Outlook 2010

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Recent forecasts from World Future Society for the decade ahead

New energy sources to get us past peak oil will include algae, ammonia, compressed air, seawater, and garbage. We’ll no longer buy the same old stuff off the shelves, but rather download unique designs and then “print” our own stuff. When we get tired of other people’s designs, we’ll automatically invent our own. And our connection to technology will become so intimate that we’ll get a cell phone alert whenever love may be in the air. Welcome to the latest edition of the World Future Society’s annual Outlook report, in which the editors have selected the most thought-provoking forecasts and ideas appearing in THE FUTURIST over the past year. These forecasts are not “predictions” of what the future will be like, but rather glimpses of what may happen or proposals for futures that we could aspire to. Use these forecasts to inspire your own thinking about tomorrow and its myriad prospects. The opinions and ideas expressed here are those of their authors or sources cited and do not necessarily represent the views of the World Future Society. For more information, please refer to the original articles cited. Back issues of THE FUTURIST, as well as additional copies of this Outlook report, may be purchased using the coupon in this report or online at www.wfs.org/backiss.htm. As always, your feedback is welcome. Please e-mail your comments to [email protected] THE EDITORS

Business and Economics .............. 2 Energy ........................................... 2 Environment and Resources ......... 3 Government ................................... 4 Habitats ......................................... 4 Health and Medicine ...................... 5 Information Society ........................ 6 Lifestyles and Values ..................... 7 Science and Technology................ 8 Work and Careers ......................... 8 World Affairs .................................. 9

◆ Extreme Measures for the Environment ............................. 3 ◆ Wild Cards ................................ 5 ◆ Algae Futures ........................... 7 ◆ Jobs for Tomorrow .................... 9

©2009 World Future Society • 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, MD 20814, U.S.A. • All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.

l Future workers will earn the same anywhere in the world. Companies will likely cast broader nets in hiring. European firms, for instance, are increasingly strained to find qualified job applicants, according to Karlheinz PHOTODISC Steinmueller, scientific director of Z_punkt Gmbh, The Foresight Company. So a worker would earn the same money in Australia, Sweden, and Japan, Steinmueller believes. — “Seeing the Future Through New Eyes,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 56 l Medical tourism could be a boon for global health care, already a $40-billion business with 780 million patients. Michael Zey, author of Ageless Nation, says that a $400,000 bone marrow transplant in the United States would cost only $30,000 in India. “When you have international competition from more affordable hospitals in one country, it’s likely to impact what hospitals in another country would charge,” says Zey. — “Seeing the Future Through New Eyes,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 57 l The future smells like marketing. Aromas travel directly to the brain’s emotional centers, according to scientists. Perceptions registered by other centers travel through interpretive brain centers first and then arrive at the emotional centers. “Our relatively recent understanding of the prominence and influence of scent in our lives is rapidly changing the paradigm of how we market, sell, and deliver products and services to consumers,” says C. Russell Brumfield, author of Whiff. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 9 l Runaway inflation could lead to barter economies. In Zimbabwe, the inflation rate has climbed more than 2 million percent, causing Zimbabweans to use gasoline coupons as a makeshift currency. Similar barter schemes may be expected in other nations if hyperinflation takes hold. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 2 l The world’s lender nations must learn to borrow. The world economy is out of balance, according to economist Martin Wolf. If the global community wants to avoid future recessions, it will have to move from having a few large-scale debtor nations toward having an equilateral flow of capital. The United States will have to borrow less, while other nations should become open to more U.S. loans. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2009, p. 7

l 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) BEN MILLS / FORESIGHT INSTITUTE 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 l Engines running on compressed air may cut energy costs. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories say that compressed air energy storage facilities (CAES) could help relieve the world’s energy woes. The air would be driven into the underground geological formations during low-demand times. Several U.S. utilities are considering building CAES. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 2 l The next big trend in car design will be the solar roof. Solar-powered cars never really caught on, but solar cells on the tops of cars, working in conjunction with fuel cells, may be the next big thing to hit the automotive showroom. Already the Volkswagen Space-Up Blue concept car, the independently manufactured Aptera, and the Fisker Karma feature optional solar panels on the roofs of the vehicles working with, or in the place of, lithium-ion batteries. — Ken Harris, Feedback, Nov-Dec, 2008, p. 4 l Your lights may run on trash. Bacteria could convert trash into hydrogen fuel if scientists at the University of Birmingham have their way. Under certain circumstances, microorganisms can release hydrogen into the environment. According to futurist Garry Golden, the 170 million tons of garbage that the United States currently incinerates or sends to landfills each year could potentially provide about 2.4% of the nation’s energy needs, or 93.9 billion kilowatts. — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2009, p. 18 l Practical, affordable — and colorful — solar energy could be on the market within three years. Most large-scale solar-power operations use rotating mirrors to follow the path of the sun and channel it into solar cells. An MIT team believes they’ve found a more efficient solution: dyed windows. The dye particles focus the light to the



Outlook Extra: Extreme Measures to Save the Environment?
Radical methods may be the only way to prevent the worst effects of global climate change, according to growing numbers of futurists. For example, saving species whose habitats have become uninhabitable may require hands-on approaches such as direct relocation. Natural evolution doesn’t allow enough time for some fragile species to adapt to environmental changes, so some scientists are creating guidelines for managed relocation of species. — World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2009, p. 7 Reversing climate change itself has inspired potential megascale “geoengineering” projects such as 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, “Last Resort Solutions to Global Warming,” May-June 2009, p. 8 edges of the windows where it’s concentrated. Less semiconducting material is needed to harvest energy there, and the solar cell stays cooler, negating the need for elaborate cooling systems. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 8 l Powered by sea water. Affordable and reliable electricity from the ocean might be possible with the VIVACE, a new machine built by University of Michigan engineer Michael Bernitsas. This system, which works by creating vortices in ocean water and capturing their power, has the added benefit of posing less risk to marine life than present-day dams and water turbines. — Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2009, p. 2 l No more oil to export? The five nations responsible for half the world’s oil supply — Iran, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — are projected to be near net-zero exports — i.e., no more oil to sell — by 2031. Oil exports from all oil-producing nations are currently declining by 2.5% a year. Importing nations should expect this decline to continue and prepare now for the day when this highly sought commodity is no longer on the market. — Chris Nelder, “Oil Exports May Soon Dry Up,” Mar-Apr 2009, p. 6 Atmospheric physicist John Latham and engineer Stephen Salter offer a more-extreme technology to help reverse the warming trends: a “cloud-seeding” machine that would blast seawater droplets into the atmosphere and cause clouds to whiten, which would cause them to reflect more sunlight back into space. With less sunlight hitting the surface, Latham and Salter hope, the earth’s climate could stabilize long enough for us to find a clean source for most of our energy needs. — Patrick Tucker, “Saving the Planet, One Cloud at a Time,” Mar-Apr 2009, p. 68 Geoengineering may be inevitable. Even if humans could instantly reduce all greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures would continue to increase for the next 20–30 years, triggering feedback loops and more warming. — Jamais Cascio, author of Hacking the Earth, reviewed by Bob Olson, July-Aug 2009, p. 51

temperature could easily increase as much as 14˚C. Aside from flooding, other potential problems from rising sea levels include beach erosion, loss of wetlands, and increased salinity of estuaries. — “Seeing the Future Through New Eyes,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 59; Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2009, p. 2 l African elephants may become extinct by 2020. The African elephant population is now less than 470,000, down from more than 1 million when ivory trading was first banned in the late 1980s. But poaching continues, and the death rate for the remaining elephants has PHOTODISC surpassed 8% per year, according to University of Washington biology professor Samuel Wasser. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 2 l Iceless Arctic summers will be the norm by 2040. The ice extent in the ocean will shrink to 1 million square kilometers (620,000 square miles) from 4.6 million square kilometers today. The new projection, from climate watchers at the University of Washington and NOAA, pushes forward previous climate forecasts for this phenomenon by 60 years. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 14

l The oceans may rise 75 meters (246 feet) by the end of the century, putting coastal cities like New York at risk. Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, predicts that the earth’s



l One rare greenhouse gas is becoming more common. Solar energy has one environmental downside, according to University of California–San Diego geochemistry professor Ray Weiss: It is a source of nitrogen trifluoride, or NF3, a greenhouse gas 17,000 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping atmospheric heat. Atmospheric NF3 has been increasing by 11% a year, due to its widespread use in the production of solar cells, LCD televisions, and computer circuits. — World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2009, p. 10 l Resource scarcity will likely cause vital commodities to become more expensive. The World Resources Institute refers to this as ecoflation and warns that companies could see profits fall drastically if they fail to develop strategies that deal with the environmental costs of doing business. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2009, p. 2 tion may be forced to enact price controls. — Peter Schiff, quoted in “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 33

l Suburbanites will feel economic downturns hardest. In hard economic times, suburbanites may feel especially removed from essential city services. They may not know how to find the nearest clinic or food center. A new study from the University of Illinois shows that the number of poor people moving to the suburbs has been increasing since 1990 even as many suburban townships have reduced or eliminated services. — Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2009, p. 2

l Small governments will eclipse big governments as a threat to privacy/liberty. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are close to 90,000 local governments in the United States (school districts, special districts, municipalities, and townships), each of which may find ways to exert influence over individuals in ways that distant big government never could. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 8 l Power and influence will shift away from the United States and toward Asia by 2025. The National Intelligence Council forecasts that U.S. influence will wane in the next two decades as China, Russia, and other Asian countries accumulate more power and wealth. China GDP is projected to average 7% for 2009, as opposed to flat yearly growth for the United States. — Patrick Tucker, “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 30 l Consumption of goods in the United States will return to historically normal levels as the millennial generation comes of age. While the short-term forecast for the consumer-led U.S. economy is slow-to-flat growth, normal consumption patterns should reemerge as more of the millennial generation exits college, enters the workforce, and develops the appetite for, and capacity to, purchase goods. — Elaine Kamarck, quoted in “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 33 l The United States will likely experience hyperinflation, resulting in social upheavals. When the U.S. government can’t sell U.S. debt to anyone but its own Federal Reserve banks, hyperinflation will destroy the U.S. bond market, the price for goods and services across the country will accelerate, and the administra-

l Improved urban design could create not only healthier environments, but also healthier inhabitants. As city populations grow around the world, models for improving the quality of life will be based on integrating natural landscape within the city (e.g., community gardens), thus reducing the negative effects of high-density dwellings. — Cliff Moughtin et al., authors of Urban Design, reviewed by Aaron M. Cohen, Sep-Oct 2009, p. 54 l The number of artificial islands will increase, some as extensions of existing countries, others to create new micronations. Currently, the most technologically advanced artificial island projects are found in Dubai. However, a few farsighted developers have experimented with accelerating coral growth to build artificial reefs and islands in mid-ocean and other methods of creating new land. — McKinley Conway, “The Case for Micronations and Artificial Islands,” May-June 2009, p. 31 l Artificial-island micronations will dramatically shift the face of global politics. New forms of government and unusual political models will begin to emerge, including corporate nationPETIT ST. VINCENT



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, “New Nation Predictions,” May-June 2009, p. 35

Outlook Extra: Wild Cards
Wild cards are high-impact, low-probability events that would have dramatic consequences (for better or for worse) if they actually occurred. Here is a short selection of reader-submitted wild cards, so think about how best to prepare for them. l Artificial intelligence displaces service workers, starting with service employees working from a distance rather than hands-on. Such a change could lead to massive layoffs, forced early retirements, and substantial reduction in service jobs. l The food-supply chain is disrupted. An interruption in the global food-supply system could have devastating consequences, eliminating a large percentage of available foods while driving costs up on the remaining options. Having readily available local alternatives that enable us to bypass the centralized industrial agriculture chain would be one way to offset such a tragedy. l Global cooling occurs. Conventional climate models project only warmer temperatures, but new research based on wind patterns over the oceans indicates the possible emergence of a rapid mini Ice Age in the next few years. This would raise havoc with agriculture and economies, and result in worldwide social and political upheaval. l Intelligent alien life is confirmed. Declassified information reveals reports of alien species that have made contact with Earth. Scientific evidence emerges as well. The presence of alien life would have profound effects on humanity. — “Wild Cards in Our Future,” May-June 2009, pp. 18-24

l Future cities could be car-free. Cities around the world are employing car taxes, innovative urban design, and new alternative transportation plans to decrease car traffic. Highly populated Singapore mandates that cars carry electronic sensors and then charges the drivers every time they enter the city. The mayor of Paris hopes to cut traffic in his city 40% by 2020 through a city-sponsored bicycle-rental program. — Lester R. Brown, “Cities Battle Auto Dominance,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 10

l Devices that monitor your health will upload data about your activities to the Internet. A small device called FitBit tracks how fast you’re walking, your heart rate, even how well you’re sleeping and then uploads that information directly to a publicly viewable database. The idea may ring of Orwell, but technology watchers like Tim O’Reilly forecast that the most interesting computer applications in the years ahead will involve sensors. — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2009, p. 9

l Nanotechnology will allow us to fix our ailing organs from the inside out. Nanotechnology, or the manipulation of objects smaller than a billionth of a meter in size, will allow us to repair sick cells inside our bodies, reboot our brains, and even reanimate dead tissue, according to cryonics advocates. — David Gelles, “Immortality 2.0,” Jan-Feb 2009, p. 39 l Alternative medicine will become mainstream. Rising numbers of patients are supplementing — or replacing — their conventional medical treatments with herbal supplements, meditation, yoga, and other forms of “alternative” healing. Hospitals are listening — more than 37% of U.S. hospitals now integrate complementary and alternative services with conventional procedures. — Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2009, p. 2 l People will improve mental health through video games. If you suffer from low self-esteem, reprogramming yourself through video-game play may come to




the rescue. A set of online games developed by McGill University psychologist Mark Baldwin helps the brain form more positive patterns of thought. The games are based on neuroscience research showing the effects of social rejection and acceptance on the physical brain. — World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2009, p. 9 l Your doctor will give you constant, online checkups. Faster Internet speeds will allow doctors to monitor their patients around the clock in their patients’ homes. The Outpatient Health Monitoring System uses wireless sensors to constantly monitor asthma patients and check environmental factors in the patients’ home, like the presence of allergens, pollution, or humidity. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 13 l The Internet will put hard-to-reach medical specialists in the palm of your hand (or in your chest). Benjamin Berg, a Hawaiian heart doctor, dictated a complicated heart surgery over an Internet feed for a man 3,500 miles away in Guam. Berg monitored every move and heartbeat of the patient via sensors embedded in the catheter that had been inserted into the patient’s heart. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 13 l New artificial skin could be produced rapidly using factorylike techniques. Tissue engineering may help produce artificial skin, cartilage, and other body parts quickly and in large quantities, thanks to research at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biology. The result could mean improved treatment for burn victims using skin grown in laboratories, as well as the creation of tissue that is suitable for chemical testing, thus avoiding experiments on animals. — Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2009, p. 2 Readily accessible data about places and objects, coupled with future IT advances, will create a more sophisticated digital world that mirrors our own. — Jamais Cascio, “The Singularity Needs You,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 25 l Lifelogging technologies will ensure that every moment of existence is recorded. New systems to record the life histories of objects and users will enhance observations, recall, and communication. One example is a Georgia Institute of Technology “smart home,” which watches you cook so you don’t miss a step, monitors your prescription drugs for you, and alerts your loved ones and medical professionals if you have an accident. Young people will get used to being constantly on display in what might be called the participatory panopticon. — Jamais Cascio, “The Singularity Needs You,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 25 l Japan and its neighbors will dominate the next phase in Internet growth. Median download speed in the United States was 5 megabits per second (Mbps) in 2007. Median speeds were 49 Mbps in South Korea and 63 Mbps in Japan. Experts contend that Japan and its neighbors have positioned themselves to be the first states to reap the benefits of the broadband era: economic growth, increased productivity, and technological innovation. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 13 l As the number of mobile phones increases, new programs and services will help us make sense of our environment. Globally, mobile phone penetration is expected to reach 75% by 2011. As mobile phones replace the PC as the primary device for getting online, new services such as Whrrl, Buddycloud, Brightkite, and Loopt will enable users to get more real-time information about their immediate environment. — Erica Orange, “Mining Information from the Data Clouds,” JulyAug 2009, p. 17 l With your eyeglasses as a dashboard, more data will be available at a glance. An interactive chip in the lens will display data and respond to your commands. Images will actually be projected onto your retina, so they will appear several feet in front of you instead of on the lens. — Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2009, p. 2 l The number of U.S. jobs filled by telecommuters could grow nearly fourfold to 19 million by 2012. Wider broadband will bring the office home, giving workers and employers more flexibility. Research shows that if all Americans improved their broadband connection, allowing for more telecommuting, the result would be a 4% reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions, $5 billion saved in lower road expenditures, and 1.5 billion commute hours recaptured. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 13

l 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 l Sensors, digital maps, and new information technology breakthroughs will enhance our view of everyday reality. Google Earth pictures of a given neighborhood, combined with real-time RFID data of what the people in that neighborhood are buying, could reveal important details of that neighborhood: the numbers of smokers, young people, parents with infants, etc.





Outlook Extra: Algae Futures
Futurists’ attention is increasingly being drawn to the slimy world of microalgae. Here’s why: Algae might be the antidote to our dependence on oil. These microorganisms can potentially produce 5,000 gallons of fuel per acre, which could meet perhaps 30%– 60% of U.S. oil needs, according to Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, speaking at the World Future Society’s 2008 conference. — “Seeing the Future Through New Eyes,” NovDec 2008, p. 59 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. An added benefit is the cleansing power of algae. Power plants that plan to filter their emissions via expensive carbon-sequestration systems might consider growing algae instead. According to the DOE researchers, algae pond cultures consume more than 90% of carbon dioxide in the pond water, as well as water-based nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and some heavy metals. Growing algae farms next to power plants could save millions of dollars now spent on pollutioncontrol equipment, while also creat-


ing new revenue from the sale of algae-based biofuels. — Robert McIntyre, “Algae’s Powerful Future,” Mar-Apr 2009, p. 25

l Young people will read more, and the old will play more video games. 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 l Only two-thirds of American households will own cars in the decades ahead, down from seveneighths today. In the post–Great Recession era, most new housing will be built in conjunction with high-density, mixed-use, and other in-fill developments clustered around rail-transit stations throughout an increasingly urbanized nation. — David Pearce Snyder, “A Rendezvous with Austerity,” July-Aug 2009, p. 44 l The population boom to watch now: centenarians. For the first time in history, adults aged 100 or older are a fast-growing population group. Most industrialized countries now average one centenarian per 10,000 residents, but the figure is moving toward one in

5,000. University of Georgia gerontologist Leonard Poon looked at common threads among the centenarians he interviewed: They exercised regularly, ate breakfast daily, consumed carotenoids and Vitamin A in large amounts, and didn’t smoke. — World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 12 l Saudi school programs are educating students about the dangers of terrorism. These programs are designed to raise awareness in much the same way that American school programs warn students about the dangers of using recreational drugs. Students are encouraged to participate in essay contests and art competitions on topics related to the dangers of extremism, and the government also supports other youth activities, including organized sports and athletic events. Such endeavors can lure children away from the ideological summer camps and religious retreats run by extremist groups. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2009, p. 12 l Neuroscience and virtual reality will yield profound new insights into the nature of right and wrong. Technologies like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are already exposing the neurological roots of race bias and deception. In the future, moral science will converge with virtual reality, allowing people



to role-play their reactions to different moral situations, yielding individuals new opportunities to discover the roots of their decision-making processes. — Patrick Tucker, “Reinventing Morality,” Jan-Feb 2009, p. 24 l Beer guzzling will decline. Alcohol consumption in the United States has dropped over the past 50 years, led by beer consumption, according to a team of researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine. The researchers attribute the long-term decline to growing public awareness of the ill effects of heavy drinking, which has been linked to cardiovascular and liver problems. — Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 2 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 l At home, 3-D printers will alter online shopping from selling stuff to selling designs for stuff. Christmas shoppers in 2024 will buy printable files that download directly to 3-D printers in their homes. Amazon and other online retailers will also sell the “fabbers” and the cartridges of raw materials needed to print things. — Thomas A. Easton, “The Design Economy,” JanFeb 2009, p. 43 l 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

l 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 l 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 l 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 Sunlike stars could have rocky planets. Among the more than 300 extra-solar worlds already discovered, probably one has some form of life, according to Dimitar

l Talent shortages will undermine economic recovery. As the global economy becomes more dependent on technology, workers will need more proficiency in science, technology, engineering, or mathematically based (STEM) jobs. To produce these talented workers, the U.S. education system needs to work with community-based organizations and NGOs to improve training for tomorrow’s careers. — Edward Gordon, “The Global Talent Crisis,” Sep-Oct 2009, p. 38 l Professions will become hyperspecialized. As professional and academic fields become more and more specialized, the current subspecialization trend may lead to hyperspecialization. For example, a surgeon may only repair knees injured during the playing of football. There are already significant knowledge gaps and communication difficulties between specialties and subspecialties, and these divides will only become larger and more difficult to surmount. — Bruce L. Tow and David A. Gilliam, “Synthesis: An Interdisciplinary Discipline,” May-June 2009, p. 43 l U.S. senior citizens are postponing retirement due to financial concerns. Even before the recession, large numbers of baby boomers and pre-baby boomers who had not actually saved enough for retirement were unexpectedly compelled to return to the labor force.



Outlook Extra: Jobs for Tomorrow
Hottest jobs for 2016: - Network systems and data communications analysts (53.4% more U.S. employees than in 2006) - Personal and home care aides (up 50.6%) - Home health aides (up 48.7%) - Computer software engineer (up 44.6%) - Veterinary technologist/technician (up 41.0%). Coldest jobs for 2016: - Photographic processing machine operator (49.8% fewer U.S. employees than in 2006) - File clerk (down 41.3%) - Sewing machine operator (down 27.2%) - Electrical and electronic equipment assembler (down 26.8%) - Computer operator (down 24.7%). — “U.S. Employment Ups and Downs, 2006-2016,” Sep-Oct 2009, p. 30

India and China will increase in relative terms. — Newt Gingrich, quoted in “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 31 l More international organizations will participate in cross-border activities to monitor digital fund transfers. Electronic funds-transfer systems handle more than $6 trillion in wire transfers daily, but lax oversight makes such systems ripe for money-laundering activities. The growing speed and interconnectivity of digital transactions adds to the difficulty of tracing money transfers, particularly across borders. — Stephen AguilarMillan, Joan E. Foltz, John Jackson, and Amy Oberg, “The Globalization of Crime,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 48 l A broad conflict between India and Pakistan could result in nuclear war. This development, in turn, would force other nations to align themselves with existing nuclear powers for protection. Experts such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich point out that the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai escalated tensions considerably between the nations. — Patrick Tucker, “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 31 l China will become the world’s largest economy, based on GDP, prior to 2025. The United States will fall behind Japan and will no longer be in the top 20 countries in terms of per capita GDP. China will shift from an export economy to consumer-driven economy, and Japan will shift most of its export trade away from the United States to China. — Peter Schiff, quoted in “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 35 l Saudi Arabia’s output of oil may plateau in 2020, raising grave concern about unemployment. If the Saudis and other oil-producing countries fail to diversify their economies, they will struggle to house, feed, educate, and employ future generations. — Roger Howard, “Peak Oil and Strategic Resource Wars,” Sep-Oct 2009, p. 19 l The prospect of peak oil could lead producer countries to become more insular, guarding their dwindling resources from outside influences. But it could also lead these countries’ governments to become more transparent and democratic, as corruption will become intolerable to citizens. — Roger Howard, “Peak Oil and Strategic Resource Wars,” Sep-Oct 2009, p. 20 l Information warfare based on disruption rather than destruction will be a significant component of all future wars. Vital infrastructure systems ranging from energy to transportation are increasingly interconnected, creating more points of entry for intruders. As many as 120 governments are already pursuing information warfare programs. — Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “World War 3.0: Ten Critical Trends for Cybersecurity,” Sep-Oct 2009, p. 40

Now, many more may opt to simply stay in their jobs. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2009, p. 16 l The recession could cause the U.S. labor force to grow. An increase in the U.S. labor force means that more people will be competing for jobs in the short term, adding to stress on U.S. job seekers. Increased competition also means that the U.S. labor force will become more efficient as vacancies are filled by higher caliber employees. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2009, p. 16

l Terrorism might be thwarted with rehab. Jihadist rehabilitation programs have sprung up in nations from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. Providing psychiatric and religious counseling to imprisoned jihadists is becoming a standard part of counterterrorism efforts. Because these methods address the underlying intellectual and ideological factors of extremism, they may ultimately prove more effective than strong-arm approaches. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2009, p. 12 l China, Russia, and other nations will rise to challenge U.S. status as sole superpower. The influence and power of the United States may decline in the next decade and a half, but this will not be a decline in economic, political, or military strength. Rather than the United States enjoying the role of the world’s lone superpower, the influence of other countries such as



Tomorrow Is Built Today
Founded in 1966, the World Future Society is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association with approximately 25,000 members in some 80 countries. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the trends shaping the future. Regular membership includes annual subscriptions to The Futurist magazine, the electronic newsletter Futurist Update, and discounts on books published by the Society and on registration fees for the Society’s annual meetings. Dues: $59 per year ($20 for full-time students under age 25).

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