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Prepare now for 2025

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A recently published book written by STEPH VERMEULEN, takes a look at if we are ready to embrace some of the exponential changes over the next decade or if we will be thrust out of our comfort zones into a world of uncertainty.

In 2015 a diverse range of thinkers – known as the London Futurists – met to ponder the exponential change likely to take place over the next decade.  The book –  Anticipating 2025: A guide to the radical changes that may lie ahead, whether or not we’re ready – is a compilation of their papers.  The book leaves one questioning whether we’re ready to embrace such extraordinary changes in citizenship or are we so caught in the present that these shifts will thrust us right out of our comfort zones?

Some roadblocks:

To take advantage of the scientific marvels to come, a reboot will be necessary in the economic, political and social systems that run commerce, education, healthcare and human wellbeing. We know change is inevitable so the million-dollar question is; will global institutions shift by evolution or will they rapidly be made redundant through disruptive revolution?

The catalyst:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already changing everything.  Not only is this being felt in business – and in the way we work – but it’s also blurring the lines between human and machine.  Instead of using devices, we will soon be able to answer complex questions in our heads by silently interacting with information sources; it could be how we end up relating to one another too.  Although full AI-human interface is unlikely by 2025, progress will make us all a lot smarter and – potentially – these deep changes could lead to ‘superintelligence’ determining the future of humanity.

Redesigning humanity:

Disruption in medicine will provide quick personalised and cheap alternatives to today’s expensive choices making health an option for the poor.  The combined potential of the Internet of Things (where everything is smart and connected), data collecting wearable tech, AI, robotics and virtual healthcare – such as a diagnostic ‘Doc in your Pocket’ – will soon make today’s hi-tech medical practices appear old and outdated.

 

  • Designer genes:  The building blocks of life are nano-sized and advances in nanomedicine allow scientists to target treatment at a molecular level providing the ultimate in personalised care. Wellness is likely to be exponentially improved by the following: self-editing genomes (DNA) that fine-tune our genetic inheritance; biosensing for diagnosis and biomedicine for treatment; surgical nanorobotics (built from DNA but can be programmed like a computer), bionic limbs that are operated by our nervous system; medical computer chips embedded in our heads and – if what you’ve got is incurable – cryonics is becoming sophisticated enough to preserve you in a frozen state until a cure becomes available.
  • Prolongevity:  Aging itself will not be slowed but the physical wear-and-tear can be mended making us more youthful and healthier as we age.  At a nano level, scientists understand in principle how to remove, repair and replace damaged cellular ‘machinery’.  Popping some ‘refurb’ capsules containing such nano-bots could delay experiencing the effects of aging of a 60-year-old to 90.  If the same process is repeated at 90, the aging experienced at 60 potentially could be delayed until we’re 150 years old.  This will mean having to rescript retirement and ‘work’ will involve sandwiching periods of productive contribution with periods of learning.  Breakthroughs in speed-learning will assist us to keep up with the speedy pace of progress.

 

Social Futurism:

Our traditional socio-political and economic systems are incapable of solving many of the world’s serious problems and – right now – we’re at the crossroads of unprecedented promise or total catastrophe.

  • Politics: A shift towards group problem solving could move us from competitive power-driven political hierarchies (á la DJ Trump) to more collaborative Ubuntu-style social structures where democratic, decentralised institutions will evolve naturally from mutual support networks.  Could it be that governments will end up having no greater power than administrating the money generated by these collaborative structures?
  • Economics: Capitalism is the only system not grounded in natural principles which is well illustrated by the gross inequality of 1% of the population holding the same amount of wealth as the remaining 99%. To avert catastrophe, calls for a universal basic income echo those made by many presidents, philosophers and economists since the 1600s.  If you’re concerned about producing idleness, then take note of economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s question: “why is leisure uniformly bad for the poor but uniformly good for the well-to-do?”
  • EmPowerment:  Poor people’s income and time are consumed by fuel – either gathering wood or buying it. On average, kerosene (paraffin) costs $8 per kilowatt hour while Brits pay only 20c for the electrical equivalent. Solar power makes sense on a continent awash in sunshine as the extra time and incremental money saved can be used to make an income.  Mass literacy initiatives using digital media will also give people access to information so expect an explosion of creativity from Africa and Asia as people find new, appropriate solutions to their pressing problems.
  • Environment: The other side of the coin is the extraordinarily high level of consumerism needed to sustain capitalism.  99% of materials used in the US end up in landfills six weeks after production.  3D printing could relieve some of this environmental pressure and it could also put an end to cargo-based trade. Instead of end-products, trade will involve moving the raw materials needed to feed 3D printers.

These massive social shifts will in turn have implications for our financial future and it is predicted that disruption will wipe out and/or replace most of today’s more traditional investments.

Survival kit:

Using our imagination creatively is what’s needed to see beyond the restraints of the known and having a mindset of lifelong learning will help us stay healthy and sane.  With many jobs being taken over by machines, it is anticipated that by 2025 most of us will occupy ourselves providing services to some of the planets 8 billion or so inhabitants – much of this will involve helping people to manage change.

Oh… and there’s just one last thing:  it won’t be too long before robots will be so convincing that many people will choose a relationship with a robot over a human partner… and, when we’ve programmed the ‘bot to our liking, we may even marry them.

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As selfie cameras rise, so must selfie etiquette

Selfies were once a sign of narcissism or self-obsession. Now they are the new normal, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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You can blame Oxford Dictionaries for making the “selfie” respectable. After all, being named Word of the Year, as it was in 2013, does tend to soften some of the self-consciousness in this most self-conscious of actions.

Once seen as a symbol of narcissism and self-obsession, it is now the new normal, to the extent that most smartphones are sold on the basis of the front camera. Or, as that feature is now almost universally named by manufacturers, the “selfie camera”.

I was one of the hold-outs, having a near-allergy to the selfie. I still resist, but succumb more often than I would like. The reason for continued resistance is that it remains a big leap from the word becoming respectable to the action itself shedding its narcissistic image. 

For most, it’s already happened, and for that you can blame Ellen DeGeneres. She  choreographed the most famous group selfie yet at the 2014 Oscars, when she roped a bunch of actors into a group selfie, using the then-new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Her tweet of the photo became what was then the most retweeted posting ever on Twitter, and was estimated to have been worth a million dollars in marketing value to Samsung.

Ironically, it was Samsung’s up-and-coming challenger, Huawei, that came up with a new word for this type of selfie: the “groufie”. Thanks to an 8 Megapixel front camera on the new Huawei Ascend P7 camera that year which took the highest quality selfies – and groufies – possible on a smartphone at the time.

It didn’t end there, and selfies and groufies have morphed into variations like selfscapes (selfie in a landscape), skyfies (selfies from the air, using remote controlled devices) and jerkies (selfies to make an idiot out of yourself). I invented all of those on the fly, so it’s easy to imagine a new word emerging for every type of selfie.

Continue reading about selfie improvements through the years.

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Mickey’s 90th for SA

Disney Africa announced the local launch of the Mickey the True Original campaign, joining the global festivities honouring 9 decades of Mickey Mouse, his heritage, personality and status as a pop-culture icon.

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As 18 November 2018 marks 90 years since his first appearance in Steamboat Willie in November 1928, a series of world-wide celebrations will be taking place this year and South Africa is no different.

The campaign will come to life with engaging content and events that embrace Mickey’s impact on the past, present and future. The local festivities kick off in earnest this month, leading up to Mickey’s 90th anniversary on 18 November 2018 and beyond:

  • An exclusive local design project where ten highly talented South African artists will apply their own inspiration and artistic interpretation on 6-foot Mickey Mouse statues.
  • Once revealed to the public, the statues will form part of the Mickey the True Original South African Exhibition, inspired by Mickey’s status as a ‘true original’ and his global impact on popular culture. The exhibition will travel to 3 cities and delight fans and families alike as they journey with Mickey over the years. Featuring 4 sections highlighting Mickey’s innovation, his evolution, influence on fashion and also pop culture, the exhibition is in collaboration with Samsung and Edgars, and will visit:

o   Sandton City, Centre Court: 28 September – 14 October

o   Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Expo Explore Court: 19 October – 11 November

o   Canal Walk Shopping Centre. Centre Court: 16 November – 26 November

  • Samsung continues their collaboration with Disney as they honour Mickey’s 90th anniversary nationally at all Samsung and Edgars Stores. Entitled Unlocking the Imagination, fans are encouraged to visit these stores, take a selfie with a giant Mickey plush toy using their Samsung Galaxy Note9 and stand a chance to win not only a giant Mickey plush, but also an international family trip. Visit www.Samsung.com for more information
  • Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, a two-hour prime-time special, will be screened on M-Net 101 later this year. The elegant affair will feature star-studded musical performances, moving tributes and never-before-seen short films. Superstars from music, film and television will join the birthday fun for the internationally beloved character.
  • In addition, look out for special programming on Mickey’s birthday (18 November) across Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303), Disney XD (DStv, Channel 304) and Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309).
  • In retailers, Edgars will be stocking a complete collection of trendy fashion, accessories and footwear for the whole family, inspired entirely by Mickey Mouse.
  • Mickey will be the central theme of an in-store campaign nationwide this November and December, with brand new products, apparel, toys, as well as titles from Disney Publishing Worldwide, including books, arts & crafts and comics
  • Discovery Vitality and Disney are celebrating healthy, happy families this festive season by offering helpful and exciting tips and tricks on how to eat nutritious, yet delicious, foods, all inspired by Mickey. There’s also a trip to Disneyland Paris up for grabs. Log on to www.discovery.co.za/vitality for information.
  • And much more – check the press for updates

“Binding generations together more than any other animated character, Mickey Mouse is the “True Original” who reminds people of all ages of the benefits of laughter, optimism and hope,” says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and Country Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa. “With his universal appeal and ability to emotionally connect with generations all over the world, no other character quite occupies a similar space in the hearts and minds of a global fan base and we are thrilled to be sharing these local festivities.”

Mickey’s birthday is celebrated in honour of the release of his first theatrical film, Steamboat Willie, on 18th November 1928, at the Colony Theatre in New York City. Since then, he has starred in more than 100 cartoons and can currently be seen on Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303) in the Mickey Mouse cartoon series and on Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309) in Mickey and the Roadster Racers.

South African fans are encouraged to share their Mickey Mouse moments on social media using the hashtag#Mickey90Africa.

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