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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Longevity, the Issue that Just Won't Die -- Bio

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Bruce Sterling recently mentioned the potential market for "longevity spas" in his column in Wired. Perhaps the most interesting idea he raised related to dysfunctional industries. "An entire industry can putter along for decades, steadily improving its products, services, and bottom line - only to be suddenly eviscerated by people from nowhere using simple, inexpensive, profoundly powerful techniques." This idea came to him from the writing of Clayton Christensen, who has discussed these concepts in several books.

Sterling adds, "In his latest, Seeing What's Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change, the author encourages readers to spot vulnerabilities in the processes, values, and markets of seemingly invulnerable industries...Intrigued by this challenge, I searched for the stupidest, most dysfunctional US industry I could find. The automotive and energy industries - beset by entrenched interests, sclerotic management, and stifling oversight - were tempting. But the worst has to be health care."

Scathing commentary aside, I think Sterling is making a fascinating, secondary point here. Enormous potential for positive change and dynamic evolution exists, ironically, in some of the places that look incredibly rigid and immutable. Why? Because these are the organizations (or communities, or people, or schools of thought) which have been so "successful" at avoiding meaningful adaptation. And which are therefore on the point of total collapse, after which everything about them will have to be changed.

So if Clayton Christensen is asking us to look at vulnerabilities in the processes of companies, I'd like to suggest that we look at vulnerabilities and pathologies in the behavior of not just companies, but countries, cities, schools, and other communities and organizations.

Look for the most glaring of these weaknesses, but not as a source of despair. Instead, reflect on them in terms of what will happen if they bring about a sudden, catastrophic collapse of that system. What will come after it? What opportunities will then emerge for positive change?

What opportunities will you have to shape or take advantage of that change?




Future Imperative

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