Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Globalization Goes High-Tech: A Worrisome World of Abundance

Halal (2008) states that technology will become overly abundant and globally available in the future (p. 31). One indicator is the increasing availability of data that is ripe to be collated and processed by sophisticated technology. Among the seven high-tech manufacturing forecasts Halal makes, Smart Robots is especially interesting.

Image Source: Performing Objectives 2012

The concept of smart robots is prevalent in film and book form.  Smart robots are likely to become more prevalent as aided by the following forces:

1. Technological. Technology will continue to increase making way for more sophistication in robotics and artificial intelligence.
2. Social. Robots are likely to be modeled in human form ("My Robot Girlfriend" by Wesley Allison provides a glimpse of this) so that they are more socially acceptable. This is counter intuitive since the trend is to make better computing devices smaller. The form of robots will be predominately in human form.


Halal, W. E. (2008). Technology's Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wireless Electricity

Wireless electricity was built by Nikola Tesla before the world adopted electricity.

Wireless Electricity has several forces impacting it to include:

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1. Economical. The electrical supply industry is a core part of many countries and municipalities. These supply services can be from private companies as well as from local governments. While the core electricity will likely be fed by the same source providers, they amount and quality of that supply may need to change. Additionally, there is a tremendous barrier to the development and distribution of wireless electricity. This economic barrier includes technology requires of suppliers as well as device manufacturers.

2. Technological. The technological constraints are incredible but not insurmountable. Nikola Tesla, as illustrated in the video in this blog, engineered the solution to wireless technology. Electric suppliers merely need to develop to Tesla's design. In addition, manufacturers of electrical devices such as mobile devices and televisions, would need to created new versions or adapters to support the new wireless technology.

Bio Age 2100

Hietanen & Ahvenainen (2012) introduce the concept of the Bio Age as a natural progression from the Iron, Stone, and Bronze Ages. As with the previous ages, the name indicates the core component of production. This perceived age will start by the year 2100 and see a total emersion of bio-wares: bio-economy, bio-energy, bio-electronics, bio-food, etc. Some of Hietanen & Ahvenainen's (2012) predictions for the Bio Age include:

- Artificial meet raised and grown in barns
- Mobile devices made of compostable materials
- Biomaterials grown from seeds
- Mast manufacturing with biomaterials as the base component

Image Source: Proof Positive
Several forces will affect the success of the Bio Age prediction, including Global and Economical.

1. Global - International trade is currently robust and beneficial to individuals, organizations, and nations. Countries without cows, for example, can obtain beef; individuals can purchase vehicles made in other countries; etc. The continued blending of our industries, economies, and political systems into globally infused entities will provide an impetus for the Bio Age to take place.

2. Economical - The global economy will increasingly demand specific products (i.e. beef, and technology) that would be difficult to maintain product do to the dwindling supply of natural resources. Production of biomaterials is likely to be accomplished through an international agreement tied to economic and political policies.


Hietanen, O., & Ahvenainen, M. (2012). Bio Age 2100. The Futurist, 46(5),. Retrieved from http://www.wfs.org/futurist/september-october-2012-vol-46-no-5/22nd-century-first-light/forecasts/bio-age-2100

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Evolutionary Learning

Image Source: thinkbig.com

Schriebman & Christakis (2008) detailed the architecture of structured design dialogue, touting it as a necessary precursor to the envisioned Technology of Democracy. While the architecture is comprised of 31 components, of significant interest is the six dialogue laws:
1. Diversity of Perspectives
2. Disciplined Dialogue
3. Comparison of Observer and Group Ideas
4. Meaning and Wisdom
5. Autonomy and Authenticity
6. Evolutionary Learning

Schriebman & Christakis (2008) stated that evolutionary learning occurs, within a dialogue, when the observers understand how their individual ideas are related (p. 27). This intuitive observation is more apt to be realized when disciplined dialogue is part of the process. Personal biases, knowledge, and lack of knowledge can impede on the evolutionary learning process. In addition, two external forces can impact this process:

1. Global. For learning to be evolutionary, there must be a global perspective. New ideas are often formed when components are incorporated from beyond the local space. We must look beyond our local space to form evolutionary ideas. Thinking globally helps us envision what impacts and influences our ideas have on the global community and, conversely, what impacts and influences the global community might have on our ideas.

2. Social. Personal behaviors and ideas are often influenced by social norms, relationships, and beliefs. These social aspects help guide how we think and how we behave. This directly impacts our ideas and our willingness to expose them to others.

Case Study

Wireless electricity is a future innovation that can benefit from the concept of evolutionary learning. To thoroughly examine the technological aspects of the innovation, a cross-section of personnel will spend several mutil-hour sessions in a think tank. The six dialogue laws will be observed so that evolutionary learning can take place. Through this process, the think tank members are more likely to produce results necessary to move wireless electricity from concept to future reality.


Schriebman, V., & Christakis, A. N. (2008). New agora: New geometry of languaging and new technology of democracy. Updated version 2008. Journal of Applied Systemic Studies, 1, 1, 15-31


Monday, August 13, 2012

NGT and Delphi Research Approaches


The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is an evaluation tool that uses "semi-quantitative, rank-ordered" data. The data is collected from learner perceptions of a course (Dobbie, Rhodes, Tysinger, & Freeman (2004).

The Delphi Method is a research approach that uses an iterative and controlled feedback system (Skulmoski, Hartman, & Krahn, 2007). The authors detail 11 steps in a typical Delphi research process:

  1. Develop the research question.
  2. Design the research.
  3. Select a research sample.
  4. Initial questionnaire.
  5. Pilot study.
  6. Release initial questionnaire results.
  7. Questionnaire round two.
  8. Release round two results.
  9. Questionnaire round three.
  10. Release round three results.
  11. Verify, generalize, and document research results.
As with most research, the Delphi Method and NGT are impacted by social and economical forces.

Social. Both research approaches/techniques require input from people. People have biases, agendas, and other factors that can impact data collection validity.

Economical. Research involving human subjects requires time and space. Time is needed of the researchers and human subjects involved. Space refers to the physical facility required for conducting research. Both time and space cost money.

Like most research methodologies, the Delphi Method has flexibility and several different permutations. Key to this method is iterative questionnaires and controlled feedback. The NGT tool is less iterative but more rigorous regarding statistical data analysis.


Dobbie, A., Rhodes, M., Tysinger, J., & Freeman, J. (2004). Using a Modified Nominal Group Technique as a Curriculum Evaluation Tool. Retrieved August 8, 2012 from http://www.stfm.org/fmhub/fm2004/June/Alison402.pdf

Skulmoski, G., Hartman, F., & Krahn, J. (2007). The Delphi Method for Graduate Research. Retrieved August 8, 2012 from http://jite.org/documents/Vol6/JITEv6p001-021Skulmoski212.pdf

Friday, August 10, 2012

Horizon Report - 2012 Higher Education Edition

The New Media Consortium published the Horizon Report - 2012 Higher Education Edition. This report featured several trends and technologies. In this blog, I will discuss one of each and apply a futurist lens to them.

Key Trend
Johnson, Adams, & Cummins (2012) report that "Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models" (p.4). This key tried is important to both academic institutions and students. The move to online education is a proven model for success. Academic institutions can reach more students and realize cost savings. Students can enjoy the convenience of asynchronous classes.

This trend has implications for the future of higher education.

  1. Competition for students will increase as students are able to attend virtually any institution on the planet.
  2. Students will increasingly take classes from a variety of institutions instead of taking all classes at one college or university.
  3. Koller (2012) suggest that an increasing number of courses will be available online and for free. MIT's OpenCourseWare. is a robust model of Koller's claim.

Two forces that impact this trend are Global and Economical.

Global: The move to online classes makes the concepts of "residency" and "in-state" archaic. Students from different countries can attend the same classroom.

Economical: Higher education is a big business. Students are the customers and they now have a choice of what college or university they attend. Students are no longer limited to educational institutions in their local geographic area.


The Horizon report praises the advent of tablet computing and details the vast market share the Apple iPad has over its few competitors. I have extensive experience with tablets as a user and professional developer. Based on this experience, here are some futurist thoughts:

  1. Tablets will completely replace laptop computers. Models will be available with screens up to 21" and with a full range of accessories such as wireless mice, keyboards, cameras, etc.
  2. Apple will release an iPad model that has a built-in BD drive.
  3. Apple will release a version of iOS (their mobile OS) that supports Flash media.
  4. Apple will release an iPad version that incorporates their Siri technology currently available on their iPhone 4S.
iPad Custom eLearning Module. Copyright Larenda LLC.

Two of the forces that impact tablet computing are Global and Educational.

Global: Tablets can connect to the Internet via 3G or wireless networks. Users are able to connect to others around the globe. Many current Apps support this global availability to include business, collaboration, communication, and entertainment Apps.

Educational: The iPad is ideal as a personal learning device (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012, pp. 15-16), One shortfall is that most eLearning authoring tools output Flash media which is not supported by iOS devices. The few eLearning or mLearning authoring tools that are available are limited in output. This limitation makes it difficult to create immersive eLearning/mLearning content, course, and courses.


Johnson, L, S Adams, and M Cummins. The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: New Media Consortium (2012).

Koller, D. 2012. Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education.html