Thinking Ahead's blog

Dengue virus identified in Houston

Murray's team investigated the possibility that dengue might be in Houston because the area has the type of mosquitoes known to carry the virus and a dense population full of frequent travelers south of the border, where the virus is endemic. But the study, published Wednesday in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, found that most of the infections were transmitted in Houston.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.

A pandemic outside the United States - hot spots are in India and Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico - dengue infects more than 100 million people a year, killing at least 25,000. Identified in nine tropical countries before 1970, it has spread to more than 100 today.

[From Dengue virus identified in Houston - Houston Chronicle]

Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2014 and Beyond

By 2020, the labor reduction effect of digitization will cause social unrest and a quest for new economic models in several mature economies. Near Term Flag: A larger scale version of an "Occupy Wall Street"-type movement will begin by the end of 2014, indicating that social unrest will start to foster political debate.
Digitization is reducing labor content of services and products in an unprecedented way, thus fundamentally changing the way remuneration is allocated across labor and capital. Long term, this makes it impossible for increasingly large groups to participate in the traditional economic system — even at lower prices — leading them to look for alternatives such as a bartering-based (sub)society, urging a return to protectionism or resurrecting initiatives like Occupy Wall Street, but on a much larger scale. Mature economies will suffer most as they don't have the population growth to increase autonomous demand nor powerful enough labor unions or political parties to (re-)allocate gains in what continues to be a global economy.

[From Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2014 and Beyond]

Climate change gets clocked

Within 35 years, global average temperatures will be hotter than historical extremes.

    Drones May Be Able to Make Lethal Decisions on Their Own

    drone.jpg

    Eventually, drones may have the technical ability to make even lethal decisions autonomously: to respond to a programmed set of inputs, select a target and fire their weapons without a human reviewing or checking the result. Yet the idea of the U.S. military deploying a lethal autonomous robot, or LAR, is sparking controversy. Though autonomy might address some of the current downsides of how drones are used, they introduce new downsides policymakers are only just learning to grapple with.

    [From Soon, Drones May Be Able to Make Lethal Decisions on Their Own - NationalJournal.com]

    Futurist magazine’s predictions on quantum computing, big data, and more.

    But the problem with too many conversations about the future, especially those involving futurists, is that predictions tend to take on unmitigated certainty, sounding like GPS directions. ... In reality, it’s more like wandering around a city, deciding spur of the moment what road to take.

    ...[From Futurist magazine’s predictions on quantum computing, big data, and more.

    World won't cool without geoengineering, warns report

    This stark warning comes from the draft summary of the latest climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Delegates from national governments are discussing the draft this week, prior to its release on Friday morning. [From World won't cool without geoengineering, warns report - environment - 25 September 2013 - New Scientist ]

    The future of oil: Yesterday’s fuel | The Economist

    We believe that they are wrong, and that oil is close to a peak. This is not the “peak oil” widely discussed several years ago, when several theorists, who have since gone strangely quiet, reckoned that supply would flatten and then fall. We believe that demand, not supply, could decline. In the rich world oil demand has already peaked: it has fallen since 2005. Even allowing for all those new drivers in Beijing and Delhi, two revolutions in technology will dampen the world’s thirst for the black stuff.

    [From The future of oil: Yesterday’s fuel | The Economist]

    OVERSIGHT

    Antibiotic resistance: The last resort

    As a rule, high-ranking public-health officials try to avoid apocalyptic descriptors. So it was worrying to hear Thomas Frieden and Sally Davies warn of a coming health “nightmare” and a “catastrophic threat” within a few days of each other in March.

    [From Antibiotic resistance: The last resort : Nature News & Comment]

    Syndicate content