Ian Pearson
BT’s futurologist Ian Pearson sets out some interesting ideas on the future at a recent conference in Rome, as reported by Bruno Giussani.

He suggests a different reading of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs , saying that the value is now in the top layers (self-actualisation, esteem, social – see image on Giussani site). “Tech helps people to do more, interact more, have more fun, be more, and feel better about themselves”.

We can produce in 15 years’ time a virtual world that’s so realistic that you can’t tell if you’re in real life or in that world. Link nervous system, record a handshake or an orgasm and replay it. Education via time travel (any time period, any weather, no tourists, no erosion — take your kids back to Stonehenge; full sensory environments will allow even more).

Duality, a whole new market, where the virtual world and everything you can do on the internet are overlayed into the real world. People and buildings can emit an interactive digital aura (wireless LAN). Artificial intelligence and productivity: today: human big, machine small; tomorrow: we can make machines up to a million times smarter than a human being. Information economy will largely move into the machine world. People will have access to machine enhancements of their creativity. Most of the “male” jobs of today will be automated, taken over by artificial intelligence. In the “care age”, that will follow the “information age”, this will lead to a feminisation of work.