Recap: “Discounting the Future”

The March Columbus Futurists was held in Thompson Library room 165 on the Ohio State campus.

Policies whose foreseeable costs and benefits are spread over long time periods—as they are in CO2 reduction policies—raise the ethical question of what we owe to future generations. But this question can be hidden behind the choice of a “discount rate,” a parameter used in economic analysis that allows for the comparison of the value of consumption occurring in different years. Even a low discount rate over a longer period of time can make the disvalue of future costs negligible in the present, thereby greatly privileging benefits to the present generation over costs to future ones. This panel will explore the economic and ethical questions raised by the use of a discount rate in long-term policy-making.
Participants included:

Recap: On the Future of the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities received a reprieve earlier in the year, when Congress voted to continue funding (in its “skinny budget,” the Trump administration had planned a zero budget for the NEH).  Academic job listings in the humanities are at their lowest levels in 30 years, and politicians on both sides of the aisle say that studying the humanities means “unemployablity.”

At the same time, a number of denizens of Silicon Valley have been announcing that the tech world needs more people who are steeped in the humanities.  Christian Madsbjerg–himself trained as a humanist–is founder of the management consulting firm ReD Associates, and uses “applied phenomenology” with his global clients.  In an era where artificial intelligence is replacing human intelligence in a number of tasks, will humanistic knowledge prevail as something algorithms will never duplicate?

What is the future of the humanities in the United States?

Excellent conversation, led by David Staley, Director of the Ohio State University Humanities Institute.

Recap: Future of Technology

Forum: December 7, 2017

Topic: Future of Technology

For the first time in our group’s history, we will have a December meeting of Columbus Futurists.  On Thursday December 7 at 6:30 PM at the Panera Bread community room (875 Bethel Rd.).  Students in David Staley’s “Future of Technology” seminar at Ohio State will be presenting scenarios they researched this semester.  Their interests ranged from the future of artificial intelligence to geoengineering to “elective prosthetics.”