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Five Regions of the Future: Preparing Your Business for Tomorrow's Technology Revolution

Two futurists map out the technological landscape.

What does the future of technology look like? Futurists Joel Barker and Scott Erickson explore this uncertainty in their new book, Five Regions of the Future.

In order to define the technology of the future, the current landscape must first be mapped out. In doing so, Barker and Erickson devise the term "TechnEcology," which defines the type of technology era we live in, and apply that definition to five distinct regions, or ecosystems: "Super Tech," "Limits Tech," "Local Tech," "Nature Tech," and "Human Tech." The authors feel that in order to decide what region you fit in, you must first acknowledge the purpose of the technology as used in that region.

Almost all businesses and countries fit under the Super Tech region, the authors explain, where bigger is better—SUVs rule, along with McMansions, super conductors, and robots. Things that make life faster and easier are here too, such as the iPod, the microwave, and the Airbus.

The second region, Limits Tech, is the exact opposite. Think Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. The authors write, "[Carson's] careful criticism [of harmful chemicals] showed that the advocates of Super Tech were not aware of or interested in the negative implications of their own technology." Regions three (Local Tech), four (Nature Tech), and five (Human Tech) develop further the idea of a limit on the "scale" of technology to explain its importance in everyday life, nature, and people. So, for the most part these last regions are concerned with efficiency and sustaining life.

In the end, the authors feel that by mapping out technology into these five regions, we are better able to plan for future technologies by keeping their purpose and place in mind. What's not clear from this book, however, is how we will use technology to transition into the ideal region (if there is one). Stay tuned.—Sara Grant