Futurist Forecasts

Forecasts From The Futurist magazine


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. The forecasts are meant as conversation starters, not absolute predictions about the future.

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 2012 and beyond. Here are the top ten forecasts from our most recent Outlook report.

Forecast #1:
Learning will become more social and game-based, and online social gaming may soon replace textbooks in schools. The idea that students learn more when they are engaged—as they are when playing games—is helping educators embrace new technologies in the classroom. In addition to encouraging collaborations, games also allow students to learn from their mistakes through trial and error.

Forecast #2:
Commercial space tourism will grow significantly during the coming decade. By 2021, there will be 13,000 suborbital passengers annually, resulting in $650 million in revenue. Many companies are currently working to make commercial space flight a viable industry, according to Melchor Antuñano, director of the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.

Forecast #3:
Nanotechnology offers hope for restoring sight. Flower-shaped electrodes topped with photodiodes, implanted in blind patients’ eyes, may restore their sight. The “nanoflowers” mimic the geometry of neurons, making them a better medium than traditional computer chips for carrying photodiodes and transmitting the collected light signals to the brain.

Forecast #4:
Robotic earthworms will gobble up our garbage. Much of what we throw away still has value. Metals, petroleum, and other components could get additional use if we extracted them, and robotic earthworms could do that for. The tiny, agile robot teams will go through mines and landfills to extract anything of value, and digest the remaining heaps into quality top soil.

Forecast #5:
The dust bowls of the twenty-first century will dwarf those seen in the twentieth. Two giant dust bowls are now forming, in Asia and in Africa, due to massive amounts of soil erosion and desertification resulting from overgrazing, over-plowing, and deforestation, warns environmental futurist Lester R. Brown.

Forecast #6:
Lunar-based solar power production may be the best way to meet future energy demands. Solar power can be more dependably and inexpensively gathered on the Moon than on Earth. This clean energy source is capable of delivering the 20 trillion watts of power a year that the Earth’s predicted 10 billion people will require by mid-century.

Forecast #7:
Machine vision will become available in the next 5 to 15 years, with visual range ultimately exceeding that of the human eye. This technology will greatly enhance robotic systems’ capabilities.

Forecast #8:
Advances in fuel cells will enable deep-sea habitation. Fuel cells such as those currently being developed for automobiles will produce electricity directly, with no toxic fumes. This advance will eventually make it easier to explore and even colonize the undersea world via extended submarine journeys.

Forecast #9:
Future buildings may be more responsive to weather fluctuations. “Protocell cladding” that utilizes bioluminescent bacteria or other materials would be applied on building facades to collect water and sunlight, helping to cool the interiors and produce biofuels. The protocells are made from oil droplets in water, which allow soluble chemicals to be exchanged between the drops and their surroundings.

Forecast #10:
The end of identity as we know it? It may become very easy to create a new identity (or many identities) for ourselves. All we will have to do is create new avatars in virtual reality. Those avatars will act on our behalf in real life to conduct such high-level tasks as performing intensive research, posting blog entries and Facebook updates, and managing businesses. The lines between ourselves and our virtual other selves will blur, to the point where most of us will, in essence, have multiple personalities.

Also on this page you will find every forecast from Outlook dating back to 2006. Survey hundreds of other forecasts from the World Future Society below. We are able to provide this service 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. Outlook 2012 is yours free if you sign up to receive THE FUTURIST within the next ten days.

The annual Outlook report is released as part of the November-December issue of THE FUTURIST magazine. An individual report can be obtained from the World Future Society for $5 in both print and in PDF. Information on subscriptions can be obtained from the World Future Society, publisher of THE FUTURIST by contacting Jeff Cornish, jcornish@wfs.org.

Outlook 2011

Below are the editors’ top 10 forecasts from Outlook 2011. Click the the lead sentence on each to scroll through the slideshow. On this page, you’ll also find more than 250 forecasts from Outlooks past.

1. Physicists could become tomorrow’s leading economic forecasters. Unlike mainstream economists, who rely on averages, econophysicists study complex systems, feedback loops, cascading effects, irrational decision making, and other destabilizing influences, which may help them to foresee economic upheavals.

2. Environmentalists may embrace genetically modified crops as a carbon-reduction technology. Like nuclear power, genetically modified crops have long been the bane of environmentalists, but Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline, argues that there are myriad benefits to them as C02 sinks.

3. Search engines will soon include spoken results, not just text. Television broadcasts and other recordings could be compiled and converted using programs developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis.

4. Will there be garbage wars in the future? Trash producers in the developed world will ship much more of their debris to repositories in developing countries. This will inspire protests in the receiving lands. Beyond 2025 or so, the developing countries will close their repositories to foreign waste, forcing producers to develop more waste-to-energy and recycling technologies.

5. The notion of class time as separate from non-class time will vanish. The Net generation uses technologies both for socializing and for working and learning, so their approach to tasks is less about competing and more about working as teams. In this way, social networking is already facilitating collaborative forms of learning outside of classrooms and beyond formal class schedules.

6. The future is crowded with PhDs. The number of doctorate degrees awarded in the United States has risen for six straight years, reaching record 48,802 in 2008, according to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates. One-third of these degrees (33.1%) went to temporary visa holders, up from 23.3% in 1998.

7. Cities in developed countries could learn sustainability from so-called slums in the developing world. Dwellers of “slums,” favelas, and ghettos have learned to use and reuse resources and commodities more efficiently than their wealthier counterparts. The neighborhoods are high-density and walkable, mixing commercial and residential areas rather than segregating these functions. In many of these informal cities, participants play a role in communal commercial endeavors such as growing food or raising livestock.

8. Cooperatively owned smart cars and roads will replace dumb, individual gas guzzlers. With 800 million cars on the planet to serve 7.8 billion people, personal transportation is a dominant force in our lives. But the emergence of car-sharing and bike-sharing schemes in urban areas in both the United States and Europe have established alternative models and markets for fractional or on-demand mobility, says MIT’s Ryan C.C. Chin. He and his fellow engineers with the MIT Media Lab have designed a car system that could serve as a model for future cities.

9. Fighting the global threat of climate change could unite countries—or inflame rivalries. Nations with more sophisticated environmental monitoring systems could use data to their advantage, perhaps weakening an enemy by failing to warn it of an oncoming storm or other catastrophe. They could also fudge their own, or their rivals’, carbon output numbers to manipulate International legislation says forecaster Roger Howard.

10. We may not be able to move mountains with our minds, but robots will await our mental commands. Brain-based control of conventional keyboards, allowing individuals to type without physically touching the keys, has been demonstrated at the universities of Wisconsin and Michigan. In the near future, brain e-mailing and tweeting will become far more common, say experts. A group of undergraduates at Northeastern University demonstrated in June that they could steer a robot via thought.


Physicists could become tomorrow’s leading economic forecasters. Unlike mainstream economists, who rely on averages, econophysicists study complex systems, feedback loops, cascading effects, irrational decision making, and other destabilizing influences, which may help them to foresee economic upheavals. —Future Scope, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 4

The two decades between 2020 and 2040 will coincide with material scarcity as “peak everything” takes hold. Supplies of antimony (a strategic mineral essential to the production of semiconductors) will peak between 2020 and 2040. Tantalum (essential to the production of capacitors and resistors) will peak between 2025 and 2035. Zinc (an important metal in the production of batteries) will peak between 2025 and 2035. —Stephen Aguilar-Millan, Ann Feeney, Amy Oberg, and Elizabeth Rudd, “The Post-Scarcity World of 2050-2075,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 35

The post-scarcity business environment of 2050 and beyond will give rise to new business models. As more aspects of industrial production fall into the realm of information technology, the ability to digitize, or “convert atoms to bits,” is increasingly removing scarcity from the business equation. —Stephen Aguilar-Millan, Ann Feeney, Amy Oberg, and Elizabeth Rudd, “The Post-Scarcity World of 2050-2075,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 35

U.S. companies will remain optimistic about China’s markets. An overwhelming majority (90%) of the American companies doing business in China are “optimistic” or “slightly optimistic” about the five-year growth outlook for China’s domestic market, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham). Of the U.S. companies surveyed, 74% ranked China as a top-three investment priority, and nearly 20% ranked it as number one, AmCham reports. —World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2010, p. 11

Emerging industries will lead a period of unprecedented global economic growth and development. Such fields as nanotechnology, solar and wind power, water supply systems and desalination plants, space tourism, and environmental restoration projects could create billions of jobs around the world. —McKinley Conway, “Coming: The Biggest Boom Ever!” May-June 2010, p. 21

Beware of backlash against greenwashing. Labeling products with meaningless terms such as “natural” without tangible environmental benefits could lead to a backlash from consumers seeking to support truly eco-friendly businesses. Manufacturers could begin by designing their products with sustainability in mind, such as using hydro-degradable plastic packaging, which dissolves in water. —Erica Orange, “From Eco-Friendly to Eco-Intelligent,” Sep-Oct 2010, pp. 28-32


We may not be able to move mountains with our minds, but robots will await our mental commands. Improved brain–computer interfaces could allow users to control a robotic arm. A longer-term goal is to build interfaces for robotic prostheses, so that users could use their minds to control their own artificial limbs. —World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 7

The Internet will get smarter; you’ll spend less time searching, more time finding what you want. If you search the term “tank,” the Internet doesn’t know whether you mean an armed vehicle or something to hold oil. Search-engine developers such as SemanticV are teaching their programs to learn the meaning of words based on how they are actually used rather than their popularity among other searchers. —World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2009, p. 9

A “Skinput” computer interface will let you carry a virtual “keyboard” in the palm of your hand. The device, developed by a team of Carnegie Mellon researchers, consists of a tiny projector that creates the virtual keyboard display and sensors that recognize the sounds of your finger tapping on specific parts of your skin. —Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2010, p. 2

Smart textiles will allow future musicians to “play themselves.” In prototype garments designed by students at the Swedish School of Textiles, sensors built into the fabric produce a harp-like sound when the user touches it. —Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 2

Future wars may be less deadly as fewer human troops are placed in high-risk positions. Autonomous combat vehicles (drones) and robotic soldiers could perform a wide variety of dangerous missions, such as carrying cargo, sweeping mines, or guarding national borders, according to Missy Cummings, director of MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab. The result may be fewer war casualties. —World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2009, p. 12

Hopping robots could see combat duty. Small, portable, and light, Precision Urban Hoppers are mainly intended to aid the U.S. Army in urban combat and help decrease soldier casualties. Guided by GPS, they can bound over obstacles up to 25 feet in height and deliver various “payloads,” including small video cameras and microphones for surveillance. —World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2010, pp. 13-14


The notion of class time as separate from non-class time will vanish. The era of hyperconnectivity will require most professionals to weave their careers and personal lives into a blended mosaic of activity. Work and leisure will be interlaced throughout waking hours every day of the week, and student life will reflect the same trend. In this way, self-directed learning will be the most important taught skill of the future. —Janna Anderson, “Remaking Education for a New Century” (interview), Jan-Feb 2010, p. 22

The future is crowded with PhDs. The number of doctorate degrees awarded in the United States has risen for six straight years, reaching a record 48,802 in 2008, according to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates. Approximately a third of those degrees went to temporary visa holders. Computer science and engineering doctorates increased by more than 20% in the past decade. Humanities PhDs declined except in the field of education. —Trends in Brief, Mar-Apr 2010, p. 9

China may pioneer large-scale Internet education. Faced with the challenge of educating an impoverished rural workforce, but free from the influence of teachers’ unions, China may be the first country to succeed in educating most of its population through the Internet. From 2003 to 2007, China spent about $1 billion to implement distance-learning projects in the rural countryside. —John Naisbitt and Doris Naisbitt, authors of China’s Megatrends, reviewed by Patrick Tucker, May-June 2010, pp. 55-56

Social networking could facilitate a more collaborative form of learning. The Net generation uses technologies both for socializing and for working and learning, so their approach to tasks is less about competing and more about working as teams. Therefore, teachers should abandon the “drill and kill, sage on a stage” model of pedagogy, and managers should encourage greater freedom among employees to self-organize. —Don Tapscott, cited in “Innovation and Creativity in a Complex World,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 53

Future curricula will broaden to include interpersonal skills. The age of social networking has brought on a critical need for social skills such as self-discipline, responsibility, and media literacy, in addition to the “three R’s.” Education should incorporate more active learning styles, such as group exercises, class discussions, and other exercises that allow students to interact with course material. —Gary Marx, cited in “Education for a New Age,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 57

In 2020, schools will carve out nondigital preserves for students to read and write with books, pens, and paper. Educators and students will see nondigital space as a crucial part of the curriculum, recognizing that aspects of intelligence are best developed with a mixture of digital and nondigital tools. —Mark Bauerlein, “Literary Learning in the Hyperdigital Age,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 24

Texting, microblogging, and overuse of online tools will have a negative effect on student writing and academic performance. When students sit down and compose on a keyboard, they slide into a harried mode of writing. As more kids grow up writing in snatches, and writing poorly, colleges will put more first-year students into remedial courses and businesses will hire more writing coaches for their employees. —Mark Bauerlein, “Literary Learning in the Hyperdigital Age,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 25

On the college campus of tomorrow, classes won’t matter. The next generation of college students will be living wherever they want and taking many (if not all) of their courses online. They will earn degrees that are accredited by international accrediting agencies. But even in a globalized, educational environment, students will still want to join fellow students in a campus community. —John Dew, “Global, Mobile, Virtual, and Social: The College Campus of Tomorrow,” Mar-Apr 2010, p. 50


Switching to electric vehicles won’t solve the energy problem. Though it would reduce carbon-dioxide pollution, a massive transition from fossil fuels to electrically powered vehicles would create even more demand for electricity. Other sources of increasing electricity demand include household appliances, computers, cell phones, and other consumer electronics. —Richard Stieglitz with Rick Docksai, “Why the World May Turn to Nuclear Power,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 19

Fission versus fossils: Nuclear power may soon trump petroleum. Demand for energy, especially electricity, will continue to soar, but what source will supply that power? Fossil fuels are blamed for 90% of carbon-dioxide pollution, and renewable sources like solar and wind power are not yet reliable as baseloads, so nuclear power is experiencing a renaissance. Nuclear energy is projected to supply nearly 30% of the world’s electricity by 2030, up from 16% today. —Richard Stieglitz with Rick Docksai, “Why the World May Turn to Nuclear Power,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 17

Electric cars could make fossil-fuel-powered cars obsolete. The United States may completely transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to more reliable electric ones that last longer and require less maintenance by the middle of the twenty-first century. —Michael Horn, “Roadmap to the Electric Car Economy,” Mar-Apr 2010, pp. 40-45

Alternative energy will overtake fossil fuels by the 2020s. This will happen even if China and India retain coal-fired power plants. If handled poorly, such recalcitrance may end up being a driver for significant global tension. If handled well, it could be an engine for new markets and development. —Jamais Cascio, “The Potential and Risks of Geoengineering,” May-June 2010, pp. 27-28

Solar power could come from glitter. Photovoltaic cells the size of a piece of glitter could be embedded in textiles to provide a nearly ubiquitous source of mobile energy. Developed at Sandia National Laboratories, the tiny cells could also lower the costs of solar power, as they could be mass produced using common micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) techniques. —Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2010, p. 2

Oil price rises will be checked by growing competition from alternative sources of energy. Nuclear power is growing rapidly around the world; in Russia, for instance, plans call for 26 more nuclear plants to be built by 2030. Solar, geothermal, wind, and wave energy will also help reduce reliance on oil. By 2060, a pollution-free hydrogen economy may become practical, though costly. —Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s World: Forces in the Natural and Institutional Environments,” July-Aug 2010, p. 40


More nuclear reactors are being built, but they may not be enough to reduce pollution from carbon dioxide. By the end of 2007, the world had 439 operating nuclear reactors. Worldwide, 112 new reactors in 25 countries are planned, but in order for nuclear power to significantly contribute to reductions of carbon emissions, some 2,000 new reactors are needed, critics argue. —Richard Stieglitz with Rick Docksai, “Why the World May Turn to Nuclear Power,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 20; Michael Mariotte, “Second Thoughts on Nuclear Power,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 23

Dead zones in the world’s oceans are a rapidly growing environmental crisis. Industrial agriculture that allows too much animal manure and crop fertilizer to contaminate freshwater and coastal ecosystems is blamed for the growing phenomenon of eutrophication, which is the depletion of oxygen to support fish, crustaceans, and other marine life. —World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2009, p. 7

Many of today’s protected species could die out from a sudden catastrophic event. Any species with a population of fewer than 5,000 is just one cataclysm away from disappearance, according to a study by the University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. This finding puts the giant panda, which numbers 1,000–2,000, and the California condor, of which there are only 170 living, deep in the danger zone. Programs that restore large amounts of habitat and strict protection of remaining specimens may bring many back from the brink. —World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2010, p. 6

A collapse in the Arctic’s collared lemming population—a growing possibility due to climate change—would have ripple effects the world over. Longer summers will mean less time for the animals to breed. They’re a staple food for a variety of predator species, such as the snowy owl and the seagull-like skua among other animals, according to researcher Olivier Gilg. Rapid climatic and biota shifts playing out in the Arctic provide a window into how animal behaviors will shift as a result of climate change. —World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 9

As the Arctic melts, Europe will freeze. The effects of climate change differ by latitude; loss of sea ice in the Arctic region will likely yield colder and snowier winters in Europe, eastern Asia, and eastern North America, according to NOAA researcher James Overland. —Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 2

Rising levels of CO2 are benefiting GM crops and weeds. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been shown to stimulate growth in genetically modified soybeans—and the weeds that they’ve been modified to resist. Fast-growing invasive weeds could become even more troublesome as CO2 levels increase to a predicted 550 parts per million by 2050. —Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2010, p. 2

The Aral Sea will dry out by 2020 if conservation efforts don’t work. Once the fourth-largest lake on Earth, the Aral has shrunk dramatically in recent decades. Efforts to restore it have included the construction of a dam to sequester the smaller but less-polluted and salty northern Aral from the southern part. —World Trends & Forecasts, Mar-Apr 2010, p. 12


Crops will be genetically modified to be impervious to climate change. Agricultural scientists believe they have isolated the “thermometer” gene in plants that allows them to sense and adapt to temperature changes. Tweaking the gene could create crops that would grow in any climate condition. —Future Scope, May-June 2010, p. 4

Environmentalists may embrace genetically modified crops as a carbon-reduction technology. Like nuclear power, genetically modified crops have long been the bane of environmentalists, but Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline, argues that there are myriad benefits to them. For example, crops modified to grow without being tilled (achievable through the creation of genetically novel crop strains) could prevent carbon on the soil from being released into the atmosphere. —Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline, reviewed by Aaron M. Cohen, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 55

Indoor vertical farming will make cities more self-sustaining. “Living” skyscrapers with entire floors dedicated to growing food could soon appear in city skylines. In an increasingly urbanized future, they will bring food growers and consumers closer together, and also extend “farmland” into a third dimension: skyward. A 30-story skyscraper on one city block could potentially feed 50,000 Manhattanites, using technologies available now. —Cynthia G. Wagner, “Vertical Farming: An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back,” Mar-Apr 2010, pp. 68-69

The world has entered a new era of food insecurity. Higher food prices, rapidly growing numbers of hungry people, and intensifying competition for land and water resources mean that nations must better manage their limited resources or face possible food shortages. —Lester R. Brown, “How to Feed 8 Billion People,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 28

A potential food collapse may result from aquifer overpumping. Water tables are now falling in countries that together contain half the world’s people. An estimated 400 million people (including 175 million in India and 130 million in China) are currently being fed by farms and processes that rely on overpumping. Saudi Arabia has announced that, because its major aquifer is largely depleted, it will be phasing out wheat production entirely by 2016. —Lester R. Brown, “How to Feed 8 Billion People,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 30


Redesigning the automobile could help create more-sustainable cities. With 800 million cars on the planet to serve 7.8 billion people, personal transportation is a dominant force in our lives. But by 2020, we will be shifting from privately owned gas-powered cars to shared electric vehicles. By engineering far smaller, lighter, and energy-efficient vehicles for city use and creating networks that make it easier for such vehicles to be shared rather than owned, urban design could be radically transformed. —Ryan Chin, “Sustainable Urban Mobility in 2020,” July-Aug 2010, pp. 29-33

Cities in developed countries could learn sustainability from informal cities in the developing world. Dwellers in slums, favelas, and ghettos have learned to use and reuse resources and commodities more efficiently than their wealthier counterparts. The neighborhoods are high-density and walkable, mixing commercial and residential areas rather than segregating these functions. —Pavlina Ilieva and Kuo Pao Lian, “Learning from Informal Cities, Building for Communities,” Sep-Oct 2010, pp. 24-26

Future buildings may be more conversation-friendly. Architects using sound-mapping software developed at Cardiff University in Wales can see the noisy hot spots where conversations in a room might become unintelligible. By altering room shapes and materials, they will be able to make meeting spaces, open-plan offices, and even cafés more compatible for conversations. —Future Scope, July-Aug 2010, p. 4

New approaches to building design and landscaping will protect homeowners in fire zones. With increasing human settlement in woodlands and savannas, architects should use “firewise” construction, such as nonflammable building materials, abundant ventilation, and thermal-resistant windows, advises University of Wyoming ecologist William Baker. Landscapers can keep the areas surrounding the building free of plants that fuel and spread flames. —World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2010, p. 7

In tomorrow’s smart house, the walls will talk—to each other, and to the windows, TV, and fridge. The key to making the long-fantasized dream of a smart house real is the creation of an Internet of things—networking among the many devices that keep our households running. The Hydra Project in Europe is aiming to create an open-source middleware network that would be compatible with devices manufactured by many different companies, from gaming platforms to refrigerators. —World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2010, p. 10

“Smart cities” may soon emerge. Sensor dust, embedded computing, augmented reality, and a host of other emerging technologies hold the potential to “awaken” cities as digital environments. —Jamais Cascio, “The Potential and Risks of Geoengineering,” May-June 2010, pp. 27-28

Architects may need to consider climate models in their building designs. Most buildings are constructed according to a location’s historic weather conditions. However, as climate change is projected to make places like the United Kingdom hotter by mid-century, buildings will need to adapt to dramatically altered needs for energy consumption, flood defense, and other climate-related impacts, warns physicist David Coley of the University of Exeter. —World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 11


Top-of-the-line medical diagnostic equipment will be available on your phone. A new application uses an iPhone’s built-in microphone to collect clear signals of a user’s heart beat, which can then be transmitted in real time to a cardiologist. Peter Bentley, inventor of the iStethoscope, sees diagnostic applications becoming more powerful and cheaper than traditional medical equipment, eventually putting an array of instruments in everyone’s pockets. —Trends in Brief, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 8

Citizen scientists may play as big a role in curing breast cancer as multibillion-dollar drug companies. Volunteers all over the world will connect online to work on a single problem, revolutionizing drug development. Open access will make it easier to share ideas, publish protocols and tools, verify results, rule out bad designs, communicate best practices, and more. —Andrew Hessel, “Reinventing the Pharmaceutical Industry Without the Industry,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 19

Genetically individualized medicines will lower the cost of drug development. Synthetic biology, a genetic engineering technology founded on DNA synthesis that amounts to writing software for cells, will drop the cost of doing bioengineering by several orders of magnitude. —Andrew Hessel, “Reinventing the Pharmaceutical Industry Without the Industry,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 20

A vaccination may vanquish phobias. In tests with goldfish at the University of Hiroshima, injections of the anesthetic lidocaine were found to temporarily steady heart rates, offering hope for helping humans overcome their irrational fears. —Tomorrow in Brief, July-Aug 2010, p. 2

Clinical treatment using advanced nanorobotic medicine could begin sometime during the 2020s. Rather than prescribing drugs that have the same generic effects, doctors in the future will prescribe nanorobotic treatments that act with digital precision, have no side effects, and can report exactly what they did back to the physician. —Robert A. Freitas Jr., “The Future of Nanomedicine,” Jan-Feb 2010, p. 22

Providing more safe places to play could reverse childhood obesity trends. A lack of playgrounds within walking distance is part of the reason that two-thirds of American children now fall short of the recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity, according to the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! The group recently launched a campaign to honor imaginative ways that local groups have promoted play. —World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 16

Psychiatrists will treat character deficiency and acute lack of self-directedness instead of depression. Mental-health doctors have plied patients with psychotropic drugs for decades to little effect, says Robert Cloninger of Washington University in St. Louis. Some people may just be genetically predisposed toward greater happiness. Where clinical treatment can make a difference, he says, is in enhancing patients’ character development and self-directedness to achieve better overall life satisfaction. —Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 2


No more digital trails? Communications technologies make it easy to blurt out words you immediately regret, so computer scientists at the University of Washington have created a way to put expiration dates on e-mail, chat messages, and Facebook postings. The system, dubbed Vanish, encrypts messages and spreads the data among different computers on file-sharing networks. As turnover occurs in the network, users take their portion of the encrypted key with them, rendering the message undecipherable. —Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2009, p. 2

The written word could become obsolete by 2050. The growth of Web surfing, Internet video, computer games, texting, and Twitter will lead to a significant global decline in text literacy, according to futurist William Crossman. This trend away from traditional reading, thinking, and research skills is likely to cause a shift toward more visually based media in the coming decades. Younger generations of users will be increasingly inclined to abandon older information technologies, including the written word, as new media are developed. —Patrick Tucker, “The Dawn of the Postliterate Age,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 45

Search engines will soon include spoken results, not just text. Television broadcasts and other recordings could be compiled and converted using programs developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis. As more people spend more time under the lenses of cameras and in the presence of microphones, and as more footage from those devices goes online, a spoken-word search engine could allow someone with a smart phone to look up any recorded conversation between two people that’s occurred anywhere a microphone was present. —World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 12

New types of crimes will emerge as we spend more of our lives online. Social networking sites and other online communities permit people to behave and misbehave in ways that mirror real life. Harassment, fraud, and other crimes that cause harm, whether physical, financial, or emotional, will proliferate online. Society and law enforcement will be forced to broaden the understanding of personal and institutional responsibility and of what are considered criminal acts. —Eric Meade, “Scanning the Future of Law Enforcement: A Trend Analysis,” July-Aug 2010, p. 23

Heavy and prolonged reliance on the Internet for communication may degrade our ability to think. Web surfing and “googling” are having neurological impacts that are observable and measurable, according to critic Nicholas Carr. While we may be more adept at finding what we’re looking for, we are less able to reflect, synthesize, and analyze the content and its deeper meaning. “The more we use the Web, the more we train our brains to be distracted,” he charges. —Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, reviewed by Patrick Tucker, July-Aug 2010, p. 61


More atheists will “come out of the closet” as society increasingly recognizes common values that transcend religion. In 2020, most people will no longer regard religious ideas as beyond criticism. Respect for various gods will diminish, but respect for parents, teachers, and others who’ve accumulated knowledge should increase. As more of the 10% to 15% of the U.S. population who are atheists and agnostics confess their lack of religious beliefs to their friends, family, and neighbors, it will be difficult to hold to the claim that so many lack the ability to lead productive, moral lives. —Roy Speckhardt, “Finding Faith in Humankind,” Mar-Apr 2010, p. 37

Religious practitioners will prefer to connect with one another in person, rather than just online. Religious leaders will increasingly utilize the Internet and social networking technology to connect with people in need of spiritual counseling. However, more and more people will visit their priests, rabbis, and pastors in person because the technology will not be able to replace warm gestures from real, live human beings. —Ayy? Gotam?, Dr. Rev. Prem Suksawat, “Nurturing the Spirit in the Age of the Web,” Mar-Apr 2010, pp. 38-39

Communities may build a better form of capitalism than corporations. The growth of corporations and their power over the market economy may have left people feeling helpless in the face of the recent financial meltdown. In the future, communities could create their own market economies and even their own currencies, such as “Life Dollars,” to strengthen local resources. —Douglas Rushkoff, “Life Dollars: Finding Currency in Community,” Sep-Oct 2010, pp. 21-23

The millennial generation’s attitudes toward privacy and security will alter law enforcement’s strategies. In the United States, the millennial generation (those born approximately 1983–2002) are receptive to new technologies and have relatively few concerns about privacy issues. Law enforcement and security strategies using social networking or other techniques that others consider invasions of privacy may be more commonly accepted among this cohort. —Eric Meade, “Scanning the Future of Law Enforcement: A Trend Analysis,” July-Aug 2010, p. 23

Expect growing resentment toward a new class of genetic elites, or “genobles.” The use of genetic technologies could destabilize human civilization as the wealthy use enhancements to increase their advantages over have-nots, says medicine law researcher Maxwell J. Mehlman. The rise of genobility—i.e., genetic nobility—will require societies to set boundaries for emerging society-altering technologies. —Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 2

Breakthroughs in data storage could give music lovers 24/7 access to every song ever recorded. Whether the music is stored in a personal device like an iPod or in the “clouds” of third-party servers like Pandora will be complicated by an assortment of tricky economic and copyright issues. —World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 6


Quantum computing could make networks impervious to cyberattacks—or render them defenseless. The race to be the first to build a large quantum computer, or quantum network, is a matter of national security, according to computer scientist Dave Bacon of the University of Washington. The goal is to harness the behavior of particles at the quantum level to enable faster computation. This could allow governments (or other users) to break otherwise impervious encryption codes, as well as to reverse the process and create essentially unbreakable codes. —World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2010, p. 6

The science of tipping points will show strange similarities between the functioning of the stock market, the Arctic, and the brain. Many complex systems—including market exchanges, animal populations, and ecosystems—exhibit identifiable “early warning” behaviors prior to big disruptive shifts like crashes, according to a 2009 paper published in the journal Nature. The authors contend that the study of corollary warning signals across systems would benefit from more reliable statistical tools. —World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 7

Auto parts that store and release electricity could keep cars running continuously. The prototypes are made of a lightweight composite material that could make hybrid gasoline/electric vehicles lighter and more energy efficient, allowing motorists to travel longer distances between recharges. —Future Scope, May-June 2010, p. 4

New transportation systems are emerging that will lessen traffic congestion and accident risks. Interstate highways will feature lanes for cars and trucks controlled by computers. Robo-cars (small vehicles completely controlled by built-in artificial intelligence) will pick up elderly and disabled people in residential areas and take them to nearby supermarkets, doctor’s appointments, and wherever else they might like to go. —McKinley Conway, “Coming: The Biggest Boom Ever!” May-June 2010, pp. 20-23


Future leaders will be asked to manage super-performing, technologically enhanced employees. Leaders will bear much of the burden of social evolution when the “Enhanced Singular Individuals” (ESIs) of the Singularity Era enter the general population of “Norms” (those without technological enhancements). —Barton Kunstler, “The Singularity’s Impact on Business Leaders: A Scenario,” Mar-Apr 2010, p. 17

Super-automation may soon bring super-unemployment. The growing use of artificial intelligence to increase productivity in offices all across the developed world could result in dramatically increased unemployment, falling consumer demand, and a financial crisis surpassing the Great Depression, warns Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford. —Martin Ford, author of The Lights in the Tunnel, reviewed by Patrick Tucker, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 51

Middle skills will rise in importance. Middle-skill workers ranging from carpenters to radiology technicians will be needed in the key industries benefiting from U.S. federal funding, such as construction, health care, manufacturing, and transportation. In Rhode Island, more than 42% of job openings between 2006 and 2016 are projected to be middle-skill jobs, compared with 26% for low-skill and 32% for high-skill jobs. —World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 15

The U.S. Hispanic population faces a retirement crisis. Hispanic and Latino Americans have saved less for their future and are less likely to be covered by employer-sponsored retirement plans than their white counterparts, according to the Hispanic Institute. Hispanics are largely employed in the service-related fields that do not provide retirement plans or enough income for workers to save on their own. —World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2010, p. 17

The rise of workshop desks and “active work environments” will keep office workers healthier. The Information Age has created an epidemic of slothful office workers. The Active Desk (a workspace incorporating a treadmill) and similar inventions aim to create a more physically demanding work environment that doesn’t detract from knowledge workers’ productivity. —Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2010, p. 2


Fighting the global threat of climate change could unite countries—or inflame rivalries. Nations with more sophisticated environmental monitoring systems could use data to their advantage, perhaps weakening an enemy by failing to warn it of an oncoming storm or other catastrophe. —Roger Howard, “The Politics of Climate Change,” Nov-Dec 2009, p. 25

Future international diplomacy may increasingly focus on how to control the climate. Some advocates believe geoengineering may become imperative by 2015. However, the deliberate manipulation of the Earth’s natural systems in order to mitigate the effects of climate change is very difficult, and could carry dangerous unintended side effects. One result may be protests that lead to violence, especially if different regions have divergent results or demand incompatible outcomes. —Jamais Cascio, “The Potential and Risks of Geoengineering,” May-June 2010, pp. 27-28

Will there be garbage wars in the future? Increasing consumption in the developing world is leading to increasing waste, leaving less room for trash producers in the developed world to send their debris. After about 2025, developing countries will likely close their doors to foreign waste, forcing the developed world to refine waste-to-energy and recycling technologies. —Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s World: Forces in the Natural and Institutional Environments,” July-Aug 2010, p. 43

Equipment donations may unintentionally increase pollution in the developing world. Recycling old equipment by sending it to the developing world can be bad for the environment in the receiving countries. These older technologies tend to be more polluting than newer, more-efficient manufacturing equipment. —Future Scope, May-June 2010, p. 4

Untangling the legal issues related to the environment will fall to specialized lawyers, judges, and courts. Air and water pollution and other environmental issues cross international borders, complicating the regulatory and enforcement landscape. Environmental courts could help countries ensure healthier social and environmental futures, according to University of Denver law professor George Pring. —World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2010, p. 10

Global youth population will grow from 3 billion now to 3.5 billion by 2020. Half a billion of the world’s population under age 25 live on less than $2 a day, according to the United Nations. As growing numbers of youth are “at risk” in some way—whether joining gangs, becoming addicted to drugs, or falling prey to the sex trade—new approaches will be needed to ensure better futures. Leading law enforcement experts recommend programs such as parent education, mentoring, nonviolent conflict resolution, character education, and community–school partnerships, as well as supporting the UNICEF-sponsored International Convention on the Rights of the Child. —Gene Stephens, “Youth at Risk: A New Plan for Saving the World’s Most Precious Resource,” July-Aug 2010, pp. 16-21

The balance of economic power is shifting from West to East. If Asian economic growth leads to more people pursuing the West’s consumerist lifestyles, strains on global resources and the environment will accelerate, a diplomat and scholar warns. A more-sustainable future may be found in a return to traditional Asian values that eschew materialism. —Joergen Oerstroem Moeller, “Asia Redraws the Map of Progress,” Sep-Oct 2010, pp. 14-19

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Outlook 2010


* 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 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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


* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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 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

* 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

* 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

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

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


* 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 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

* 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 surpassed 8% per year, according to University of Washington biology professor Samuel Wasser. – Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2008, p. 2

* 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

* 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

* 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


* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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 administration may be forced to enact price controls. – Peter Schiff, quoted in “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 33


* 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

* 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

* 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

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

* 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


* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

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.

* 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.

* 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.

* 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.

* 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


* 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

* 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. 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

* 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

* 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

* 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,” July- Aug 2009, p. 17

* 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

* 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

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


* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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


* 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

* 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

* 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 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

* 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,” Jan- Feb 2009, p. 43

* 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


* 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

* 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

* 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. Now, many more may opt to simply stay in their jobs. – World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2009, p. 16

* 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

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


* 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

* 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 India and China will increase in relative terms. – Newt Gingrich, quoted in “Assessing Global Trends for 2025,” July-Aug 2009, p. 31

* 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 Aguilar- Millan, Joan E. Foltz, John Jackson, and Amy Oberg, “The Globalization of Crime,” Nov-Dec 2008, p. 48

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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

* 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
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

Outlook 2009


* 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

(OUTLOOK 2008)


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

Outlook 2005


* Global wage gap is closing. Rapid income growth in China and southern Asia is helping to narrow average income inequality worldwide. This represents a turnaround over historic trends, according to Perm State sociologist Glenn Firebaugh. -World Trends & Forecasts, Economics, Mar-Apr 2004, p. 7

* Debt woes forecast for young Americans. Ten percent of America’s generation Y (born between 1977 and 1997) are considered clinically compulsive spenders-a significantly higher proportion than among baby boomers (1% to 3%) and Gen X’ers (5%). Researchers blame the early and widespread use of credit cards: 80% of Gen Y’ers have them, and half got their first in high school. -Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2004, p. 2

* U.S. will import more jobs from foreign competitors. The Big Three Detroit carmakers will lose market share to non-U.S. manufacturers, but those foreign companies will build plants and hire workers within the United States. By 2010, Toyota, not GM, will be the world’s largest car company. -World Trends & Forecasts, Economics, May-June 2004, p. 19

* Corporations will have no choice but to become more ethical. Greater scrutiny from the public and other stakeholders and increasingly sophisticated communications technologies will force companies to behave themselves financially, environmentally, and socially, according to Don Tapscott and David Ticoll, authors of The Naked Corporation. Transparency and honesty will be rewarded not just by customers and stockholders, but also by more-effective partnerships with other honest organizations. -World Trends & Forecasts, Economics, May-June 2004, p. 18

* African Americans’ economic power will grow. A continued increase in educational achievement and entrepreneurialism among U.S. blacks will boost their buying power by some 34% by 2008. Total buying power for all U.S. minorities in 2008 will reach $1.5 trillion, more than three times higher than in 1990. -Nat Irvin II, “The Arrival of the Thrivals,” MarApr 2004, p. 17

* The music business could become a purely service industry. Digitized music files eliminate the need for plastic-and for factories, trucks, warehouses, and record stores to create, distribute, store, and sell music on CDs or other physical media. In the future, musicians and audiences will communicate more directly, and only the businesses that support that model will benefit. -Eric Garland, “Online Music: The Sound of Success,” Now-Dee 2003, p. 25


* More human beings could lead to deterioration of the human condition. An additional 3 billion people in developing countries by mid-century will overwhelm already limited resources for education, nutrition, disease prevention, and other goals, warns Lester R. Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. -Lester R. Brown, “A Planet Under Stress: Rising to the Challenge,” Nov-Dec 2003, p. 14

* World population will begin to decline in the next century. World population is now estimated to peak at 9.1 billion in 2100, far lower than the 1988 estimate of 12 billion. Modernization’s impacts on reducing fertility rates is “the linchpin of human sustainability on the planet.” -David Pearce Snyder, “Five Meta-Trends Changing the World,” July-Aug 2004, p. 23

* Latin America will soon see more people aging in poverty. The population is now aging faster in Latin America and the Caribbean than in the developed world. The proportion of Latin Americans over age 60 will triple by mid-century, when one in four will be a senior citizen. This staggering increase in aging is happening in countries already plagued with poverty and scarce resources for social support, so policy makers are now being urged to expand pension coverage and promote access to jobs and health services for the elderly. -World Trends & Forecasts, Demography, Mar-Apr 2004, p. 8

* Obesity soars among young people. Adolescents are becoming obese at a faster rate worldwide than are middle-aged people. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 17.5 million children under age five are overweight. Some experts blame food advertisers, who run about half of all television ads during children’s viewing times. -Art Siemering, “Battling Global Obesity” [box], May-June 2004, p. 55

* Mother shortages ahead? Fertility rates are currently so low that an average of only 65 daughters will be produced by every 100 women of reproductive age, demographers estimate. In India, the sex ratio among children dropped by nearly 2% during the 1990s. The disappearance of girls in India stems from sex-selective abortions and infanticides. As the population of potential future mothers shrinks, making up for missing girls will become increasingly difficult. -World Trends & Forecasts, Demography, Sep-Oct 2004, p. 15, and Mar-Apr 2004, p. 8


* “Policing” of language in textbooks could lead to loss of ideas. Efforts by both conservative and liberal groups to remove potentially offensive or upsetting language from children’s textbooks are also removing ideas from education. References to poverty, prejudice, death, and divorce, for instance, are removed from texts because they may disturb some students. Such overzealous political correctness amounts to censorship, warns critic Diane Ravitch, author of The Language Police. -World Trends & Forecasts, Society, Nov-Dec 2003, p. 9

* More students and trainees will attend class virtually. By 2008, distance learning (via the Internet, e-mail, or other technologies) will become the main method used in 30% of training programs. By 2014, it will be the main method used in 30% of university courses. -William E. Halal, “The Intelligent Internet: The Promise of Smart Computers and E-Commerce,” Mar-Apr 2004, p. 29

* No more boring science lectures? Science professors may increasingly drop their lectures in favor of teaching techniques used in business and law schools. Using case studies and storytelling, for example, engages students in practical problem solving. Rather than passively listening to lectures, students will role play, debate, and investigate science issues. The result may be better attendance in science class, even among nonscience majors. -Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2004, p. 2

* Americans may lose their musical heritage. Folk music is increasingly being pushed aside by pop music-even in classrooms. One result will be a disconnection from the past as children fail to comprehend the meaning behind songs of work, history, and patriotic sentiment, such as “Home on the Range,” “Erie Canal,” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.” World Trends & Forecasts, Society, New-Dec 2003, p. 8


* The world’s megacities may disappear-and possibly save tens of millions of lives. The mass movement of people into cities has set up the potential for disaster as these megacities become targets for terrorists and expose more people to hazards such as earthquakes and epidemics. Satellites and other telecommunications technologies could help us reverse the urbanization trend by replacing megacities with telecities. -Joseph N. Pelton, “The Rise of Telecities,” JanFeb 2004, p. 28

* Snowcaps may disappear from mountaintops. Global warming means coastal mountains of the U.S. West will be 70% less snowy in the next half century, predict climate modelers at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory. -Tomorrow in Brief, May-June 2004, p. 2

* “Smart” technologies will infiltrate the natural environment. Nanosensors and communications devices riding on particles of “smart dust” will report on chemicals, temperature, and other aspects of the environment. But as these intelligent particles gain the ability to self-assemble, they could wreak environmental havoc, some ecologists fear. -Douglas Mulhall, “Reassessing Risk Assessment,” Jan-Feb 2004, p. 36

* Coral reef loss may rival that of rain forests. Hurricanes, disease, climate change, pollution, and overfishing are decimating the coral life on many of the world’s reef ecosystems. The loss of 80% of Caribbean coral reef cover in the past three decades exceeds the rate of tropical forest loss. Researchers now predict that, with global climate change, coral reef ecosystems will see greater changes in the next 50 years than they have faced in the last half million years. -World Trends & Forecasts, Environment, Jan-Feb 2004, p. 14

* Winning the battle against the desert. For less than a dollar a tree, Tunisia is planting 40 million trees a year to combat desertification. The government-sponsored “green wall” project uses military manpower to keep costs low; soldiers are also being deployed to help nomads adapt to farming. Observers believe Tunisia’s program could serve as a model for its Saharan neighbors. -World Trends & Forecasts, Government, May-June 2004, p. 6

* Greenhouse gases may soon be scrubbed out of the air. It may soon be possible to capture and remove carbon dioxide from the surrounding air thanks to a wind-scrubbing device under development by an Arizona company. Unlike stack scrubbers, which work on highly concentrated carbon-dioxide streams, the wind scrubber would process air with low concentrations. -Futurist Update, May 2004


* Future doctors may prescribe a dose of positive thinking. Psychologists studying happiness and well-being believe that having a positive emotional style could decrease your susceptibility to disease. Positive people tend to take better care of themselves than more negatively minded people do. World Trends & Forecasts, Demography, ]an-Feb 2004, p. 10

* Childhood deaths could be reduced by two-thirds worldwide. Breast-feeding, measles vaccinations, rehydration therapy, and other low-tech, low-cost measures could save the lives of an estimated 6 million children each year, according to World Health Organization researchers. -World Trends & Forecasts, Demography, Nov-Dec 2003, p. 15

* AIDS could be reduced with more-candid information campaigns from governments. Open and frank communication about the disease was incorporated into successful AIDS-awareness campaigns in places like Brazil in the 1990s. Public-health experts point to these programs as alternatives to the more-uptight U.S. programs that tend to advocate sexual abstinence rather than awareness campaigns that deal explicitly with drug use, anal sex, and prostitution. -World Trends & Forecasts, Government, Nov-Dec 2003, p. 11

* Health disparities between eastern and western Europeans will challenge the European Union. The accession of poorer eastern European countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland into the European Union will accentuate a growing health gap on the Continent. While cancer survival rates are generally improving, they are far lower in the poorer countries of eastern Europe due to more-limited resources. -World Trends & Forecasts, Demography, Jan-Feb 2004, p. 11

* “Calling Doctor Jacket”: Bioclothes will monitor and maintain your health. Microtechnology merging with biology will create tiny sensory cells capable of being incorporated into fabrics. Clothing equipped with arrays of microsensors and communications devices will serve as an interface between the outside world and the body within. For instance, biosensors stitched into bras and T-shirts could collect and store data such as your heart activity; when there’s an abnormality, the sensors will trigger an alarm and call your doctor. -William Holmes, “Our Microtech Future,” Sep-Oct 2004, p. 52; World Trends & Forecasts, Technology, Jan-Feb 2004, p. 13

* Russia’s population decline will accelerate. Poor health habits and inadequate health care are leading to a surge in death rates in Russia. A falloff in Russia’s youth population is expected over the next two decades because women are becoming infertile after abortions, and potentially curable diseases such as syphilis are spreading rapidly. -Futurist Update, Apr 2004

* Perception enhancement could mean new colors will be discovered. Enhancing neuronal function with microdevices could allow us to explore undiscovered realms of consciousness and perception, including new colors, new emotions, and enhanced senses, such as hearing an entire musical piece in one instant. -William Holmes, “Our Microtech Future,” Sep-Oct 2004, p. 56

* A snail may save your life. A nonaddictive medicine that’s a thousand times more potent than morphine could soon be on the market, thanks to research on conotoxins, the distinct set of toxins found in species of tropical cone snails. Future medicines from the snails might help treat spinal cord injuries, depression, and heart arrhythmia, among other ailments. -World Trends & forecasts, Environment, Mar-Apr 2004, p. 14

* More people will be smiling in the future. Whether they’re happier or not, more people will be able to show off beautiful smiles thanks to advanced corrective and cosmetic dentistry. Future beauty salons may even have dentists and plastic surgeons on staff, ready to reshape lips, brighten teeth, and sculpt jawlines. -World Trends & Forecasts, Society, Sep-Oct 2004, p. 6


* Advertisers will make commercial messages harder to avoid. Determined to get consumers’ attention, advertisers are putting ads on the doors of restrooms, using dogs as billboards, and training cab drivers to promote products at stores where they drop off riders. As more ads clutter the environment, it will become even harder for them to get noticed. -World Trends & Forecasts, Economics, July-Aug 2004, p. 11

* Fully one-third of the world’s population will be online within a decade. Universal connectivity will lead to the “death of distance,” so we will be living in a “global village” by 2010. -David Pearce Snyder, “Five Meta-Trends Changing the World,” Jnhj-Aug 2004, p. 25

* Law enforcement could become automated. Automatic law enforcement may emerge as authorities download laws into computer-enhanced objects. For instance, permits and licenses may be embedded in smart cars, trains, buildings, doors, and devices. If your driver’s license hasn’t been renewed, your car won’t budge. -Marcel Bullinga, “Intelligent Government: Invisible, Automatic, and Everywhere,” July-Aug 2004, p. 32

* Children’s aggressiveness may increase as they spend more time with video games than television. Because gaming is more participatory than watching TV, children exposed to violence in video and computer games are more at risk of acting out on aggressive impulses. -World Trends & Forecasts, Society, July-Aug 2004, p. 16

* Romantic affairs in Cyberspace will augment but not replace live ones. Extramarital affairs conducted over the Internet are becoming more common as a way to increase excitement without the risks of physical dalliances. Offline romances and relationships, too, may become more stable as cyber-affairs become more acceptable to couples. -World Trends & Forecasts, Society, July-Aug 2004, p. 17


* Water “wars” could prevent the real kind. Working out their conflicts over water may help countries and regions resolve other conflicts. Cooperation among Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians on water issues in the Jordan River basin, for instance, involves processes of negotiation and decision making that could serve as a model of collaboration, says one researcher. -World Trends & Forecasts, Government, MarApr 2004, p. 9

* Homeowners and neighborhoods will gain more control over energy. New technologies such as fuel cells could lead to a distributed power system that replaces the centralized energy paradigm of power utilities and grids. The shift will be very slow, however, since the existing utility infrastructure will be expensive to replace. -Stephen M. Millett, “Personalized Energy: The Next Paradigm,” July-Aug 2004, p. 44

* Fish prices are jumping. The world’s appetite for fish is increasing, but fish catches have leveled off. Threats to future supplies of fish include not just overfishing, but also climate change. For instance, rising air temperatures have altered the flow of deep waters in central Africa’s Lake Tanganyika, disrupting the growth of algae and nutrients for the region’s most commercially important fish. The inevitable result of growing demand and dwindling supplies is higher prices. By 2020, prices will rise by 18% for fishmeal and fish oil, making them 20% more expensive than poultry. -World Trends & Forecasts, Economics, Jan-Feb 2004, p. 7; Environment, Nov-Dec 2003, p. 6

* Worm shortage ahead. Increasing worldwide demand for fish is creating a shortage of worms to supply anglers and fish farmers. To supplement dwindling fresh-worm supplies from local worm farmers, exporters are developing new high-tech worm-storage methods such as cryogenics. -Environment in Brief, Nov-Dec 2003, p. 7

* Tomorrow’s cars may be super efficient-if you drive super slowly. Experimental cars have been able to go thousands of miles on a single gallon of gasoline, thanks to creative engineering, deft driving, and extremely slow speeds-under 10 miles per hour. -Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2004, p. 2

* Tap water could one day recharge batteries. Battery-powered devices such as mobile phones and calculators could get recharged with tap water pumped through microchannels that create an electrical charge. Electrodes would convert the charge to electrical power to run the devices. -Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2004, p. 2

* Tree farms may save forests. Growing trees in specialized orchards according to how the wood will be used-such as for plywood or furniture-could reduce the need for logging in wilderness areas. New genetic identification techniques will help domestic-tree farmers identify and transfer the necessary traits for specific products. -World Trends & Forecasts, Environment, Sep-Oct 2004, p. 13


* New technologies will make wars faster and less deadly. Among the developments that will increase the efficiency of military actions are better information and intelligence management, nonlethal weapons that incapacitate the enemy, and individual warning devices that alert soldiers to hazards in their air, water, or food. -Stephen M. Millett, “Tomorrow’s Conflicts: Faster, Safer, Casualty-Free,” Nov-Dec 2003, p. 42

* Brain research could help prevent violence. With tools such as CAT and PET scans, neuroscientists are discovering clear associations between violent behavior and exposure to media violence; minimizing the exposure might therefore reduce violence. Researchers also correlate defective genotypes with violent and anti-social behaviors, so designer drugs could one day be developed to correct these and other biological flaws. Richard Restak, “The New Brain,” Jan-Feb 2004, p. 34

* Personal, desktop manufacturing may turn your home into a nanofactory. From toaster to supercomputer, you could one day manufacture everything you need in your own kitchen using nanoassemblers that build products molecule by molecule. Once the first nanofactory is built that can duplicate itself, as many as a million could be built within just a few months. Within a year, every home in the world could have its own nanofactory. -Mike Treder, “Molecular Nanotech: Benefits and Risks,” Jan-Feb 2004, p. 42

* Technology could create more musicians. Increasingly sophisticated recording equipment is becoming more affordable for nonprofessional musicians, allowing more people to record and edit professional, broadcast-quality sound at home. They could then market their work to the public via the Internet, bypassing the recording and radio industries. -Eric Garland, “Online Music: The Sound of Success,” Nov-Dec 2003, pp. 26, 28

* 3-D TV may soon be a reality. Future television programs could become more realistic with three-dimensional high-definition displays. A multiple-projection system developed in Germany automatically calibrates high-resolution digital images, fitting them together precisely to add more realism to television, video games, and other media. -Tomorrow in Brief, Jan-Feb 2004, p. 2


* The death of “me”? Greed and a me-first attitude may be fading in Western culture. A growing segment of society known as “cultural creatives” state they are disenchanted with owning more stuff and are eschewing hedonism for spirituality, cynicism for caring, and hours at work for time with family. The proportion of U.S. society making such changes grew from 5% in the 1960s to 26% now; in Australia, 23% of adults aged 30 through 59 had “downshifted” in the past decade. -Richard Eckersley, “A New World View Struggles to Emerge,” Sep-Oct 2004, pp. 21, 22

* Marriage prospects brighten for highly educated women. Brainy brides are increasingly finding their way to bliss by abandoning the trend to “marry up”-i.e., to wed only husbands more educated than themselves. In the United States, educated women’s preference to marry better-educated men had all but disappeared by 2000, and as a result their likelihood of marrying has increased. -World Trends & Forecasts, Demography, July-Aug 2004, p. 20

* You may one day be able to marry anyone-or anything. Are pets, cars, computers, and other beloved things really out of the question as potential marriage partners? Perhaps. But the human impulse to make commitments has altered the institution of marriage throughout history, notes a cultural historian. People were once allowed to marry more than one partner; now they are restricted from doing so in most cultures. Once restricted from marrying persons of other races or religions, many people now do so freely. As the prospect of same-sex commitments again transforms the institution of marriage, some people may wish to experiment with other, more radical unions. -Stephen Bertman, “The Transformation of Marriage,” Mar-Apr 2004, p. 44

* All-day eating. Rigid distinctions among breakfast, lunch, and dinner-and of the times of day they occur-are fading as individuals fit their dining habits around more flexible and fluid work and life schedules. Restaurants accommodating these blurred dining habits will offer a mix of big, little, and medium meals during all hours. -Art Siemering, “Cooking Globally, Eating Whenever: The Future of Dining,” May-June 2004, p. 52

* Power snacking with superfood. Health-conscious and high-tech-loving consumers are grabbing more-powerful snacks. A new “superfood” industry is emerging that caters to customers’ desires for convenient, highly efficient foods that have the best formula of calories, caffeine, sodium, vitamins, and minerals to meet their diet and lifestyle needs. -Futurist Update, Apr 2004


* Older workers could help expand the business day. A steadily growing cadre of older workers could expand the productive working days of businesses. Older people-whose numbers are rising rapidly-tend to be early risers and at their sharpest in the morning. An early-riser work shift of 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. could expand commerce in cities as more businesses offer services for the early birds. -World Trends & Forecasts, Economics, May-June 2004, p. 19

* Workers will retire later-or not at all. Strains on public and private pension schemes and insufficient personal savings will force more workers to work longer than they’d planned. As mandatory retirement policies and other forms of age discrimination disappear, look for employers to develop more flexible work schedules to keep older workers effective and not feeling exploited. -Michael Moynagh and Richard Worsley, “Reshaping Retirement: Scenarios and Options,” Sep-Oct 2004, p. 44

* Knowledge work will dwindle, just as farming and manufacturing work have. The rapid growth and sophistication of information technology could do away with infotech and other service jobs. Like manufacturing and agriculture, services may comprise less than 2% of the workforce by the end of the century. -Richard W. Samson, “How to Succeed in the Hyper-Human Economy,” Sep-Oct 2004, p. 38

Skills for Today and Tomorrow

You may have aced your metaphysics finals, but can you work in a team? Solve complex problems? Communicate clearly in print and in person?

These are skills that employers are increasingly demanding, according to Syracuse University public-affairs professor Bill Coplin, author of W Things Employers Want You to Learn in College.

Among the skills that will help keep workers marketable in the near term are self-motivation, time management, strong oral and written communication, relationship building, salesmanship, problem solving, information evaluation, and leadership. (Futurist Update, Feb 2004)

In the future, even more emphasis will be placed on skills that cannot be automated. These “hyper-human” skills include caring, judgment, intuition, ethics, inspiration, friendliness, and imagination. Instead of a “secretary,” for instance, you might become an “administrative response specialist” by developing your situation-management and problemanticipation skills. (Richard W. Samson, “How to Succeed in the Hyper-Human Economy,” Sep-Oct 2004, p. 40)

Outlook 2004


* Genetically modified crops may surpass natural crops in acreage planted by 2020. Crops could be 100% genetically modified by the end of the twenty-first century, according to some experts. -Molitor, Sep-Oct 2003, p. 42

* Africa may increasingly embrace agricultural biotechnologies to feed its starving masses. Crops modified to fend off viral diseases could double food production of the continent. -July-Aug 2003, p.

* More fish will be farmed than fished. Mariculture-the farming of marine crops and animals-could become bigger than open-water commercial fisheries by 202. In the United States, 20% of fish currently comes from fish-farming operations.-Molitor, Sep-Oct 2003, p. 45

* Coca will continue to trump legal crops. University of Bonn researchers say that efforts to encourage South American farmers to grow legal crops are not working. Farm subsidies in the developed world drive agricultural prices down, so growing fruits and vegetables in South America has not proved a lucrative enough alternative to growing coca and opium. -May-June 2003, p. 13


* More developers will find financial rewards in saving the planet. A fast-growing development concept focuses not just on sustaining the environment but on restoring it-such as fixing up damaged buildings and decontaminating toxic fields to make way for new, revenue-producing businesses. Examples of restorative development projects range from restoring Stonehenge to rebuilding Afghanistan. -Cunningham, July-Aug 2003, p. 23

* Corporations will become more creative about creativity-or they won’t survive. Three ways to generate ideas for business success: Involve a wider pool of people in the brainstorming process; find out what customers don’t say about what they want or need; call on “ideation specialists” to help bring out company employees’ best visions. -Tucker, Mar-Apr 2003, p.22

* Corporations will become more civil. Consumers are increasingly demanding social responsibility from companies. In the wake of big-business scandals, companies are also growing more transparent in their operations and accountable for their actions. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2003, p. 42

* Small businesses will make big impacts. Future economic growth will come from small companies and microenterprises, in part due to communications technologies that level the playing field between large and small businesses. -July-Aug 2003, p. 14


* Population growth will decelerate. United Nations estimates show that global population growth, while still on the rise, will be slower than previously thought. That’s partly because of people’s independent decisions on birth spacing and partly because of a rise in HIV/AIDS deaths. -July-Aug 2003, p. 12

* The youth boom in Asia will bring on youthful problems now, elderly problems later. The number of adolescents has at least doubled in nearly every Asian country since 1960. With programs encouraging delayed marriage and childbearing, a “young singles” culture is emerging, leading to riskier behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drug use. As these large youth populations age, future policy makers will deal with new problems, such as health care and social security. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 11

* Poverty maps could increasingly solve social, economic, and environmental problems. In Guatemala, Cambodia, and Brazil, poverty maps have helped decision makers distribute aid and resources more effectively. In South Africa, poverty mapping was used with data on sanitation and safe water supplies to help contain a 2001 cholera outbreak. -May-June 2003, p. 16

* A future need for condoms. The number of condoms needed for HIV/AIDS-prevention goals will more than double by 2015. Covering the cost of supplying the condoms will be one hurdle; another will be overcoming the stigma of talking about sex in order to promote their use.


* The future of money may be digital, virtual, and universal. Economies could benefit from a networked currency that eases transactions and trips up criminals, but a universally trusted digital monetary system is still a long way off, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 14

* Genetic engineering of farm products could lead to lower health-care costs. Turning foods into pharmaceuticals and health supplements could lower the doctor’s bills for consumers. Medical care now accounts for the biggest share of consumer purchases-more than 17% compared with 15% for food, tobacco, and alcohol. -Zulauf, Sep-Oct 2003, p. 36

* Will there be books in the future? Maybe, maybe not. The future of the book will not be determined by technologies such as the Internet, but by the economics of the Information Age. If ideas are treated as a commons, publicly available to all, books will disappear. If ideas remain protected as intellectual property, books could be around for a long time. -Staley, Sep-Oct 2003, p. 18


* Choice of major affects post-college prosperity. Art-history majors have debt levels three times higher than what lenders recommend, given their future earning potential. Nurses, engineers, and the other grads in technology-related specialties have higher earning potentials and can take on more debt than their artier counterparts. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 2

* More students may find success without college. Not all students are cut out for higher education, and directing them into college instead of vocational programs may limit their choices-and chances for success. High schools could better prepare non-college-bound students for the workplace by using vocational courses to teach high-demand soft skills such as problem solving and communication. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 8

* Early education leads to more-responsible sexual behavior later on. Adolescents who, as young children, were enrolled in preschool or child-care programs that emphasized education had fewer pregnancies and births, according to a study by ChildTrends. -May-June 2003, p. 16

* Corporations may soon open their own institutes of technology. To meet future demand for skilled workers, corporations will train students not only in specific math, science, and computer skills, but also in traditional higher-education subjects such as history and literature. -Challenger, Sep-Oct 2003, p. 25


* The hype about hydrogen could create a bubble-and a burst. Touted as a substitute for oil, hydrogen could reduce dependency on rogue nations’ resources. But large-scale, renewable hydrogen-energy technologies could be decades away. -Olson, July-Aug 2003, p. 49

* Businesses could blast hopes for hydrogen as a clean-energy source. Right now, hydrogen R&D is focusing on ways to produce hydrogen from gasoline, coal, and nuclear power. The focus will have to shift toward more environmentally friendly measures-or businesses will get an earful from environmental groups. -Olson, July-Aug 2003, p. 49

* Electric power will get personal. Fabrics containing flexible solar cells may soon be possible as researchers overcome obstacles such as losing current when fabrics are bent. Solar textiles could one day be used to provide clothing for emergency workers or as solar-powered carpets for tents in refugee camps. -Sep-Oct 2003, p. 2

* Waves may surpass wind as an energy source. Marine-current turbines could generate four times as much electricity as wind turbines and do so more reliably, according to researchers at the University of Southampton. At one site alone-the races of the Channel Islands-the potential electricity could match that produced by three Sizewell B nuclear power stations. -Futurist Update, Mar 2003

* Gasses drawn from lakes could provide energy for hundreds of years. Methane dissolved in Rwanda’s Lake Kivu represents a massive explosion risk, but if pumped out of the lake it could be burned for electricity instead of wood. -July-Aug 2003, p.2


* Polar bears extinct by the year 2100? Global warming is melting polar nears’ Arctic hunting grounds and threatens to prevent new ice from freezing. If the trend continues, polar bears could starve off in the next 100 years. -July-Aug 2003, p. 6

* Silent skies: Feathered futures are fragile. Nearly 1,200 bird species may be disappear in the next 100 years, a sign of a troubled environment. The greatest threat comes from habitat loss, but other problems include invasion by nonnative species and the effects of global warming. -Youth, July-Aug 2003, p. 39

* Forests may be more vulnerable to acid rain than previously thought. In addition to wilting and destroying leaves and needles, acid rain leaches life-sustaining nutrients from topsoil in forests. In Germany, trees are already dying from magnesium deficiency due to acid rain’s leaching effects. The impacts will also affect birds and other species dependent on the nutrient-depleted trees. -Nov-Dec 2002, p.8

* Glaciers are receding faster, with both good and ill effects. Receding glaciers make new land available for use, but they also raise sea levels, impacting coastal areas. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 9

* The war on pests is getting tougher. Evidence that insects are becoming resistant to pesticides has scientists and farmers concerned. May pests, such as the cotton bollworm, are mutating, becoming impervious to an arsenal of chemical weapons they’ve never even been exposed to. -May-Apr 2003, p. 16

* Floating homes could offer homeowners protection against rising sea levels. A Netherlands architectural firm has designed a prototype for a sophisticated, energy-conserving floating home: a potential solution to the kind of flooding that plagued Europe in 2002. -Skjold, May-June 2003, p. 39

* Earthquakes will become deadlier. These future deadly earthquakes won’t be more powerful, but they will kill more people simply because there will be more people to kill, particularly in the world’s largest cities. Half the world’s megacities, with multimillion populations, are located near potential magnitude 7.5 earthquakes. -Futurist Update, June 2003


* Voters are vanishing worldwide. Voter turnouts have dropped in established democracies, with records lows in the United Kingdom (59% in the 2001 parliamentary elections) and the United States (51% in the 2000 presidential election). Some countries, such as Australia, Singapore, and Belgium, have made voting compulsory, helping boost participation rates to above 90%. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 6

* More money may be spent on fewer votes. Voter turnout fell to an estimated 36% in the 2002 U.S. midterm elections-the lowest level in 50 years. Meanwhile, politicians spent record levels of unregulated “soft money” on their campaigns, further contributing to public cynicism and apathy. Solutions could include more efforts to get nonvoters to vote, such as extending voting periods and moving election days to weekends. -Futurist Update, Jam 2003

* Jury trials may disappear in the United States. Increases both in plea bargaining and in the overturning of jury decisions by judges are stripping juries of their power, argues the author of In the Hands of the People. The slow pace, expense, contentiousness, and overcomplicated procedures of trials are all undermining the jury system’s credibility and putting its future at risk. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 6

* The British government is losing the faith of its people. On key risk issues such as radioactive waste and genetic testing, Britons don’t trust their government to tell the truth, according to a University of East Anglia survey. In fact, fewer than one in 10 Britons think that the government releases all the relevant information on climate change, radioactive waste, and genetically modified foods. -July-Aug 2003, p. 10

* Globalization will create culture clashes that governments must learn how to solve, say scholars contributing to the book Engaging Cultural Differences. Female circumcision and religious rituals of animal sacrifice are among the issues that trouble legal experts and social activists. -Mar-Apr 2003, p. 14


* We may be able to engineer longer lives for ourselves. Genetic engineering can double a worm’s life span. Mice are living 50% longer with the help of genetic interventions. Thanks to the human genome project, scientists are closer to identifying ways to decelerate human aging. -Magalhães, Mar-Apr 2003, p. 49

* Caring for others may extend your life span. Older people who spend time caring for neighbors or relatives, including helping with housework or running errands, were found to reduce their risk of dying by nearly 60% compared with unhelpful peers, according to a University of Michigan study. -Futurist Update, Jan 2003

* Cells, tissues, organs, and even entire humans could be printed like books. Combining rapid-prototyping techniques with the principles of cell adhesion and smart polymer technologies could allow the manufacture of custom-made body parts. -Mironov, May-June 2003, p. 36

* Physicians may soon have ways to help paralyzed people move their limbs by passing the damaged nerves that once controlled their muscles. Researchers are already able to get rats to do things by stimulating the pleasures centers in the rats’ brains. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 45

* Virtual reality will make meditating easier. People who have trouble visualizing relaxing scenes may soon be able to use a virtual-reality simulator developed by Georgia Tech researchers. The meditation chamber includes monitors and biofeedback systems to help virtual meditators relax. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 2

* Eat the pain away. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis alleviated among study participants adhering to the so-called Mediterranean diet-high in fish, low in dairy. After six weeks, the diet patients not only lost weight and lowered their cholesterol, but they also experienced lower inflammation levels. After 12 weeks, physical function and vitality also improved, researchers in Sweden report. -Futurist Update, Mar 2003

* Obesity increasingly spread around the globe. Too much fat, too much salt, and too much tobacco-once primarily Western lifestyle problems-are now to blame for rising cardiovascular disease rates in the Third World. -Mar-Apr 2003, p. 18

* Bugs could become an ally in the war on disease. Insects have a large arsenal of biologically active compounds that are now being investigated as potential medicines. Cathedral termite soldiers, for instance, have a nozzle through which they squirt defensive chemicals that may include molecules with antibiotic properties. -Trowell, Jan-Feb 2003, p. 17


* More people will blend their home and work lives-not balance them. Home and mobile computing allow more workers to blur the line between work and home. At the same time, corporations are making work environments more homelike-even providing kitchens, shopping areas, day care, and sleeping areas. -Challenger, Nov-Dec 2002, p. 10

* Where gays are, companies may follow. The more socially tolerant areas of the United States that attract gays and lesbians also attract creative people, tech whizzes, and others driving high-tech growth, says economist Richard Florida. -Mar-Apr 2003, p. 8

* Leisure sickness is a growing threat in fast-paced economies. The stress of shifting gears from an accelerated workday tempo to a slower weekend and vacation mode is causing flu-like symptoms in many people in the Netherlands. Workers with a high need for achievement are particularly affected. Potential treatments under evaluation include psychotherapy and physical activity. -Futurist Update, Dec 2002

* More Americans go it alone. Compared with three decades ago, there’s a 4% rise in 25- to 34- year-olds, and a 3% to 9% rise in 35- to 44- year-olds, who live alone. -July-Aug 2003, p. 13

* Good news for the childless: Depression is not inevitable. Elderly persons without children are no more vulnerable to loneliness or depression than elderly parents are, according to a University of Florida study. One reason: Social changes over the past decades have made alternative life choices, such as childlessness, less stigmatizing. -Sep-Oct 2003, p. 2


* Smaller households threaten the larger environment. This global trend is particularly problematic in China: Smaller household size means more houses, and more houses mean a drain on wood resources-including the bamboo that feeds pandas in the Wolong nature Reserve. -May-June 2003, p. 14

* Two-thirds of the world’s population will be chronically short of water by 2050. “Water wars” are now imminent in places like Kashmir, where Pakistan’s water supply is controlled by India. -Cetron and Davies, Jan-Feb 2003, p. 40

* Water shortages are increasingly international rather than local issues. Water consumption worldwide has tripled in the last 50 years. Countries that divert their precious water supplies to cities instead of farms are putting more pressure on the world’s grain exporters, heating up cross-border competition for both water and food. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 9

* Limited water supplies will force people to choose between energy and fish. Less water flowing into streams in the Pacific Northwest means that within the next few decades there won’t be enough water to support both hydroelectricity and salmon reproduction. -Mar-Apr 2003, p. 2

* Sustainable-use policies could lower total worldwide water consumption by 20% by 2025. Three broad strategies for saving the world’s water: (1) Invest in infrastructure to increase supply of water for irrigation, industrial, and domestic uses. (2) Encourage conservation and efficiency by raising water prices. (3) Improve crop productivity per unit of water through research and better management. -Sep-Oct 2003, p.10

* Alfalfa could become an industrial powerhouse. Crossbred varieties of alfalfa are being developed for use as fuel, biodegradable plastic, livestock feed, and more. Researchers have also identified genes that could enhance alfalfa’s ability to absorb nitrogen in the soil, making the new varieties useful in preventing water pollution from fertilizers. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 2


* The rate of technological change may soon reach a turning point. Change and complexity may follow a liner (rather than exponential) growth path, more like the natural life cycles of rabbits competing for food in an enclosed field. -Modis, May-June 2003, p.32

* Faster computers will simulate crises before they happen. As super-computers increase in speed and power, researchers come closer to accurately modeling and predicting climate change and plate tectonics. One project under way may be able to predict earthquakes in enough time to save lives. -May-June 2003, p. 11

* Are you a real person? Don’t lie to me. In 10 to 15 years, artificial intelligence will be so sophisticated, you wont be able to tell if you’re talking to a person or a machine. -July-Aug 2003, p. 8

* Nanobots could save the world from asteroids. Orbiting nanosatellites monitoring outer space for incoming asteroids and comets would alert other nanobots programmed to land on the impactor, replicate themselves, and strip-mine the rogue to harmless dust, according to Douglas Mulhall, author of Our Molecular Future. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 58

* Talking walls? In the coming decade, flat-screen computer displays hung on living room walls will provide a human-machine conversational interface with all the functionality of a desktop computer. -Halal, Mar-Apr 2003, p. 45

* Your hand signals will be understood by intelligent environments. Instead of pointing and clicking, you’ll be able to just point. Gesture interfaces, consisting of wireless sensors that translate your gestures into signals, will let you control the TV, operate the computer, or use the Internet anywhere in your smart house simply by using manual gestures. -Futurist Update, may 2003

* Fabrics mixed with ceramics, electronics, chemicals, and plastics will make for really smart clothes. Shirts with sleeves that shorten themselves when it gets hot and hosiery that moistens your legs-or applies bug spray-are among the creative uses that fashion designers are finding for new materials. -Futurist Update, May 2003


* Individuals may soon gain the power to destroy the world. Nanotechnology could enable ever-smaller numbers of terrorists to deploy weapons, such as a “gray cloud” of nanodevices that surround the planet, blocking the sun and destroying intelligent life. -Magalhães, Nov-Dec 2002, p. 42

* The war on terrorism may result in more-deadly attacks. Heightened security around big targets such as embassy buildings and nuclear facilities diverts terrorists’ attention to less-well-protected targets. Fewer airlines may be hijacked in the future, but more people outside secure areas might be taken hostage or assassinated. -Futurist Update, June 2003

* How do you walk? Security people will be watching. Your unique swagger, stagger, or shuffle will speak volumes. “Gait analysis” could soon join fingerprinting and retina scans in the identification technology toolbox. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 6

* Nature may be terrorists’ next big target. An attack on a forest could devastate a nation’s economy, since it would impact industries such as paper and construction, as well as creating environmental havoc, according to retired U.S. foreign service officer William B. Davis. Food and agriculture could also be targeted, with dire widespread impacts. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 51

* A more secure world could endanger the environment. If wealthy nations divert ever more resources to self-protection, other vital concerns such as social justice and a healthy environment could suffer. In this scenario, environmental degradation would prevail as social tensions rise and as violence, hunger, and disease run rampant in poorer nations. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 13

* Faster decontamination after bioterrorist attacks. An electrostatic spray apparatus set up in a walkthrough booth could spray a fine, atomized mist of antitoxins, disinfectants, or sanitizers through micro processor-controlled nozzles. Because the droplets are electrostatically charged, they will stick to the skin. A system under development could decontaminate 90 people an hour. -Futurist Update, Apr 2003

* Future computers may be able to tell when they’re being hacked. New software that analyzes user behavior may be able to detect cyberattacks while they’re happening. The system looks for sequences of operations that deviate from normal, well-defined procedures. Since hackers can do no harm when carrying out “normal” procedures, their deviations raise red flags. -Jan-Feb 2003, p. 7


* Culture clashes could destabilize countries with large immigrant populations. Strong backlashes against asylum seekers have already erupted in Germany, Great Britain, and other developed countries that were once more-welcoming to refugees and migrants. -Cetron and Davies, ]an-Feb 2003, p. 29

* A new youth culture of “meaning” will rise. A backlash against contemporary society’s frenetic pace and materialistic values may soon lead to a new youth movement focusing on compassion, authenticity, and meaningfulness rather than divisive competitiveness and shallow consumerism. -Larson, Nov-Dec 2002, p. 19

* A growing diversity gap in the United States could lead to more 2000-like election outcomes. States like California are becoming more diverse in terms of ethnicity, age, and religion, while homogeneous states like Vermont are transforming at a glacial pace. Regional disparity on sociopolitical opinion is likely to grow. -Orndoff, Jan-Feb 2003, p. 23

* Development projects are contributing to language loss. Megaprojects have not only environmental impacts, but cultural ones as well. The loss of indigenous languages parallels the loss of biodiversity in areas where mining camps, new roads, and large-scale dam projects force local communities off their lands, according to the UN Environment Program. -Futurist Update, Dec 2002

* More Enrons to come? Student surveys show that financial success has become more important than developing a meaningful philosophy of life and that more would be tempted to commit an unethical act if there were a high payoff. The consequences of unethical behavior in business have become more dangerous since greater numbers of people are affected than ever before, notes ethicist Rushworth M. Kidder. -Nov-Dec 2002, p. 49

* It’s getting harder to be an adolescent. The obstacles facing young people on the way to successful adulthood have increased in recent decades. Betterpaying jobs require literacy, numeracy, and computer skills, but college and advanced degrees do not guarantee jobs, since the skills that students learn may become obsolete quickly. -Larson, Nov-Dec 2002, p. 16


* Weapons of war could become autonomous. By 2010, unmanned combat vehicles, such as windowless planes that carry bombs, will distinguish friend from foe and independently attack targets in designated areas–without consulting humans. -Bell, May-June 2003, p. 23

* Direct attacks on the environment could one day be prosecuted as war crimes. As the post-Gulf War oil fires in Kuwait vividly demonstrated, the environment is becoming an attractive target of military actions. A growing movement is calling for environmental rules of engagement modeled on rules protecting civilians and prisoners of war. -May June 2003, p. 9

* More refugees will be displaced by dams and development than by persecution. The number of political refugees has declined slightly it7 recent years, to just under 20 million, but those displaced by environmental catastrophes, development projects, and inter-nal conflicts have grown to about 50 million. The difference is that these environmental and civil refugees are not considered eligible for international assistance. -Sep-Oct 2003, p. 6

* A faster-paced, better-educated, harder-working world is on the horizon. Transportation technology will speed travel and shipping. Education and training are expanding throughout society. Two-income couples are becoming the norm. Time is increasingly the world’s most precious commodity. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2003, p. 39

Outlook 2003


* The new “new economy” will emphasize sustainability. Creating an “eco-economy”-one that meets the needs of future generations-will create new career and investment opportunities in fish farming, wind-farm construction and turbine manufacturing, hydrogen generation, fuel-cell and solar-cell manufacturing, light-rail construction, and other sustainable industries. -Brown, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 24

* The new “new thing” for venture capitalists will be nanotech. The tools for developing and commercializing nanotechnologies are rapidly gaining power and sophistication, capturing the imagination of investors seeking new growth opportunities following the dot-com collapse. -Uldrich, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 21

* Will China boom or bust? China could become the world’s largest economy by 2010-that is, if China doesn’t collapse by 2005 amidst economic dislocations and social protests, according to Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China. Major hurdles to overcome include massive unemployment and growing challenges to Beijing’s intolerance of dissent and religious freedom. Jan-Feb 2002, p. 10

* Cooperation may replace competition. Companies striving to become more innovative may pursue more-cooperative relationships with competitors, as is often seen in scientific pursuits. For instance, the human genetic code was mapped by different labs working on different parts of the problem, eliminating redundant efforts and advancing knowledge rapidly. –Challenger, Nov-Dec 2001, p. 28

* The days are numbered for do-nothing managers. Managing in the knowledge economy will mean doing work rather than merely overseeing it. Future knowledge managers will organize communities rather than hierarchies, coaching employees from various departments to share what they learn with each other. -Mar-Apr 2002, p. 15


* Life expectancy may be limitless. The rate at which life expectancies are increasing in the developed world has remained “remarkably constant,” suggesting not only that life spans could approach 100 years within about six decades, but also that there may be no natural limit on human life expectancy, according to researchers from Duke and Cambridge universities. -Futurist Update, June 2002

* Sixty percent of the world’s people will live in cities by 2030. Almost all population growth over the next three decades will take place in the cities of developing countries. By 2015, five cities will have reached “megacity” status, supporting 20 million or more residents each: Tokyo, Japan; Bombay (Mumbai), India; Lagos, Nigeria; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. -Nov-Dec 2001, p. 8

* More people will live longer and prosper. Reducing the death rate from either heart disease or cancer by 20% would be worth $10 trillion to the American economy, thanks to reduced medical costs and insurance payouts, not to mention more years of productivity. -Klatz, Jan-Feb 2002, p. 50

* But longer life spans could have dire environmental and social consequences. If human life spans are increased to 100 years or more, the result will likely be excessive world population growth. Results could include increased global warming, more wars both within and between nations, major increases in refugees, more crowding in urban slums, increased potential for the spread of disease, and a perception that the quality of life is diminished. -Louria, Jan-Feb 2002, p. 46

* AIDS will shorten life expectancy worldwide. Life expectancies will drop in 51 countries because of the global AIDS pandemic. Within the next decade, life expectancy in 11 African countries will drop to about age 30-levels not seen in more than 100 years. Life expectancy will be just 27 years in Botswana, where more infants will die of AIDS than from all other causes. -Futurist Update, Aug 2002


* More-violent weather ahead: deadlier storms, hotter summers, dryer deserts, and wetter coastal areas. Among the impacts of global warming will be increased size and intensity of hurricanes, fiercer winter storms, and a human toll that is catastrophic, predicts Bob Reiss, author of The Coming Storm. -July-Aug 2002, p. 10

* Sudden climate changes may become more frequent. Abrupt changes in the world’s climate of up to 10 deg C within a single decade may become more common-and deadly-warns the National Research Council. Severe floods and droughts mark these abrupt changes, which often punctuate longer periods of gradual climate change. As more rapid changes are forced upon the planet’s climate, such as by increases in emissions of greenhouse gases, large-scale disruptions become more likely and more difficult to cope with, especially in poorer countries. -Futurist Update, Jan 2002

* Cooling off in Antarctica. Average surface air temperature in Antarctica has decreased over the past 35 years, despite growing evidence of climate warming in the rest of the world. If the cooling trend reduces the amount of liquid water available during the brief Antarctic summer, the continent’s lake ecosystems could be adversely affected. -May-June 2002, p. 15

* Cybertrash will increase. Thousands of computers are tossed out every day in California alone, leading to an enormous electronic-waste (e-waste) problem. An estimated 300,000 tons of e-waste ended up in landfills in 2000, bringing with it toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium and posing environmental and health risks. That volume could expand fourfold in the next few years, predicts William K. Shireman of the Global Futures Foundation/The Future 500. -Futurist Update, Mar 2002


* Animals will gain more human rights. Activists for the humane treatment of animals are increasingly insisting

on human rights for at least some animals. Researchers working with gorillas, dolphins, elephants, and other highly developed species recognize hierarchies of animal autonomy, communication skills, and self-awareness that could be used to determine which animals should be granted rights-or even legal personhood. -Sep-Oct 2002, p. 12

* Minorities will rule: By 2040, half of all Americans will be “minorities,” says Nat Irvin II of Wake Forest University. Within the next few decades, he predicts, the United States will elect an African-American female president and will see the appointments of minorities to powerful positions such as Chief Justice and Federal Reserve chair. -Nov-Dec 2001, p. 59

* Investors may wield more political power in the decades ahead. The growing numbers of individuals managing their own financial affairs and retirement portfolios will form a vocal, powerful interest group, according to John Hood, author of Investor Politics. They will likely demand more say over taxation, government regulations, and income redistribution schemes that shift their money into other people’s pockets. -May-June 2002, p. 16

* How to uncorrupt Africa’s future: Political corruption is insidious throughout Africa. Among the strategies proposed to cut corruption across the continent are introducing term limits, opening the political-succession process (so departing leaders cannot handpick their successors), introducing a model of democracy based on consensus rather than “majority rules,” and supporting more “admirable leaders” such as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. -Wagner, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 45

* New “shaming” strategies could help fight the war on corruption. Anticorruption efforts are becoming less quixotic as organizations such as Transparency International uncover the unsavory practices of businesses and government agencies. Among other “report cards,” the organization has developed a “Big Mac Index” to show suspicious cost differences in consumer goods and commodities, a “Corruption Perception Index” based on surveys of various experts, and a “Bribe Payers Index” to rank countries on their propensity to bribe public officials. Mar-Apr 2002, p. 12


* Future homes will be healthier habitats. New technologies will improve indoor air and water quality by filtering out particulates, allergens, and contaminants. Bacteria-killing devices will make food safer, and future foods may be bioengineered to prevent diseases. -Nov-Dec 2001, p. 14

* The increasing drug-resistance of diseases means future epidemics will be more likely and harder to combat. Misuse of medications is contributing to the rise in multiple-drug-resistant strains of HIV and tuberculosis, researchers believe. Among approaches to reversing the trend may be delaying treatment as long as possible for new HIV cases and, in the case of TB patients, monitoring their use of medications more rigorously. -Mar-Apr 2002, p. 10

* The Bionic Man cometh? Bionic arms and legs will work more like the real things, thanks to improved human-machine communications systems. Within this decade, miniaturization of transistors and other components will allow the creation of implantable devices capable of processing of complex bionic activity. -May-June 2002, p. 2

* Childhood obesity is becoming a worldwide epidemic. As Russia, China, and other nations gain affluence and follow the lifestyle lead of the United States, children are overeating more and consuming richer foods. The result could be an epidemic of a variety of obesity-related ailments such as cancer, congestive heart failure, stroke, and depression. -May-June 2002, p. 10

* Patients with respiratory ailments may breathe easier. An implantable artificial lung could one day help patients with critical cases of emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and other chronic respiratory diseases. A new device (tested in sheep) uses the heart’s own pumping power rather than a mechanical pump to oxygenate blood. In humans, an artificial lung would be used as a bridge for patients awaiting a lung transplant. Some 80% of patients now die while waiting for lung donation. -Futurist Update, July 2002

* Genetic tests for alcoholism may be developed. Recent brain-wave research on children identified as at-risk for alcoholism is a step toward the identification of genes that confer a vulnerability to alcohol. Eventually, tests for these genes could be constructed and medications developed for children to reduce their inclination to drink alcohol as they get older. -Stocker, May-June 2002, p. 45

* Medicinal bacteria to the rescue? Some bacteria may turn out to be a key tool against cancer in the future. A bacterial species that can thrive without oxygen is being tested for its ability to fight tumors, which tend to grow in oxygen-starved environments where conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments are less effective. -Futurist Update, Jan 2002

* A “virtual human” could help speed new medicines to patients. The Virtual Human project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory aims to build an entire virtual human, with fully interacting systems, within the next 10 years. With a virtual human, researchers could go inside the body and see how various organs respond to medications or procedures. Drug companies could use the virtual human to accelerate human trials for new medications or skip them altogether. -Briggs, May-June 2002, p. 41


* Avatars will become virtual “stunt doubles” for some people. For communicating in cyberspace, you will be able to create a new identity-or several-using avatars, animated electronic actors. Already, avatars are used to deliver e-mail messages and read the news over the Web. Consultants and other experts could use avatars to put on a confident, reassuring face for their clients; shy people can become dynamic public speakers with avatar proxies at Web conferences. -Briggs, May-June 2002, p. 36

* Web-based control over transportation could eliminate drunk driving. Smart cars connected to public databases might automatically run a series of network checks on drivers before they’ll move. Sensors would collect and analyze your breath for signs of alcohol, for instance. Smart cars will also know whether your driver’s license had been suspended, your insurance premium paid up, your tires properly inflated, or your road tolls prepaid. Fail a test, and you won’t go anywhere. -Bullinga, May-June 2002, p. 33

* Big Media may lose its lock on the news. Weblogs, or blogs, are independently managed Web sites that offer very frequently updated links to specialized news and opinions. Since many are not beholden to commercial interests, they may gain credibility among future news consumers. -Sep-Oct 2002, p. 8


* Childlessness is becoming the norm in the United States. Families without children surpassed those with children by 1.5% in 1985, and the difference grew to 6.7% in 1999. Among women ages 40 to 44, childlessness soared to 19%, up from 10% two decades earlier. Childlessness is also on the rise in France, Ireland, Norway, China, and Australia.
-July-Aug 2002, p. 15

* Suburban life may be hazardous to your health. People who move to the outer suburbs seeking a safer lifestyle may be making a grave mistake, as research shows traffic fatalities on suburban roads are a growing danger. Reasons: People in the suburbs tend to use their cars more and drive at higher speeds; also, outer suburbs tend to have fewer sidewalks to accommodate pedestrians. -Sep-Oct 2002, p. 11

* Arts patrons will be able to experience culture around the world by virtual means. But such technologies as virtual reality, the Internet, and CD-ROMs could threaten the survival of institutions dependent on paid attendance. New sources of revenue for museums, concert halls, and theaters could include licensing virtual exhibits and pay-per-view broadband performances. -Hiller, Nov-Dec 2001, p. 46

* Terrorism will drive tourists to alternative pursuits. Fear of travel and of being in public places may encourage more business and pleasure travelers to use virtual travel technologies, such as teleconferencing and virtual-reality simulations of travel experiences. -Tarlow, Sep-Oct 2002, p. 49

* Space tourism for the masses. Demand for adventures in space will increase if costs come down. And costs will come down if demand increases. Breaking this catch-22 of demand and cost is the key to making space tourism an option for people other than those with $20 million to spend on their vacations. -Vulliamy and Darling, Sep-Oct 2002, p. 53

* The end of walking? Segway Human Transporter and similar products offer an alternative to walking. But one result might be that people get less exercise-a bad idea for any society fighting an obesity epidemic. -July-Aug 2002, p. 7


* Older and part-time learners could soon outnumber young, college-campus-bound students. Thanks to distance-learning technologies and older workers’ need to continuously update their knowledge and skills, education institutions could find new opportunities in nontraditional learners. -May-June 2002, p. 7

* The odds are, you’ll die-but of what? Here are a few things to worry about, according to the U.S. National Safety Council:

* Total deaths due to injuries: 1 in 23 lifetime odds.

* Medical complications: 1 in 1,092.

* Fall by tripping, slipping, or stumbling: 1 in 4,761.

* Struck by falling object: 1 in 4,873.

* Hornets, wasps, and bees: 1 in 76,597.

* Foodstuffs, poisonous plants: 1 in 1.2 million.

-Futurist Update, Mar 2002

* Poverty or affluence: What are your odds? Americans have an even chance of experiencing affluence during their lives. But they also have even chance of sinking into poverty at some point, according to a study by two sociology professors. Being African American or having fewer than 12 years of education dramatically increases the odds of experiencing poverty and of not experiencing affluence.-Futurist Update, Feb 2002


* Good news, bad news for water in Africa. Enormous amounts of pure water exist below the deserts of Africa, which could help avert a future water crisis. But the underground aquifers cross international boundaries, raising the specter of future water wars as populations increase and competition for water resources heats up. -Sep-Oct 2002, p. 2

* Electricity from trees? A gasification process for turning wood into a fuel for electricity could provide cleaner power to remote areas of the world. The wood– gasification generator breaks down wood into smaller volatile compounds that can be burned cleanly. -Jan-Feb 2002, p. 2

* Hydrogen may replace fossil fuels in the near future. Automakers such as DaimlerChrysler and Toyota are developing fuel-cell-powered cars that convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, with plans to put them on roads by 2010. -Jan-Feb 2002, p. 8

* Soybean power could make air transportation cleaner, safer. Using jet fuel blended with soybean oil rather than petroleum-based diesel fuels could reduce harmful exhaust emissions. A bonus benefit: Soy-based biodiesel fuel is nonflammable, making it safer than traditional jet fuels. -Nov-Dec 2001, p. 2

* Chicken feathers may rescue forests. Using chicken-feather fiber instead of wood pulp for insulation, filters, and other paper products could dramatically reduce demand for trees. And since feather fiber is finer than wood pulp, it could serve as a better air filter for homes and offices, collecting more spores, dust, dander, and other particles. -July-Aug 2002, p. 2

* World oil production will begin declining by 2010, as new technologies lose effectiveness in finding and recovering any more of the planet’s limited supplies of petroleum. The result will be higher energy prices and global economic disturbances, according to Princeton University geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes, author of Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage. -May-June 2002, p. 14

* In the future, we’ll wear real power suits. Tiny new solar cells placed directly on extremely flexible plastics and embedded in our clothes could be used to power up small personal radios, computers, and other electronic devices. -July-Aug 2002, p. 6

* Food will be plentiful. Improved agricultural productivity will keep food supply more than adequate for meeting future food demand. Improved diets of developing nation populations may keep global food demand increasing for the foreseeable future, but demand may be checked by negative population growth, expected to be achieved by the end of the twenty-first century. -Tweeten and Zulauf, Sep-Oct 2002, p. 54


* Security will come out of hiding. Security personnel and devices used to be kept hidden from visitors so as not to frighten them. But in the post-September 11 world, highly visible security has become the key to attracting tourists, says futurist Peter Tarlow, founder and CEO of Tourism and More. Visible security works: For example, after September 11, Israel’s securityconscious El Al airline’s transatlantic flights were full while other airlines flew at 60% capacity. -Futurist Update, Feb 2002

* Evacuating tall buildings could be easier in the future, thanks to vertical take-off rescue vehicles. Helicopter-like platforms that maneuver deftly into once-inaccessible places will rescue victims of fires, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. -Nov-Dec 2001, p. 7

* Smarter robots will help defuse bombs and defend property. Robots programmed to respond to specific situations will free their human handlers to make critical “what to do next” decisions, according to Sandia National Laboratories researchers. Such robots could be used to patrol facilities and respond to attacks, handle nuclear reactor accidents, and perform other security tasks too dangerous for humans. -Nov-Dec 2001, p. 6

* Average citizens may become the new security forces. After the September 11 attacks, governments could help train citizens in self-defense techniques and emergency management to combat terrorism and promote civic responsibility. -Bruyn, Jan-Feb 2002, p. 20


* The Age of Nanotechnology will arrive sooner than you think. Though “nanobots” to build consumer goods and clean out clogged arteries are still far off in the future, the tools for developing nanomachinesand the competitive spirit to pursue innovation-will accelerate nanotech R&D. -Uldrich, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 16

* Making mountains out of molecules? Nano– manipulators that allow researchers to not only see atoms and molecules in 3-D but also move them around could one day be used to build jet aircraft with only a fifth of their current weight, create temperature– controlling fabrics, and develop drugs that detect and kill cancer cells before they do harm. -Uldrich, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 17

* Robots will aid future fish farmers and oceanographers. Robotic “fish” equipped with sensors and transmitters will help herd farmed fish as well as assess conservation strategies for wild fish populations. Similarly, probes scattered on the high seas will record ocean currents, temperature, pressure, and other data and transmit it instantly to central computers that then create forecasts for shipping companies, naval operations, and other users. -McNutt, Jan-Feb 2002, pp. 41, 43

* Despite attempts to ban them, the technologies for “designing” children will be developed. According to medical-technology analyst Gregory Stock, regulatory efforts are not only futile, but also potentially harmful as they inhibit research that could cure or prevent diseases and disabilities. -Stock, July-Aug 2002, p. 20

* Extraterrestrial questions may soon be answered. Within the next 50 years, astronomers will resolve the question of whether there are Earthlike planets circling Sun-like stars, and hence whether intelligent life beyond our planet and solar system is possible, predicts Bruce Dorminey, author of Distant Wanderers: The Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System. -Futurist Update, June 2002

* Robotic trucks could help reduce traffic jams. Automated guideways for driverless trucks could efficiently move goods to their destination day or night without interfering with passenger vehicles. -Adams and Brewer, July-Aug 2002, p. 47

* Here come the supersoldiers! New materials for uniforms will give soldiers superhuman capabilities. MIT’s new Institute for Nanotechnologies is developing fabrics that could change properties as needed, such as becoming rigid to serve as a cast if the wearer breaks a leg. Shoes could store energy, allowing soldiers to catapult themselves over 20-foot-high walls. -July-Aug 2002, p. 8

* The future of light is solid-state. Cheaper, moreefficient light will come from light-emitting diodes, the same technologies used to illuminate taillights, traffic lights, outdoor displays, and other devices. Solid-state light, which is 10 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and would reduce electricity consumption worldwide by more than 50%, could eventually become the light-source of choice, researchers believe. -Sep-Oct 2002, p. 6


* Future philanthropists may demand attitude adjustments from recipients. Charities historically have pressed for “moral reclamation” and education rather than simply distributing cash. Returning to such a values-oriented approach would hold recipients accountable for their actions and help them overcome a victim mentality, according to the authors of What Makes Charity Work? -Jan-Feb 2002, p. 11

* Japan may become less “Japanese.” As the younger “new breed” generation comes of age, their more-Westernized values (individuality, entrepreneurial creativity, multiculturalism) could push traditional Japanese values aside, according to one scenario. Look for more stay-at-home fathers enjoying family life-and more women eschewing the anachronistic “hostess” image. -Staley, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 50

* Japan may become more “Japanese.” In an alternative scenario, demographic pressures could induce a conservative social reaction that resists gender equality and multiculturalism. Women are encouraged to apply their “traditional” skills to care for an aging population, and falling birthrates induce the government to encourage couples to have many children. -Staley, Mar-Apr 2002, p. 52


* The “free-agent” workforce, particularly strong in the United States, will go increasingly global. Workers will market themselves more freely around the world, as companies and countries become more linked and as telecommuting opens new opportunities around the globe. -Challenger, Nov-Dec 2001, p. 26

* Blending will create new careers and products. Legal nurse consultants are an example of a new profession created by combining skills from two or more disciplines. New products can likewise be created from blending, says consultant Marc Zwelling: The minivan, for instance, blended concepts from cars and trucks. -Jan-Feb 2002, p. 12

* More jobs will be created in alternative-energy industries. Renewable energy could create 60% more jobs than offshore oil development, and conservation projects could create five times as many jobs, according to a Canadian study. Reason: Alternative energy projects are designed to be long term and to promote more-stable growth, while jobs in offshore oil drilling, for instance, tend to be short term. -Mar-Apr 2002, p. 2


* Terrorist activity will increase over the next decade, though state-sponsored terrorism will decline. Economic and technological progress are widening the wealth gap between developed and developing nations, increasing hostility against the West. -Cetron and Davies, Jan-Feb 2002, p. 32

* Future conflicts will be more easily predicted, if not prevented. A new “conflict barometer” developed by political scientists at Harvard and Ohio State analyzes thousands of news stories on civil protests, repressive government actions, and outbreaks of violence. The tool can predict possible crises up to nine months in advance, claim the researchers. -Mar-Apr 2002, p. 13

* Assessing Africa’s future: Strengths include a wealth of natural resources and a potential for high human productivity among professionals. Weaknesses include political instability, low attainment of health and education, and a “victim mentality.” Opportunities include increased trade through globalization and a large diaspora that could reverse the “brain drain.” Threats include disadvantageous trade terms and drug trafficking. -Mar-Apr 2002, p. 46

* “Virtual” nations could gain enough power to compete with real nations. People bound by a common, passionate cause can form virtual nations; power will come as those groups organize and provide security and other services offered by traditional nationstates. -Dillard and Hennard, July-Aug 2002, p. 24

Outlook 2002


Fish farming will overtake cattle ranching as a food source by 2010, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Aquaculture has been the fastest-growing sector of the world food economy over the past decade, while beef production has stagnated. -May-June 2001, p. 11

* Globalization could make foods less safe to eat. As more food is imported from far-flung local producers, national food-safety standards will become harder to enforce. Growing demand for fresh foods year-round makes refrigeration and other safe-transport issues more of a concern. -July-Aug 2001, p. 6

* Many “future” foods already exist-in other cultures. As global travel and trade increase, look for rare delicacies like Vietnamese nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce) and Samoan palusami (taro leaves and shrimp) to appear on the world’s restaurant menus. -Ford, Nov-Dec 2000, p. 46

* Natural, organically grown foods will become the ultimate luxury treats. A backlash against heavily processed “mystery” foods will motivate future gourmands to travel around the world to sample “real” foods and beverages at the source. -Siemering, Nov-Dec 2000, p. 44

* Distribution will be a bigger problem than production. Food production will keep pace with the growth of the world’s populations, thanks partly to genetically modified crops. But poor distribution will lead to continuing malnourishment in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, predicts the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The potential for famine is high in countries with repressive governments. -May-June 2001, p. 6

* Kitchens will disappear from many homes in the future, and for many reasons, such as lack of time and fear of bacterial contamination. People will eat more meals out of the home and on the run; fast foods will be healthier, and “mealbars” will offer people a place to meet and relax. -Ford, Nov-Dec 2000, p. 48

* More cropland will be consumed by cars. The growing automobile population in developing countries will increasingly encroach on cropland that is already in short supply, warns Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute. If China were to emulate Japan’s ownership rate of one car for every two people, it would have a fleet of 640 million vehicles, compared with 13 million today. “Such a fleet would require paving more than one-half of China’s rice land,” says Brown. -July-Aug 2001, p. 55

* Farmers could save wildlife. Agricultural activities could be transformed into environment- and wildlife– preserving ecoagricultural work, suggest two environmental groups, Future Harvest and the World Conservation Union. For instance, farmers could cultivate crops in wetland areas rather than in dry fields, use natural biocides instead of chemicals, and establish protected reserves near farms, ranches, and fisheries. -Sep-Oct 2001, p. 7


* The globalized economy will reshuffle the decks of national workforces. Low-wage countries such as China will take low-skill jobs away from workers in advanced industrialized countries, while their high-skill workers defect to high-wage destinations such as the United States. Increasingly, however, the development of high-tech jobs in the low-wage countries will offer better-paying jobs, helping to stop the brain drain. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 29

* Expertise will become more globalized and commercialized. Demand for think-tank analysts will increase among new nation-states needing to fill the policy vacuum created by political change, as well as among advocacy groups looking for “hard research” to support their causes. -McGann, Nov-Dec 2000, p. 16

* Consolidation will accelerate: By 2005, there will be just three major U.S. computer makers and three major domestic airlines. But watch out for the little guys: Micro-segmentation will produce greater numbers of highly specialized businesses and entrepreneurs seeking narrower niches. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 42

* Russia will rise again. The newly capitalist lands of the former Soviet Union will become one of the fastest– growing markets in the longer-term, as they bring order to their economies and become viable markets for goods from western Europe. Russia and Kazakhstan will also be major suppliers of oil by 2010-if political uncertainties there do not block investment by Western oil companies. -Cetron and Davies, Jan-Feb 2001, pp. 31, 39

* Heavy investment in information technology will drive Asia to the forefront of the New Economy. Among the factors favoring Asian economic leadership are traditionally high levels of government support and an obsessively hard-working labor force. -Jan-Feb 2001, p. 11

* Lawyers will face increased competition from consultants, accountants, and other professionals. Armed with more information from the Internet, clients themselves will become more-savvy consumers of legal services and even bypass lawyers. -Mar-Apr 2001, p. 10

* Future farmers could make more money from the air than the land. “Wind ranching” allows landowners to sell wind energy to electric utilities, earning as much as $2,000 a year from one turbine on a quarter acre of land compared with $100 worth of corn on the same plot. -Nov-Dec 2000, p. 6


* The number of Internet users worldwide will nearly triple, from 130.6 million in 1999 to 361.9 million in 2003. The U.S. share of the global Internet-user population in that time will shrink from about 42% to 36.9%. -Sep-Oct 2001, p. 37

* No more “foreign languages”? The advent of linked automated translation systems means future students will no longer need to learn other languages, governments will no longer need to put pressure on minority groups to give up their native language, and human translators could eventually lose their jobs. -May-June 2001, p. 21

* Falling language barriers could spur more travel. Automated translation systems could enable most of the world’s people to communicate directly with one another-each speaking and hearing in his or her own language -by about 2020. -Lehman-Wilzig, May-June 2001, p. 22

* Cubicle-bound workers will get a new (virtual) window on the world. The next Internet, Internet2, will merge virtual reality and teleconferencing to immerse future office workers in multiple connected environments. -July-Aug 2001, p. 12

* Computer power and transmission speeds will accelerate. The world’s fastest computer, IBM’s ACSI White, may reach 16 trillion calculations per second by 2004, making it possible to transmit the entire contents of the Library of Congress in about two seconds. -Molitor, Sep-Oct 2001, p. 32

* E-books may spell the end of the publishing industry as we know it. Like digital music, digital text can easily be downloaded and shared among friends, making copyright-the intellectual property that publishers leverage into profits-harder to protect. -Ohler, Ian-Feb 2001, p. 19

* The picture phone’s future is now! At last the picture phone may find its niche-on Web-connected cell phones. Tiny digital cameras like those attached to PCs will enable callers to see each other and anything in their environment-good news for shoppers lost in the produce aisle calling home for instructions. -July-Aug 2001, p.2

* Wearable telephones will make high-tech fashion statements. Prototype jackets with hands-free mobile phones sewn into them are under development in France. The “communicative clothing” will be ideal for construction workers, sports enthusiasts, and anyone else on the go. -May-June 2001, p. 2


* Schools may solve behavior problems with nutrition: One school is attempting to reduce school violence by promoting healthy eating. When students were given healthy foods instead of being allowed to have junk food and soft drinks, there were no more fights, expulsions, or suicides. -Nov-Dec 2000, p. 51

* More children and teens will be wired, with both negative and positive impacts. About 38.5 million American teenagers and children will be online by 2002, up from 17 million in 1998. While increased computer literacy may boost school performance in some students, their sedentary and solitary lifestyles could lead to physical and emotional problems such as obesity and depression. -Sep-Oct 2001, p. 14

* Some students will know more about their favorite subjects than their teachers, predicts education futurist Gary Marx. Armed with computers and Internet access in their bedrooms, kids will spend many more hours mining information than their teachers can spare; teachers may need to learn a new role: orchestrators of learning. -Marx, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 43

* No more textbooks? Printed and bound textbooks may disappear as more interactive coursework goes online. A new network of interactive electronic textbooks was recently launched by McGraw– Hill, an educational publishing company. The network allows students to receive and send in their homework assignments, and even take tests, online. -July-Aug 2001, p. 2

* “Internet Universities” could lead to the demise of traditional institutions. Web-linked education services that offer franchised software and “college-in-a– box” courses from superstar teachers could lead to educational monopolies. Such “virtual” universities would have rigidly standardized curricula that undersell traditional courses in brick-and-mortar institutions. -Jan-Feb 2001, p. 58

* Universities will become Web-connected universes. “Webcentric” universities will use the Internet to make it easy for all of a campus’s constituents to stay connected-faculty, administration, students, alumni, and parents, as well as business and research partners, donors, and the public at large. Those universities that fail to do so won’t survive. -Dunn, July-Aug 2001, p. 34


* The era of cheap oil is NOT over. Not only is the world not running out of oil, but prices are likely to fall again and remain around $20 per barrel for the next decade. Reason: The current high prices make intensive exploration and development of new oil sources more attractive, thus ultimately increasing supply and lowering prices. -Cetron and Davies, Ian-Feb 2001, p. 40

* The Persian Gulf will remain the world’s biggest source of oil in 2015. Patterns of energy distribution will shift, however, with Atlantic Basin reserves serving the United States. -May-June 2001, p. 6

* Oceans will offer a renewable source of energy. Ocean wave power is now being tapped commercially in Britain. The waves are collected in a chamber and flow against turbine blades connected to a turbo generator, producing electrical power. -May-June 2001, p. 2

* In the future, fuel cells will replace batteries. Size and, hence, portability have been limiting factors in the use of fuel cells. Now, fuel cells the size of soda cans may soon make long-lasting power practical for products ranging from toys to communications and transportation devices. -Jan-Feb 2001, p. 15


* Water shortages will become more frequent and severe. Most of the major cities in the developing world will face severe water shortages in the next two decades, as will one-third of the population of Africa. By 2040, at least 3.5 billion people will run short of water-almost 10 times as many as in 1995-and by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in regions with chronic, widespread shortages of water. -Cetron and Davies, Jan-Feb 2001, p. 41

* The foremost crisis in India will be water quality and quantity. Per capita availability of water has declined by two-thirds in the last 50 years, reports Rashmi Mayur, director of the International Institute for Sustainable Future. By 2010, half of India’s population will have to survive on just five gallons of water per person per day for all uses-drinking, bathing, power generation, and so on. -May-June 2001, p. 10

* The oceans will provide more drinking water in the future. Today, desalination plants supply only about 1% of the world’s drinking water, but as desalination methods improve and equipment costs drop, expect more municipalities and companies to consider desalination as a viable solution to their future water needs. The global market for desalination equipment could double to $70 billion by 2020, according to one company. -Nov-Dec 2000, p. 7

* Good news for skiers: Global warming could actually increase snow cover. Researcher Ross Brown at the Meteorological Service of Canada has found that snow cover in North America increased during most of the twentieth century. Reason: Higher temperatures evaporated more water from the oceans and released it as either rain or-where close to the poles-snow. -Nov-Dec 2000, p. 2

* More rain is forecast for Britain. Global warming means the United Kingdom will have wetter winters with heavier rainfall, more extreme weather, and more summer droughts, Prime Minister Tony Blair reports. England and Wales will have 10% more rain by 2100, and Scotland will see 20% more. Once-in-a-century flooding may occur as often as every four years. -July-Aug 2001, p. 7

* Wetlands are drying up, raising the specter of more disastrous natural disasters and reduced biological diversity, according to the Worldwatch Institute. About half of the world’s wetlands disappeared in the twentieth century, and another 50% of coastal wetlands could be lost by 2080 due to development and other factors. -Sep-Oct 2001, p. 6


* Nanomedicine will emerge by 2025. Nanotechnology-based medical therapies will reach clinical use, ineluding machines to monitor our internal processes, remove cholesterol from our arteries, and destroy cancer cells before they become tumors. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 31

* Cigarette smoking is on the decline around the world, thanks partly to antismoking education efforts and economic strategies such as taxes and advertising restrictions on tobacco products. Yet, approximately 4 million people a year die prematurely due to smoking– related illnesses, and that number is predicted to soar to 10 million in 2030, according to the World Health Organization. -Jan-Feb 2001, p. 14

* The human body may be radically transformed if electronic books replace traditional ones. E-books amplify and extend the powers of eyes, ears, and the nervous system, and they reduce the burden of carrying heavy printed books, points out technology assessment professor Jason Ohler. But e-books could also increase eyestrain due to poor resolution, and gripping the e-book display devices could induce muscle problems. -Ohler, fan-Feb 2001, p. 19

* Tissue engineers may one day grow a “heart in a bottle.” Using a fibrous “scaffold” that is seeded with stem cells, researchers could coax the cells to grow into the needed organ. Skin and cartilage have already been grown this way. In the future, organ generation could help the tens of thousands of patients in need of organ transplants, predicts Vladimir Mironov, chief scientific officer with Cardiovascular Tissues Technology Inc. -Nov-Dec 2000, p. 52


* Globalization will NOT turn the planet into McWorld. Traditional values of the world’s diverse cultures will spin the process of economic modernization into different directions. According to Ronald Inglehart and Wayne E. Baker, social researchers at the University of Michigan, the United States is a “deviant culture” that is unlikely to serve as a model for future world cultures. -Inglehart and Baker, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 16

* Drugs will eventually be decriminalized. As a resuit, money saved by criminal justice systems may be diverted to antidrug education programs and treatment, offering a more-humane and effective solution to the world’s drug problems, believe forecaster Marvin Cetron and science writer Owen Davies. -Cetron and Davies, Jan-Feb 2001, p. 36

* Time-pressed workers will increasingly seek “power leisure”- pursuits packed with intensive experiences that reconnect people to their bodies and the natural world but that don’t take up a lot of time. Look for power gardening, power fishing, and books and magazines that teach simplicity. -May-June 2001, p. 15

* Slowing down life may prove an antidote to hyperculture. The Slow Food movement begun in the 1980s has evolved into a Slow Cities movement in Italy, where 32 communities have committed to slowing down the hectic pace of life. -May-June 2001, p. 27

* Our connectivity is turning us into “mediapeds”-creatures bonded to and dependent upon media. Cell phones combined with Web devices will keep us networked wherever we go, causing our interpersonal relationships and attention spans to erode, warns business futurist Arnold Brown. Our identities will evolve, and we will be recognized not for who we are but for who our information says we are. -Brown, Sep-Oct 2001, p. 40

* Dieting in the future will be more fun and less frightening. Fear of food (and of being fat) has caused problems such as anorexia nervosa. In the future, healthier dieting will target specific needs, such as reducing high blood pressure or thwarting osteoporosis, according to scientist Brian J. Ford, author of The Future of Food. -Ford, Nov-Dec 2000, p. 42


* “Extreme sustainability”-the ability to survive

Armageddon-is within our powers. By developing a series of resilient technologies based on genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology, humanity could survive nearly any worst-case natural disaster scenario, from flood to asteroid collision. For instance, robotic work crews could rebuild our devastated infrastructure, and biotechnology could swiftly restore our agricultural productivity. -Mulhall, May-June 2001, p. 37

* Personal robots will work in homes by 2010. Robots will also increasingly perform many routine or dangerous tasks such as assembly and repair of space– station components in orbit. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 28

* Nanomachines will enhance our brains. Nanocomputers may soon be placed inside human brains to enhance memory, thinking ability visualization, and other tasks, according to futurist consultant Michael Zey, author of The Future Factor. Technologies will also be developed that allow us to connect our brains to a computer and either download or upload data. -Zey, May-June 2001, p. 32

* Touch-sensitive robots may make virtual reality more realistic. The ability to collect and transmit tactile data-such as the way it feels to kick a soccer ball– could add to humans’ ability to experience events remotely. Planetary geologists with robotic proxies in space could feel the weight and texture of rocks on Mars, and lovers separated by miles could hold hands. -Mar-Apr 2001, p. 14

* Hardware will soften up. Instead of pounding on hard, plastic keyboards to do your computing, you’ll soon be able to gently caress soft electronic fabrics. Among potential applications for smart textiles: tablecloths with piano keyboards and furniture slipcovers with TV remote controls. -Jan-Feb 2001, p. 2

* Hearing aids could become fashion accessories. A necklace embedded with microphones boosts signals sent to a wearer’s hearing aid and helps the user screen out unwanted noises. A device such as that developed by Stanford University engineering professor Bernard Widrow (pictured) could benefit as many as 2 million people in the United States alone. -Sep-Oct 2001, p. 2


* The auto-population boom shows no signs of abating. The U.S. car population grew six times faster than the human population between 1969 and 1995, causing us to pollute the air, pave over more land to build more roads, and spend more time on those roads. Lower-emission fuels do little for us when there are more cars doing the emitting. -Sheehan, July-Aug 2001, p. 50

* Car-free experiments gain support. European cities such as Munich, Vienna, and Copenhagen restrict motor vehicle traffic in popular commercial centers, allowing only ambulances, delivery trucks, and cars owned by local residents. In a Bogota, Colombia, experiment, private vehicles were banned from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on a weekday; the result was cleaner air and no traffic fatalities. About 20 car-free communities are planned in Germany. -Sheehan, July-Aug 2001, p. 53

* Trucking may become the fastest-growing sector of the transportation industry. “Just-in-time” manufacturing and the growing demand for deliveries for Internet-based companies will expand the market for trucking services. -Cetron and Davies, Mar-Apr 2001, p. 29

* “Dualmode” transportation systems offer a solution to the traffic problem. Automated guideways will allow people to use their own cars without the trouble of driving them or finding their way through jammed highways. The dualmode system will take cars swiftly from city to city, then drivers will be able to take their own vehicles to their destination, or have them automatically parked. -Reynolds, Sep-Oct 2001, p. 44

Outlook 2001


Goodbye, grocery stores? Hungry consumers worldwide may one day click onto a virtual tour of a farm or ranch and choose their own produce or meat. Already, farmers, ranchers, and other food producers buy seed, equipment, and supplies through e-commerce sites, bypassing dealers and distributors. The next step is cutting out the middlemen between producers and consumers, such as marketers and grocers. -Rux, Sep-Oct 2000, p. 14 M Child malnutrition and food insecurity will remain widespread in 2020 unless agriculture worldwide makes broader use of biotechnology, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. In the developing world, where people often must spend half their incomes on food, bioengineering could lower food prices, as well as boost nutritional content of crops. -July-Aug 2000, p. 11

Farmers will have to irrigate “smarter,” that is, substitute knowledge and better management for water, as the food demands of a growing world population outstrip the water available for irrigation, warns Sandra Postel, author of Pillar of Sand. -Dec 1999, p. 9

New varieties of rice and other food plants could be bioengineered to make more efficient use of water and other resources. But fears of genetically modified foods in some developed countries dim the prospects for improving food security in the world’s poorer countries, according to Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug. -Sep-Oct 2000, p. 16


Intelligent robot pets will be common by 2005, and electronic pets will outnumber organic pets by 2020. -Pearson, Jan-Feb 2000, pp. 15,18 M “Virtual assistants”-sophisticated computer programs that can sift through information and solve problems-may replace the business executive’s personal assistant by 2007. -Halal, special report, “The Top 10 Emerging Technologies,” July-Aug 2000

Doctors will increasingly rely on machine intelligence-expert systems and robotics-to treat patients. Robotic limbs are ideal for the precise drilling and cutting necessary for hip surgery, for example, and expert systems help doctors make faster, more-accurate diagnoses. -Sep-Oct 2000, p. 23


Improved productivity will give people more time to play with, and increased life-spans will give them more years. Result: Leisure-oriented business will dominate the world economy by 2015, accounting for roughly half the U.S. gross national product. “Big Entertainment” will include media conglomerates that bring hotels, theme parks, transportation, and other related industries into the fold. -Molitor, Dec 1999, p. 13

Company loyalty may be making a comeback. Tenure increased 50% in the 1990s, and the number of employees working for a single company during their careers jumped 254%, thanks to more pro– employee policies such as professional development. The payoff for business: Long-time employees are more productive, are more knowledgeable about the business, and offer continuity for longtime customers. -May-June 2000, p. 15 E Some companies may be doing too much for their employees, cutting people off from their communities. The result may be that workers become so dependent on their employers for social services that they find it increasingly difficult to leave their surrogate corporate families. Some companies are even becoming more tolerant of office romances, despite the escalation of sexual harassment suits. -July-Aug 2000, pp. 15, 17

Companies recruiting leaders will become more imaginative, as executive talent grows increasingly scarce and competition increasingly fierce. Among the tactics: open-ended job offers (“a job’s waiting for you whenever you want it”), just-in-time hiring (continually hiring top talent whether there’s an executive opening available or not), and wholesale talent acquisition (hiring an entire leadership team from another firm). -Barner, May-June 2000, p. 35

Businesses will invest more in education and training, both within their organizations and within their communities. By partnering with schools and school districts, companies such as Boeing, Siemens, and Intel have provided training in the skills they need from their future workers. -Gordon, July-Aug 2000, p. 49


Prison overcrowding is a growing problem in the United States: More parole violators are being returned to prison, new court commitments are increasing, and the average time served is growing, all leading to a population explosion in jails and prisons. Thirty-three states are operating at 100% over capacity. -Dec 1999, p. 8 E By 2010, electronic monitoring will virtually eliminate professional criminals from society, predicts science-fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 12

Schools may increasingly turn to electronic profiling tools to help predict which students may turn violent. A computer-assisted evaluation system examines not just past behavior but the student’s current state of mind, offering the hope of thwarting a violent act before it is triggered. -May-June, p. 7

One way to reduce crime is to prevent children from growing up to be criminals. The number of young criminals arrested for violent crimes increased from 141 per 100,000 population in 1970 to 268 per 100,000 in 1997. Experts recommend teaching at-risk youth how to respect and empathize with others. -Dec 1999, p. 11


The Dow Jones Industrial Average will hit 40,000 by 2016 because of the growing number of people investing stocks and mutual funds, according to David Elias, author and investment adviser. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 7

Oh no it won’t, says economic consultant A. Gary Shilling. The U.S. economy is headed for a period of “deflation,” that is, excess supply and falling prices. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 6

Boom or bust? Tight labor markets and an overexuberant stock market worry many economists, but a number of forces favor an optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy: Communication technologies have increased productivity faster than any time in history, globalization is opening more markets, and government policies have been less intrusive than in the past, encouraging more entrepreneurship. -May-June 2000, p. 14

Five new economic engines will power the economy of the new millennium, creating eras similar to the Industrial Age and the current Information Age, predicts Graham T.T. Molitor, president of Public Policy Forecasting. The new eras will be the Leisure Age, the Life Sciences Age, the Megamaterials Age, a New Atomic Age, and a New Space Age. -Molitor, Dec 1999, p. 13

With a concerted effort, humanity could sustain the economic boom that has been in full swing for two decades and achieve a vigorous global economy that raises the standard of living in even the poorest countries by 2020, according to Peter Schwartz et al., authors of The Long Boom. -Dec 1999, p. 51

Baby boomers aren’t saving enough for retirement, and those expecting to live off their pensions and Social Security are in for a rude awakening. As much as 27% of boomers’ incomes during “retirement” will come from work earnings-not the 3l that most believe. Fortunately, most boomers will be healthy and interested enough to keep working, as traditional notions about retirement disappear. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 65

The echo-boom generation, comprising some 80 million people born from 1977 to 1997, will soon wield even more economic power than their parents, the baby boomers. These money-savvy youngsters have already begun saving and investing at an earlier average age than did preceding generations. This is good news for those worried about the prospects for stocks and real estate as baby boomers begin withdrawing their retirement funds from the market and selling their big homes. Alch, Sep-Oct 2000, p. 44 Standards of living worldwide are improving. Infant mortality rates are declining and literacy rates are increasing in developing countries, bringing them more in line with richer countries in spite of a widening income gap. -July-Aug 2000, p. 14


Images of students’ brain activity as they solve problems may be used to tailor teaching strategies to individual styles of learning. -Gardner, Mar-Apr 2000, p. 32

The home-school movement will ultimately lead to a home-college movement; students studying at home with distance-learning options will receive their degrees from certifying universities-institutions that evaluate the student’s coursework without requiring attendance. -Dunn, Mar-Apr 2000, p. 37

By 2025, about 10% of existing public colleges and 50% of independent colleges will close as students turn to digital, distance-education providers that bypass the classroom. -Dunn, Mar-Apr 2000, p. 35

Students will have more choices about where they are taught, and the “classroom” will expand to many places-labs, studios, workplaces, archaeological sites, Peace Corps villages, etc. And they’ll have more choices about when they learn: Like business, schools of the future will work 24/7/365. -Buchen, May-June 2000, p. 31

A liberal arts education may be more valuable than a specialized education in the future, as fastchanging technologies and workplaces demand broadly educated workers who can learn continuously and solve problems creatively. -Herman, July-Aug 2000, p. 16


Climate change and freshwater scarcity are the top two environmental policy issues to watch for in the years ahead, according to a survey of more than 200 environmental scientists. Other issues of concern are freshwater pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and population growth. July-Aug 2000, p. 10

Specially bred bacteria may soon be used to purify and recover reserves of crude oil too heavy and impure to extract with conventional methods. -Dec 1999, p. 7

Thermonuclear fusion will turn hydrogen into a virtually limitless supply of fuel as petroleum resources begin to dwindle after the next 50 years. The technological obstacles to fusion, such as developing an adequate containment field, will gradually be overcome, and fusion facilities may arise as soon as 2025. -Molitor, Dec 1999, p. 17

Another alternative to petroleum is renewable energy sources such as wind, photovoltaics, biomass, and geothermal power. Optimistic predictions about producing electricity affordably from such sources have not yet been met, but technologies are gradually lowering the costs. Geothermal power will fall from 5.5Q to 4a per kilowatt hour in the next 20 years. Jan-Feb 2000, p. 9


Alone but not lonely: Singleness is on the rise around the world as more people postpone-or forgo-marriage. The trend offers a wide range of opportunities for “single-minded” services such as housecleaning, travel, pet care, bars and restaurants, and financial services. Housing, too, will be affected: Single women now account for 18% of all homebuyers, up from 10% a decade ago. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 9

New reproductive technologies will give couples more options during their childbearing years. Women may one day be able to take a “career pill” to reset their biological clocks, postponing menopause until age 70, according to Roger Gosden, author of Designing Babies. -Gosden, Mar-Apr 2000, p. 26

Paint the future pink? Parents in some countries are increasingly expressing hope for daughters rather than sons. Possible explanations: Improving economic conditions make sons less imperative to a family’s future, while aging societies may value daughters more since they are usually the ones to take care of elderly parents. -July-Aug 2000, p. 8


More citizens will practice self-governance when they are dissatisfied with their government’s services. Private communities will increasingly make their own rules and hire their own security and maintenance contractors. -“The Opportunity Century” special report, p. 10, Jan-Feb 2000

Look for more “creative” lawsuits against corporations in the future as lawyers, encouraged by their victories over tobacco companies, sue other companies for what they see as a lack of social responsibility, according to Marjorie Kelly, editor of Business Ethics. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 2 Need a passport, small business loan, and housing assistance? “One-stop shopping” for government services is the wave of the future. Social services will increasingly be integrated, electronic, self-help systems offered around the clock to the public via the Internet at a single electronic location.

McDonough, Mar-Apr 2000, p. 50 Medium-sized cities are growing faster than supercities. Often, these smaller urban enclaves specialize in a single industry, supported by governments that encourage the spreading of development to minimize environmental impacts. Mar-Apr 2000, p. 27


A new method for screening embryos for genetic diseases, called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, will one day become a common diagnostic tool. Doctors copy DNA snipped from a lab-grown embryo and examine the copies to see whether the embryo has inherited a particular gene defect; if not, it is reimplanted in a mother’s uterus. Jan-Feb 2000, y. 12

Threats to children’s health will increasingly be behavioral rather than medical. As the twentieth century brought polio, influenza, and other diseases under control, the twenty-first century will see more health threats from obesity, early sexual activity, drug use, gun violence, traffic accidents, and other risky behaviors among youth. -May-June 2000, p. 6

Tonsils may be shrunk by microwaves in the future. A new tonsillectomy procedure using radiofrequency probes to apply mild heat to the tonsils reduces tissue volume without cutting, making it virtually painfree. The procedure, called tonsillar coblation, was developed by surgeon Mansoor Madani of Temple University. -July-Aug 2000, p. 2

Pigs may become the organ donors of choice for human patients who desperately need a transplant. Pigs may be better donor candidates than apes, since humans come into contact more frequently with pigs and may therefore be less susceptible to the viruses they harbor. July-Aug 2000, p. 6

“Health kiosks” at the local mall, able to measure vital signs and diagnose problems, may replace visits to the doctor in 2025. -Wooten, July-Aug 2000, p. 18

Mental illness may reach epidemic proportions as the population ages in the United States. The number of persons over age 65 suffering psychiatric disorders is projected to reach 15 million out of an elderly population of 70 million in 2030, yet critics claim the present health-care system is unprepared to serve the needs of mentally ill older adults. -Dec 1999, p. 6


Oral communication will replace written communication by 2050. Voice-in/voice-out computers will give access to the world’s expanding knowledge base to anyone, regardless of ability to read or write printed words. These user-friendly computers will respond to our voices and tell us what we want to know. -Crossman, Dec 1999, p. 42

Rejecting old-fashioned letters in favor of e-mail may be reducing our effectiveness as communicators. E-mail was found one of the least-effective means of communicating with congressional representatives-ignored almost as much as petitions and mass mailings, according to Wake Forest University. If you want to influence a legislator, a personal letter still works better-and a personal visit works best. -Jan-Feb 2000, p. 11

Web surfers will soon be able to roam far from their desktops but stay connected to the Internet. Companies are offering more and more portable Web-browsing products such as personal document readers and Web suits-a radio-networked collection of wearable computers and Web browsers. -July-Aug 2000, p. 7


Gene therapy may one day improve people’s learning abilities and reverse the effects of aging on memory. Neurobiologists have added a single gene, NR2B, to mice, increasing their ability to solve problems, learn, and retain information about their environment. As the mice aged, their brains retained the functional capabilities of the juveniles. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 65

By 2030, over half of all U.S. adults will be age 50 or greater, and thus eligible to join the American Association for Retired Persons. -Peterson, jan-Feb 2000, p. 20

Want to live longer and healthier? Be short. Humans lose about a year of longevity for every extra inch increase in average height, according to Thomas Samaras, an engineer who studies the impacts of height on health. The meat-based diets that have increased height over the past century have also increased incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Humans could move back to shorter statures by changing their diets-or perhaps through genetic or hormonal treatment. -Dec 1999, p. 6

As the United States population grows older, more people will suffer from age-related impairments such as hearing and vision loss. This trend will not only affect sufferers’ quality of life but will have economic effects such as loss of productivity and increased health-care costs. -July-Aug 2000, p. 8


Humans will land on Mars by about 2022, allowing us to gather more information and paving the way for human colonization of the solar system. -Halal, “The Top 10 Emerging Technologies” special report, p. 10, July-Aug 2000

By 2061, humans will land on Halley’s comet and discover both active and dormant forms of life there, proving life is present throughout outer space, believes Sir Arthur C. Clarke. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 12

By the year 3000, most economic activity will take place in outer space. Manned and unmanned spacecraft probe ever deeper into the unknown, and prospects for space tourism grow brighter every moment. The next step will be to colonize mining outposts within the solar system. -Molitor, Dec 1999, p. 18

Enormous solar sails consisting of a magnetic field rather than solid matter could propel the fastest spacecraft yet, delivering speeds of 180,000 miles an hour. The magnetic field would be “inflated” with plasma, which can be adjusted to make it function like a sail, according to geophysicist Robert Winglee of the University of Washington, who hopes to send such a craft to Jupiter in 10 years. -Mar-Apr 2000, p. 13

Another way to reduce the costs of launching and maneuvering spacecraft is to use tethers-five– kilometer-long current-carrying wires connected to a craft that would use the Earth’s magnetic field to alter the craft’s course. -L. Johnson, May-June 2000, p. 12

We’re probably safe from a city-destroying or civilization-devastating cosmic impact for the foreseeable future, but astronomers are discovering near-Earth asteroids at a rate of about 50 a year, suggesting that danger may ever be lurking. -Frankel, July-Aug 2000, p. 27

There’s no reason to wait until the last minute: We can begin preparing now for when the Sun flickers out in a few billion years, reports Nikos Prantzos, author of Our Cosmic Future. An engineer at the Polytechnic Institute of Zurich suggests we could move the Earth out of harm’s way using 24 giant rockets placed evenly around the equator and fired once a day. In a few tens of thousands of years, this would push our home planet safely beyond Pluto, buying us another 100 million years. -Sep-Oct 2000, p. 64


By 2020, we will share our planet with synthetic intelligent life-forms; they may even have legal rights, predicts Ian D. Pearson of BT Labs. -Pearson, Jan-Feb 2000, p. 14

Clothes used to be considered “functional” if they just had pockets; in the future, functional fashions will consist of self– deodorizing antibacterial fabrics, insect-repellent polyesters, and ceramic fibers to block ultraviolet and infrared rays. -Jan-Feb 2000, v. 12

Having trouble keeping track of all your PINs and passwords? Keep losing your security card? Forget about it-future security systems will remember you. A face-recognition system under development in Europe will let you walk on through a security gate, and a fingerprint-recognizing mouse could get you into your secured computer systems.

Jan-Feb 2000, p. 2; Sep-Oct 2000, p. 2 III Satellites will soon have competition. Satellites are expensive to deploy-about $100 million-and inaccessible to repair crews when they break. So an alternative closer to Earth is now being explored: Solar-powered unmanned aircraft soaring just 50,000-100,000 feet overhead may cost as little as $5 million to launch, offering a low-cost alternative to satellites used for commercial, military, and scientific applications. -Minerd, Jan-Feb 2000, p. 68

Personal transport may soon take to the skies: Small “skycars” are in the experimental stage at Moller International. These flying machines feature computer-controlled flight, so you need not be a pilot to fly them. -Hiemstra, Sep-Oct 2000, p. 34

Technology may solve your traffic woes. Intelligent transportation systems use communications and information technologies to offer real-time traffic updates and online journey planning; soon, they’ll even allow cars to drive themselves, with greater speed and safety than human-driven varieties. -PIARC Committee on Intelligent Transport. -Sep-Oct 2000, p. 26

Can technology make us more civilized? Yes– out on the highway, for instance. Intelligent transportation systems that reduce traffic congestion (and human stress) may ultimately produce a rise in civility, give us more leisure time, and improve the quality of life. -Minerd, Sep-Oct 2000, p. 28


High-tech career centers, featuring virtual-reality conference rooms and holographic guides, will one day help match the right individual with the right company. -Borchard, May-June 2000, p. 22

As many as 70% of the well-paying jobs over the next 10-15 years may not require a four-year college degree. These service, craft, or technical positions will require an associate degree or technical training certificate. -Gordon, July-Aug 2000, p. 48

Look for a much older labor force in the future, as baby boomers forgo full retirement in favor of starting new careers. Labor force participation rates will accelerate, with 14% of people 65 and older still working in 2015, up from 12% among that age group in 1998, and 65% of workers aged 55 to 64 still working, up from 59%. -Sep-Oct 2000, p. 19

The end of single-sex jobs is near. Manufacturing is becoming less male-dominated as it becomes more computerized and less physically demanding, and men are increasingly pursuing careers in rapidly growing sectors such as health care and business services, currently dominated by women. -Challenger, Sep-Oct 2000, p. 37

Outlook 2000


Future farmers may grow vaccines, as well as food. “Molecular farmers” will use genetic engineering to create plants that yield vaccines, chemicals, and biodegradable plastics. The vaccines from plants will help prevent disease at lower costs. One example is a vaccine used to protect livestock from “shipping fever,” a disease that costs Canadian ranchers nearly $1 billion annually. -Jan 1999, p. 10

The world’s meat consumption will more than double by 2050. Meat production has increased almost twice as fast as population. One of the first things people do when income levels rise is add more beef, pork, and poultry to their diets. -Brown, Gardner, and Halweil, Feb 1999, p. 37

A pet-food crisis may be on the horizon. While human population is expected to level off by 2035, easing some of the growing pressures on agricultural resources, pet populations will continue to explode worldwide. Brazil is already building new pet-food factories to feed an expected 400% increase in dogs, cats, horses, birds, and other companion animals. –Oct 1999, p. 2

From bread basket to shopping basket: Americans are consuming more and more imported foods, turning countries such as the Philippines, Peru, India, Vietnam, and Turkey into major new food exporters. Americans are also investing in foreign agriculture: China has attracted $10 billion in foreign capital to its farm sector, paying for nearly 4,000 agricultural development projects. -Blank, Apr 1999, p. 26

As farmland shrinks and populations expand, meeting future demands for food will require more-productive use of land. The only way to do that without destroying the planet is to bioengineer better foods, says the CEO of Monsanto. -Shapiro, Apr 1999, p. 28

Family farms may soon disappear from the U.S. landscape: Factory farms are driving them out, and consumers are buying cheaper products from overseas. Farmers are (reluctantly) selling out now, turning their land over to more-lucrative uses. -Blank, Apr 1999, p. 22

Super-healthful vegetables will give you more nutrition in fewer portions. Researchers have developed a new maroon carrot with twice as much betacarotene as a normal carrot and an orange cucumber that contains as much vitamin A as a cantaloupe. -Dec 1998, p. 2

Better eating through dynamite? Food technology is a booming business. One food-processing company is using shock waves from dynamite explosions to tenderize meat. And juice makers are sending electric pulses through fruits and vegetables to rupture cell membranes, allowing more liquids, flavors, and vitamins to be released. -Apr 1999, p. 8


Look for “social audits” along with financial audits. Corporations will increasingly transform their activities to reflect their customers’ social consciousness. Instituting cleaner production processes or reducing waste, for instance, will benefit the bottom line not just because it staves off customer boycotts, but because these “green” principles save money and allow companies to leverage their “good guy” reputations. -Daviss, Mar 1999, p. 28

Manufacturing firms may remake themselves into service-providing firms-providing clean clothes instead of selling washing machines, for example-in order to reduce costs and operate in a more environmentally friendly way. Service firms are responsible for all the materials and products they use, and thus have a strong incentive to make products that last and can be easily repaired, upgraded, reused, or recycled. – Gardner and Sampat, May 1999, p. 24

The future of business lies not in selling products but in selling dreams and emotions. Many “emotional markets,” such as the market for Adventure or Peace of Mind, already exist. -Aug-Sep 1999, p. 9

Competition will grow increasingly ruthless in the twenty-first century. Reasons: More-sophisticated and less-loyal consumers have more access to information about competing products and services, including those available around the world. -Brown, Nov 1999, p. 26

Fueling the Future

Don’t bet on alternative fuels anytime soon, says Thomas Hogarty, an economist specializing in energy.

New additives such as oxygenates are making gasoline bum more cleanly and efficiently, and new computer-aided technologies are helping oil companies get more out of existing oil and gas fields. The result: Gasoline will still be the fuel of choice for at least another 50 years. (Mar 1999, p. 51)

But don’t bet on gasoline lasting that long, rebuts geologist L.F. Ivanhoe.

Demand is growing along with world population and economic development rates, while the planet’s supply of petroleum is not only finite, but diminishing rapidly. Global oil demand will begin to exceed world production in about 2010. (Mar 1999, p. 54)


The top 10 candidates for “supercity” status for the twenty-first century are Bangalore, India; Wuhan and Shanghai in China; Istanbul; Bangkok; Cancun-Tulum, Mexico; Madrid; Vancouver; and Denver and Atlanta in the United States. The top requirements for cities hoping to attain “supercity” status include an international airport, reliable suburban and exurban connections, a technology center, efficient public transportation, a sophisticated waste-disposal system, and a “green” infrastructure of parks and urban forests.-Conway, June-July 1999, p. 28

Small towns are seeing booming population growth while megacities are growing only sluggishly. The fastest-growing cities in the United States have populations of just 10,000 to 50,000. Tiny Mesquite, Nevada, grew from 1,871 in 1990 to 10,125 in 1998-that’s 441%. Meanwhile, New York City grew by just 1.3%. -Oct 1999, p. 2

Crime is on the decline in some cities that are involving citizens in crime-prevention programs, such as aggressive citizen patrols, volunteer mentors, and training gang members in disputeresolution techniques. Six U.S. cities-Boston, Fort Worth, Denver, New York, Hartford, and San Diego-saw their levels of crimes reported cut by up to 47% between 1986 and 1996. -Oct 1999, p. 18

Urban redevelopment is becoming more democratic. In the past, downtown revitalization schemes were imposed on communities without their consent, leaving them with big sports complexes but little community enhancement. The urban-husbandry approach consults with neighborhoods on specific needs and involves residents in planning and monitoring small-scale projects. -Mar 1999, p. 10


As many as 90% of the world’s languages could become moribund or extinct by 2100, according to Michael Krauss, director of the Alaska Native Language Center. -Ostler, Aug-Sep 1999, p. 16

Reading and writing may soon be pass–and that’s a good thing, according to marketing consultant Geoffrey Meredith. Text is outmoded: A total switch to image and/or oral forms of communication will be more in line with the right-brained, intuitive thinking skills necessary for a true Knowledge Age.-Meredith, Oct 1999, p. 27

Hearing-impaired people and normal-hearing individuals will soon be able to communicate with each other more easily, thanks to a device that converts sign language into speech and vice versa. A system under development in Japan translates voice messages into signs that are represented as animated characters on a video screen. -Dec 1998, p. 9

Who needs wire? The growing popularity of cell phones, pagers, and other wireless communication systems means more people are letting their plain old telephones collect dust. To compete, local wireline phone companies will aggressively offer more services, such as high-speed Internet access. -Apr 1999, p. 59

The number of telecommuters will rise above 100 million in about 2015, and this increase will distribute worldwide wealth more rapidly, reduce global pollution, and transfer real estate values. -Pelton, Aug-Sep 1999, p. 25


Public schools will lose influence to private educational efforts as venture capitalists move into the lucrative education market. Professional educators may quit the public system and go into business for themselves.-Buchen, May 1999, p. 38

More teachers will be hiring themselves out to businesses. Private companies hoping to grow a more-skilled local work force are training teachers to train students in technical skills. As competition for teachers grows, look for annual salaries of $100,000 or more, says John Challenger. -Mar 1999, p. 2

The number of jobs requiring science and engineering expertise will grow three times faster than other occupations between 1994 and 2005, but schools are not keeping up with the demands of an increasingly tech-driven economy. More money per pupil is now being spent in the United States, yet math and reading skills remain stagnant. -Apr 1999, p. 20

Prospects for the undereducated poor in the United States are grim. Despite the growing prosperity nationwide, noncollege youth are losing ground. Partly to blame is a school system that is not adequately preparing youths for the high-tech jobs that the economic boom has been based on. -Apr 1999, p. 14

Lauded as the key to fast information and knowledge, the Internet could actually decrease our thinking skills. Having access to more information does not necessarily give students the criticalthinking skills to evaluate that information, and future generations may be more easily led astray. -Sawyer, Feb 1999, p. 45

Within two decades, look for electronic tutors with encyclopedic knowledge of dozens of subjects and the ability to download instructional information and interactive assignments in dozens of languages, at a cost of one penny per course. -Pelton, Aug-Sep 1999, p. 26

Pressures on schools will be especially severe in developing regions such as Africa and the Middle East, where the population of children will increase an average of 93% over the next 50 years. And in more-developed countries, education systems will be expected to help support a growing emphasis on lifelong education. -Brown, Gardner, and Halweil, Feb 1999, p. 39


Biotechnology may help save endangered species of animals, such as pronghorn antelope and wild turkeys. By keeping the gene pool more diverse in small populations, scientists can help rare animals avoid the problem of inbreeding, which reduces their chances for survival if a new disease emerges. -Apr 1999, p. 7

Global population grew by 132% in the last 50 years while the area of land growing grain has only increased 19%. By 2050, per capita grain area in the world’s fastest-growing large countries-Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Iran-will shrink to less than a quarter of the grain area in 1950. -Brown, Gardner, and Halweil, Feb 1999, p. 36

Bioinvaders-exotic species inadvertently transported to new ecosystems–may do long-term ecological damage. Like weeds, they spread through their new environment and displace local species. Bioinvaders are blamed in some 68% of fish extinctions in the United States in the past century. -Mar 1999, p. 6

A “toilet gap” is growing between those who have access to decent sanitation and those who do not-about half the world’s people. Poor sanitation increases the risk of diseases. Adequate toilets need not be economically prohibitive: Composting toilets cost a fraction as much as flush toilets and sewer systems. -Dec 1998, p. 16

Paperless offices? Not yet! Paper consumption will continue to rise in industrialized countries through 2010. While overall wood consumption will increase by 20%, paper consumption will grow by 49%. To help ease the burden on the world’s forests, environmentalists recommend recycling paper and using more ecologically friendly substitutes for wood in manufacturing. -June-July 1999, p. 18

There will be a billion automobiles on the world’s roads by 2050, but they will be far lighter, cheaper, and more fuel efficient than today’s models. -Morrison and Tsipis, June-July 1999, p. 60

Most of the future growth in motor vehicle use will occur in developing countries. To help stem increases in pollution, countries such as Nicaragua and Honduras have begun phasing out leaded gasoline. Nevertheless, industrial pollution will continue to plague impoverished countries facing energy demands from growing populations. -Dec 1998, p. 11


Family cohesiveness is endangered by the accelerated pace of life made possible by information technologies, suggests Stephen Bertman, author of Hyperculture. Our faster-moving, experienceoriented society has made us less patient for longterm commitments to marriages and child rearing. -Bertman, Dec 1998, p. 21

No more empty-nest problem for the elderly: Growing numbers of older people around the world are becoming caregivers for a spouse, sibling, or other relatives. -Nov 1999, p. 13

More children are being raised by their grandparents. In 1997, 6% of U.S. children were living with a grandparent, up from 3% in 1970, eliciting calls for more governmental assistance to grandparent caregivers. -Mar 1999, p. 18


Look out, Republicans and Democrats: Young Independents are on the rise. Vers are the most likely generation to be registered as political Independents (45%). Traditional terms such as “liberal” and “conservative” are becoming less meaningful to these individualists, who may be conservative on economic matters but liberal on social issues. -Mar 1999, p. 16

More people are taking the law into their own hands-creating new rules to govern previously unregulated situations like Internet use and gated communities. Private communities with homeowner associations claim to do a better job than governments do in providing security, collecting garbage, and performing other services. And successful use of the Internet has grown dependent on shared systems of values and protocol, demonstrating “government by the people” in action. -May 1999, p. 12

Population is growing so rapidly in dozens of countries that governments are becoming less able to provide basic services such as education, let alone respond to new threats like epidemics, food shortages, and water scarcity. “Demographic fatigue” could be alleviated through more familyplanning programs and improving the social and economic standing of women, according to the Worldwatch Institute. -Oct 1999, p. 15


Most major types of disease will be virtually eliminated by 2050, thanks to a combination of improved diet, lifestyle and environmental factors, and advances in gene therapy and drugs. Healthcare costs will fall, as expensive procedures such as surgery will be restricted to treating accidents and traumas. -Schwartz, Ian 1999, p. 51

By 2010, your DNA profile will be part of a complete electronic medical record tracking your susceptibility to heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. Your wristwatch-type biomonitoring device will provide accurate, ongoing readouts of your health status that can be downloaded into an inhome expert system for diagnosis. -Bezold, Apr 1999, p. 30

Plummeting sperm counts in the United States and Europe may result in widespread infertility and falling birthrates in the twenty-first century. Sperm counts in these regions have dropped by more than 50% since the late 1930s, perhaps due to the rise of hormone-mimicking chemicals in the environment that disrupt normal sperm development.-Nov 1999, p. 14

Doc-on-a-chip: A bioprocessor chip with microscopic electrodes may soon be able to diagnose deadly infections such as meningitis or tuberculosis within minutes. The small, credit-card-sized device will analyze samples of blood, urine, stool, or water to identify bacteria. -May 1999, p. 11

“Superbugs” resistant to antibiotics could soon become a global crisis, due to the overuse or misuse of antibiotics. Bacteria can develop chemicals that degrade a drug’s potency, and resistance spreads rapidly in interconnected ecosystems, where bits of DNA travel among different species of bacteria. -Feb 1999, p. 9

A growing trend toward “behavioral medicine” means physicians will increasingly prescribe “responsible pleasures” such as artistry, sexuality, and satisfying work. -Lippin, June-July 1999, p. 34

AIDS has lowered life expectancy by 20 years in southern Africa. Almost one-third of the adult population will be lost in the next decade in Mozambique, Namibia, and Botswana, where the loss of skilled workers is expected to reduce productivity and raise labor costs. -May 1992, p.2

Genetic research may enhance your mood. New drugs could result from research investigating the combinations of genes working together to cause mental illnesses such as manic depression. -May 1999, p. 11

One unintended consequence of growing immigration may be new, imported epidemics. Tuberculosis is already making a comeback in the United States, and some officials believe contagious migrants traveling throughout the country may be partly to blame. -June-July 1999, p. 12

Future surgeons will use silicon scalpels that are 10 times as sharp as conventional instruments. The hightech scalpels will also contain built-in sensors and monitors giving the surgeon instant feedback on whether tissue is diseased or healthy. -Aug-Sep 1999, p. 2

If needles frighten you, relax: Medicines could soon be delivered from a tiny array of hundreds of microscopic needles rather than through a single hypodermic. You could even do it yourself, simply sticking the microneedle array onto your skin. -Dec 1998, p. 9


Identity fraud is on the rise. The Internet and computerized database services have given criminals new opportunities to steal your personal information-Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.-in order to establish credit, run up debt, file false tax returns, and commit other crimes, ruining your credit history. -Feb 1999, p. 15

The Internet will open more job opportunities for the deaf. E-mail has already essentially replaced the TTY teletype communications device, making workplace communication with hearing people far simpler-and more equal. -Mar 1999, p. 2

The Internet is changing the very nature of business. For instance, newspapers, once a mass medium, are becoming interactive, allowing individuals to customize their own news package. Newspapers will serve both readers who still want ink and the growing numbers who want links. -Mar 1999, p. 12

The rise of the information-based service economy is good news for Mexico, with its proximity to the strong U.S. economy, according to policy analyst Michael Mazarr. By attracting U.S. investment, Mexico could grow its economy, and Mexicans may become less inclined to emigrate, legally or illegally. -Mazarr, Oct 1999, p. 24


Artists, musicians, and other creative people will increasingly collaborate with computer software programs. Cybernetic music-creation systems, for instance, will allow nonmusicians to compose original music from their own brain waves. -Kurzweil, Nov 1999, p. 17

The future of sports is extreme. The fastest-growing sales of sporting equipment are climbing machines, in-line skates, mountain bikes, snowboards, and other adrenaline-pumping equipment. -Dec 1998, p. 2

Exercise could increasingly be used for mindbuilding as well as a body-building regimen. Researchers have found that exercise can help alleviate mental problems such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and perhaps even chemical dependence and schizophrenia. -Nov 1999, p. 37

No more company picnics? Businesses may increasingly abandon social activities such as company picnics and office parties as American society becomes more and more litigious. Office parties are sources of sexual harassment suits, and employers can be held responsible for workers’ alcohol-related misdeeds at company-sponsored functions. -June-July 1999, p. 21

As electronic commerce steals more shoppers away from traditional stores, malls will increasingly offer nonstop entertainment to lure people back into “real world” venues. A new mall in England features cruise-ship decor, a 20-screen cinema, a bowling alley, and computer game arcades. -Johnson, Nov 1999, p. 60


People alive today will be among the first generation of humans who simply need not die, claims Ben Bova, former editor of Omni. New tools and techniques to reverse aging are on the way, such as eliminating malfunctioning genes, selectively killing cancer cells, and even regenerating entire limbs, organs, nerve fibers, and brain tissue. -Dec 1998, p. 50

The number of centenarians worldwide will increase 16-fold by 2050, reaching 2.2 million persons, up from 135,000 currently. Women will far outnumber men in that age group, but men who survive into their 100s-avoiding Alzheimer’s disease in their 80s and 90s-will retain sharper mental fitness, researchers predict. -Wagner, May 1999, p. 16

Despite living longer, Americans are retiring earlier than ever. The average age at which workers start receiving Social Security has dropped from 68.7 years old in 1940 to 63.6 in 1995.-Feb 1999, p. 11

A population boom of seniors is now under way The U.S. population as a whole grew by about 45% from 1960 to 1995, while the segment over age 85 grew by almost 300%. -Schwartz, Jan 1999, p. 51

Parents’ resources maybe diverted from their children to aging relatives, as people live longer and longer. There is likely to be a growing market for services used by the elderly-medical, home care, etc. In addition, products designed for disabled elderly people, such as drugs and prosthetics, should be in growing demand. -May 1999, p. 19

As the American population ages and some adults are obliged to take care of elderly parents as well as their own children, employers may offer more “elder care” facilities to complement child care. -June-July 1999, p. 10


Protestants are facing a great political division between Mainline liberals and evangelical conservatives. The evangelicals are gaining the upper hand by exploiting a wide variety of media such as television, rock music, and the Internet. But younger people are redefining religion in more individualistic ways, suggesting that the evangelical movement may not survive past Generation X. -Aug-Sep 1999, p. 12

Faith in the existence of God will remain unshaken among a majority of the world’s people for the near future. Religious fundamentalism and adherence to traditional values is on the rise in Christianity, Muslim, and Judaism; in the United States, 96% of the population say they believe in God, up slightly from 50 years earlier. -Mellert, Oct 1999, p. 30

Is God an evolutionist? Darwin’s theory of evolution suggests that all things constantly change: If God is immune to change, then He cannot intervene in human affairs, rendering Him impractical for people of faith seeking comfort or aid. Future believers may increasingly embrace a “relative” God who will continually grow and evolve. -Mellert, Oct 1999, p. 32


One billion people will be facing absolute water scarcity by 2025. Countries such as China and India will have to drastically reduce water use in agriculture to satisfy residential and industrial water needs. -Brown, Gardner, and Halweil, Feb 1999, p. 36

Tree plantations are a booming business, providing wood for industrial uses such as construction and paper.-Dec 1998, p. 11

In Mexico, microbe prospecting-discovering microorganisms with beneficial properties-may yield many important new drugs and industrial products. Mexico contains more than 14% of the world’s plant species in its richly diverse habitatstropical jungles, deserts, volcanoes. -Apr 1999, p. 2


Robots will surpass human capabilities both mentally and physically by 2050, allowing humans to retire from work forever, predicts robotics expert Hans Moravec. Computer-robots already handle most manufacturing jobs as well as accounting, product design, and other “white collar” jobs. Next on robots’ to-do list: research and development, engineering, executive decision making, and building better robots. -Feb 1999, p. 8

Autonomous submarines will explore the ocean depths, gathering vital information from places too dangerous for humans. During storms, the robotic subs could record surface data to be retrieved by researchers when the storm has passed. -Mar 1999, p. 8

Future robots will model themselves after successful biological forms such as trees and starfish. Robotic surgeons with multiple arms and trillions of fingers will be able to complete complicated medical procedures almost instantaneously. -Feb 1999, p. 9


The top five reasons for voyaging to Mars:

  • 1. We can increase our knowledge about Earth’s and the solar system’s origins by searching for clues to Mars’s origins.
  • 2. We can increase our knowledge about Earth by studying patterns of environmental change on Mars.
  • 3. We can channel the human instinct for meeting challenges in ways that de-emphasize war and other destructive endeavors.
  • 4. We can motivate young people to study science and technology; even if they don’t ultimately travel to Mars, the investment in their education will have great benefits on Earth.
  • 5. We can begin to create the next New World that will one day be home to yet unborn civilizations.

-The Mars Society declaration, Mar 1999, p. 60

Hospitals on space stations or the Moon could be attractive to wealthy patients suffering a variety of ills that might be relieved by very-low-gravity environ-ments. -Kistler, Jan 1999, p. 45


You may one day be fitted with microchip implants that will communicate with your environment. A miniature electronic device contained in a tiny capsule will be implanted in your forearm. It will then send messages to a computer that controls light and heat in intelligent buildings. Such implants could even replace credit cards, keys, passports, and other official documents. -Oct 1999, P. 9

Science-fiction author Frederik Pohl predicts that airports, traffic jams, computers, television sets, and hospitals will all disappear by 2150: Airports and overcrowded roads will give way to more-efficient forms of transport such as highspeed rail and personal rapid transit systems. TVs and computers will first converge, then gradually disappear into clothing and other ordinary objects. Hospitals will become obsolete as microsurgical techniques eliminate the need for long recovery times for patients. -Pohl, Feb 1999, p. 30

Messy desks will disappear as computing and communication technologies converge into clutterfree consoles. A console developed by British Telecom is making stockbroker dealing rooms and financial houses more efficient, eliminating overcrowded desks that impede trading activity.
-Feb 1999, p. 2

Diamonds will become future engineers’ best friend, making airbags smarter, factories cleaner, computer screens thinner, and aircraft faster. Diamonds are tough, but they give up their electrons quickly, allowing engineers to create paper-thin TV and computer screens. Diamonds also make good semiconductors at high temperatures and pressures.-June-July 1999, p. 14

Glass bullets? Metallic “glass” may be the material of choice for future ammunition. The superstrong material is produced by heating a metal quickly to a liquid then cooling it too quickly for the atoms to return to their usual structure. The result is a material that retains its shape upon impact rather than flattening out like a mushroom, making it an ideal choice for projectiles. -Jan 1999, p. 12


Emotional skills will increasingly become as important as technical skills. People will be judged more on how well they handle themselves and other people-clients, customers, and colleagues. Unfortunately, children are not being taught such skills as self-control, conscientiousness, and optimism-a trend that bodes ill for the future workplace. -Mar 1999, p. 14

Too “creative” for an office job? Sorry, you’re going to be in demand soon. Managers are increasingly seeking more-creative thinkers and nurturing innovation among workers. Employees who work more closely with customers are especially being encouraged to come up with cost-saving and customer-satisfying ideas. -Aug-Sep 1999, p. 2

The growth of electronic media and the emphasis on lifelong learning add up to tremendous opportunities for people who can combine the excitement of computer graphics and animation with educational content. This “edutainment” field will be open to everyone from the entrepreneurs who package and market the products to computer programmers, graphic artists, animators, and educators.-Moses, Aug-Sep 1999, p@ 34


<=”” b=””> Governments may consider stockpiling drugs for treating victims of chemical or biological attack.-Dec 1998, p. 15

Nuclear weapons may gradually be replaced by smarter conventional and electronic weapons. The newer weapons will combine great lethality with great precision: Miniature warheads could carry explosives that are five times more powerful than today’s explosives, but their precision would produce fewer casualties than a limited nuclear war.-Feb 1999, p. 14

Civil disturbances will be less deadly in the future, as police and military forces deploy a wider arsenal of nonlethal weapons: sticky foam, beanbag rounds, stingballs, rubber or foam batons, pepper sprays, stink bombs, and explosive pulse power-electromagnetic weapons that produce enough electrical energy to destroy electronic equipment. -Alexander, Oct 1999, p. 38

A backlash against global institutions may be growing as the world’s disenfranchised band together in culturally isolated tribes. Ordinary people are growing increasingly frustrated to see the cultural and political elite benefiting more from development programs and other international aid. Unless the elite improve communications with majorities-and share their wealth-clashes are almost certain. -Moller, Mar 1999, p. 22

Putting Nature to Work

Human hair may provide a natural-and convenient-solution for oil spills. Since oil clings to hair but is not absorbed by it, bags of hair may be used to snag oil out of water, leaving clean water behind. And the oily hair could be burned as fuel. (fan 1999, p. 2)

More and more solutions for such environmental problems will be found from nature itself: Chili peppers are being used to fend off zebra mussels, which cling to docks and boat bottoms. (Jan 1999, p. 2)

Plants such as sunflowers and poplar trees will help clean up contaminated soil. Certain plants can absorb soil contaminants such as heavy metals, storing them in their tissue; other plants use their roots to stimulate the degradation of microbes. Using nature to clean up the environment can cost as little as one-fifth of conventional cleanup methods. (Apr 1999, p. 6)

Willow trees not only can purify water, but they can also replace coal and oil as fuel. In Sweden, willows now provide 15% of the nation’s commercially produced renewable power. The trees also absorb up to 90% of the nitrates and phosphates from water. (May 1999, p. 14)

Nature will also be put to work in manufacturing processes. In 50 years, scientists will learn to use enzymes-nature’s own nanomachines-to provide us with many substances, such as ingredients for plastics and paints, that were once made in chemical processing facilities. (AugSep 1999, p. 6)

A “By the Year 2000” Scorecard

Here are a few predictions for the year 2000 from early issues of THE FUTURIST


Bacterial and viral diseases Will be virtually eliminated.

-Hubert H. Humphrey (Jan-Feb 1967, p. 2)

What really happened: More than 30 new viruses have appeared around the world in the last two decades, and several diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis have reemerged as major threats. Among the possible reasons are increased global travel, climate change, and the misuse of antibiotics, which allows resistant strains of bacteria to develop.

Planets will be colonized. -Arthur C. Clarke (Jan-Feb 1967, p. 14) What really happened: Budgetary constraints due to the Vietnam War, skyrocketing oil prices, and a severe recession led to cutbacks in the U.S. space program.

Americans will work 1,100 hours a year, on average.

-Herman Kahn (Oct 1967, p. 67)

What really happened: American men worked an average of 1,905 hours in 1993up by 100 hours from 1976-and women worked 1,526 hours-up by 233 hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Monthly Labor Review, April 1997).

For short journeys around the world, people will ride in magnet-controlled luxurious flying saucer type devices, similar to guided missiles.

-A Xerox Corporation forecast (Apr 1969, p. 36)

What really happened: The development of a commercial aerospace plane (whether shaped like a flying saucer or a Boeing 777) is still in the future.

Energy needs will be largely met by nuclear sources, even in small ways. Appliances will run on long-lived batteries fueled by radioisotopes.

-Isaac Asimov (Apr 1969, p. 49)

What really happened: While nuclear power did grow as a percentage of energy sources (from 1.5% in 1973 to 9% in 1997), fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas are overwhelmingly the dominant sources of energy.


Hereditary defects will be corrected through the modification of genetic chemistry.

-Hubert H. Humphrey (fan-Feb 1967, p. 2)

Comment: The first disease approved to be treated with gene therapy was adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency. Gene therapy is still experimental and highly controversial, but early breakthroughs for such conditions as hemophilia and sickle-cell disease-and the progress made in mapping the human genome-justify then-Vice President Humphrey’s optimistic forecast.

Artificial intelligence and a global library will be developed.

-Arthur C. Clarke (Jan-Feb 1967, p. 14)

Comment: The Internet and World Wide Web may arguably qualify as the “global library” Clarke envisioned. Speech recognition, natural-language understanding, and other components of what was described as artificial intelligence have been developed, though we are still waiting for true artificial intelligence, according to Ray Kurzweil, author of The Age of Spiritual Machines. He notes that artificial stupidity has certainly been achieved: Buy-and-sell computer programs were blamed for the stock market crash in 1987.

Small household computer consoles will be connected to a large complex of central station computers that would help with family budgeting, tax calculations, school work, purchasing and menu planning, banking and credit, library and reference sources, and mail order and shopping services. -Glenn I Seaborg (Apr 1967, p. 17)

Comment: Like Clarke, Seaborg was one of many futurists of the 1960s predicting the advent and impacts of what would become the Internet and the World Wide Web.

The Dow Jones average will hit 10,000.
David Bostian (Sep-Oct 1992, p. 14)

Comment: The Dow first pierced 10,000 on the morning of March 16,1999, and closed above 10K for the first time on March 29. (“Dow 10,000?” June-July 1999, p. 33)


World population will be 6.4 billion. -Herman Kahn (June 1967, p. 35)

Comment: “Child 6 Billion” was born October 12,1999, according to the United Nations Population Fund. (Aug-Sep 1999, p. 13)