“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to
spend the rest of my life.”
—George Burns, late
great cigar smoking comedian
As a species, we just can’t get ahead.
Despite the many innovations that have bettered humans’ ability
to look into the future, the ongoing convergence of these
technologies and information structures has accelerated the pace of
change, making it harder for us to imagine what’s just around the
corner. New blogs (Tech Crunch, Mashable, Gizmodo), trend trackers
prediction markets (Inkling, Predictify, Zii Trend) are useful and
necessary attempts to claim back our forecasting advantage. Adding
to such efforts is the brand new Future Blogger, a site
that aims to take discussion of the wider future to the next
On behalf of the Future Blogger team:
Future Blogger is a blog network focused on exploring
ground-breaking information related to the future. The site
combines rich top-down reporting and images with broad bottom-up
content generated by a community with diverse interests. Experts
and amateurs alike can contribute predictions, scenarios, trend
analyses, future fiction, illustrations, videos and any other
future-related content. Guided by a community feedback system, the
best posts are funneled to the top, to the front page and a broader
audience, where they receive increased community feedback. These
posts are also submitted to Future Scanner, a future-focused
digg-clone that both amplifies the signal of Future Blogger and
serves as a valuable resource for future bloggers working on new
All that being said, what does all of this mean for you, the
future-interested web surfer?
For one, you can regularly check out the main pages of both
Future Blogger and Future Scanner to quickly get an overview of the
wild future ahead of us. Go deeper by filtering content by future
year and category or by exploring other posts by your favorite
future bloggers. And make sure to take advantage of our various
RSS feeds and Facebook widget if you’re
pressed for time.
It’s also easy (and free) to open an account that lets you
comment, vote, submit cool links and keep track of your favorite
content. Taking a moment to setup a MemeBox account will not only
help organize your simulation of the future, it will serve to
incorporate your feedback into the broader site, helping shape the
overall direction and content.
For those of you looking to contribute memes to the global
future dialogue, there’s no better place to post your thoughts,
predictions, illustrations and scenarios than Future Blogger.
Whether you’re an established writer looking to extend your reach,
or an up-and-coming thinker seeking feedback and an audience,
teaming with the Future Blogger community is a win-win proposition.
You can easily submit original or cross-posted content through your
user account to engage an active future-focused community.
Together, Future Blogger and Future Scanner represent a new
method for imagining the future ahead of us. As Burns said, we’re
all going to spend the rest of our lives there, so it’s important
that we better our simulation of what’s coming next. We’re psyched
that you’ve ventured our way and hope you’ll stick around as we
build a valuable resource and thread together visions of the
possible tomorrows ahead of us.
In the field of futures studies, expectations on what the
next century holds for us range anywhere from the fantastical to
the downright depressing. Some would say having a negative outlook
on the future hinders the science of actually progressing towards a
better future. Others contend that expecting the incredible will
lead to irreparable technological mistakes.
Utopians might argue that if you see the future as doomed, then
every decision you make will be influenced by that negative
outlook. A perfect example is the pleadings of many scientists and
environmentalists for the media to stop portraying global warming
as inevitable. Their fear is that if people feel that global
warming can’t be stopped, then why care about pollution? Why try
and bail out a sinking ship if it’s guaranteed to go down?
On the other side, having a positive outlook on the future also
heavily impacts your choices. Utopianism is by far more uplifting
(for obvious reasons), but there is harm in it as well. If you have
the expectation that humans will invent a cold fusion reactor in
the next decade, maybe you’re less likely to conserve energy. Or
maybe you’re not concerned about the impact of smoking cigarettes
because thirty years from now, you assume there will be a cure for
In the utopian corner of futures study we find a world where
“biotech and nanotech advances eliminated disease and aging,”
according to Dick Pelletier of www.positivefuturist.com. In
his vision of the future, every human on Earth is not only free of
illness, but also lives in an “ageless body powered by enhanced
neurons.” This fantastical view he sees as not only entirely
possible, but so easily attainable that he estimates all this will
be achieved by the year 2030. Raymond Kurzweil, famous futurist and
holder of 15 honorary doctorates, calculates that our rate of
progress is doubling every decade. Pelletier, although holding
seemingly fictional beliefs, might not be too far off the mark.
Steve has had a long day. He is tired despite having taken the
anti-fatigue pill “Alert” to get through the last web conference on
the company’s newest video unit.
Steve has had a long day. He is tired despite having taken the
anti-fatigue pill “Alert” to get through the last web conference on
the company’s newest video unit. A happy hour beer-fest at an Alfa
lounge sounds tempting, but just after leaving the building; a
sharp chest pain stops him mid step. The pain finally subsides, and
he quickly speaks to his cell phone, activating his personal health
record by uttering the word, “Emergency”.
Immediately, Steve is routed via the internet to his health
plan’s Clinical emergency centre for diagnosis. This Involves
answering a series of yes or no questions about the symptoms and
vital signs asked by a Med-Tech on duty computer. Steve places a
finger on the screen of his cell phone where his bio-signature
converts his bio-scan signals and sends them instantly to the
Emerg-Med Team via virtual Net Centre many time zones away.
The GE Cyberdoc decides that Steve’s condition maybe acute
cardiac ischemia and dispatches a clinic mobile to his exact
location. En route to the nearest emergency-care unit, a battery of
tests, including another bio-scan, are performed and transmitted
immediately through a wireless devise in real time to a lab for
2009 promises to be a big year on the media landscape as next stage public adoption of online product will spur tremendous growth. Here are 5 things to watch for:
Tweet! Twitter explodes and joins the parade - MySpace --> YouTube --> Facebook --> Twitter - as an elite meme that everybody has heard of. In the process it requisitely transforms into a corporate tool and attracts an older demographic cohort.
Online Advertising Hangs Tough Despite all of the end timesrhetoric,online advertisingactually increases 10%. The efficiency of the web is wreaking havoc on traditional media. Companies still need to advertise their products and eyeballs are continuing to flock to the web. Bang for the buck and big metrics make web media undeniably compelling.
The Future Gets Hot The present stinks and people will turn their attention elsewhere. While many will pine for a return to the past they will be forced to look ahead. The doom and gloom of the economic meltdown and global warming combined with the incredible pace of technological change provide a fertile backdrop for projection. ABC's 2100, Discovery's 2057 and plenty of content about the next decade will push this meme to the forefront. Sweet.
Here are two cool examples of augmented reality apps/prototypes that are already out. The first is a really fun one from GE's futuristic Ecoimagination campaign. By making a print-out from their site and holding it in front of your monitor it brings the animation out of the box and into your room. Here's the Future is Awesome's Duncan Rawlinson demonstrating it with the print out attached to his mobile.
Here are some other DIY examples that illustrate it further 1. 2. 3.
Another very cool, though early incarnation technology that gives us a hint of how we'll be interacting with information in our physical environments comes to us from the MIT Media Lab - demoed at the recent TED conference (via Wired).
It's "a wearable computer system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen." Definitely has some of that early stage Minority Report feel to it and I think when looking at these two examples it's pretty obvious that this world will be here sooner than most people think.
Underwater cities have been a dream of futurists.
Starting from Atlantis to the evasive Captain Nemo.
The first underwater built city in Dubai was a scientific
breakthrough. Located just off the coast of the man made “World”
islands, it was the first under water facility capable of
sustaining prolonged life under water. It was built in the shallow
waters, merely ten meters from the surface allowing plenty of
natural light to seep through.
At first air was pumped from the outside until a new air
harvesting technology called “air farming” was adopted in 2020. Air
farming is literally a network of fields of sea plants, saturated
with pumps and filtering systems, extracting and transporting air
to the underwater city. The switch from external to internal air
came in 2022 which introduced a new era of development under water.
It was later discovered that air produced and extracted straight
from the ocean was so beneficial to human health that the
underwater cities quickly became the preferred choice for the rich
and famous. Nicknamed “Utopia”, it became the centre of the
scientific advancement. (cont.)
Anissimov writes, “In less
than a decade, humanity will likely develop weapons even more
deadly than nukes – synthetic life, and eventually, nanorobots and
self-improving AI. Even if we consider the likelihood of human
extinction in the next century to be small, say 1%, it still merits
attention due to the incredibly high stakes involved.”
In a recent Nanotechnology
Now column he explains, “[S]ome technologies may enable
individuals or small groups to carry out attacks, on infrastructure
or people, at a scale that would have required the resources of an
army in decades past. This is not an outlandish concern by any
means; many proponents of the “super-empowered angry individual”
(SEAI) concept cite the September 11 attacks as a crude example of
how vulnerable modern society can be to these kinds of threats.
It’s not hard to imagine what a similar band of terrorists, or
groups like Aum Shinrikyo, might try to do with access to molecular
manufacturing or advanced bioengineering tools.”
But then Cascio turns things around a bit and points out that
“angry people aren’t the only ones who could be empowered by these
If there’s one thing NASCAR has shown the world, it’s that people will watch even the most boring “sport” on the planet in the hopes they’ll see a little blood.
The fact is, people like to see destruction. No, I’m not saying they like to watch death or serious injury, but they do enjoy dramatic destruction. Like it or not, seeing cars smash into each other at high speeds makes is exciting. Even crashing airplanes gets a good deal of attention on YouTube.
A quick glance at human history reveals that people have always had a taste for blood, from the Greeks with their Olympic Games to the Romans and their their arena gladiators.
Think about it. There’s a reason traffic slows down by an accident even though the crash has been cleared off to the side of the road, there’s a reason people crowd around a burning building, there’s a reason The Dark Knight was so popular (want to watch me make a pencil disappear?), and there’s a reason torture-porn movies like Saw and Hostel have raked in so much cash.
So what about our future sports?
We may begin to see more sports straight out of post-apocalyptic movies. With nanobots able to repair injuries within minutes and safety technologies advancing day by day, shouldn’t we expect sports to continue pushing the envelope?
Cities around the country could set up their own arenas, much like the Romans built coliseums around their empire. The Thunderdome from Mad Max could soon become a contemporary institution (in fact, real-life Thunderdomes already occur today, but are notably less deadly than the fictional kind). With such new sporting events, sports relying on violence for viewers, like the UFC, which displaced boxing, might find themselves outdated.
In one of those wonderful historical anomalies, February 12, 2009 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.
Lincoln is recognized as one of the greatest American presidents for helping end slavery. Darwin, of course, is the father of evolutionary biology.
It might appear these two historical giants have little else in common except the same birthday, but Darwin’s theory of evolution will soon call forth a new political debate which could, if not peacefully resolved, rip this country apart as surely as slavery did.
It was the summer of 2022 and I was invited to go
rock-climbing with some friends. I had never attempted this
exercise before, so naturally, I was concerned.
My friends simply dismissed my unease, saying “rock-climbing is
not what it used to be”.
They were right.
Body line pressurized suits have been in use since 2012; first
in NASA spacewalks and then were quickly
introduced to the public. At first they were simply pressurized and
used as a space suit based wrap. It increased mobility and
decreased its size. Since then electronic fibers were introduced to
manipulate the structure of the “smart” fabric thus magnifying the
strength of movement while wearing the suit. Making the user of it,
astoundingly stronger. I knew that hours in the gym would not be
needed for what would be a grueling rock-climbing trip, because my
hire suit enhanced my strength five fold. The trip turned out to be
great, getting to the top was definitely worth the now-easy trip.
Next month we will go kite surfing, I think I might need hire the
You’re chatting with a person whose name you can’t remember. Agonizing minutes pass as you try and figure out not only what they do, but also where the heck you met them before. Your last hope is that some good Samaritan will introduce themselves, but everyone you try to make eye contact with just ignores you. You secretly wish you had that character in the movies who walks around with foreign dignitaries telling them the names of important people.
According to this video by IBM, these awkward situations may soon be a thing of the past.
The most amazing thing about this software isn’t that it can take photos of business cards and put the data directly into your address book, but that it can aid your memory where memories sometimes bottom out.
Faces are probably the easiest thing to remember about a person, but putting a name or even a history behind it can be downright difficult. The idea that you can enter into your PDA where you may have met this person, when it might have been, and then get a list of names and pictures of anyone who matches it is startling. And yet, it’s not entirely unthinkable or outlandish.
So what does the future hold? By 2010 you’ll probably be stalling for time to bring up information on the guy walking towards you (a popular stall might be ‘Just a sec, I’ll be right back.’) instead of winging your way through ten minutes of conversation with a total stranger. Perhaps by 2015 facial recognition will get so good that you’ll be able to “remember” anyone, even complete strangers who for some reason remember you.
What IBM is promising is an end to slowly typing contact information into your cell phone, an end to familiar faces but forgotten names, and an end to lost business cards from people you actually did want to keep in touch with. It won’t be just a cultural exchange miracle – it’ll be a social saving grace.
What does the future of energy look like in the 21st century? Which elements will remain the same? Which emerging technologies might reinvent how we look at energy? Most importantly, how quickly might things change?
Dear Future Blogger Readers,
In case you haven’t already clicked on the new button in our right-hand column, MemeBox.com, Your Forum for the Future, is proud to point you in the direction of The Energy Roadmap. Edited by energy industry futurist Garry Golden (who we’re thrilled to have officially join the MemeBox team), the new blog/site focuses on the most disruptive ideas poised to transform the energy industry over the next decade and beyond.
“The Energy Roadmap aims to bridge the gap between emerging energy technology and deeply rooted accelerating change,” says MemeBox CEO Jeff Hilford, “Garry’s professional background in energy and futures studies will open up new conversations on the future of energy. We are very pleased to add his unique voice to the mix.”
The sheer scale of the energy industry means that most changes will happen gradually, but the sector is not immune to the power of disruptive technologies, accelerating change and entrepreneurial business models. The Energy Roadmap seeks to place these dynamics into the proper context around some of the biggest ideas shaping the future:
- Role of carbon pricing schemes
- Impact of nanoscale materials science and engineering
- Role of biology in energy production and carbon utilization (e.g. algae biofuels)
- Energy storage and distributed power generation (e.g. micro-power, on-site power generation)
- Role of software and power management systems for ‘smart grids’
- Evolution of the Hydrocarbon Industry (coal, petroleum and natural gas)
- Next generation renewables, nuclear, wave, geothermal, and beyond
- Reducing energy intensity of industrial processes (e.g. chemicals, agriculture, materials manufacturing)
- Growing influence of venture capital and energy entrepreneurs
“Energy has become synonymous with the future,” points out Garry Golden, Editor of The Energy Roadmap, “Global demand for energy will double in only a few decades. Incremental improvements will simply not be enough to meet increasing expectations for clean and abundant energy. And we expect disruptive energy systems to emerge from the convergence of new science, technology and business models. The Energy Roadmap is the first blog explicitly devoted to this structured debate about the future of energy.