I was listening to Danny Hillis' talk for the Long Now Foundation, a foundation he created along with Stewart Brand and Brian Eno and other really interesting people.
If you don't know anything about the Long Now Foundation, then go now, then come back (listen to all the seminars!). In brief (ugh, won't they hate that), the Long Now Foundation is trying to get folks to think long term, not 10 years or 100 years, but 10,000 years.
Back to Danny.
Danny is building a clock to keep time for 10,000 years and, in wondering how to build it, thought that there might be a chance that electronics might be a passing fad and that in 10,000 years, there might not be any more electronics.
Kinda funny thought. It got me thinking about non-electronics and how electronics have affected what we have created in the last 250 years (mind you electronics did not exist 250 years ago, and weren't ubiquitous until the last 100). Of course, being the biologist geek that I used to be, I started envisioning bio-based tools of the 31-century.
Richard (whom I mentioned previously) and I were joined at lunch yesterday by Janne and, since Richard and Janne and I were having great brain waves, out of the blue I mentioned what Danny thought. We had a good run with that thought.
Janne then pointed out something that just might bring down electronics - the production of electronics has a heavy impact on the environment.
Think of that. We are so on a trend of proliferation of electronic devices and nano-gizmos (Can you say Ubiquitous Computing? No, didn't think so.). Think of all that solder, precious metals, plastic, energy, chemicals, and so on that will be need to make all that stuff.
Might that bring about the end of electronics as we know it? Might that liberate us to think of new types of tools that are not constrained as electronic devices are?*
*Hmm, so. Not necessarily the third business thought of the day, since this is way long-term. But, I have dabbled with writing a book** based on these ideas (long now trends, non-electronics, long now clock), most likely fiction. The Long Now seminars are very inspiring. Any publishers interested? Anyone? Anyone?
**BTW, I am a published author and have a book and an anthology I have never published. I ain't no newbie to writing. Ja?