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Beyond Current Horizons


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Judy Robertson

 Those of you with a taste for near future science fiction may enjoy reading the reports from the Beyond Current Horizons project (http://www.beyondcurrenthorizons.org.uk/). It’s a UK government funded project to consider what life will be like in the next thirty years, with a view to designing an educational system to match. Have a look at the six scenarios to see what society might be like (http://www.beyondcurrenthorizons.org.uk/scenarios) – you can easily imagine a science fiction story set in these possible worlds although there is a certain ring of truth to them. There’s also a nice visualisation of the general public’s aspirations for the future in the form of paper aeroplanes circling in a wide blue sky (http://www.millionfutures.org.uk/). It’s kind of hypnotic.

Of course, anyone can forecast the future. Predictions which come true are less common. One of the nice things about the project is that it is based on extensive literature reviews commissioned from experts across a range of disciplines. ACM readers are most likely to be interested in the eight technology trend predictions made by Dave Cliff, Claire O'Malley, and Josie Taylor .(http://www.beyondcurrenthorizons.org.uk/future-issues-in-socio-technical-change-for-uk-education/) Here are some which interest me the most: will there be invasive brain-machine interfaces in thirty years? Will we all be users of cognitive enhancement drugs (May be useful for me when I am 63)? Will there be a 3D mechatronic printer in every class? I really hope so, with that last one. The idea of a machine which could be used to produce other machines satisfies my computer scientist soul. (http://www.reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome).  


 

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