Foresight Snippets – No. 7
[Originally published] 28 February 2001
Would You Like a Mobile Phone With That?
A US inventor plans to have a $10 paper mobile phone on the market later this year. “I’m going cheap and dumb,” she told The Register. The phones will be available in three ways — through retail, in supermarkets and clothes stores; from vending machines; and as promotions — where companies such as McDonalds would dish them out along with a Big Mac and fries. Also in the pipeline is a paper laptop. This device, at the prototype stage, is expected to cost $20 and act as a Web access device. It is due for launch at the end of 2002. The availability of this level of low-cost access to telecommunications will have interesting effects on phone and Internet companies …
Cloning: Could Humans Be Next?
“The largely theoretical debate over human reproductive cloning became more concrete last month. A reproductive physiologist and a fertility doctor told a meeting of fertility experts on 26 January that they, with several unnamed collaborators, would attempt to produce a baby through cloning within the next 2 years. The project would take place in a Mediterranean country, they said.”
Source: Science v291, n5505 (Feb 2), pp808-809 (2001). [doi:10.1126/science.291.5505.808B]
A Framework for Making Sustainability a Practical Reality
A lot attention is nowadays focussed on the question of sustainability. In the past decade, business has realised that there is money to be made (and saved from lawsuits) by becoming more environmentally responsible. There is a vast amount of complex information around, but how can we understand the broad outlines of what it means to “be sustainable”? How can we reduce this complexity so that the principles of sustainability are simple enough to, well, put on a T-shirt? The Swedish oncologist Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt led the development (with hundreds of scientists) of a consensus-based framework for what “sustainability” actually means in a practical sense. That is, what the very bottom line should be for any actions we take — as individuals, organisations, societies, nations and as a planet — to be sustainable. There are four simple conditions (which actually are available on a T-shirt):
In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing:
- concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust
- concentrations of substances produced by society
- degradation by physical means
and, in that society:
- human needs are met worldwide.
Foresight Snippets are interesting, intriguing or weird things we find during our strategic scanning which may or may not have direct obvious relevance to Swinburne, but which do provide signals about what the future might be like. Brought to you by the Foresight & Planning Unit.
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NOTE: In all the posts in this series, the original source URLs are left exactly as they were when published 20-odd years ago. This means they will almost certainly be dead links (or good ol’ 404 errors). I do not have the patience or inclination to follow-up or find any archived or re-located versions of those web pages (because, well, life is too short). But, if it really bugs you, I invite you to see if you can find archived or relocated versions of those dead-link pages. And if you do, let me know, and I’ll update these posts with due credit to your detective work.