to compromise, and hunger for power – issues that lie beyond knowledge. Senator Ben Sasse worried, “We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence.” [10]

This political stalemate is largely responsible for the poor US response to the coronavirus pandemic. China, Singapore, South Korea and other Asian nations weathered the storm reasonably well. But the US mismanaged it so badly that Americans fear structural weaknesses in government could inflict more damage from other crises. The pandemic brought these systemic flaws on vivid display for all to see. People are frightened and searching for solutions.

Many are ready to break from a past that no longer works. The World Economic Forum called for a “great reset” in all spheres of society. The result is a loss of faith in the reigning logic, or ideology, of money, power and self-interest. These values have their place, but they seem unable to address the crises of our time. Climate change is starting to bite, more pandemics are likely, inequality is growing, and there is a growing sense that the status quo is not sustainable. The conflict over these complex issues seems overwhelming because, once again, they are beyond knowledge. They hinge on stark differences in consciousness.

This existential threat has shattered confidence in what Francis Fukuyama proclaimed to be “The End of History” – the fall of communism and the triumph of capitalism and democracy. [11] A variety of voices suggest this crisis could trigger a “collapse of capitalism,” roughly like the “collapse of communism” in the 1990s. It also stems from the same fatal flaw – an inability to adapt to a changing world. Communism could not meet the complex demands of the Information Revolution, and now capitalism is failing to adapt to this confluence of global crises.

Next Step in Social Evolution

What is going on here? Why is the US, the most prosperous and best-educated nation in the world, so inept? How can great knowledge produce such misguided behavior?

These problems can be best understood as the passing of the Knowledge Age and the opening of an unusual frontier – consciousness itself. Knowledge remains crucial, of course. But today’s explosion of smartphones, social media and artificial intelligence (AI) has created a post-factual mess governed by raw emotions, distorted values and outmoded beliefs. An Age of Consciousness is starting now, though one may not like its current form. Whatever one thinks of former President Trump, almost all would concede that he is brilliant at creating an alternative reality. He is a master at shaping consciousness.

A “beyond knowledge test” helps clarify the role of consciousness. If some problem remains unresolved due to values, beliefs, self-interest or other subjective issues – climate, abortion, gun control, for example – the solution lies beyond knowledge. This simple test highlights how the disorders that plague our time are not rational problems to solve by reason. They involve all the messy mental baggage of normal people, so they must be addressed by altering consciousness. That is where the problems lie, and it is also where the solutions are to be found.

This is a bold claim, but that is roughly how the shift to a world of knowledge looked when the Information Revolution began a few decades ago. Back when computers filled rooms, I recall telling people that we were entering a world of personal computers, and the typical response was, “Why would anyone want a personal computer?”

Yet in 2000, PCs were everywhere, books on knowledge became rife and the majority of jobs involved managing knowledge.  I am equally confident that an Age of Consciousness is opening up today, and we simply do not yet understand this intriguing new frontier.

Beneath this tectonic shift in consciousness is the driving force of artificial intelligence, the most powerful agent of change today. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on … more profound than fire or electricity.” [12] The advance of AI is automating knowledge work, threatening to eliminate roughly half of all jobs and posing one of the most perplexing questions of our time: What lies beyond knowledge? As Chapter three will explain, everything beyond knowledge is consciousness. This historic shift in social evolution is illustrated by the graph below.

I have struggled with this problem for years, and the result is Figure 1 showing what I call the “Life Cycle of Evolution (LCE).” Similar graphs have been sketched in general terms, [13] but this is the first to plot the long-term evolutionary trend using real scales and real data. The logarithmic time scale is needed to encompass the billions of years at the start of life, as well as just decades today. Without a log scale, the shape of the LCE would not be recognizable; the trendline would run flat and make a sharp 90 degree turn straight up.

Figure 1

Above the fray, there is a direction to this accelerating evolutionary process, and the logical next step is consciousness. Roughly four million years were needed to found Agrarian Civilizations. Nine thousand years to invent Industrial Society. One hundred years for the Post-Industrial Era. Five decades to a Knowledge Age. And the past 20 years to an Age of Consciousness.

Today, the world is poised at the cusp of transformation from a society based on knowledge to one guided by consciousness. This extraordinary acceleration through previous stages reveals how the planet suddenly came alive in a flash of awareness. The entire rise of civilization occurred in an extremely tiny fraction of one percent in the LCE. Historian Arnold Toynbee foresaw it as the “etherealization of life.” [14] Teilhard de Chardin envisioned planetary consciousness to be the natural apex of evolution – the Omega Point. [15]

Consciousness has been around throughout history, of course, so what is really new? This transition can be understood through a similar evolutionary shift to the Knowledge Age. Information has also been used throughout civilization, of course. But the Knowledge Age began when digital technology matured about two decades ago into the most powerful force on Earth, occupying the bulk of the labor force, and our very minds.

In a similar way, shaping consciousness is now a powerful technology, although barely understood, and it is changing the world. Think of the explosion of opinion, disinformation and emotion blasting out of loudspeakers like Facebook and Twitter. Anybody can use social media to shape public opinion, for better or worse. Politicians around the globe struggle to infiltrate the information systems of their adversaries, and they casually dismiss criticism as fake news. One analyst framed the problem this way: “In the past, wars were conducted with weapons. Now it’s through social media.” [16] The great challenge now is, how to shape a workable global consciousness out of this morass of differences to support almost eight billion people coexisting on this single planet?

This historic transition also poses enormous threats that seem almost impossible. Climate change and the entire constellation of end-of-the-world challenges comprise what I call the “Global MegaCrisis,” or the “Crisis of Global Maturity.” My studies conducted with a colleague, Michael Marien, found that roughly 70 percent of the public thinks the present world trajectory will lead to disaster. Ask anyone off the street and you will probably get the same answer. People have deep fears over today’s failures in governance, and they attribute it to a lack of leadership, vision and cooperation.


The late Stephen Hawking worried about “widening inequality, climate change, food, decimation of species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. This is the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity, and our species must work together.” [17]

The Technology Revolution will add even greater threats. The next chapter forecasts how advances across the technology spectrum are providing vast benefits, but also the enormous problems of  “eating fruit from the biblical Tree of Knowledge.” Smart cars, for example, will pass on the faults of smartphones. “A car is like a cell phone, and that makes it vulnerable to attack,” said Jonathan Brossard, a security engineer. Many are horrified at the prospect of AI-controlled weapons turning on people. Now, ponder what could happen when billions of intelligent devices are wired into the Internet of Things?

The great S-curve formed by these eras is the universal symbol of the lifecycle. All living systems pass through this same process of birth (start of the S-curve), growth (upward phase), and maturity (leveling off) – a culture of bacteria, a growing child or the life of a planet. From this systems view, the Global MegaCrisis is an infinitely larger version of the same crisis of maturity that transforms teenagers into adults. Anyone who has raised children knows that teens may be fully grown physically and “know everything.” But the typical teenager has not learned to control their impulses, struggles with inner doubts and can’t cope with a confusing world.

That is roughly the state of our world today. Industrialized nations are fully developed, awash in information and with enough armaments to destroy us all. Yet they lack the wisdom to address climate change, regulate economies safely, curb terrorism and solve other nagging problems. As I will show in the next chapter, many people think we are heading toward a disaster of catastrophic proportions, and they have little faith in their leaders.



Consciousness is not the same as “goodness,” as is often thought by New Age enthusiasts. Like knowledge, consciousness encompasses all in its domain – including hate, conflict and delusion.

At some point, the stress becomes so severe that most teens eventually find the courage to grow up and become responsible adults. In a roughly similar way, the MegaCrisis is humanity’s challenge to become a mature civilization. The world is being forced to grow up and to develop a sustainable global order – or perish. This passage to maturity is more than a historic challenge; it is also a historic opportunity. Like adolescence, surmounting this painful process can lead to a better future. How could we let this singular moment pass?

Triumph of Human Spirit

This evolutionary perspective helps us understand how a global consciousness is emerging today to resolve these threats and create a mature civilization. More than a theory, the chapters ahead will show how people are changing their lives, their work, social institutions and global mindset. I make a point of fleshing out these concepts with details, evidence, supporting examples and steps to consider. We will see how an Age of Consciousness is likely to develop into a tangible, productive and more meaningful way of life.

Consciousness is the inner terrain in which we live our lives, and it is changing rapidly to cope with the slightly crazed demands of high-tech life. People are embracing mindfulness, living with nature and using psychedelics to relieve stress, provide insight and improve health. I call these “technologies of consciousness” – methods that people use to guide their awareness, mood and understanding. The evidence shows that these techniques can instill the values of cooperation, understanding and compassion that are essential to a unified globe.

The main chapters outline how shifts in public consciousness are transforming the major organs of society – government, business, universities, religions and other institutions. In each case, I will show that a small avant-garde is quietly bringing a mature awareness to these varied facets of public life. Drawing on numerous examples, I show how business is turning democratic, government can be lean and responsive, education becoming student-centered, and religions moving from doctrine to a personal relationship with the spiritual world.

For instance, the Business Roundtable announcement that firms should serve all stakeholders is truly historic. The New York Times called it a “watershed moment … that raises questions about the very nature of capitalism.” Leading corporations like Johnson & Johnson, IKEA, Nucor Steel, Nortel, and Unilever collaborate with employees, customers, suppliers and governments to solve tough problems and create value for the company and stakeholders. Larry Fink, who runs the biggest investment firm in the world (Black Rock), directed the companies he owns to address social issues, even including climate costs in their operations.

These ideas may be reasonable, but many doubt such dramatic change is possible. In 2020, the “Black Lives Matter” movement began shifting attitudes around the world, illustrating that consciousness is changing even now. This push for racial justice is led by young people across the political and racial spectra, the cohort that favors global consciousness. It is reminiscent of the “Me Too” movement that ousted sexual predators, and the passing of gay marriage laws a few years ago. Big change arrives when the time has come.

The power of global consciousness provides the key to resolving the multiple crises of today. Each stage in social evolution has been propelled by revolutions – the Agrarian Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, Post-Industrial Revolution and, most recently, the Information Revolution. As my graph of the LCE lays out visually, we are now in the beginning throes of what I call a “Mental/Spiritual Revolution” to kick-start the Age of Consciousness. In short, it appears the world is heading toward some type of historic shift in consciousness, a collective epiphany, a new mindset, code of global ethics or a spiritual revolution.


Civilization survived the fall of Rome, the Dark Ages, World Wars I and II, and a cold war bristling with nuclear weapons, and it seems likely to survive the Global MegaCrisis.

Such heroic change may appear daunting, especially at a time when hostilities seem endless and environmental disaster looms ahead. That is often the case before upheavals. Nobody thought the Soviet Union would collapse until it actually did. The evidence outlined throughout the book supports this evolutionary trend.

The reason this claim seems optimistic, perhaps even foolhardy, is that we have no experience in global consciousness. Huddled in our small section of the universe, humans have little conception of planetary evolution, much less the transition to a unified world. Our understanding is roughly similar to that of a naïve person who first witnesses the agony of a human birth or a teen struggling to adulthood. Without previous experience, these painful transitions would seem awful, too hard to bear. Yet they are entirely normal and usually successful.

So too could our passage to global maturity develop into a fairly normal transition in a few years. The LCE graph shows that a Mental/Spiritual Revolution is likely to arrive about 2025 or so. I am as confident in this forecast as I was that the Knowledge Age would arrive about 2000. This historic shift to an unknown era requires a new conceptual framework to map the terrain, a vision to provide inspiration and principles that work – the elements of this book.

A mature global order will still bear the normal human failings, but it will make our current strife look as primitive as the brutal reign of kings in the feudal ages. This may sound too good to be true, yet these trends suggest we will see the beginnings of a unified planet over the next decade or so, and the triumph of human spirit, once again.

References

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper, 1955)
[2] Hayden, The Assault on Intelligence (New York: Penguin, 2018); Anne Applebaum, “A World Without Facts” (Washington Post, May 20, 2018); Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael Rich, Truth Decay (Santa Monica: The Rand Corporation, 2018)
[3] Mark Bauerian, The Dumbest Generation (New York: Penguin, 2008)
[4] Ker Than, “US Lags … Acceptance of Evolution” (Live Science, Aug 11, 2006)
[5] Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason (New York: Pantheon, 2008)
[6] Elizabeth Kolbert, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” (The New Yorker, Feb 27, 2017); Yuval Harari, “People Have Limited Knowledge. What’s the Remedy? Nobody Knows” (New York Times, Apr 18, 2017)
[7] Tobias Beer et al., “The Business Logic in Debiasing” (McKinsey, May 2017)
[8] Harari, “Why Fiction Trumps Truth” (The New York Times, May 24, 2019)
[9] “Norman Lear calls for leap of faith” (The New Leaders, May/June 1993)
[10] Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult (St. Martin’s, 2017)
[11] Ishaan Tharoor, “The Man Who Declared ‘The End of History’ Fears for Democracy’s Future” (Washington Post, Feb 9, 2017)
[12] World Economic Forum (Jan 24, 2018)
[13]  For instance, the field of “big history” has studied similar time scales. See ibha.wildapricot.org (June 2, 2017)
[14] Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History (Oxford Univ. Press, 1960)
[15] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper Perennial 1976)
[16]  “Quote of the Day” (New York Times, Sep 13, 2019)
[17] Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet” (The Guardian, Dec 1, 2016)

 

Life Extension

Summary

Life extension is defined as prolonging human life beyond the normal limits of roughly 120 years. There is some evidence that demonstrates this is possible. Research shows that aging can be delayed in experimental animals, sometimes manyfold. Science is increasingly able to repair damage to the body, replace damaged organs, and modify genetic makeup to extend life spans.

Sharing the blood of a young animal has been shown to rejuvenate older animals and prolong their lives. Substances like NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and rapamycin can improve mitochondrial function genes associated with aging.

Many authorities are confident that human life can be meaningfully extended. Ray Kurzweil forecasts that life extension treatments are likely to become available before 2030. Aubrey de Grey of the U. of Cambridge believes the first person who will live to see his 150th birthday has already been born. Some think the first person to live for 1,000 years will be born in the next two decades.

But many therapies only stretch normal aging to the 120-year limit, rather than extending life spans beyond those limits. For instance, a respected medical journal, The Lancet, projected that most babies born since 2000 in industrialized nations will live to celebrate their 100th birthday.

Some scientists doubt that life extension is possible beyond a theoretical maximum of 120 years. S. Jay Olshansky, professor of public health at the U of Illinois, once pointed out, “There are no interventions that have been documented to slow, stop, or reverse aging in humans.” Yet Olshansky later writes, “It is only a matter of time before aging science acquires the same level of prestige and confidence that medicine and public health now enjoy, and when that time comes, a new era in human health will emerge. …the 21st century will bear witness to one of the most important new developments in the history of medicine.”

While the number of centenarians has increased dramatically, the number of supercentenarians (people living 110 years) has failed to keep pace. The number of centenarians worldwide is about 450,000, yet there are only 300 to 450 supercentenarians. Ned David, president of Unity Biotechnologies, says his company does not expect people to be living to 150 years and has chosen to focus on improving the “healthspan” rather than increasing lifespan. The concept of “healthspan” arose largely in response to priorities at NIH, which does not consider aging to be a disease. Research to extend lifespan does not get funded. Research to extend healthspan does.

Others contend that many apparent breakthroughs from animal research (resveratrol, antioxidants, etc.), like their counterparts in cancer treatment, have proved ineffective in humans. In mid-2021, there is little if any sign of actually extending normal human life spans.

The challenges and consequences of increased life spans could be enormous. If serious life extension does prove feasible, there remains the fear that longer lives will simply prolong poor health and feeble minds rather than adding capable years. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama warns that society may soon “resemble a giant nursing home.” 

Jose Cordeiro’s new book, The Death of Death, has been published in several languages and is very optimistic about life extension. Cordeiro notes:

“A group of scientists under the direction of Spanish biologist María Blasco, director of CNIO (the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre) in Madrid, has created the so-called Triple mice, which live approximately 40% longer.[i] With totally different technologies, other scientists such as the Spanish Juan Carlos Izpisúa, an expert researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, have also been able to rejuvenate mice by 40%.[ii]”

“In 1993, Kenyon and colleagues found that mutations in the gene daf-2 increases the longevity of C. elegans hermaphrodites by more than two-fold compared to wild type nematodes.”

 

Earlier studies by TechCast estimated that useful medicines and other anti-aging treatments are likely to enter markets about 2028 +/- 4 years. This would lead to a commercial market of roughly US$600 billion at saturation about 2040. The experts were 58% confident in this forecast.

 

Research and Treatments on Aging

Genetic defects that cause aging are being resolved and drugs have been found that could delay the process. For example, the common diabetes-Type 2 drug metformin has shown experimental promise in slowing processes related to aging. Below are some recent developments:

Why People Live Past 110  Researchers are beginning to decipher the genomes of supercentenarians (those aged 110 and older) for clues to longevity. The late Dr. Stephen Coles, of the UCLA Gerontology Research Group, found that a condition known as cardiac amyloidosis ends the lives of supercentenarians. He and his colleagues identified drugs that might extend lifespan by preventing or curing that malady.  

Repairing Bodily Damage  Various methods are emerging to repairs damaged organs, tissues and cells. A TechCast study forecasts that almost all body parts should be replaceable in years to come, including the heart, kidneys, eyes, blood, limbs and parts of the brain. Nonotechnology promises to use fleets of nanobots to clean up cell damage and other cellular flaws. Additionally, CRISPR technology increasingly allows genetic rewiring to eliminate genetic defects and chronic diseases.  If this can be done thoroughly, the body can in principle be continually updated to last indefinitely.

Genomic Bioengineering

  • Studying yeast cells, researchers have demonstrated that a three-to-fivefold reduction in DNA errors results in a 20 to 30 percent increase in lifespan.
  • Experiments with fruit flies have shown that tampering with genes can slow aging and extend life spans. One possible target is aging stem cells, which limit normal tissue maintenance and regeneration. Gene therapy in animals prevented this aging decline.
  • Harvard’s George Church thinks genomic engineering is now beginning to recode DNA germline cells to avoid disease and enhance health. He believes the 170-year-old trend in which life spans increase by three months each year will accelerate dramatically. Church has successfully trialed age reversal in mammals and expects to start human trials by 2030. He recently said: [iii]

“Probably we’ll see the first dog trials in the next year or two. If that works, human trials are another two years away, and eight years before they’re done. Once you get a few going and succeeding it’s a positive feedback loop.”

  • Craig Venter, the co-founder of Human Longevity, Inc., claims that DNA sequencing can predict lifespans and also suggest targets for therapeutic treatments and life extension. 
  • Israeli researchers have developed an algorithm that predicts which genes can be “turned off” to create the same anti-aging effect as calorie restriction. Caltech scientists have found a way to eliminate nearly all genetic damage in mitochondria, a major cause of aging.

Sharing Blood  Linking the circulatory system of an old animal to that of a young one rejuvenates the aged partner and sometimes extends its lifespan. Aging mice given blood plasma from young humans regain the mental abilities of much younger mice. Scientists now starting human tests of compounds from young blood that they believe could improve health in the elderly. Two, called GDF11 and Klotho, seem promising

NAD Anti-Aging Pill  Researchers from MIT are marketing nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which duplicates the benefits of calorie restriction diets, the most widely successful life-extension treatment yet discovered. “NAD is one of the most exciting things happening in aging,” said Nir Barzilai, director of Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Chromosome Length   Studies show that the shortening of chromosome ends (telomeres) decreases lifespan. Researchers at Salk Institute have found an on/off switch for telomerase, and mice treated to maintain telomere length improve age-related disorders.

Rapamycin  “Rapamycin has been shown to extend life span in lab animals again and again and again,” says U of Washington scientist Matt Kaeberlein. Novartis has licensed a derivative of rapamycin to PureHealth’s start-up company resTORbio. A recent article confirmed the benefits and disputed claims that the drug is harmful. (Aging, Oct 2019)

Epigenetics Is Crucial  Salk Institute researchers have found epigenetic changes in experimental animals using chemicals or small molecules can rejuvenate cells and increased lifespan in humans. Assays based on epigenetic status promise to speed aging research by making it possible to evaluate therapies in weeks or months instead of decades.

Senolytic Agents  Researchers have found drugs (Senolytic Agents)  can eliminate old cells and dramatically slow the aging process, alleviating frailty, improving heart and blood vessels and extending lifespan. Middle-aged mice lived 35 percent longer than untreated peers and had less evidence of disease. Even mice dying of cancer lived longer than others. Phase I clinical trials have found the most-studied senolytic treatment, quercetin and dasatinib, safe for human use, though benefits will need much larger, longer tests.

Sirtuins may be ‘Fountain of Youth’ Molecules   Researchers have found that a mixture of four molecules, similar to the proteins called sirtuins, reversed DNA damage and aging in mice. Researchers have identified a longevity gene (SIRT1) that can treat morbid lifestyle diseases and increase longevity.

Not all ‘Research’ Occurs in Formal Studies  A growing number of amateurs, often with scientific training, are obtaining off-label prescriptions for metformin and rapamycin. Others are using senolytics and even GDF11 and Klotho, which are administered by injection in picogram doses. Many anecdotal reports suggest that all these therapies may offer clinical benefits. 

Biotron Technology  Jiang Kanzhen – a brilliant Russian scientist of Chinese origin – has been engaged in Biotron technology, the use of concentrated electromagnetic radiation of young organisms, such as sprouts, on old patients.  Over 20 pilot experiments with old mice and old nematodes, all experiments received a positive result to extend active life. Old mice did not just live 25% longer, they were very active and died “on the run.” Even at the age of more than 100 years of human standards, they looked young.

 

Impacts and Implications

Data from 188 countries shows that life expectancy worldwide has jumped by more than 6 years since 1990, with many people living longer even in some of the poorest countries. However, extending the healthy period of life remains a challenge.  

Growth of Geriatric Disease  Longer lifespan may not be accompanied by extended “healthspan,” causing geriatric diseases to grow out of control. In the US, over 5 million people already are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and as many as 16 million are projected to have the disease in 2050.

Limited Medical Costs  The growing frailty of old age is confined to a brief period at the end of life.  Extending the healthy period of later life could reduce costs despite the growing number of old people. One study suggests that adding just 4.4 years to life expectancy, most of it in good health, could save US$7.1 trillion in economic value by 2060.

Extended Life Might Not Be Healthy  Experiments with a tiny roundworm called C. elegans find that long-lived worms remained vigorous no longer than their short-lived brethren, then hung on in poor health. If life-extended humans followed this trend, geriatric diseases could grow out of control. However, roundworms are only one relatively primitive life form. Many studies in mammals have found that senile decay was compressed into a relatively brief period at the end of life.

 

Invitation to Contribute

Please look over the above analysis and send your estimates for the questions below  to Halal@GWU.edu.
  • What is the probability that treatments for extending human life beyond 120 years are demonstrated within the following few decades? (Please specify probability from 0% to 100%. Or specify “Much later/Never”)
  • If this is likely, when do you think life extension will be demonstrated to be feasible and available commercially?  That is, when the adoption level first exceeds zero: >0.  (Specify the most likely year. For instance,  2045.)
  • Please estimate the average human life span when life extension technology matures. Think of reaching the “limits” of life extension.  (Specify average total human life span in years. For instance, 250 years.)
 

Thanks for your help. Look for results in the next issue of TechCast Research along with the names of all contributors. 

 


[i] <http://www.encuentroseleusinos.com/work/maria-blasco-directora-del-cnio-envejecer-es-nada-natural/>

[ii] <https://elpais.com/elpais/2016/12/15/ciencia/1481817633_464624.html>

[iii] <https://endpoints.elysiumhealth.com/george-church-profile-4f3a8920cf7g-4f3a8920cf7f>

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Strategic Forum –

Planning for Transformative Change

The pandemic and other threats like climate change pose an existential challenge to organizations everywhere, and they have made it clear that the present global order is not sustainable. The World Economic Forum called for  “A Great Reset” in all spheres of society. Leaders in business, government and other institutions need to plan for transformative change – NOW.

The TechCast Project draws on its leading research to bring authoritative studies on the crucial issues of today to a broader audience. See our work on  Global ConsciousnessThe Coming InternetRedesigning CapitalismForecasting the Presidential Election, and AI versus Humans.

Complimentary Admission 

Anyone with an interest in strategy, foresight, future studies and related fields is encouraged to attend. 

Conference Begins at 2000 UTC (coordinated universal time) and ends at 2130 UTC

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 
1 pm PDT (Los Angeles, San Francisco)

4 pm EDT (New York, Washington, DC)
9 pm daylight time (London)
10 pm daylight time (Paris)

Thursday, July 1, 2021
6 am standard time (Seoul, Tokyo)
7 am standard time (Sydney)

PROGRAM

Conference Host

Limor will open the conference by welcoming participants, introduce speakers and their topics and direct questions through the chat function to speakers.  She is a skilled facilitator and will ensure that the proceedings are productive and transparent.

Limor Shafman

Limor Shafman
President of the Keystone Technology Group
And a Frequent Speaker

Limor is co-founder of  TIA’s Smart Building Program.  She works with PropTech startups on market strategy and business development. She leads the NIST – Global City Teams Challenge Smart Buildings Super Cluster which is releasing its Smart Buildings Blueprint. As an international corporate attorney, Limor draws on her understanding of the digital environment from her work in the theme park, video game, mobile communications infrastructure, and other technology sectors. She has led technology-oriented organizations, serving as President of the World Future Society DC Chapter and Co-founder, Chair Emeritus of the IPv6 Forum Israel Chapter. Limor is also an international speaker, moderator and has been a show host for several online media outlets.

 

Forecasting Global Transformation: 
Most Likely Scenario for 2030

Bill draws on his work at TechCast to provide forecasts of 50 emerging technologies, 30 social trends, and 25 wild cards.  Results are aggregated to provide a macro-forecast of the “Most Likely Scenario for 2030” —  Sustainability Arrives, Green Transportation, Infinite Knowledge and Intelligence, Mastery Over Life, Threats Across the Spectrum and Higher-Order Values.  We conclude with the theme of  Prof. Halal’s forthcoming book, Beyond Knowledge: Digital technology is now driving a shift to an “Age of Consciousness.”

William Halal
The TechCast Project

George Washington University

Bill is Professor Emeritus of Management, Technology and Innovation. He is founder and director of the TechCast Project and a thought leader in foresight, strategy, forecasting and related fields. For more, see www.BillHalal.com

 

State-of-the-Art in Strategy and Foresight: Constant Change from the Bottom Up And the Outside In

Jess and Bill summarize results of their recent survey of strategic foresight practices to outline how strategic foresight is changing to cope with the technology revolution. The study’s main conclusion is that organizations should develop “constant change from the bottom up and the outside in.”

Jess Garretson
CEO, The Cognis Group

As leader of this life sciences consultancy firm, Jess provides leadership for the company portfolio that includes IP research, consulting and strategic partnering services, Pharmalicensing.com and FutureinFocus.com–an online subscription services curating foresight reports on technology and innovation trends driving the next 10-20 years.  Many years of experience in both corporations and consulting provided a multi-faceted perspective for driving solutions most critical to brand and business development.

William Halal
The TechCast Project

George Washington University
(See bio above)

 

Keynote Speech:

The Time For Transformation Is Now

Hazel Henderson draws on a lifetime of work in future studies to suggest what families, organizations, nations, and all of us can do to actually create transformative change.  How do futurists and strategists get their attention? What strategic “processes” do we recommend? How can this Strategic Forum provide leadership?

Hazel Henderson
Futurist, Author, Speaker, Consultant
President, Ethical Markets

Hazel Henderson is a global futurist and her eleven books and current research continue to map the worldwide transition from the fossil-fueled Industrial Era to the renewable circular economies emerging in a knowledge-rich, cleaner, greener and wiser future. Ethical Markets Media Certified B. Corporation, which Hazel founded in 2004 after 20 years advising the Calvert Group of socially-responsible mutual funds, continues the work of reforming markets and metrics to guide investors toward our long-term survival on planet Earth. In the 1960s, with the help of a volunteer ad agency and enlightened media executives, Hazel organized Citizens for Clean Air to inform New Yorkers of the polluted air they were breathing. They showed the late Robert F. Kennedy, then running for his Senate seat, all the sources of this pollution and why they were campaigning to correct the GDP to subtract, not add, these pollution costs.  Kennedy’s speech on the GDP problem at the University of Kansas became a rallying cry for reform of this obsolete indicator, still too often quoted as a measure of national “progress“!  In 1975, Hazel joined Lester Brown on the founding board of the World Watch Institute, and again, she was forced to face up to this Global MegaCrisis at every board meeting, as the human effects on planetary ecosystems deteriorated. For more, see Hazel’s recent presentation at the Family Office Forum in Singapore, March 5th.  Hazel can be reached at hazel.henderson@ethicalmarkets.com

 

Following Executive Workshop

($195 Admission)

The Workshop begins 30 minutes after the Conference ends (2200 UTC).

This Executive Workshop follows the above Conference to assist leaders, planners and other professionals in drawing on the presentations to develop a more powerful strategic posture. In this workshop, you will review the presentations of the previous speakers and assess the impact on your current strategic posture. In a small working group of your peers, you will discuss needed adjustments to account for the anticipated changes. Each group will report their key findings to the entire group. You will come away with a comprehensive set of insights and actions that you can take back to your organization and bring your overall strategy into greater alignment with the transformative changes that lie ahead.

Art Murray
President/CEO, Applied Knowledge Sciences, Inc.
Assisted by Limor Shafman and Bill Halal

Dr. Art Murray is co-founder of Applied Knowledge Sciences, Inc. where he has served as CEO for over 27 years. Since 2005, he’s been the Director of the Enterprise of the Future Program at the International Institute for Knowledge and Innovation. He’s the author of “Deep Learning Manual: the knowledge explorer’s guide to self-discovery in education, work, and life,” and “Building the Enterprise of the Future: Co-creating and delivering extraordinary value in an eight-billion-mind world,” and KMWorld magazine’s popular column: “The Future of the Future.” He holds a B.S.E.E. degree from Lehigh University, and the M.E.A. and D.Sc. degrees from the George Washington University.

Small group breakout discussions and reporting.

Readings:

  • Updating Strategy for a High-Tech World: Constant Change from the Bottom Up and the Outside In
  • Through the MegaCrisis (Awarded “Outstanding pape of 2013” by Emerald Publishing)

 

Register Here for the June 30 Conference

Offer Donations to the June 30 Conference

Register Here for the June 30 Workshop


To clarify questions about the program or other issues, email Prof. Halal at Halal@GWU.edu

 


 

Second Conference of the Strategic Forum

July 28, 2021

 

Foresight Lessons From the Pandemic:
Implications for Strategy Formulation and Response

 
Ideally, foresight precedes strategy formulation, but in moments of crisis normal order must be abandoned and foresight and strategy inevitably unfold together in real-time.  We will offer a set of lessons learned from conducting a major Delphi-based scenario foresight project during the darkest days of the unfolding pandemic and reflect on the long-term implications for how foresight and strategy can more effectively blend in the face of deep uncertainty.

 
Jerome Glenn
CEO, The Millennium Project

Jerry is the co-founder of the Millennium Project with 67 Nodes around the world. He is also lead author of the State of the Future reports, co-editor of Futures Research Methodology 3.0, designed and manages the Global Futures Intelligence System. Glenn led The Millennium Project team that created the COVID-19 scenarios for the American Red Cross and lead-author for Scenario 1: America Endures, the baseline, surprise fee scenario.


Theodore Jay Gordon
Futurist and Management Consultant


Ted is a specialist in forecasting methodology, planning, and policy analysis. He is co-founder and Board member of The Millennium Project. Ted founded The Futures Group,  was one of the founders of The Institute for the Future and consulted for the RAND Corporation. He was also Chief Engineer of the McDonnell Douglas Saturn S-IV and S-IVB space vehicles and was in charge of the launch of space vehicles from Cape Canaveral. He is a frequent lecturer, author of many technical papers and several books dealing with space, the future, life extension, scientific and technological developments and issues, and recently, co-author of books on the prospects for terrorism and counterfactual methods. He is the author of the Macmillan encyclopedia article on the future of science and technology. He is on the editorial board of Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Mr. Gordon was a member of the Millennium Project team that created scenarios for the American Red Cross. Ted was responsible for the negative scenario that depicted a bleak but plausible future; this scenario contains many assumptions about the unknowns, but in the end seems endurable and plausible.

Paul Saffo
Forecaster

Paul is a Silicon Valley-based forecaster who studies technological change.  He teaches at Stanford where he is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Engineering and is Chair of Future Studies at Singularity University.  Paul is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. Paul holds degrees from Harvard College, Cambridge University, and Stanford University.

Readings:

  • Three Futures of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the US,  January 1, 2022.

Register Here for the July 28 Conference

Offer Donations to the July 28 Conference

Register Here for the July 28 Workshop


To clarify questions about the program or other issues, email Prof. Halal at Halal@GWU.edu

 


 

Coming Speakers

 
The Emerging Global Consciousness

It is increasingly clear that a major shift in values, beliefs and ideology is needed to make sense of today’s turmoil and to grasp the outlines of the emerging global order. This session presents a vision of global consciousness developed by TechCast’s study to resolve the Global MegaCrisis.

William E. Halal
The TechCast Project
George
Washington University
(See bio above)

Story Thinking

A strategic organizational posture that balances collaboration with competitiveness requires a deeper understanding of common ground, and that understanding is found in stories. Beyond storytelling, story thinking provides the visualization of story structure as the holistic business, learning, and communication model. The foundational shared mental model of “process” which was adopted in the Second Industrial Revolution must expand into a shared mental model of “story” to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, given it is based on intelligence, not electricity. Carl Jung said, “You are IN a story, whether you know it or not.” Operationalizing this quotation is the goal of story thinking, and is the key to thriving within transformational change.

John Lewis
Coach, Speaker, Author, Story Thinking

Dr. John Lewis, Ed.D. is a consultant, coach, and is speaker on the topics of human capital and strategic change within the knowledge-driven enterprise. He is the author of Story Thinking, which is about the major organizational challenges related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and ways for visionary leaders to begin addressing them now by rethinking traditional views of change, learning, and leadership. He is also the author of The Explanation Age, which Kirkus Reviews described as “An iconoclast’s blueprint for a new era of innovation.” He is the current president of EBLI (Evidence-Based Learning Institute) and holds a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, with a dissertation focus on mental models and decision making.

 

Keys to Open Innovation

Many of the world’s most successful business models, companies, and products were born from the synthesis of necessity and collaboration. “Open Innovation” is not a new concept, but rather one that demands increasing attention and robust implementation in the rapidly accelerating technology innovation lifecycle. Despite the success stories, many organizations have not yet fully embraced the concept of leveraging external innovation, as internal stakeholders often mistakenly perceive threats and underestimate opportunities that may arise from partnerships. This discussion will explore the careful balance that must be achieved and maintained between legacy internal processes and the augmented capabilities of external resources.

Anthony Cascio
Director of Research & Engineering
The Cognis Group

Anthony Cascio leads the Cognis team responsible for intellectual property analytics & landscaping, technology scouting, and partnering search engagements. For over twelve years, Anthony has consulted with clients ranging from the Fortune 500 to startups in a broad array of high technology industries related to both the life and physical sciences. He provides unique insight alongside validation to help guide each client’s strategic direction and identify new technology-related business opportunities. Anthony studied electrical engineering at the University of South Florida while conducting research in electronic materials characterization and electrospray deposition of macromolecular structures.

 

Staying Safe in a Digital World

Each day the news is filled with stories about computer crime and hacking which affect our financial institutions, banks, small businesses, large corporations, hospitals, retail stores and threatens to steal even our own identity. Cybersecurity refers to the practice of defending computers, networks and data from malicious attacks. We will provide an overview of aspects of cybersecurity including viruses, phishing, social engineering, identity theft and personal privacy as well as threats to the Internet of Things and physical security and provide tips on how to protect yourself and your organization from these threats.

Steven Hausman
Futurist  and Speaker
 Former Administrator, National Institutes of Health

Which data, what data, what futures: cybersecurity from the cloud to the brain cloud

We live our existence in a space we see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. However, for the last 10 years, this is not just all the space our existence is lived. We spend an ever-growing part of our time in cyberspace, in a global domain within the information environment where our digital life carries on — but for which nature did not equip us for sense-making. In this talk we will explore the strategic structure of cyberspace and its implications, to then broaden our aperture looking at trends for both near future and deep futures.

Gabriele Rizzo
Visionary Futurist and Enthusiastic Innovator
Former Advisor to the Minister of Defense for Futures

Dr. Gabriele Rizzo, Ph.D., APF, holds a PhD in String Theory and Astrophysics. He is the NATO’s Member at Large (“world-class expert drawn from academia, industry or government from the Nations”) in Strategic Foresight and Futures Studies, and the former advisor to the Italian Minister of Defense on Futures. He is a member of the Strategy Board of the European Cyber Security Organization, a PPP worth $2B.  Dr. Rizzo’s works inform $1T (one trillion USD) worth of Defense planning, some were evaluated “important pillars of strategy and implementation of R&I” by the EU, and others shape industrial investments in Research, Development and Innovation for more than $20B in 2020.

 

 

 

Proudly Produced by:

The TechCast Project

The Cognis Group

 

Sponsored by:

 

 

AI versus Humans – The Salient Issue of Our Time

AI versus Humans – The Salient Issue of Our Time

 
Having solved the problems of global consciousness, the coming internet, redesigning capitalism and the 2020 US Election (ha ha!), we now turn to the most salient technology of our times – artificial intelligence (AI). The heart of this issue focuses on the relationship between AI and humans. A good example is TechCast’s study on “AI and Future Work.”  We found that the threat of mass unemployment due to automation is likely to be resolved by pioneering a new frontier of “creative work” that can’t be done by intelligent machines.
 
Let’s start by defining AI in terms of the human tasks it is capable of automating potentially.  The figure “Structure of Consciousness” shows the hierarchy of different tasks or functions performed by human consciousness, or human intelligence (HI).  As noted in the figure, the arrow indicates how AI is automating progressively the lower-order tasks, forcing humans to focus on the realm of  higher-order tasks.
 

  
This raises the big question – “How much of HI is likely to be automated, and how much will humans continue to do?  To get a handle on this profound issue, we frame the problem in terms of the following 15 functions that roughly comprise HI.
 
1.  Perception   Sensory experience and awareness through touch, sight, sound, smell, taste. 
 
2.  Memory   Information encoded, stored, and retrieved for future action.
 
3.  Learning   Knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study.
 
4.  Knowledge   Understanding of a science, art, or technique for some purpose.
 
5.  Decision   A determination arrived at after consideration.

6.  Emotion   Mental reaction (anger, fear, etc.) experienced as strong feeling.

7. Empathy   Experiencing vicariously the thoughts and emotions of others. 

8.  Purpose   An object or end chosen to be attained.
 
9.  Will   Ability to desire, choose, consent to some action.

10.  Values   Things we think to be of relative worth, utility, or importance.

11.  Beliefs   Some idea that is considered true or held as opinion.

12  Imagination   Novel sensations and ideas gained without input of the senses.
 
13.  Intuition   Attaining knowledge without rational thought and inference.
 
14.  Peak Experience   Altered state of consciousness characterized by euphoria.

15. Vision   Guiding thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination. 


Some of this is being done by machines now. For instance, see this example showing that a third generation of AI is coming that goes beyond deep learning to simulate human empathy.  In this example, an avatar listens to a soldier talk of his PTSD experiences and coaches him into resolution of the trauma.  Obviously, the applications could be huge, from automated psychotherapy to teaching to virtual sex.  So we don’t wish to dismiss the prospects for advanced AI.

But we do want to explore the limits of AI. How far up this hierarchy of human thought can AI proceed? And, even if AI can simulate some aspect of human consciousness, what does that mean really?  Would it be the same as what people do? Or would it be just a false replica? A rough approximation?  A feeble substitute for the real thing?  These are difficult and profound questions that bear on the future relationship between AI and HI. Let’s see what we can learn.


When speaking on this topic, we often ask audiences if they think there is a substantial difference between AI an HI. A few brave individuals  usually say “No, there is no difference,” but the vast majority (90% or more) insist there is a substantial difference. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but it seems intuitively obvious to most people that humans are unique. Of course, we could be proven wrong as AI matures. That is the nature of this great experiment now underway as science advances. This little TechCast study is our attempt to anticipate the outcome.

After getting your thoughts on framing this issue in Round Two,  you will be asked to look over the definitions of each function and estimate if AI will be able to do it in the next few decades without human input. (Yes or No). The results should give us a sound grasp of the profile of artificial intelligence (AI) versus human intelligence (HI). These 15 functions may not define the full range of human consciousness perfectly, but they will serve the rough purpose of this study.
 
Round Two — Invitation to Help Frame This Study

For the second round of the study, we now invite you to make sure this issue is framed in the most useful way possible.  Are important functions missing?  Are these defined accurately?  Is  the problem posed effectively? Should we pose other questions? What else is on your mind?
 
Please send your best thinking to Halal@GWU.edu. We will use your ideas to improve this study and post them in the next edition of TechCast Research. 
 


Thanks for your support. The TechCast Team
  

Click here to get the complete blog in web format

Dr. Nir Buras, USA

 

PROFILE SUMMARY

A recognized architect and urban design professional, Nir Buras is among a handful of architects and planners that have both classical knowledge and the experience in large, complex projects. He visited 100 cities to write the book.

Nir Buras is an architect and planner based in Washington, DC, with over 30 years of specialized experience in large, complex, and sensitive projects, strategic planning, architecture and transportation design, as well as teaching and lecturing. Projects include East Side Access at Grand Central Terminal, New York; International Terminal D, Dallas-Fort-Worth; the Washington DC Dulles Metro line; work on the US Capitol and the Senate and House Office Buildings in Washington.

Buras learned his first lesson in urbanism while planning in the Negev Desert in Israel – that modernist planning didn’t work. Mid-career he had the opportunity to study “why things look the way they do,” and while writing a PhD on modernism, he came out a classicist. Engaged in numerous projects since then, he has researched first-hand how architecture impacts urban planning.

Working in the 2000s on large urban projects, Buras’s breakthrough came in 2005 when he directed the Anacostia Plan at the open studio of the Washington Mid Atlantic Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Arts which he founded. After ten years of applying in practice what he learned, he now presents the urban design and planning method of Classic Planning with the hope of reintroducing beauty to cities.

Dr. Nir Buras brings to the table diverse expertise in civic, aviation, rail, and commercial architecture and planning. Buras has the proven ability to quickly analyze key project issues, develop strategies to grow designs, and to work well within institutional, stakeholder and industry dynamics. His goal is to continue serving the cities of the world by helping their residents to understand better their cities and to help them overcome the challenges of the 21st Century by helping them develop consensual, 100-year classic plans.

 

Email: nir.buras@burasworks.com

Dr. John Freedman (MD), USA

 

PROFILE SUMMARY

Dr. John Freedman is a retired physician and lifelong polymath with a broad range of experience worldwide. He is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Medical School, and former President of Medical Exchange International, a non-profit charity. He is a Global Studies Scholar & Lecturer who has been a featured speaker at numerous symposia as well as a guest lecturer for many educational travel programs including National Geographic Expeditions, Smithsonian Journeys and several luxury cruise lines. His analytic work and presentations take an interdisciplinary approach drawing from history, geography, anthropology, the sciences, and current affairs in order to better understand lessons of the past, dynamics of the present, and probabilities of the future.

Email:  john.m.freeedman@gmail.com

Forecasting the 2020 US Election – Trump or Biden?

Forecasting the 2020 US Presidential Election

 

TechCast now moves to the next most popular topic rated by our readers – Will Trump or Biden win the coming election? Yes, this is controversial and fraught with heated emotion. But so too were our recent studies of the MegaCrisis, Global Consciousness, The Coming Internet and Redesigning Capitalism.

We choose to forecast this event in the same objective manner because it is among the most significant events of our time. It is an existential moment. The outcome will determine America’s experiment in Democracy, our lives, the future of our children, and even the world as a whole.

Using our method of collective intelligence, this blog outlines below the Pros and Cons for both candidates, and it asks you to comment on needed changes in this background information. Our next blog will publish an updated background analysis and invite readers to estimate the probability  of a Trump or Biden win. We could possibly carry this further by updating our forecast in a few weeks to see trends leading to the election. If we receive a flood of objections to this study, all bets are off.  TechCast aims to serve its readers. 


 

Background Information on the 2020 Election


Pros and Cons On Donald Trump

Pro: Large and solid political base.  Somewhere between 30-40% of Americans support Trump, and some 90% of Republicans are devout believers.

Pro: Electoral college advantage.   The disproportionate weight of scarcely populated states strongly favors Trump.  Nate Silver, a successful political forecaster, thinks it will take Biden at least a 5% lead in the popular vote to overcome this advantage.

 Pro:  Rated best on economy.   Despite statistics showing no difference between Obama’s 8 years of economic growth and Trump’s 4 years, many continue to believe Trump is better at stimulating economic growth.

Pro: Could exploit chaos in the election.   Trump is a master at taking advantage of the chaos he foments, and more is likely to come.

Pro: Voter suppression, foreign disinformation, etc. may help.  Cutting back capabilities of the Postal Service, discouraging mail in ballots, restricted voter rules, disinformation from Russia, etc. could all give Trump an edge.

Con: Disliked by large segments of society.   Rather obvious.

Con: Poor performance.   Data on economic growth, presidential ratings, the Federal deficit and other indicators show that Trump’s performance is poor. (See our TechCast Study)  Roughly 75% of the public thinks the Nation is “On the wrong track,” a telling sign of presidential failure.

Con: Vulnerable on pandemic and resulting economic collapse.   By almost all indicators, the US response to the coronavirus has been the worst in the world, even eclipsing Brazil.

 

Pros and Cons on Joseph Biden  


Pro:
 Favored by Alan Lichtman forecast.   Prof. Lichtman at American University has developed a system that accurately predicts presidential elections for the past century. His system gives the election to Biden, but only narrowly.

Pro: Rated best on all other issues.   Apart from the economy, Biden is thought to be better at managing other political issues.

Pro: Solid reputation and experience.    Biden has made mistakes, but he has an impeccable reputation and a lifetime of experience at government.

Pro: Black voters determined to remove Trump.  Black athletes, celebrities and ordinary citizens are infuriated by racial injustice and other Trump flaws, and they show fierce determination to mobilize their large constituency against his reelection.

Pro: Shift to progressive values underway   The pandemic, economic collapse, racial injustice, climate change and other crises have spurred a worldwide shift in global consciousness that favors progressive change.

Con: Looks old.  Biden may be fit for his age, but he appears old at times and often slurs when speaking. 


 

Invitation to Comment on Background Data

 

NEW BACKGROUND INFORMATION  Please look over the background analysis above and send any needed changes to Halal@GWU.edu.  You may want to add a Pro or Con item, suggest revisions to existing items, question items, or anything else needed to make this analysis more accurate.

No rants please. Try to focus on helping us frame this forecast with all relevant information that could shape the election.

We are grateful for your participation. Results will be presented in our next blog for Round Two. 

 


 

Defining the TechCast Mission

 

The TechCast Team and I feel a need to explore possible changes in the TechCast mission. We are particularly concerned about the possible conflict between TechCast and its founder – Bill Halal.  For instance, what are the new TechCast goals exactly? Is it appropriate to continue calling the newsletter “Bill’s Blog”?

TechCast led the field for 20 years by providing authoritative forecasts spanning the entire environment for decision makers.   We published reports covering all aspects of roughly 50 emerging technologies, 30 social trends, 25 wild cards and endless other studies. This huge task required a dozen editors, other staff, marketing, legal fees and all the other costs of running a small corporation. Although It was a struggle, TechCast  earned almost $ 1 million over this time, largely used to cover costs and invested in the company.

But the enormous demands, insufficient capital and intensifying competition made it hard to survive, so we transitioned into this 2nd generation system. TechCast still provides forecasts, but we have yielded the need to cover everything and instead focus on breakthroughs – like our recent string of studies noted above. By doing less, I think we have been able to do more.

Now TechCast is now a lean operation incorporated into my professional site (www.BillHalal.com) able to study strategic issues that count.  Our primary goal is to make TechCast an “invisible college” for all those interested in strategic foresight. We aim to study the most significant issues on the horizon, distribute our knowledge widely, encourage collaboration on interesting ideas, assist our members in their own work, and anything else that advances strategic foresight for a changing world. The TechCast Project is returning to its academic roots. 

Our modest needs are covered by consulting, speaking and other projects.  The TechCast  vision is to develop capabilities as a business incubator in strategic foresight.  In the last few months, we partnered with Angus Hooke on a book that uses the work of several TechCast experts. We helped Claire Nelson and Hassan Rashidi launch their Engineering and Society project, collaborated with Jess Garretson, CEO of The Cognis Group, and are now planning an Executive Webinar led by Amy Fletcher and others. TechCast welcomes your creative ideas, suggested projects, articles and any other ways we can work together.

The  newsletter is our primary news vehicle, and it has been branded as “Bill’s Blog” to draw on the founder’s reputation, provide interest and to keep it personal.  We now wonder if a more  business-like name that is more inclusive would be best – TechCast News, etc. ?


 

Invitation to Comment on TechCast Mission
 

Kindly look over the above analysis and send your suggestions to Halal@GWU.edu

Mission  Do you like this TechCast mission? See a problem? Suggest something else? Have a proposal to consider?

Newsletter Name  Should our newsletter continue to be called “Bill’s Blog”?  Do you prefer “TechCast News”?  Can you suggest other names?

Comments will be published in the next newsletter along with our analysis.

Thanks, Bill

William E. Halal, PhD
The TechCast Project
George Washington University

 

Click here to get the complete blog in web format

Peter Fingar, USA

 

PROFILE SUMMARY

 

Peter Fingar, independent analyst, internationally acclaimed author, management advisor, former college professor and CIO, has been providing leadership at the intersection of business and technology for over 50 years. Peter is widely known for helping to launch business process management (BPM) with his book, Business Process Management: The Third Wave. He has taught graduate and undergraduate computing studies in the U.S. and abroad, and held management, technical, consulting and advisory positions with GTE Data Services, American Software and Computer Services, Saudi Aramco, EC Cubed (for clients including GE TPN, American Express, Master Card and GE Capital), Noor Advanced Technologies in Egypt, the University of Tampa, the Technical Resource Connection division of Perot Systems and IBM Global Services. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and his latest of 26 books include: Cognitive Computing, and The Cognitive Internet of Everything (short book with 50 descriptive graphics) to bring understanding to your non-tech colleagues.

Email:  peter@peterfingar.com

http://www.peterfingar.com

www.mkpress.com

Redesigning Capitalism

Redesigning Capitalism – Final Results

The Coming Collaborative/Democratic Enterprise
 

 
Do not despair over the dismal state of the world today. The collective intelligence of 36 people who have participated in this study expect a new model of Democratic Enterprise to enter the business mainstream over the next several years with a highly positive societal impact. It could prove to be the beginning of a new American Renaissance.

Here’s a quick summary of the proposition being studied, more fully described at the end of this blog. The coronavirus pandemic, economic depression, the threat of climate change and other crises signal that business must go beyond making money to “internalize” these societal problems — or the world faces disaster. Building on the Business Roundtable announcement and other background data, this study forecasts the likelihood that the mainstream of business in modern nations will serve the interests of all stakeholders over the next several years.


This study started in our blog of August 1 when Redesigning Capitalism was rated as having greatest interest among 14 different topics. The blog of August 15 drew on comments from 12 contributors to flesh out our background analysis, and it also called for estimates of Probability and Societal Impact.

We are now pleased to present results from 24 of this blog’s readers below:
 




These results are striking. A sample of 24 is more than sufficient to reach sound conclusions, especially considering the sophisticated people who contributed, many of whom are TechCast Experts:
 
Margarite Abe, Jonathan Kolber, Jose Cordeiro, Peter King, Jess Garretson, Jacques Malan, Dale Deacon, Dennis Bushnell, Peter Bishop, Nicolas Cordes , Aharon Hauptman, Julio Milan, Andrew Micone, Linda Smith, Amy Fletcher, Fadi Bayoud, Lew Miller, Xin Wu Lin, Owen Davies, Tom Tao, Jerry Glenn, Carlos Scheel, Chris Garlick. We are grateful.
 
It is hard to imagine a more positive outcome. When considering the “mode” (highest number of responses), our contributors estimate a 70% probability that “the mainstream of business in industrialized nations (30% adoption level) shifts to collaboration with workers, customers, governments, environmentalists and other stakeholders over the next several years.” On Societal Impact, they rate “the impact this would have on society as a whole” at +7 on a scale running from -10 (Catastrophic) to +10 (Excellent). Using averages would drop these numbers a bit.
 
This impressive data, along with comments that follow, make a strong case for expecting an historic transformation of business consciousness over the next few years. The number of corporations involving stakeholders in major policy decisions is likely to grow from today’s small leading edge into the mainstream of business, both in the US and industrialized nations abroad. There remains confusion and doubts, as noted in the comments that follow. But if business leaders can seize the opportunities for transformative change, the economic world could enter a bold new economic era that solves major social problems as well as producing financial gains. It is even reasonable to think this would constitute a revolution in thought on political economy. In time, we may stop thinking in terms of “capitalism” altogether and embrace the emerging form of “democratic enterprise.” 
 
Leaders in business, government and other institutions should start to seriously plan this transformation by engaging stakeholders, devising metrics to evaluate stakeholder contributions and benefits and collaborating to resolve strategic problems that add value to be shared by the entire enterprise.
 
TechCast is thinking of starting an Executive Webinar to help business leaders adapt to this revolutionary change. We welcome any suggestions and help in planning this venture.
 
 

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Redesigning Capitalism

Redesigning Capitalism – Round Two
Comments From Readers On Collaborative/Democratic Enterprise
 

Following up on our last blog on Redesigning Capitalism, this second round continues our process of online collective intelligence to flesh out the background analysis with comments from contributors. Results confirm our framing of the issue, and they also raise crucial questions answered below. We then invite readers to estimate the probability that Democratic Enterprise will enter the mainstream and its societal impact.

Below you will find trenchant responses from the following different voices:  

Chris Garlick shows how the transportation industry is practicing stakeholder collaboration.

Carlos Scheel reminds us to include Nature and the Planet.

Dennis Bushnell claims Democratic Enterprise will emerge organically from market forces.

Linda Smith defends profit as the legitimate business goal.

Young-Jin Choi provides three requirements for “regulated human capitalism.”

Jonathan Kolber forecasts that a variety of corporate types will practice stakeholder collaboration.

Peter Bishop agrees with our analysis but questions our trends.

Margherita Abestimates a 70% probability that democratic enterprise will arrive soon.

Peter King likes the idea but worries about it surviving creative destruction.

Jess Garretson explores the forces and needs of stakeholder capitalism.

Jacques Malan finds this a difficult but crucial topic, and breaks it down by stakeholders.

Julio Milan outlines the importance of moving to a “humanist economy.” 


 
Critical Issues
 

While our original analysis is confirmed largely, several critical issues are raised by these 12 contributors:

 

Corporate Transformation is Here
 

Almost all commentators agree that the rising threat of pandemics, climate change, income inequality and other social and environmental problems are so severe that business leaders are being forced to “internalize” these issues by transforming corporate structures. This movement is often called “Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG),” while our analysis shows it is more accurately thought of as “collaborative enterprise” or “democratic enterprise.” 

Here is a sobering conclusion reached by the World Economic Forum:
 
“The bandwagon of stakeholder capitalism and sustainable finance is well and truly in train. As the future unfolds, those not already on it – authentically and materially – risk getting left behind.”

 

A Broader Form of Free Enterprise Would Be Historic
 

While some are concerned at the passing of “shareholder supremacy,” almost all contributors agree the required changes merely extend principles of markets, enterprise and competition into the social frontier. In short, there seems to be no call for fears of socialism because this is simply a broader form of free enterprise.

The emerging model of the “collaborative/democratic enterprise” changes the economic landscape by introducing democracy at the level of the organization. It is neither capitalism nor socialism but an unusually powerful concept that unifies both left and right.  The practice serves social interests as well as shareholders, so it is no longer focuses primarily on profit — capitalism.  It is led voluntarily by CEOs because it can be a competitive advantage, so it is not required by government — socialism. 

At the national level, governments would collaborate with constituents to serve all interests, including green taxes to limit carbon use, laws that promote equality, rulings to disperse market concentrations, etc. 

Progressive business leaders are embracing this idea in a constructive way that solves strategic problems to add value.  In principle, a collaborative system could solve nagging social problems, provide shareholders greater returns at less risk, minimize government oversight, stave off global crises like climate change and turn business leaders into social heroes. Collectively, it would shift global consciousness from self-interest to collective interest — an historic revolution.

 

Confusion Could Distort Efforts
 
The greatest danger in this period of institutional change is confusion over terms and methods. For instance, some are fearful that serving social needs will diminish the ability of business to survive a competitive marketplace. This danger stems from the decades-long focus on the older concept of social responsibility, without the concurrent need for obligation to perform financially.

The many examples cited here show that a leading edge of innovative firms have survived the test of competition and thrived. The key is to focus on collaborative strategic problem-solving in order to serve all needs better. As noted in our analysis below, stakeholders are actually resources, much like capital, and the challenge is to integrate social resources into business operations. The theory holds that collaborative enterprise should be more effective economically as well as socially. To survive the test of market competition, any system will have to be more productive.

There are also dangers of getting bogged down in endless wrangling over “who gets what.” This will require charting a new frontier of management that resolves the political issues that are endemic to any organization. Business leaders will have to form working partnerships with all stakeholders that ensure both responsibilities and rewards are equitable for all parties.

There are probably lots of other distortions that we cannot yet imagine, including the obstacles noted below in our trend analysis. Fasten your seat belts because the next decade or two could prove a bumpy ride.


 
Invitation to Answer Survey Questions

 
We now invite readers to look over the comments below followed by the background analysis. Then kindly send your best estimates of the questions below to Halal@GWU.edu.

PROBABILITY  Please estimate the probability that the mainstream of business in industrialized nations (30% adoption level) shifts to collaboration with workers, customers, governments, environmentalists and other stakeholders over the next several years. (from 0 to 100%)

SOCIETAL IMPACT  Please estimate the impact this would have on society as a whole. (from -10 Catastrophic to +10 Excellent.) 

COMMENTS  What reasons guide you in making these estimates? Other comments?

We are grateful for your participation. Final results will be presented in our next blog for Round Three.

Thanks, Bill
William E. Halal, PhD
The TechCast Project
George Washington University

 

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