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Agile Publishing Model.

Futurist David Houle

Welcome to the future!  The future of humanity and the future of publishing.

I am very excited about my new book Entering the Shift Age and the new model of publishing Sourcebooks has created, the Agile Publishing Model (APM). The APM is an innovative platform that allows authors to make their content available faster and in a more flexible format. For example, to suit your needs and interests as readers, Sourcebooks offers a variety of ways to purchase the content of Entering the Shift Age, either in individual parts (“mini eBooks”) or as a whole. (Check out “How to Purchase: The Agile Way”.) You can learn more about the APM by watching the video below.

This is part of the future of publishing. Now let’s turn toward our own future, the future of humanity.

We now live in the Shift Age, a time of transformation that will be regarded by future historians as one of the most significant periods in human history. The Shift Age is one of those inflection points or times when much of humanity will change how we live, how we think, how we interact with each other and what we do.

Toward the end of the 20th century the use of the word technology expanded to include and represent man made processes that had been originally been thought of merely as individual inventions. For example, in Gutenberg's time, his moveable type press would have been called an invention, machine, or process. Today, it's considered a transformative technology. Once we entered the Information Age, the definition of "technology" changed to embrace many of man's inventions and their uses. Technology largely replaced the words machine or machinery.

Not so with biology. For instance, when the Human Genome project was completed in 2003, it was about the deeper genetic underpinnings of humans. Even though the process to map it involved a lot of technology, it was not thought of as a technology, but rather a break though in understanding the building blocks of humanity. So technology helped man to make a breakthrough with biology, but was still only considered a tool.

In the latter part of the 20th century, humans began to combine manmade devices and biology. The heart pacemaker, the artificial heart valve, the early generation of joint replacements commenced the bionic stage of medicine. In the last decade this has led to many other bio-technological innovations in medicine as well. Artificial limbs have been invented that ever more closely replicate the functions of natural limbs. Embedding smart chips in the body is now a developing reality. The field of neuroscience is in its glory time. We have learned more about how the brain functions in recent decades than in all of prior human history. In addition, nanotechnology will undergo explosive growth in the Shift Age. This is discussed in more detail in the Technology chapter, but overall nanotechnology will be bringing biology into technology and technology into biology at the molecular level. It is at this level that life and technology will have some interesting and transformative interactions and creations.

At the same time, breakthroughs in computing are happening at an accelerative pace. In 2010 a team of scientists, led by Dr. Craig Venter successfully created "synthetic life". Venter somewhat sensationally stated that it was the first life form created by computer. This breakthrough will begin something that only existed in science fiction, man-made life! Will these two fields merge? Artificial intelligence and human intelligence will to some degree always be separate, but it is clear that overlaps between the two will occur and that advances in each will spur the other. The progress down this path is something impossible to forecast. While science may well move quickly, the reality is that such progress will come up against all the thinking of humanity's history about what is life and God as the creator of life. The clash of science and religion, with a large dose of politics, unfortunately will likely shape the possibilities more than scientific breakthroughs over the next 20 years.

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