Here are five indicators, observations or articles that caught the eye of FA futurists today.
- Joel Kotkin argues that the elites of Silicon Valley are evolving into an autocratic ruling class. The combination of vast wealth, increased lobbying in Washington DC, and the control of digital media outlets increasingly enables this emerging elite to disproportionately shape public policy and public debate.
- The history of the arrival of the telephone and the Walkman suggests how Google Glass will find its way into society.
- In a New York Times piece titled “No Rich Child Left Behind,” Stanford Professor Sean F. Reardon argues that the growing gap in educational achievement between rich children and middle class or poor children is due not only to income disparity but also to the fact that rich parents are focusing more of their resources on the cognitive and educational development of their children. Further, because in the changing economy educational success and economic success are tightly linked, gaps in educational achievement appear likely to perpetuate economic disparity and limit class mobility.
- According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US shale oil resources will turn the US from the biggest importer of oil to a net oil exporter in the next 5 years. The IEA also expects the US to surpass Russia as the leading natural gas producer in 2015, and go on to achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2035.
- A recent editorial in Science, “Is Any Science Safe?”, decries a March congressional decision to stop National Science Foundation funding for political science research, except for projects certified by the agency director to “promote national security or the economic interests of the United States.” In April a Florida congressman asked the President’s science advisor why these two criteria were not “a good and proper filter” to apply to all NSF grants. Use of these criteria represents a substantial change to the time-honored process of peer-reviewed science funding.