Just a thought…

You all know I love a map, so here’s one showing the Russian troop build up. So why hasn’t Putin invaded yet? A) It’s about the weaponization of diplomacy – gaining levergage. B). He’s about to suprise a few people and invade Belarus instead (and then onto Ukraine perhaps). C). He’s waiting on the Chinese to ready a plan to attack Taiwan at the same time. Just thinking aloud….

Using past and present to predict the future

I’ve long watched what people are watching on TV (nostalgia + dystopia), and at movies (safe sequels) to ponder emerging trends. I also keep an eye on what type of books are on the best-seller lists (cooking, monsters, travel, rebalancing) and even what slogans people have on their t-shirts (100% human), which can be especially useful to spot emerging weak signals.

However, over in Germany this idea has been made more rigorous. (Thanks to Aifric for spotting this btw).

Using novels to predict the future.

Enough already

Seems the BBC is now acting like a tabloid newspaper. How about a bit of proper context and analysis. Enough of this scaremongering. Yes it’s a concern that the US and Russia are led by ultra-nationalists and there are far too many actors on the world stage. And yes there are too many things happening at once.A major miscalulation is possible. But Putin isn’t stupid. All he wants is his old sphere of influence back. Maybe a buffer against the US and NATO too.

This is a bit of a jump, but expect to see ultra-nostalgia kick off anytime soon. Comfort foods, comfort films, comfort TV, comfort decor. It’s back to the future folks. As I said in one of my books, in the future the past is always present. Never truer than right now.

Full image here.

Emerging socks & technology

Screen shot 2014-06-23 at 07.23.35

Saw these in a secret underground bunker. OK to say what they, but not where they’re from. Blast proof socks – presumably part of an emerging line of blast-proof underwear. Thing is that when soldiers step on mines and IEDs they can get there feet blown off. These socks are made from kevlar (plus a few other things) and stop the foot being blown off or, at least, keep all the bits in one place. They could do with a wash though.

Formulae for future conflict

Some time ago I wrote about a formula that might predict future revolutions (essentially the number of men aged 16-24 in a population x the level of education x internet access x level of corruption/ bureaucracy/censorship x food prices x unemployment).

Anyway, a new formula has come my way via the magazine Nature, which is said to predict similar forms of conflict. The basic idea is that a hidden order underlies any conflict with the exception of conflicts that involve two sides of similar strength. The study, by Neil Johnson and colleagues at the University of Miami, says that time interval between attacks remains relatively constant, which allows for intervention.


This is a classic. A while ago I wrote about a robot called EATR – an autonomous robot that wanders around the battlefield looking for bio-mass (i.e. vegetation) to turn into fuel, which in turn charges its batteries and those batteries belonging to human soldiers in the nearby area. Here’s how the company behind the machine describes it:

“An autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling, which would otherwise preclude the ability of the robot to perform such missions. The system obtains its energy by foraging – engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable. For example, about 150 lbs of vegetation could provide sufficient energy for 100 miles of driving, depending on circumstances.”

The only issue is, would dead bodies (or someone in a very heavy sleep) count as bio-mass? Also, check out the chainsaw in the illustration. Be afraid, be very afraid….

Illustration above from geekologie.com. Image to left from i09.

More at i09 Robot Zombies..



The Future of War

Worth watching (via Andrew Crosthwaite). Click here (6 minutes).

BTW, here’s something on the future of war forecasting from What’s Next back in 2005.

In the future there will be pollution forecasts, disease forecasts and war forecasts. In fact war-forecasting is already a growth industry with a number of players in countries such as the US, Germany and Australia. One of the leading systems used to predict military outcomes is a bit of software called the Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model – TNDM – which is produced by a military think-tank called the Dupuy Institute in Washington DC. TNDC is the mother of all battle simulators, largely because it successfully predicted the outcome (particularly casualty rates and duration) of the first Gulf War and also the Bosnian conflict.

The accuracy of TNDM is largely due to the fact that the Dupuy Institute sits on a mountain of historical data from previous wars and has spent time analysing the influence of such factors as rainfall, foliage cover, length of supply lines, tank positions, river widths, muzzle velocities, density of targets and the nature of the regimes participating in the conflict (democratic or authoritarian). The result is a mathematical model that predicts outcomes, which is in turn used to deliver a three-page report on casualty rates, equipment losses, capture rates and terrain gains. What’s even more astonishing is that this software is for sale at a cost of US $93,000 (including instruction, a year’s technical support and a newsletter).

Interestingly though, most people prefer the human touch and opt for the predictions plus human analysis. A future challenge is to predict the outcomes of guerrilla conflicts and the Dupuy Institute is apparently working on this. Given the success of business books like ‘The Art of War’, one wonders how long it will be before a corporation like Microsoft develops a similar model to predict the outcome of innovations or commercial strategies.