Presently, we've past the future
To the Editor:
I must disagree with your recent editorial ("Thought Leadership" December 2000, p. 6). Humans are incapable of truly living in the "present." As an innovator, I find that while we also cannot fathom or guess the future, we can guide the life we lead toward a future. Being visionary is less important than being able to "tweak" the current path of technology. The recent Internet implosion has demonstrated that few people have the patience to see a vision when their motivation is dollar signs. I am reminded of George Orwell's "1984." Newspeak is apparently everywhere, and I think that "Thought Leadership"
belongs at the top of the list. As a research scientist, I've learned that fortune favors the prepared mind, so I'd like to suggest another way: "Conscious Leadership."
You state that we should all live in the here and now. True, our focus determines our reality (at least, George Lucas's "Star Wars" says so), but I think that we have far more influence over our own futures. Actions have long-term consequences. You make a bad decision today, you get hosed tomorrow. So, in actuality, we live in tomorrow's past; I feel there is no "now." I'd think if we took your advice and adopted this mentality, we'd quit searching for cures, or solutions to problems.
I personally feel that my consecution is that life is consecutive. The company I founded in 1990 uses a phrase as a motto: "The Future is for the Prepared." I believe this, and think that we lead tomorrow, by preparing in the past, or using your argument, by preparing now. You live in now; I'll keep on preparing today to face tomorrow.
Gregory A. Hensley
Senior Research Fellow
G. A. Hensley Company Inc.
To the Editor:
Let's not be so delusional with these "absolute" statements about never knowing the future. Gary Smith's word invention of "Thought Leadership" is a good idea-trouble is in finding it. There was an ancient Greek philosopher who walked around town with a lighted lantern in daytime, looking for "Thought Leadership." Don't know if he ever found it. Do you remember your article "Virtual SOCs Knock at Reality's Door" from January 2000? The quote you printed from Richard Newton, U.C. Berkeley, "What a great time it is to be alive!" was certainly a long-ranging prediction of the future. There is no question in my mind that Newton is right, but there is also another side. For instance, I am certain that at least one $15 billion industry will be killed by the SOCs (having their SOCs knocked off, so to speak).
There are two types of innovations, which predict the future: the "sustaining innovations" like Moore's Law, which are a certainty if there are no meteor strikes or global war, and then there are the "disruptive innovations." Go ahead, practice your "Thought Leadership," but watch out for two hazards which will put your success in jeopardy: first, "boring" and second, "valuable advice from industry." Never put your critical faculty to sleep!
To the Editor:
I am an engineer who observed the 3rd millennium twice, once on 01-01-1996 (the computed date based on the historic event of the birth of Christ), and again on 01-01-2000. Almost every person who insists on 01-01-2001 that I've met is a non-engineer ("Usering in the New Millenium" January 2001, p. 8). The notion that "1 C.E." is the "first" year of the Common Era is arbitrary at best. The term "C.E." for "Common Era" is very new. "A.D." for "Annum Domini" has been the standard nomenclature and is Latin for "year of the Lord." He was actually born 3 to 5 years earlier than originally estimated. This makes 1996, plus-or-minus one year, the historic millennium date. I celebrated again on 01-01-2000, which is the mathematical millennium date based on the Arabic number system currently in use worldwide. The 01-01-2001 millennium date is computed based on the Roman number system, which is of course obsolete.
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