Four predictions for 2014

Rule number one of futuring is “You can’t predict the future.” But it’s fun, so I am making four predictions for our new year. Even if they don’t ultimately come to pass, it is useful to wonder what could happen next.

#1 – We see more robots in the wild

Photo: Children playing with Sphero, a tiny robotic ball.

What good is a prediction without a few curious robots roaming about. In 2014, you are going to see robots like this little zippy little ball in your neighborhood playgrounds or fleets of robots gathering data for Google in your favorite national park or wilderness.

#2 – Work begins on a new, more secure and open digital communication platform

Image: A silver keyhole

The Internet isn’t likely going away before 2035, but in the year ahead I predict a group of technology leaders with deep pockets or infotech influence will begin work on building the next version of it. Motivated by last year’s Snowden leak of NSA digital spying methods (see Bruce Schneier’s blog if you’ve missed the details), this group will lay the groundwork for a new digital communication platform designed from the outset to protect the privacy of its users—even to the level of removing all traceable metadata—and expand upon concepts of openness that propelled our dear old Internet toward ubiquity in the first place. Most of us probably won’t see or hear about any of these developments, but hints of it occurring may become visible as big online companies brag about deploying new techniques and hardware to secure their services.

#3 – The first Chief Inclusivity Officer is hired by at least one infotech company

Photo: Women participating in a hackathonIn 2014, expect to see at least one highly visible infotech company take a bold move to address gender-power abuse and misogyny within the infotech sector by adding a Chief Inclusivity Officer to its leadership team. The new role will be given wide latitude and authority to assess and remedy gender-power imbalances within the company and identify cultural-structural obstacles to inclusivity. Although the new CIO will be independent of Human Resources, her or his work will help this pioneering company become one of the best places to work in the world. The new CIO will develop the company’s competitive advantage by growing its capacity to co-design, co-create, and innovate new technologies from a wider variety of contexts and perspectives. But more importantly, this new CIO will bring about the ultimate of all disruptive technologies: tools humanity  needs to smash our collective legacy of oppression for women and minorities.

#4 – Weak signals arise indicating a new planetary consciousness and the next model of time

This will be a year to tune into the arts and sciences for weak signals of an emerging planetary consciousness and humanity’s next model of time. Signals about planetary consciousness may take the shape of reflection upon the uniqueness of Earth and humanity’s common plight in relation to our home planet’s. Signals about the next model of time may appear as questioning the desirability of the ‘accelerated’ model we currently live in or as investigating new models of time inspired by quantum science.

So, if any of these predictions happen, you can say you heard it from Nick Spacefire first. If none of them happen, then we will all just have to get back to the hard work of future shaping instead of predicting.

Do you think any of these predictions are likely? Have you observed any evidence they are happening? Please comment on this post with your reactions or your own predictions for the new year.

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