Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where We're Headed

I have been blogging for about five months now, and my typical end-of-year vacation has given me some time to think about where this blog is headed.  I've decided to focus on helping readers understand and exploit economic, social, environmental and technological developments for the sake of their careers, organizations and communities.

The "Urban Age" is upon us, with more than half of us, since 2008, living in cities or towns (first video). By 2050 nearly 70% of the world's 9 billion people will live in urban areas. Nearly all growth from now until then will occur in poorer countries. By 2050, 90% of the world's 1.2 billion youth (aged 15 to 24) will live in developing countries, and over 80% will live in Africa or Asia. Even these statistics presume increased adoption of family planning in developing countries.

Nine billion of us will have to face the effects of climate change.  It is very likely that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting largely from human activity will contribute to increased average temperatures and rising sea levels.  These conditions could displace hundreds of millions of  people from their homes and are leading to conflicts as ethnic, religious, and political divisions are exacerbated by contention for agricultural land and water.

On the other hand, computing and communications technologies and the media that exploit them may be able to provide some relief.  For those with access, the Internet of the future will enable virtual experiences, as well as information sharing and recombination (mashups) that we can barely imagine today  (second video).  Increasingly, we are exchanging information remotely in order to operate global value networks that reduce risk and increase efficiency.  Even warfighting is becoming virtual, with drone pilots at a US base flying missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even as many undeveloped and developing nations remain entangled in political instability, corruption and ethnic hostilities, the growth of emerging markets is causing significant power shifts.  Indeed, while the US begins to reinvest in its rail network, IBM earlier this year located its Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing, where the Chinese plan a nationwide rail investment that dwarfs its US counterpart.

Digital Millwright will continue to cover urbanism, infrastructure and sustainability, but will focus within these topics on the strategic and technological insights that will help readers navigate the rough waters ahead.


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  2. a bio-diesel/hybrid-drive-train seems like a no-brainer. Mercedes is inching towards it but my first impression is that 40 mpg isn't impressive.