Azara Blog: More pointless "research" looking into the future

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Date published: 2006/12/21

The BBC says:

Robots could one day demand the same citizen's rights as humans, according to a study by the British government.

If granted, countries would be obliged to provide social benefits including housing and even "robo-healthcare", the report says.

The predictions are contained in nearly 250 papers that look ahead at developments over the next 50 years.

Other papers, or "scans", examine the future of space flight and methods to dramatically lengthen life spans.

"We're not in the business of predicting the future, but we do need to explore the broadest range of different possibilities to help ensure government is prepared in the long-term and considers issues across the spectrum in its planning," said Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser.

"The scans are aimed at stimulating debate and critical discussion to enhance government's short and long term policy and strategy."

The research was commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation's Horizon Scanning Centre.

The 246 summary papers, called the Sigma and Delta scans, were complied by futures researchers, Outsights-Ipsos Mori partnership and the US-based Institute for the Future (IFTF).

Is this an April Fool's joke? Why is the government wasting money on this kind of irrelevant "research"? If there is one prediction you can make about the future, it is that all these papers that look far into the future will be almost completely wrong (and what they get right will be by luck). They might as well pay physicists to start figuring out protocols for congested traffic in wormholes. (Well, perhaps this is indeed the subject of one of the 246 papers.)

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