September 18th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | Comments Off

Future Rise of China, and Alibaba

Tomorrow, September 19, 2014 Alibaba, the Chinese Amazon-like company, makes its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO is anticipated to be the largest ever. This is just another, though powerful, indicator of the rise of China, and Asia more generally. What does this mean for the future?

Now Forecasting Net has published an interesting piece on the rise and fall of modern empires, suggesting that forecasting tools could see this coming long ago. The article is accompanied by this chart…

Source: Forecasting Net

Source: Forecasting Net

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September 5th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Space | Comments Off

Mapping the Universe – Where are We?

This a truly astonishing video, published by Nature video, based on research led by Brent Tully, University of Hawaii. Watch, and marvel at how dense and connected the universe is, note that star clusters move toward each other as well as away, and of course ask, can we really be alone in all this vastness?

Ht to Lloyd Walker of the APF for calling attention to this video, posted at BusinessInsider.

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July 30th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

3D Printing Future Looks Promising

Shapeways is a company bringing 3D printing to the masses. I am curious as to how large an impact 3D printing will really have on manufacturing, and how soon. Recently, spending some time teaching strategic thinking to Saint Gobain, a couple of manufacturing researchers in the class confirmed for me that they are using 3D printing more and more and in fact expect it to become faster, and more widely used than I had suspected.

Imagine a world where many products are manufactured on demand, in the local equivalent of a Kinkos copy store. Imagine the ability to tweak the design yourself, if you want, before you hit the print button. This future may be coming sooner than we think.

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July 24th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Immigration is not overwhelming the future

During recent visits to various parts of the U.S., in casual conversation with people I am asked what I think should be done about the “tidal wave” of illegal immigration allegedly going on. When I point out that the problem is not nearly so bad now as it once was, people literally take a step back and look at me like I am crazy, so thorough is the news propaganda that hypes this issue endlessly.

It is an issue that matters to me, as a child of immigrant grandparents and mother. We ourselves are not that long in this country, and I grew up on stories of what it was like for my mother’s family to sail into New York and to pass by the Statue of Liberty with its famous but now nearly forgotten welcoming words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Instead we have the quite embarrassing scene of hoards of “patriots” standing at the border protesting the entry of 60,000 – 60,000!! — children and young people who are refugees seeking to escape violence and poverty in their home countries. Americans should be, and used to be, much better than that.

As for the real truth about immigration the recent stats are these…

While the number of unaccompanied youth crossing the border has doubled to nearly 60,000 in the past year, the total number of undocumented immigrants has mostly declined. About 1 million people have been caught crossing the border nearly every year between 1983 until 2006, but that number has dropped to about 400,000 in 2013.

The future will undoubtedly involve people moving around the world. We had better figure out how to deal with it in an intelligent way.

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July 22nd, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Drivers Wanted – Will Teens Really Disdain Cars Forever?

For several years I have been following the trend away from an auto-centered culture. This trend is reflected in fewer miles driven and even more dramatically in the declining interest of teens and young people in driving or owning a car at all. This trend is dramatic, and has been sustained now for several years, indicating that it may be a true emerging trend that will stick.

Mustang2015Here are some of the more recent numbers. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that the number of American teens getting their license is dropping fast. Between 1982 and 2010 the number of 17-year-olds who got a driver’s license fell from 69 percent to 46 percent. For 18-year-olds the numbers declined from 70 percent to 54 percent.

It was not that long ago that teens dreamed of their first car, and certainly their driver’s license, and their ticket to freedom and to social mobility. No longer. Teens now see a car not only as unaffordable due to cost and insurance, but as more of an albatross than a means of breaking free.

Older people are quick to assume that high costs and a bad economy are the reason that teens and young people no longer covet cars, or even suggest that today’s teens are too lazy to drive. But they have this quite wrong. There is a profound cultural and technological shift underway in which driving is seen at best as a nuisance and something to be avoided. Young people are more likely to see driving as an interruption of their lives than a means to live. I expect this trend to deepen, until the car companies become truly alarmed. There is evidence they are already concerned, mostly in the way that advertising has skewed almost completely toward trying to convince young people, even children, that cars are cool and that they should want one. I do not think it will work.

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