[extropy-chat] The Sigma Scan: a database of future issues and trends

Giu1i0 Pri5c0 pgptag at gmail.com
Fri Dec 22 09:20:48 UTC 2006

The Sigma Scan <http://www.sigmascan.org/> is a collection of future issues
and trends developed by the Outsights-Ipsos MORI partnership, commissioned
by the UK Government's Horizon Scanning
Centre<http://www.foresight.gov.uk/horizonscanning>at the DTI Office
of Science and Innovation. The database containis a number
of trends, emerging issues and developments which may influence the course
of events over the next 50 years and thereby shape the future of the UK and
the world at large. The basic unit of the Sigma Scan is the Issue Paper.
Each of these 146 Issue Papers provides a brief description of a particular
trend or development and a projection of how, given a range of possible
conditions, it may unfold in the future. The topic areas represented in the
Scan are diverse, spanning the classic futures PESTE categories: Politics,
Economics, Society, Science/Technology and the Environment.

An example that has made the headlines is the Issue Paper on "Robo-rights:
Utopian dream or rise of the
covered as "Robots could demand legal
by BBC News and flamed by Wesley J. Smith as "Transhumanism on the
Two Issue Papers that mention transhumanism are "The Extended Self: better
than well <http://www.sigmascan.org//ViewIssue.aspx?IssueId=287>":
development has tended to focus on altering and improving our external
physical environment. However, over the next 50 years, the opportunities to
focus innovation inwardly and remake our minds and bodies in fundamental
ways look likely to increase. These opportunities will arise from advances
in biotechnology, neuroscience, information technology, and robotics - and
the synergisms between them. The potential to extend the mental and physical
hand that nature has dealt us has developed into a more extreme view of the
future: "transhumanism," the idea that our descendants could be quite
different from us, even, to an extent, by 2050*", and "Technology for the
Body and Mind <http://www.sigmascan.org//ViewIssue.aspx?IssueId=283>": "*The
formidable forces of computation, genetics, molecular biology, imaging and
nanotechnology look likely to combine to transform our understanding of the
body and brain. The increasingly profound understanding of the human genome,
for example, could open up multiple new ways of both repairing and enhancing
the body*". This is especially interesting in view of the mainstream nature
of this database commissioned by the UK Government.
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