“Anthropocene” may become an official unit of Geologic Time

The early readers of my book, MAKERS OF FIRE, will be familiar with the term, Anthropocene, which means the “era of age of man.” It has been an informal designation until now. This Friday in Berlin a task force will meet to consider making Anthropocene official. (Thanks to Michael McManus for the find)

“The Anthropocene Working Group assembles in Berlin on Friday, an interdisciplinary body of scientists and humanists working under the umbrella of the International Commission on Stratigraphy and “tasked with developing a proposal for the formal ratification of the Anthropocene as an official unit amending the Geological Time Scale“.

From the Independent

Anthropocene-2

Three Crucial Issues

One of the keys to understanding social change is to keep your finger on the pulse of culture. In my book, Makers of Fire (November 2014), I call this the fuel of the triangle of combustion. Let’s put this in the form of a question:

Where are the trigger points that are shaping the narratives of faith and culture?

Over the next year, I want to focus on several cultural issues that are shaping the narrative of both faith and culture. Here are three of these issues.

(1)
THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, AND SEX

There are more singles today than ever. Divorce rates are high. (So high, for example, in Montreal that, in anticipation of a likely divorce, newly married couples must pay an additional administrative fee to legally change the bride’s name to her new married name). The acceptance of Gay marriage is changing the meaning and usage of the word marriage.

Young urban affluents write about the negative economic impact of having children. Others express concern over how bearing children taxes the environment. Still others write about killing their children to reduce their carbon footprint. Recently one young lady even filmed her abortion to show that it was no big deal.

In the future children may be incubated within artificial wombs, raised by nanny-bots, and live out their lives in a world of fewer children.

Tech magazines write about porn as if it were a normal and acceptable aspect of society. The rise of sensitive robots points to a potential future of unprecedented human-machine relationships. We will see a rise in the legal commercial sex industry around the globe.

Needless to say, mindsets are changing.
Rapidly.
We often acknowledge how things are changing, but do we stop to consider how we are changing.. and being changed?

What is the future of marriage? What is the future of sex? What is the future of the family? What is the future of children?

How might followers of Christ understand the changes that are underway in light of their story? To draw upon biblical imagery, where is the spirit hovering upon the face of the deep, upon the chaos of our present moment?

the spirituality of leading from the future
Preorder your copy…

(2)
THE FUTURE OF THE BIBLE

For millions of years before the rise of humans, living things experienced suffering, pain, and death. Multiple species of humans walked on Earth before the emergence of modern humans. New knowledge of this kind shakes the underpinnings of many who read the Bible as a chronological history.

The rise of Islam brings to the forefront billions of people who believe that God wrote a book. And millions of Christians feel the same way about the Bible that Muslims feel about the Qu’ran.

At the same time, are we hearing rumblings that some western Christ followers will want to distance themselves from both fundamentalist Muslims and Christians? Meanwhile, a conservative and fundamentalist Christianity rises in the developing world and promises to be the global religion of the future.

What might be the future relationship of the Christ following faith to its scripture? Is the Bible a divine book? Or is this bibliolatry? Is the Bible only human literature? Or is this blasphemy?

(3)
THE FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICA

In his book, The Post-American World, Fareed Zakariah argued that The United States is no longer the epicenter of global culture. Where might global culture be going? In another book, The Next One Hundred Years, George Friedman argues that the United States will remain the center of the world for the next 100 years.

Where might current trends of immigration, an aging population, and military prowess be leading us? What might North America look like towards the end of the 21st century and how might that impact what we do today?

These are three critical issues (among many) which will require answers from us in the very near future. They represent some of the trigger points that are shaping our cultural narrative. Where do the cultural narratives and faith narratives merge and where do they diverge? How can followers of Christ, regardless of geography, frame a Christ following mission for the next century and beyond? What does 21st century discipleship look like in light of massive cultural changes? As cultures change and paradigms shift, where is our own story taking us? How can we respond to the competing narratives around us and tell the story of Christ (and where faith is taking the world) in a compelling way?

I hope these questions primed the pump of your imagination. They have mine.

________________________________________
Join Alex McManus, author of Makers of Fire, for IMN 2015 in Orlando, Fl on Feb 2-6. He will discuss, during the Master Class Certificate sessions, the skills necessary to understand and navigate these kinds of rapid cultural changes through the analogy of Making Fire.

DEFIBRILLATE YOUR BRAIN
IMN 2015
ORLANDO, FLORIDA
FEBRUARY 2-6
VERY LIMITED SEATING

IMN CERTIFICATES
Strategic Leadership (February 3-5)
Human Capacity Mentor (February 3-5)
Master Class Cultural Architect Certificate (February 2-6)

Preorder MAKERS OF FIRE: the spirituality of leading from the future

Announcing The Master Class Certificate

You live and lead in a white water rapid of cultural change.
Because of this, you cannot afford to simply react to the world around you.

YOU must learn to navigate change.
IMN_WWR
Because of this, it is critical, in our moment, that Christ following leaders learn to lead from the future.

How can we navigate the undercurrents of change and shape, influence (even create) the future?

The Master Certificate Class in Strategic and Ideational Leadership is designed to equip you to navigate these waters.

The next offering for this Certificate is February 2-6, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. You will gain

  • Frameworks for thinking about the future
  • Tools for anticipating the future
  • Trajectories for creating the future

The Master Class certificate includes either The Certificate in Strategic Leadership or the Certificate in Maximizing Human Capacity.

The Master Class includes additional sessions on Critical Cultural Issues. For example, in our time of rapid change, here are three questions (of many) that are shaping both our cultural and faith narratives. As co-creators with God of the human future, what will your contribution to this story be?

THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, AND SEX

There are more singles today than ever. Divorce rates are high. (So high, for example, in Montreal that, in anticipation of a likely divorce, newly married couples must pay an additional administrative fee to legally change the bride’s name). The acceptance of Gay marriage is changing the meaning and usage of the word marriage.

Young urban affluents write about the negative impact of having children to their personal economics? Others advocate for the ecosystem, as if it were more valuable than future children. Still others write about killing their children, as if it were just another day on the job. One even filmed her abortion to show how enjoyable it was. Future children may be incubated within artificial wombs, raised by nanny-bots, and live out their lives in a world of fewer children.

Tech magazines write about porn as if it were a normal and acceptable (even respectable?) aspect of society. The rise of sensitive robots points to a potential future of unprecedented human-machine relationships.

Mindsets are changing. Rapidly. We often acknowledge how things are change, but do we stop to consider how we are changing.. and being changed?

What is the future of marriage? What is the future of sex? What is the future of the family? What is the future of children?

How might followers of Christ understand the changes that are underway in light of their story? To draw upon biblical imagery, where is the spirit hovering upon the face of the deep, upon the chaos of our present moment?

THE FUTURE OF THE BIBLE

For millions of years before the rise of humans, living things experienced suffering, pain, and death. Multiple species of humans walked on Earth before the emergence of modern humans. New knowledge of this kind shakes the underpinnings of many who read the Bible as a chronological history.

The rise of Islam brings to the forefront billions of people who believe that God wrote a book. And millions of Christians feel the same way about the Bible that Muslims feel about the Qu’ran.

At the same time, are we hearing rumblings that some western Christ followers will want to distance themselves from both fundamentalist Muslims and Christians? Meanwhile, a conservative and fundamentalist Christianity rises in the developing world and promises to be the global religion of the future.

What might be alternatives for the relationship of the Christ following faith to its scripture? Is the Bible a divine book? Or is this bibliolatry? Is the Bible only human literature? Or is this blasphemy?

THE FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICA

In his book, The Post-American World, Fareed Zakariah argued that The United States is no longer the epicenter of global culture. Where might global culture be going? In another book, The Next One Hundred Years, George Friedman argues that the United States will remain the center of the world for the next 100 years.

Where might current trends of immigration, an aging population, and military prowess be leading us? What might North America look like towards the end of the 21st century and how might that impact what we do today?

How can followers of Christ, regardless of geography, frame a Christ following mission for the next century and beyond? What does 21st century discipleship look like in light of massive cultural changes?

Join Alex McManus, author of Makers of Fire, for IMN 2015 in Orlando, Fl on Feb 2-6.
He will discuss, during the Master Class Certificate sessions, the skills necessary to understand and navigate these kinds of rapid cultural changes through the analogy of Making Fire.

DEFIBRILLATE YOUR BRAIN
IMN 2015
ORLANDO, FLORIDA
FEBRUARY 2-6
VERY LIMITED SEATING

IMN CERTIFICATES
Strategic Leadership (February 3-5)
Human Capacity Mentor (February 3-5)
Master Class Cultural Architect Certificate (February 2-6)

 

The World’s First Family Robot

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

Finding
Jibo wants to be a member of your family. Jibo is a very sleek and, dare I say, cute little robot that is both humanly warm and helpful. It will keep you company. Order your dinner. Give you reminders. Take your pictures. And talk to you all day. The creator of Jibo wants us to think of technology as a partner in your everyday life not just a tool to accomplish a task. This will be a major shift in the relationship between man and machine. Aesthetically, Jibo reminds one of Eve, the female robotic love interest in the Pixar movie Wall-e. The game changer with Jibo is it’s predictive programming that not only remembers your preferences and choices but anticipates your wants and needs. Could this be the next step towards a mind-numbing life not unlike Captain B. McCrea and passengers of his spaceship, Axiom?

Implications
This is a significant step towards the humanization of robot-to-human interaction. The interactive experience has a very human-esque quality to it. This further blurs the line between humans and technology. Seeing robots as partners is a significant expression of that blurry line. It paves the way for robots to function as replacements for real human beings.

The convergence of articulated mechanical hands and feet, affectionate robots ( see scan hit on The World’s First Affectionate Robot), and predictive programming can become a major step towards creating human like androids.

Could these androids and our dependency on them eventually replace people who have traditionally functioned as PSWs, EMTs, nanny’s, and babysitters? Could predictive programming potentially diminish our capacity to think for ourselves?

Quote
“Things begin to get complicated when robots go beyond basic manual, bureaucratic, and cognitive labor and become tools for us to outsource intimate experiences and functions to. Part of Jibo’s appeal is that it will let you to stop thinking. That is a disconcerting change, one which over time, can profoundly impact who we are.”

-Evan Selinger, WIRED

Link

Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy. Then They’ll Ruin It

What is MAKERS OF FIRE about?

Makers of Fire provokes readers to ignite change through their own creativity by using the analogy of Making Fire.

In order for fire to happen, three ingredients must be present:

  • fuel
  • oxygen
  • heat

In order to create a “burning event,” we must be

  • (1) fully present in the moment

Exponential change characterizes our world. Being fully present  includes developing an awareness of the “weak signals” of change that are all around us as well as the events and trends that are shaping our present world. This is the Fuel.

  • (2) shapers of meaning

People are shaped by stories. Shaping meaning means telling the story of the human journey in ways that capture the 21st century imagination.  We must engaged and expand our ability to think about the future. This is Oxygen.

  • (3) step into the fray

Creating the future doesn’t begin with a plan. It begins with a dream. But dreams must become acts through which we step between the Fuel of culture and the Oxygen of meaning and ignite a spark of change. This is Heat.

When you bring these three ingredients together, you become a Maker of Fire.

The book is divided in three sections: Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat.

Fuel turns its attention on our rapidly changing 21st century culture. It touches on the trends and events that are shaping our world. But not for the purpose of trend spotting or forecasting. Instead, Fuel focuses on our orientation towards futurity and towards our ever changing present moment.

Oxygen focuses on a timeless element of the human heart: our search for meaning. This second section explores the ways both theists and atheists, mystics and materialists, are tied together in a search for meaning in life. This is the human religion.

Heat gets practical. This is where dreams become deeds, genies come out of bottles, the imagined materializes into the experienced. This is where you apply your genius, creativity, and initiative to the Fuel of culture that settles like tinder at our feet and the Oxygen of meanings that swirl around us all. This is where you become a maker of fire.

The book is about the spirituality of leading from the future, a much needed corrective for those focused on the past and much desired perspective for those trying to be more engaged with the present.

The book is now available on amazon in both print and digital formats.

THE DOCTOR IS IN — Virtual humans help us be more honest

TOPIC

Some first research exploring how people are more honest and less embarrassed when sharing very personal details with a virtual Human than they are with the real thing. There is the promise of help for people struggling with serious mental anguish, including post-traumatic stress. 

 

TESA  Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts

 

FINDING 
Research carried out by the University of Southern California is the first of its kind and shows a willingness on the part of patients to divulge even very embarrassing information if they believe there is no human involved.

Subjects recruited through Craigslist aged between eighteen and sixty five were evaluated using SimSensei, a virtual human application able to pick up signals of depression and anxiety through both real-time sensing and non-verbal behaviours.

The aim is to see whether such technology can be of help to real people. The virtual human Ellie would ask questions, feedback, and express empathetic listening, thereby developing rapport and not judging – two important things when it comes to disclosing personal information important to the beginning of diagnosis and therapy.

 

IMPLICATIONS 
Whilst the researchers point out this is not a replacement to real people offering the necessary care and support, but a way of opening up the process with more important and critical information being available sooner.

I find it fascinating how people can be more honest to a virtual human and wonder about how this will not only be something which helps more serious mental conditions but also those carried around by people which inhibit them from flourishing in their lives.

 

QUOTES

“The study provides the first empirical evidence that virtual humans can increase a patient’s willingness to disclose personal information in a clinical setting. It also presents compelling reasons for doctors to start using virtual humans as medical screeners. The honest answers acquired by a virtual human could help doctors diagnose and treat their patients more appropriately.” (Tanya Abrams – USC)

“One participant who thought the virtual human was automated said the experience was “way better than talking to a person. I don’t really feel comfortable talking about personal stuff to other people”.” (Tanya Abrams – USC)

Tweet: The Doctor is in — meet Ellie, your virtual therapist. Trend spotting @theimn @geoffreybaines

 

SOURCES 
Futurity: 21st July 2014

Original article

See more at…

The World’s First Affectionate Robot

 

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

FINDING

On June 5, 2014 Softbank Chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son, introduced the first affectionate robot to the world. Built in partnership with Aldebaran Robotics SAS, “Pepper’s” human like qualities are driven by an “emotional engine” and a cloud-based AI. It is Softbank’s intention to install affectionate robots in several of its retail location in Japan. Pepper will be available to the Japanese consumer by 2015.

IMPLICATIONS

Human like robots are not a new idea. People have been imagining them for much of the past century. What makes this finding significant is that for the first time, affectionate robots are being introduced to the consumer market. No longer limited to the realm of science fiction novels and movies. These are not robots that take the place of human manual labour. Rather, robots that could soon replace human warmth and human contact. They are lauded as being able to replace a “babysitter, nurse, and emergency medical worker.” And they have the ability to improve their emotional intuition and response. The more they experience, the more they will learn…and evolve. Machines with emotional intelligence.

What will an AI that has been given 25-30 years of life experience look like? Sound like? Act like? Feel like? Could this be the beginning of the beginning of sentient machines? And how ubiquitous will these affectionate robots be in 2045?

QUOTES

“It’s either a technological breakthrough or the most terrifying robot advancement I’ve ever heard of.” -Lance Ulanoff, Chief Correspondent and Editor-at-Large of Mashable.

SOURCES

http://mashable.com/2014/06/05/softbank-emotional-robot/

The Universes and The Earths

TOPIC:  Earth meet your cousin, Keplar-186f.

FINDING:  Finally, using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-sized planet, Keplar-186f, in the Golidlocks zone, the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

IMPLICATIONS:  For some, like Adrienne LeFrance of The Atlantic who writes in her article, This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First Cousin, “Today we know that Earth is special. What we don’t know is how long we’ll be able to say that.”

For others, like myself who not only expect to find innumerable earth-sized planets but also signs of life, the discovery does not make the earth any more or less special. What it does do is continue to open the doors of possibility. This discovery takes us another baby step closer to the possibility of other life in the universe. Imagine, a cosmos with multiple stories of its genesis. God, I love this universe.

When God began creating the Universes and the Earths….

QUOTES:


“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,” said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. “Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”

SOURCES:

NASA
http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star/#.U1gp616hWlJ

The Atlantic
http://m.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/this-is-big-scientists-just-found-earths-closest-cousin/360843/

WILL AI GET A STANDING OVATION AT TED?

Geoffrey Baines Edinburgh, Scotland March 21, 2014
Submitted, March 21, 2014
Geoffrey Baines
Edinburgh, Scotland

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

FINDING
Peter Diamandis and TED’s Chris Anderson have announced an amazing XPrize to move Artificial Intelligence forward.  The challenge: “Can an A.I. give a TED talk so powerful and compelling that it commands a standing ovation?”

IMPLICATIONS
In the last four years, IBM’s Watson and Google’s Deep Learning have pushed forward AI’s evolution. Now, the XPrize promises to give the truest indication of just how human A.I. is really becoming.

There is also an opportunity to be involved in the project.  Peter Diamandis invites his Abundance 360 members to be part of the action: “Because the design of this XPRIZE isn’t easy or obvious, I’m turning to you, my Abundance & Bold community, for help and input. For example: How long should the A.I.’s TED talk be? How should the subject be chosen? How should the competition be judged? Should the A.I. be a physical robot that walks (or rolls) on stage or just a voice?”

I think I might just join in.

QUOTES
“We’re currently agnostic as to how the talk is presented. Could be a robot walking onto the stage, an avatar or Scarlett Johansson’s sexy disembodied voice. And the ‘standing O’ criterion is intended as a powerful symbol for the standard a talk should aspire to.” (Chris Anderson)

SOURCE
Email from Abundance 360, but you can also check in here:

http://blog.ted.com/2014/03/20/a-ted-talk-from-artificial-intelligence-theres-an-xprize-for-that/