Forecasts, Trends, and Ideas about the Future
The 22nd Century at First Light A child born today will be 88 in the year 2100. Futurists David Brin, Paul Saffo, Brenda Cooper, and two dozen others begin exploring that next horizon! See the special section beginning on page 33
The New Age of Space Business, page 15 Regulating the Final Frontier, page 20 Serving Justice with “Conversational” Law, page 21 Rescuing the Mind of Africa, page 26 PLUS: WORLD TRENDS & FORECASTS $5.95
Join World Future Society for just $79 per year and receive: • THE FUTURIST magazine • Exclusive digital access • Futurist Update e-newsletter • Discounts on books • Conference invitations Call 1-800-989-8274 or 1-301-656-8274
Are You Smarter Than a Sixth-Generation Computer? Investing in Ex-Cons Games for Character and Mindfulness Child Marriage Declines in South Asia Diversity, Discovery, and a Ticking Clock
About the World Future Society Why study the future?
What is the World Future Society?
The world changes so quickly that it‘s hard to keep up. New inventions and innovations alter the way we live. People‘s values, attitudes, and beliefs are changing. And the pace of change keeps accelerating, making it difficult to prepare for tomorrow. By studying the future, people can better anticipate what lies ahead. More importantly, they can actively decide how they will live in the future by making choices today and realizing the consequences of their decisions. The future doesn‘t just happen: People create it through their action—or inaction—today.
The World Future Society is an association of people interested in how social and technological developments are shaping the future. The Society was founded in 1966 by a group of private citizens, and is chartered as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization.
What can we know about the future? No one knows exactly what will happen in the future. But by considering what might happen, people can more rationally decide on the sort of future that would be most desirable and then work to achieve it. Opportunity as well as danger lies ahead, so people need to make farsighted decisions. The process of change is inevitable; it‘s up to everyone to make sure that change is constructive.
How do I join the Society? Visit www.wfs.org or contact: World Future Society Membership Department 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450 Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA Telephone: 301-656-8274
What does the Society do? The Society strives to serve as a neutral clearinghouse for ideas about the future. Ideas about the future include forecasts, recommendations, scenarios, alternatives, and more. These ideas help people to anticipate what may happen in the next five, 10, or more years ahead. When people can visualize a better future, then they can begin to create it.
What does membership offer? ■ THE FUTURIST, a magazine of forecasts, trends, and ideas about the future. Every member receives a subscription to this exciting bimonthly magazine. Experts in various fields share their insights and forecasts in articles directed at a general audience. ■ Special rates for all annual conferences. These conferences provide members with the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with distinguished scholars, leaders, and experts from around the world. ■ Access to your local chapter. Over 100 cities in the United States and abroad have chapters for grassroots support of futures studies. They provide a way for members to get involved in their local communities through workshops, discussion groups, and speakers.
Free e-mail newsletter! Visit www.wfs.org.
September-October 2012 Volume 46, No. 5
A magazine of forecasts, trends, and ideas
Adventure capitalists. Page 15
about the future
ARTICLES SPECIAL REPORT 33 The 22nd Century at First Light: Envisioning Life in the Year 2100 A special report by members and friends of the World Future Society, including: Stephen Aguilar-Millan Marko Ahvenainen Davidson Barlett Gina A. Bellofatto Tsvi Bisk David Brin Paul Bristow Brenda Cooper Peter Denning William Halal Richard David Hames
Tomorrow in Brief
World Trends & Forecasts: Artificial Intelligence, Biodiversity, Families, Criminal Justice, Values
56 Consultants and Services 64 As Tweeted: RIP Ray Bradbury
15 The New Age of Space Business By Joseph N. Pelton
A new generation of entrepreneurs are working with the world’s space agencies to bring down the costs of commercializing the high frontier. By the 2020s and beyond, we could see a historic expansion of human activity in space.
BOOKS 59 A Leaderless World Order? A book review by Rick Docksai
New alliances and new cold wars are both possible as the era of superpowers is over, says policy scholar Ian Bremmer in Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. The next few decades of geopolitics will be messy.
60 Books in Brief
Birth 2012 and Beyond Burdens of Proof The Prosperity of Vice Visionaries Have Wrinkles X-Events
Olli Hietanen House of Futures (Gitte Larsen, Søren Steen Olsen, and Steen Svendsen) Laura B. Huhn Marta M. Keane Gereon Klein Michael Lee Joshua Loughman Bart Main
Michael Marien Eric Meade Robert Moran Manjul Rathee Paul Saffo Jouni J. Särkijärvi Arthur Shostak Gene Stephens Cynthia G. Wagner Ozzie Zehner
26 Rescuing the Mind of Africa By Hank Pellissier
Sub-Saharan Africa is a hotbed of environmental and social scourges that compromise the development and health of the human brain—and undermine the region’s future.
20 Regulating the Final Frontier By Frans von der Dunk
As commercial endeavors enter space, international law must expand as well.
21 Serving Justice with Conversational Law By David R. Johnson
Digitized, semantic legal-expert systems will enable more people to access and understand the law.
African brains. Page 26
COVER ILLUSTRATION BY LISA MATHIAS FROM PHOTO: © KALI9 / ISTOCKPHOTO
© 2012 World Future Society. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. THE FUTURIST is a registered trademark of the World Future Society. Printed in the U.S.A. THE FUTURIST (ISSN 0016-3317) is published bimonthly by the World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, U.S.A. Included with membership in the World Future Society (dues: $79 per year for individuals; $20 for full-time students under age 25). Subscriptions for libraries and other institutions are $89 annually. Periodicals postage paid at Bethesda, Maryland, and additional mailing offices. • POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE FUTURIST, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, Maryland 20814. • OWNERSHIP: THE FUTURIST is owned exclusively by the World Future Society, a nonpartisan educational and scientific organization incorporated in the District of Columbia and recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit taxexempt organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. • CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Write or call Membership Department at the Society. 1-800-989-8274.
MARK DAVID VORREUTER / CORNELL UNIVERSITY
in brief SIEMENS CORPORATION
Trucking Down eHighway
A scheme to electrify trucks and the highways they travel could help significantly reduce emissions. Siemens’ eHighway of the Future project, undergoing tests in Germany, involves hybrid diesel– Hybrid truck switches from diesel to elecelectric trucks that are tricity when it recognizes available power. equipped to connect to overhead wires. The Cities, United States. “Freight built-in software would recogtransportation on U.S. roadnize when the overhead elecways is expected to double by tricity is available, then switch 2050, while global oil repower mode to electric. sources continue to deplete. “When most people think of And by 2030, carbon-dioxide vehicle emissions, they asemissions are forecasted to sume cars do most of the damjump 30% due to freight transage, but it’s actually commerport alone.” cial trucks that are largely to blame,” says Daryl Dulaney, Source: Siemens Corporation, www.industry.siemens.com. CEO, Siemens Infrastructure &
Anti-Malarial Fashion Statement Specially treated mosquito nets may be effective at combating malarial infections, but their protection is limited because they are primarily used over beds as users sleep. Now, fashion designers have come to the rescue with wearable protection. At Cornell University, Matilda Ceesay—a fashion major from Gambia—and Frederick Ochanda—a post-doctoral fiber scientist from Kenya—have developed a colorful hooded bodysuit that takes the mosquito net concept to the next level. The key to the anti-malarial garment is binding the mosquito-repelling chemicals to the
Fashion-forward (and insecticide-laden) hooded bodysuit offers an a ttractive weapon in the fight against malaria. mesh fabric at the nanolevel, so the fabric can hold three times more insecticide than normal nets. Source: Cornell University, www.cornell.edu.
SCREEN CAPTURES FROM NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION VIDEO
Nutritional Information Overload Americans would rather work on their income taxes than try to unravel the mysteries of healthy eating. Official nutritional guidelines seem to change as frequently as the tax laws, so it’s little wonder that so many people find it frustrating to make appropriate nutritional choices. While 58% of Americans surveyed said they give a lot of thought to what they consume, only 20% describe their diets
as healthful, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation. Information overload may be part of the problem: Consumers are more likely to simply look at the expiration date rather than the more-complex nutrition facts panel when making a food or beverage purchase, according to the survey. Source: International Food In formation Council Foundation, www.foodinsight.org.
Slumdogs for Millionaires? Slum tours are a controversial twist on the trend toward alternative vacations like ecotourism, “voluntourism,” and educational or research tours. While some may view the fascination of the tourist class with global poverty as morally questionable, others see potential benefits. A research project by Fabian Frenzel of the University of Leicester School of Management will focus on the growth of tourism in slums and favelas in South Africa, Brazil, India, and other cities. He notes that favelas in Rio de Janeiro have
become nearly as popular among tourists as sights like Sugar Loaf and the statue of Christ the Redeemer. “The big question is whether slum tourism is merely some cynical form of entertainment for the rich or a practice that can help tackle the global inequalities and injustices we live with,” says Frenzel, who recently co-edited a book on the subject, Slum Tourism: Power, Poverty, and Ethics (Routledge, 2012). Source: University of Leicester, www.le.ac.uk.
As Stony Brook University researcher Perena Gouma looks on, technician demonstrates breathalyzer device that promises to detect signs of disease.
Disease Detection: Waiting to Exhale Instead of instructing us to breathe deeply and say “ah,” future doctors may simply have us exhale into diagnostic breathalyzers. Blue ammonia molecules indicate The Single Breath Diskidney disease in this illustration of the ease Diagnostics BreathSingle Breath Disease Diagnostics alyzer is being developed Breathalyzer. by a team of scientists at Stony Brook University in to one type of disease (for inNew York, led by materials scistance, to monitor diabetes), entist Perena Gouma. The defuture handheld devices will vice uses sensor chips coated allow individual users to selfwith nanowires to detect chemimonitor and detect diseases cal compounds that may indiranging from lung cancer to cate the presence of diseases or anthrax exposure. infectious microbes. While the first such “medical Source: National Science Foundation, www.nsf.gov. breathalyzers” will be specific
A Publication of the World Future Society
Editorial Staff Edward Cornish Founding Editor
Cynthia G. Wagner Editor
Patrick Tucker Deputy Editor
Rick Docksai Associate Editor
Kenneth J. Moore Contributing Writer
Lane Jennings Research Director
Lisa Mathias Art Director
Contributing Editors Clement Bezold, Government Tsvi Bisk, Strategic Thinking Irving H. Buchen, Training Peter Eder, Marketing and Communications Thomas Frey, Innovation Joyce Gioia-Herman, Workforce/Workplace Barbara Marx Hubbard, Images of Man Joseph P. Martino, Technological Forecasting Matt Novak, Historical Futures Joseph N. Pelton, Telecommunications Arthur B. Shostak, Utopian Thought David P. Snyder, Lifestyles Gene Stephens, Criminal Justice Timothy Willard, Biofutures Richard Yonck, Computing and AI
Contact Us Letters to the Editor: email@example.com Subscription/Address Change: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Submissions/Queries: firstname.lastname@example.org Permission/Reprints: email@example.com Back Issues/Bulk Copies: firstname.lastname@example.org Press/Media Inquiries: email@example.com Partnerships/Affiliations: firstname.lastname@example.org Conference Inquiries: email@example.com Anything Else: firstname.lastname@example.org THE FUTURIST World Future Society 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450 Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. eastern time, weekdays except U.S. holidays Telephone: 301-656-8274 or 800-989-8274 Fax: 301-951-0394 www.wfs.org/futurist
The Long Future Is Now Futurists being a diverse bunch, with variable temperaments and their own particular goals, can be counted on to disagree about precisely how far into the future it is useful to cast our eyes. We generally agree that it is very useful to look past the next weather forecast, election, production cycle, quarterly statement, and growing season. And we generally agree that 10,000 years ahead is too far away to be useful for anyone to think about. Except it’s really not. For instance, when the March 2011 tsunami disaster unfolded in Japan, there was talk about simply burying the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in order to prevent contaminating the local populace. This would be risky for future generations thousands of years from now if there were no way of warning them about the existence of this long-buried problem. Futurists were on that job already: In the 1990s, the concern among American physicists was over burying nuclear waste. What signage would be required? What barbed-wire fence would last for 10,000 years? So I happen to think it’s not too soon to ask futurists to speculate about what’s over the horizon that they can see now. Their anticipations may be wrong. They may be right. But they will always provoke thought, and it’s important to do that. The fact is, we had an overwhelming response when we sent out a call for essays (with a very short deadline) to tell us about what the turn of the next century might be like for today’s newborns, who will only be 88 years old at that time. As clearly as we can see our own parents and grandparents as octogenarians, that is how clearly we must try to foresee our children and grandchildren and build a world in which they can thrive. And futurists, being a diverse bunch, chose a variety of approaches to composing these essays. Some opted for writing timelines of events that are leading us to the twenty-second-century horizon. Some offered forecasts for a specific sector (transportation, communications, energy). And some told us stories, offering vivid scenarios of compelling outcomes for those forecasts. The special section beginning on page 33—The 22nd Century at First Light: Envisioning Life in the Year 2100—includes as many of these essays as possible. Several more essays are published on our Web site as exclusives, where we invite you to read, comment, and contribute your own visions. One forecast I’m almost certain about: In the year 2100, futurists will start wondering about life in the twenty-third century. —Cynthia G. Wagner, Editor email@example.com
Future Scope Trend scanners notebook Food | Commerce
China’s Growing Appetite for Meat China now consumes 71 million tons of meat annually, about twice as much as the United States consumes, according to Earth Policy Institute researcher Janet Larsen. This represents more than a fourth of all the meat produced worldwide. Chinese consumers are demanding more meat than ever, primarily pork. Meanwhile, the United States remains a nation of beef eaters, consuming 11 million tons a year compared with the 6 million tons in consumed in China. Increased meat consumption also increases demand for grain, particularly corn and soybeans used for livestock feed—which competes with energy and other sectors for a share of the global grain supply. For instance, the U.S. ethanol industry now commands 30% of the U.S. grain crop. No longer grain self-sufficient, China imported a net 7 million tons in 2011. As meat consumption continues to soar, so will feed imports and global grain prices, warns Larsen. Source: Earth Policy Institute, www.earth-policy.org.
concerns about peak oil farther in the future. But there are also challenges to tapping this unconventional source, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Opportunities: • Oil shale deposits in the Green River Formation (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming) may contain 3 trillion barrels of oil. Half of this may be recoverable, matching the entire world’s known oil reserves. • Developing shale oil resources could create jobs, increase wealth, and enhance government revenues in tax and royalty payments. Challenges: • Development projects could compromise habitats, displace wildlife, strain water and power resources locally, and affect the quality of surface and groundwater. • Oil-shale processing could also contribute to longterm increases in air pollution. • The skills required by the jobs created would likely require an influx of new workers and their families, adding stress to local infrastructure and resources. Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, www.gao.gov.
Health Care | Humanity Cities | Governance
More Doctors on the Way U.S. medical school enrollment is on pace to increase 30% by 2016, meeting targets set to avoid future shortages of physicians, according to Darrell G. Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges. A shortage of more than 90,000 primary care and specialty doctors is anticipated in the United States by 2020. In addition to medical schools enrolling more students, there needs to be more openings created for residency training positions, which prepare new doctors for independent practice, says Kirch. He warns that, without an increase in federal funding to expand residency training, “it may become more difficult for medical students to complete their training and for patients to get the care they need.” Source: Association of American Medical Colleges, www.aamc.org.
Resources | Earth
Oil Shale Challenges and Opportunities There may be vast amounts of oil waiting to be unlocked from shale deposits, which could help defer 4
WordBuzz: Micro Urban Nestled between the metropolitan and micropolitan categories officially defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is an unofficial hybrid hometown dubbed micro urban—places with big-city amenities and a small-town feel. Urban areas have 1,000 people or more per square mile and more than 50,000 people; micropolitan regions have 10,000 to 49,999 people but lack the economic, cultural, or political importance of large, urbanized regions. A micro-urban area is, as the word suggests, small—250,000 people or fewer—but offers all of the population diversity, culture, art, technology, and public conveniences that are usually associated with major urban centers such as New York City. Examples include Champaign-Urbana, Fargo, Syracuse, Iowa City, and Roanoke. As more knowmads choose homes based on community and culture rather than jobs, micro-urban living could become a macrotrend. For more information, see the Micro Urban blog (www.microurban.org) launched by Meet-Up co-founder Peter Kamali (@kamali on Twitter). ❑ Kenneth J. Moore contributed to this story.
President: Timothy C. Mack
Director of Communications: Patrick Tucker
Treasurer: Jay McIntosh
Business and Advertising Manager: Jeff Cornish
Secretary: Kenneth W. Harris
Meeting Administrator: Sarah Warner
Directors Bob Chernow (vice chairman) CEO, The Tellier Foundation
Edward Cornish founder and former president, World Future Society
Esther Franklin executive vice president and director of cultural identities, Starcom MediaVest Group
John Gottsman president, The Clarity Group
Kenneth W. Harris chairman, The Consilience Group LLC
Kenneth W. Hunter (chairman) senior fellow, Maryland China Initiative, University of Maryland
Timothy C. Mack president, World Future Society
Jay McIntosh president, Consumer Foresight LLC
chairman and senior futurist,
president, Partners In Enterprise
Institute for Alternative Futures
president, Banco de Tecnologias, and
chairman, Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.
chairman, Grupo Coraza, Mexico
Joergen Oerstroem Moeller
economist, communications professor, Madrid
visiting senior research fellow, ISEAS, Singapore
Marvin J. Cetron
president, Forecasting International Ltd.
trend analyst and author
Hugues de Jouvenel
executive director, Association
author and professor emeritus of management,
University of Southern California
Joseph N. Pelton
professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
founder and vice chairman,
William E. Halal
Arthur C. Clarke Foundation
professor of management science and
John L. Petersen
director of Emerging Technologies Project,
president, The Arlington Institute
George Washington University
Sandra L. Postel
director, Global Water Policy Project
program director, Strategic Foresight Program, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
president, Ming Pai Consulting BV
Barbara Marx Hubbard president, The Foundation for Conscious Evolution
vice president, Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.
Global Advisory Council Stephen Aguilar-Millan European Futures Observatory
Raja Ikram Azam honorary chairman, Pakistan Futuristics Foundation
Raj Bawa president, Bawa Biotechnology Consulting, and adjunct associate professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Francis Rabuck director, Technology Research, Bentley Systems Inc.
Robert Salmon former vice president, L’Oreal Corporation, Paris
Sohail Inayatullah professor, Tamkang University, Taiwan
Maurice F. Strong secretary general, U.N. Conference on
Environment and Development
president, Beijing Academy of Soft Technology
Eleonora Barbieri Masini
professor emerita, Faculty of Social Sciences,
Gregorian University, Rome
Graham May principal lecturer in futures research, Leeds Metropolitan University, U.K.
The World Future Society is a nonprofit educational and scientific association dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the trends shaping our future. Founded in 1966, the Society serves as a neutral clearinghouse for ideas about the future; it takes no stand on what the future will or should be like. The Society’s publications, conferences, and other activities are open to all individuals and institutions around the world. For more information on membership programs, contact Society headquarters Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, U.S.A. Telephone: 1-301-656-8274, Toll free: 1-800-989-8274, Fax: 1-301-951-0394 Web site: www.wfs.org • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
World Trends & Forecasts Artificial Intelligence Biodiversity Families Criminal Justice Values
Artificial Intelligence | Sci/Tech
Are You Smarter Than a Sixth-Generation Computer? Tests for measuring nonhuman intelligence are needed in order to track development. By Richard Yonck Despite the amazing achievement of supercomputers such as IBM’s Jeopardy champion DeepQA (aka Watson), we do not yet call them “intelligent.” But what about the next generation of supercomputers, or the ones that come after that? Before we can make forecasts about machine intelligence, we will need a gauge beyond simple metrics such as petaflops and data-transfer rates. We need to establish a standard metric of machine intelligence. The idea of testing artificial intelligence goes back to Alan Turing and the eponymously named Turing test. Essentially, the Turing test involved engaging unseen human and machine participants in a textbased conversation. If the judges were unable to correctly identify the AI, then it would be said to have passed. Pass or fail: an all or nothing result. Unfortunately, while this test is potentially useful for determining human equivalence, it’s generally agreed that this isn’t the only form of intelligence. A dolphin or a chimpanzee could never pass such a test, and yet both exhibit considerable intelligence. It’s just that the nature and level of their intellects differ from that of humans. The same could be said of machine intelligence. Just because human equivalence hasn’t yet been achieved in silico, doesn’t mean that rudiments of intelligence don’t exist. Additionally, decades from now, an
artificial general intelligence, or AGI, may be too dissimilar from the human mind to pass the Turing test, even though it might be very superior to us in most other ways. For more than a century, psychometric tests have existed for people. While some may argue about the merits of assigning a numerical value to the intelligence of individuals, the fact remains that these tests have resulted in considerable knowledge about the distribution of intelligence in our species. Of course, such tests can’t be applied to nonhumans. So how does one develop a test suitable for machines? Over the years, a number of tests of machine intelligence have been proposed. Several, such as Linguistic Complexity and Psychometric AI, suffer from the same shortcomings as the Turing test, in that they test for human equivalence. Many other theorized tests aren’t mathematically rigorous enough. To test a nonhuman and rate it on any sort of meaningful scale, we must accurately assess the complexity of the question or challenge set before it. Recently, a framework for creating mathematically rigorous challenges has been conceived. This is described in a paper titled “Measuring Universal Intelligence: Toward An Anytime Intelligence Test” by José Hernández-Orallo and David L. Dowe, published in Artificial Intelligence. This test of “universal intelligence” is grounded in algorithmic information theory and complexity theory in order to
structure its challenges. More specifically, it uses Levin’s Kt complexity, a modification of Kolmogorov complexity, to assign a mathematical value to the challenge put before an intelligence. (Kolmogorov complexity is a measure of the minimum computational resources required to define an object. However, it isn’t computable, so an approximate value is derived using Levin’s Kt complexity.) The test is referred to as an “anytime test,” because, as structured, it isn’t dependent on time. A value can be derived from minimal interaction, with increasing accuracy as the time is increased and more challenges undertaken. This approach allows us to tailor challenges to the level of an intelligence—be it animal, machine, or even, in theory, an alien—and assign a meaningful value to the result. An additional benefit of such an approach is that a subject isn’t required to be able to understand language. This would allow us to test the intelligence of animals as well as those machines lacking natural language-processing capabilities. Developing methods of interfacing with different types of intelligence will be a key problem. The intelligence tests might take the form of structured environments in which particular tasks are to be performed by the test subject. Using a series of observations, rewards, and actions, we could then calculate the aggregated complexity of these tasks to yield a useful value of performance. The ideas that led to this approach have been developed by Hernández-Orallo and Dowe, as well as Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter, among others, and are based on the work of the pioneers of algorithmic information theory, Ray Solomonoff, Andrey Kolmogorov, Gregory Chaitin, and Chris Wallace. The Future of Intelligence Beyond assigning a single value of intelligence to nonhuman subjects, it should be possible to test and rate different factors of intelligence. Just as human beings differ in their balance of different intelligence factors, so, too, could machines. In fact, it can be argued that AIs could vary in their dis-
tribution of these far more than people do. What if self-improving AI gives rise to a superintelligence? Should this occur, it seems more likely that many intelligences would ultimately develop, rather than a single monolithic one. Assuming these diverged in much the same way that biological organisms do through evolution, a broad variety could develop. Such tests could allow us to create a taxonomy of machine intelligences. Tests that gauge the “personality” of an AI based on its balance of intelligence factors could prove beneficial, if not life-saving. An anytime test of universal intelligence offers a significant potential tool for futurists, scientists, and policy makers. By measuring machine intelligences accurately, it would improve our ability to track their development and make more-accurate trend analyses and projections. This would allow for a more-accurate assessment of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Such knowledge would lead to better- informed scenarios, as would an improved understanding of existing and potential types of superintelligence. As our world becomes increasingly filled with technological intelligence, it will serve us well to know exactly how smart our machines are and in what ways. Given that we try to measure almost every other aspect of our world, it seems only prudent that we accurately measure the intelligence of our machines, as well—especially since, by some projections, they’re expected to surpass us in the coming decades. This leads to the question: Is the day approaching when machines will debate whether or not human beings are truly intelligent?
“What if selfimproving AI gives rise to a superintelligence? Should this occur, it seems more likely that many intelligences would ultimately develop, rather than a single monolithic one.”
Richard Yonck is a foresight analyst for Intelligent Future LLC. He speaks and consults about the future and emerging technologies and writes a futures blog at Intelligent-Future.com. He is also THE FUTURIST’s contributing editor for Computing and AI. E-mail email@example.com. This article draws from his paper “Toward a Standard Metric of Machine Intelligence,” published in World Future Review’s special WorldFuture 2012 conference edition.
World Trends & Forecasts Biodiversity | Earth
Diversity, Discovery, And a Ticking Clock Species extinctions may be outpacing new species discoveries, scientists warn. Professional and amateur taxonomists around the world have better tools at their disposal for identifying new species, including some that may be of vital significance. But they may be running out of time. “If you are looking for the most sensitive canary in the mine for early alerts of environmental change, it will be found among the millions of species, most of which we do not yet know,” Arizona State University MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN, WWW.MOBOT.ORG
“People haven’t really focused on the fact that biological diversity is disappearing as fast as it is. It’s not a concrete, easily measurable phenomenon like climate change or global warming. It’s intangible and a little overwhelming in its dimensions, so it’s never come up to the prominence that it deserves.”
—Peter H. Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden
entomologist Quentin D. Wheeler told THE FUTURIST. Biologists may have thus far discovered only about one-sixth of the planet’s wildlife, according to a recent paper in Systematics and Biodiversity, for which Wheeler served as lead author. While scientists have identified about 2 million species of plants, animals, fungi, and other life forms (excluding bacteria), there could be another 10 million waiting for someone to find them, estimate the paper’s 39 co-authors, among whom are noted biologist Edward O. Wilson and botanist Peter H. Raven. The authors urge the world community to act fast, however: Human destruction of wildlife habitats could wipe many species out before anyone ever discovers them. “It’s probably a good thing to learn all we can before it is too late,” says Wheeler. Some species groups are more obscure than others, according to Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He notes that insects, nematodes, mites, and fungi are among the “least-wellknown” groups, and thus may represent large swaths of the hitherto undiscovered. There are about 16,000 known nematode species, for example—this includes roundworms and animal parasites—but the total number that exists might be around 1 million. Raven also foresees more discovering to do in certain geographic areas. The tropics, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea will all be key locales—ecologically rich and sparsely populated by humans, but unfortunately also very threatened, he says. In fact, human civilization as a whole may now be killing species off more quickly than it is discovering them, according to Raven, who estimates that 30% of Earth’s species will be extinct by the century’s end. He blames climate change and decimation of species habitats by resourcehungry humans. “Overconsumption doesn’t leave a lot of room for the future of biological diversity,” Raven says. Wheeler agrees, noting that many species occur in only one or a few places and depend on a particular set of other species. As habitats are destroyed or damaged, some species cannot cope. “The biodiversity crisis has made it clear
cantly greater workforce to h andle the that in spite of our most heroic efforts we present crisis.” will witness the extinction of a large numThe world has many regions that need ber of species, possibly numbering in the much further collecting, and some that millions,” says Wheeler. have hardly even been touched, observes The co-authors have this good news, de Carvalho. South America is itself host to though: Tools for discovering and classifying species have evolved considerably in the digital era. The Internet and mobile communications greatly facilitate information sharing among celebrating years taxonomists. Wheeler looks forward to nature collections everywhere being able to connect, so that any new discovery could instantly get the attention of any expert, anywhere. “By using off-the-shelf technology, we could increase the speed of species classification by an order of magnitude,” he says. Digital media is also an effective means of sharing species news with the public, he notes. Amateur taxonomists are already active today, parNetworked ticipating in nature clubs that visit The New Social sites and look for new specimens. operaTiNg SySTem Digital technology’s further develLee Rainie opment could make it easier for proand Barry Wellman fessional taxonomists to guide amateurs on what to look for. Those “lee rainie and Barry wellman amateurs will then help the profeshave combined forces to sionals find more new species, more become the new marshall quickly. mcluhan! They draw on years “Until now there was a glass ceilof observation to weave the ing that prohibited most amateurs threads of the online and from going as far as they might like offline worlds into a deeply to go in doing taxonomy,” says colored tapestry. we can see Wheeler. “Literature, types and emergent social norms arising other specimens are being digitized, and many basic questions can now from their moving stories and be asked and answered online by insightful analyses.” anyone, anywhere.” — Vint cerf, internet pioneer Professional scientists need all the help that they can get, asserts Mar376 pp., 44 illus., $29.95 cloth celo de C arvalho, a co-author and zoologist at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. He says that the quantity of taxonomy work to do far dwarfs the finite number of researchers available to carry it out. “We have better tools at our disposal to be able to describe and understand biodiversity than we had The MIT Press 20 years ago,” says de Carvalho. To order call 800-405-1619 • http://mitpress.mit.edu • Visit our e-books store: http://mitpress-ebooks.mit.edu “But what we don’t have is a signifi-
World Trends & Forecasts some incredibly rich but mysterious ecosystems. He also sees much work ahead throughout the world’s oceans. “Much of the open ocean is desertlike, but deep-sea trenches with thermal activity and seamounts may hold much unknown biodiversity,” he says. However, de Carvalho also reprimands government officials for not adequately protecting these ecosystems. Although Brazil and its neighbors have implemented conservation laws, de Carvalho says that they scarcely enforce them. For example, only about 1% of fines distributed by the Brazilian Environmental authority to illegal logging activities are actually paid; defendants bribe prosecutors or prevail upon judges to cancel fines. There is also no specific legislation protecting much of the marine life that requires protection, such as stingrays. “Researchers, biologists, environmentalists, and others in the field seem to do their jobs, but the government officials fall very short of doing theirs. Mass development, which this government associates with societal improvement, is continuing at full force,” de Carvalho says. Wheeler is hopeful, however, that the discovery of new species might galvanize public interest in saving them. As more scientists and amateur taxonomists collaborate on species studies, and as digital media educates the public more about species diversity, public interest in protecting threatened and endangered species will gain strength. “The tools exist that anyone with a little effort can use to identify the species she or he encounters,” says Wheeler. “As we develop media that makes it easy to identify other groups, I am confident that people will gravitate to groups [of species] that no one even thinks of today.” In addition, he anticipates that increased knowledge of species and their habitats will be useful for professional conservationists. Better knowledge of what species are out there, where they live, and how they live will lend itself to more effectively targeting plans and coordinating efforts to rescue them from extinction. “We can use knowledge of species to maximize both the number of species that
survive and the diversity that they represent evolutionarily,” says Wheeler. —Rick Docksai Sources: “Mapping the biosphere: exploring species to understand the origin, organization and sustainability of biodiversity,” Systematics and Biodiversity (March 2012). Interviews: Quentin Wheeler (Arizona State University), Peter H. Raven (Missouri Botanical Center), and Marcelo de Carvalho (University of São Paulo).
Families | Humanity
Child Marriage Declines in South Asia Education and human development may lead to fewer child brides. In impoverished communities across the developing world, many families arrange to marry off their underage daughters to older male suitors—usually without the daughters’ consent or even their knowing in advance. Those girls are then pulled out of school and taken from their homes and childhood friends to be forced into new lives of childbearing and domestic servitude. Child marriages have long been commonplace, particularly in South Asia. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that this region is finally succeeding in making the practice less common. From 1991 to 2007, marriage rates for girls under 14 declined by 45% in Bangladesh, 34% in India, 56.5% in Nepal, and 61% in Pakistan, according to the study led by Anita Raj, professor of medicine at the University of California–San Diego. Raj and her team attribute some of Bangladesh and Nepal’s declining rates to increased promotion of childhood education over the last decade. The reasons behind similar declines in child marriages in India and Pakistan are less clear, however. “In Bangladesh, in particular, they have
created notable and dramatic improvements in education of girls,” says Raj. “The norms have changed. There is improved education of girls; there is improved economic opportunity.” The declines did not extend to girls in their mid-teens, however. Marriage rates of girls ages 16-17 declined slightly in Nepal but stayed the same in India and Pakistan and increased by 36% in Bangladesh. Raj notes that young people in the region graduate from secondary school in their mid-teens, and that this may be a factor. She points out that, as numerous studies have indicated, girls who do not receive education are more vulnerable to early marriage. Furthermore, a lack of career opportunities may induce the region’s teenage girls and their families to see little incentive for the girls to pursue college. “Improved education may be affecting some of the youngest girls, but once they reach 16 or 17, we stop seeing the effect,” she says. “If we provide education but little opportunity for girls to use the education, there may be less incentive for older adolescent girls and their families to want to delay marriage.” Still, the region’s lower rates overall of child marriage may hold big dividends for public health. The World Health Organization’s data indicates that, from 2000 to 2008, maternal mortality rates in Bangladesh fell 32%, and the death rates for infants (younger than 1 year old) fell by 38%. Raj says that these improved health indicators may be, at least in part, a direct result of fewer women giving birth while in their teens—teen mothers are more likely to suffer health complications than women who give birth in their 20s or early 30s. “The younger you are as a pregnant mother, the more compromised the health you’re going to have and your child will have. So we think the dramatic improvements in maternal and child health in the country are tied to the fact that they have shifted the percent of girls who married at the youngest ages,” Raj says. The trend of girls not marrying until they reach adulthood may also lead to lower national population
growth. In most countries, Raj notes, when individuals of either gender put off marrying, they also delay having children, and they have fewer children overall as a result. “If you marry young you will have children young, and that’s what’s compromising the health of children and mothers in the region,” she says. Child marriage remains common worldwide. There are around 60 million child brides across the globe, according to the International Center for Research on Women (www.icrw.org), a gender-rights advocacy organization. It states that child brides suffer not only reduced freedom and educational opportunities, but also much higher health risks attached to early child bearing, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, sexual abuse, social isolation, and domestic violence. The practice is most common in rural areas. Families may opt to marry off their daughters out of desperation. According to Raj, they may view the marriage as a means to ensure that someone will provide for, protect, and house their daughter better than they can. “One of the difficulties is that these are parents who believe they are doing what’s in the best interests of their daughters and of the family as a whole,” she says. “And [there is] the idea of protection—that she is more vulnerable to sexual predators if she is of a certain age and not married.” Moreover, some girls in their mid-teens may themselves want the marriage. They may believe that it will lead them to a better life—and no adult in their life will be cautioning otherwise.
“If we provide education but little opportunity for girls to use the education, there may be less incentive for older adolescent girls and their families to want to delay marriage.”
professor of medicine, University of
World Trends & Forecasts “For girls at 16 or 17, it’s not necessarily an issue of force. It’s a matter of deciding who is a child and who is an adult,” says Raj. —Rick Docksai Sources: “Changes in Prevalence of Girl Child Marriage in South Asia” by Anita Raj, Lotus McDougal, and Melanie L. A. Rusch, Journal of the American Medical Association (Research Letters, May 16, 2012). Interview: Anita Raj, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, www.ucsd.edu.
Criminal Justice | Governance
Investing in Ex-Cons Small loans may yield big opportunities for social reintegration. Reentering society is a challenge for exinmates, whose criminal records impair their ability to find employment and to receive many social services. Access to housing and food assistance, educational loans, and other public assistance is vital to breaking the cycle of criminal behavior that floods prisons and costs governments and taxpayers billions of dollars each year, according to advocates for reform.
Don’t Miss a Single Session! Listen to WorldFuture 2012 on Audio and Multimedia CDs. World Future Society partner IntelliQuest Media is offering both multimedia CD-ROMs (which include available presentation materials and iPod or computer-playable MP3 files) and audio CDs playable on standard players. Individual sessions may also be ordered on audio CDs or downloaded as MP3s. To order your CDs, visit www.intelliquestmedia.com or call IntelliQuest Media toll free at 866-651-2586.
Taxpayers contribute an estimated $39 billion each year for running corrections facilities in the 40 states participating in a survey by the Vera Institute of Justice. Decreasing state justice budgets create an increasing fiscal challenge to dealing with a criminal population that keeps returning to jail. To give ex-inmates productive opportunities and to shift the cost of reintegrating them into society from the taxpayers at large, financial engineering graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a way to “fill the funding gap for positive—and hopefully profitable—projects for ex-inmates,” says Angelo Caraballo, a member of the Valjean Financing project. The project—named after Les Misérables’ Jean Valjean, an ex-con with a new lease on life—would allow investors to finance the proposals of recently released inmates (socalled Valjeans) for business opportunities, education, or any other project. This investment approach would cut down the cost to taxpayers and governments, primarily through reduced recidivism—a return to criminal behavior and reconviction. A Valjean loan for vocational training, for example, could also help reduce expenses that governments incur for such training. The Valjean Financing program helps provide stability during the tumultuous reentry period. When an inmate is released from prison, finding employment with a living wage is a key factor in preventing recidivism. Employment training, community integration, and public assistance would ultimately cost less than paying for repeat criminals’ jail times: About half of released prisoners wind up back in jail within three years. Local support programs that help ex-inmates reintegrate into society show a 20% to 60% decrease in recidivism—but reintegration programs are few and far between. Through the Valjean Financing program, public and private investors—which could include family members and friends of the Valjean who want to support their loved one while having the security in knowing their investment is being put to good use— would bid down the interest rate of a Valjean’s loan proposal for a business, edu-
cational, or other project. The more compelling and credible the Valjean’s proposal, the more attractive the loan would be for investors and the lower the interest rate would be. Valjeans demonstrate their credibility through professional skills, conduct during imprisonment, and payment history. A riskier Valjean would have a higher interest rate because of the potential for default—interest rates for future loans would decrease as the Valjean makes payments on initial loans. “Think of Valjean Financing as a fusion between eBay and a dating site: A small profile features a Valjean’s relevant information, and investors have the ability to bid on the rate of the loan,” Caraballo says. The behavior, skills, and criminal history of a potential Valjean would be screened before being approved to seek a loan, and investors would be given periodic updates on the Valjean’s progress. Loan options could include income-linked loans (for which payments are based on a Valjean’s
income level) or performance-linked loans (which are paid out to a Valjean after he or she meets certain benchmarks). The reentry period is volatile, and although having a source of financial security is important to help deter reconviction, paying back a loan could add financial stress that pushes Valjeans to illegal activities to earn money. And, because of the possibility of loan default during a Valjean’s reentry period, an investor assumes a high risk. “We do not want Valjeans to get in over their heads with these loans, so there will be a system established to make sure that both the investor and Valjean are protected,” Caraballo says. This program could address at least a portion of released criminals, offering them another, legal way to gain financial independence and help ease the financial burden on taxpayers and the prison system. The possibility of loan eligibility could encourage inmates to behave more construc-
World Trends & Forecasts tively during incarceration—pursuing education, obtaining work within the facility, and earning loan eligibility points for good behavior with other inmates and staff. “The Valjean program allows the released to dream, and possibly dream big,” Caraballo says. “Hopefully, the inmate feels that the world is not against him—since it is funding him—and that a different life is really possible.” —Kenneth J. Moore Sources: Angelo Caraballo, University of California, Berkeley, www.haas.berkeley.edu. Vera Institute of Justice, “The Price of Prisons” report, 2012, www.vera.org.
Values | Humanity
“Skills of mindfulness and kindness are very important for college readiness.”
—Richard Davidson, University of
Games for Character And Mindfulness New techniques are sought for teaching middle schoolers about kindness and empathy. Many adults remember their own middleschool years (ages 11 to 14) as filled with traumatic episodes of hormonal rage, selfloathing, and aggressiveness. As grown-ups, educators, parents, and child development specialists may well hope for better experiences for today’s and tomorrow’s youth. Video games may have their critics, but they could turn out to be a vital ally in de-
veloping a variety of beneficial skills, such as empathy, cooperation, mental focus, self-regulation, compassion, and kindness, according to Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “By the time they reach the eighth grade, virtually every middle-class child in the Western world is playing smartphone apps, video games, and computer games,” says Davidson, who is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UW-Madison. “Our hope is that we can use some of that time for constructive purposes and take advantage of the natural inclination of children of that age to want to spend time with this kind of technology.” Davidson has teamed with Kurt Squire, an associate professor in the School of Education and director of the Games Learning Society Initiative, and received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to design two prototype games: one for improving attention and mental focus, and another focusing on social behaviors such as kindness, compassion, and altruism. Computer and video games have the advantage of being highly engaging, so that users focus on the activity at hand. The researchers hope to capitalize on this engagement, using insights from neuroscience research to observe changes in the brain while gamers are playing. In the games for improving mental focus, users will learn breath awareness. Breathing is “very boring,” says Davidson, “so if you’re able to attend to that, you can attend to most other things.” In the games for improving social behaviors, users will learn to detect and interpret emotions in others through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. “Skills of mindfulness and kindness are very important for college readiness,” says Davidson. “Mindfulness, because it cultivates the capacity to regulate attention, which is the building block for all kinds of learning; and kindness, because the ability to cooperate is important for everything that has to do with success in life, team building, leadership, and so forth.” Source: University of Wisconsin–Madison, www.wisc.edu.
The end of the space shuttle era marks a new beginning for the Space Age. A new generation of entrepreneurs are working with the world’s space agencies to bring down the costs of commercializing the high frontier. By the 2020s and beyond,we could see a historic expansion of human activity in space.
The New Age of Space Business By Joseph N. Pelton PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY VICKY ROBINSON / STRATOLAUNCH SYSTEMS / PHOTODISC
hen the space shuttle Discovery flew atop its 747 carrier plane from the Kennedy Space Center to Washington, D.C., and its new home at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, on April 17, 2012, it was a photographic crowd-pleaser of a moment. Many in the crowd of spectators openly wept to see the space shuttle era end. Actually, the space shuttle’s permanent grounding was nearly a dozen years overdue. Back in 1986, the high-powered Rogers and Paine commissions investigating the Challenger accident called for the development of a new space transport system within 15 years—i.e., by 2001. The shuttle was a technical marvel in its time, but today it is an aged and obsolete vehicle. It was not built
for a twenty-first-century world. Continuing to fly the space shuttle would be akin to a long-distance commute to work on a high-speed freeway every day with a Model T— costly and with a high risk of failure. Some reasons for grounding the space shuttle include metal fatigue, miles of hidden wiring that cannot be replaced or reconditioned, fragile ceramic tiles in the thermal protection system (which cost a fortune to recondition after every flight and that require the services of a standing army of technicians), and the foam insulation that still poses hazards despite NASA’s investment of more than $1.5 billion to address the problem after the Columbia accident in 2003. The point is that it is actually a good thing that the shuttle is www.wfs.org
grounded. The Shuttle represents the past. New commercial space transportation systems represent the future. As Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen recently said, “We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry.” The commercial space age will develop rapidly around three major enterprises: • Space tourism/space adventures that allow citizen astronauts to fly into outer space on suborbital flights, starting with Virgin Galactic Top left: Stratolaunch is assembling an airplane that will fly into space, with a little extra boost from rockets built by SpaceX Corporation. The aircraft itself will be the largest airplane ever constructed, with a wingspan of 385 feet—longer than a football field. Flight tests are expected to start 2016.
ORBITAL SCIENCES CORPORATION
ORBITAL SCIENCES CORPORATIONN
Top left: The Antares, a future spacecraft under development at Orbital Sciences Corporation, could lift as much as 11,000 pounds of cargo into orbit per flight. The vehicle is one of many cost-effective space shuttle successors that private corporations are pursuing.
“The range of new commercial space businesses seems to be expanding almost exponentially.”
Top right: The Cygnus, a cargo services spacecraft built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, prepares for docking with the International Space Station in this artist’s concept illustration.
flights in 2013. • Commercial space transport to access the International Space Station (ISS) and even to link up to private space stations. The first of these flights will only truck cargo to the ISS, but upgraded versions of the Antares/Cygnus and Falcon 9/ Dragon could soon taxi astronauts into space and back. • Hypersonic transport that could allow executives and high-flying jetsetters to move from continent to continent in a few hours’ time.
NASA’s Commercial Space Initiatives
While entrepreneurs are leading t h e w a y, N A S A’ s C o m m e rc i a l Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program and the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) are also an important aspect of the emerging new commercial space industry. NASA has awarded contracts worth
more than $3.5 billion to the Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX Corporation to develop commercial cargo lift operations to the ISS. To collect the full contract amount, however, each company must deliver a total of 20 metric tons of cargo over the course of eight to 12 resupply missions. The Orbital Sciences Corporation has developed the Antares launch vehicle, which is capable of lifting 5,000 kilograms (11,000 pounds) to low-Earth orbit, and a cargo service vehicle known as the Cygnus. The SpaceX Corporation (full name, the Space Exploration Technology Corporation) has developed the Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle and the Dragon spacecraft. Tests of both the OSC and SpaceX space systems and launchers are now under way with positive results to date, highlighted with the SpaceX Dragon capsule docking with the ISS on May 25, 2012. NASA
has also issued $50 million in contracts to a number of companies (including Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, ATK, Excalibur Almaz, and the United Launch Alliance) to study technical design concepts for new commercial lift capabilities that could ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. The range of new commercial space businesses seems to be expanding almost exponentially: • Space tourism/space adventures. As already noted, Virgin Galactic has now signed up well over 500 people (at $200,000 each) to fly on SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights into space starting in 2013. XTAR, meanwhile, has a spaceplane that will take the pilot and one passenger/co-pilot up nearly 40 miles (or over 60 kilometers) for about half the price of a Virgin Galactic flight. Others can take cosmonaut flight training in Star City near Moscow or experience weightlessness on flights
offered by Zero G Corporation for much lower fees still. The future promises yet other spaceplane flight capabilities and new options, such as short space flights up to witness the spectacular aurora borealis at close range. • Commercial launches to low-
Earth orbit and access to private space stations. Stratolaunch
Systems—backed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan—is seeking a new capability to provide low-cost access to orbit. This huge new launch carrier vehicle—the world’s largest aircraft—would serve as an aerial launcher for either a rocket or a spaceplane. It would use a similar conceptual approach to accessing low-Earth orbit as used in the case of the much smaller vehicles associated with Virgin Galactic flight. • Development of hypersonic transport. This is the new commercial space enterprise with the true “big bucks” potential. The development of spaceplanes for so-called space tourism/space adventures flights and commercial space flights to low-Earth orbit have caught a lot of headlines and public interest, but these are not the true financial bonanza. The payoff could come with hypersonic transport where citizens might fly transcontinentally at speeds such as Mach 6 or even Mach 10. Such speeds would enable the transport of passengers from continent to continent within only a few
hours—a payoff that could be worth tens of billions of dollars of new business a year. There are, however, major development challenges to solve, such as perfecting new technology, developing global operations, building new infrastructure, and gaining a raft of regulatory approvals and safety certification. This is why this part of the new commercial space industry is only likely to take place post-2020. Sonic booms—loud bursts of sound that an aircraft creates when it surpasses the sound barrier—are one of the issues inhibiting hypersonic travel. They are a noise disturbance to communities situated in their flight path, and they occasionally cause windows and walls of buildings to shake. NASA and industry partners have developed extendable booms that can create a series of lower-impact minibooms, rather than one powerful boom, when a spaceplane breaks the sound barrier. This technology should largely mitigate sonic booms’ undesired effects.
The Commercial Space Age Ready to Launch The first step toward spaceplane flight could come before 2020. One of the possible successors to the Concorde could be the Aerion Corporation of Reno, Nevada. This company is currently developing an www.wfs.org
This page, top left: A ship crew recovers a segment of the Falcon, a reusable rocket launch vehicle, from the water into which it landed after the end of a successful test flight. NASA has officially chosen the Falcon and its payload, the Dragon orbital craft, for ferrying cargo and human crews to and from low-Earth orbit. Middle: The Dragon, an orbiter built by SpaceX Corporation, takes flight following its launch into space atop SpaceX’s re usable Falcon 9 rocket launcher. Top right: The Aerion business jet will carry eight to 10 passengers at a time at speeds of up to Mach 1.6 and distances of up to 4,000 nautical miles.
eight- to 14-passenger Aerion business jet, which will be capable of speeds up to Mach 1.6 and have a range of more than 4,000 nautical miles. And Aerion has competitors. Michael Paulson, son of the founder of Gulfstream, has founded his own firm, Supersonic Aerospace International (SAI) of Las Vegas. Paulson is actively pursuing the same niche market. Teamed with fabled aircraft design house Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works (Palmdale, California), SAI has developed the Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST) design, featuring a radical “inverted V-tail.” There are also parallel developments in Europe. Dassault Aviation is leading a consortium to develop the HiSAC (High-Speed Supersonic Aircraft). The current design for the
Adventure Capitalists: Meet the Space Billionaires Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., and one of the 50 richest people on Earth. As one of six “space billionaires” who are fueling a new commercial space revolution, Allen financed the SpaceShipOne spaceplane that won the X Prize. He has helped to fund the SpaceShipTwo development that will carry Virgin Galactic passengers into space in 2013. He is also backing Stratolaunch Systems’ construction of the world’s largest aircraft, which will be powered by six 747 aircraft engines. This vehicle will carry commercial space launcher systems to very high altitude for launch, thus dramatically lowering the cost of commercial flight to orbit. Sir Richard Branson, the tycoon at the heart of Virgin Ltd. Branson has worked in partnership with Burt Rutan and Paul Allen to create Virgin Galactic. The space adventures enterprise now has 500 passengers signed up to fly on a suborbital flight to an altitude of more than 100 kilometers (about 65 miles) out into space. This high-risk enterprise is designed to accommodate c elebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Victoria Principal, as well as anyone with the money (about $200,000 per ticket) and the daring to want to see our planet against the blackness of the cosmos. Four minutes of weightlessness, some citizen astronaut training, and a waiver of all liability comes with the package. Elon Musk, the young billionaire who founded PayPal and then went on to found Tesla Motors and Space X. He devel-
oped the Falcon 1 rocket and is now testing the Falcon 9 launch vehicle with its Dragon spacecraft that is designed to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract to NASA as a robotic system. The rocket and the capsule, however, could be upgraded to hold human crews, as well. Musk is also a partner with Allen and Rutan in the Stratolaunch Systems venture. Jeff Bezos, the founder of A mazon.com. His Blue Origin spacecraft company, shrouded in secrecy in rural Texas near the border with New Mexico, is developing launchers that could fly people into space—first on suborbital flights and then to lowEarth orbit. Robert T. Bigelow, the owner of the Budget Suites hotel chain. Bigelow has already launched two private space stations, called Genesis 1 and 2. These orbital stations are based on inflatablesystems technology that was developed but abandoned by NASA. He has plans to launch a private space station in low-
Earth orbit that has more inside space than the ISS and could accommodate space tourists who wanted a hotel suite in space, as well as flight experiments. Bigelow has backed a $50 million prize for a private developer who could demonstrate a commercial flight capability to his space station, but his stipulations were sufficiently strict that no one was able to collect the prize. John Carmack, the developer of popular computer games like Doom and Quake. Carmack’s company Armadillo Aerospace has been an innovator in a wide range of areas, such as precision lunar landers, new reusable space adventures craft, and even space elevator technologies. —Joseph N. Pelton Below right (inset): Paul Allen. Bottom photo: Elon Musk. © KEVIN CRUFF
HiSAC would be a jet capable of carrying eight to 19 passengers, and the current objective is to fly a demonstration aircraft in the next three to four years. Meanwhile, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Tokyo) is developing its Silent Supersonic Technology Demonstrator in support of future SST aircraft design and propulsion. Prototype designs for this unmanned test aircraft are undergoing wind-tunnel testing for use on transcontinental vehicles ultimately capable of carrying 100 to 300 passengers at Mach 1.6 and faster. But these developments are essentially advanced jet aircraft systems, not the true commercial spaceplanes that could come in the post-2020 period. These spaceplanes could be based on the already successfully tested X-43 scramjet-powered spaceplane. These tests have seen the X‑43A (NASA-developed) and X‑43C (U.S. Air Force-backed) craft flying at speeds in excess of Mach 10 (more than 7,500 miles/12,000 kilometers per hour). The European Space Agency has also commissioned private industrial studies of a commercial space hypersonic transport. One study by Bristol Aerospace, developer of the Ascender spaceplane, came up with a three-phase developmental plan for a Space Bus system that could regularly make flights for as little as $250,000 each. The future of hypersonic flight still has many challenges of technology, safety certification, and operational infrastructure to solve, but the appeal of such rapid, safe, and afford-
able travel would be high. One of the key challenges is that of environmental impact, however. Could such systems be designed so that they would not harm the stratospheric ozone layer that protects us from the Sun’s radiation?
Opportunities and Challenges Ahead The grounding of the shuttle does not reflect the end of the Space Age. If anything, it marks the beginning of a historic new era in space flight, exploration, and tourism. New commercial ventures are creating a host of opportunities for a vibrant new space industry with a wide range of new participants. The entrepreneurs who are participating in many of these industries will make this new age exciting and colorful. The advent of commercial space transportation systems and private space stations will undoubtedly give rise to a host of new regulatory and space governance questions. Environmental issues such as space debris, space traffic management, and stratospheric pollution are front and center with the space agencies around the world, as well as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the UN Environment Programme, and other space forums. The advent of new commercial space ventures and the explosion of new technologies make this not a time of doom and gloom, but of amazing new opportunity. These developments will allow NASA and www.wfs.org
Top left: A NASA-built X-43A Hypersonic Research Aircraft, secured to a Pegasus booster rocket, is carried to launch altitude. This hypersonic aircraft runs on a scramjet engine, which draws air out of the atmosphere instead of from onboard air tanks, thereby allowing for much less on-board deadweight. According to Pelton, this aircraft would be a useful model for the eventual development of a viable spaceplane. Top right: The space shuttle Discovery takes its final flight over Washington, D.C., secured atop a 747.
other space agencies—the European Space Agency, JAXA of Japan, Roscosmos of Russia, ISRO of India, and the Chinese National Space Agency—to refocus many of their research efforts to exploring the Moon, Mars, the Sun, the solar system, and the great cosmos beyond. One of the ways we could start would be to take the International Space Station—or at least parts of it—to the Moon. As I suggested in “Finding Eden on the Moon” (THE FUTURIST, May-June 2011), we could use these parts to create the start of a new lunar colony. In the twenty-first century, the sky is no longer the limit. ❑ About the Author Joseph N. Pelton is a former dean of the International Space University and the co-author, with Peter Marshall, of License to Orbit (Apogee, 2009). He also serves as THE FUTURIST’s contributing editor for Telecommunications.
Regulating the Final Frontier As commercial endeavors enter space, international law must expand as well.
Space is a “global commons,” and its direct exploration has always been an international undertaking, subject to international treaties. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty—which forms the basis of relevant law regarding activities in space and is agreed to by all major spacefaring nations—addresses only scientific pursuits and military and strategic operations. Applicable international space law is mum on the subject of private enterprise. Issues such as ownership of celestial property, resource extraction and land development, and even liability in the event of injury or financial loss are not addressed for commercial operations in space. Until that gap is patched, the inter national legal validity of private operations in space will remain precarious. Several key nations, including the United States, have national space laws in place that handle some of the above key aspects. With the advent of space tourism and companies announcing plans to prospect asteroids for resources, these gaps in the current legal framework concerning space are becoming more pressing. To protect the interests of private enterprises, nations, and Earth itself, space law must adapt from vague international treaties and individual domestic regulations to include a broader focus that involves spacefaring nations and commercial markets that are—or may become—active in space. Because the Outer Space Treaty and others that form the legal framework for operations beyond Earth’s 20
By Frans von der Dunk
atmosphere do not explicitly mention commercial activity, those endeavors don’t have any of the protections that earthly businesses have, particularly trade secret protection, land ownership rights, and insurances against liability. For example, Planetary Resources is a new company that recently proposed space prospecting to discover and exploit rich mineral deposits on asteroids. In space, however, the law doesn’t protect against a rival firm using the company’s prospecting information and mining the resources first. Also, injury to space travelers on one of the many new space tourism aircrafts is not covered under intern ational space liability law. Currently, the only legal action addressing space liability is that passengers have to sign liability waivers before their space flight, according to U.S. regulations. Regulating the resource mining industry in space could be done by taking a page out of ocean law’s book and adapting it as appropriate. In that context, the United States offers licenses that align with appli cable national and international regulations to national companies that want to mine the seabed outside of U.S. territorial waters. Such a process can serve as a legal framework to guide development of a similar international legal system to address commercial operations in space.
Any commercial space law framework must consider many currently unaddressed issues: What rights do travelers have in space? If a space traveler commits a crime—say, assaulting a space-flight attendant— should that traveler be locked in the bathroom to prevent further conflict before returning to Earth? Would that traveler get a phone call to a lawyer? Will space-faring employees be required to pay income taxes— and will their employers pay taxes on their activities in space? What will happen if a spacecraft has to make an emergency landing—will the nation where it lands treat passengers well and release them to their home countries under the same protections granted to astronauts? As governments cut space program budgets, privatization of space activities will become indispensible for the future of human space endeavors. Private enterprises must be balanced, however, with robust regulation of space activities to ensure peaceful use of space, economic and social development opportunities, safety and security, and the protection of Earth’s fragile ecology. ❑
About the Author Frans von der Dunk is the Harvey & Susan Perlman Alumni and Othmer Professor of Space Law in the College of Law at the University of Nebraska, law.unl.edu. This article is adapted from various commentaries, presentations, and articles by the author.
Serving Justice with Conversational Law By David R. Johnson Digitized, semantic legal-expert systems will enable more people to access and understand the law.
e now think of law as text—the “law on the books.” These are the statutes, regulations, and court opinions to which lawyers look for guidance on how to counsel clients and for sources of authority to cite in legal arguments and briefs. Law also includes contracts, which we think of as long sets of words written down to be consulted later—typically only when the relationship among the contracted parties turns sour. As others have observed, the modern legal profession arose from the technology of print. The existence of libraries of legal materials required professionals to help lay clients read and understand increasingly complex rules and precedents. In The Electronic Media and the Transformation of Law (Oxford University Press, 1991), M. Ethan Katsh speculates that new electronic technologies would change the law in various ways. His speculations are only now becoming right—in ways that not even he predicted. Migration of law to electronic texts does change things. It increases access to the law for both lawyers and laymen. It allows searches across an ever larger corpus of information. It allows new forms of persuasion that combine text with diagrams, pictures, and videos, as my fellow New York Law School professor Richard K. Sherwin observes in Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque (Routledge, 2011).
© ALONZO DESIGN / © RAMBO 182 / ISTOCKPHOTO
More importantly, these technologies will incorporate not just laws, but also legal expertise, into software that is customizable to individual situations. Just as our Internet experience will be enhanced by the Semantic Web, our experience with legal matters will be facilitated by semantic electronic legal texts, or what I call “conversational law.” People need clear answers regarding what rules apply to them and to particular actions they have engaged in or are contemplating. Most people need a lawyer to help them read and apply the text of a statute to their own situation—but few can afford the billable hourly rates that lawyers have to charge when they provide personalized advice. Someday, a particular statute will take an entirely different form. An expert system based on the statute will ask you questions about your specific situation and then provide answers concerning whether and how the law applies to you. The conwww.wfs.org
versational law version of a statute will engage in dialogue with you, asking only the questions that are relevant in light of previous answers. Governments that create such systems as a means of interacting more efficiently with citizens will have to adhere to the advice that these systems p rovide.
Coding the Law An enhanced version of the conversational statute, written by a legal expert, will build on cases that have interpreted the statute. The system will then offer advice about how an individual’s proposed actions might be adjusted to assure compliance with, or avoid violation of, the statutory rules. A legal-expert system will be created and maintained by a lawyer, but it can be used at any time by many more customers than could possibly consult with that lawyer in person. It can produce profits suffi-
cient to compensate the lawyer for creating the work, even if the fee charged to an individual is quite modest. If a government lawyer develops the system, its situation-
“Eliminating rules is not the answer to the problem of inaccessibly complex law, because the rules reflect our collective decisions on how to achieve social goals.”
specific guidance may be viewed as authoritative and binding on the agency as well as the user. A case (court opinion) could also be rendered as a conversational expert system. The expert system would interview you to determine whether a precedent has relevance to your situation. Indeed, a meta–expert system might mediate a conversation regarding an entire body of case law. Rather than reading a large number of cases to determine what they might imply, or hiring a lawyer to do that, you would rely on the software code to do the legal research and write the memo or brief that is needed. This is not a case of “big data,” where patterns emerge magically from a pile of bits. Conversational law systems will be deliberately constructed by those with authority to say what the law is. A well-constructed collection of encoded inferences, authored by courts, could ultimately come to be considered an embodiment of the current common law. Even a contract can become conversational, if converted from static text to code that can ask questions and reason internally. Contract administration will become a continuous automated process that activates alerts or generates advice and con22
clusions regarding participants’ descriptions of a situation: e.g., facts related to whether someone has performed, when duties are triggered, and so forth. Value-added versions built by legal experts may include contingent advice on how to resolve difficulties and provide links to appropriate dispute-resolution procedures. Legal-expert systems have immense implications for how governments communicate with citizens. As the world is becoming more complex, the rules that are needed to govern it (and enhance trust and trade and commerce, while achieving other social goals) are also becoming complex. Eliminating rules is not the answer to the problem of inaccessibly complex law, because the rules reflect our collective decisions on how to achieve social goals. It won’t be enough just to use simple, generalized language and hope that subsequent decision makers (like courts) will be able to discern exceptions and create nuanced interpretations. What we need are systems that can hold complex rules in their entirety but only take up our time and attention when they actually apply. And we need systems that can state the rules applicable to a particular situation with sufficient clarity that a layman will be able to understand the answer. We are about to get such systems, in quantity. The legal profession will never be the same.
Changes Ahead for the Legal Profession The lower cost of accessing an online system for personalized legal advice will dramatically reduce demand for personal meetings with lawyers who charge hundreds of dollars an hour. Lawyers who build high-quality expert systems will begin to make substantial profits—and this will lead even conservative lawyers to consider new careers as legalexpert system authors and legal process engineers. Building a legal-expert system is a highly skilled form of law practice and entails a sort of “fact-specific scholarship.” It is like writing many
different legal memos all at the same time. It requires thinking through all of the many different types of factual situations that might cause an expert lawyer, if she were meeting with a client in person, to subtly alter her advice. It requires the highest quality of writing to ensure that both the questions asked during the automated conversation and the advice given are understood. Software economics enables a system to reach many customers at low marginal cost, so it could become a well-compensated career path for a lawyer. Some areas of law are already conversational. Tax law “advice” is regularly dispensed to lay customers by software such as TurboTax. Given the complexity of the tax code, it is unclear that lawyers charging by the hour could provide the necessary guidance to millions of taxpayers. A few expert lawyers, working closely with the government, make sure that the algorithms built into the software are correct. Compliance is substantially enhanced. Those who build such systems profit handsomely while serving large numbers of customers at low cost. The conversational nature of the software makes it possible for lay users to do some “what if” analyses regarding future actions. If I give this gift, will I be subject to a gift tax? If I sell that stock soon, will the higher rate on short-term capital gains apply?
“The conversational nature of the software makes it possible for lay users to do some ‘what if’ analyses regarding future actions.”
Corporate compliance systems are also becoming conversational. Instead of just circulating a large employee handbook that few will read
(and fewer will remember), smart corporate counsel are establishing “smart” procedures. For instance, employees who are about to enter into contracts, file for patents, or take other steps with significant legal consequences are required to access an internal company Web site. The systems found there can automatically issue authorizations to proceed, or flag a problem and send an alert to the appropriate counsel. The general counsel can spot legal risks at an early stage, thanks to the data that such systems collect from interviewing the employees involved and tracking activity on the company server. This quick intervention can also help improve and streamline legal information flows within the company. Software that automatically generates documents has been around for quite some time. It makes sense for a trust and estates lawyer to use such a system to automatically generate a will. Large firms creating sophisticated financial instruments also need these power tools to assure consistent and accurate results. But the focus on creating printed documents will diminish as the legal framework moves from books to interactive digital systems. Entries in a database are just as binding as marks on a piece of paper. A “conversational will” (expert system) can talk to an executor and give tailored advice about the distribution of property on the basis of the actual situation that exists when the will must be implemented. Complex financial instruments, once they are in conversational form, can contain provisions that automatically distribute messages or even move funds from one account to another.
A Human Touch for Digital Systems Anyone can write a book about law, and anyone can create a legalexpert system. One consequence of the proliferation of conversational Web sites that offer legal guidance will be increased uncertainty regarding what to believe. Katsh, an innovator in online dispute resolution, raises questions about how we
“Legal-expert systems may enable human lawyers to improve their nontechnical services, such as offering encouragement, condolence, and other forms of emotionally charged professional guidance.”
would adjust to new kinds of legal texts that can be modified continuously and whose source is not always clear. The accuracy and reliability of legal-expert system advice will likely be assured by the creation of interactive trust marks. These are electronic seals that can lead back to a lawyer-author who stands behind the system in question, or that can be withdrawn by a government lawmaker if a particular version of a legal rule becomes obsolete. When law becomes fully conversational, you will know who you are talking to through the system; you will expect verification of the system’s legitimacy and question the system’s authenticity accordingly if it isn’t there. Conversational legal systems may threaten privacy and confidentiality. But those threats can be controlled. Everything you say to an expert system can be remembered and disclosed. Any responsible system will collect information about user interactions to analyze and improve system performance. So rules will have to be created and enforced to limit the disclosure of client confidences. These rules would generate user trust and encourage the truthful answers necessary for the systems to generate good advice. Privacy rules would also encourage consultations with the legal systems, even if those consultations don’t result in the forwww.wfs.org
mation of a lawyer-client relationship. On balance, the legal-expert system you consult will be just as likely to keep your secrets as a human lawyer would. Compliance by software with rules on access to information can be monitored by other software. No system is perfect, but encryption and access controls can ultimately create a channel for conversation between system author and system user—asynchronously—that is sufficiently secure to encourage participation from both sides. Some people may fear that the rise of conversational law will lead to a cold, heartless, form of legal practice, where the caring touch of a personal counselor has been eliminated. But legal-expert systems may enable human lawyers to improve their nontechnical services, such as offering encouragement, condolence, and other forms of emotionally charged professional guidance. These conversational systems can probe for responses that disclose the real feelings and goals of the client/ customer. New forms of software may even use a webcam to find out more about a user’s state of mind— and these may be added into the design of conversational legal-expert systems. The output from the systems can be humane—kind or stern, as appropriate—and can include selected videos as well as text. No system will ever duplicate the subtle electricity of face-to-face encounters. But conversational legalexpert systems will overcome the obstacles of impersonal and inscrutable text, speaking to clients in a voice that reflects having actually listened to them. Legal-expert systems could even talk on the phone, using voice-recognition software to interview users.
Creating the Conversation Students at New York Law School and Georgetown University are building legal-expert systems while they are still pursuing their degree. These systems cover a variety of topics: Can I revoke my previous copyright transfer? Can I protect my trademark? What do I have to do to
protect my status as a lawful immigrant? Is gay marriage permissible in my state? Virtually any focused and recurring legal question that has relatively determinable answers, and for which the answers differ depending on the circumstances, makes a good candidate for such a system. Legal-expert systems will be built in a modular fashion, one specific topic at a time. They will be able to incorporate other systems by reference, which will enable ever more powerful reasoning. Decisions will be built on the basis of intermediate conclusions produced by different systems. In principle, this could be used to prune away the confusion of multiple, inconsistent definitions contained in current statutes and rules. Conversational legal-expert systems will permit the creation of more “meta-laws,” which may incorporate the tests of a number of different legal regimes or regulatory systems. It is already possible to build a l egal-expert system that contains everything reflected in a decision about a particular case, including evidence, factual conclusions and inferences, legal tests (doctrinal elements), and ultimate conclusions. The resulting computational structure would allow someone who wants to learn about a case to “talk to it” and ask questions, such as whether the court would have reached the same decision if a particular piece of evidence were not available or a particular argument were not made. If a system can embody the “logic” of a case—at least insofar as the court has been explicit in its reasoning—then it can be built to reflect explicit reasoning about a large number of alternative “cases.” In the future, a legal-expert system could decide a case, even one in which the facts are contested. Computers aren’t good at drawing analogies, so such a system will have its limits. There will always be a role for human judges who can draw parallels across different lines of cases, but most cases are in fact resolved without resort to judicial creativity. Attaining resolution from the conversational law system will be a much more cost-effective option for most litigants. 24
Just the Facts Can a computer ever judge the credibility of witnesses—something even humans have a hard time with? Technology is starting to understand what it’s like to be human: Software designed to track eye movements or speech patterns is getting better at detecting when someone is lying. It will be possible to build conversational legal systems that include more than one person in the conversation. A court case could be conducted entirely online, with lawyers or even advocacy systems entering in evidence and arguments, with jurors or credibility-assessing experts entering their judgments, and with the overall system, built and owned by the court, computing the ultimate result and announcing it from the virtual bench. In the “law on the books” world, much lawyering involves making arguments about how vague or general terms should be construed in the context of a particular case narrative and policy. In contrast, disputes in the world of conversational law will be about how a particular factual question posed by the legal- expert system should be answered. Sophisticated legal-expert systems will know how to probe for specific circumstances and situations at a level of detail that could never be reflected in a statutory text or court opinion. They can do this, in part, because their backward and forward chaining algorithms spare most users from answering questions that are irrelevant, given their prior responses. Once an authoritative conversational legal-expert system knows the “facts” that it cares about, its result is determined and can be communicated in a form that lay clients can readily understand. So the litigation battles in the age of conversational law will be more heavily based on factual disputes, rather than attempts to read meaning and policy considerations into ambiguous legal language. Where the parties generally agree on the facts, as is often (although not always) the case, the generation of an authoritative resolution of the dispute can become highly efficient, even automated. Because parties
have a conversational resource to readily consult about planned activities, compliance with the rule of law may even increase.
Open-Source Law Considering the future of legal- expert systems leads one to deeper questions about the nature of law itself. Is law just a set of increasingly complex and obscure rules? Or is it a process by which we or our representatives and agents collectively decide on social goals and values? If the law itself is a collective conversation about shared values, then it is imperative that the authorship of the systems that create conversational law be as widely distributed as possible. Such systems must also be transparent: The rules that trigger results must be open for all to inspect and modify. Conversational law, to be just, must involve opensource code. However we make law, we all need to know what it says about specific situations, including our own. When law is text—even electronic text—most people need the help of a lawyer to answer their questions. As law becomes conversational code, we will talk to it directly. Some people may not get the answer they like, so lawyers will always need to be around to provide comfort or help formulate alternative plans for those who can afford them. It may get harder to change or obfuscate the rules when a machine, rather than a potentially biased or otherwise fallible human, is dispensing the answers. Barriers to access will come down. Conversational law, in the form of the rise of authoritative legal-expert systems, will serve justice. ❑
About the Author David R. Johnson has been a visiting professor of law since 2004 at New York Law School, where he is a member of the Institute for Information Law and Policy. For almost 40 years, he practiced law focused on electronic commerce at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. E‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
World Future Society Professional Membership Tools and Techniques… Leading-Edge Ideas… Highly Productive Collaborations… AARON M. COHEN
The World Future Society’s Professional Membership is a focused program for individuals involved in futures research, forecasting, corporate or institutional planning, issues management, technology assessment, policy analysis, urban and regional planning, competition research, and related areas. Professional Members include educators, government and business leaders, researchers, think-tank members, corporate planners, and analysts, plus others involved in the study of the future and its impact on their organizations. World Future Review
In addition to all of the vital benefits of regular membership, Professional Members receive a subscription to the exclusive World Future Review: A Journal of Strategic Foresight. This publication offers full-length refereed a rticles, interviews of leading futures practitioners, insightful reviews of important new publications, and abstracts of the most critical new foresight-relevant literature. Professional Members’ Forums
Professional Members also have the opportunity to meet once a year to focus more intensively on crucial topics in our field. The Professional Members’ Forums feature some of the top thinkers in futures studies, who convene to share insights in a small-group setting that allows for dynamic interaction. Recent forums have been held in Washington, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Boston, and Vancouver. Upcoming forums are also scheduled in Toronto and Chicago. Join now, and receive:
• A subscription to World Future Review, the Society’s professional journal. An international editorial board referees all articles for this unique publication, which covers a wide range of futures-relevant subjects. • Invitations to the annual Professional Members’ Forums. (Join now to qualify for the 2012 Forum in Toronto.) • All benefits of regular membership in the World Future Society, including a subscription to THE FUTURIST, the Society’s bimonthly magazine on the future; discounts on books and other products; the Society’s yearly “Outlook” report of selected forecasts from THE FUTURIST; and a subscription to Futurist Update, a monthly e-mail newsletter. Professional Membership is $295 per year. A special rate of $195 per year is available for individuals belonging to educational or nonprofit organizations. Join online at www.wfs.org/professional or call 1-800-989-8274 weekdays (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time).
Rescuing By Hank Pellissier Sub-Saharan Africa is a hotbed of environmental and social scourges that compromise the development and health of the human brain— and undermine the region’s future.
© PAULA SACHAR / DREAMSTIME.COM
the Mind of Africa The future of sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk as damage continues to be inflicted on the minds and brains of the African population. Researchers such as psychologist Richard Lynn and political scientist Tatu Vanhanen have reported significantly lower IQ scores among subSaharan Africans compared with East Asians and Westerners. Why? Africans have historically been oppressed by colonialist imperialism, capitalist exploitation, and authoritarian regimes. One way that oppression perpetuates victimization is by stunting cognitive abilities, diminishing people’s capacity to be productive and politically engaged. Development economists and the public-health community recognize this as an intrinsic part of the gloomy cycle of underdevelopment. The sub-Saharan human brain is severely maimed during development, due to disease, violence, malnutrition, pollution, poverty, illiteracy, and many other environmental, societal, and genetic factors. This article seeks to outline the sources of brain damage in a less- developed region and to promote assistance to those who live in places where brains are under duress. These environments can and must be improved in order for neurological functions to develop normally, enabling a large and vulnerable population to thrive. The sub-Saharan’s population of more than 800 million is anticipated to rise to 1.5 billion by 2050, according to United Nations reports. The region has the highest fertility rate in the world, but the lowest life expectancy. Nigeria is used as a primary
source of dismal statistics for this article, because it is the most populous nation in the region, with 170 million citizens. Diseases Compromising Brain Health and Functionality Two recent studies—a 2010 report from the University of New Mexico and 2011 research from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario—have strongly correlated low national IQs with high rates of infectious disease. These findings mirror what Jared M. Diamond claimed in his 1999 bestseller, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies—i.e., endemic diseases thwart human advancement. Biologist Christopher Eppig at the University of New Mexico recommends that “a social policy aimed at elevating IQ would want to focus on reducing the infection rates and durations of the infections that are most costly to the brain, which we predict include malaria, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and intestinal worms.” • Malaria. Every year, there are 225 million cases of malaria worldwide; 90% of these occur in the subSaharan region, where 3,000 people die every day of the disease. Nigeria alone accounts for 25% of the planet’s malaria cases, with 30 million of its citizens contracting the scourge annually, leaving 300,000 of them dead. The “brain insult” of malaria is horrendous. Cerebral malaria leaves its victims with neuro-physiological impairment to brain regions associated with planning, decision making, self-awareness, and social sensiwww.wfs.org
tivity. Young sub-Saharan Africans are vulnerable to drastic IQ reduction due to the malarial threat. From an energetic standpoint, the University of New Mexico researchers say, a developing human will have difficulty building a brain and fighting off infectious diseases at the same time, because both are very metabolically costly tasks. Developing nations, including all of sub-Saharan Africa, have a far higher rate of mental retardation. Severe intellectual disability is found in only three to five of 1,000 people in high-income countries; developing countries, however, have disability rates from five to as much as 22 per 1,000 inhabitants. Malaria is one of the major contributing causes of mental retardation in developing countries. One remedy is fairly simple: mosquito nets. Recently in Lagos, two mosquito nets were distributed to each family—a total of 4.1 million nets—in a fresh attempt to curb the sickening menace. • Diarrhea. The diarrhea rate in Nigeria is 18.8%, with 150,000 children dying annually of the disease. Diarrhea weakens the immune system and can quickly lead the sufferer to malnutrition, pneumonia, and a host of additional plagues. Exposure to diarrheal diseases in a child’s first five years may impose lifelong detrimental effects to his or her brain development, and thus intelligence, according to the University of New Mexico researchers. Parasites may also negatively affect cognitive function in other ways, such as infecting the brain directly. Hand washing can reduce diarrhea
© SIEGFRIED MODOLA / IRIN
A girl looks through razor wire at an African Union peacekeeping military base in Mogadishu, Somalia. Since the central government collapsed in 1991, people have endured a life of struggle and violence—a major factor impairing cognitive capacity throughout sub-Saharan Africa, argues author Hank Pellissier.
by 30% to 47%. Nigeria launched a hand-washing campaign in 2008, plus a hygiene program to construct 1 million latrines. • Tuberculosis. Nigeria has the fourth-highest tuberculosis (TB) rate in the world, with more than 400,000 cases per year. Commonly associated with the lungs, TB has the potential to attack the brain, causing tuberculosis meningitis (TBM). Although this occurs in only 1% of TB cases in developed nations, reports indicate that TB leads to TBM in Nigeria between 7.8% and 14% of the time. At least 20% of TBM survivors are left with severe brain damage—that’s between 6,000 and 11,000 people in Nigeria each year. TB also creates a severe toll on the immune system, retarding the cognitive development of young children in the same way malaria and other illnesses do. TB “carriers” in Nigeria need to be identified early and treated regularly with antibiotics in services that extend throughout the nation, especially rural areas that have relied on herbal concoctions with low rates of success. • Intestinal worms (helminth infections). Nigerian schoolchildren are widely at risk of three intestinal parasites: roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm. Nearly 55% of chil28
dren in urban public schools have an intestinal parasite, as do 63.5% in rural public schools and 28.4% in private schools. Intestinal worms have been associated with reduced IQ in many studies; the average IQ loss for children left untreated is an estimated 3.75 points per worm infection. Improved sanitation via clean water, soap, improved latrines, and elimination of garbage around schools could minimize this threat. De-worming programs, at a cost of only 50¢ per child, could also help reduce the brain-damaging effects of worm infections. Impacts of Violence on Cognitive Development Being subjected to violence, or witnessing violent activity, puts a traumatic burden on children that leads to cognitive decline. How steep is the subtraction? A child who is exposed to both violence and traumarelated distress has a 7.5-point decrease in IQ, according to a 2002 Children’s Hospital of Michigan study. The sub-Saharan region is catastrophically violent in numerous categories; only four are listed below. • Civil strife. Myriad bloodbaths have soaked sub-Saharan Africa in the past 30 years, including recent
and current conflicts in the Congo and the Ivory Coast, as well as religious terrorism in Nigeria and past nightmares in Rwanda, Burundi, Biafra, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Liberia, Uganda, Central African Republic, and others. Is it accurate to define the entire region as suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Perhaps. Seventy-one percent of Liberians say they have witnessed a beating, 47% have witnessed a killing, and 33% have witnessed the killing of a family member. How does a pervasive atmosphere of violence affect children’s cognition? Exposure to trauma correlates to a child’s risk for learning and behavior problems. Political stability is needed, with dedicated administrators. One source of encouragement may be the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which awards an annual $5 million prize to African leaders who demonstrate good governance. • Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence is a traumatic childhood experience associated with reduced IQ scores. Unfortunately, wife beating is all too common in sub-Saharan Africa. A 2010 Global Press Institute news report from Nigeria claims that more than 50% of wives have experienced domestic violence at the hands of their husbands. Counterintuitively, the report says that more educated women (65%) face domestic abuse than their lower-income counterparts (56%). And the children are watching: 46% of Nigerian women report being abused in the presence of their children. A cultural sea-change is needed that elevates women’s rights and prosecutes domestic abusers. A staggering 97.2% of Nigerian women say they are unwilling to report abuse to Nigerian police. • Child sexual abuse. Multiple studies assert that children subjected to sexual abuse suffer parallel damage to their brain development. Childhood sexual abuse is linked to long-term deficits in verbal shortterm memory—a result that resembles the damage observed in patients with combat-related PTSD. Onethird of girls and women in Swaziland claim they were victimized by
sexual violence before reaching the age of 18. In Nigeria, rape is reportedly on the increase, particularly child rape. A 2008 news article from IRIN, the UN’s humanitarian news service, claimed that rape suspects from Kano, the commercial hub of northern Nigeria, are usually males between the ages of 45 and 70. Their victims are mostly girls between 3 and 11 years old. The article notes that many of these rapes are never reported because parents “want to
save the honour of their daughters and protect their families from embarrassment.” • F e m a l e g e n i t a l m u t i l a t i o n (FGM). Although FGM is a “traditional ritual,” it needs to also be regarded as a violent, traumatic episode that can likely damage the cognitive development of the victims, generally girls aged 4–12. The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that FGM has posed a mental health risk to 92 million African women.
Malnutrition’s Impacts on Brain Development Before focus shifted to the role of infectious disease on hampering IQ levels, malnutrition was perceived in many scholastic circles as the brain’s primary oppressor. Half of the world’s IQ might be increased by up to 20 points by improving micro nutrient intake, particularly iodine and zinc. Sub-Saharan Africa would be a primary beneficiary of improved nutrition, especially infants,
The Human Brain’s Biggest Enemies Social customs, diseases, pollutants, school policies, parental choices, drugs, diets, and philosophies can all to some degree impede intelligence. Here are only a few of our brains’ biggest menaces. Prenatal Damage • Prenatal alcohol exposure. Gestating women who imbibe two alcoholic drinks per day hamper their child’s IQ with a seven-point loss. Heavy drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, and affected children have an average IQ of 75. • Pesticide exposure. Prenatal (and postnatal) exposure to organophosphate pesticides can cause a deficit of seven IQ points. • Prenatal cigarette exposure. Loss of IQ ranges from 3.3 to 15 points, according to various studies. • Maternal stress. Children exposed to high cortisol levels in the womb, caused by maternal stress, suffer an average verbal IQ loss of 3.83 points. • Breech birth. Males born via breech birth have a seven-point lower IQ than boys who were born head-first. Childhood Damage • Malnutrition. Children who are severely malnourished at the age of 3 have a 15.3 IQ deficit by the age of 11. Children who eat an unhealthy diet (high fat and sugar) have an IQ that is five points lower
than those with a health-conscious diet (salad, rice, pasta, fish, fruit). • Indoor mold. Young children living in mold-contaminated homes triple the risk of low IQ scoring. • Too much “screen time.” Early television overexposure can damage young children’s neurological systems, resulting in hyperactivity and abbreviated attention spans. • Big families. Children from families with five or more children have an average IQ of 92; from a four-child family, 97; with a onechild family, 104. • Lack of preschool. A study in India demonstrates that children aged 4–6 advanced 10.2 IQ points if they were placed in preschool education programs. Damage during School Years • Lack of exercise. Ten-yearolds who are out of shape perform worse on cognitive tests than their physically fit peers. The inactive youths’ hippocampus and dentate gyrus are smaller. • Junk food. Young children fed junk food develop IQs up to five points lower than healthy eaters, because they consume insufficient vitamins and minerals for optimal brain growth. • Dropping out of school. Students with lesser amounts of schooling lost an average of two to three IQ points per year missed. • Concussions. Each year, some 300,000 concussions occur in the www.wfs.org
United States in teen football programs. Loss of IQ can occur after a single concussion. • Smoking. Regular smoking during early adulthood is associated with cognitive impairments. Six- to 16-year-olds exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke can suffer a decrease of five points in IQ reading scores. Damage to Adults • Khat. The East African drug impairs cognitive flexibility and updating of information in working memory. • Head injury. Adults who incur whiplash with head impact in a car accident had a 14-point IQ loss after 20 weeks. • Summer stupor. Lazy, sunbathing vacations can wither IQ by 20 points. Inactivity and dehydration reduce oxygen to the brain, dim neurons, and shrink frontal lobes. The situation reverses when weather changes and work resumes. • Chronic traumatic stress. Elevated levels of cortisol are associated with cognitive decrements, with deleterious effects on verbal, learning, delayed recall, and visual-spatial abilities. • Obsessively checking electronic messages. Employees who obsessively check their phone calls, e-mails, and text messages throughout the day suffer an IQ drop of 10 points. —Hank Pellissier
© KATE HOLT / IRIN
children, and pregnant women. Besides the key dietary ingredients discussed below, other nutrients needed for optimal brain development are zinc, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, and magnesium. • Iodine deficiency. If a pregnant mother’s diet is low in element 53, her child’s IQ can be severely hampered. Cretinism is the worst result of iodine deficiency, with its shocking retardation of physical and mental development. Every year, 900,000 Nigerian children suffer an IQ loss because their mothers don’t ingest enough iodine during their pregnancy. This loss may amount to a 10% to 15% reduction in intellectual capacity, according to the nonprofit Micronutrient Initiative. • Iron deficiency (anemia). More than three-fourths of Nigerian children are anemic, Micronutrient Initiative claims, and this lack of iron punishes developing brains. Without enough iron during infancy and early childhood, children’s cognitive skills are impaired, and their IQ is reduced by five to seven points. Food fortification, especially with wheat flour and cereal, could do much to mitigate this threat to subSaharan brain development. • Lack of breast-feeding. Infants who are breast-fed for just four 30
weeks may benefit from a threepoint IQ boost. Many specialists advise breast-feeding for at least six months, because the fatty acids in the mother ’s milk aid infant brain development. Unfortunately, breastfeeding rates in the sub-Saharan region are among the lowest in the world. UNICEF calculates that only 31% of the region’s mothers breastfeed, a low figure compared with East and South Asia’s 43% to 44%. Breast-feeding is also more hygienic: Bottle-feeding can infect newborns with diseases like diarrhea, especially in areas with contaminated water. Breast-feeding prevalence in subSaharan Africa has made enormous strides in recent years, leaping up from a mere 24% in 1996. Continued education is needed. Poverty as an Inhibitor of Cognitive Development The annual per capita income in Nigeria is a mere $191. Numerous studies have indicated that growing up poor causes severe damage to one’s ability to achieve full cognitive potential. For example, wealthier parents can provide better educational resources and spend more time with their children.
In Nigeria, a brother and sister do their homework. Both have just taken a dose of Mectizan to prevent them from contracting river blindness. Pollution and diseases are among the “brain insults” that are impairing sub- Saharan Africa’s cognitive development and future intellectual capacity, according to author Pellissier.
Chronic physiological stress because of poverty may also impact brain development and interfere with intellectual achievement. Poor children tend to go to ill-equipped and ill-taught schools, have fewer resources at home, eat low-nutrition food, and have less access to health care. The result of such inadequate environments is that stress hormones wear down the brain. Tests carried out with teenagers reveal that those in poverty have a weaker working memory than teens who are well-off. (Working memory is a reliable indicator for reading, language, and problem-solving ability.) Impacts of Pollution on Brain Health Numerous elements and molecular compounds are severely debilitating to human brain development. Two dangerous pollutants are listed below; additional chemicals that cause harm in sub-Saharan Africa are cadmium, manganese, petroleum hydrocarbons, mercury, and others. Water pollution and soil contamination also merit attention. • Lead poisoning. The brain-toxic 82nd element is pervasive throughout the sub-Saharan region. Settling fumes from leaded gasoline cake the
soil and, subsequently, agricultural produce. The fuel additive was only phased out in 2005. Illegal mining operations in northern Nigeria recently used lead to refine gold ore, horrendously contaminating both the ground and the water. Ninety-six percent of consumer paints available in Nigeria contain higher than the recommended levels of lead. The nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders discovered in 2010 that 90% of the children under 5 years old in the Nigerian state of Zamfara (population 3.6 million) had lead poisoning. In Kabwe, Zambia, lead concentrations in children are five to 19 times higher than the exposure limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some studies estimate that lead exposure in children can lead to permanent loss of five to seven IQ points. • Air pollution (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Lagos, with its 12 million residents, has severe air pollution, largely caused by auto fumes and burning garbage. The Nigerian city does not have the worst air in the sub-Saharan region, however; that unfortunate honor goes to Gaberone, Botswana, which Time magazine named the eighth-worst air-polluted city in the world (based on WHO data) in 2011. Air-pollution exposure before birth lowers IQ by four points, because smog harms the developing brain. Sub-Saharan cities need energy- efficient public rail systems, and vehicles and industry need stricter emissions controls. Genetic Factors in Compromised Cognition Adding to the multiple environmental factors listed above are at least two genetic circumstances that damage IQ. Both problems could be alleviated with improved social, educational, and health policies. The two genetic factors are sickle-cell disease (SCD) and cousin marriage. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence in the world in SCD, with up to 2% of all children born with the genetic blood disorder. Children with SCD are at risk for lower intelligence and executive dysfunction,
with possible deficits in visual- spatial working memory, attention, and planning. The impact of SCD is significant: More than one-third of children with the genetic disease have an IQ below 75. Cousin marriage, known as “consanguinity,” is prevalent in many sub-Saharan groups. In Nigeria, it is practiced by the 18 million members of the Hausa tribe, preferentially in marrying two brothers’ children— patrilateral parallel cousins. The custom is also common among the Yoruba. Cousin marriage increases the risk of birth defects, due to a higher proportion of shared genes. A 1993 Aligarh Muslim University report from India showed that the offspring of cousin marriages had an IQ 11.2 points lower (88.4) than children from nonconsanguineous marriages (99.6). Systemic Approaches Needed to Address the African Brain Threat Despite these challenges, sub- Saharan Africa is now experiencing an economic boom. The region’s economy was expected to grow 5.25% in 2011, with 5.75% growth forecast in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. Sub- Saharan Africa’s financial future is aided by the region’s enormous mineral wealth and by China’s recent lavish investment. Perhaps effervescent confidence can also boost the region; a 2011 Gallup poll proclaimed Nigerians to be the world’s happiest and most optimistic people. Many charitable people in developed nations and NGOs are addressing the causes of the IQ gap. Among these are the Voss Foundation of Norway, which works to guarantee access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has helped decrease malaria deaths in the region by 20% since 2000. Addressing the systemic problems is imperative in fixing the stunted abilities of the region. There’s reason for optimism: The brain is marvelously “plastic,” and IQ is enormously malleable. Children damaged by malnutrition, pollutants, and other grim factors can swiftly improve once conditions do. www.wfs.org
Technology-oriented solutions are also critical now. For instance, Internet access and low-cost computers in the sub-Saharan regions have the potential to accelerate the movement of residents into an egalitarian future. This is rapidly happening: The number of Nigerians with Internet connectivity tripled from 2000 to 2008, leaping from 8 million to 24 million, according to Accender Africa, a new media technology-focused nonprofit. Another, more-transhumanist advance is Nigeria’s recent development of its own pharmaceutical “smart drug,” Cognitol. The 5 mg vinpocetine tablet has been clinically proven to improve information storage, memory, and IQ. Other cognitive-enhancement therapies may provide enormous benefits for those with stunted abilities—benefits that can enable individuals to rapidly close the gap between themselves and others more fortunate to have received optimal nutrition and environments. In “Get Smarter,” a 2009 essay in The Atlantic, Jamais Cascio notes that intelligence is increasing and will continue to increase globally, aided by social tools, individualized systems that augment our capacity for planning and foresight, drugs, technology that beefs up the brain’s power externally, and stand-alone artificial minds. With corrective future policies and neuro-technology, sub-Saharan Africans can be equal to all, by every material and mental measure. ❑ About the Author Hank Pellissier is managing director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology, www.ieet.org. He is the author of two e-books, Why Is the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews so High? Scientific Factors That Influence Intelligence and Invent Utopia Now: Transhumanist Suggestions for the Pre-Singularity Era. E-mail email@example.com. For statistics sources for the article and the brain-drain examples, as well as more examples of social, environmental, and other IQ-impairing factors, click on this story at www.wfs.org.
Call to Participate!
WorldFuture 2013 Exploring the Next Horizon
The conference organizers for the World Future Society’s 2013 meeting, to be held July 19-21 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, are seeking proposals for a variety of presentation formats: panel lectures, workshops, roundtable discussions, participatory exercises, special-focus business meetings, and more. The focus of the 2013 conference is longrange visioning, examined through the lenses of these six subject areas: • SCI/TECH > science, technology, engineering, R&D, medicine, inventions, exploration • COMMERCE > economics, business, careers, finance, trade, monetary policy, management, entrepreneurship, investment, commodities • EARTH > resources, environment, energy, food, water, species, habitats, cities, ecosystems, climate • HUMANITY > demographics, society, families, education and learning, health and wellbeing, culture, arts, values, religion, lifestyles, leisure • GOVERNANCE > world affairs, politics, laws, public policy, communities, globalism, security, war, terrorism, crime and justice • FUTURING > foresight, futures studies, futurists and their ideas, methodologies, creativity, personal futures, strategic planning, scenarios
22nd Century Lectures
In addition to concurrent sessions, keynote and plenary addresses, workshops, and other conference programming, we will feature special “22nd Century Lectures” focusing on each of these key sectors.
Inspired by THE FUTURIST’s special report on “The 22nd Century at First Light” (SeptemberOctober 2012), these exceptional lectures will help us begin to explore the next horizon seriously and methodically, with a realistic set of futuring tools. Proposal submission deadline: October 31, 2012
Conference Theme Essays
A collection of fresh, insightful essays is planned for WorldFuture 2013, to be published in a special edition of World Future Review. The journal will be distributed free to all those attending the conference. The editors are seeking knowledgeable and inspiring papers that cover the major themes of the conference, as well as essays that advance serious futures scholarship to build the “intellectual infrastructure” of foresight. Approximately 25 papers will be selected for the collection. Papers that analyze a specific problem or group of problems, and that also include a presentation of concrete, practical strategies for solutions, are especially welcome. Essay submission deadline: March 24, 2013
Guidelines for proposing a session or submitting an essay may be found online at www.wfs.org
The 22nd Century at First Light: Envisioning Life in the Year 2100 A special report by members and friends of the World Future Society
A child born today will only be 88 years old in the year 2100. The next 88 years may see changes that come exponentially faster than the previous 88 years. What new inventions will come out of nowhere and change everything? What will our families look like? How will we govern ourselves? What new crimes or other threats loom ahead? Will we be happy? How? THE FUTURIST invited WFS members and friends to
submit forecasts, scenarios, wild cards, dreams, and nightmares about the earth, humanity, governance, commerce, science and technology, and more. So, what do we see in this “first light” view over the next horizon? A fuzzy and inaccurate picture, no doubt, but also an earnest attempt to shake out our futuring instruments and begin improving them. To build a better future for the generations who are depending on us, we’ll need the best tools we can develop. It’s time to start thinking and caring about the twenty-second century now. —THE EDITORS
34 Major Transformations to 2100: Highlights from the TechCast Project, Laura B. Huhn and William Halal Forecasts
51 Ten Big Questions for 2100, Michael Marien 54 On Being Human: Questioning Ourselves, David Brin Scenarios
36 Where the Wild Things Are Not, Brenda Cooper 37 Keys to Future Energy Prosperity, Ozzie Zehner 39 Bio Age 2100, Olli Hietanen and Marko Ahvenainen 40 Healthy Aging in the 22nd Century, Marta M. Keane 43 Will We Still Have Money in 2100? Stephen Aguilar-Millan 43 Slums: A Catalyst Bed for Poverty Eradication, Eric Meade 45 From Communication to Transmission, Manjul Rathee 45 Religious Belief in 2100, Gina A. Bellofatto 47 Lanes in the Sky, Davidson Barlett 47 The Local–Global Duality, Joshua Loughman 49 Game Changers for the Next Century, Arthur Shostak Tools
34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 55
50 Scenarios and Long-Term Thinking, House of Futures (Gitte Larsen, Søren Steen Olsen, and Steen Svendsen)
41 About the Authors
© EMRAH TURUDU / ISTOCKPHOTO
Looking Back: The Wonders We Didn’t Expect, Paul Saffo When the Storms Came, Richard David Hames Energy and Living Well, Paul Bristow Paradise Found: No Aging, No Pensions, Jouni J. Särkijärvi Beyond Transhumanism, Gene Stephens Meaning for Miranda, Robert Moran Southern Africa Takes Center Stage, Michael Lee Life and Love in the Pod, Bart Main Automated Government, Peter Denning Geonautics, Gereon Klein 2099: Headlines Warn of Global Cooling, Tsvi Bisk Reunion: A Civil War Fable, Cynthia G. Wagner
Major Transformations to 2100: Highlights from the TechCast Project By Laura B. Huhn and William Halal Will the year 2100 bring disaster or salvation? A global population that exceeds food supply and exhausts planetary resources? Ecological collapse and severe climate change? Or will we experience a unified world heralding an unprecedented Age of Global Consciousness? TechCast (www.TechCast.org) draws on its knowledge base of forecasts pooling empirical trend data and the knowledge of more than 100 experts to examine the big transformations ahead. Lifestyles, families, homes, and other aspects of life are likely to change because the forces of nature, technology, demographics, and economics are transforming the world dramatically. Here is a macro-forecast that summarizes the 70 strategic breakthroughs that offer an outline of how the foundations of society are likely to evolve over the remainder of this century.
2015: Next Economic Upcycle
Our timeline begins around 2015, when the following technological advancements are expected to start the next 35-year economic upcycle: • E-Commerce. Internet use explodes worldwide, producing trillions of dollars in revenue. • Global Access. About 50% of the world population will have Internet access. • Globalization. At today’s growth rates, we’ll halve poverty by 2015. • Green Business. Thirty percent of corporations are likely to practice environmental management, leading to a $10 trillion–$20 trillion green industry at the end of the decade. • TeleMedicine. Online records, videoconferences with your doctor, and other electronic practices will improve medical care and reduce escalating costs. • TeleWork. Globally, 1 billion people were mobile workers in 2010. By 2015, that number should increase to 1.3 billion. • Space Commercialism/Tourism. Space trips for tourists and visits to low-Earth orbit are likely to produce a boom in commercial space.
2015–2020: Global MegaCrisis
From 2015 through 2020, a doubling of global GDP will cause the Global MegaCrisis to become intolerable, with the planet teetering on environmental collapse (see THE FUTURIST, May-June 2011). Here are TechCast’s four scenarios: • Decline to Disaster (25% probability): World fails to react, resulting in catastrophic natural and economic calamities. Possible loss of civilization. • Muddling Down (35% probability): World reacts
It has been a wild ride of a century full of expected wonders. Molecular manufacturing became a reality well before 2050, turning all sorts of oncevaluable materials into commodities, and yes, we even eventually got flying cars. But the century also came with a rich harvest of utterly unexpected surprises and the stubborn persistence of some things we thought had been left behind in the twentieth century. Here are a few of the outcomes you never guessed back in 2012: • Ownership is so twentieth century. My generation looks back with nostalgia on a time when we actually owned things. Compared to 2012, we have access to an astounding bounty of goods and services, but we don’t really “buy” things anymore because everything comes with strings (and license agreements) attached. In much the same way that you subscribed to software and e-books, we now “subscribe” to physical objects. • Longevity arrived, but with limits and for a price. Life extension remains a work in progress. Sure, 100 is the new 60, but 130-year-olds remain a curiosity. The debate still rages over whether or not there is a hard-wired limit in the human organism. In the meantime, longevity ain’t cheap, and the cost of im-
tions to a responsible global order.
only partially, so ecological damage, increased poverty, and conflict create major declines in life. • Muddling Up (25% probability): World reacts in time out of need and high-tech capabilities; widespread disaster averted, although many problems remain. • Rise to Maturity (15% probability): World transi-
2020: High-Tech Era
Assuming the world survives reasonably well (Muddling Up), major breakthroughs are likely to introduce a High-Tech Era:
Looking Back: The Wonders We Didn’t Expect By Paul Saffo less AIs haunting the global noosphere. • Discovery has deepened mystery. I can’t even begin to catalog all that has been discovered in the last century, but with our new knowledge has come a new appreciation of just how vast and mysterious the universe is. J. B. S. Haldane got it right way back in 1927 when he observed that “the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” The astonishing consequence has been a religious resurgence. In 2020, science’s relentless explanatory logic had believers on the run, but in the decades that followed, it became clear that an ever stranger, more capacious universe had ample room for the divine, the spiritual, the mystical, and the mysterious. The result has been a repeat of Jasper’s Axial Age on a smaller scale, as new belief systems have proliferated. Many of your late-twentieth-century cults are all respectable and spruced up, and Atheism itself has become a mainstream faith, complete with its own rituals. It all seems a bit less than rational, but like Bohr’s horseshoe (“I am told that it will bring good luck whether or not I believe in it”), it gives us comfort as we look out over the giddying vastness that is the frontier of the twenty-second century.
© IGOR DEMCHENKOV / ISTOCKPHOTO
mortality rises exponentially as individuals enter their second century. The result is a new societal divide between the chronological haves and have-nots: The wealthy “old turtles” move at a stately pace, making longterm plans, while the “may-fly” poor die out decades earlier. It has created vexing issues around the distribution of wealth and power. • Life everywhere, but where’s ET? A century’s worth of space exploration has turned up all sorts of weird life forms. The extremophiles found in Earth’s hellish niches back around 2000 are prosaic compared to the astounding range of what constitutes life on our
nearby neighbors. Life has turned up everywhere we look, with the implication that life just wants to happen no matter how improbable the environment. We also stopped counting Earthlike planet discoveries early in the twentyfirst century, but astoundingly, we still have no clear evidence of ETs—extraterrestrial life forms that we can communicate with—despite a century of searching. Perhaps the answer to F ermi’s question (“Where are they?”) might be an existentially unnerving realization that we are terribly, profoundly alone. This could, of course, change tomorrow, but in the meantime, we can at least talk to our robots and the count-
• Smart and Green Transportation: e.g., intelligent cars, high-speed trains. • Climate Control, Alternative Energy. • Mastery of Life: e.g., personal medicine, organ replacement, cancer cure. • Second-Generation Information Technology, e.g., “good” artificial intelligence, automated routine knowledge, robots, infinite computing power.
2030–2050: Mature World Order
A Mature World Order evolves beyond knowledge to an Age of Global Consciousness: • Space: exploration and colonization of the Moon, Mars. • Advanced Energy: Fusion energy becomes viable. • Life Extension: Average human life span reaches 100 years. • Expanded Consciousness: e.g., general AI, thought power, neurotechnology. Humans become almost godlike.
2070–2100: Beyond Earth
• Deep Space: Contact is made; star travel becomes possible. • Unified World Systems: Humanity achieves Type I Civilization (mastery over most forms of planetary energy).
Where the Wild Things Are Not By Brenda Cooper In the Western creation story, the first man and woman are given a task: to care for a garden and the beasts and animals within it. By 2100, mankind will be living in a garden the size of the world. Species will
When the Storms Came By Richard David Hames into hugging or intimacy, which I miss. I grow my own food using perma culture techniques that I learned from Mum after Dad died. At least I can be sure my diet doesn’t contain unwanted additives, which is a luxury few people can afford these days. I value my health and my fitness. Besides, tending to my small wall bioshelter is very gratifying. After all these years, I still occasionally yearn for some grilled chicken or a pork green curry—what Asian person would not? But after the great contagion of 2038, which killed over 2 billion people in a matter of weeks, most meat production in Greater Europe was banned. I really don’t fancy the artificial
Hi. I’m Daeng, an emeritus bio cultural ethicist. Each month I work my allocated 10 hours for the FinanceLab hubbed here in Moscow, a “resilient” city with a populace approaching 21 million. FinanceLab has managed all non peer-to-peer transactions and flows for our region since the global banking meltdown mid-century. My job is cool, although I would love to meet more people and listen to their stories, rather than interact with them via my webscreen. Because of the extreme heat, it’s simply too dangerous to venture out much. My main companion is DAO. As a fifth-generation personalized clone, DAO is able to access the totality of documented human knowledge, answer any question I pose, and tend to all my requests. But she’s not really
equivalents, though they look and taste authentic enough. Being born of a Thai mother and an Australian father, I grew up in what © BENJAMIN GOODE / ISTOCKPHOTO seemed to me at the time to be the most idyllic cosmopolitan city in the world. Bangkok is under water now, of course, and most of the tropics are just too hot to inhabit. Singapore still endures, but who would want to live in such a tightly gated, artificial enclave? I need to feel free, to breathe fresh air, even if my movements are somewhat constrained. I often wonder what might have happened had the scientists’ warnings about climate change been heeded. But when the storms came, it was far too late. It all happened so quickly. Wealthy
live or die by our hand and our choices, and, ultimately, so will we. Some people might claim that we are already there. I disagree. There are many wild places today, but climate change and population growth are claiming them, changing them, and in some cases erasing them. With work, better use of information technology in the form of sensing, tracking, and artificial intelligence can help us create a sustainable path to a world full of garden. One of the programs that my city is most proud of is called Green Kirkland, where people show up in droves to weed the parks, pulling invasive species and planting natives. Staff and volunteers manage the watersheds and the salmon habitat. We clean the stormwater. On a bigger scale, dam releases are being used to manage the amount of silt in the Colorado River to protect the humpback chub. Reprehensible industrial-level habitat destruction and laudable habitat restoration projects can be found from China to Australia to Canada.
people simply moved. The poor suffered. So many people died from lack of water, disease, or starvation—although we are still refused access to the precise figures. After many relationships, like many people of my generation, I now live alone—the result of us being encouraged not to parent children or to make too many friends on iWeb for fear of identity theft. Not that I mind. I feel no attachment or loyalty to this place. And so today, as I record this message for Jez—my only child, whom I’ve never met—I celebrate my 88th birthday. It is Saturday, June 12. The year is 2100. My geneticist tells me to expect death 11 years from now. I am ready. I have seen and lived through so much.
By 2100, most of the developed world will be managed. We will know how many large mammals live in almost every open space. It is likely that tiny sensors will report out on moths and moss and microclimates, and then initiate or suggest action to humans caring for the complex dependencies of species. As the twenty-second century begins, our 88-yearold may work as a caretaker for natural habitat. Perhaps she learned eco-care skills in the community-service portion of her education when she was 16 (in 2028), and continued to leverage these skills for lowpaying temporary jobs that supported a year of travel through Asia or Australia. Maybe she returned to this work for summers until she had children, and then again in the first few years of retirement, and now she has become a senior volunteer in the community park. In 2100, 88-year-olds may not have seen an unexpected waterfall or wolf for some time. They have hunted for birds they knew were in a specific managed ecosystem and competed to get the best pictures. They have helped release once-extinct species into newly prepared habitats. They can count on one hand the number of times they have been completely alone, unable to even see another human being. While most people in 2100 may not have unexpected encounters with wildness daily or even often, the highly paid professionals working on ecosystem preservation could be plagued with such surprises. As humans try to tend a complex biosphere, unintended consequences will abound. Even in 2100, humans are unlikely to be as capable as nature is when it comes to managing evolution. They will depend heavily on artificial intelligences to help, but the process still requires human intervention. Natural evolution will compete with human-induced evolution. All urban ecosystems will be managed, and most rural ones will at least be monitored. One of the ethical discussions of the day will be about how to choose between the wild and the made, how to best tend the garden called Earth.
Keys to Future Energy Prosperity By Ozzie Zehner By 2100, one aspect of our world will have become apparent: While populations and economies can grow exponentially, the planet’s resources cannot. Nevertheless, as this simple realization unravels over coming decades, it will not be plainly visible. It will manifest in less-obvious ways. The finitude of the Earth will present itself in terms of supply constraints, international conflict, disease, water shortages, unemployment, and most of all economic volatility. As traditional fuels stretch thin, nations will shift to low-grade coal and shale oil to fuel their economic activity. As heating costs rise, the world’s forests will understandably become an irresistible resource to exploit for fuel. The natural gas and petroleum-based fertilizwww.wfs.org
ers that cultivated the green revolution will become too expensive for many of the world’s farmers at the same time that crops for biofuels will be in highest demand. The world’s poor and disenfranchised will bear the brunt of these transitional pains. Nations may institute food export bans as they did following the 2008 and 2011 food price shocks. Others may use food aid as a weapon, as Henry Kissinger once suggested the United States might do. As the costs to exhume fossil fuels rise, the invisible hand of the market will go right for our throats. In 2100, people will still be traveling to and from work, celebrating birthdays, trying new restaurants, and going on vacations. They’ll just be doing it all with a lot less energy. Not only will the age of cheap fossil fuels have ended
by 2100, few alive will have any recollection of such an era. Residents of 2100 will therefore find little utility in the brand of economic thinking that their elders bequeathed them. Some alternative energy schemes will have failed to live up to the wide-eyed dreams that previous generations had envisioned. By 2100, it will have become apparent that early technologies were largely reliant on fossil fuels as well as the economic activity that accompanied cheap energy. Engineers will discover that, while wind and sunlight are renewable, turbines and solar cells are not. Landfills will house millions of tons of defunct solar panel waste, leaking heavy metals into groundwater supplies. But a larger concern will reign: the enduring
Energy and Living Well By Paul Bristow ferent jobs, both ally live anywhere to increase perthey liked while sonal resilience working someand because it’s where else. fun! With no need to For example, travel for meetmanufacturing ings, commuting was relocalized. vanished like a bad The advent of dream. Of course, mass 3-D printing the need for real and cheap CNC human contact (computer numerdidn’t. Most ical control) meant towns, villages, that the difficulty and districts have © PABLO DEMETRIO SCAPINACHIS ARMSTRONG / ISTOCKPHOTO of building somecommunal working thing went away. At the same time, the areas, paid for out of local taxes in loincreasing costs of transport forced the cal currencies, which let you work touse of local materials. There are local gether with your friends and neighbors. solar-powered remanufacturing plants These mix/meet spaces are incredibly next to what used to be called waste creative. dumps. So business continues. Once the Now, the idea of big warehouses of 99% movement really got going, the finished goods—none of which quite 1% left. These days, open-source does what you want—seems quaint. cooperatives have mostly replaced capThis is the case for all but the highest italism, at least on-planet. In practice, technology products, which are still most people run three or four very dif-
Life in the year 2100 is all about energy. No, that’s no longer true. It’s about living well. We had to completely reinvent civilization in the face of fossil-fuel shortages and increasing climate change. Permaculture become the basis of our new sustainable civilization. Housing looks familiar, if a little fatter with all the insulation that was added. The retrofit passivhaus concept went global as energy prices rose. These days, excess energy is very expensive, but for most people it just doesn’t matter. Most communities are locally self-sufficient. Everyone grows food using permaculture principles. Agricultural monoculture became deeply unfashionable during the great GM disease outbreaks of the 2030s. During the chaos, we were smart enough to keep the Internet going. Giving up broadcast television meant wireless broadband really took off. That, combined with holographic conferencing, meant that people finally could re-
burdens of nuclear activities. In 2100, energy firms will still be grappling with how best to store nuclear waste and clean up nuclear contamination. People will not identify nuclear contamination in terms of “accidents,” as we do today. They will instead view nuclear activities as highly risky undertakings that are bound to expel radiation into human communities over time. Additionally, plenty of enriched fuel, radioactive waste, and nuclear byproducts will shift hands as nation-states crack apart and reconfigure into new political establishments. Technological developments will influence the 2100 energy landscape, but they won’t be the primary force. Future energy prosperity will actually hinge on social and political fundamentals: human rights, health care,
mass assembled and transported by sailing ship and cargo zeppelin. People are relaxed enough that, if something takes 10 weeks to arrive, they don’t freak out. Global populations are now divided 50/50 city and country dwellers. Regional government was the only scale that actually worked for fighting climate change; national governments became sources of embarrassment first, and then irrelevant. We still have conflicts, but mostly when some local politician promises a planet-harming shortsighted populist fix. The UN security force soon takes care of these. By the way, the UN is still called that, even though it’s really the United “cities and regions.” We never did get fusion power working, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Regional weather control by the power cooperatives ensures that the days are sunny for power and pleasure, with wind and rain overnight for power and plants. Life is good.
transparency, citizen governance, walkable communities, strong civic organizations, and so on. These are important attributes for any era. But in an age of tight energy, they will become vital.
Bio Age 2100 By Olli Hietanen and Marko Ahvenainen Technological change has progressed at a rapid pace. Within a few decades, the world has become virtual while we have started to apply biotechnology and nanotechnology. Next, we will see how mobile technology is breaking out of computers and mobile phones, with the same technology being applied to all sorts of everyday objects: furniture, household appliances, buildings, clothing, packaging, cars, etc. The Internet is thus evolving into “Ubinet”—an omnipresent cloud service—and we are entering a “hybrid economy” where customers are participating through social media in the design, manufacture, and crowd funding of products (co-production, crowdsourcing, cloud computing, and augmented reality). At the same time, the focus of the world economy has shifted to Asia and to the emerging economies. In addition, we have experienced financial crises, which have become the rule rather than the exception. The main phenomenon of the modern world is the accelerating speed of change. However, above all, the current major concern of the future is the depletion of natural resources. This, combined with the pollution of the environment, put sustainability technologies (technologies of scarcity) at the heart of competitiveness to generate solutions to the major problems of mankind and to contribute to the well-being of all. The challenge is not only in technology and business models, but there is also a need for a new kind of nonlinear innovation system, as well as a new philosophy of technology. The main reason to develop technology is no longer to conquer nature, but to protect nature against humans. According to Nikolai Kondratieff, an economic upswing (long cycle) begins with a new technological innovation, whose effect eventually dies out (after 50–70 years), whereby the economy is plunged into recession. This continues until a new innovation in turn triggers a new wave of economic growth. Significant breakthroughs to date have been, for example, the steam engine, railways, electricity, chemicals, radio, TV, computers, and mobile phones. Recent years have seen discussion of the Sixth Kondratieff Cycle (2010–2050), which differs from the Fifth because of the increasingly rising prices of raw materials and energy. It will no longer be possible with present-day technology to lower those prices. One possible path of sustainable growth is the emergence of the Bio Age (similar to the Iron, Stone, and www.wfs.org
To be born in 2012 and only be 88 years old in 2100 will probably mean middle age rather than elderhood. Elders will be those who have lived triple-digit years and have been through several careers and cycles of education, career, and leisure. These elders will have exponentially more knowledge and experience, and they will continue to be contributing to society. Technology will be a key element allowing individuals to age with more independence and more choice. Here, we examine each component of health (as defined by the World Health Organization) and how each will be manifested in 2100. • Physical health. People’s physical health will be monitored daily in their homes. The smart home will be outfitted with readers to take vital signs and send them directly to a medical professional to review, and provide feedback on any medications or supplements that need to be altered that day. Rather than prescriptions as we have known them, medications will all be personalized to individuals’ DNA, keeping all healthier for longer.
Bronze ages), in which everything that can possibly be made from biomaterials will be. The forest and agriculture sectors are developing into a bio-economy, which can use any bio raw material to manufacture anything: gas, fluid, fiber, mass, molecules, energy. Artificial meat will grow in the cow-byres of the future, mobile phones will be compostable, and many kinds of consumer goods (such as chairs, mobile phones, and clothes) will be printed from biomaterials and grown from seeds and stem cells. All of these technologies and changes hold importance similar to the invention of the steam engine. They have brought and will continue to bring profound changes to our economy, our way of life, and even our cultural history.
Healthy Aging in the 22nd Century By Marta M. Keane What will the term elder mean in the future? And at what age will someone be considered an elder in 2100?
continued on page 42
Paradise Found: No Aging, No Pensions By Jouni J. Särkijärvi I’m now 88, but it is something completely different from what it used to be in your days. This is probably the biggest change: We don’t have to get old and die. Already when I was born, the concept of rejuvenation was understood in theory: We knew what needs to be done at the cell level. It took some time to make it happen also in practice. Now, to stay young is actually cheaper than to get old. Accidents do still happen, but regrowing organs was perfected already in the 2050s. It’s a self-service society up to the finish line. It is up to you to shuffle off your own mortal coil. You may have considered the popu-
© OLEG PRIKHODKO / ISTOCKPHOTO
lation explosion of your time intoler able, so what happens when people stop both dying and losing their fertility? The problem used to be that people squandered resources and there was not enough food. Actually, there would have been enough food if people had had money for it. Both these problems were expressions of primitive technology. The Sun provides us with more
energy than we can ever think of using, and the Earth is practically a closed system. We only have to reorganize these 15-billion-year-old atoms to suit whatever we need. We have no “pension age,” nor do we have pensions. On the other hand, there are no 9-to-5 jobs, either. You do not need human labor for what can be programmed. All our contributions have something to do with creativity. There are still scientists, artists, architects, and chefs. Professional sports, alas, lost their appeal when the enhanced athletes conquered the field. The politicians also welcomed longevity with open arms. You can tax it.
About the Authors Stephen Aguilar-Millan is director of research at The European Futures Observatory, www.eufo.org. He is also a member of the World Future Society’s Global Advisory Council and a frequent speaker at WFS conferences. Marko Ahvenainen is a researcher with the Finland Futures Research Centre. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Davidson Barlett is a licensed Realtor with Excellent Real Estate Group in Miami, specializing in mobile home and RV parks.
William E. Halal is professor emeritus of management, technology, and innovation at George Washington University and is president of TechCast LLC (www.TechCast.org), a virtual think tank tracking the technology revolution. Richard David Hames is founding director of the Asian Foresight Institute in Bangkok and the author of The Five Literacies of Global Leadership. Web site www.richardhames.com. Olli Hietanen is head of development at the Finland Futures Research Centre and a board member of the Finnish Society for Futures Studies. E-mail email@example.com.
Tsvi Bisk is director of the Center for Strategic Futurist Thinking and THE FUTURIST’s contributing editor for Strategic Thinking. E‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
House of Futures (Gitte Larsen, Søren Steen Olsen, and Steen Svendsen) is a private, nonprofit association based in Copenhagen, Denmark. HOF has experts within futurism, leadership, strategy, consultancy, communication, design, policy development, storytelling, art, spirituality, ancient wisdom, mediation, coaching, and performance. This essay draws from Issues 2: This Way, Please! Preferred Futures 2112 published by House of Futures (April 2012), www.houseoffutures.dk.
David Brin is a scientist, highly sought-after technology speaker, and award-winning author. His new novel, Existence (Tor Books, 2012), explores the hundred pitfalls that lie between us and success as an interstellar species.
Laura B. Huhn is a business strategy consultant and has served as the field editor for Energy and Environment for TechCast (www.TechCast.org), for which she is currently reporting on emerging tech issues and challenges.
Paul Bristow is a founder of Transition Ferney-Voltaire, using community-based scenario planning, permaculture, and crowd-sourced ingenuity at the border of France and Switzerland. He is also a founding member of Post Tenebras Lab, the hackerspace in Geneva. In his day job, he predicts the near-term future in the digital media industry. He’d prefer to live in this outlined scenario. E-mail paul@paulbristow .net.
Marta M. Keane is president of The Strategies Group. She is a health-care management consultant focusing on aging and wellness. E-mail email@example.com.
Gina Bellofatto is a research associate at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and a doctoral student studying world religions and international religious demography at Boston University’s School of Theology.
Brenda Cooper is the author of several science-fiction novels. Her next release is The Creative Fire (Pyr, November 2012). She is also the CIO of the city of Kirkland, Washington. Web site www.brenda-cooper.com. Peter J. Denning is Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and director of the Cebrowski Institute for information innovation at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is editor in chief of ACM Ubiquity, and is a past president of ACM. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. This essay draws from his series, “Ancath Chronicles,” which is available at http://denninginstitute. com/pjd/chronicles2011.pdf.
ForesightBooks.org. He ponders the future and grows his garden in LaFayette, New York. He can be contacted at mmarien@ twcny.rr.com. Eric Meade is senior futurist and vice president of the Institute for Alternative Futures in Alexandria, Virginia. Web site www .altfutures.org. Robert Moran is an insight-driven strategist at the Brunswick Group in Washington, D.C., focusing on industry futures, market and opinion research, and communications strategy. Web site www.futureofinsight.com. Manjul Rathee is a sustainable communications designer currently based in London. She has been involved in the design industry for more than seven years, working for organizations such as BBC, Arena Magazine, and Oliver Wyman and for clients such as British Airways, Royal Bank of Scotland, and No More Landmines Trust. Web site www.manjulrathee.com. Paul Saffo is a forecaster with more than two decades of experience exploring the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change. He is managing director of foresight at Discern Analytics, www.discern.com. Jouni J. Särkijärvi is an architect, former director general of Finland’s Ministry of the Environment, and former member of the Parliament of Finland. E-mail jouni.sarkijarvi @pp.inet.fi.
Gereon Klein is managing director of the institute Facilitation for Change in Germany. Web site www.gereonklein.de.
Arthur B. Shostak is emeritus professor of sociology at Drexel University and THE FUTURIST’s contributing editor for Utopian Thought. He is currently writing Touring Tomorrow Today, a guidebook to sites that preview options for future-shaping acts. He can be reached at arthurshostak@gmail .com.
Michael Lee is founder and chairman of the Southern African Chapter of the World Future Society (www.wfs-sa.com). He is CEO of ATMIA (www.atmia.com), a global trade association with more than 2,600 members in 60 countries. His forthcoming book, Knowing our Future, will be published November 2012 in the UK.
Gene Stephens is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina. He continues to teach and write about the future, specializing in public safety. He is also THE FUTURIST’s Criminal Justice contributing editor and a consulting futurist. He can be reached at stephens-gene@ sc.rr.com.
Joshua Loughman is a professional systems engineer in the aerospace and defense industry in Chandler, Arizona.
Cynthia G. Wagner is editor of THE FUTURIST. E‑mail email@example.com.
Bart Main is a child psychiatrist and very long-standing sci-fi aficionado focused on the well-being of our great-grandchildren. Michael Marien is the former editor of the World Future Society’s Future Survey (1979-2008) and now director of Global-
Ozzie Zehner is a visiting scholar at the Science, Technology, & Society Center, University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). Web site www.GreenIllusions.org.
Beyond Transhumanism By Gene Stephens
salist—getting all traces of human out of the equation. If I’m going to exist another thousand years or so, I’ve got to get with the program. I’ve wasted way too much time fighting the inevi table. What good are civil liberties and species pride if your species is extinct? I’m still in good standing with the underground, but there are only a few hundred of us left worldwide. Since many in the group have turned down the latest life-prolonging technology, humanity is truly a dying breed. We were warned that the smart machines
5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy 2100! Now it’s really time to reflect and try to decide what’s next for me. I’m young—88 in a few months—but still it never hurts to take stock, especially in this “Brave New World.” I’ve heard that phrase somewhere before. Anyway, it’s really true today. Who would have thought I’d be one of the few predominantly humans left on Earth? Old Ray Kurzweil may have sounded like a prophet a century ago, but he was so far off. He believed there’d be only 20,000 years of progress in the twenty-first century. It’s been more like a million years of progress. It sure floored me; in fact, it left me so far behind, my kind is pretty much irrelevant. All my friends have become chimeras or cyborgs or even robots. Most have actually opted for transhumanism, or that new term, univer-
continued from page 40 Elders will be able to live in their own homes longer. With driverless cars, limitations on transportation will be a thing of the past. And the smart home will adapt to people’s changing needs so that they will not need to move from their current home to maintain a safe environment. • Social-emotional health. As elders continue to work longer and c ycle through more periods of leisure during their lifetimes, they will have more friends and engage in more activities that will allow them to stay involved. Twenty-second-century elders will see their generation continue to be involved in social-action projects, coming together for the specific project and meeting new people, and continuing some relationships and letting others end with the project. As with work, there will be cycles with marriage 42
would inherit the Earth, but we didn’t realize it would be our choice to hasten the day by implanting every hot new neurochip into our bodies until we became more robot than human. I rue the day I took that first © VOLODYMYR GRINKO / ISTOCKPHOTO step—acquiring 20 languages instantly in just one cheap nanochip. From there, it was a slippery slope to adding chips that increased lower body strength, chips that stored quadrillions of data bits with nanospeed retrieval; a chip here, a chip there, everywhere a new chip. Now I’ve got to make some deci-
and family dynamics. It will be unlikely that there will be marriages that will last 100 years, so there will be multiple groupings of families that will have a fresh approach to embracing each addition to the family and expanding the definition of the extended family. • Spiritual health. Views of a “divine power” will be transformed by advances in science and technological power. As scientific breakthroughs increase longevity, the fear of mortality and what follows will disappear. Spiritual practices and beliefs will become more individualized; many elders, for instance, will continue to be concerned for the environment, and in so doing, get back in touch with nature and the Earth. • Intellectual health. Elders will be honored for their knowledge and experience. The many cycles of work and relationships will enrich their lives and be an inspiration to others. The ability to live
sions and make them fast. I may only have minutes, even seconds, to decide about these life-altering changes, to choose who (or what) I want to be next, how long, and what’s after that. To have any chance of keeping up, I’m going to have to leapfrog over a further-enhanced cyborg, transhuman, or even universalist and go directly to cloud master. Even if I don’t have it all figured out, I’ll get additional time to think once I’m a cloud dweller. With my total memory reduced to a powerful nanochip and my environmentpolluting organic body discarded, I can reside in the wireless cloud as long as I need. If I choose, I can be implanted in a robot or virtual body to give me some mobility and sensing experiences. Who knows? I may like it enough to spend eternity in this utopian dream. Maybe, but.…
longer will focus importance on lifelong learning and continuing to experience the world through all the senses. The year 2100 will be an exciting time to be “old.” Technology and societal views will encourage a new attitude about aging. Elderhood will be viewed as the p eriod in one’s life with the most opportunity for independence and quality choices about one’s own life.
Will We Still Have Money In 2100? By Stephen Aguilar-Millan Money has been around since the dawn of history. A future without money would suggest that we would be moving toward a barter economy rather than an ex-
change economy in 2100. It is entirely possible that this could happen at the individual level. The Internet could allow peer-to-peer exchange, much in the way that eBay accommodates this at present. However, a barter system is unlikely to be of use at the societal level. The supply of public services like defense or justice is best facilitated through a monetary contribution, such as taxes. This reason alone is likely to keep money with us in 2100. But in what form? Who is likely to issue it? More interestingly, does cash have a future? Money has become largely digital over the past few decades. This is unlikely to change unless there is a major disruption to the way in which accounting records are kept. Despite the predictions of its demise, cash has proven to be very resilient. Cash is the lifeblood of the blackmarket economy because it leaves no audit trail, and, as long as people want to avoid paying taxes, it will continue to serve that function. We can speculate that, even if notes and coins were abolished, a parallel form of “cash” would develop. For this reason, cash is still likely to be with us in 2100. What may change are the issuers of money. At present, governments reserve for themselves the right to issue legal tender. Yet, systems of parallel currency have emerged. For example, we are accustomed to spending air miles (or points) for travel. Companies could harness the function of money as a store of value and a standard for deferred payments by issuing purchase tokens for future use. Most supermarket loyalty schemes operate along these lines. It could well happen that this trend, enabled by the Internet, could explode over the course of this century. The trend will be enhanced if companies can tap into the trust that their customers have in their brands. Many companies do so already through loyalty credit cards, and even a form of private banking. This is one way in which the remainder of the twenty-first century could change. If it is true that there is a growing distrust in the nation-state as a vehicle for expressing our collective aspirations, then, as our trust is transferred to the institutions that come to replace the nation-state, so those institutions will come to control the issuance of money. It is quite likely that we will still have money in 2100, but it may not be issued by governments any longer.
Slums: A Catalyst Bed for Poverty Eradication By Eric Meade In 2100, more than 70% of the Earth’s 10 billion people will live in cities. In dynamic regional hubs like Lagos, Nigeria (population 41 million), an infrastructure of renewable energy, sustainable local manufacturing, socially augmented reality, and anticipatory community governance will have produced economically vibrant neighborhoods that are microcosms of collaborative resident engagement. But city life is more complex than village life. Whenwww.wfs.org
ever people have moved from rural to urban environments, they have had to develop more complex attitudes and behaviors—for example, internalizing rules, cooperating beyond their own families, and learning to navigate complex institutions. The “complexity gap” between urban and rural living will widen as cities grow from millions to tens of millions of residents. Throughout the twenty-first century, people migrating to the city will close this gap, undergoing a psychosocial transition that could provide the foundation for twenty-second-century urban success. Much of this transition will have occurred in the catalyst bed of the “slum.” Sure, the slums of the twenty-first century have had their share of problems, with criminality and corruption occasionally spiraling out of control. But global leaders will have come to understand that allowing the undesirable elements of slum life to fester at reasonable levels is
important for fostering slum dwellers’ adoption of the more complex attitudes and behaviors required for successful citizenship at the municipal and global levels. With this understanding, the century’s most-effective NGOs will be those who do not try to “solve the problems” of the slums, but rather try to set the conditions in which the psychosocial transition from r ural to urban could occur quickly and without reaching unproductive levels of human suffering. This will include providing slum residents with wireless service, ubiquitous educational programming, and “off-grid” solutions for power, water, health care, and sanitation. Interestingly, these “offgrid” solutions also will yield benefits for those who remain in rural areas. Throughout the twenty-first century, urbanization will have provided new migrants from rural areas
Meaning for Miranda By Robert Moran product goes from idea to form in a flash. With our basic needs anticipated and met, robots doing the hard work, and virtually free energy, the survival struggle that has defined humanity is now the twinkling of a fading star. Goodbye, resource wars. The question now is how a species adapted to scarcity responds to abundance. M iranda is disturbed by the answer set. Authenticity: Is it “real”? Is it “craft”? These are invariably the queries Miranda hears about new clothing or home goods. Algorithmically nanotargeted experiences, “news” filtered by digital advisory agents and displayed on augmented reality (AR), and rapidly printed consumer goods all make authenticity a scarce commodity. No wonder “U-Build” kits, Route 66 “driving vacations,” tattoo artists, pi-
In her conversations with friends and family, Miranda—a remarkably fit, thrice updated, 88-year-old freelance infominer—notes that the discussion always bounces between the four corners of humanity’s hollow valley: 1. Remarkable physical wealth. 2. Craving for authenticity. 3. Decline of traditional religious belief. 4. Redefinition of the age-old concept of “Free Will.” Twenty-Second-Century Plenty: As any history app will tell you, an explosion in living standards triggered by the exponential growth of GRIN tech (genetics, robotics, information, and nanotech) meant that nearly every human inhabitant of the planet, excepting the feral and the warrior cults, had their basic needs met by the 2080s. And with home-based 3-D printers the norm for almost 70 years, nearly any
ano clubs, and farming are so popular with Miranda’s children. Belief: Miranda remembers Sunday school as a child. Although she has heard of emerging religious groups meeting in parks, she hasn’t been to an actual church building in years. M iranda doesn’t believe in the God that her parents believed in, but there are days that she misses Him, the certainty, the rituals, the authority. Like her friends, when she was young she downloaded and tried the Christo-Confucian behavior-prompting avatars on her AR, and they did make her a better person. But she grew to resent the life-logging, and so she unsubscribed. “Free Will”: By the time Miranda was 50, advances in neuroscience, predictive analytics, and response priming made her PhD in behavioral economics as quaint as all those “Silicon Valley”
with more complex environments that challenge them to become more complex themselves. And they will. This psychosocial transition, effected largely in the slums, will have lifted virtually all human communities out of poverty and create a global citizenry with its eye on the future.
From Communication to Transmission
Transmission will allow us to maintain customizable interfaces in our minds. This will enable not just interpersonal communications, but interspecies transmission, as well. We will be able to share information with the help of hybrid languages that may even go back to ancient pictograms: visuals rather than letters. Numerical systems would change, the era of computers would conclude, and the boundary between Man and Man-Made would become diluted.
By Manjul Rathee
Religious Belief in 2100
We are already familiar with the idea of seamlessness in our world of constant communication. In the twentysecond century, as all living creatures evolve and adapt at a pace never known before, communication will evolve into transmission.
By Gina A. Bellofatto
museums. Although some insisted that the noble lie of pure “free will” be maintained, that idea died with her parents. Now the memes on volition proliferate daily, but all posit a circumscribed will. We were always the muddled captains of our soul, but now we know it. Now we are less so. Now we grope for the meaning we have lost in the information. Miranda and her friends are healthier and wealthier than her baby-boomer grandparents could have ever imagined, but with Hikikomori (social withdrawal) increasing despite the health chips and government-mandated AR messages, she wonders if they are any more fulfilled. Everyone talks about the “Alexander problem” of having no more lands to conquer and wanting to achieve “hard things,” but that’s just talk between the idea and the reality.
Projecting religious populations around the globe to 2100 first requires a nod to trends over the previous 200 years. In 1910, those imagining the future of religion generally had a positive outlook, with many believing that religion was an unchallenged fact of life that would continue on for generations to come. In one sense, this conviction was incorrect, as the world was, by percentage, less religious in 2012 than in 1900. In 1900, 99.8% of the world’s population belonged to a religious tradition and 0.2% were unaffiliated (agnostic or atheist). The year 2012 marked a drop in the world’s religious population to 88.2% and a rise of unaffiliated populations to 11.8%. In 2100, however, the world will likely be only 9% unaffiliated—more religious than in 2012. The peak of the unaffiliated was in 1970 at around 20%, largely due to the influence of European communism. Since communism’s collapse, religion has been experiencing resurgence that will likely continue beyond 2100. All the world’s religions are poised to have enormous numeric growth (with the exceptions of tribal religions and Chinese folk religion), as well as geographic spread with the continuation of migration trends. Adherents of the world’s religions—perhaps particularly Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists—will continue to settle in the formerly Christian and ever-expanding cities of Europe and North America, causing increases of religious pluralism in these areas. Christians and Muslims together will encompass two-thirds of the global population—more than 7 billion individuals. In 2100, the majority of the world’s 11.6 billion residents will be adherents of religious traditions. A child born in 2012 begins his life in a religious world, and when he reaches 88 years of age in 2100, that reality will be even more intensified. No matter what religious tradition he belongs to, if any, he will be immersed in a world populated by the religious and defined by an increasing plurality of theologies, spiritualities, and worldviews, all living at his doorstep. While this kind of crowded ideological marketplace has the potential for cultural clashes and conflict, it could alternatively serve as an impetus for a new spirit of tolerance and community: Living in a shared, increasingly global society compels people to realize their commonalities and shared interests even in the face of differences in creed. www.wfs.org
Southern Africa Takes Center Stage By Michael Lee century. The continent’s In his youth, Bandigwa progress had taken a watched his region gradlong and painful journey ually unite, as many of characterized by waves its nations benefited of development, such as from increased intra-Afthe Consumer Revolurican trade and infra© COURTNEY KEATING / ISTOCKPHOTO tion and Youth Bulge of structure development. 2000-2015, followed by the era of big These vital projects included construcinfrastructure building, urbanization, tion of extensive rail networks and and regional integration (2005-2035) large-scale hydroelectric schemes in and Africa’s own Green Revolution Zambia near the famed Victoria Falls (2015-2030). and on the banks of the mighty Congo Periods of migrations to Southern River. Africa occurred as northern peoples While the world passed from the Insought warmer climes, escaping harsh dustrial Era to a new eco-scientific era winters when energy prices were escaafter Peak Oil, Africa became a hotbed lating and fuel supplies were of solar-energy technology. The shift diminishing. from a fossil fuel–based economy to a In addition, there had been immigralower energy order based on renewtions of peoples from the overpopuables suited Africa well. The transition lated East, especially from demographgradually reduced violent conflicts over ically skewed China. This resulted in dwindling resources. Nevertheless, pemillions of Asian settlers on the contiriodic struggles over water broke out, nent, a significant portion of whom as well as ongoing conflicts with radiintermarried with local Africans to procal Islamic and environmental groups duce a new race of Sino-Africans. This using terror. In the wake of the new encreated an African urban melting pot, ergy order, an epoch of greater general leading to increased diversity and culpeace evolved in Africa. tural dynamism. Yet, the tight-knit exPresident Bandigwa looked into the tended family traditions of Africa were sky and continued to watch the firepreserved throughout this time of acworks through glazed eyes. Tonight, celerating growth and cultural diversifihis heart felt full of years and memocation. ries of a century that had witnessed the As a former professor of history, creation of USSA and the rise of three Bandigwa believed the biggest catalyst new global superpowers: China, Brazil, for his region’s rise to power had been and India (later called IndiaStan after its science-inspired Knowledge Renaisthe unification with Pakistan following sance of 2020-2050. In this time, the a tragic nuclear confrontation in 2028). number of universities, colleges, and Africa’s time to take the center of the technical schools in the territory had world stage had arrived by mid-
It is five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve at the end of the last day of the twenty-first century. In Dar es Salaam, one of the wealthiest cities in the United States of Southern Africa (USSA), revelers from across the region have traveled on the Trans-Africa high-speed train network to witness the arrival of the new century at a massive fireworks display and international gathering in East Africa’s “harbor of peace.” Wearing a variety of light, thermoregulated fabrics in bright, fashionable colors, party-goers and families mill around in droves at the city’s popular waterfront overlooking the Indian Ocean, its warm waters an ancient conduit of intercontinental trade. Dignitaries include the prime minister of China; diplomats from IndiaStan, the European Federation, and Amerinada; and the UN Secretary-General. The reason for their high-profile visit, hosted by the aging president of USSA, Nelson Bandigwa, is that the city has been chosen as a UN Beacon of Progress for the first year of the twentysecond century. As the fireworks leap suddenly into the sky at the stroke of midnight, President Bandigwa smiles to himself and then quietly sheds a tear. Nelson Bandigwa was born in 2012; by the time he turned 10, in 2022, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) became a confederation to govern the blossoming regional common market spearheaded by South Africa and its neighbors.
Lanes in the Sky By Davidson Barlett
more than tripled. The USSA’s leadership grew in such fields as solar energy, hydroelectricity, agriculture, food science, astronomy, and archaeology. The nation had also developed new systems of long-term underground disposal of low-level nuclear waste in wildernesses created by climate-changeinduced drought, paving the way for safer deployment of nuclear power. The Southern African Space Agency (SASA) had produced several astronauts who had worked on international space stations. One was chosen for a mission of the Global Space Agency (GSA) to test the viability of establishing a human settlement in caves on Mars where water had been discovered. Throughout Bandigwa’s lifetime, the United States of Southern Africa had been a leader in one of the world’s biggest businesses: tourism. Particularly successful were eco-tourism, archaeotourism, and the wildly popular sport of nonlethal hunting using sedation darts instead of live ammunition. And finally, building on the work of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and on peoples’ innate spirit of Ubuntu (humaneness), USSA had become widely respected around the world for its expertise in conflict resolution and the practice of racial and religious harmony. President Bandigwa’s tear at midnight had been an expression, more than anything else, of pride for how Africa had overcome the historic humiliations that once haunted the continent.
In hindsight, one can easily identify the advantages of jet-powered aircraft over propeller-driven ones, and appreciate the quantum leap forward that jet aircraft represented. Now, try to imagine a new generation of low-ceiling, ground-hugging aircraft designed to bring aviation to the masses. These will be built to glide on the ground effect (that cushion of air that hugs the surface of the earth up to an altitude of 15 feet) for increased safety and efficiency. Imagine these new craft using aerodynamic design, ultralight materials, and a totally new system of propulsion that utilizes neither fixed nor rotating wings to allow it to float gently over the ground. They will move in the desired direction with the grace and speed of an arrow, cruising just 15 feet above the ground. To put the practical applications of such a propulsion system in perspective, imagine cars and buses that don’t need roads. Imagine trains, trams, and barges that don’t need tracks, waterways, or bridges. Imagine transportation vehicles with the flight characteristics of low-flying helicopters, without the danger and disruption of rotors. And imagine for a moment the obsolescence of the wheel for powered motion: George Jetson’s flying car in every garage. Only one technological logjam—inertial thrust—is stopping this fantasy from becoming a reality. Research on inertial thrust represents a little-known but fascinating quest on the part of many an amateur inventor. Perhaps someday another name will be added to the list of immortals like Galileo, Edison, the Wright brothers, and Einstein when the riddle of inertial thrust will be solved, adding yet another dimension to the universe of human knowledge and achievement. Let us hope we live to see it—along with a controlled fusion reactor, interstellar space flight, and other marvels of science fiction. And when you doubt that this type of breakthrough will ever take place, look back at the works of Jules Verne, and marvel at the relative accuracy of his nineteenth-century visions of the future, which were the subject of much ridicule in his time. And remember the concept that human achievement is limited only by human imagination.
The Local-Global Duality By Joshua Loughman The growth of cities into suburbs, and then exurbs, could see communities of the twenty-second century collide into megalopolises covering entire regions of the countries we recognize today. This growth of local communities, and the flattening of the world through connectivity, would polarize people’s engagement into www.wfs.org
local and global, steering away from the sense of nationalism seen throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The new local-global social dichotomy would have several effects, from the personal to the macro scale. The nature of employment would change from the static employee-employer model to a more fluid arrangement: Workers’ skills grant them more flexibility and enable them to work efficiently for multiple employers and utilize their full productive capacity. This productivity and flexibility would be aided by advancements in interconnectivity through mobile devices and human–machine interfaces. Enhanced connectivity would allow people to live anywhere in the world. They will work with local productive enterprises in areas that must be local, such as manufacturing and farming, but also engage in the global knowledge industry. The continued blending of public-private partnerships could
work to utilize these more fluid parts of the economic system. Another result of this changing social dichotomy is the way in which governments would function. Governments would polarize along with society into large super-cities and into continental and global alliances chartered along geopolitical and strategic global- resource prerogatives. These large geopolitical forces would develop to secure increasingly scarce resources of fuel, food, water, timber, and minerals. Most of the previous century would have been spent in securing these resources, and technological advancement will likely be too late to prevent conflicts before the global resources problems are solved. Technologies such as new sources of power, solar, geothermal, fuel cell energy storage, and fusion could feed the growing global demand. The growth of these energy and mitigation technologies would also come too late to respond to the
Life and Love in the Pod By Bart Main grass. The air filled h i m w i t h j o y. H e picked up his pace when he saw a familiar bouncing ponytail flash through the trees ahead. “Genevieve!” he called through his wrist band. The girl waved her left arm in response, but she seemed to pick up speed. Timmy wondered for a moment whether his ear stud was dead until the realization struck him that she wasn’t interested in his company. He turned down the short trail and was home, took another quick shower, and plunked down across from his mom at the breakfast table. The frittata was delicious, and he told her so.
Timmy stirred beneath the blanket as the dawn filled his room. Stretching deliciously, he opened one eye to look at the clock. “Temp?” he asked. “18,” replied Margo. “Good. Perfect for my run,” thought Timmy. The lights came on as he rolled out of bed, the covers shook themselves into place as the Murphy bed ascended, the wall opened to reveal the bathroom, and Timmy stumbled into the shower. “Tell Mom I’ll have a Spanish frittata,” he told Margo. “Got it,” she replied. As the faint smell of endorphins tingled him awake, Timmy slipped on some shorts and a T-shirt and walked out the door into the sweet smell of spring. The path beckoned him along as his bare feet kissed the mossy
“So what’s wrong?” asked Mom. “Genevieve snubbed me just now.” “She’s involved. You’ll have to find somebody else to fall for.” “Yeah, I know. But she is really cute.” “Yes, she is, and so are you, honey. What © OLAF LOOSE / ISTOCKPHOTO about Rebecca? I was talking to her grandmother yesterday, and she said that Rebecca was checking you out.” “Yeah, Margo told me. She’s nice, but I’m not sure that I can get into that synkinetic surround she’s making. It’s really important to her. You know I’m much more into my epigenetic manipulation.”
changing global climate. Governments and other social organizations have already predicted the coming consequences, but not having to feel the full impact at present will cause these organizations to delay an adequate response. Once the pain is acute, the opportunity for large-scale changes in the forces acting on the climate or planetary engineering techniques to reverse the climate instabilities will likely be lost. The technology could finally catch up, but not before significant loss of life and treasure is endured worldwide. This will uproot many cultures, as crops will need to be changed and coastal areas will need to be redesigned. This uprooting will further the trend of a mobile populace. As the complexity of our world increases, the challenges we face require greater planning and more lead time to accomplish. We will have to adapt our culture, our governments, and ourselves to meet them.
“You’re 34, Tim. You aren’t old enough to be making any commitments. You’re just exploring. These women are sweet and convenient here in our pod, but the world is a big place. You’ll find just the right one in time.” “Right, Mom,” Timmy smiled sardonically. Suddenly, this multigenerational intentional pod community was too small. He thought of Lisa Glasspool down under, whom he had chatted with at the last epigenetic forum. Now, she was beautiful. And seemed to respect what he had to say. Their conversation seemed synergistic to him. “Margo,” he said as he walked toward his room, “see if Lisa Glasspool is available to chat sometime today.” He could feel the oxytocin rush lightening his step as he opened the windows of his room and settled into work.
Game Changers for the Next Century By Arthur Shostak Underlying today’s dazzling, seemingly science-fiction developments are such brow-arching matters as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, fusion power, genomics, “green” ways of living, integrated automation, nanotechnology, space industry, and robotized weaponry. These are extraordinary game changers in themselves, and especially in combination. But three other emerging developments dwarf even these in their potential to alter life by 2100. The first, brain–machine interface systems could enable individuals to control “smart” equipment merely by using their minds, much as today certain paralyzed patients can control a computer or a prostheses through thought. Our descendants may be able to turn on and off, aim, and otherwise control inanimate objects just by thinking a command. Like all such major changes, this one is doubleedged, as it could encourage couch-potato sloth leading to ill health. Today’s diabetes and obesity plague may seem mild in comparison. Alternatively, we could employ newly gained time and energy to achieve mind– body advances once only dreamed of in neo-utopian blueprints. The second emerging game changer is whole-brain emulation. Proponents expect to import the equivalent of a human mind—the most complicated device found to date in the universe—into a nonbiological substrate. While the brain today remains one of the biggest mysteries of all, the next 88 years are likely to host neuroscience advances, bolstered by the power of quantum computing, that could make an uploaded mind an actuality. By 2100, advances in law, philosophy, and politics should help answer such questions as Is it human? and if so, What are its rights and responsibilities? What do we owe it, and vice versa—what are we owed? (A good start in answering these questions is available in Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.”) A third underrecognized game changer, and arguably the most consequential, is futuristics itself. Vastly improved by computer science gains in data coverage and model building, foresight work should also profit from unprecedented artistic flights of imagination and fancy. Best of all, it will probably have become a prized feature in lifelong learning. Hailed for helping us mitigate the worst long-range threats posed by ongoing climate change, futuristics will benefit from diversity, with increasing input from female forecasters and non-Western seers (China and India, for example, have long been helping improve Western futuristics). By 2100, futuristics could be regarded as the most valuable of all the mental tools that humans will need for the next century, when the “big thing” will be our new relationship with things that actually seem able to think. www.wfs.org
Scenarios and Long-Term Thinking By House of Futures (Gitte Larsen, Søren Steen Olsen, and Steen Svendsen) It is almost impossible to make any plausible direct extrapolations from historic trends a hundred years into the future. The present contains seeds of the future, but it is very unlikely to unfold in any straightforward manner. That is why we need scenarios to get a better idea of the enormous transformations that will happen in the decades ahead, including how we might try to shape the future and create the ones we prefer. Scenarios are alternative images of the future that can inform decisions in the present. It is an approach that is used by decision makers in the public and private sectors, on many levels and in many contexts. There are many types of scenarios, and the choice of
scenario depends on the purpose. One can work with many or few, qualitative or quantitative, broad or specific, and long or short-term scenarios. The scenario process of House of Futures’ “In 100 Years” project differs from more traditional scenario processes in its ambitious scope, in its perception of nature as the main driver, and in the combination of performance arts and methods as well as futures studies to make it possible to experience the scenarios. The Baseline Scenario is built on trends that are relatively straightforward to track, such as population, economic growth, technological advance, and values and mind-sets. The exercise of creating a baseline scenario gives us the opportunity to think about factors that could change it, such as the availability of resources upon which economies depend or a cultural shift in views about affluence and happiness. Two alternative scenarios that House of Futures developed in its 100Y (“In 100 Years”) seminars are: Scenario 1: Man-Made World. We realize that when we put our minds to it we can develop technologies, organizations, political institutions, and business models that allow us to prosper in ways that do not jeopardize
Automated Government By Peter Denning I have collected these recordings into my “Ancath Chronicles.” From them, I learned that in about 2025 the U.S. Congress decides to fully automate the government as a move for dramatic efficiency. The process is well under way by that point anyway, since robots running large databases staff most government offices. The automated government, “Ag” as they call it, is so successful that Congress disbands itself a few years later. Its last act is to pass authority to a set of artificial intelligences simulating senators and representatives. This enables an automated Congress to respond to problems by passing laws that are quickly implemented by the automated bureaucracy.
Futurists have historically been better at describing the present than the future. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a set of communications from one of my descendants, whose eyewitness accounts of events around 2100 are far more reliable than any such speculations I can offer. My descendant is a young girl named Ancath, who is about 9 years old in 2103. Every Christmas, starting in 2103, she sends recordings of her conversations with her great-grandmother (my granddaughter) about what it was like to live in the age of computers. You see, computers are gone in 2103. Only a few elderly people, like great-grandma, remember anything about them.
But within a few years Ag exhibits amazing feats of artificial stupidity. Around 2035, Ag discovers that simulations are much less costly than real things, like transportation. It ends 30 years of airline crises by banning flights and instead simulating planes flying simulated passengers. No real airplanes, no pilots, no airports, no cost! Former air travelers do not complain because they get to know their neighbors, and like them. Soon Ag does the same for the medical system to end the health crisis: Simulated doctors treat simulated diseases in simulated hospitals. Since people now never have to go to a hospital, everyone is much healthier and life expectancy surges.
Planet Earth. Collectively, we are approaching a state of global stewardship in which we manage our planet rationally, like any sensible landowner would with his property. Scenario 2: Power of Nature. We realize that everything is nature, and so are we. We are one with Mother Earth, and we share a common biology and collective consciousness. On a deeper level, these are the sources of meaning that we all tap into, regardless of nationality, religion, or culture.
Ten Big Questions for 2100 By Michael Marien Imagining scenarios of what life might be like in 2100 is a fun exercise, but we should not use it as an escape from addressing the many huge uncertainties of the
By 2040, Ag has bankrupted nearly all businesses. A deep depression grips the world. Finally, in 2050, a group of graybeard programmers create a solution: They build an Automated Citizen, programming it to be helpless and adoring, and install a copy on every Internet port. Soon, the automated government is completely occupied with taking care of the automated citizens, and it leaves all the real people alone. People forge a new, free society. Everyone prospers. Around 2090, the automated Department of Energy declares that an obscure cloud farm in Iowa is consuming too much electricity, and it pulls the plug. This shuts off the Ag. But no one notices.
early twenty-first century and the unfolding Global MegaCrisis. Facing the uncertainties and complexities—about environment, resources, population, society, and technology—sooner, rather than later, will likely make life in 2100 better for most or all people, and improve our chances of making it to the twenty-second century, which is not guaranteed. Consider these 10 big and overlapping questions— surely not the only ones to ponder, but good candidates for a short list that should be widely circulated and continuously updated: 1. How Much Global Warming Is Ahead? The world has already warmed by 1°C over pre industrial levels, and there is near-zero chance of stopping warming at 2°C. Many climate scientists now think that worrisome 4°C warming is most likely in the 2050-2100 period, and that a disastrous 6°C or more is possible. Some scientists, such as James H ansen of NASA, warn of possible tipping points leading to runaway global warming “out of humanity’s control.” 2. Will Methane Eclipse Carbon Dioxide? Methane in the atmosphere is only about one-fifth of CO 2 in volume, but is 20-25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas, although not as long lasting. In addition to other sources, such as livestock, methane is now being released in large quantities by melting Arctic permaf rost—a process likely to accelerate. If large amounts of methane are also released from clathrates on the ocean floor, catastrophe is likely. But there are no estimates as to what could trigger how much release, or when. Adding to the methane threat is nitrous oxide, about one-tenth of CO2 in volume but 300 times more effective than CO2 in trapping heat. 3. How High Will Sea Levels Rise? The conventional projection of sea-level rise by 2100 is currently about 20 inches (0.5 meters). But check out The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change (MIT Press, 2011), especially for the 70 striking photos of melting ice. The authors warn that “in the fate of Greenland lies clues to the fate of the world” and that “uncertainties dominate on the bad side.” Based on past records, it is possible that the Greenland ice sheet could melt in a few decades, raising sea levels by some 24 feet worldwide. Melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet would raise sea levels by 16 feet. 4. Will We Run Out of Essential Resources? Renewable resources (notably water) and many nonrenewable resources (oil, arable land, minerals, rare earth elements) are becoming more difficult to acquire even as demand increases—what Michael T. Klare calls www.wfs.org
“the end of easy everything” in his book The Race for What’s Left (Metropolitan Books, 2012; the GlobalForesightBooks.org Book of the Month for May 2012). Prices are rising and will surely continue to do so, as companies and nations also scramble to adapt through conservation, substitution, and new technologies. One writer estimates that supply shortfall by 2030 is “nearly certain” for cadmium, gold, mercury, tellurium, and tungsten. 5. How Many People Will There Be in 2100? Global population projections are pretty much settled on 9–10 billion people by 2100, or roughly 50% growth from today’s 7.1 billion. This is a substantial addition, even as the rate of growth slows. But it may be more useful to think in terms of four scenarios: • Sharp Decline due to a global pandemic or a world war. • Slow Decline where modernization leads to smaller families. • Slow Increase due to general improvements in medicine and health outpacing smaller families. • Rapid Increase due to success in antiaging and life-extending technologies, made accessible to many people. Demographers never consider this possibility, but experts on Bill Halal’s TechCast.org panel forecast life extension to 100 years as probable by 2040. 6. What Will Be the Quality of People in 2100? Genetic and robotic enhancements may create “better” or at least different human beings, but will these options be popular? Even if widely available at low cost, could these improvements be more than offset by endocrine disruptors and other pernicious chemicals in the environment, taking overdoses or inappropriate drugs (both illegal and legal), and overeating of food (leading to obesity and diabetes)? 7. Will Decent Employment Be Available to All? Assuming that livelihoods will be necessary and desirable, will everyone have jobs or self-employment that provides for basic needs? At present, this is a serious long-term problem, especially for younger generations. Any Year 2100 notions about cornucopian futures where governments or corporations provide free food, housing, education, health care, etc., are simply escapist fantasies. 8. Will Inequality and Plutocracy Continue? Global trends to more inequality within and between nations are unmistakable in recent decades and seem likely to continue, as well as the parallel trend to governance by the rich. There is no definition as to when a “democracy” becomes overtaken by “plutocracy,” but, arguably, this is happening or has happened, with no substantial reversal in sight.
9. Will the Energy Transition Be a Clear and Rapid Success? A transition away from fossil fuels has begun, and everyone favors energy that is cheap, safe, nonpolluting, renewable, and available to all. But this transition will likely take decades at best, and the ultimate mix is highly uncertain: Solar, wind, nuclear, biomass, hydro, and geothermal are the known competitors to oil, gas, and coal, but could soon be joined by ocean algae, ultra-deep geothermal, solar power beamed from space, nuclear fusion, widely distributed LENR (low-energy nuclear reactor) generators, or other technologies not yet on the horizon. The competition is fierce, and a level playing field will surely help this crucial transition, which, in turn,
Geonautics was the name of the spaceship traveling between Cosmos and Earth. They would be approaching their destination today. One by one, all geonauts came into the conference room for the briefing. Ayanda was looking out of the window, her thoughts circling around the question of what to expect this time during her visit to Mumbai-II, when the commander’s voice reached her: “When we come to pick you up again I expect every team to have got out at least 10% more from every GEP—just to make this very clear.” Initially, Cosmos had only been planned as platform for transplanetary journeys. But when the fight for survival had assumed superhuman dimensions on Planet Earth, and when survival outside protective establishments had become impossible, Cosmos had developed into a place of refuge for space travel experts, heads of state, and the affluent who could afford this place of residence. Hopelessly overcrowded, the station lacked virtually
will mitigate global warming. Unfortunately for sustainable energy, the transition is being delayed somewhat as a result of new and controversial hydrofracking technology that enables easier access to unconventional oil and natural gas. 10. Will Nuclear Weapons or Bioweapons Be Our Undoing? The number of nuclear weapons is slowly declining, while bioweapons—much easier to make—are probably increasing. The Cold War threat of nuclear holocaust and/or the follow-on environmental disaster of nuclear winter has lessened, but is still a not-so-wildcard possibility. And widespread global use of bio-
weapons could keep most or all of us from reaching the year 2100. Much depends on the future of fanaticism, religious or nonreligious, leading to use of these or other destructive technologies. This is merely a starter list of huge uncertainties that we face on the bumpy road to 2100. There will be many surprises ahead: negative (e.g., cyberwar), positive (e.g., nanotechnology fully developed), and perhaps ambiguous (e.g., contact with extraterrestrial intelligence), as well as many surprises that we can’t even imagine. Global governance and global law are huge challenges at a time when we can’t agree on governing our nation-states, and the growing distractions of infoglut are formidable.
Geonautics By Gereon Klein everything; in particular, howe v e r, e n e r g y was scarce. Everything that seemed reasonably plausible to produce energy had been tried. Then, the successful linking of smallscale biochemical power stations with electricity factories signaled a breakthrough. The Earth served as factory premises. Light, oxygen, and carbon dioxide as operating resources were available in sufficient supplies. Plants could be reconstructed on site to become re actors and could be configured into Green Energy Plants (GEP). A beam from Earth to Cosmos had been installed for energy transport. Since an additional energy repeater had been positioned in a geostationary orbit, energy transfer ran smoothly and without interruptions. For the operation and op-
she moved closer to GEP9.1. Upon closer inspection, Ayanda found a voice in her mind. It always occurred in the same tone and fell silent when her distance to GEP9.1 increased. She could hear the voice clearly, but was unable to understand it. Her frequency meter showed no signals. When she asked colleagues in passing, they noticed nothing. Then the geonauts had to head back to Cosmos. Now she was back and would have a closer look at GEP9.1. Ayanda’s thoughts were interrupted by the security briefing from afar: “And remember that without protective clothing you will have 10 minutes before you have accumulated the life-threatening dose of radiation.” What had happened to her electricity machine since the DNA modification? Did this generator have a language or even intelligence? If only she could understand the voice. Slightly uneasy and with gooseflesh all over her body, Ayanda was looking forward to her arrival at GEP9.1 on Mumbai-II.
timization of the GEPs, teams of experts commuted between Cosmos and Earth with the Geonautics. During this trip, Ayanda © TIJMEN KOELEWIJN / ISTOCKPHOTO had the official task of increasing the energy density of GEP processes. Secretly, however, she was to investigate inconsistencies of GEP9. During the last maintenance, she had installed an innovative DNA for the filtering of electrons. This DNA had been developed from recombining germ cells of different mammals. Tests had yielded promising results, but ever since GEP9.1 was back in operation, interferences occurred constantly—and every time, it was a different error. They were faced with a mystery. Ayanda remembered that ever since the modification her pulse became faster, and she became confused when
In 2003, Sir Martin Rees, Great Britain’s Astronomer Royal, wrote that “the odds are no better than 50-50” that our present civilization will survive to 2100. It’s still a pretty good bet.
On Being Human: Questioning Ourselves By David Brin What do you mean by “people”? Will that term signify the same thing in 88 years? Its meaning already changed during the twentieth
century, as the great big Inclusion Movement brought more kinds of beings into the tribal firelight. All of our old tribes defined a stark, moral difference between outsiders and those who could be called “human beings,” deserving protection of morality and law. But gradually, then with accelerating speed, we’ve seen races, classes, and genders who were previously excluded demand and attain the respect of adult citizenship. Indeed, as technology and wealth gradually lowered fear levels, one result was an expansion of our perceived horizons: Horizons of space, as maps became continental, then planetary, then interstellar. Horizons of time, as evidenced by this magazine and this very article! Hori-
2099: Headlines Warn of Global Cooling By Tsvi Bisk
Howard Nathan was reading his hologram news “paper” at breakfast (funny how archaisms survive, he thought— there hadn’t been paper newspapers for well over 50 years). It was December 2099, and the pundits had begun to pontificate about the new century. The headline “Worried Environmentalists” caught his eye; it was an article about the impending manmade Ice Age and the disappearance of the world’s deserts. The threat of global cooling was now a hot topic for debate, since the threats to human well-being that had distressed humanity at the beginning of the century had motivated imaginative inventors and policy makers to develop successful solutions to counterbalance greenhouse gases: 1. The widespread adoption of vertical urban agriculture enabled an area the size of Denmark to provide enough food for 7 billion people. The rewilding of vast areas of the planet resulted. Forests had reconquered Europe and China; rain forests had reconquered India and Brazil. This explosion in biomass feasted on atmospheric carbon
dioxide like ecological piranhas, absorbing 50 gigatons a year. 2. Artificial photosynthesis that absorbed CO 2 more than 1,000 times faster than plant life had been developed in the first decade of the twentyfirst century. Engineers had developed economical ways to extract this CO 2 and make petroleum using bacteria and sunlight. Since hydrocarbons were still needed as the feedstock for more than 500,000 useful products (plastics, medicines, cosmetics, etc.), this process had spread across the planet. 3. Nanotechnologies accelerated the advent of energy-autonomous vehicles and buildings. Cars were now built out of buckypaper (weighing less than the driver), which also functioned as a hyper-efficient photovoltaic skin providing electric energy to run the car. Most buildings were outfitted with mini-depolymerization units that converted all human waste, garbage, and trash to gas that provided all the electricity, heating, and cooking the building needed. The sewage system had
become a thing of the past decades ago, as had garbage and trash collection. Landfills spewing methane were now long gone. The electric grid and its ugly pylons no longer existed. 4. Massive forestation of the planet’s semi-arid areas had begun in the 2010s and was sucking up several gigatons of CO2 a year (in addition to the rewilding). Genetic engineers had developed plants that could use sea water or survive on evening dew. Vast areas of desert were now overrun with these exotics, and experts worried that future generations would never see the wondrous beauty or experience the spiritual effects of the deserts. Howard was not worried. Like his grandfather, who was also a psychologist with a thriving practice treating Global Warming Anxiety Syndrome, Howard now had a thriving practice treating Global Cooling Anxiety Syndrome. One could always depend on human neuroses to make a living. Everything had changed, but human beings had remained the same.
Reunion: A Civil War Fable By Cynthia G. Wagner
The twins were separated at birth in 2012, and though they had been communicating with each other for many years, they planned their physical reunion to coincide with the reunification of the United States of America on January 1, 2100. The division between their parents was at first strictly due to spiritual clashes. But as twins Bucky and Custis grew up, hope of any future contact between them dimmed as the United States of America fell apart during Civil War II of the 2030s. Though not technically a repeat of the North versus South Civil War of the nineteenth century, the Second Civil War was similar in its conflict over states’ rights. It became clear that the phrase “united states of America” was case-sensitive: Supporters of united States could never align with supporters of United states. Fiery rhetoric soon erupted in catastrophic violence, and the United Nations formally recommended dividing the fallen superpower as a way to end violence. Voters on both sides agreed. Recovery was surprisingly quick in urban areas, which crowdsourced a
© CAMERON WHITMAN / ISTOCKPHOTO
new constitution to formalize a geographically dispersed nation, the United Cities of Northern America (UCNA, whose national symbol became known as “Uncle Noam”). Bucky was elected the Chief Executive of the Legion of Mayors. Forced to abandon their rural neighbors, Citizens built reinforced barriers to protect against insurgents as well as invasive species. All buildings were greened with vertical farms and rooftop nature preserves to maintain self-sufficiency and biodiversity. The economy thrived as creativity was encouraged not just to promote innovation, but also to develop a lively entertainment industry that kept people from shutting themselves in their homes and virtual communities. Even in hard times, everyone danced.
zons of inclusion and also of worry. Where our ancestors fretted over their next meal or harvest, or the next enemy invasion, we now ponder dangers that may only prove dire decades, even centuries, from now. So, will this process continue? Will we be granting moral rights and citizenship to other species? To those we alter—or “uplift”—toward sapient equality? To intelligences that are artificial, blended, gengineered, or even alien? Precedents abound, both in real life and in the thought-experiments of science fiction.
Meanwhile, in the more informally cooperative Southern States, Bucky’s twin, Custis, pioneered the establishment of autonomous Pastoral Villages built around individual megachurches. While economic depression ensued quickly as the Villages cut ties to international networks, communities found strength and courage in their own shared faiths. After decades of dislocations, forced migrations, and deportations, the hope for a harmonious homogeneity evaporated. People rebelled against the suppression of ideas deemed harmful in any way. (Even accusations of “socialism” were shouted down by Village counsels.) The lack of diversity proved harmful to economies, and the Pastoral Village experiment collapsed with the Third Civil War of the 2070s. As brothers and as revered leaders of their respective governments, Bucky and Custis knew that they could not live without each other. Their virtual peace talks inspired hundreds of millions of Americans, Mexicans, and C anadians to look forward to a new century of open, collaborative futuring. Besides, they missed each other.
Will even the simulated inhabitants of our games and stories start demanding liberation? Nobody ever said the future will be simple. At least, no one who remains credible. *** Editor’s note: The response to our call for essays was overwhelming. To read more forecasts and scenarios, and to comment or add your own thoughts about the twenty-second century, go to www.wfs.org/futurist. ❑ www.wfs.org
S P E C I A L
A D V E R T I S I N G
S E C T I O N
CONSULTANTS AND SERVICES
listing of consulting futurists. For information about being listed in the directory, published in every issue of THE FUTURIST and available on the Web at www.wfs.org, call Jeff Cornish toll free at 1-800-989-8274 or 301-656-8274, or fax 301-951-0394.
Karl Albrecht International San Diego, CA U.S.A. Phone: 858-576-1500 E-mail: futures@KarlAlbrecht.com Web: KarlAlbrecht.com Contact: Dr. Karl Albrecht Conference Keynote: “Possibilities: Getting the Future You Deserve — Survival Secrets of the World’s Oldest Companies.”
Alsek Research Economic Futures 7650 S. McClintoch Dr., #103-233 Tempe, AZ 85284 Phone: 480-225-2507 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.alsekresearch.com Contact: Joan Foltz Keynotes, workshops, and anticipatory analysis of global markets, investing, and business structures. Author of Market Whipped: And Not By Choice.
Alternative Futures Associates 100 N. Pitt St., Suite 307, Alexandria, VA 22314-3134 Phone: 703-684-5880 Fax: 703-684-0640 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.altfutures-afa.com Contact: Clement Bezold, Jonathan Peck, Eric Meade Vision and scenario development, strategic planning, trend analysis, workshop design and facilitation, presentations, keynotes, consulting.
Atlas Safety & Security Design, Inc. 770 Palm Bay Ln., Suite 4-I, Miami, FL 33138 Phone: 305-756-5027 Fax: 305-754-1658 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.cpted-security.com Contact: Dr. Randall Atlas, AIA, CPP Pioneers in crime prevention through environmental design. Design of jails, prevention of premises liability lawsuits.
Aviv Consulting 15363 NE 201st St. Woodinville, WA 98072 Phone: 425-415-6155 Fax: 425-415-0664 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.avivconsulting.com Contact: Aviv Shahar Helping leaders and teams develop their vision
and design the future. Innovation, strategy, coaching, consulting, retreats.
Center for Strategic Futurist Thinking 46 B/4 Jerusalem St., Kfar Saba, Israel 44369 Phone: 972-54-558-7940 Fax: 972-9-766965 Web: www.futurist-thinking.co.il E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Tsvi Bisk Strategic futurism: “Getting from Here to There” (Keynote speaker) Jewish, Mid-East and Mediterranean Futures (consulting).
Christensen Associates, Inc.
Common Sense Medicine 812 W. 8th St., Suite 2A, Plainview, TX 79072 Phone: 806-291-0700 Fax: 806-293-8229 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.commonsensemedicine.org Contact: Lon Jones DO, Jerry Bozeman M.Ed., LPC Adaptations today are the future. The authors of The Boids and the Bees tell how to guide adaptations in our living systems: healthcare, education, economy, even us.
Creating the Future, Inc. with Edward D. Barlow, Jr.
8168 Manitoba St., No. 2, Playa Del Ray, CA 90293-8291 Phone: 310-578-0405 Fax: 310-578-0455 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.camcinc.com Contact: Chris Christensen, CMC Avoid devastating surprises! Exploit ANY future! Stimulating and entertaining keynotes, workshops, assessments, and consulting.
2907 Division St., Suite 109, St. Joseph, MI 49085 Phone: 269-982-1830 Fax: 269-982-1541 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.creatingthefuture.com Contact: Ed Barlow (staff: Sandy, Tammy, and Tresea) Relating influences of a changing world to industries, organizations, professions, communities. Presentations, strategic planning facilitation.
Joseph F. Coates, Consulting Futurist, Inc.
de Bono For Business
5420 Connecticut Ave. NW, #619 Washington, DC 20015-2832 Phone 202-363-7440 Fax 202-363-4139 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.josephcoates.com The future is my business: futures research, consultation, trend analysis, scenario development, visioning, scientific, technological and social forecasting, training, briefings, workshops, presentations and keynotes. Coates has been one of the most frequently cited authors in Future Survey and one of the most popular speakers at the World Future Society annual meetings. He is the author or co-author of six books, most recently A Bill of Rights for 21st Century America, and of 2025: Scenarios of US and Global Society Reshaped by Science and Technology. He has had assignments from half of the Fortune 100 firms, and has had published 290 articles on the future since 1990. He is also responsible for 200 proprietary reports to business, government and association clients. Coates will enlighten you on the future of any subject. Prepare for an unforgettable encounter.
248 W. Loraine St., #103, Glendale, CA 91202 Phone: 818-507-6055 E-mail: info@LyndaCurtin.com Web: www.deBonoForBusiness.com Contact: Lynda Curtin, the Opportunity Thinker Lift your thinking. Learn breakthrough futurist tools—lateral thinking, six thinking hats. Workshops. Keynotes. Facilitation.
FutureManagement Group AG Wallufer Strasse 3a, Eltville, Germany D-65343 Phone: 49-6123-7 55 53 Fax: 49-6123-7 55 54 Web: www.FutureManagementGroup.com E-mail: Office@FutureManagementGroup.com Contacts: Pero Micic, Claudia Schramm Use the “Eltville Model” of FutureManagement to see more of the future than your competitors!
Future Problem Solving Program International, Inc. 2015 Grant Pl., Melbourne, FL 32901 Phone: 321-768-0078 Fax: 321-768-0097 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.fpspi.org Contact: Marianne Solomon, Executive Director FPSPI is an established educational program that provides a 6-step problem solving process to assist students as they think about the future.
The Futures Corporation 1109 Main St., Ste. 299A, Boise, ID 83702 Phone: 208-345-5995 Fax: 208-345-6083 E-mail: JLuthy@futurescorp.com Web: www.futurescorp.com Contact: Dr. John Luthy Strategic thinking/planning; evolving leadership; organization redesign/development; trend analysis; scenario planning; business growth strategies.
The Futures Lab 2130 Goodrich Ave., Austin, TX 78704 Phone: 512-468-4505 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.futures-lab.com Contact: Derek Woodgate International futures-based consultancy specializing in consumer, business futures. Leaders in the future potential business.
Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey DaVinci Institute, 511 E South Boulder Road, Louisville, CO 80027 Phone: 303-666-4133 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.futuristspeaker.com Contact: Debra Frey Thomas Frey is Google’s top-rated futurist speaker and IBM’s most award-winning engineer. Author of Communicating with the Future—the book that changes everything. Speaking topics: future of business, work, education, transportation, government, and more.
The Greenway Group 25 Technology Pkwy. South, Suite 101, Norcross, GA 30092 Phone: 678-879-0929 Fax: 678-879-0930 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.greenway.us Contact: James Cramer, chairman Strategic change, trends, forecasts, research. Architecture and design technology. Journals:
Design Intelligence. Publications: The Almanac of Architecture & Design, How Firms Succeed, Design + Enterprise, Leadership by Design, Communication by Design, Value Redesigned.
H.G. Hudson and Associates 34 Warren Dr., Newport News, VA 23608 Phone: 757-874-5414 E-mail: HUDSON2059@msn.com Contact: Henry G. Hudson, president and CEO Management consulting help in advanced administrative services, operations, systems, methods, procedures, policies, strategy, and management.
Innovation Focus Inc. 111 E. Chestnut St., Lancaster PA 17602-2703 Phone: 717-394-2500 Web: www.innovationfocus.com Contacts: Christopher W. Miller, Ph.D.; Anne Orban, M.Ed. Innovation Focus is an internationally recognized consulting firm that brings innovation to all stages of product life cycle management and provides proven processes for deep customer understanding and meaningful innovation. Clients include: Kraft Foods, Kimberly Clark, WD-40, Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Institute for Alternative Futures 100 N. Pitt St., Suite 307, Alexandria, VA 22314-3134 Phone: 703-684-5880 Fax: 703-684-0640 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.altfutures.com Contacts: Clement Bezold, Jonathan Peck, William Rowley, MD Uses research reports, workshops, scenarios, and visioning to help organizations understand future possibilities and create their “preferred future.”
Institute for Global Futures 2084 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123 Phone: 415-563-0720 Fax: 415-563-0219 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.GlobalFuturist.com Contact: Dr. James Canton Futures based keynotes, consulting and research for any vertical industry by leading futurist James Canton.
Institute for Participatory Management and Planning P.O. Box 1937, Monterey, CA 93942-1937 Phone: 831-373-4292 Fax: 831-373-0760 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.ipmp-bleiker.com Contacts: Annemarie Bleiker, Hans Bleiker, Jennifer Bleiker We offer a Leadership Boot-Camp for guiding complex problem-solving and decision-making efforts.
KAIROS Future AB P.O. Box 804, S-10136 Stockholm, Sweden Phone: (46 8) 545 225 00 Fax: (46 8) 545 225 01 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.kairosfuture.se Contacts: Mats Lindgren, Anna Kiefer Values, work, technology, marketing. Methods: scenarios, studies, lectures, seminars, consulting. Public and private sectors.
Leading Futurists LLC 4420 49th St., NW, Washington, DC 20016 Phone: 202-271-0444 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.leadingfuturists.biz Contacts: John B. Mahaffie, Jennifer Jarratt Futures consulting, workshops, scenarios, research, keynote talks to help organizations discover new opportunities and challenges. Members, Association of Professional Futurists.
MG Rush Performance Learning 1301 W. 22nd St., Suite 603, Oak Brook, IL 60523
Phone: 630-954-5880 Fax: 630-954-5889 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Contacts: Terrence Metz, 630-954-5882; Kevin Booth, 630-954-5884 Facilitation of, and facilitator training for: scenario planning, strategy development, group decision-making, workshop design, ideation, option development and analysis, and training of facilitative leadership.
Minkin Affiliates 135 Riviera Dr., #305, Los Gatos, CA 95032 Phone: 408-402-3020 E-mail: email@example.com Web: minkinaffiliates.com Contact: Barry Minkin Keynote speaker, bestselling author, global management consultant, three decades linking emerging trends to consumer and market strategy.
More consultants and services, next page www.wfs.org
Next Consulting 104 Timber Ridge Rd., State College, PA 16801 Phone: 814-237-2575 Fax: 814-863-4257 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: nextconsulting.us Contact: Geoffrey Godbey, Ph.D. Repositioning leisure/tourism organizations for the near future. Speeches, ideation, imagineering. Client list on request.
Jim Pinto Associates P.O. Box 131673, Carlsbad, CA 92013 Phone: 858-353-5467 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.JimPinto.com Contact: Jim Pinto Speaker and consultant: technology futures, industrial automation, global business trends, Internet business relationships.
Pinyon Partners LLC 140 Little Falls St., Suite 210, Falls Church, VA 22046 Phone: 703-651-0359 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.pinyonpartners.com Contacts: Peter B.G. Shoemaker; Dan Garretson, Ph.D. Quantitative and qualitative. Art and Science. However you want to characterize it, our distinctive combination of the hard-nosed and the deeply intuitive is perfectly suited for those navigating over the horizon. Expansive explorations of what’s next; engaging engagements with change; consultations, workshops, research, and talks aimed at creating future-oriented clarity, purpose, insight, and confidence. Member, Association of Professional Futurists.
Qi Systems 35 Seacoast Terr., Apt. 6P, Brooklyn, NY 11235 Phone: 718-769-9655 E-mail: QiSys@msn.com Web: www.qisystems.org Contact: Ronn Parker, Ph.D. Spectrum Counseling: conflict resolution, conscious evolution, martial arts, meditation methods, mindbody strategies, transformational learning.
David Pearce Snyder, Consulting Futurist The Snyder Family Enterprise, 8628 Garfield St., Bethesda, MD 20817-6704 Phone: 301-530-5807 Fax: 301-530-1028 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.the-futurist.com Contact: Sue Snyder High-impact motivating presentations. Strategic assessments, socio-technologic forecasts/scenarios. Keynote addresses, strategic briefings, workshops, surveys.
Strategic Futures® Strategic Futures Consulting Group, Inc. 113 South Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314 Phone: 703-836-8383 Fax: 703-836-9192 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.strategicfutures.com Contact: Ron Gunn or Jennifer Thompson Strategic planning, succession planning including mentoring, executive coaching, organizational change facilitation, and matrix management assistance.
The TechCast Project Department of Information Systems & Technology Management, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. 20052 Phone: 202-994-5975 E-mail: Halal@gwu.edu Web: www.techcast.org Contact: William E. Halal, professor, George Washington University; president, Techcast LLC TechCast is an online research project that pools the knowledge of 100 experts worldwide to forecast breakthroughs in all fields of science and technology. Results are updated in real time and distributed to corporations, governments, and other subscribers to aid in their strategic planning. The project has been featured in The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Futurist, and various journals. The National Academies consider TechCast among the best systems available, and Google ranks it No. 2 or 3 out of 45 million hits. TechCast also gives presentations, conducts customized studies, and performs most types of consulting related to technology and strategic change.
van der Werff Global, Ltd. SynOvation Solutions 455 Hazelwood Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 Phone: 415-298-3008 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.synovationsolutions.com Contacts: Bruce L. Tow, David A. Gilliam Future-is-now resources to help you achieve key and mission-critical breakthroughs or creatively evolve your business to meet future challenges.
Synthesys Strategic Consulting Ltd. Belsize Park, London NW3 UK Phone: 44-207-449-2903 Fax: 44-870-136-5560 E-mail: www.hardintibbs.com Web: www.synthstrat.com Contact: Hardin Tibbs, CEO Synthesys specializes in using futures research to develop innovative strategies. Based in London UK, with international experience in both the public and private sectors, across many different industries. Projects include horizon scanning, strategic sense-making, scenarios, vision building, assumption testing, and strategy formulation, either as expert input or by co-production directly with leadership teams.
Link to futurist consultants and services online at www.wfs.org/consultants
4958 Crystal Circle, Hoover, AL 35226 Phone: 888-448-3779 Fax: 888-432-9263 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.globalfuture.com Contact: Dr. Terry J. van der Werff, CMC Confidential advisor to corporate leaders worldwide on global trends, executive leadership, and strategic change.
Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc. 200 E. 33rd St., Suite 9I, New York, NY 10016 Phone: 212-889-7007 Fax: 212-679-0628 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.weineredrichbrown.com Contact: Arnold Brown, Edie Weiner For over two decades, the pioneers in detecting emerging trends and linking them to a ction.
Xland sprl 111 Av Grandchamp, Brussels, Belgium 1150 Phone: 32-475-827-190 Fax: 32-2-762-46-08 Web: www.xland.be E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: D. Michel Judkiewicz Trend analysis, scenarios, forecasting opportunities/threats based on strong and weak signals for resilient strategies.
Book Review A Leaderless World Order? By Rick Docksai
New alliances and new cold wars are both possible as the era of superpowers is over, says policy scholar Ian Bremmer. The next few decades of geopolitics will be messy. Coalitions of nations, such as the G7 and G20, convene and attempt to orchestrate solutions to global problems, but each attempt comes up short. This is an indicator that the world’s real situation is “G-Zero”: No country or group of countries is leading, or even capable of leading, the world, argues Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, in Every Nation for Itself. “Many countries are now strong enough to prevent the international community from taking action, but none has the political and economic muscle to remake the status quo. No one is driving the bus,” he writes. China, Japan, Europe, and the other global powers are each too weighted down with domestic troubles to exert strong leadership abroad, according to Bremmer. Even multinational global organizations, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are lacking. They were designed originally to entrench American and European leadership, but now the emerging nations are demanding greater say within them, which not only undercuts the founding nations’ agendas, but also makes it more difficult for the organizations to approve clear plans of action. There are too many member states with differing interests. Sanctions, for instance, will cease to be enforceable. Whatever rules a
governing body such A concert of world as the UN Security leaders that includes Council might impose China and the United upon a country, other States could emerge, countries will flout the and thus the world rules, and there will would have a true G20 not be a bloc of counat its helm—but this is tries able to dissuade not likely. Bremmer them. places more stock in Bremmer cautions either a “Cold War leaders to accept that, 2.0” future of ecoin this geopolitical renomic rivalry and cyality, no nation will be berwarfare between in control of events. the United States and Leaders everywhere China or a world must be agile, adaptwhere multinational able, and able to man- Every Nation for Itself: institutions become irWinners and Losers in a age unexpected crises. relevant and nations G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer. Individual nations tend to their respecPortfolio/Penguin. 2012. 229 may enforce order pages. $26.95. tive regions instead of within their respective the globe at large. regions. Brazil might “It’s hard to imagine come to dominate Latin America, for a crisis large enough to force lasting example, and Saudi Arabia could be cooperation from most of the a force for political and economic world’s established and emerging stability in the Persian Gulf. How- powers,” he writes. ever, there will no longer be any one While Asia will be the biggest conor two world powers directing af- tributor to global economic growth, fairs across the globe, Bremmer fore- it may also be the most unstable recasts. gion on Earth. As U.S. influence in Also, global trade frameworks will Asia wanes, China will exert more go by the wayside. Governments clout and may encounter pushback will move toward more economic from Japan, South Korea, and other protectionism—tariffs on imported affluent neighbors. Meanwhile, goods, strict regulations on foreign China’s own domestic situation will companies that do business on their grow more tentative as mass protests soil, etc.—to preserve domestic jobs and global economic changes seand safeguard domestic producers. verely undermine its economic and Most governments will be more in- political stability. clined to enact exclusive trade agreeChina can retain its preeminence, ments with one other country or re- but only if it carries out dramatic sogional bloc. cial and economic reforms. The Nonetheless, it will be imperative United States, meanwhile, must for world leaders to cooperate to the tackle its own burgeoning public greatest extent possible, says Brem- debt, and that will necessitate some mer. The United States and its indus- measures that are now politically trialized-world allies must act in difficult—cutting military expendiconcert not only with each other, but tures, raising taxes, and trimming also with China, India, and the other public health and retirement prodeveloping powers, to achieve any grams. U.S. leaders must additionmeasureable progress on common ally accept a more limited U.S. role problems. in world affairs, while maximizing “We have entered a period of tran- one surefire foreign-policy tool: sition from the world we know to- w i s e l y n e g o t i a t e d f r e e - t r a d e ward one we can’t yet map. Shifts on agreements. this scale never come without conEvery Nation for Itself is a clear preflict,” he writes. sentation of where the geopolitical www.wfs.org
scene might head later this century and the tangible steps that leaders may take to get there. Policy makers and policy analysts both would do well to add it to their libraries. About the Reviewer Rick Docksai is associate editor of THE FUTURIST magazine.
Edited by Rick Docksai The Planetary Awakening Birth 2012 and Beyond: Humanity’s Great Shift to the Age of Conscious Evolution by Barbara Marx Hubbard. Shift Books. 2012. 246 pages. Paperback. $15.95.
The human race is the first species to knowingly be confronted with either evolution or extinction, and the time is now for us to embrace evolution, asserts futurist and social architect Barbara M a r x H u b b a rd , president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution. In Birth 2012 and Beyond, she argues that we have the capacity to usher in a new age of unprecedented peace, interconnectedness, and global equity, if we choose it. Human society is at a “chaos point”—we cannot resume the old ways of business and governance. Crises of overpopulation, environmental degradation, war making, and economic inequality have brought us to the brink. Individuals and groups the world over are earnestly seeking out better ways. As old beliefs die and old structures crumble around us, new forms 60
are emerging, Hubbard assures us. There is a new economic order about to take shape and myriad groups of young activists, “universal humans,” who are connecting across cultural and geographic boundaries through social media. More fundamentally, a new evolutionary worldview, one that affirms the unity of the whole planetary system, is catching on: increasing empathy, deepening spirituality, and an ever-expanding awareness of the world’s societal and ecological crises. Hubbard explains all of this and then describes how each individual reader can realize the evolution personally and contribute to the world’s ultimate progress. Birth 2012 is a powerful and, at times, poetic statement of humanity’s untapped potential. It is to be recommended for readers and seekers of all walks of life.
Law and Digital Records Burdens of Proof by Jean-François Blanchette. MIT Press. 2012. 276 pages. $30.
Paper documents were the standard of proof in law, business, and everyday life throughout the twentieth century, but the fairly recent conversion of nearly all of our written records into digitized data stored in computers is a whole new paradigm with some never-before-seen challenges, according to UCLA information-studies professor Jean-François Blanchette. In Burdens of Proof, Blanchette looks at the inherent problems of “digital signatures” and the continuing challenge of ensuring that they are as secure and credible as the paper documents that they have replaced. Legal experts have grappled since the 1980s over how to verify beyond reasonable doubt that an electronic document—whether it’s a birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, or anything else—is authentic. Numerous opportunities for document
fraud exist. Further difficulties persist over the electronic voting systems that have replaced paper ballots in many electoral jurisdictions; allegations of machine errors and human ballot tampering have arisen in several U.S. election cycles. Blanchette reviews the development of electronic documentation over the last few decades and assesses the present-day status. Although engineers have resolved many technical issues, to this day, an electronic signature does not in itself prove that a document is trustworthy. A person who views the document has to ultimately trust that the software architecture is sound and that no one has hacked into the system and tampered with the document in any way. The author offers an overview of some technological solutions that may make for better cryptography and better security over records from fraud and abuse. Burdens of Proof is a thoroughly analytical and highly technical read. It is well-suited for students and professionals in software engineering, law, and other related fields.
What If European History Repeats Itself? The Prosperity of Vice: A Worried View of Economics by Daniel Cohen. MIT Press. 216 pages. $27.95.
The globe’s steepest risk this century is the emerging higher standards of living and material consumption throughout the developing world, argues French economist Daniel Cohen in The Prosperity of Vice. China, India, and other onceimpoverished nations are assuming the lifestyles of Western countries,
and the globe cannot possibly sustain it. Cohen finds these socioeconomic trends all the more disconcerting in light of history. As Europe and North America’s nation-states evolved, numerous social upheavals, wars, and occasional genocides took place—World War II and the 1990s disintegration of Yugoslavia being two extremely destructive examples. The developing world is now copying Europe’s historical emergence, but in the course of decades rather than centuries. The same social inequalities and ethnic or religious animosities that have plagued Europe also exist in the developing world,
and could in turn give rise to more domestic, societal, and international violence. The interconnectedness of global commerce and culture makes the situation even more dangerous. Dysfunction in any one corner of the world may disrupt everyone’s lives. Cohen calls on the global community to work together to live peaceably within the resource limits of our finite planet. The Prosperity of Vice draws heavily from the past to issue a warning about the world’s future. Readers of any general audience are likely to find it an approachable and persuasive critique of where human civilization has come from and where it is going. [Editor’s note: For an opposite take on the world’s socioeconomic future, consider reading The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker (Viking Press, 2011). Whereas Cohen antici-
pates rising violence and instability, Pinker argues that the world has been trending toward progressively more peace and civility over the last few centuries and will continue to do so, to the point where warfare will practically disappear.]
A New Paradigm for Older Women Visionaries Have Wrinkles: Conversations with Wise Women Who Are Reshaping the Future by Karen Sands. Broad Minded Publishing. 2012. 255 pages. Paperback. $19.99.
In Visionaries Have Wrinkles, an anthology on womanhood and maturity, professional futurist and gerontologist Karen Sands notes that women have more power to drive business, politics, and society than at any known time in history. However,
Be curious. Take risks. Be hopeful. Make a difference.
Change the world’s conversation. “Abundance provides proof that the proper combination of technology, people, and capital can meet any grand challenge.” —Sir richard BranSon, Chairman of the Virgin Group “A powerful antidote to today’s malaise and pessimism.” —ray Kurzweil, inventor, author, and futurist, author of The Singularity Is Near “Spotlights scientific innovators working to improve people’s lives around the world.” —arianna huffington, CEO, Huffington Post “A blinding glimpse of the innovations that are coming our way—and that they are helping to create. This is a vital book.” —Matt ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
Pick up or download your copy today.
many older women grapple with self-image, partly due to longstanding negative stereotypes: Women’s magazines ignore them and prize youthful beauty, and popular fairy tales portray them as wicked witches. Yet, ancient folklore offers an entirely different image of mature womanhood: the “crone” as a respected elder whom people turn to for healing, guidance, and wisdom. Sands calls upon older women everywhere to “realize their inner crones” and affirm new roles as mentors and cultivators. She then profiles successful older women who have embraced “cronehood.” World Future Society member and popular conference speaker Helen Harkness gets personal mention in
“Goodshop” for WFS The World Future Society needs your help! With the economy in a slump, nonprofits like WFS are having trouble meeting their fundraising goals this year. In a show of support, more than 1,000 of your favorite Internet retailers and travel sites have joined forces with GoodShop.com, donating a percentage of all your purchases to your f avorite c harity at no additional cost to you! It takes just a few seconds to go to www.goodshop.com, select World Future Society, and then click through to your favorite store and shop as usual. Also, Yahoo! has teamed up with GoodShop’s sister site, GoodSearch. com, to donate a penny to your cause every time you search the Web. This is totally free, as the money comes from advertisers.
To get started, go to www.goodshop.com
the book. Her accomplishments include founding the career counseling firm Career Design Associates and authoring, after age 67, several bestselling books on career guidance. Also profiled are Carole Hyatt, a leader of women’s professional-development organizations; C arolyn Conger, a psychologist and psycho-immunologist whose practice incorporates secrets of dream interpretations, energy fields, and intuition that she learned from tribal shamans; Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, a children’s book author who draws from her Native American ancestry to produce stories that present positive images of native peoples; and many others. Harkness and her fellow interviewees reflect on their personal futures and on the value of embracing change, listening to intuition, and living with purpose. They also share their hopes that progress is truly unfolding for the roles of women in the workplace and in culture’s views of seniority. Visionaries Have Wrinkles is an uplifting evaluation of life and the meaning that women anywhere can find in aging. Conversational and personal in tone, women—and men, too—everywhere may find it an inspirational read.
Armageddon Might Be Closer Than We Think X-Events: The Collapse of Everything by John L. Casti. HarperCollins. 2012. 317 pages. Paperback. $12.99.
Modern society is increasingly complex and, consequently, increasingly fragile, according to systems theorist John Casti. He examines the world’s resource bases, energy grids, information systems, geopolitical scene, and the other human-made systems that constitute
civilization, and he finds vulnerabilities throughout them all to “Xevents”—extreme, dramatic, and typically disastrous phenomena. X-events are happening more frequently in this present era, he states, and society’s susceptibility to being horrendously disrupted by them is at an all-time high. Present ways of living, for example, could completely exhaust food and water supplies. It would not take much to cause the entire Internet to fail, thereby paralyzing communication, commerce, and social interaction across the globe, and possibly precipitating massive riots. Likewise, the world’s electricity grids are susceptible to debilitati n g , re g i o n - w i d e f a i l u re s t h a t would be difficult to fix. It is also possible, though less likely, that an electromagnetic pulse phenomenon could instantaneously destroy all the world’s electronics, or that nuclear war could break out. Further into the future, unchecked technological progress could give rise to robots that turn against humanity, or self-replicating nanobots that spiral out of control and reproduce so rapidly that they drown Earth in “gray goo” and crowd out all carbon-based life. Casti explores these and other potential X-events and their likely impacts. Then he advises on how to see an X-event in the making and avert it, or at least manage its outcome. Some of Casti’s X-events are already well known: Media commentators speculate about pandemics repeatedly, for instance. Others may surprise many readers, who otherwise think that nuclear war hasn’t been a danger since the end of the Soviet Union or that an out-of-c ontrol engineering experiment destroying civilization could only happen in science fiction. X-Events is an eye-opening guide to world-threatening hazards and how we can guard against them. ❑
World Future Society Programs The World Future Society is a nonprofit educational and scientific organization chartered in the District of Columbia, U.S.A., and is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization. The Society has about 25,000 members and subscribers in 80 nations. PUBLICATIONS
• The Futurist: A magazine published bimonthly, covering trends, forecasts, and ideas about the future. • Futurist Update: An e-mail newsletter available monthly to all members, covering a range of future-oriented news and useful links. • World Future Review: A Journal of Strategic Foresight: A journal for futures practitioners and scholars, with articles on forecasting techniques and applications, profiles of futurists and organizations, and abstracts of current futures-relevant literature. ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES
• Conferences: The Society holds at least one major conference per year, to which all Society members are invited. Most conferences cover a wide range of topics related to the future. Most conferences are in the United States, but the Society has also held meetings in Canada and Austria. • Groups: Futurist groups are active in a number of U.S. cities, such as Chicago, Washington, and Atlanta, and in more than two dozen countries. • Books: New books of special interest to members may be purchased through the Society’s partnership with Amazon.com. MEMBERSHIP PROGRAMS
• Regular Membership: Includes THE FUTURIST magazine; discounts on conferences and books published by the Society; and such other benefits as may be approved for members. Discounted memberships are also available for full-time students under age 25. • Professional Membership: Programs and publications are available to meet the special needs of practitioners, researchers, scholars, and others who are professionally involved in forecasting, planning, or other futureoriented activities, including education and policy making. Professional members receive all the benefits of regular membership, plus a subscription to the journal World Future Review, as well as invitations to Professional Members’ Forums, and other benefits. • Institutional Membership: The World Future Society’s Institutional Membership program offers special services for business firms, educational institutions, government agencies, associations, and other groups. Members receive all of the benefits of Professional Membership, plus copies of all books, monographs, conference proceedings, special reports, and other publications produced by the Society during the year of the membership; special discounts on bulk purchases of Society publications; assistance in locating sources of information, consultants, and speakers for conferences and meetings, getting information tailored specifically to the organization’s needs; and inclusion in the Society’s list of institutional members published on the Society’s Web site and annually in THE FUTURIST. For more information and an application, contact Membership Secretary, World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, Maryland 20814 www.wfs.org.
As Tweeted JIM HURON / AFP / GETTY IMAGES / NEWSCOM
RIP Ray Bradbury Legendary science-fiction author Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91 on June 5, 2012, after a long illness. Futurists were inspired to tweet their reflections, tributes, and favorite quotations. @io9: R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles http://io9.com/5916175/ripray-bradbury-author-of-fahrenheit-451-and-the-martianchronicles @latimes (Los Angeles Times): Ray Bradbury, dead at 91, leaves a legacy as a writer who provided enduring speculative blueprints for the future. @BBC_Future: “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it.” Ray Bradbury, RIP. @BBCWorld: “If you know how to read... then you know how to vote” - American writer Ray Bradbury dies in Los Angeles aged 91 @brainpicker (Maria Popova): “We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.” RIP, Ray Bradbury @KelSmith: RIP Ray Bradbury, my favorite martian. @cascio (Jamais Cascio): Thanks, Ray Bradbury, for making me who I am today. http://www.openthefuture .com/2012/06/becoming.html @wendyg (Wendy M. Grossman): R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, author of so much wonderful science fiction, at 91. The images in The Martian Chronicles have stayed with me always. @neiltyson (Neil deGrasse Tyson): Creative imaginative visionary. A dreamer, like so many of the best science fiction authors. Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), R I P @UtneReader: Goodbye Ray Bradbury, thanks for expanding our minds @bergopolis (Amy Berg): RT @redrighthand: Ray Bradbury is not dead. Go look at your bookshelf. He will outlive us all. | Retweeted by @BarryWellman @nigelcameron: It’s a lot easier to burn #ebooks. #justsayin #Fahrenheit451 #Bradbury @ByoLogyc: May he rest well, knowing he gave to us all a glimpse of the future. @MargaretAtwood: So sad to hear of Ray Bradbury’s death. @Sam__Weller + I planned to visit him just before ComicCon. Shadow Show tribute made him happy... @comicsreporter (Tom Spurgeon): thanks to Mr. Bradbury from me and every other reader who can still see his section of the local library in their mind’s eye; RIP | Retweeted by @MargaretAtwood @paleofuture (Matt Novak): I had the immense honor 64
Ray Bradbury in a 1990 photo.
of meeting Mr. Bradbury recently. Such a fascinating and kind man. He will be missed. @changeist (Scott Smith): Bradbury was my main lit inspiration as a teen. Showed me how to look at technology through a social and political lens. RIP. @trevver (Trevor Haldenby): RIP Ray Bradbury #TheIllustratedMan and #SoundOfThunder taught me that emotions are the most unpredictable technology.... @RichLouv: Advice from the Late Great Ray Bradbury: Be an “Optimalist” @TheFutureScout (Patricia Tynan): Thank U for helping us to see reality of the present & possibilities of the future. RT @raybradbury: A life’s work should be based on love. @raybradbury: Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. | Retweeted by @rdlankes @raybradbury: You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. | Retweeted by @garrygolden For more information about Ray Bradbury, visit his official Web site, www.raybradbury.com. Follow the World Future Society on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ WorldFutureSoc and THE FUTURIST’s deputy editor Patrick Tucker at ❑ http://twitter.com/TheYear2030.
A Special Message from the President of the World Future Society
Because the Future Matters… Dear Reader,
The World Future Society Needs You ... because the more complex that the future becomes, the more minds we need at work: • scanning the horizon, • scouting the opportunities and risks ahead, • envisioning inspiring possibilities, • deliberating and debating alternative scenarios, and • leading the teams that will build better futures not just for ourselves, but also for the generations to come. For nearly half a century, members of the World Future Society have supported the publications, resources, research, and networking opportunities that have helped develop the field of futures studies. Over the years, we have expanded the foresight capabilities of leaders in government, business, academia, and civil society; enabled people from all walks of life to come to terms with rapidly accelerating change and create better futures for their families and businesses; and promoted the more specialized work performed by professional futurists. As we look to our own future, the Society is now faced with the challenge of expanding its mission to more people via new media ventures and education initiatives. Our goals include: • Building a better Web community for members, with easier access to futures materials and connections to colleagues around the world. • Creating a dynamic network of futurist groups at the local level, enabling communities, villages, schools, and organizations to collectively envision and build sustainable futures. • Developing a meta-curriculum of futures studies that enables foresight to be incorporated into all classroom studies and learning activities. • Cultivating young futurists by providing resources, networking opportunities, and other support through the Global Youth Foresight program. • Improving the training and education of both professional futurists and those who need to incorporate futuring methodologies in their own professional activities or personal pursuits. But our goals cannot be met without your support, and membership dues alone cannot sustain the future we hope to achieve.
8 Ways You Can Help the World Future Society
1. Make a generous, tax-deductible donation to the Society. Donors are gratefully acknowledged in THE FUTURIST each year, and those who donate student scholarships for the conference are also acknowledged in the conference program. Donate online at www.wfs.org/support 2. Volunteer your expertise in fund-raising, grant-writing, sponsorship sales, and partnership program development. Contact me, Tim Mack, at email@example.com or 301-656-8274. 3. Renew your membership—NOW! Not a member? Join now, for just $79 a year. Learn more here: www.wfs.org/renew 4. Consider giving gift memberships to all your friends, family, neighbors, clients, colleagues, mentors, and mentees. The first gift is $79, and the rest are just $65 each: www.wfs.org/gifts 5. Consider giving gift student memberships, just $20 a year each for fulltime students under age 25. 6. Become an Institutional Member, enabling your organization to receive all publications produced by the Society and special assistance in finding resources and making connections tailored to meet your needs. Learn more at www.wfs.org/benefits 7. Become a Professional Member, entitling you to a subscription to World Future Review and complimentary registration for the annual Professional Members’ Forum, in addition to all the other benefits of Society membership. Learn more at www.wfs.org/professional 8. Register for WorldFuture 2013, to be held July 19-21 in Chicago, Illinois. There is no better place to express your own ideas and pick up new ones. And there are many other ways that you can help spread the word about the World Future Society and its mission, resources, and activities: • Sign up to receive Futurist Update, the World Future Society’s free monthly e-mail newsletter, and share it with your own network of co-workers, friends, family, or clients: www.wfs.org/content/futurist-update • Follow the Society on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social- networking venues. • Join a local group of futurists to participate in book discussions, lectures, field trips, and other activities. Learn more about futurist groups, in both the real and virtual worlds, at www.wfs.org/chapters By taking action now, you will help the Society to sustain the services we have, develop new and useful services and products, promote educational efforts, and support the work of practicing futurists. With a general public educated to the benefits of futures studies, the field can only grow stronger—more people and organizations will recognize the critical need for foresight, because the future matters. Thank you for your support—now and in the future! Take care,
Tim Mack President firstname.lastname@example.org
WorldFuture 2013: Exploring the Next Horizon
The annual conference of the World Future Society, to be held in Chicago, July 19-21, 2013, at the Hilton Chicago hotel.
The twenty-second century is already becoming visible over the next horizon. Futurists are sharpening their foresight skills now so that we can both imagine a better future and develop the resources we’ll need to build it.
NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES: A complimentary welcoming reception, keynote luncheons, group business meetings, reserved networking areas throughout the meeting, and more.
Join your fellow visionaries and future builders at the World Future Society’s 2013 conference.
PRESENTATIONS AND PRECONFERENCE COURSES: Proposal deadline is October 31, 2012.
WHEN: Friday evening, July 19, through Sunday, July 21, 2013. Preconference courses and Education Summit on Thursday and Friday, July 18 and 19, and Professional Members Forum on Monday, July 22.
HOTEL: The Hilton Chicago is historic yet modern, majestic yet comfortable, making it the ideal venue for inspiration and networking. Guest rooms feature picturesque views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park, and the hotel is close to exciting attractions like the Art Institute, Field Museum, McCormick Place, and Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club!
WHERE: Hilton Chicago hotel, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA. Phone: 1-312922-4400; Web site www.hiltonchicagohotel.com WHO: Visionaries, innovators, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, and decision makers from around the world. WHAT: The WorldFuture 2013 program will inspire participants to consider longer-term trends and possibilities. The first outlines of the twenty-second century are just coming into view, and the time is now to start thinking and caring about the world that today’s newborns will inhabit. TOPICS: Science and technology, business and careers, learning and education, environment and resource management, health and wellness, world affairs, values, and more. “Exploring the Next Horizon” invites consideration of a wide range of important—and overlapping—issues. SPECIAL EVENTS: Futurists: BetaLaunch 2013 … Master Courses … Meet-the-Author sessions … Table-top Exhibits … and more activities are planned.
HOST CITY: The World Future Society is delighted to return once again to Chicago, a global leader in trade and commerce, education and research, science and technology, art and architecture, sports and entertainment, transportation and manufacturing, and more. EARLY-BIRD REGISTRATION: The earlier you register, the lower the cost! Register online now at www.wfs.org FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: World Future Society Headquarters 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450 Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA Telephone 800-989-8274 or 301-656-8274 Fax 301-951-0394 E-mail email@example.com Web site www.wfs.org