FEATURING THIS WEEK`s ARTICLES POSTED TO WCs ACROSS GIBS CAMPUS
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Growing Africa – WB press release
Despite global slowdown, African economies growing strongly? New oil, gas, and mineral wealth an opportunity for inclusive development – Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at 4.8 percent in 2012, broadly unchanged from the 4.9 percent growth rate in 2011 and largely on track despite setbacks in the global economy, according to the World Bank’s new Africa’s Pulse, a twice-yearly analysis of the issues shaping Africa’s economic prospects. Excluding South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to rise to 6 percent. African exports rebounded notably in the first quarter of 2012, growing at an annual pace of 32 percent, up from the -11 percent pace recorded in the last quarter of 2011. African countries have not been immune to the recent bout of market volatility stemming from the Euro Area crisis, as well as the growth slowdown that is occurring in some of the largest developing economies, in particular China, which remains an important market for Africa’s mineral exporters.
Climate change – Climate Vulnerable Forum report
Forget logging in with your fingerprint, eyeball, or even subconscious. The future of biometrics may lie in your heartbeat. Engineers at the University of Toronto have recently developed a new security system that identifies users by measuring the precise shape of their heartbeat. Creating a graph called an electrocardiogram (ECG), researchers are able to measure a person’s unique cardiac rhythm, embed this ID into a phone or tablet, and subsequently lock out unauthorized users. For years, doctors have examined a heartbeat’s pattern by putting sensors on a patient’s chest. Now, however, researchers have made the process even easier by developing cheap, thin sensors that can measure ECG through a person’s fingertips.
Future perfect? – A special report by members and friends of the World Future Society
A child born today will only be 88 years old in the year 2100. It’s time to start thinking and caring about the twenty-second century now. The next 88 years may see changes that come exponentially faster than the previous 88 years. What new inventions will come out of nowhere and change everything? What will our families look like? How will we govern ourselves? What new crimes or other threats loom ahead? Will we be happy? How? THE FUTURIST invited WFS members and friends to submit forecasts, scenarios, wild cards, dreams, and nightmares about the earth, humanity, governance, commerce, science and technology, and more.
Five leadership mistakes of the Galactic Empire
My colleague Dorothy Pomerantz notes that this weekend, the re-issued 3-D version of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, pulled down about $23 million in the Box Office over the weekend. This got my mind to pondering the mistakes that people make, ranging from making the Star Wars prequels to reissuing them in 3-D to actually going to relive the misery that was The Phantom Menace all over again. But mistakes are learning opportunities. And in thinking about Star Wars, let’s leave the prequels behind and focus on the original trilogy. It occurs to me that the Star Wars films have a lot to teach us about leadership styles –
Mistake #1: Building an organization around particular people, rather than institutions.
Mistake #2: Depriving people of the chance to have a stake in the organization.
Mistake #3: Having no tolerance for failure.
Mistake #4: Focusing all of the organization’s efforts into a single goal and failing to consider alternatives.
Mistake #5: Failing to learn from mistakes.
Urbanology / Ackn. TED.COM
According to the United Nations, by the year of 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. So what will the city of the future look like? These are some of the questions that dominate our conception of “The City 2.0”: How will we transport ourselves? Where will we grow our food? How will we power our homes, our offices, our grids? What will happen to the natural world? Today — October 13, 2012 — communities across the globe will be offering answers to these questions as part of TEDxCity2.0 Day, when nearly 70 TEDx events will be held in conjunction to dream about the city of the future. Events will be taking place from Antananarivo, Madagascar, to Daejeon, South Korea. In fact, so many events are happening today that the TEDx program is celebrating an exciting milestone — the 5,000th event since its launch in 2009. To celebrate the City 2.0 and the spirit of urban inspiration, here are some great TEDxTalks about the future of cities.
- On dismantling urban highways in cities: Diana Lind at TEDxPhiily Across the United States, cities are re-purposing their streets. In this talk at TEDxPhilly, Diana Lind describes many of the ways urban spaces can benefit from rejecting “car culture” and reconstructing the grid, from adding bike lanes, to creating greenspaces, to turning streets into people-friendly social spaces.
- Urban farming: Roman Gaus at TEDxZurich Roman Gaus never thought he’d be a farmer. Now part of an urban farming collective in his city of Zurich, Switzerland, he harvests his own fish and produce on a regular basis. In this talk at TEDxZurich, he explains aquaponics: self-contained agriculture that relies on a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish — the fish provide nutrients for plants while the plants filter water for fish — all within portable containers made from recycled materials.
- A special report by members and friends of the World Future Society. A child born today will only be 88 years old in the year 2100. It’s time to start thinking and caring about the twenty-second century now. The next 88 years may see changes that come exponentially faster than the previous 88 years. What new inventions will come out of nowhere and change everything? What will our families look like? How will we govern ourselves? What new crimes or other threats loom ahead? Will we be happy? How?
THE FUTURIST invited WFS members and friends to submit forecasts, scenarios, wild cards, dreams, and nightmares about the earth, humanity, governance, commerce, science and technology, and more.
Excerpts . . .
Timeline to the 22nd Century / By Dick Pelletier
What can we expect over the next nine decades? Of course, no one can accurately predict the future this far in advance, but if we multi-track breakthroughs in major technologies, then we can create a plausible scenario of how the future could unfold. The following timeline reveals achievements and events that could become reality as we trek through the twenty-first century:
• 2010s: More people become techno-savvy in a fully wired world. Smartphones, the Internet, global trade, and language translators give birth to a humanity focused on improving health care and raising living standards. Stem cell and genetic engineering breakthroughs emerge almost daily. 2020s: Nanotech, computers, robots make life easier. Medical nanotech improves health care, ending many causes of death. Quantum computers unravel the mysteries of consciousness, lowering crime rates worldwide. Household robots surpass cars as the most indispensable family purchase.
• 2030s: Improved transportation, longer life spans make the world more enjoyable. Driverless cars have reduced auto deaths to near zero. Except for violence and accidents, most people enjoy an indefinite life span. Children born in the 2030s are predicted to live well into the next millennium.
• 2040-2060: Human–machine merges bring us closer to conquering death. Humanity’s future lies in transitioning into nonbiological beings, writes physicist Paul Davies in his book The Eerie Silence (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010). “Biological life is transitory,” he says. “It is only a fleeting phase of evolution.”
• By 2050, bold pioneers begin replacing their biology with nonbiological muscles, bones, organs, and brains. Non-bio bodies automatically self-repair when damaged. In fatal accidents (or acts of violence), consciousness and memories can be transferred into a new body, and victims simply continue life in their new body. Death is now considered no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most patients are not even aware they had died. Built labor-free with nanofactories, non-bio body parts are easily affordable.
• 2060-2075: Humanity heads for the stars. Successful Moon and Mars forays bring a new era in world peace as countries begin collaborative efforts to develop space.
• By 2060, terraforming efforts provide pleasant atmospheres on off-world communities with breathable air and Earthlike gravity. By 2075, population has reached 10,000 on the Moon and 50,000 onMars. By 2100, populations grow to 2 million on the Moon and 10 million on Mars.
• 2075-2100: Faster-than-light travel is developed. Scientists have selected fusion power and zero-point energy as the most probable technologies that could enable spaceships to break the light-speed barrier.
• For example, a 2070s hyper-drive vessel or 2080s warp-speed ship might reach Alpha Centauri (four light-years away) in just 30 days, or make the six-month trip to Mars in three hours. Officials at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have explored other options to travel faster than light-speeds and believe that, in a distant future, humans may even harness wormholes, enabling instant access to vast distances in space. Can we expect the future to unfold in this optimistic manner? Positive futurists believe we can.
About the author: Dick Pelletier is a science and technology columnist and futurist, and editor of the Positive Futur
Scenarios and Long-term thinking.
Two alternative scenarios that House of Futures developed in its 100Y (“In 100 Years”) seminars are:
- Scenario 1: Man-Made World. We realize that when we put our minds to it we can develop technologies, organizations, political institutions, and business models that allow us to prosper in ways that do not jeopardize Planet Earth. Collectively, we are approaching a state of global stewardship in which we manage our planet rationally, like any sensible landowner would with his property.
- Scenario 2: Power of Nature. We realize that everything is nature, and so are we. We are one with Mother Earth, and we share a common biology and collective consciousness. On a deeper level, these are the sources of meaning that we all tap into, regardless of nationality, religion, or culture.
About the authors: Gitte Larsen, Søren Steen Olsen, and Steen Svendsen are futurists at House of Futures in Copenhagen. This essay draws from Issues 2: This Way, Please! Preferred Futures 2112 published by House of Futures (April 2012)
Top 10 ways to handle complaints / Roshni Goyate, The Writer – In my view
Handling complaints in the right way can help to calm irate customers. Handling complaints with the right language can save time, money and reputations . . .
Here are our 10 tips to handling complaints the right way.
1) Ask the big three questions – We tend to tune in to what we think we should write, rather than what the reader wants to read. At The Writer, we use a trick to make sure we always stay focused on the reader: What do I want my reader to know? What do I want my reader to feel? What do I want my reader to do?
2) Cover all the bases – Make sure you tackle each and every point your customer has brought up (though you don’t always need to go into reams of detail). If you’ve ignored something that they’ve brought up, you’ll probably be hearing from them again. Following tip number one should help you avoid that in the first place. People respond much better when they’re hearing from a real person rather than ‘the company’ or ‘the organisation’.
3) Put your main point first – Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many times we’ve seen the main point – especially if it’s bad news – buried at the bottom of a piece of writing. In those cases, your reader will probably skip to the end anyway. So don’t frustrate them; put the main point at the top.
4) Don’t show your working – You don’t want to inundate readers with information and waffle. Even if everything you’ve included is related to the complaint, ask yourself: how much of this will be genuinely useful to my customer? If it’s irrelevant (especially if it’s the ins and outs of your internal processes), you can probably leave it out.
5) Don’t hide behind ‘the company’ – People respond much better when they’re hearing from a real person rather than ‘the company’ or ‘the organisation’. So use personal pronouns like ‘I’ or ‘we’ to show you’re a real person taking care of the complaint.
6) Use natural words – Formal words, jargon and business speak: we see that sort of language sneak in when we’re feeling defensive or uncomfortable. It makes us sound like robots. You’re probably more engaging on the phone because you use natural words. So put those natural words into your writing and your reader will react better to them.
7) Beware of the stock phrases – We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience. We regret to inform you. Due to unforeseen circumstances. How many times have we all seen these words? They’re the stock phrases we’re now either numb to or annoyed by. Our most recent poll looked into people’s reactions to train announcements. The analysis showed that people are 71 per cent less likely to make a complaint or claim compensation for delays when drivers make sincere apologies for problems instead of using recorded statements. Even the once totally neutral ‘If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us..’. now jars in its stock-phrasey-ness. Avoid these type of phrases and you’ll instantly start sounding more sincere.
8) Take responsibility – We sometimes use passive sentences to avoid taking responsibility. ‘A mistake was made’ is passive – we can’t tell who made the mistake. ‘We made a mistake is active. And it can be quite disarming to see a company put their hands up and be accountable for something.
9) Break it up with subheadings – Sometimes, detail and explanation are unavoidable. Subheadings will make it easier to take in. They help readers navigate through a bit of writing – even more so if you summarise a paragraph in the subheading (rather than just using labels like ‘Your complaint’ or ‘Our conclusion’).
10) Use bullet points or numbered lists – If you need your reader to take specific steps, or even if you’re just setting out your argument in a logical way, bullet points or numbered lists will help make your words super-clear. That’ll help avoid that back and forth.