Note: This is part of a regular occasional series of blog posts I do that is based on scans of Twitter and elsewhere on the web – and a gathering of interesting things I think social workers, social work educators, folks in higher education and related professions who interested in futures topics might find valuable. It is a digest, and is unapologetically eclectic. Here’s a link to prior posts – check them out too!!
The Future of Law
I’m always interested in news items related to the future of the professions. As we know – this is a fast moving area and many factors are at work in their evolution . (For more on this topic in general see here). This piece is a survey of lawyers all pondering “what’s coming” in their profession and whether or not they feel ready for it.
Author Charlton McIlwain has written a terrific book (on my sabbatical reading list) of this same name (Black Software). Here’s a podcast interview with the author that I found a great introduction to his work…you’re going to want to learn more. The history and importance of Black perspectives on tech and society are essential to a true understanding of the power, risks and opportunities of what comes next. Thought provoking!
Future of Work
I’m fans of the Susskind family – they are always putting more interesting things into the world related to the future of work and the professions (see note above). I just ran across a recent TED talk by Daniel Susskind on Three Myths Regarding the Future of Work. It isn’t short…but it is a rigorous, creative and important overview of this topic. I highly recommend!
Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians
Not just because my mom was one (a bookmobile lady to be precise) but I have so much love, respect and appreciation for good librarians and all who work in the sector. The library professionals at my university, like many, are extraordinarily future facing and ever looking ahead to new forms of literacy, information production and how to stay relevant and helpful in our shared academic spaces. While scanning, I ran across this great report – I passed it along to my colleagues but thought others might be interested too.
It can just be paralyzing can’t it? So much to worry about – where to start – how to keep going? At the same time we are having an awakening about the relevance of eco-psychology and the very real needs humans have for nature, we of course are dealing with deep, pervasive and emergent climate change complexity as well. Here’s a piece from the Economist on the “state” of our climate change work to do in here and now, as well as the future. Here’s a piece about “ecological grief” as experienced by climate scientists. It is sobering. Listen, we have no choice but to help each other focus, breathe deeply and KEEP GOING. This article from the NYT this past week is an energizer. Do you what you can, be strategic, get busy. Focus on the right things.
On this same topic, here’s a new and useful piece regarding the emerging importance of acknowledging the mental heath strain and challenges related to climate change. Connecting these dots is important, say these authors. Here’s another piece that breaks down what hope about climate change means now and in the future. Finally, here’s a super creative piece that endeavors to “tell a new story” about climate change by fast-forwarding into the future…and imagining how we solved the climate crisis in the year 2030.
Tech and AI
Here’s a lively piece from one of my favorite futurists Douglass Rushkoff in which he begins by saying: “We’ve spent the decade letting our tech define us. It’s out of control. Technology has grown from some devices and platforms we use to an entire environment in which we function.” Mr. Rushkoff is the author of one of my favorite futures books “Team Human” which is a must-read in my opinion (I especially love the audiobook which he reads). The article is a robust re-centering (as is his speciality) in the future of humans in this world…and how we get back to a vision of the future in which people, cooperation and community are the drivers.
It appears that the White House has come out with some new AI principles – these authors suggest they won’t work. Check it out – important and urgent. Note: Big thumbs up to Amy Webb’s book “The Big Nine” which I reviewed earlier in this space related to this topic – creative and empowering .
Why do we gender AI? These authors break it down...and change is coming.
Overview and analysis of the complexities of the coming “digital ID” centered world. Promising convenience and efficiency – it has a host of predictable an unpredictable risks. As always, I’m asking – how will this impact the most vulnerable? Some discussion of this in this article. Along those lines, another article explores the coming “digital welfare state.” Are social workers and human rights folks involved in the design and implementation of these systems? Not enough…so much work to be done. Pay attention to this space as a major cause of concern for well being and justice in the years to come.
Here’s a nice brief piece about algorithmic justice and the need to keep continual watch and invest democratic energy in oversight and regulation to keep AI ethical in the years to come.
The Future of Our Economy
We know the one we have isn’t working so well – at least as seen by most social workers and the communities they serve. I’m always interested in new ideas about what economic evolution that is human and equity centered might look like. This article goes there…it is an inspiring and thought provoking read.
The Future of Mental Health
How can tech help to address a global mental health crisis? This article answers that question. More social workers need to get in on this conversation. I believe we can be ethical and effective in these spaces…but we have to get in there and participate on purpose. More on this topic here. At this point, I’m neither a promoter or naysayer about these types of tools, but I do feel quite sure we have a lot to learn and a lot to share as futures where these ideas are accelerating and we have shortages of practitioners.