martes, 29 de diciembre de 2009

THE FUTURIST Magazine's Top 10 Forecasts for 2010 and Beyond

THE FUTURIST Magazine's Top 10 Forecasts for 2010 and Beyond
Plus more than 250 forecasts from Outlook, our annual special report.

Each year since 1985, the editors of THE FUTURIST have selected the most thought-provoking ideas and forecasts appearing in the magazine to go into our annual Outlook report. Over the years, Outlook has spotlighted the emergence of such epochal developments as the Internet, virtual reality, and the end of the Cold War. Here are the top ten forecasts for 2010 and beyond.

1. Your phone will tell you when you’re in love. Mobile devices are enabling new spontaneous connections in real-world settings, including love connections. One day soon, your phone will play matchmaker, recommending that you introduce yourself to someone nearby whose online profile displays tastes or passions similar to yours. Impossible? An iPhone application called Serendipity is currently being commercialized by MIT researchers. —Erica Orange, “Mining Information from the Data Clouds,” July-Aug 2009, p. 17

2. In the design economy of the future, people will download and print their own products, including auto parts, jewelry, and even the kitchen sink. Rapid prototyping, or 3-D printing, and devices like the RepRap self-reproducing printer are allowing people to design, customize, and print objects from their home computers. In the future, cheaper versions of these devices could disrupt manufacturing business models, resulting in far cheaper products individually tailored to every customer’s desire. —Thomas A. Easton, “The Design Economy,” Jan-Feb 2009, p. 43

3. The era of brain-to-brain telepathy dawns. Neuroscientist David Poeppel says that telepathic communication between brains is possible, so long as “communication” is understood to be electromagnetic signals and not words. Technologies like magnetoencephalography, which pick up the various signals the brain sends out, could be used to pick up specific signals and convey them. If you could train your brain to signal in Morse code, sensors in a helmet could pick up the message and send it to another helmet. —Patrick Tucker, “Reinventing Morality,” Jan-Feb 2009, p. 23

4. Tomorrow’s inventors will spend their days writing descriptions of the problems they want to solve, and then letting computers find the solutions. Invention programs like Gregory Hornby’s “evolutionary algorithm” have been used to invent real-world objects, such as a special space antenna, based entirely on engineering specifications. Continued advances will increasingly rely on cross-fertilization between the fields of biology and computer science. As a result, we will develop not only software that can produce better inventions but also inventions that are able to adapt to their environments. —Robert Plotkin, “The Automation of Invention,” July-Aug 2009, p. 24

5. Micronations built on artificial islands will dramatically shift the face of global politics. New forms of government and unusual political models will begin to emerge, including corporate nation-states, religious states, tax-free zones, single-function countries, cause-related countries, and even rental nation-states, where organizations can “rent a country” for a year or two to test a specific project. —Thomas Frey, “Own Your Own Island Nation,” May-June 2009, p. 30

6. Young people will read more, and the old will play more video games. According to the 2007 American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed some surprising findings. In 2007, adults aged 75 and older spent nearly twice as much time playing video games (about 20 minutes) as they did in 2006. Teens aged 15–19 spent twice as much time reading as they did before (about 14 minutes) and less time using a computer for games or casual surfing. —World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 14

7. Ammonia may become the fuel of choice for cars by 2020. As a candidate source for hydrogen used in fuel cells, ammonia (comprising one nitrogen and three hydrogen atoms) is plentiful, easier to liquefy than methane, and emits nitrogen rather than carbon, thus having fewer negative impacts on the climate. —J. Storrs Hall, “Ammonia, the Fuel of the Future,” Sep-Oct 2009, p. 10

8. Algae may become the new oil. According to researchers at a Department of Energy plant in New Mexico, single-celled microalgae, grown in pond water, produce a biofuel that is lead-free and biodegradable, emits two-thirds less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than gasoline, and can run any modern diesel engine. Even better, algae require only a fraction of the land area of biofuel-producing crops. —Robert McIntyre, “Algae’s Powerful Future,” Mar-Apr 2009, p. 25

9. Radical methods of altering the planet may be the only way to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Geoengineering may be inevitable because, even if humans could instantly end all greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures would continue to increase for the next 20–30 years, triggering feedback loops and more warming. Potential megascale geoengineering projects include sending space mirrors into orbit, sequestering carbon in the ground in biomass charcoal, and increasing the amount of carbon that the ocean can absorb by forcing plankton blooms in the seas. —Jamais Cascio, author of Hacking the Earth, reviewed by Bob Olson, July-Aug 2009, p. 51

10. The existence of extraterrestrial life will be confirmed or conclusively denied within a generation. New space missions and advanced computer technology could confirm the existence of extraterrestrials soon. Scientists using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have found that at least 20%—and perhaps as many as 60%—of Sun-like stars could have rocky planets. Next generation, AI-driven space probes may allow us to plot the location of every planetary body in the known universe. Among the more than 300 extra-solar worlds already discovered, probably one has some form of life, according to Dimitar Sasselov, an astronomer and director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative. —Gregory Georgiou, “The Real Life Search for E.T. Heats Up,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 20

All of these forecasts plus dozens more are included in the annual report that scans the best writing and research from THE FUTURIST magazine over the course of the previous year. The Society hopes this report, covering developments in business and economics, demography, energy, the environment, health and medicine, resources, society and values, and technology, will assist its readers in preparing for the challenges and opportunities in 2010 and beyond.

On this page, you'll find every forecast from Outlook 2006, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2008 and Outlook 2009, more than 250 in total. Outlook 2010 is available through this Web site, or when you join the World Future Society

On this page you'll find other forecasts more information about the World Future Society, futurism, the practice of foresight, and a special invitation from Society president Tim Mack.

We cover the trends and ideas of the future thanks to the generous support of our members. Join the World Future Society and help us to bring you news and ideas related to your future. The annual Outlook report is released as part of the November-December issue of THE FUTURIST magazine. Join today to ensure you receive Outlook 2010.



* China will most likely become the world's largest economy within the next three decades. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace believes China's economy will surpass that of the United States by 2035. There are debates about whether India's economic development will ultimately surpass China's, but it is clear that Asia's economies are growing. Overall, workers in Asia are becoming more skilled and educated. -Andy Hines, "Consumer Trends in Three Different 'Worlds,'" July- Aug 2008, p. 22; Futurist Update, Aug 2008

* Tourism's future is bright. Tourism is expected to nearly double worldwide, from 842 million international tourist arrivals in 2006 to 1.6 billion in 2020. China will be the greatest source of tourists as well as the most popular tourist destination. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part One," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 43

* Book publishers may need to hire movie directors. Books are finally going multimedia and digital, and publishers are offering more content online for free. Textbooks will bring together a wide variety of talents to create a multimedia "book." The shift from print to multimedia means that the writers of the future will work with Web designers, software writers, and other professionals to create products. The next step for publishers will be involving the readers in the publishing process, using them to set prices and give input on what to publish. -Patrick Tucker, "The 21st-Century Writer," July-Aug 2008, p. 25

* Retirees in the United States will increasingly return to the workforce. One-third of Americans who retire are back on the job two years later, and growing numbers of retirees are choosing to start their own businesses. About one in five people, and 40% of seniors, say they plan to continue working until they die, and nearly two-thirds of Americans say they doubt that retirement is possible for the middle class. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part Two," May-June 2008, p. 43

* Wealth trends favor the already-favored. The wealthiest 2% of U.S. families saw their net worth double between 1984 and 2005, from $1.07 million to more than $2.1 million per household. The poorest 5% of U.S. households saw their negative net worth (i.e., more liabilities than assets) grow from $1,000 in 1984 to nearly $9,000 in 2005. Since much of the advantage for the wealthy comes from home equity, the current housing price bubble may slow down these trends in the short term. -World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 12

* Consumers will gain CEO-like powers in the business world. The Internet is enabling consumers to readily share information and consult each other for product information instead of relying on professional critics. Companies will adapt by offering more customer-to-customer forums, asking customers to market to other consumers, and substituting average people for celebrities in product ads. -Arnold Brown, "The Consumer Is the Medium," Jan-Feb 2008, p. 29

* Socioeconomic disparities will become more pronounced in aging societies. Frictions in many societies will rise as greater numbers of people approach old age. Policy makers will need to be more mindful of how inadequate resources early in life will leave many retirees in need. -Richard A. Settersten Jr., "Navigating the New Adulthood," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 23

* Social safety nets will get cut. Governments across the industrialized world will pare down or scrap altogether their pension and health-care programs for retirees. Younger workers will increasingly protest the higher taxes that those programs require due to greater numbers of retirees than ever before. Succeeding generations will have to work together to avert "age wars." -Maddy Dychtwald, "Retiring Retirement," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 24


* Watch out! HAL from 2001 is on the way. Selfaware machine intelligence could be achieved by midcentury. Machine computation to match humans' natural self-awareness (and realizing Arthur C. Clarke's science-fiction nemesis HAL 9000) would require calculations far more rapid than now possible, as well as the development of self-sustained thinking algorithms. So a real-life HAL is yet decades away, but may be achieved by 2061. -Joseph N. Pelton, "HAL, Meet SAM" (Special Section, "Science Fiction vs. Reality"), Sep-Oct 2008, p. 36

* Search engines will become humanlike by 2050. With the "semantic" Web, AI-based search engines will comprehend users' questions and queries just like a human assistant. Users will enter questions and get relevant machine-generated answers; users who give it search terms will get only articles relevant to their specific requests. -Patrick Tucker, "The AI Chasers," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 18

* Rainbow traps may improve computing abilities. A technique to slow down or even capture light, called rainbow trapping, may enable computers to store memory using light rather than electrons. The result could increase operating capacity of computers by 1,000%, according to researchers at the University of Surrey and Salford University in the United Kingdom. -Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2008, p. 2

* Future data jockeys will be measuring digital capacity in yottabytes. Thanks to growing digital storage capacity, data will be measured in yottabytes (1 septillion bytes of data) by 2050. The prospect that no digital information ever need be thrown away will raise numerous possibilities, such as the ability to record and store every second of one's life on a computer (and no doubt post it on Facebook). -Kelly "KJ" Kuchta, quoted in "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Living Personally," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 57

* "Mapping the mob" could make streets safer in emergencies. Paul M. Torrens of Arizona State University is developing an immersive 3-D computational model to simulate pedestrian behavior in the event of a sudden riot or other emergency. According to Torrens, the mob-mapping program allows him to identify deviations from normal pedestrian behavior, the better to understand what causes panic in certain situations. -Cynthia G. Wagner, "Predicting Panic," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 68

* "Serious gaming" will help train tomorrow's health workers. Health-related computer games represent 20% of the "serious game" market-video games used for training and other no-nonsense purposes. The games could help train and evaluate new recruits faster, even in the field, and enable students to bypass classrooms. Another possibility is using video games to train patients to care for themselves. -Patrick Tucker, "Virtual Health," Sep-Oct 2008, p. 61


* Urbanization will hit 60% by 2030. As more of the world's population lives in cities, rapid development to accommodate them will make existing environmental and socioeconomic problems worse. Epidemics will be more common due to crowded dwelling units and poor sanitation. Global warming may accelerate due to higher carbon dioxide output and loss of carbon-absorbing plants. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part One," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 52

* Workforces on the move will exacerbate social conflicts. Increased migrations of workers from developing countries to developed countries will help offset worker shortages in host countries. But many of the migrants will be impoverished. Social-security systems and urban infrastructures will strain to accommodate them. Nativist backlashes will become more common. -Cetron and Davies, p. 40

* The United States is headed for a "demographic singularity." Management professor Nat Irvin II defines the demographic singularity as a pace of change so fast that the American identity as we know it will be irreversibly altered. He puts the year for the singularity at 2015, when minorities will make up 40% of the U.S. population. -Nat Irvin II, quoted in "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Living Personally," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 57

* Empowering girls through education will improve future communities. Girls who have access to adequate secondary education are much more likely to practice family planning, according to a new report. The report also finds that education increases girls' civic participation and makes them less likely to experience sexual harassment, to contract HIV/AIDS, or to fall victim to sexual or labor trafficking. -World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2008, p. 8


* Access to electricity will reach 83% of the world by 2030. Electrification has expanded around the world, from 40% connected in 1970 to 73% in 2000, and may reach 83% of the world's people by 2030. Electricity is fundamental to raising living standards and access to the world's products and services. Impoverished areas such as sub-Saharan Africa still have low rates of electrification; Uganda is just 3.7% electrified. -Andy Hines, "Global Trends in Culture, Infrastructure, and Values," Sep- Oct 2008, p. 20

* Architects will harness energy from the movement of crowds. MIT researchers have created a system of floor blocks that generate power when the blocks rub against one another as people walk over them. A crowd of 30,000 moving to and fro could create enough power to run a small electrical system or perhaps bring a subway train safely to a platform in the event of a blackout. -World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 6

* Future cars may not fly in the air, but they might run on it. Compressed-air engines are being tested to replace gas-powered engines, achieving speeds of 200 mph. So far, though, they run out of air quickly and still require power to compress the air, so we may not be riding on air anytime soon. -Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2008, p. 2

* Capturing carbon will make coal burning cleaner. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) could reduce the carbon emitted from coal-fired power plants by as much as 90%. But questions remain as to who should shoulder the costs of implementing the technology (running CCS plants is anywhere from 10% to 40% more expensive than running a traditional coal power plant) and what to do with the sequestered carbon. -World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 8

* Pursuit of alternatives to oil could help stabilize gas prices. Increased oil production and competition from alternative energy could curtail rising oil prices. New refineries are scheduled to go online in several oil-producing countries by 2010. Meanwhile, the world will have 1,000 nuclear plants operating by 2025. Use of natural gas, wind power, and solar energy will also increase, though to a much lesser degree. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part One," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 48


* Pollution will hit the world's emerging economies hardest. Acid rain, deforestation, and other forms of pollution will become more common in China, India, and other developing countries due to rapid industrialization and lax pollution controls. Rates of pollution-related disease will rise disproportionately among these populations: China's rate of pulmonary disease is five times higher than that of the United States. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part One," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 51

* The desalination industry will expand greatly. Thanks to looming freshwater shortages, desalination is likely to become one of the world's largest industries. Ultimately, inland cities are likely to face more problems than coastal areas, including the necessity of huge pipelines. -McKinley Conway, "The Desalination Solution," May-June 2008, p. 23

* Climate change threatens freshwater supplies. Rising sea levels will reduce freshwater supplies by 50% more than previous estimates have projected. As the supply decreases, global demand for freshwater will increase, endangering the environment, food and energy supplies, and local and international political stability. Cutting our energy consumption now could offset big reductions in available drinking water later. -World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 10; Lester R. Brown, "Draining Our Future: The Growing Shortage of Freshwater," May-June 2008, p. 16

* Increases in the earth's temperature, no matter how slight, could trigger global mayhem and destruction. A global temperature rise of 6°C would be enough to drastically alter the world as we know it, with catastrophic consequences for human beings. Conflict over scarce resources would most likely cause human civilization to collapse. A temperature rise of just 3°C could transform the Amazon rain forest into a desert, and with 4°C, the last Alpine glaciers would likely disappear. -World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2008, p. 14

* Farmers will be the key to conservation. Farming contributes more carbon dioxide to the earth's atmosphere than transportation does, according to the United Nations. But farmers could thrive in a low-carbon economy if they received compensation for making their tilling, planting, and livestock-raising practices more environmentally friendly. -World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2008, p. 14


* The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement will-in the twenty-first century-be what the space race was in the previous century. Humanity is ready to pursue biomedical and genetic enhancements, says UCLA professor Gregory Stock. The money is already being invested, but, he says, "We'll also fret about these things-because we're human, and it's what we do." -Gregory Stock, quoted in "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Living Personally," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 57

* Genetic therapies' promises will tempt more people into tampering with their DNA. New knowledge of human genetics may lead to cures for most of today's common diseases, say researchers. It may also lead to individuals altering their own DNA to enhance their appearances, athletic abilities, and mental capacities. Researchers demand strict guidelines on what constitutes proper-and improper- adaptation of the human genome. -World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2008, p. 19

* Americans may turn away from antidepressants. According to anthropologist Helen Fisher, Americans are taking 100 million prescriptions for antidepressants. "We know these drugs kill the sex drive. I maintain that these drugs also kill your ability to love and your ability to stay in love," she says. As possible side effects become more apparent, fewer people may elect to take antidepressant drugs like Prozac and Paxil. -Helen Fisher, quoted in "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Living Personally," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 56

* Synthetic blood may alleviate donor blood shortages. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England have developed a sterile synthetic blood made of millions of plastic molecules resembling hemoglobin. Unlike donated blood, which has a shelf life of just 35 days and must be refrigerated, the plastic blood can be stored for months on end at room temperature. -Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 2

* Smokers are more likely to develop dementia. Current smokers have a 50% greater risk of dementia and 70% higher risk of Alzheimer's disease than nonsmokers. Researchers blame smoking for stressing blood vessels and raising the likelihood of contracting cerebrovascular disease, a disorder associated with dementia. -Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2008, p. 2

* Saving snakes may save ourselves. The venom of the timber rattlesnake may have undiscovered medicinal properties, but habitat loss and human persecution have put the rattler on the endangered species list. Losing the snake means humanity will lose access to research that could yield cures for diabetes and other problems. -Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 2

* Cancer treatments will be safer. Radioimmunotherapy- the use of radioactive atoms to kill viruses that cause some unhealthy tumor growths-will enable doctors to fight cancer while causing less harm to patients' bodies. These therapies would have minimum impact on healthy tissues and would prevent much tumor growth before operations are needed. -World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 12

* Better blood flow, more energy, thanks to high-tech underwear. Compression tights can help those with potential health problems due to poor circulation. The high-tech undergarments (made by Skins USA) are body-hugging gradient tights that are engineered to accelerate blood flow, resulting in greater concentration and higher energy, enhanced performance, and less discomfort overall. -World Trends & Forecasts, July- Aug 2008, p. 10

* Fungi may help fight disease. Fungi may offer hope for new medicines that can combat drug-resistant microorganisms. Natural compounds harnessed from fungi may potentially be utilized in antibiotics and nutraceutical products. -Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2008, p. 2


* Everything you say and do may be recorded. By the late 2010s, ubiquitous unseen nanodevices will provide seamless communication and surveillance among all people everywhere. Humans will have nanoimplants, facilitating interaction in an omnipresent network. Everyone will have a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. Since nano storage capacity is almost limitless, all conversation and activity will be recorded and recoverable. -Gene Stephens, "Cybercrime in the Year 2025," July-Aug 2008, p. 34

* Identity theft and other Internet crimes will increase at a faster pace. Identity theft, already the number-one crime in the United States and rapidly expanding throughout the Internet world, can be expected to wreak havoc on the financial and social worlds of millions around the globe. Also, as wireless communications networks continue to become more prevalent, new cybercrimes will be invented. Designer nanobots may be loosed on the Web to engender types of mischief and destruction not yet contemplated. -Stephens, p. 34

* You'll have more friends whom you'll never meet, and cyberfriends may outnumber real-life friends. The generation of young people now ages 12 to 24 years old may have more friends whom they will have never met in person. Unlike older cohorts, Gen Yers (aka the millennial generation) are comfortable with befriending strangers virtually via social networking sites and other cyber options that connect people based on their interests rather than physical location. -Andy Hines, "Global Trends in Culture, Infrastructure, and Values," Sep-Oct 2008, p. 20

* In the future, you'll listen to books and read your cell phone. Half of Japan's top 10 best-selling books last year started out as cell phone-based text message novels. A Japanese author became a cross-continent media sensation when a novel he originally texted into his cell phone sold more than 3 million copies as a printed book. -Patrick Tucker, "The 21st-Century Writer," July- Aug 2008, p. 25 et seq.

* Reach out and thwart a terrorist. Networks of cell phones could one day be deployed to detect and track radiological weapons intended for use in a dirty-bomb terrorist attack. Since cell phones already have global positioning locators, equipping individual phones with highly sensitive radiation detectors would provide nearly ubiquitous monitoring. Because the most likely targets of a radiological attack would be congested cities filled with gadget-dependent people, a cell phone-based detection system would make it difficult for a terrorist to go unnoticed. -Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2008, p. 2

* More girls may become victims of cyberbullying. As girls spend more time communicating with friends via cell phone and the Internet (chat rooms, message boards, instant messaging, etc.), they are increasingly at risk of attacks from cyberbullies-acquaintances and strangers alike. Unlike real-world bullying, harassment in cyberspace can be a 24/7, global phenomenon conducted anonymously. Options for combating cyberbullies include setting up blocks to messages from unfriendly sources and not responding to them, thus not rewarding the bullies with the attention they seek. -World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2008, p. 14

* Hotel rooms will become interactive, anticipating your needs like a built-in butler. Tomorrow's hotel rooms will go out of their way to meet their guests' needs. Marriott's Teaching Hotel is testing alarm clocks that run away from you after they go off, digital peepholes that display visitors on wall-mounted LCD screens, lights that turn themselves off after you leave the room, and flameless electronic candles that make for convenient romantic ambience. -World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 12


* The Internet will become more factually reliable and more transparent. Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen believes that the anonymity of today's Internet 2.0 will give way to a more open Internet 3.0 in which thirdparty gatekeepers monitor the information posted on Web sites to verify its accuracy. Keen sees a growing trend toward sites requiring contributors to identify themselves and paying them for their submissions. -Patrick Tucker, "Fighting the Cult of the Amateur," Jan- Feb 2008, p. 33

* Laser satellites will beam data faster. Using lasers instead of radio waves could speed satellite-based data exchange a hundredfold. As the amount of data sent around the world-and through space-proliferates, lasers will enable larger data packets to be transmitted using less bandwidth. One barrier is making the laser pump modules durable enough to withstand the forces of launches and harsh space environments. -World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2008, p. 13

* The technology race between Japan and South Korea will intensify. South Korea has mandated a robot in every home by 2020. Japan is hoping to accomplish the same goal by 2015. -Cecily Sommers, quoted in "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Living Personally," Nov- Dec 2007, p. 57

* Lunar habitation gets polar test. NASA's Constellation Program is planning a year-long test-run of a potential lunar habitat at a site in Antarctica. The program, whose goal is to send humans back to the Moon by 2020, judges the Antarctic's extreme climate to be the closest ecosystem that Earth has to lunar conditions. -World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 10

* TV in 3-D. Tomorrow's televisions may not need screens. Mathematicians in Finland have produced a blueprint for instruments that would project floating 3-D images by means of nanomaterials that bend light around objects. -Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 2

* Optical clocks may enable us to measure time much more precisely. Separate teams of researchers in Germany and the United States have succeeded in developing optical clocks that use lasers to capture strontium atoms and measure their frequencies. The new clocks have the ability to measure time much more precisely and in much smaller intervals than the standard atomic clocks used today, which measure the oscillation of the movement of cesium atoms. -World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2008, p. 10

* Silicon versus graphene. Graphene, a form of carbon combining aspects of semiconductors and metals, could replace silicon in a variety of applications, including high-speed computer chips and biomedical sensors. Researchers have found that graphene conducts electricity with less resistance than any other known material. Graphene yields high-electron speed in near-room temperature conditions, which is critical to making the chips practical. -Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2008, p. 2


* The car's days as king of the road may soon be over. If current trends continue, the world will have to make way for 200 million new cars a year by 2050, for a total of 3 billion vehicles on the road. That scenario could be altered with more powerful wireless communication that reduces demand for travel, flying delivery drones to replace trucks, and policies to restrict the number of vehicles owned in each household. -Thomas J. Frey, "Disrupting the Automobile's Future," Sep-Oct 2008, p. 39 et seq.

* Flying cars may be on the way at last. Ever since The Jetsons made the daily aerial commute so attractive in the 1960s, people have been looking forward to a future full of flying cars. One reason it hasn't happened yet is the weight ratio of the propulsion system: A small aircraft with small propellers would need more thrust to fly, making it a very expensive proposition. But innovations such as the M400 Skycar by Paul Moller are gradually showing the way to the future of personalized human flight. -Patrick Tucker, "Up, Up, and Away" (Special Section, "Science Fiction vs. Reality"), Sep-Oct 2008, p. 32

* Self-repairing spacecraft will make space travel more affordable. The cost of space flight could be halved due to a new liquid that automatically deploys to cover damage on the spacecraft's surface. The Bristol University researchers who developed the material say that a spacecraft equipped with it could take more frequent space missions, stay in space longer, and require fewer repairs. -Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2008, p. 2

* Mobility is becoming a priority to more people in rising economies: More people will travel farther faster. Personal mobility is increasing in rapidly expanding economies, thanks to small vehicles such as Tata Motors' "people's car." Better transportation opens more opportunities for shopping, employment, and social interaction beyond one's own neighborhood or village, but longer commutes decrease the amount of time available for such activities. -Andy Hines, "Global Trends in Culture, Infrastructure, and Values," Sep-Oct 2008, p. 21

* Research labs are coming closer to "beaming" us up. Star Trek-type transporters may soon be possible for data transmission, but not for sending people places. DARPA researchers are pursuing technologies that could reduce particles to a wave state, so the quantum rise. Total employment in the United States will ininformation about the particle is what would be transmitted rather than the particle itself. The original disappears in one place, and the quantum information recreates it in another place. -Marvin J. Cetron, "Beam Me Up, DARPA" (Special Section, "Science Fiction vs. Reality"), Sep-Oct 2008, p. 35


* People will have more sex. With women's growing economic power around the world, arranged marriages are becoming less likely. As a result, women will feel freer to express their sexuality. Rising trends in health also portend more sexual activity, according to sociologist Helen Fisher. People who are relatively healthy have more sex. -Helen Fisher, quoted in "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Living Personally," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 56

* U.S. cultural hegemony may be over. The days of U.S. and First World dominance over the world's culture and economy may soon be over. Useful ideas from less-developed countries, such as the three-wheeled "tuk-tuk" common in crowded megacities, are capturing the attention of highly developed places. -Andy Hines, "Global Trends in Culture, Infrastructure, and Values," Sep-Oct 2008, p. 19

* Capitalism in China could spur growth in religion. China may experience a rapid growth in religions as the skyrocketing economy creates tumultuous changes and a yearning for stabilizing influences. Christianity is the fastest-growing faith in China, where the government recognizes just five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. -Tomorrow in Brief, Sep- Oct 2008, p. 2

* Organized religion's appeal is declining in the United States. U.S. religious congregations are currently facing slightly declining overall attendance numbers, despite a 40% population increase over the past 35 years. As a result, traditional Western religion's influence over the mainstream will likely continue to wane. -World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2008, p. 16

* New generations, new values. Selfreliance and cooperation will become prevalent societal values as Generation X and Generation Y replace the baby-boom generation. Gen Xers and Gen Yers are highly entrepreneurial. They are also very socially aware. Societies can expect more small-business activity, more social activism, and greater outreach across cultures and political parties. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part One," Mar-Apr 2008, p. 42

* Travelers might book their next flight to "Privacy Island." Communications technologies have enabled workers to be connected to their work 24/7/365. But perpetually increasing demands on people's time may run up against a countertrend: increasing demand for free time. Places might offer "communication-free zones" to harried customers as a respite from their "always on" work lives. -Hines, p. 19

* More people will consume ethically. A recent trend toward "green" consumption is only the tip of the ethical iceberg: Corporations will increasingly lure customers by promoting their ethics in hiring practices (e.g., diversity in the boardroom, limited outsourcing), R&D standards (e.g., no animal testing), and philanthropic activity. -Hines, p. 22

* Divorces may leave bigger environmental footprints. Rising divorce rates cost energy, water, and other natural resources due to households breaking up and family members relegating to separate dwelling units, according to a Michigan State University study. The researchers note that cohabitation saves society building materials and utility costs. -Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 2

* American adults are delaying the future. Forty-one percent of U.S. adults say they are delaying major life decisions, such as buying a home, marrying, or even undergoing a medical procedure, according to a recent Harris Poll. The main reason cited is a lack of personal savings, along with concerns about the U.S. economy's overall future. -Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2008, p. 2


* Succeeding in future niche careers may mean choosing an unusual major. An increase in unusual college majors may foretell the growth of unique new career specialties. Instead of simply majoring in business, more students are beginning to explore niche majors such as sustainable business, strategic intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Other unusual majors that are capturing students' imaginations: neuroscience and nanotechnology, computer and digital forensics, and comic book art. Scoff not: The market for comic books and graphic novels in the United States has grown 12% since 2006. -World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2008, p. 8

* Employment in the United States will continue to rise. Total employment in the United States will increase by 15.6 million jobs between 2006 and 2016. However, this rate is slightly slower than that of the previous decade. "In-person" jobs such as health-care and other service workers will grow, while jobs that can be outsourced likely will be. Experts recommend that young people educate themselves now for more-global career opportunities in the future. -World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2008, p. 6

* Tomorrow's high-tech cowboys will telecommute. "Cow whispering" ranchers will be able to round up herds remotely, thanks to technologies like GPS and RFID. Livestock outfitted with tracking devices and earpieces will allow their herders to control their movement more cost-effectively and efficiently. -Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2008, p. 2

* Professional knowledge will become obsolete more quickly. An individual's professional knowledge is becoming outdated at a much faster rate than ever before. Most professions will require continuous instruction and retraining. Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies will necessitate job education for almost every worker. At any given moment, a substantial portion of the labor force will be in job retraining programs. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part Two," May-June 2008, p. 41


* The Middle East may become more secular. Popular support for religious government is declining in places like Iraq, according to a University of Michigan study. The researchers report that in 2004 only onefourth of respondents polled believed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated. By 2007, that proportion was one-third. -World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 10

* Bioviolence will become a greater threat as the technology becomes more accessible. In the next decade, biological technologies that were once at the furthest frontiers of science will become available to anyone with a modicum of scientific training. Emerging scientific disciplines (notably genomics, nanotechnology, and other microsciences) could pave the way for a bioattack. Bacteria and viruses could be altered to increase their lethality or to evade antibiotic treatment. Also, diseases once thought to be eradicated could be resynthesized, enabling them to spread in new regions. -Barry Kellman, "Bioviolence: A Growing Threat," May- June 2008, p. 25 et seq.

* Wars will extend their impact to innocent victims, including future generations. Nanopollution from modern warfare represents a significant additional risk for both soldiers and civil societies. Nanoparticles could be defined as "invisible bullets," since no sensors have as yet been used to detect them in bombed territories. Nanoparticles could potentially cause new diseases with unusual and difficult-to-treat symptoms, and they will inflict damage far beyond the traditional battlefield. -Antonietta M. Gatti and Stefano Montanari, "Nanopollution: The Invisible Fog of Future Wars," May-June 2008, p. 32

* Climate change is already spurring armed conflict. A hotter planet may be a more war-torn one, says a Hong Kong study. The study found that sudden changes in temperature from 1400 CE to 1900 CE consistently disrupted world food and water supplies, which led to more populations going to war. The study's authors worry that rising temperatures today might similarly lead to strife. -World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2008, p. 6

* The world's legal systems will be networked. The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), a database of local and national laws for more than 50 participating countries, will grow to include more than 100 counties by 2010. The database will lay the groundwork for a more universal understanding of the diversity of laws between nations and will create new opportunities for peace and international partnership. -Joseph N. Pelton, "Toward a Global Rule of Law: A Practical Step Toward World Peace," Nov-Dec 2007, p. 25

* Militaries will use neuroscience breakthroughs to win future wars. An advanced understanding of the mind and how it operates and responds to crises will be key to militaries seeking to secure competitive advantage over their adversaries, according to researchers at Sandia National Laboratories' Human Systems and Simulations Technologies Department. -Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2007, p. 2


The world will have a billion millionaires by 2025. Globalization and technological innovation are driving this increased prosperity, according to James Canton, author of The Extreme Future. But challenges to prosperity will also become more acute, such as water shortages that will affect two-thirds of world population by 2025, he predicts. — Patrick Tucker, “Managing a Future of Extremes” [book review], May-June 2007, p. 54

Counterfeiting of currency will proliferate, driving the move toward a cashless society. Sophisticated new optical scanning technologies have been a boon for currency counterfeiters, so societies are increasingly putting aside their privacy fears about going cashless. Meanwhile, cashless technologies are improving, making them far easier and safer to use. — Allen H. Kupetz, “Our Cashless Future,” May-June 2007, p. 37

Cashless transactions will mean the end of “grace periods.” Cash exchanges will gradually be replaced by real-time “fractal” transactions — i.e., instant automatic payment to everyone involved in a purchase, from producer to distributor to retailer. Wireless handheld devices will process and distribute money to all of the recipients instantaneously, splitting the transaction like a fractal and avoiding the delays of non-cash money transactions such as checks and credit-card payments. — Thomas Frey, “Fractal Transactions: Launching the Future of Money,” Jan-Feb 2007, p. 11

The U.S. fiscal imbalance will worsen. At current spending levels, U.S. federal deficits will reach unsustainable levels in as little as two decades, at which point, without significant policy changes, deficits could reach 10% or more of the U.S. economy. — David M. Walker, “Foresight for Government,” Mar-Apr 2007, p. 20

Sharing risk through “microinsurance” could help communities rebuild after natural disasters. The world’s poorest people often live in the places most likely to be struck by natural disasters — and they are the least likely to have insurance. Now, they are increasingly turning to microinsurance programs, which, like microcredit, allow participants in a community to pool their risk and hence lower their premiums to as little as $2 per year. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2007, p. 16

The United States will see a shrinking labor force and growing income disparity by 2050. Both trends will affect the nation’s long-term fiscal health as the economy continues to move away from manufacturing jobs and toward services and high-tech occupations. Such work typically requires more-expensive education that is out of reach for many working-class families. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 9

Socially responsible investing may get a boost from venture capitalists. Investment in “green” or clean technologies such as alternative fuel development is gaining momentum. This new interest by venture capitalists follows a trend led by individual investors and mutual funds to weigh social values alongside financial reports. The difference is that the capitalists increasingly see these investments as a way to make more money — not just do good. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 14

World population by 2050 may grow larger than previously expected, due in part to healthier, longer-living people. Slower than expected declines of fertility in developing countries and increasing longevity in richer countries are contributing to a higher rate of population growth. As a result, the UN has increased its forecast for global population from 9.1 billion people by 2050 to 9.2 billion. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2007, p. 10

A growth in the world’s poor population is likely. The earth’s population is projected to increase by 2.5 billion people in the next four decades, most of them in the countries that are least able to grow food. Research indicates that these trends could be offset by improved global education among the world’s developing populations. Population declines sharply in countries where almost all women can read and where GDP is high. — James Martin, “The 17 Great Challenges of the Twenty-First Century,” Jan-Feb 2007, p. 21

Conflicts could arise between temporary immigrants and long-term immigrants. Millions of people from the developing world migrate to the wealthy nations every year to put down new roots, while many others hope to work, legally or illegally, for a short period and send money to family back home. Among Latino immigrants to the United States, for instance, this transfer amounts to more than $50 billion per year. In the future, the competing interests of permanent and temporary immigrant groups will become more apparent, and conflicts more likely. — Eric Garland, “Latinos in America’s Cultural Laboratory,” Jan-Feb 2007, p. 19

Unrealistic expectations will lead many members of generations X and Y down the wrong career path. Roughly 50% of high-school seniors in 2000 were planning to continue their education after college and get an advanced degree, compared with only 20% of seniors in 1976. Meanwhile, the actual percentage of high-school seniors who obtained advanced degrees remained the same, suggesting that many of today’s young people have unrealistic expectations about the future. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 11

Infant mortality, currently at a historic low, could rise. At just 57 deaths of children under the age of 1 per 1,000 live births, the infant mortality rate is at its lowest level in history. But the trend may be beginning to reverse. The rate of decline in infant mortality has slowed significantly since 1950 because of a stagnation in health-care improvements, and infant mortality has increased in some developing countries, due to HIV/AIDS and other problems. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2006, p. 13

Global oil production will soon peak. Developing nations growing hungrier for scarce oil supplies, coupled with concern over the environment in developed nations, will signal the end of the oil era. Petroleum alternatives now comprise about 17% of global energy use and are growing at 30% per year. By 2020, 30% of global energy is likely to come from alternative energy sources. — William E. Halal, “Technology’s Promise: Highlights from the TechCast Project,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 44

Worldwide consumption of crude oil will grow more than 40% by 2025. A large portion of this increased demand will occur in the United States, which uses and imports more oil than any other nation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2005, U.S. gross imports of oil are expected to increase from 12.3 million barrels per day in 2003 to 20.2 million by 2025. — Tsvi Bisk, “The Energy Project: Independence by 2020,” Jan-Feb 2007, p. 33

Biobutanol — an advanced biofuel made from wheat, corn, sugarcane, and other agricultural feedstocks — will gain in popularity over ethanol. Biobutanol’s advantages over ethanol will become more obvious in the years ahead: Its energy content is closer to that of gasoline, it is less corrosive, and it can be delivered and dispensed using current infrastructure. — Deron Lovaas, “Going Green by Empowering Choice,” Jan-Feb 2007, p. 27

Biodiesel fuels will gain more attention from consumers eager to run their vehicles on something other than oil. Since most commercial vehicles (buses, trucks) use diesel fuels, the potential for switching to biodiesel is greater than for gasoline-powered passenger cars. One promising source for biofuels is algae, which could yield 10 times more oil per acre than soybeans or canola and provide 30% of all transportation’s needs for biodiesel by 2020. — Will Thurmond, “Biodiesel’s Bright Future,” July-Aug 2007, p. 27

Ocean-current power will likely increase, led by power-hungry coastal states. Tidal-current turbines and tidal-stream turbines tapping the power of sea systems like the Gulf Stream could provide energy for power-hungry states such as Florida. Energy use in Florida will go up nearly 30% in the next decade as a result of growth. Researchers from Florida State University have received a $5 million grant to see how the Gulf Stream, which flows at 1,000 times the rate of the Mississippi River, might be tapped for power. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 8

Ambient energy — i.e., vibrations in the surrounding environment — could provide power for nanodevices. Tiny tools need motors to keep them running, but conventional power sources such as batteries are too big and eventually lose charge. In the future, nanodevices could use zinc oxide nanowires that draw energy from vibrations — such as from the flow of blood or ultrasonic waves — to produce the electrical charges needed to keep them operating. — Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2007, p. 2

“Tactical biorefineries” will turn garbage into fuel. A portable generator developed for military applications can turn food, paper, plastic, and other trash into electricity. Not only will this help troops stay mobile, but it will also increase their security by eliminating telltale information in a unit’s waste. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2007, p. 2

The number of vehicles on the world’s roads will grow from 800 million now to 1.1 billion in 15 years. As oil supplies peak, a variety of alternative energy options could be pursued, which would not only keep cars running, but also reduce the environmental impacts. Options include fuel cells, biodiesel fuels, and hybrid vehicles (full, mild, light, and plug-ins). — Elizabeth Lowery, “Energy Diversity as a Business Imperative,” July-Aug 2007, p. 23

Hydrogen could be produced on demand for fuel cells. Researchers have discovered that hydrogen can be produced spontaneously when water is added to an aluminum and gallium alloy. Since the hydrogen can be produced as needed, it can help make the switch from gasoline to fuel cells for small internal combustion engines like lawn mowers. — Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2007, p. 2

The earth is on the verge of a significant species extinction event. The twenty-first century could witness a biodiversity collapse 100 to 1,000 times greater than any previous extinction since the dawn of humanity, according to the World Resources Institute. Protecting biodiversity in a time of increased resource consumption, overpopulation, and environmental degradation will require continued sacrifice on the part of local, often impoverished communities. Experts contend that incorporating local communities’ economic interests into conservation plans will be essential to species protection in the next century. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2006, p. 6

The Arctic will feel the impacts of climate change more severely than the rest of the world. Average temperatures in the Arctic have risen at about twice the rate of the rest of the planet. Rapidly retreating sea ice and glaciers, eroding coasts, and thawing permafrost are among the major environmental problems the Arctic faces in the decades ahead. As global warming accelerates in polar regions, the Arctic Ocean could be temporarily ice-free during the summer of 2040. — Lawson W. Brigham, “Thinking about the Arctic’s Future: Scenarios for 2040,” Sep-Oct 2007, p. 27

Factories will both produce and capture more carbon dioxide. Worldwide, factories and other stationary sources emit 7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, a number that may increase in coming years. One creative solution has been developed by a U.K. chemical company, Terra Nitrogen, which pumps its greenhouse gases into a nearby greenhouse fully planted with tomatoes. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2006, p. 7

Carbon-dioxide emissions could reduce the earth’s outer atmosphere by 3% by 2017. The thinning atmosphere could mean that satellites in low Earth orbit would have less resistance and could stay in operation longer, according to a group of researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. — Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 2

The Southern Ocean may be slowing global warming. Ocean waters around Antarctica may be absorbing more CO2 than thought, as westerly winds continue a 30-year trend of shifting toward the pole (carrying the North’s emissions with them). While this may mean a slower rate of global warming than once thought, the changes in ocean chemistry could damage habitats and marine organisms. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2007, p. 2

Today’s acid oceans may threaten tomorrow’s shellfish. The calcification (shell formation) process of shellfish is slowing down as oceans absorb more carbon dioxide and become more acidic. By 2100, mussels will be 25% slower in their shell-building process. — Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2007, p. 2

The number of Africans imperiled by floods will grow 70-fold by 2080. Rapid urbanization and growing poverty make floods particularly dangerous, altering the natural flow of water and cutting off escape routes. If global sea levels rise by the predicted 38 cm by 2080, the number of Africans affected by floods will grow from 1 million to 70 million. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 7

The U.K. intends to build all-green housing exclusively by 2016. Smaller households — fewer people sharing living quarters — means bigger demand for housing and hence greater environmental impacts: currently 1.5 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions per year in a typical home. The U.K. government has proposed that all newly constructed homes be non-fluorocarbon-emitting by 2016, with improvements in heating efficiency, lighting, and insulation. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 7

New materials that regulate their own temperature could cut energy costs. A “thin film” composed of dissimilar semiconductors could one day allow for radiant heat walls or self-cooling windows. In the average U.S. home, heating and cooling are the largest consumers of energy, accounting for 50% of household energy use, roughly $950 per household per year. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2006, p. 11

An osteoporosis epidemic will hit the United States in the next 10 years. About 10 million people have osteoporosis in the United States and 34 million have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. These numbers are projected to increase to 14 and 47 million respectively by 2020. More replacement parts — small bones, wrists, and even spinal disks — will be on the market, but the surgery for their implant and subsequent care will remain expensive. — Jay Herson, “The Coming Osteoporosis Epidemic,” Mar-Apr 2007, p. 32

Doctors will use sonar to detect bone fractures. Tiny cracks form when collagen fibers in bones fail; the cracking produces sound waves, much like the sound waves that occur during an earthquake. Researchers at Purdue University are now trying to apply the same sound-wave technology used to detect fractures in bridges to find the early signs of bone fractures. — Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2007, p. 2

Electronically enhanced brains will make new sensory experiences possible. As researchers better understand the neural processes that produce perceptions, such as the mixing of light allowing us to see colors, they may be able to design new neural structures that would allow us to perceive millions of colors rather than just four primary colors. — William Holmes, “Expanding the Human Mind: The Future of the Brain,” July-Aug 2007, p. 46

Repairing injuries to the nervous system will make significant progress in the next 10 years. Researchers in neuroanatomy will learn how to stimulate cell division to replace neurons, as well as grow more complicated neural structures. Neurons will be interfaced with electronic circuits to create a “bionic man” with more portable and less obtrusive bionic packages. — Holmes, p. 44

Robots will assist surgeons rather than replace them in the operating room. In the future, surgeons will use robotic instruments and wireless search-engine technology as readily as they use any other tool. These enhancements will enable them to feel and visualize the area of surgery more fully while performing delicate, life-or-death procedures. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 7

Cocoa could become the next “miracle drug” — or at least a vital food supplement. Researchers have found that high consumption of cocoa can help reduce risk of death from heart disease and cancer. The active ingredient in natural cocoa, epicatechin, helps blood vessels relax and thus improves blood flow. This could help improve cardiovascular health as well as reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 11

Rising prices for natural resources could lead to a full-scale rush to develop the Arctic. Not just oil and natural gas, but also the Arctic’s supplies of nickel, copper, zinc, coal, freshwater, forests, and of course fish are highly coveted by the global economy. Whether the Arctic states tighten control over these commodities or find equitable and sustainable ways to share them will be a major political challenge in the decades ahead. — Lawson W. Brigham, “Thinking about the Arctic’s Future: Scenarios for 2040,” Sep-Oct 2007, p. 27

A total, but temporary, collapse in the global fishing industry will occur before the year 2050. Overfishing will result in a collapse in major fishing stocks before the middle of the century. Fish populations can, however, recover from overfishing. For instance, the Norwegian spring-spawning herring collapsed during the 1970s, but thanks to a successful management policy, the sustainable fishing stock of the species will soon rise to 1.3 metric tons a year. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 9

Water will be in the twenty-first century what oil was in the twentieth century. Global water shortages and drought conditions are spreading in both the developed and the developing worlds. In response, the dry state of California is building 13 desalination plants that could provide 10–20% of the state’s water in the next two decades. Desalination will become more mainstream by 2020. — William E. Halal, “Technology’s Promise: Highlights from the TechCast Project,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 44

“Privateness” will become passé. The spread of surveillance technology and the rise of Web sites like YouTube, which receives more than 65,000 video uploads daily, are driving a trend toward cyber-exhibitionism. “There is definitely a trend under way,” says sociologist Amitai Etzioni. “People have become very willing to disclose things about themselves for a number of reasons… . I wouldn’t call it a trend away from privacy so much as away from privateness.” — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2006, p. 10

Virtual education will enter the mainstream by 2015. Only 10% of higher education is now conducted online. E-training accounts for 30% of corporate training, however, and will likely exceed 50% soon. The fact that 100 million Americans are taking continuing education suggests a healthy and growing market for online college courses. — William E. Halal, “Technology’s Promise: Highlights from the TechCast Project,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 46

Roughly 30% of the world population will have access to telephones, TV, Internet, and other forms of IT by 2016. This low number represents the ongoing challenge of bringing modern communications and media to poor nations, but also represents the growing potential of wireless IT to help the world’s poor better connect with the rest of the globe. — Halal, p. 45

Human knowledge capability will continue to double every year. “Human knowledge capability” is the quantity of available knowledge multiplied by the power of technology to process that knowledge. This capability will increase by two to the power of 100, the equivalent of a thousand billion billion, in the twenty-first century. — James Martin, “The 17 Great Challenges of the Twenty-First Century,” Jan-Feb 2007, p. 24

Technology will lead to educated illiterates. When widely used and effective voice-recognition software replaces the keyboard, we will be well on our way toward a world in which traditional concepts of literacy are no longer applicable. Education will shift from teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic and toward encouraging creativity, imagination, and critical thinking. — Peter Wagschal, “Illiterates with Doctorates, Revisited,” Mar-Apr 2007, p. 28

More people will age and die alone. Growing numbers of elderly people in Japan and the United States face death without immediate family members or friends to provide care in their last days. New government, private, and volunteer services are emerging to meet the needs in creative and comforting ways, such as collecting bodies and arranging burial ceremonies. — Arthur B. Shostak, “Japan’s Approach to Aging and Dying,” Sep-Oct 2007, p. 8

More young Americans, especially men, will delay or opt out of joining the labor force. Though American men still outnumber (and out-earn) their female counterparts, male participation in the workforce is on a steady decline. By 2020, only 70% of working-age men will be working, and by 2050, only 66%. Reasons include more time spent in school and taking time off instead of waiting until retirement to enjoy life, says Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2007, p. 8

Communications systems are altering human behavior. The constant availability of media invites abuse, says journalism professor Michael Bugeja. People with wide access to laptop computers or cell phones are more likely to use those devices at inappropriate times and at inappropriate moments, such as logging onto networking sites during a university lecture. As such techno-abuses become commonplace they also become more acceptable. The end result is a more distracted world. — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2007, p. 12

Artists of the future will become more market-driven. Young painters, dancers, and actors fresh from graduate school probably won’t have the support systems that many of their predecessors enjoyed, despite forecasts that demand in the arts will grow as fast as for all other occupations through 2014. Competition for both salaried and freelance jobs will intensify as aspiring artists with master of fine arts degrees will vastly outnumber the paying jobs available. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 17

Quantum computers will arrive by 2021. Computers that use spinning electrons rather than silicon-based chips to process data could do in seconds what would take a modern computer billions of years, raising the prospect of infinite processing power by the year 2020. — William E. Halal, “Technology’s Promise: Highlights from the TechCast Project,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 45

Most security systems will use biometrics by 2010. Governments and corporations are using fingerprints, hand geometry, the iris, voice, and facial features in a growing number of identity verification systems, with fingerprints making up 67% of these applications. — Halal, p. 44

Protecting privacy will become a growing challenge due to new technologies. A wireless device in your shoes to record your miles while jogging could be turned into a stalker’s handy tracking device. And cameras have become small enough to be disguised as shirt buttons to invade people’s privacy on the sly. Engineers are scrambling to counter that trend with privacy protection devices, such as a light-absorbing capacitor that blocks the signals of digital cameras. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2007, pp. 12, 13

Virtual immortality may soon be achieved. Vastly improving information storage and processing and sophisticated virtual-reality graphics already create nearly lifelike experiences. Researchers now hope to combine artificial intelligence into the mix. People’s appearance, mannerisms, voice, and even their knowledge and experience may one day be digitized, creating a virtual person that would preserve much of our personalities for eternity. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 12

The power to make things invisible may soon be at hand. “Optical cloaking” is a way of bending light around an object so that it disappears from view. Researchers have been able to achieve rudimentary cloaking of objects at single wavelengths—rendering the object invisible if it is far away and remains perfectly still. Close-up invisibility will not likely be achieved for more than a decade, but could be used to make soldiers invisible to night-vision goggles, among other applications. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2007, p. 14

Decisions will increasingly be made by nonhuman entities. Electronically enabled teams in networks, robots with artificial intelligence, and other noncarbon life-forms will make financial, health, educational, and even political decisions for us. Reason: Technologies are increasing the complexity of our lives and human workers’ competency is not keeping pace well enough to avoid disasters due to human error. — Arnold Brown, “‘Not with a Bang’: Civilization’s Accelerating Challenge,” Sep-Oct 2007, p. 38

Artificial intelligence will evolve from roughly mimicking human intelligence to vastly surpassing it. Ultimately, “hyperhuman” artificial intelligence will rise, with sentience that is as intellectually productive and capable as the entire human race, according to J. Storrs Hall, author of Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine. — Patrick Tucker, “The Artificial Mind” [book review], Sep-Oct 2007, p. 55

Wars may look less like wars, as enemies deploy nonmilitary strategies against one another. War will evolve away from clashes between recognizable armies, and large-scale collective violence will eventually be eschewed for its ultimate ineffectiveness. As a result, nonmilitary instruments of power (such as the strategic management of perceptions and use of moral authority) will become the norm. — Gregory D. Foster, “Strategy and the Search for Peace,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 19

The “two-front” war has been replaced by the “multicentric” threat. Global structures are no longer distinguished by a state-centric system of sovereign nations. Rather, a varied array of other actors, individuals, and organizations on the global stage exercise authority over their own domain. As a result, the challenge of preparing for a two-front war has been replaced by the possibility of innumerable fronts developing simultaneously in any and every part of the world. — James N. Rosenau, “Strategizing in a Complex and Disaggregated World,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 25

Terrorist events will become more common and more deadly. Jihadists (Muslim extremists) will likely acquire nuclear weapons within the next 10 years, and al-Qaeda will grow larger and more dangerous. Terrorists are also likely to rise to power in governments as they buy loyalty to their cause through improved services. — Marvin J. Cetron, “Defeating Terrorism: Is It Possible? Is It Probable?” May-June 2007, pp. 19, 23

The Middle East could face all-out war for the next three decades after withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from the region. But peace could reign elsewhere: Many jihadist terrorists might turn their attention away from Western enemies and toward battling each other. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Worst-Case Scenario: The Middle East,” Sep-Oct 2007, p. 20

A new era of nuclear proliferation may emerge in the Middle East. Israel has already admitted to possessing nuclear weapons. The most immediate nuclear threat currently is Pakistan, but Iran is also working toward nuclear weapon capability. Estimates range from two to 10 years for completion of the first Iranian nuclear weapon. — Cetron and Davies, pp. 18, 21

The threat of another cold war with China, Russia, or both will replace terrorism as the chief foreign-policy concern of the United States. Scenarios for what a war with China or Russia would look like make the clashes and wars in which the United States is now involved seem insignificant. The power of radical jihadists is trivial compared with Soviet missile capabilities, for instance. The focus of U.S. foreign policy should thus be on preventing an engagement among Great Powers. — Edward N. Luttwak, “Preserving Balance among the Great Powers,” Nov-Dec 2006, p. 26

The globalization of the arms industry will continue to help abusive governments flout international arms control treaties. U.S., European, and Canadian arms manufacturers circumvent many arms control regulations by subcontracting the manufacture of weapons to countries like Egypt, China, and Turkey. Manufactured weapons have in turn found their way to such destinations as Sudan or Colombia, where they are used to kill or displace civilians. The trend toward subcontracting weapons manufacture will likely continue as it is fueled by a rise in military budgets across the globe. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2007, p. 13

Future Fashions: Clothes That Make the Futurist
To prepare for any journey, we like to know what we’ll wear. So here’s what fashionable futurists (or future fashionistas) will be packing for the road ahead:

Outfits and accessories that are smart, sensitive, and sweet (or stinky): Researchers in smart fabrics and intelligent textiles (SFIT) are working with the fashion industry to bring us color–changing jeans, evening wear that emits different scents as the mood alters, undergarments that monitor our vital signs, and built-in communications networks that could keep us safer. — Patrick Tucker, “Smart Fashion,” Sep-Oct 2007, p. 68

Petroleum-free clothing: Synthetic fabrics will be made using organic sources such as corn, rice, sugarcane residue, and grasses rather than petroleum. The fabric will also be biodegradable. — Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2007, p. 2

Nanocosmetics: Nano–engineered particles could pack more punch in tomorrow’s cosmetics bags, adding bug repellants, sunscreens, antibacterial properties, and other useful features to our blushes and skin creams. But critics warn that the widespread use of carbon fullerenes (buckyballs) in such products may pose dangerous environmental and health risks. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2007, p. 8

Dissolvable dresses: Fabrics made with clear polymers that break down slowly under normal wear will dissolve quickly when dropped into hot water. Once out of fashion, your clothes could be liquefied rather than thrown into overflowing landfills. — Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2007, p. 2

Wireless running shoes that record your steps: The Nike+iPod has a receiver that measures your speed and distance and plays your favorite tunes while you jog. (Be careful, though! Someone else may be spying on you. See p. 8.) — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2007, p. 12

Wristwatch cash card: Store a few extra bucks in a “cashless wallet” embedded in your wristwatch. Buy a can of soda or subway ticket with a simple wave of your hand. — Allen H. Kupetz, “Our Cashless Future,” May-June 2007, p. 38

How to Be Happy
“Utopia” may never turn out to be the village of happy nice people that dreamers imagine, but economists, sociologists, psychologists, and others studying the pursuit of happiness do offer ways that we can better understand it and work toward a happier future.

New technologies will let people customize their own versions of “utopia.” Artificial worlds created in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) allow players to indulge in new identities and activities that may not be possible or acceptable in real life. This could provide a psychological safety valve that would let people vent their aggression without hurting others. — Lane Jennings, “Reinventing Utopia,” July-Aug 2007, p. 36

More people could find temporary happiness in “Free Zones,” much like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio. Self-indulgence at bars, strip clubs, casinos, and amusement parks might be expanded into places where patrons could use mind-altering drugs or engage in other risky activities while carefully monitored. — Jennings, p. 36

Marketing experiences rather than material goods could increase happiness. A psychologist recommends that consumers spend their money more on experiences, such as family vacations. The memories created last longer than the “stuff” we buy and can be mentally edited to eliminate the bad experiences. Experiences also can help individuals meet personal goals, making them more interesting, likeable, and happy than materialistic people. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2007, p. 6

A new tool for monitoring happiness will help nations assess their well-being. Social psychologists measuring wealth, education, and health — three predictors of national well-being — found that countries with large populations and a strong sense of collective identity (such as China, Japan, and India) tend to have lower levels of well-being than smaller, more individualistic countries (Denmark, Switzerland). — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2006, p. 12

Governments may enact happiness-promoting policies. Sweden bans advertising aimed at children in order to reduce consumerism associated with unhappiness. Mental-health treatment subsidized by government could alleviate depression and hyper-anxiety. Taxes to redistribute extra income to poorer people will also buy more national happiness. — Richard Layard, “Setting Happiness as a National Goal,” July-Aug 2007, p. 37

High Probability, High Impact Terrorist Threats
Terrorist threats ranked by military and industry professionals and futurists as having the highest probability include:

Rumors spread of an impending attack (i.e., in order to incite mass panic).

Attack on Saudi oil production.

General Internet overload.

Terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia blamed on “Zionists.”

Attack on commuter trains into New York City or other major city.

Threats ranked as having the highest potential impact include:

A suitcase nuclear device placed on any target.

Attack on the next U.S. presidential inauguration.

Air Force One shot down.

Dirty bomb detonated in a populated area.

9/11 scenario repeated.

— Marvin J. Cetron, “Defeating Terrorism: Is It Possible? Is It Probable?” May-June 2007, p. 20

Economic disparities are growing. The ratio of the total income of people in the top 5% to those in the bottom 5% has grown from 6 to 1 in 1980 to more than 200 to 1 in 2006. These disparities will continue unless more cooperation occurs between the rich and the poor in addressing inequality. — Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, “Update on the State of the Future,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 21

An estimated 3.3 million service jobs will move out of the United States over the next 10 to 15 years, according to Forrester Research Inc. This trend reflects the pervasive spread of the Internet, digitization, and the availability of white-collar skills abroad. This shift of high-tech service jobs may be a permanent feature of economic life in the twenty-first century. — John M. Eger, “Building Creative Communities: The Role of Art and Culture,” Mar-Apr 2006, p. 20

Pharmaceutical manufacturing will migrate to the developing world. By 2040, the pharmaceutical industry will move to developing countries with skilled scientific labor pools. The Middle East might show an interest in promoting the industry as these countries become more democratized and as the demand for oil declines. — Jay Herson, “Innovation in Pharmaceuticals: Speeding Up Development of New Cures,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 25

Top industries for nanotechnology breakthroughs. Development of molecular machinery will be a boon to a wide assortment of industries. The brightest nano-futures are in manufacturing and materials, food and agricultural products and packaging, more powerful and efficient computers and electronics, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, alternative energy systems, and luxury goods, such as stain-resistant clothing. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2006, p. 15

Generation Y will migrate heavily overseas. For the first time in its history, the United States will see a significant proportion of its population emigrate due to overseas opportunities. According to futurists Arnold Brown and Edie Weiner, Generation Y, the population segment born between 1978 and 1995, may be the first U.S. generation to have many of its members leave the country to pursue large portions of their lives, if not their entire adult lives, overseas. — Edward Cornish, “Planning in an Age of Hyperchange” (book review of FutureThink by Edie Weiner and Arnold Brown), Mar-Apr 2006, p. 61

Progress on slowing population growth may reverse. The fight against overpopulation is not over, and global population is projected to reach between 9.5 billion and 12 billion if fertility rates do not continue to decline. That projected total could be lower if more investment is made in family-planning services, sex education, and women’s education and empowerment, according to experts. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2006, p. 13

Companies will see the age range of their workers span four generations. Workers over the age of 55 are expected to grow from 14% of the labor force to 19% by 2012. In less than five years, 77 million baby boomers in the United States will begin reaching age 65, the traditional retirement age. As a result, the idea of “retirement” will change significantly. — John A. Challenger, “Working in the Future: How Today’s Trends Are Shaping Tomorrow’s Jobs,” Nov-Dec 2005, p.48

Education for the millennial generation will become more personal and mobile. Millennial-generation learners — those born after 1992 — are growing up in a mobile, personalized, on-demand media environment that poses challenges to traditional classroom-bound educators. Millennials are comfortable with multitasking, which forces their teachers to fight for their time and attention. Millennials also work and learn more collaboratively than previous generations, so testing an individual learner’s progress may become increasingly difficult. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2006, p. 7

The costs of global-warming-related disasters will reach $150 billion per year. The world’s total economic loss from weather-related catastrophes has risen 25% in the last decade. According to the insurance firm Swiss Re, the overall economic cost of catastrophes related to climate change threatens to double to $150 billion per year in a decade. The insurance industry’s share would be $30–$40 billion annually. However, the size of these estimates also reflects increased growth and higher real-estate prices in coastal communities. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2005, p. 13

Humanity will continue to produce more carbon than oceans or forests can naturally absorb. The current absorption capacity of carbon by oceans and forests is 3 to 3.5 billion tons a year, yet 7 billion tons are added annually. That figure could grow to 14 billion tons per year if current trends continue. — Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, “Update on the State of the Future,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 21

Coastal fisheries could disappear in Florida. By 2100, many of the bays and estuaries on Florida’s coast could be lost to floods due to global warming. Along with these habitats will go two of the state’s most profitable industries — commercial and sport fishing. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2006, p. 9

More Americans will move to rural areas than will move out. During the 1990s, the population of nonmetropolitan counties in the United States grew by 5.3 million, to 10.3%. While the majority of this growth occurred in counties near large urban areas, the most rapid increase was (and continues to be) in scenic mountainous counties of the western United States. The highest percentage of growth of people 65 or older will likely occur in the mountainous West, followed by the South. — Robert McIntyre, “New Villages for a New Era,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 36

The Internet will drastically change living patterns and urban populations. More people will use the Internet to work remotely from scenic locations. In contrast, more corporations will move their headquarters back to major metropolitan cities, to allow management heads to network with their global peers in banking and the media, while nonessential duties are performed elsewhere. — Joel Garreau, “The Santa Fe-ing of Civilization,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 43

By 2025, 75% of U.S. residents will live on the country’s coasts. The migration of more people to the nation’s coasts raises many concerns—such as the preservation of wetlands, increased housing costs, transportation bottlenecks, and higher insurance losses due to more and more expensive damage from tropical storms and hurricanes. — Edward Cornish, “Planning in an Age of Hyperchange” (book review of FutureThink by Edie Weiner and Arnold Brown), Mar-Apr 2006, p. 61

Some localities may disappear in a post-petroleum world. The end of an oil-based economy could mean the end of certain communities that rely on petroleum for transportation. Even hybrid vehicles may not come soon enough to save them. Arizona, for instance, is currently so automobile-dependent that, without cheap oil and power, its far-flung communities may fade away in 50 years. — Mark Blyth, “Will Wind and Biofuels Be Enough?” July-Aug 2006, p. 28

Uses of nanotechnology in medicine will increase. Smart drug-delivery systems that release medicines into the body at a precise location could arrive before the end of the decade. Bio-nanotubes developed at the University of California at Santa Barbara respond to electrical charges that occur inside the body in order to release drug payloads at specific locations. Researchers believe that the chemotherapy drug Taxol is one potential candidate for the smart bio-nanotube capsules. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2005, p. 2

By 2030, we will see drugs individualized according to a patient’s genome. These drugs will be both safe and effective, but the overall market will become fragmented due to individualization. Pharmaceutical firms may find themselves less profitable or with limited growth opportunities under these scenarios. If so, they may diversify into other industries, such as cosmetics, veterinary medicine, clinical laboratories, and industrial agricultural chemicals. — Jay Herson, “Innovation in Pharmaceuticals: Speeding Up Development of New Cures,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 29

Embryonic stem cells will help the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists in the United Kingdom have succeeded in growing brain and lung tissue from embryonic stem cells. The researchers believe that the new technique for growing brain tissue will eventually help doctors build replacement neural or brain matter for people who suffer from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. A 2003 Swedish study estimates that Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 27.7 million people globally. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2006, p. 17

Children’s “nature deficit disorder” is a growing health threat. Children today are spending less time in direct contact with nature than did previous generations. The impacts are showing up not only in their lack of physical fitness, but also in the growing prevalence of hyperactivity and attention deficit. Studies show that immersing children in outdoor settings — away from television and video games — fosters more creative mental activity and concentration. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2006, p. 13

Look for cell-based computing and microchip-enhanced brains. New research fusing electronic microchips with living brain cells could one day lead to chip implants to combat neurological disorders. Connecting neurons to semiconductors successfully is the key to future breakthroughs in human–computer synthesis. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2006, p. 14

Computers may soon have artificial empathy for their users. Computer scientists are developing ways for machines to sense their users’ mood. Bored? Distracted? Frustrated? A more user-aware computer could one day pick up on your body language, facial expressions, and tone of your voice, then perhaps pull up a soothing photo of your puppy to calm you down if you’re upset. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2006, p. 2

Education will be portable, and learning will be “on-demand.” Education may follow the entertainment-delivery model, allowing customers (learners) to download what they want and use it when they want it. Faculty will increasingly upload lectures and educational “playlists” to Podcasting services for students to attend at their convenience. — Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2006, p. 2

Internet will increase need for social connections. New mental illnesses such as “digital depression” and “connected aloneness” are on the rise as people spend more time engaging virtually with others through the Internet and cell phones rather than face-to-face. Future products and services that enhance personal experiences and life enrichment could help meet the challenge of restoring the personal–virtual balance. — Karl Albrecht, “Eight Supertrends Shaping the Future of Business,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 27

Loss of minority languages could be reversed. Globalization is one of the forces driving out minority cultures and their languages, but communication technologies and national policies may help reverse the trend. Thanks to the Internet, Modern Hebrew, for instance, can be studied and spread around the world. Catalan, French Canadian, Irish Gaelic, and Welsh are among the minority languages receiving renewed institutional support from governments, schools, and businesses. — Eric Garland, “Can Minority Languages Be Saved?” July-Aug 2006, p. 31

Text will be instantly translated into multimedia presentations. No more waiting for the movie version: Rapid language processing will create multimedia animations of your favorite book (or any text, such as directions to a museum in a foreign city). Filmmakers could use the technology to create more-realistic storyboards from screenplays and experiment with different camera angles before actors are brought onto the set. — Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2006, p. 2

Agriculture’s role in the world economy may expand. By concentrating more on producing transportation fuels than food, the world’s farmers could strengthen their role in the global economy. Sugarcane or palm oil grown for fuel, for instance, could give producers in tropical and subtropical countries a vital strategic advantage. One side effect: Supermarkets and service stations will increasingly become competitors for agricultural commodities. — Lester R. Brown, “Rescuing a Planet Under Stress,” July-Aug 2006, p. 20

Water shortages in Africa will grow more severe. Nearly 200 million Africans are facing serious water shortages. That number will climb to 230 million by 2025, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Finding fresh water in Africa is often a huge task, requiring people (mostly women and children) to trek miles to public wells. While the average human requires only about 4 liters of drinking water a day, as much as 5,000 liters of water is needed to produce a person’s daily food requirements. More wells and water displacement pumps could alleviate this problem. — Patrick Tucker, “Power by Play: A Child-Run Water Pump,” Nov-Dec 2005, p. 68

World energy demand will increase dramatically. Experts predict that energy demand will rise by 60% between 2002 and 2030 and will require about $568 billion in new investments every year. Part of this demand can be offset through greater energy efficiency. The Texas Transportation Institute has found that in the United States alone 2.3 billion gallons of gas is wasted each year in traffic jams. — Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, “Update on the State of the Future,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 23

Coal could make a cleaner comeback. Skyrocketing oil prices make cheaper energy sources like coal look more attractive. Use of coal worldwide is expected to grow by 1.5% a year. If not managed properly, that increased consumption could have dire environmental impacts. New cleaner-burning plants could convert the coal into a synthetic gas, which would be more efficient, use less water, and through carbon trapping technology make coal virtually emissions free. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2006, p. 15

Cost of solar energy will decline. Electricity generated from solar power is expensive and thus a minor player on the energy scene. But the cost of photovoltaic panels has declined by 90% in the past three decades, and the market is expected to grow from $11.2 billion in 2005 to $50 billion in 2015. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2006, p. 16

In the future, the military will focus more on shaping perceptions than on human targets. Many U.S. security experts feel that the key challenges ahead are rooted in how people around the world perceive the West and themselves. The most-dangerous military threat in the coming decades will arise from small, independent groups without the ability to directly challenge U.S. might. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr, 2006, p. 6

Computer viruses in ordinary objects may become a terrorist weapon. As more and more things ranging from luggage to pets have radio-frequency identification tags, new opportunities are emerging for tampering, security disruptions, or even terrorist attacks. A single piece of luggage infected with a computer virus could disrupt an airport’s baggage-handling database. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2006, p. 14

We’ll incorporate wireless technology into our thought processing by 2030. In the next 25 years, we’ll learn how to augment our 100 trillion very slow interneuronal connections with high-speed virtual connections via nanorobotics. This will allow us to greatly boost our pattern-recognition abilities, memories, and overall thinking capacity, as well as to directly interface with powerful forms of computer intelligence and with each other. By the end of the 2030s, we will be able to move beyond the basic architecture of the brain’s neural regions. — Ray Kurzweil, “The Future of Human–Machine Intelligence,” Mar-Apr 2006, p. 43

Within the next three decades, people will begin experimenting more freely and recklessly with nano-electronic personal enhancement. One type of nano-device people might try to incorporate into their biological functioning could be artificial blood cells (respirocytes), which could greatly enhance human performance. Unfortunately, they could also cause overheating of the body and breakdowns. — Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, “Update on the State of the Future,” Jan-Feb 2006, p. 23

We will soon be able to build computer models of our preferences, opinions, and mental associations. These new technologies will mark the convergence of cognitive science and more traditional methods of psychology. Further in the future, we can expect the development of rigorous means for recording and classifying all of a person’s 50,000 episodic memories—that is, memories of specific events and the feelings that accompanied them. — William Sims Bainbridge, “Cyberimmortality: Science, Religion, and the Battle to Save Our Souls,” Mar-Apr 2006, p. 25

Computers will be more than 1,000 times more powerful in a decade, one million times more powerful in 20 years, and one billion times more powerful in 30 years. By then, some machines might have capabilities to rival the human mind, giving rise to a new intelligent species to share the planet with us. — Damien Broderick, “Nanofactories, Gang Wars, and Feelies,” Mar-Apr 2006, p. 47

Human babies may be genetically manufactured by the end of the century. Nations have historically competed for technological supremacy, as seen in the twentieth century with the nuclear arms and space races. This competition will likely continue with biotechnology. If China, for instance, pursues a goal of creating a workforce with superior intelligence, then ethical qualms about engineering human beings may be brushed aside in other countries that don’t want to fall behind in the smart-baby race. However, geneticist Ian Wilmut believes that, due to the subtle nature of the human body and particularly the human brain, any attempt to design “super” babies will most likely result in a new generation afflicted with completely avoidable birth defects. — Eric G. Swedin, “Designing Babies: A Eugenics Race with China?” May-June 2006, p. 21; Patrick Tucker, “Designer Babies and 21st Century Cures” (review of After Dolly by Ian Wilmut), Sep-Oct 2006, p. 48

From prosthetic aids to mind programming? Cochlear implants, which meliorate hearing loss, are a harbinger of future human–machine interfaces. Currently, such devices operate one-way, with sensors picking up data and delivering it to the user’s brain. But in the future, neural devices could be wirelessly connected to a computer, delivering information from your brain to a network. Our thoughts would thus become visible to all. — Michael Chorost, “The Mind-Programmable Era,” May-June 2006, p. 68

A rise of disabled Americans will strain public transportation systems. By the year 2025, the number of Americans aged 65 or older will expand from 35 million to more than 65 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Individuals in that age group are more than twice as likely to have a disability as those aged 16 to 65. If that figure remains unchanged, the number of disabled people living in the United States will grow to 24 million over the course of the next 20 years. Rising rates of outpatient care and chronic illness point to an increased demand for public transportation as well as special public transportation services in the coming decades. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2005, p. 10

Wireless technologies will improve highway safety. Communications technology will enable motor vehicles to exchange information with each other, such as their proximity and speed. DaimlerChrysler is developing one such system, called CarTalk 2000. The data exchange would occur through ad hoc networks that would spring to life as cars came near each other. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2005, p. 2

Future cars may run on exhaust fumes. A device that uses vehicle exhaust to spin a turbine for generating electricity could allow future cars to literally run on fumes. Up to a third of the power that a conventional engine produces is wasted in exhaust fumes. Turning those fumes into a power source could cut fuel consumption by as much as 10%, according to researchers. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2006, p. 12

Sports cars will be more environmentally friendly thanks to advances that will make hydrogen-powered fuel cells smaller and lighter. The sleek styling of sports cars could also make it cool for motorists to go green. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2006, p. 2

Workers will increasingly choose more time over more money. The productivity boom in the U.S. economy during the twentieth century created a massive consumer culture—people made more money, so they bought more stuff. In the twenty-first century, however, workers may increasingly choose to trade higher salaries for more time with their families. Nearly a third of U.S. workers recently polled said they would prefer more time off rather than more hours of paid employment. — Robert D. Atkinson, “Building a More-Humane Economy,” May-June 2006, p. 48

The production of art will increase as the audience for art shrinks. New media such as video, virtual reality, and hyperlinked text will create new methods for artistic expression. But fine art is facing increased competition for viewers’ time and attention among “easier” forms of leisure, such as videogames and television, according to a RAND Corporation report, “A Portrait of the Visual Arts.” — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2006, p. 10

The future of antiquities is bleak. Archaeologists may one day see a world where no culturally significant site has been left unpillaged, warns cultural reporter Roger Atwood in Stealing History. Tourists, tomb raiders, and treasure hunters aren’t the only threats to a culture’s antiquities. Individuals living in poverty near valued monuments or other treasures increasingly treat these relics as a potential source of cash. Reducing illegal trade in antiquities will require better international cooperation among governments, museums, and private collectors. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2006, p. 9

Religious tolerance will increase—but not right away. The world’s major religions share values but not philosophies, and their conflicting ideologies will continue to prevent peaceful coexistence in many societies. But as global communications and interaction among diverse peoples grows, tolerance is more likely to increase over the long term. — Thomas R. McFaul, “Religion in the Future Global Civilization,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 36

Intolerance is accelerating along with growth of fundamentalist populations. The fastest-growing religions today tend to be those espousing the most-fundamentalist and exclusivist points of view, making the hope for peace tenuous. Separating religion from political decision making, as has largely been done in Europe, could help prevent institutionalized intolerance. — Roy Speckhardt, “Toward a More Inclusive Future,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 37

Tolerance is accelerating along with interaction of diverse populations. Global economics and communications are increasing business and social interaction across religions. This increased exposure will likely beget increased interreligious tolerance. — Harold G. Koenig, “Finding Tolerance by Respecting Diversity,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 37

The robotic workforce will change how your boss values you. As robots and intelligent software increasingly emulate the knowledge work that humans can do, businesses will “hire” whatever type of mind that can do the work — robotic or human. Future human workers may collaborate with robotic minds on projects for a variety of enterprises, rather than work for a single employer. — Arnold Brown, “The Robotic Economy: Brave New World or a Return to Slavery?” July-Aug 2006, p. 53

Advances in technology will give rise to a new era of “hyperjobs.” These new occupations will emphasize uniquely human skills over mere technical abilities. Hyper-human skills might include creativity, symbolic thinking, and responsibility. For example, the job of nursing may involve much less paperwork than it does today, and much more symptom detection; surgeons could become extinct, replaced by surgical robots, but enjoy new occupations, such as surgical procedure developers. — Richard W. Samson, “Hyperjobs: The New Higher-Level Work and How to Grow Into It” Nov-Dec 2005, p. 41

Outsourcing will actually create jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that total U.S. employment is likely to increase from 144 million jobs in 2002 to 165 million by 2012, largely as a result of efficiencies gained through outsourcing. — John A. Challenger, “Working in the Future: How Today’s Trends Are Shaping Tomorrow’s Jobs,” Nov-Dec 2005, p. 47

Superlongevity will have a growing influence on career choices. Realizing that their careers might extend for 50 years or more, younger careerists, even those not yet ready for full-time employment, will experiment with unique career patterns. More young people will opt to not only pursue postgraduate education, they may remain in school well into their 20s or early 30s in order to train for the complex jobs required in our advanced society. More people in their 50s will also return to school to start new careers. — Michael G. Zey, “The Superlongevity Revolution: How It Will Change Our Lives,” Nov-Dec 2005, p. 16

Economically, China and India will surpass Japan and the United States within the next 30 years. Both China and India have emerged rapidly from deep poverty to become dominant players on the world’s economic and political scene. India’s economy is predicted to surpass Japan’s by 2032, and China could surpass the U.S. economy by 2039. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “The Dragon vs. the Tiger: China and India Reshape the Global Economy,” July-Aug 2006, p. 40

China will surpass the U.S. as world’s leading consumer. As a nation, China already outconsumes the United States on basic commodities such as food, energy, meat, grain, oil, coal, and steel. As individuals, Americans still lead the world in consumption, but if the Chinese economy continues its rapid growth, per-person consumption levels will match or surpass those of the U.S., with dire impacts on the global environment. — Lester R. Brown, “Rescuing a Planet Under Stress,” July-Aug 2006, p. 19

More recognizable brand names will come from China. American firms have outsourced so much of their production to the Chinese that they have actually groomed their future competitors. Following the branding success of firms like Lenovo, look out for more uniquely Chinese brands to show up across all sectors of the consumer economy, including Changhong Electric (an electronics supplier to Wal-Mart), Xi’an Aircraft (a Boeing subcontractor), and Hair (an appliance manufacturer). — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2006, p. 12

Energy choices will make or break Chinese and Indian economies. Heavy reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal, could undermine the investments that China and India have made in growing their economies. A new push toward developing the rich potential of solar and wind energy systems over the next 10 years could help these countries leapfrog ahead of the West, according to the Worldwatch Institute. — “Energy Challenges for China and India,” July-Aug 2006, p. 41

Dwindling supplies of water in China raise concerns for the global economy. With uneven development across China, the most water-intensive industries and densest population are in regions where water is scarcest. The result is higher prices for commodities and goods exported from China, so the costs of resource and environmental mismanagement are transferred to the rest of the world. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2006, p. 8

China and India will be exceptions to the global urbanization trend. Nearly half of the world’s residents will live in cities by 2030, according to demographer Philippe Bocquier. (This forecast is substantially lower than the UN’s previous estimate.) However, this urbanization trend is not occurring in the two countries with the largest populations—China and India. Nine out of 10 countries that will contribute more than half of all urban growth between 2025 and 2030 are developing countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, Ethiopia, Iran, Colombia, and Korea (the tenth is Germany). According to UN estimates, the urban population of China is expected to increase by 293 million before the year 2025, but Bocquier projects the number will be closer to 74 million. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2005, p. 11

The world economy will experience intense “Chinafication.” China’s growing consumer class and its monopoly on cheap labor in manufacturing give it enormous clout in the market for critical resources. Competitors among developed countries may increasingly cry foul over Chinese trade policies, currency manipulation, and piracy of intellectual property. — Karl Albrecht, “Eight Supertrends Shaping the Future of Business,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 26

Outlook for Asia: China for the short term, India for the long term. By 2025, both countries will be stronger, wealthier, freer, and more stable than they are today, but India’s unique assets—such as widespread use of English, a democratic government, and relative transparency of its institutions — make it more economically viable farther out. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “The Dragon vs. the Tiger: China and India Reshape the Global Economy,” July-Aug 2006, p. 46

Preparing for Bird Flu Pandemic
A global flu pandemic is likely and could cost 150 million lives. More than half of U.S. doctors surveyed recently said a pandemic will arrive within the next four years. Public-health officials are particularly concerned about H5N1 bird flu, which is spreading globally and may evolve into a deadly human strain. Death toll projections range from 5 million to 150 million, depending on how well national and local governments prepare. — Tyler A. Kokjohn and Kimbal E. Cooper, “In the Shadow of Pandemic,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 53

Bird flu pandemic could be devastating to agricultural economies. The 2003 outbreak of bird flu in Vietnam caused a 15% drop in poultry production, or about $50 million. If similar declines occur in Indonesia, the costs to poultry farming could be as high as $500 million. — Tyler A. Kokjohn and Kimbal E. Cooper, “In the Shadow of Pandemic,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 54

Telecommuting could avert economic disaster from bird flu pandemic. Once a pandemic hits a developed economy such as the United States, absenteeism is likely to skyrocket. To minimize the impacts on businesses, firms could begin now to switch to a predominantly telecommuting workforce, so that people could stay productive while avoiding exposure to infected colleagues. — “Absenteeism in the Wake of Outbreak,” Sep-Oct 2006, p. 56

Here are a few potential future occupations, gleaned from THE FUTURIST in the past year.

Richard A. Samson (“Hyperjobs: The New Higher-Level Work and How to Get Into It,” Nov-Dec 2005):

Bioaesthetic Coach

Experience Designer

Health-Enhancement Mentor

Intercommunity Farmer

Personal Genome Optimizer

John A. Challenger (“Working in the Future: How Today’s Trends Are Shaping Tomorrow’s Jobs,” Nov-Dec 2005):

Chief Health Officer

Coordinator of Workforce Development and Continuing Education

Corporate Historian

Manager of Diversity

Manager of Faith-Based Relations and Initiatives

Offshore Outsourcing Coordinator

Joyce Gioia and Roger Herman (“Career Planning for the 21st Century,” Nov-Dec 2005):

Chief Innovation Officer

Executive Chef, Space Airline

Global Work Process Coordinator

Skycar Mechanic

Telemedicine Technician

Transhumanist Designer/Technician

Underwater Hotel Manager

Vice President of Experiences

Where the jobs will be. Biotech and pharmaceutical workers, radiology specialists, gerontologists, and nurses will see big demand for their skills in the coming decade, as baby boomers age and increase the demand for medical attention. By 2020, the United States alone will require 2.8 million new nurses, up from 2 million needed right now. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2005, p. 12

Job boom foreseen in solar industries. The job outlook looks bright for solar industries, with some 42,000 new U.S. jobs by 2015. In the next decade, the U.S. solar industry could generate more than $34 billion in new manufacturing investments. Solar power could displace 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by 2025, saving U.S. consumers approximately $64 billion. — Futurist Update, Mar 2005

New opportunities for “ageless aging.” Among the new business opportunities that could arise to cater to the boomers who want to age without growing old: Antiaging spas, intergenerational communes, and therapeutic cloning for kidneys, livers, and other replacement body parts. — Ken Dychtwald, “Ageless Aging: The Next Era of Retirement,” July-Aug 2005, p. 18

A new profession may rise to help you manage your personal information. Like a mutual-funds manager, personal-information managers may emerge to protect your valuable personal data from identity thieves—and leverage it with advertisers and others who want a piece of your attention. — Brian Mulconrey, “Your Personal Information: Managing Your Most Valuable Asset,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 24

The rise of an open-source workforce. Information technologies and open collaboration are toppling traditional business hierarchies. Increasingly, individuals will become “extra-preneurs,” members of virtual networks that collaborate on projects that not only benefit their organizations but also add value to their current and future jobs. — David Pearce Snyder, “Extra-Preneurship: Reinventing Enterprise for the Information Age,” July-Aug 2005, p. 47

Retirement is retiring. Fewer older workers expect to be able to retire early, so organizations will increasingly need to help workers revise their career-planning strategies. Abandoning compulsory retirement ages within companies is a likely step. — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2005, p. 15

Paying for the elderly. By 2020, nations with generous pension policies will find that growing numbers of retirees will severely hinder their ability to commit funds to other social needs, such as food programs for the poor. Italy, Australia, and France will struggle, but Japan, Norway, and Sweden have already made moves to avert a pension crisis by raising the average retirement age. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 7

Adulthood will grow increasingly elusive. If “adulthood” means having a lucrative job, financial independence, and the ability to support a family as requisite factors, then an increasing number of young Americans will find it harder to achieve. The growing demand for advanced education, coupled with higher costs and disappearing education subsidies, is forcing young people to stay in school longer before they can find well-paying jobs. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 11

The gender gap among older Americans may narrow. Currently, women over the age of 80 outnumber their male counterparts by 2.5 to 1. But that may change as cures are developed for heart disease, prostate cancer, and other ailments that typically shorten men’s life spans compared with women’s. — Eric Garland, “Reinventing Sex: New Technologies and Changing Attitudes,” Nov-Dec 2004, p. 44

Males may be doomed by genetics. The human Y chromosome—that which defines the male—is on a long-term spiral of decay, accumulating mutations that may ultimately render males infertile (and extinct). Adam’s Curse author Bryan Sykes gives humanity another 125,000 years to save the male of the species, perhaps through the creation of a new, more stable sex chromosome to support the crucial male-forming genes. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 9

“Elder boom” in prisons will increase. Tough sentencing laws in the United States are putting more people behind bars for longer periods of time, creating an elder boom in prisons. This is creating a health-care problem, since few penal institutions are currently set up to handle geriatric problems. — Konrad M. Kressley, “Aging and Public Institutions,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 30

Military bases may be transformed into veterans’ retirement enclaves. Retired service members now nearly match the populations of active-duty military personnel clustering near U.S. bases. In some areas, like Texas, Florida, and metropolitan Washington, D.C., retirees already outnumber active-duty members. This could be a boon for the bases: The retirees typically spend more money on higher-ticket items at base exchanges. — Konrad M. Kressley, “Aging and Public Institutions,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 30

Mass migration will redistribute the world’s population. There are about 80 million international migrant workers in the world today, and the widespread movement of people from poor countries to richer ones is exacerbating social and economic problems in the host regions. Immigrant workers who perform poorly become a strain on social security systems, while those who do well often divert their financial resources back to their home countries, creating resentment among their new neighbors. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Now Shaping the Future: Economic, Societal, and Environmental Trends,” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 29

Progress in meeting global development targets. Some countries have met or surpassed many of the UN Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty, improving health, and ensuring environmental sustainability. By 2001, Egypt had met the 2015 objective of reducing hunger from 5% of the population to 3%, and Bangladesh had reduced the proportion of its population without access to improved water sources from 6% to 3%. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2005, p. 6

Growth of Latin American science research could fuel the region’s future economic growth. Citations of science and engineering research by Latin Americans increased by nearly 200% between 1988 and 2001, significantly outpacing authors in other developing regions of the world. The surge of science scholarship in the region is considered an indicator of nations’ growing commitment to investing in science and engineering as an engine for development. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 10

“Diseases of affluence” will kill more poor people. The number of people in developing countries experiencing obesity and related diseases—such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease—has grown to 115 million now from essentially none two generations ago. These “diseases of affluence” occur as diets change away from high-quality foods, such as whole grains, fiber, and fruits and vegetables. By 2030, these diseases could become the primary killers of poor people around the world. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2005, p. 15

African workforce imperiled. In the African countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS, the workforce could shrink by up to 40% by 2015. Multinational corporations with employees in Africa may increasingly find themselves at the forefront of efforts to combat the AIDS crisis. — Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 2

Tackling high death rates could help reduce poverty. One of the major reasons poor countries have a hard time breaking out of the poverty trap is persistently high death rates. When people die young, businesses and institutions fail to think in the long term and invest in opportunities that could promote growth, since there may not be enough workers to support the effort. To promote economic development, researchers recommend that nations improve health services that could lower mortality rates. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2005, p. 10

More students will migrate for their education. The number of students who will journey abroad to take college courses will triple from 2 million to 6 million a year by 2020. Those students who cannot afford to physically travel to other countries will increasingly look toward online educational opportunities. Demand for transnational education delivered online, via satellite, or though videoconferencing systems will outstrip demand for onshore learning by 6% before 2020. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 2

U.S. science and engineering classes will be dominated by foreign students. In 1999, foreign-born students made up half of all engineering, mathematics, and computer science graduates in the United States, up from one-third in the 1980s. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 9

U.S. public education will face an uphill battle for survival. States now spend only a tenth of the $322 billion that will be needed to repair ailing school facilities in the United States, build new facilities where they are needed, and outfit schools with modern technology, according to the National Education Association. One result could be an acceleration of the trend toward more private- and home-schooled kids. — John C. Lundt, “Learning for Ourselves: A New Paradigm for Education,” Nov-Dec 2004, p. 20

The classroom of the future will have no walls, no clocks, and no age segregation. More and more high-school students are leaving the classroom in favor of age-diverse workshops and seminars that focus on their specific interests. Additionally, the traditional 9-to-3 school day will fade as more students learn to take advantage of real-time technology and the availability of distance education to schedule their “class” sessions on their own terms. — John C. Lundt, “Learning for Ourselves: A New Paradigm for Education,” Nov-Dec 2004, p. 22

Instant messaging and e-mail will bring kids to the head of the class. Cell phones and personal digital assistants might be considered distractions to some teachers, but in one trial at Kansas State University, such devices helped some students become more actively engaged with teachers and classmates. In digitally enhanced classrooms, instructors will be able to give real-time quizzes and get instant feedback so they can adjust their lesson plans. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2005, p. 9

Urban heat waves will get hotter and last longer. Large urban centers like Chicago and Paris will experience an average of 25% more heat waves a year in the twenty-first century compared with the twentieth, according to the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. And those heat waves will last, on average, nine days longer. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 7

Designer plants will be more salt tolerant, reducing strains on freshwater supplies. Agricultural researchers in the United States are studying a range of salt-tolerant, or halophytic, flowers. Commercial species of flowers that can grow in salty environments could reduce costs for the cut-flower industry, preserve freshwater for more critical uses, and improve the efficiency of nurseries. The new technology will be of particular benefit to plant growers in coastal regions who must continually contend with salt water seeping into freshwater sources. — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2005, p. 6

Cell phones for compost. Discarded cell phones are a growing environmental problem, so researchers in the United Kingdom have developed phones with biodegradable materials. They even implanted a seed in the phone casing so that eventually flowers will bloom from the abandoned devices. — Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 2

Undoing humans’ damage to lakes could take a thousand years. Extensive fertilizer use in the past six decades has led to a buildup of phosphorus in soils that runs off into lakes and chokes off their oxygen. The damage, called eutrophication, is so extensive that it could take a millennium to repair. Proposed solutions include maintaining larger buffers between lakelands and agricultural land and restoring wetlands. — Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2005, p. 2

Vaccines against the rotavirus could save thousands of the world’s children in the next decade. Children in developing countries contract the rotavirus at a younger age, and at greater rates, than do children of industrialized countries. Nearly 95% of children worldwide are infected by five years of age, and nearly half a million children across the world die of rotavirus each year. Vaccines currently under development could be incorporated into routine childhood immunization programs within three years, according to the Pan American Health Organization. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 14

People will enjoy better sex, and do so for many more years. Researchers at Stanford University and corporations like Immersion are developing virtual-reality technologies that promise to radically augment our sex lives. Due to changing social attitudes, our discussions about sex will be more open, more tolerant, better informed, and less chauvinistic. Additionally, because medical technology will likely expand the average life span beyond the age of 95, the average person in the future will be sexually active for almost 80 years. — Eric Garland, “Reinventing Sex: New Technologies and Changing Attitudes,” Nov-Dec 2004, p. 42

Osteoporosis epidemic ahead. By 2020, half of all Americans could be at risk for fractures due to osteoporosis or low bone mass. Researchers believe that far more people have the condition than are diagnosed with it. Bone diseases that impair physical movement often precipitate a health decline, and about 20% of senior citizens who suffer a hip fracture die within a year. Prevention includes a diet rich with calcium and vitamin D, 30 minutes a day of physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 11

Healthy bodies yield smarter brains. Kids who are more physically fit may perform better on academic tests than their more sedentary peers. Brain researchers have discovered that fitter children can process stimuli more quickly and make fewer errors on tests than less-fit kids, suggesting that physical activity could have a positive role in education. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 11

U.S. nursing homes could be offshored, and aging baby boomers may increasingly become medical tourists. A shortage of health-care workers in the United States and a highly mobile culture will lead future senior citizens to hit the road for their health. Elderly patients seeking both chronic and acute health care will travel to facilities in lower-cost developing countries that have increasingly sophisticated medical services. — Konrad M. Kressley, “Aging and Public Institutions,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 32

Alzheimer’s: The bad news about living longer. As life spans increase, more people are surviving into the years most prone to Alzheimer’s disease. In developed countries, about 2% of the population is affected. By 2054, there may be three times as many Alzheimer’s patients. — Tyler A. Kokjohn and Kimbal E. Cooper, “The Outlook for Alzheimer’s Disease,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 34

Better understanding of Alzheimer’s causes could lead to prevention. Researchers are gaining a clearer picture of the causes underlying Alzheimer’s disease, which many now believe is linked to the same kinds of plaques that clog arteries. Actions to prevent atherosclerosis, such as improving diet and fitness, may thus also help prevent Alzheimer’s. — Tyler A. Kokjohn and Kimbal E. Cooper, “The Outlook for Alzheimer’s Disease,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 36

Death by global warming. Climate changes alone could cause a 4.5% increase in the number of summer ozone-related deaths in the New York metropolitan area by 2050. — Futurist Update, Dec 2004

Life expectancy in the U.S. could reverse due to the obesity epidemic. Predictions about Social Security’s tenuous future don’t consider the possible effects of rising obesity, now poised to begin reversing a long-term trend toward increased longevity in the United States. Life expectancy may shorten by two to five years by the middle of the century, and the dramatic rise in obesity is considered the primary culprit. — Futurist Update, Apr 2005

The Digital Era arises. Digital media will dominate communications by 2010, altering all aspects of human culture. The Digital Era will be characterized by interconnectivity, complexity, acceleration of human activity, convergence of media, and rising significance of intangibles such as reputation. — M. Rex Miller, “The Digital Dynamic: How Communications Media Shape Our World,” May-June 2005, p. 33

Future readers will have access to a more abundant and diverse array of texts. Rapid progress in translating technology is bringing us ever closer to the day when it will be possible to read anything ever “published” by anyone at any time of day or night. Online textbook sites will come to replace more traditional textbooks, which are already on the way out altogether. — Parker Rossman, “Beyond the Book: Electronic Textbooks Will Bring Worldwide Learning,” Jan-Feb 2005, p. 19

Forget research—get a searchbot. Digital electronic assistant programs that surf the Net and store information on our behalf will be must-have items in the future. These “searchbots” will enable individuals to amass entire personal digital libraries around a given subject without having to do anything but set a few key search guidelines. — Parker Rossman, “Beyond the Book: Electronic Textbooks Will Bring Worldwide Learning,” Jan-Feb 2005, p. 22

The rise of podcasting. The nascent satellite-radio business has already sent commercial radio into a sweat, but now podcasting could give satellite radio a run for its money. With lower user costs and more portability than satellite services, subscription-based podcasts allow music and other programming to be sent directly to consumers’ players and let the audience choose what to hear and when. Podcasting could reach 12.3 million U.S. households by 2010. — Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2005, p. 2

Ocean-based energy is the wave of the future. Current and potential markets for offshore wind and tidal power will grow considerably in the next five years. Researchers have projected 5,800 megawatts of offshore renewable-energy capacity will be installed between 2004 and 2008, of which 99% will be in the form of offshore wind farms. Worldwide, the offshore wind market is expected to grow to $3 billion a year by 2008. — Anthony T. Jones and Adam Westwood, “Power from Oceans,” Jan-Feb 2005, p. 37

Pulling the plug on electric utilities. The rise of hydrogen technologies that give households and businesses more energy independence could send utilities scrambling. Energy may become a “cottage industry” as companies add an assortment of technologies to their portfolios, including solar, wind, wave, and biomass sources for powering their own hydrogen production. — Wayne A. English, “Are Electric Utilities Obsolete?” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 16

The clean-energy economy is coming. There is only about 40 years’ worth of oil left in the ground, so action is needed now to plan for a smooth transition to alternatives, notably hydrogen, according to industry analysts. A three-phase strategy for launching the world into the Hydrogen Age would include deploying all currently available energy technologies and expanding research, then expanding the hydrogen infrastructure beyond core cities, and then transforming entire societies into hydrogen consumers and providers. — Julian Gresser and James A. Cusumano, “Hydrogen and the New Energy Economy,” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 19

Less supply, more demand for food will threaten the global economy. As the world economy continues expanding, future populations will demand a higher quality of food. But meeting that demand will be problematic, as farmers leave the profession for richer opportunities in cities and as climate warming impairs productivity of dwindling agricultural lands. — Lester R. Brown, “Pushing Beyond the Earth’s Limits,” May-June 2005, p. 18

Power plants and greenhouses could double as desalination plants. As the demand for fresh water increases worldwide, desalination plants will need to dramatically improve their efficiency. Researchers have recently demonstrated a system that can process salt water into fresh using excess heat from electric power plants. In another system, seawater used to cool condensers in a greenhouse is then converted into freshwater. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2005, p. 12

Superconducting solution for meeting tomorrow’s energy demand. Global demand for energy will likely double in the next 50 years. One proposed solution for meeting this growing demand without destroying the environment in the process is to build a superconducting pipeline, or SuperGrid, that would transport electricity instead of petroleum. The key is the use of superconducting cables, which would be buried underground to provide more protection against weather-related blackouts. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2005, p. 7

Terrorist acts will become more frequent, more violent. The forces contributing to militancy in Muslim lands—overcrowding, underemployment, and resource scarcity—are becoming more severe. Because Western nations’ policies are often perceived as the underlying causes of these problems, countries such as the United States should expect to be the targets of more acts of terrorism for at least the next 20 years. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Now Shaping the Future: Economic, Societal, and Environmental Trends,” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 33

Global partnerships against terrorism will grow stronger. Though nations will likely continue to bicker over trade, the environment, and foreign policy, they will increasingly cooperate to curb terrorism and reverse nuclear proliferation. The intelligence and police departments of more than 170 nations already work together to share information about terror suspects and coordinate antiterrorist initiatives. Fifty-five nations have changed their domestic laws to accommodate the global pursuit of terrorists. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 12

Frightened out of our privacy? Security may trump privacy in the age of terrorism. Fear of both terrorism and violent crime has contributed to growing acceptance of surveillance in public areas. In Britain, some 1.5 million surveillance cameras now monitor a wide range of public areas, including schools, office buildings, streets, and shops. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Now Shaping the Future: Economic, Societal, and Environmental Trends,” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 37

Smart surveillance cameras could thwart crime. Future surveillance cameras will not only catch a criminal, but also stop the culprit from committing a crime. Closed-circuit cameras equipped with expert-system image analysis will be able to recognize unusual activity, such as violent behavior or glass breaking. Then the smart cameras will call the police to investigate. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2005, p. 10

Technologies may help militarize the police. High-tech “spyware” and other surveillance equipment used by the military will increasingly make its way into policing, including global positioning satellites and unmanned aerial drones. This will keep officers safer and enable them to track suspects more easily, but private citizens may demand greater accountability and ethics in law enforcement. — Gene Stephens, “Policing the Future: Law Enforcement’s New Challenges,” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 55

Lasers could soon be used to detect explosives safely, quickly, and inexpensively. A team of University of Florida researchers has developed a new device that detects TNT using photoluminescence spectroscopy—casting light on objects and measuring the wavelength of the light that returns. The technology could allow security professionals to identify explosives faster, more accurately, and at safer distances. — Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2005, p. 2

Combating radicalism with moderation. To reduce the threat of terrorism, the RAND Corporation recommends that the international community and moderates within Muslim nations step up to foster reform in schools and mosques, promote international networks for liberal and moderate Muslims, and expand economic opportunities for young people in Muslim countries. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2005, p. 17

Security threats extend beyond cities. Future terrorist attacks may target rural areas and not just cities. Among the most plausible or devastating attacks identified by U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

• Blowing up chlorine tanks.

• Spreading disease in airports, sports venues, and train stations.

• Infecting livestock with diseases.

• Detonating a nuclear device in a major city.

• Releasing nerve gas in an office building.

• Bombing a sports arena.

—Futurist Update, Apr 2005

Nanomedics will come to the aid of wounded soldiers. Researchers at MIT are developing nanobots as part of an Objective Force Warrior Program. These microscopic robots may one day be able to transport specific drugs directly to affected tissue to perform precision elimination of damaged cells. Nanobots could also broadcast timely information about a soldier’s health to medics miles away. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 16

Let there be light-emitting diodes. Energy-efficient sunlight-simulating LEDs will provide 90% of the world’s lighting by 2025. LEDs last 20 times as long as ordinary light bulbs. Because they use gallium nitride rather than expensive sapphire, they could cut in half the cost of lighting homes and offices. — Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2005, p. 2

Interactive reality TV will make you the star. The next generation of interactive video technology will blend the viewer’s image directly into the action on screen. A camera pointed at the viewer would take that image and superimpose it digitally into a video playing on television. Such technology could also improve training of doctors, athletes, soldiers, and others who could benefit from the realistic simulations. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2005, p. 2

Roll-up displays for TV, cell phones, pocket computers. Flexible electronic thin film could soon make it easy to roll up the TV or computer monitor and put it out of the way. Electronic paper using the thin-film display technology would also be used in signs that need to be changed quickly, such as in-store displays or traffic notices. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2005, p. 9

Fly us to the Moon. Lunar vacations may become a reality by the 2020s, creating all new industries and jobs. Public-sector thinking about space commercialization has traditionally focused on manufacturing, energy production, and the like, but private-sector development of space tourism is more likely to capture the public’s imagination, proponents believe. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2005, p. 11

Smarter, safer, cleaner transportation. Automobile designers will produce more-efficient vehicles, and by doing so will begin to reduce the demand for oil by 2008. Smart-car technologies will also begin reducing deaths due to automobile accidents in Europe by 2010, and in the United States slightly later. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Now Shaping the Future: Technological, Workplace, Management, and Institutional Trends,” May-June 2005, p. 39

Dining with nanotech. Among the possible uses for future nanotechnology will be to rearrange the atoms of materials in the waste stream into consumable products like milk. Countertop synthesizers could one day create meats and vegetables without killing animals or destroying habitats. Food would be synthesized with the correct vitamins and minerals, and even created already cooked. — J. Storrs Hall, “What’s Next for Nanotechnology,” July-Aug 2005, p. 29

“Super Tech” scenario: Drugs, not exercise. Who needs a personal trainer when drugs can keep us fit? In a “Super Tech” scenario, pharmaceutical technologies could be so advanced by 2050 that humans may never need exercise again, suggest Joel Barker and Scott W. Erickson, authors of Five Regions of the Future. — “Racing Toward a Super-Tech Future?” Book Review, July-Aug 2005, p. 59

Virtual mirror reveals your future self. What will your lifestyle choices today do to your looks in the future? A new simulation tool created by Accenture Technology’s laboratory in France produces a digital visualization of what junk food, excess alcohol, and lack of exercise will do to your looks. One goal of the “virtual mirror” is to reveal the future consequences of choices and behaviors that can be altered now. — Futurist Update, Mar 2005

More pornography, but a waning pornography industry. Amateur and freelance pornography producers will take advantage of ubiquitous broadband Internet service and inexpensive camera and video equipment to produce adult material more cheaply and distribute it more widely. Future generations will reach sexual maturity with full access to as much erotic material as they want. — Eric Garland, “Reinventing Sex: New Technologies and Changing Attitudes,” Nov-Dec 2004, p. 44

Fewer people will participate in team sports. The demise of the standard working day implies that fewer people will share the same off time. This will prevent clubs and teams from forming or operating in the manner they do currently. The continued rise of individualism will further accelerate the shift away from group and team activities. — Robin Gunston, “Play Ball! How Sports Will Change in the 21st Century,” Jan-Feb 2005, p. 35

Trend of two-income couples may be reversing. Marriages in which both spouses are employed have become the norm in Western economies, but the trend may have peaked—and even begun to reverse. The proportion of married-couple U.S. households in which both husband and wife worked fell from 53.4% in 1997 to 50.9% in 2003. However, the proportion of those households in which only the wife worked has risen three years in a row. Future working couples may be more likely to take turns in the workforce rather than working at the same time. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Now Shaping the Future: Technological, Workplace, Management, and Institutional Trends,” May-June 2005, p. 45

Dads may take over more at-home caregiving. A small but growing contingent of stay-at-home fathers may set a new pattern for future family life. In the United States, fewer than 100,000 fathers stay at home full time in order to take care of the kids, but research shows that such arrangements have important benefits, such as the formation of longer-lasting bonds between father and child. And unlike with working dads, the mothers who are employed outside the home still maintain strong connections with their kids. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2005, p. 12

Ethical travelers may leave gentler footprints. International travel is on the rise, and the industry is now carving out an ethical niche for tourists who want to visit other places responsibly. Types of ethical tourism on the rise include ecotourism (visiting conservation sites), pro-poor tourism (engaging in experiences that benefit impoverished citizens of host sites), and responsible tourism (minimizing negative impacts on the local environment and culture). — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2005, p. 14

In the future, we will have more control over our use of time. More-flexible work schedules and 24-hour services will allow people to customize their daily and weekly use of time, and technologies such as digital recorders will let people consume television when they want to and not according to broadcasters’ schedules. — John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, “Time in Our Hands,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 22

In the future, we will have less control over our use of time. Factors contributing to increasing time stress in the future include a growing elderly population that demands caregiving from working adults, terrorism and security-related delays at public facilities, and transportation gridlock in increasingly congested urban and suburban areas. — John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, “Time in Our Hands,” Sep-Oct 2005, p. 22

New technologies and social attitudes could lead to better ways to die. Until humans achieve immortality, they must still confront death. New technologies and social mores are offering better ways to die: One proposal is “statutory death,” in which individuals approaching demise would be allowed to voluntarily withdraw from the world and enter a drug- or computer-enhanced “twilife” state of physical passivity with mental stimulation. — Lane Jennings, “Finding Better Ways to Die,” Mar-Apr 2005, p. 46

Virtual Health: Smarter Environments Will Keep an Eye Out for Us

More doctors and hospitals will make use of wireless technologies such as wearable computers and mattresses embedded with sensors to care for patients. This technology will allow for more constant and reliable monitoring of patients’ vital signs. As a result, busy nurses will be freed from the duty of having to constantly ensure that patients are connected to EKGs. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 16

Laptop “doctors” will monitor our vital signs on the go. Your future cell phone or laptop computer could help you track your vital signs and communicate with the doctor whenever something’s amiss. A portable device will monitor your breathing and heart rate via wireless signals, then transmit the information in real time to medical personnel through a cell phone or Internet connection. — Futurist Update, June 2005

The walls will have ears—and eyes, and a tongue to tattle with. Sensors embedded in thin materials could keep track of the vital signs of a room’s occupants. One possible application would be for prisons: Smart jail cells would report when an inmate is having a medical problem or when increases in blood pressure or brain-wave activity warn of impending violence. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2005, p. 6


Archivo del blog