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In This Issue:
* Drug Therapy Could Benefit Frail Elderly
* Recession-Proofing Your Career
* How the Environment May Benefit from Financial Crisis
* Click of the Month: Guy Yeomans's London Futures Symposium Coverage
* News from the Futurist Community
Muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults increased with the experimental drug MK-677, with no serious side effects, according to researchers at the University of Virginia Health System. A single daily dose could help frail adults stay strong enough to avoid falls and fractures, the researchers believe.
The drug mimics the actions of a peptide that stimulates the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR), which helps regulate growth hormone and appetite. In the study, MK-677 restored 20% of muscle mass loss associated with normal aging.
"Our study opens the door to the possibility of developing treatments that avert the frailty of aging," says Michael O. Thorner, a professor of internal medicine and neurosurgery. "The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age."
SOURCE: University of Virginia Health System,
Employers will likely continue to aggressively reduce payrolls in the foreseeable future, according to The Conference Board's assessment of its latest Employment Trends Index.
Few sectors seem immune to these cuts, though individuals with skills in high demand may find it a little easier to transition to a new employer. Personal-finance adviser Kiplinger.com reports that the career choices likely to remain hot over the next few years include:
* Health care (e.g., pharmacists, physical therapists).
* Education (especially math, science, and bilingual education).
* Security (police officers, detectives, private security guards).
* Environmental science (hydrologists, environmental chemists,
Forensic accounting and medical equipment and supplies distribution are two of the unique specialty programs that the University of Alabama, Birmingham, offers for students seeking high-growth careers. Public administration also offers some security, the University advises, as the government lays off workers at only 25% of the rate of the private sector.
And for many workers, recession-proofing will mean more self-reliance, fluid career paths, and nontraditional work settings. For example, "jellies" are a new form of worker—mostly young entrepreneurs, freelancers, and telecommuters—first introduced by Web entrepreneur Amit Gupta. Unlike a company's work teams, the members of jelly groups may work for different clients or employers, gathering informally with their fellow jellies to brainstorm and support each other on various projects, notes strategic business futurist Joyce Gioia-Herman.
The Conference Board, www.conference-board.org
University of Alabama, Birmingham, http://main.uab.edu
Herman Trend Alert: Spreading Jellies (November 12, 2008),
Sign up now for the World Future Society's next annual meeting,
WorldFuture 2009, and save $200 off the on-site registration fee. The theme, Innovation and Creativity in a Complex World, promises one of the most inspiring programs yet! Join us in Chicago at the beautiful Hilton Chicago hotel, July 17-19, 2009.
Helen Harkness, a professional career consultant and coach, will
coordinate a free career-counseling program at the conference.
Professional career counselors will volunteer their time and expertise to conduct individual 30-minute counseling sessions.
Among the recently confirmed experts you'll meet are Robert D.
Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation
Foundation; Freitas Guerra, executive director of SHAREcircle; Philip Kotler, S.C. Johnson & Son distinguished professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern, University; Ambassador John W. McDonald, president of the Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy; and Susan Whitfield, president of White Tree Consulting.
A special two-hour tour of the Advanced Photon Source at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has also been arranged for conference attendees on July 17 for just $44 ($35 for Society Members). Space is limited, so sign up now!
REGISTER FOR WORLDFUTURE 2009 BY DECEMBER 31 AND SAVE $200:
If there could be any bright side to the current financial crisis, it might be that it could slow down rapid development in coastal areas and allow fragile ecosystems such as barrier reefs to regain strength.
So suggests Iliana Ortega, coordinator of the International Coral Reef Initiative in Mexico. Coral reefs provide habitats for a million diverse aquatic species and billions of dollars in jobs in 90 countries around the world, she told a recent symposium on coral reef preservation and sustainable tourism in Mexico.
The Mesoamerican barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea is the second
largest in the world. The reef provides jobs, food, key tourist
attractions, and protection against hurricanes. Threats to the reef system's health from pollution, climate change, and overfishing thus also represent threats to the economic health of Mexico and Central America, Ortega pointed out.
Ortega described her organization's creative marketing efforts to rally public support for saving Mexico's reefs, including parade floats during Carnival, ads on buses (reaching 730,000 people a day), and sales of telephone cards brightly decorated with photographs of corals.
The symposium, "The Wonder and Value of Coral Reefs," was sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board, the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit International Coral Reef Initiative,
ALSO, International Year of the Reef 2008, www.iyor.org
Guy Yeomans describes his "tumblelog" as an "opportunity to engage with some of my wider futures & strategic foresight interests." In his latest entries, he provides an excellent report of the recent London Futures Symposium, organized by Stephen Aguilar-Millan of the European Futures Observatory.
"I felt this was a useful and comprehensive overview that provided the right kind of insight into the range, versatility and general applicability of the strategic foresight toolkit," Yeomans writes in the first of his reports. "Given the size of the toolkit (9 were explicitly mentioned) it should remind us of the complexity of any investigation of the future."
COMMENT: Responsible citizen journalism in blogs like this can serve a vital function in the Information Age: niche reporting for niche topics. With the fierce competition for attention in the mainstream press, a critical but esoteric subject like the study of the future is too easily and too often ignored. The audience for these subjects now must serve as reporters and gatekeepers; for futurism, I'm gratified to see the need being ably met. --CGW
WORLD FUTURE REVIEW: A Journal of Strategic Foresight (WFR) is a new bimonthly journal for futures practitioners and researchers, combining the scholarship, professional resources, and literature reviews of its predecessor publications, FUTURES RESEARCH QUARTERLY and FUTURE SURVEY.
WFR will be a key benefit of the Society's new and improved
Professional Membership program.
Highlights of the new journal will include a range of articles on policy, trend dynamics, and new techniques, along with profiles of today's leading foresight practitioners and thinkers and short pieces on critical developments in key areas.
DETAILS, WORLD FUTURE REVIEW and Professional Membership:
* MARILYN FERGUSON, author of THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY (1980) and editor of the BRAIN/MIND BULLETIN, died October 19 at her home in Banning, California. She was 70. Ferguson was considered a pioneer in the rise of the New Age movement that promoted the development of human potential through both science and spirituality. DETAILS: www.potentialsmedia.com/MarilynFerguson.html
* COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE FOR INTELLIGENCE: The Millennium Project's Korean node has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea's S&T research organization to create a new intelligence/brain research institute, reports Millennium Project director Jerome C. Glenn. The goal of the yet-unnamed institute will be "to increase knowledge and dissemination of how to improve brain functioning." DETAILS: Millennium Project, World Federation of UN Associations,
* WFS PRESIDENT PROFILED: The November issue of the WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT journal features a lively and candid profile of Society President Tim Mack, describing the work of futurists and covering a broad range of issues on the minds of futurists now. "For Mack, every day spent thinking about the future is interesting and often surprising," reporter John Shaw notes. "And the challenge of peering into the unknown is always stimulating." READ "Beyond the Crystal Ball: Having the Foresight to Predict Future" by John Shaw, WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT (November 2008): www.washdiplomat.com/November%202008/a1_11_08.html
* WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "SUSTAINABLE"? Futurist Bruce Lloyd asks for feedback from WFS members and friends on the question of what we really mean when we use the term "sustainable." Many of the crises that society has faced, including the current global financial crisis, have occurred because the issue of sustainability was not adequately addressed, he argues. READ Lloyd's essay in the Global Strategies Forum, www.wfs.org/lloyd08.htm, and submit your comments in the feedback box or to FUTURIST UPDATE, mailto:email@example.com
In This Issue:
* Energy as Currency
* Prisoners Turn a New Leaf
* Global Economy: "Strong" Recovery Forecast for 2011
* Tips for Helping Workers Cope
* Click of the Month: Tim Prosser, Scrimping on Energy
* News from the Futurist Community
NEW WFS PUBLICATION TO LAUNCH IN 2009
World Future Review: A Journal of Strategic Foresight is a bimonthly journal for futures practitioners and researchers, combining the scholarship and professional resources of Futures Research Quarterly with the overview of significant new future-oriented publications provided in Future Survey. FRQ and FS will cease publication at the end of 2008, but the new World Future Review will offer readers the features of each publication plus additional resources and insights.
Highlights of the new journal will include a range of articles on policy, trend dynamics, and new techniques, along with profiles of today’s leading foresight practitioners and thinkers and short pieces on critical developments in key areas.
World Future Review will be a key benefit of the Society’s new and improved Professional Membership program. Whether you work in the private sector, for a government or international organization, at an academic institution, or are simply a member of the concerned community, you’ll benefit from WFR’s fresh, innovative approach and find its articles on social, economic, and technological trends essential to understanding the forces shaping changes and developments that impact all.
ENERGY AS CURRENCY?
A shaky financial system characterized by volatile money markets and mood-swinging energy prices makes one creative gift idea worth considering: Kilowatt Cards, or gift cards for electricity.
How it works: At Kilowatt Cards’ Web site, you may purchase gift cards with a value of 10 kilowatt hours of electricity (enough to run a 100-watt light bulb for 100 hours). The recipient can then redeem the card at the Web site, which then pays the utility account.
Because the cards hold a specific value, they may also be used to barter for other things and as a hedge against inflation, says spokesperson Robert W. Hahl.
Keep in mind that any enterprise carries risk. Will your Kilowatt Card hold its value five years from now? The organization states in its FAQs: “Kilowatt Cards are backed by a corporation that will still be operating five years from now if it is well-managed. If not, perhaps you will still have a collector’s item.”
DETAILS: Kilowatt Cards
PRISONERS TURN A NEW LEAF
A novel research program is applying one of nature’s sustainability principles: putting “wasted” resources to good use. Instead of languishing in prison cells, inmates at a medium-security prison in Littlerock, Washington, have been recruited to study ecologically important mosses in Pacific Northwest forests.
The Moss-in-Prisons project, led by Nalini Nadkarni of Evergreen State College, uses the inmates to conduct experiments to find the best way to cultivate slow-growing mosses. This will help ecologists replace the vegetation stripped illegally by horticulturalists.
Inmates are ideal research assistants, says Nadkarni, because they “have long periods of time available to observe and measure the growing mosses, access to extensive space to lay out flats of plants, and fresh minds to put forward innovative solutions.”
Other sustainable-living projects promoted at the facility include an organic garden and beekeeping and composting operations. A positive effect for the inmates may be inspiration to improve personal futures: One member of Nadkarni’s research team went for a PhD in microbiology following release from prison.
SOURCE: National Science Foundation
INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY: PRESCRIPTION FOR COMPLEXITY
The theme of the World Future Society's next annual meeting, WorldFuture 2009, is Innovation and Creativity in a Complex World. Mark your calendars now! The conference will be held in Chicago at the beautiful Hilton Chicago hotel, July 17-19, 2009.
Among the forward-thinking experts you’ll meet are bioethicist Arthur D. Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania; Kevin Fickenscher, executive vice president of International Healthcare for Perot Systems Corporation; Esther Franklin, executive vice president and director of cultural identities for Starcom MediaVest Group; Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction and professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh; Ian D. Pearson, futurologist for Futurizon and formerly a futurologist for British Telecommunications; Anna Rappaport, former president of the Society of Actuaries; and Mohan K. Tikku, director of the Centre for Future Studies in Gurgaon, India.
GLOBAL ECONOMY: "STRONG" RECOVERY FORECAST FOR 2011
Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, forecasts that the U.S. and global economies will face a deep recession in 2009 leading to a modest recovery in 2010 and "a more robust recovery in 2011."
Behravesh cites four positive factors that will meliorate the current crisis: falling food and fuel prices, rapid responses from governments to the crisis, unprecedented amounts of liquidity pumped into the system, and the distinct possibility of further fiscal stimulus.
The "full impact on the real economy has yet to be felt,” Behravesh argues. “There is little doubt that the economic outlook will get worse—possibly much worse—before it gets better. Nevertheless, given the recent dramatic reversal in the price of oil and other commodities, the gradual thawing of credit markets, and the large amounts of fiscal and monetary stimulus that have already been set in motion and are likely to be enacted soon, the recovery is likely to be more robust than many pundits are currently predicting."
DETAILS: Global Insight
TIPS FOR HELPING WORKERS COPE
Alexander Crispo, an associate professor of organizational leadership and supervision at Purdue University, offers these tips for workers feeling insecure about the future of their jobs:
1. Imagine a worst-case scenario. What’s the worst thing that could happen to you if you lost your job? Crispo points out that the very worst thing may not be the most probable outcome, but it helps workers focus on finding possible solutions.
2. Never stop learning. Consider attaining a degree or additional training.
3. Read trade publications in your field to stay up to date on relevant trends and issues.
4. Make a list of networking contacts.
5. Keep a journal of what you do well and what interests you.
Crispo emphasizes that not all change is negative. “If your job changes or disappears, it’s an excellent chance to learn something new, discover untapped skills, and meet new people.”
DETAILS: Purdue University
CLICK OF THE MONTH: Tim Prosser, Scrimping on Energy
Planning consultant Tim Prosser tackles a number of technology, economic, and environmental issues in his Futuring Weblog, but his October 24 post is exceptionally noteworthy for its creative thinking on energy solutions.
Prosser offers “a few ideas ‘off the top of my head’ on how we might address our energy (and water) needs in the future,” including:
* Time and motion-operated light controls.
* Inexpensive, whole-house remote controls.
* Light-colored roofing materials.
* Improved air-exchange ventilators.
* Wall chargers that shut off automatically when not in use.
* Flooring and road surfaces that generate electricity.
The most-effective idea, says Prosser, is education. “Many of the cheapest and most effective ways to reduce energy use require only that people understand their value and how to do them. Every school could teach a real home economics class, focusing on energy economics, that would make perhaps the biggest difference possible in the reduction of our per-capita energy use.”
NEW WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY SERVICE: FUNDAMENTALS OF FORESIGHT
Fundamentals of Foresight is a free series of quick briefings on how you can better prepare for a changing world.
Ten weekly e-mails from Society President Tim Mack explain major futuring tools such as scanning, visioning, scenarios, wild cards, and more.
Sign up today! And invite your colleagues, friends, family, students, and others!
TO SIGN UP send an e-mail to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS FROM THE FUTURIST COMMUNITY
* SECOND LONDON FUTURES SYMPOSIUM: The second London Futures Symposium is to be held on November 12, 2008, in Central London. The theme of the day is to be an introduction to futuring, with papers on an scenarios; the future of digital media, gender, and identity; the future of eco-resorts; and more. A special rate of £40 for the day is offered for WFS members. DETAILS: or contact Symposium organizer Stephen Aguilar-Millan at mailto:email@example.com
In This Issue:
* Predicting Future Happiness
* Gaming for Forecasters
* Growing Demand for Cosmetic Surgery Products
* Picking the Next U.S. President
* Click of the Month: CNET Editors' Office
Some people are naturally optimistic or pessimistic, but how accurately they predict the level of satisfaction they may attain in the future depends on a variety of factors, according to research published in PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE.
In a study led by Brandeis University psychologist Margie Lachman, subjects were surveyed over a nine-year period. In the first survey, in 1995-1996, participants between the ages of 24 and 74 rated their satisfaction with life now, with life 10 years earlier, and with how life may be in another 10 years. They were asked the same questions again in 2004.
Lachman and colleagues discovered that there are age-related differences in how individuals view both the past and the future; those age 65 and older rated the past and present equally satisfying but predicted that the future would be less satisfying. Those under age 65 were more optimistic about the future and believed they would be more satisfied a decade hence.
"These more negative expectations from older adults may be their way of bracing for an uncertain future, a perspective that can serve a protective function in the face of losses and that can have positive consequences if life circumstances turn out to be better than expected," says Lachman.
SOURCE: "Realism and Illusion in Americans' Temporal Views of Their Life Satisfaction," PSYCHOLOGICAL SICENCE (September 2008)
A new research platform for collaboratively imagining futures scenarios through games has been launched by the Institute for the Future, an independent nonprofit research organization based in Palo Alto, California.
The first game to be launched in the new Massively Multiplayer Forecasting platform is the Superstruct Game, which asks players to consider solutions to superthreats such as global food shortages, mass homelessness, and pandemics. Other games will include earthquake simulations and care giving. The goals of the games are to "address real-world problems by harnessing the wisdom of crowds," according to the Institute.
Says IFTF's Howard Rheingold, "Massively multiplayer forecasting games is not just a new tool for forecasting, but also a continuation of IFTF's efforts to make forecasting more public, more inclusive, and more experiential."
Among the IFTF researchers involved in developing the Superstruct Game is Jamais Cascio, whose article on scenarios for the Singularity will appear in the November-December 2008 issue of THE FUTURIST (mailed to subscribers October 5).
The theme of the World Future Society's next annual meeting, WorldFuture 2009, is Innovation and Creativity in a Complex World. Mark your calendars now! The conference will be held in Chicago at the beautiful Chicago Hilton hotel, July 17-19, 2009.
Among the forward-thinking experts you'll meet are Ian D. Pearson of Futurizon, formerly a futurologist for British Telecommunications; bioethicist Arthur D. Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania; Esther Franklin, executive vice president and director of cultural identities for Starcom MediaVest Group; Edward E. Gordon, president of Imperial Consulting; Joseph R. Greene, former director of ICE, Office of Training and Development; and Mohan K. Tikku, director of the Centre for Future Studies in Gurgaon, India.
The demand for cosmetic surgery products in the United States is expected to swell by 8.4% per year over the next four years, according to the Freedonia Group.
The trends contributing to this growth include an aging population, an increasingly competitive workforce, and greater social acceptance of cosmetic surgeries and products. Less-invasive surgeries requiring little or no recovery time will see the fastest growth, the company predicts.
Advances in silicone implants and other cosmetic technologies also reassure nervous customer-patients about the safety of procedures. And the introduction of Botox in the 1990s as a quick wrinkle reducer also helped accelerate growth in the injectables sector.
One potential negative factor in the U.S. cosmetic-surgery market is the impact of current economic hard times. Consumers seeking more affordable treatments may increasingly go overseas, limiting growth in the United States, Freedonia's report warns.
SOURCE: "Cosmetic Surgery Products" (2008, 261 pages, $4,600), The Freedonia Group Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, Ohio 44143. www.freedoniagroup.com
Research by two separate futures organizations offer help for Americans going to the polls in November to pick a new president.
In COMPARING CANDIDATES, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation offers a side-by-side comparison of the technology policy platforms of U.S. presidential candidates senators John McCain (Republican) and Barack Obama (Democrat). "Innovation drives long-term national economic growth and has in fact been responsible for 80% of the growth in the U.S. economy since World War II," according to ITIF. "This places technology and innovation squarely at the center of the issue—the economy—that voters have identified as the most important in the 2008 Presidential election."
And, in PICKING A PRESIDENT: CHARISMA OR COMPETENCE? an article available for download from his Web site, business consultant and futurist Karl Albrecht summarizes a research project that sheds light on the way Americans choose their presidents.
According to Albrecht, the electorate needs a better way to choose its leaders than asking questions like, Does the candidate have sufficient experience?–a weak predictor of success, according to many historians. A better question, he believes, would focus on the necessary traits of character and competence the candidate possesses.
The popular online consumer electronics site CNET, a division of CBS Interactive, has launched a new live show, "Editor's Office Hours." The live daily 30-minute show will feature a CNET editor offering advice on popular high-tech gadgets, trends, troubleshooting, and more.
"Our editors receive hundreds of e-mails from users who want answers to their burning tech questions, from specific tech product recommendations to learning more about how to get the most of their tech gadgets," says CNET content VP Scott Ard.
The program streams Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to noon Pacific time.
In This Issue:
Measles Makes a Comeback
Synthetic Fuels for Combat Aircraft
Brain Exercises to Prevent Dyslexia
Sign Language for Cell Phones
Click of the Month: Office of Digital Humanities
News from the World Future Society
Once a childhood scourge and believed long vanquished, measles is making a comeback in the United States, reports the American Red Cross.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, but a successful vaccination program led to its elimination in the United States by 2002. Now, a surge in cases during the first half of 2008 is being blamed in part on increases in international travel.
Worldwide, measles kills an estimated 242,000 people a year and 600 children a day. The Measles Initiative--a partnership of the American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization--aims to reduce measles deaths globally by 90% over 2000 levels by 2010.
“Measles knows no borders, but can be prevented for less than one dollar per child in a developing country,” according to a Measles Initiative statement. “We must be steadfast in our efforts to reduce measles cases globally. As long as children remain unvaccinated they are at risk.”
DETAILS: American Red Cross
U.S. Air Force researchers have developed a promising alternative fuel for the F-15E Strike Eagle. The fuel, a combination of jet fuel and a natural-gas-based synthetic, got its first full test at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia on August 19.
The test demonstrated the safety of the alternative fuel and met the high performance standards for combat aircraft, according to Jeff Braun, director of the Air Force Alternative Fuels Certification office.
The work on new fuels comes from a directive from the Air Force Secretary to move the entire fleet to synthetic fuels by 2011.
DETAILS:United States Air Force
Linguistic problems in preschool children may be a sign of dyslexia, but a new study suggests that early intervention could prevent this common learning disability.
Researchers at the Academy of Finland's Center of Excellence have developed computer–gamelike exercises that utilize phonetics, mathematics, and information technology to help young children overcome their difficulties in processing text.
Children identified as at-risk for developing dyslexia include those whose parents had difficulties in reading and writing, as well as those experiencing “delayed ability to perceive and mentally process the subtleties of a person’s voice ... [and] a sluggishness in naming familiar, visually presented objects,” according to the researchers.
“A fluent ability to read is a prerequisite to be able to understand a demanding piece of text,” says lead researcher Heikki Lyytinen of the University of Jyväskylä. “The best time to start these exercises is the latter part of the preschool age, but it’s not too late even after the children have started school.”
SOURCE: Academy of Finland
For the hearing-impaired, communicating via cell phone has largely been limited to text messaging. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Washington has developed software that incorporates video so that American Sign Language can be used on mobile phones.
Because video requires much faster transmission speeds than text, the low transmission rates and limited processing power of devices available in the United States have prevented the development of real-time video transmission. The MobileASL project will work on improving video compression, which could facilitate communication on slower services.
“The faster networks are not available everywhere,” says doctoral student Anna Cavender. “They also cost more. We don't think it's fair for someone who's deaf to have to pay more for his or her cell phone than someone who's hearing.”
SOURCE: University of Washington
The World Future Society needs your help! With gas prices high and the economy in a slump, schools and nonprofits like WFS are having trouble meeting their fundraising goals this year.
In a show of support, more than 700 of your favorite Internet retailers and travel sites, including Amazon, eBay, Target, Apple, and Expedia, have joined forces with GoodShop.com, donating a percentage of all your purchases to your favorite charity at no additional cost to you! More than 63,000 nonprofits and schools are now on board.
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.
Please start GoodSearching and GoodShopping for the World Future Society today! And tell 10 friends and colleagues about this opportunity to support a worthy cause. To get started, go to www.goodshop.com
With so much of humanity spending so much time online, whether working or playing, researching or relaxing, the concept of “digital humanities” should not be considered an oxymoron.
Created in March 2008, the Office of Digital Humanities is an offspring of the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities and has its own grants-giving function. The office recently announced 22 awards for digital humanities start-up programs and three awards from its Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities. Awards went to such projects as the development of a multimedia historical walking tour of Boston and the use of Internet tools to facilitate study and discussion of fifteenth-century Bible scrolls.
“Our primary mission is to help coordinate the NEH's efforts in the area of digital scholarship. As in the sciences, digital technology has changed the way scholars perform their work,” according to the Web site. “It allows new questions to be raised and has radically changed the ways in which materials can be searched, mined, displayed, taught, and analyzed.”
The site includes grant proposal guidelines as well as summaries of project results and other resources.
* WFS 2008-2009 HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY CONTEST: LOOKING FOR YOUR OWN FUTURE CAREER
The future is a mysterious and often confusing place. The challenge of thinking about the future arises from the ambitious nature of the task. The goal is not just to identify and track emerging job trends, but also to make these trends personally relevant.
The World Future Society and the Future Problem Solvers Program are partnering on a high school essay contest for the coming school year. Entries must be submitted electronically, and the deadline for submitting your entry is March 31, 2009. For contest rules, guidelines, and prizes, check the contest page. Questions, suggestions, or concerns? Contact Society President Tim Mack, firstname.lastname@example.org
Researching and writing an essay on your future career will advance your ability to clearly communicate ideas and concepts to a larger group. And most importantly, it can improve your ability to think critically about your choices and the consequences of your decisions.
* DISTINGUISHED SERVICE: The World Future Society honored longtime FUTURE SURVEY editor Michael Marien during the closing plenary session of the 2008 annual meeting. Marien, who will step down from his 29-year editorship at the end of this year, called his experience of intellectual freedom “unsupervised play.”
In This Issue:
* China's Economy to Surpass U.S.
* European Water Wasters
* More Research, Less Knowledge?
* Click of the Month: Fauxtography
* News from the Futurist Community
The growth of the Chinese economy over the past several years is "no flash in the pan," according to a new report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It will surpass the U.S. economy by 2035 and double by mid-century.
Driven by increasing domestic demand rather than by exports, the Chinese economy will be less susceptible to global discontinuities, according to the report, "China's Rise—Fact and Fiction," by economist Albert Keidel. The Chinese government has also facilitated economic growth by financing infrastructure and making other public investments.
The prospect of a China that is more economically powerful than the United States will have military implications, Keidel warns. Though China's military is currently only a fraction of the size of the U.S. military, policy makers should begin planning today for a very different world in 50 years, the report concludes.
A recent poll of western Europeans' shower habits reveals not only wastefulness but also a lack of concern for the gels, shampoos, and other contaminants draining into water systems.
Britons are particularly self-indulgent showerers, with 12% reportedly lingering for 11 to 20 minutes. And of British men surveyed, only 35% say they think about the contaminants, compared with nearly two-thirds of Spanish women saying they care about the stuff going down the drain.
Most European adults shower between two and five minutes, according to the survey by Ipsos MORI for the Royal Society of Chemistry.
"We have to take on board the critical message that water is a precious resource and in the years to come it is going to become increasingly scarce," says Richard Pike, RSC chief executive. "We can save water massively by using less when washing, without compromising hygiene. One should be able to shower thoroughly within a couple of minutes."
SOURCE: Royal Society of Chemistry
New research about research shows that, despite growing access to scholarly papers online, fewer publications are being cited. The result could be a shallower marketplace of ideas.
University of Chicago sociology professor James Evans reports that the Internet gives researchers instant access to a wealth of information in academic journals, but most citations are limited to more-recent articles appearing in the most-prominent journals. The result may be that only a few new ideas get picked up and others fade away before they are properly evaluated.
Online search tools like Google factor in the frequency of hits on individual sites, putting the most-popular pages at the top of search results. Searchers who hit those sites and include the links in their own research thus perpetuate their popularity.
“With science and scholarship increasing online, findings and ideas that don’t receive attention very soon will be forgotten more quickly than ever before,” warns Evans.
SOURCE: National Science Foundation
Many information-age skeptics are already familiar with the popular myth-busting site Snopes.com. We bring your attention now to a special section of Snopes devoted to verifying the veracity of images that may or may not have been altered.
“Numerous photographs and videos circulate on the Internet. Some are real. Some are fake. Some are real but have been given false backstories,” according to the site. Fauxtography offers proof (or disproof) for well-circulated images ranging from spectacular traffic accidents to astonishing natural phenomena, such as elaborately striped icebergs.
Photographs about public figures or events are especially worth cautious observation. For instance, former U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry was “seen” twice with political activist and actress Jane Fonda: Sitting at a 1970 antiwar rally (true) and sharing a podium at another rally (false).
Comment: As image and audio editing technologies become easier for more people to use, whether for their own entertainment or to manipulate public perceptions, truth becomes increasingly elusive. Visual information flows fast, so we need to take time for critical thinking.
* TWIN OAKS FOUNDER DIES: Kat Kinkade, the founder of Twin Oaks and several other secular, egalitarian, intentional communities, passed away peacefully after a long battle with cancer and was laid to rest on July 4 in the Twin Oaks cemetery. She was 77.
“I'm grateful that I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to get to know her over the past few years, and I remember her with fondness and respect,” says FUTURIST editorial assistant Aaron M. Cohen. “She was an amazing woman, to say the least. A true visionary and pioneering spirit—and the primary architect of what is now, after 41 years, the oldest and arguably the most successful secular communal living experiment in U.S. history.”
* BILLIONAIRE, PHILANTHROPIST, INVESTOR IN IDEAS: Sir John Templeton, founder of the Templeton Growth Fund and the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, died of pneumonia in the Bahamas. He was 95 years old. The Templeton Prize honors achievements that advance human understanding of the spiritual domain, fearlessly exploring “big questions” like whether science makes belief in God obsolete. The prize has been awarded to individuals ranging from Mother Teresa to physicist Freeman Dyson.
* “BRIC” TOUR, PART 3: Having already visited China and India, Social Technologies is preparing for the third leg of its Futures Expedition through the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The expedition to Moscow will be September 25-30, and will explore trends in the robust, petro-dollar-fueled “New Russia.”
* FUTURE ORGANIZATIONS, FOOD CRISIS: The Tomorrow Network is hosting two special events in London this fall. “The Future of Organisations,” on September 8, examines the forces that will change tomorrow’s institutions and in what directions they may evolve. “The Future of the Food Crisis,” November 25, features speakers from Oxfam and Chatham House discussing the current food prices crisis. For more information or to join the Tomorrow Network (free), contact: Richard Worsley, director, the Tomorrow Project, or visit here.
* 2008 STATE OF THE FUTURE: The annual report of the Millennium Project will be available in August and is already generating positive buzz. An overview of the report’s findings appeared in the July 13 edition of THE INDEPENDENT, “We Have Seen the Future—And We May Not Be Doomed.” The report comprises a softcover overview and a CD-ROM containing approximately 6,300 pages of research and analysis. DETAILS: Jerome C. Glenn, director, the Millennium Project, World Federation of UN Associations.
* ANTICIPATING FUTURE SCHOOLS: Sociologist and educator Arthur Shostak’s 33rd book will be published in September by Rowman & Littlefield. ANTICIPATE THE SCHOOL YOU WANT: FUTURIZING K-12 EDUCATION focuses attention on what Shostak calls “the” critical weakness of contemporary public education: its neglect of providing young people with vital futuring skills. The book offers “an affordable, pragmatic, and user-friendly program of school reform—one likely to appeal to students, parents, teachers, and educational administrators alike,” he says.
In This Issue:
* World Population to Hit 7 Billion
* Future of the Internet Economy
* A Business Guide to Climate Change
* Feeling Fat vs. Being Fat
* Click of the Month: How You Lead
Four years from now the world population will reach 7 billion, just 13 years after passing the 6 billion milestone, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.
The Census Bureau's International Data Base covers 226 countries and other selected geographies and incorporates data on net migration, HIV/AIDS and other factors affecting population-growth projections.
Globally, population growth will slow from 1.2% annually at present to 0.5% by 2050. "However, this growth will be concentrated in less-developed countries," the bureau notes.
By 2050, the proportion of the population over the age of 80 will increase from 1.5% to 5%. In developed countries, that figure will be 10%.
"In order to better project countries with increasing numbers of people in the oldest ages, we are in the process of converting our projections to be done by single years of age up to 100 years and over," the Bureau reports.
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau
New policies to promote innovation, enhance security, and improve communications infrastructure globally were among the chief priorities outlined at the recent OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet, held in Seoul and hosted by the Korea Communications Commission.
The meeting brought together key stakeholders in the Internet's future, all with urgent agendas: The technical community called for policies to promote open standards and protocols; civil society urged protections for freedom of expression; and business called for policies that encourage investment.
This confluence of stakeholders enabled the meeting to uncover key new issue areas that will affect future policy making:
* New communications platforms based on new technologies such as fiber optics that may fundamentally change market dynamics and user behavior.
* The accelerating shift from immobile (PC-based) to mobile access.
* The advent of sensor-based networks that not only require massive new infrastructure capacity, but also raise new privacy and security issues.
Businesses can make money, reduce their long-term risks, and discover new opportunities by dealing with climate change issues, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA has partnered with a wide range of industry groups to prepare a newly released resource guide for businesses.
Among the partnership programs featured in the guide are:
* Best Workplaces for Commuters, which provides technical assistance and certifies employers based on traffic-reducing and productivity-improving employee benefits.
* Combined Heat and Power Partnership, which assists businesses in establishing cogeneration systems.
* Waste Wise, which helps companies set goals and implement plans to reduce solid municipal waste.
Dozens of other partnerships may be searched by sector, including agriculture, transportation, product labeling, energy, waste, pollution prevention, water, technology, regulation, and more.
Adolescents who believe themselves to be overweight--whether or not they are--are likely to have a lower quality of life than those who feel their weight is just right--whether or not it is.
According to a study in the German medical journal DEUTSCHES AERZTEBLATT, the proportion of adolescents who think they are overweight has been increasing more rapidly than the proportion of those who really are overweight.
Society puts pressure on youngsters to be thin, and those who believe they do not meet that ideal unnecessarily forfeit a great deal of quality of life, according to the researchers. But those who are in fact obese and do not see themselves as such may not be susceptible to weight-reduction interventions that would improve their health.
"A realistic body image on the part of obese adolescents is a prerequisite for their acceptance of interventions," the researchers conclude. "The marked deterioration in quality of life resulting from perceived obesity, even for young people of normal weight, illustrates the complexity of the struggle against obesity."
The Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government teamed with the Ken Blanchard Companies in May to identify the key questions we should be asking those who wish to lead us.
Though the questions are specifically geared toward the U.S. presidential candidates, the issues are appropriate for anyone seeking to become a leader or to improve his or her leadership abilities. Among the leadership-probing questions suggested:
* What are your five core values, and how will they shape how you lead?
* What experiences have helped you deeply understand the mind-set and values of other cultures?
* Can you share some examples of when you were a catalyst who brought groups with polarized opinions together so that all voices were at the table?
* Tell us about a time when your judgment was tested in crisis. What do you want us to appreciate about your judgment?
* How will you create an environment for innovation within your leadership team?
The site also invites visitors to contribute their own leadership questions.
In This Issue:
Returning Jail Inmates to Society
Great Salt Lake Laboratory
Click of the Month: Keck Futures Initiative
What's next in THE FUTURIST
The skill, dexterity, and raw athleticism of soccer players make them an excellent model to test the prowess of robots in RoboCup, an annual robot-soccer competition sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The game has shrunk to nano-scale levels, as this year’s RoboCup, open to the public, features the second annual nanosoccer games.
In an arena the size of a microchip, with "television" coverage from optical microscopes, three student teams will vie in such soccer drills as the two-millimeter dash, a slalom race between polymer posts, and nanoball-handling exercises. The competitors are from Carnegie Mellon University and the U.S. Naval Academy in the United States and the University of Waterloo in Canada.
The goal of the competition is to foster innovation in artificial intelligence and intelligent robotics. RoboCup will be held May 25 to 27 at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An upcoming U.S. Open nanosoccer competition will be a precursor to the first official Nanogram League nanosoccer competition at the 2009 RoboCup in Austria.
Local jails in the United States handle 9 million individuals a year, far more than state and federal prisons handle, including many repeat offenders. Preparing them to return to their communities successfully--and to reduce recidivism--is a challenge for which most jails have limited resources to meet. A new report from the Urban Institute offers help for improving that jail-to-community transition.
Unlike prisons and penitentiaries, jails have high population turnover, with 81% of inmates incarcerated for less than a month and only 4% staying longer than six months. While this means less time that inmates are separated from families and communities, it also means less time for jails to help them overcome the problems that brought them to prison in the first place, such as drug or alcohol addiction or lack of education.
The solution, according to the Urban Institute's report, is to strengthen the partnerships between jails and their communities, such as bringing in health providers to treat the chronically ill and encouraging workforce development agencies to offer employment services and help in dealing with red tape.
"Imagine the headway against the cycle of crime and incarceration if we shifted from just processing people locally to linking ex-inmates to services and programs that already exist in the community," says Arthur Wallenstein, director of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, one of the reports' sponsors.
SOURCE: The Urban Institute
DOWNLOAD "Life after Lockup: Improving Reentry from Jail to the Community" by Amy L. Solomon et al.
The extreme, hypersaline ecosystem of the Great Salt Lake is being turned into a biology and chemistry laboratory, thanks to the creation of the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College in Utah.
An ancient inland sea, Great Salt Lake serves human and ecological needs: It is a critical site for migratory birds as well as an important resource for industry and recreation, yet it has received little academic attention, according to director Bonnie Baxter, an associate professor of biology at Westminster.
The Institute will promote K-12 science and environmental education as well as multidisciplinary collaborative research. One current project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, will involve sequencing the genes of the lake directly from water samples.
DETAILS: Great Salt Lake Institute.
The goal of the National Academies' five-year-old Keck Futures Initiative is to promote interdisciplinary research and enhanced communication among researchers, the organizations that fund them, the universities that host them, and the communities they serve.
The 15 recipients splitting $1 million in research grants this year will focus on improving human health and life-span, with research topics ranging from the comparative cellular biology of aging to the use of robotics in diagnostics.
The Futures Initiative's competitive grants are intended to "provide researchers an opportunity to explore new research areas, learn new skills, and/or collaborate across disciplines, in cases where this would not otherwise be possible." The Initiative also honors journalists for communicating topics in science, engineering, medicine, and other subjects to the general public.
* "The 21st-Century Writer" (cover story): The Internet is forcing traditional print publishers to innovate or perish. The same might be true of the written word itself. FUTURIST Senior Editor Patrick Tucker gleans insights from cutting-edge industry thinkers, including publishing magnate and tech guru Tim O’Reilly, on how future authors and publishers need to adapt.
* "Consumer Trends in Three Different 'Worlds'" by Andy Hines
* "Cybercrime in the Year 2025" by Gene Stephens
* "Futurizing Business Education" by Paul Bracken
* "Tribute to Sir Arthur C. Clarke" by José Luis Cordeiro
And coming up in the fall:
* "Why You Are Here": Last month we invited you to tell us a brief story about why you began thinking seriously about the future. Our goal was to share your views and experiences with others, such as prospective members. We were so impressed with your responses that we have chosen several to publish in THE FUTURIST. Visit www.wfs.org for a preview. There's still time to submit your own story to FUTURIST UPDATE’s editor, Cindy Wagner, mailto:email@example.com, or post a comment at Hosaa's Blog: http://hosaasblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/futurists-why-are-you-here.html
In This Issue:
New Nanotech Products Hit the Market
Will Super-Bugs Outlast Us?
Solar Energy May Be Competitive in 10 Years
Bridging the Digital Divide
Editor's Query: Why Are You Here?
Click of the Month: Health Care Innovations Exchange
News from the Futurist Community
Nanotechnology is churning out new consumer products at a rate of three or four a week, according to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.
There are now more than 600 nanoproducts in the project's registry, including nanowhitening toothpaste (containing calcium peroxide nanoparticles), automotive parts using nanocomposites, and even golf clubs made with nanotech-derived materials.
The biggest category for nanoproducts is health and fitness items, such as cosmetics and sunscreens, which represent 60% of the products in the inventory. Sales of products incorporating nanotechnology reached an estimated $88 billion in 2007 and could reach $2.6 trillion by 2014, according to Lux Research.
"Public perceptions about risks—real and perceived—can have large economic consequences," says David Rejeski, the project director. "How consumers respond to these early products in food, electronics, health care, clothing, and cars is a litmus test for broader market acceptance of nanotechnologies in the future."
Bacteria may eventually prove to be Earth's greatest evolutionary success story. While humans scramble to arm themselves with new antibiotic weapons to fight deadly microbes, we are likely to lose the war in the long run, according to Lester A. Mitscher, a University Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Miracle drugs like penicillin have saved countless lives, especially during World War II, but the downside is that, because these antibiotics were deemed so safe and effective, they were overprescribed, giving the target microbes the opportunity to evolve their way around the weapons aimed at them, Mitscher notes in the JOURNAL OF NATURAL PRODUCTS.
Drug-resistant "super-bugs" like MRSA (Methacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are making headlines as hospitals become breeding grounds and patients become all-too-available victims.
Mitscher urges drug corporations to develop antibiotics that not only kill the immediate microbial enemies, but also inhibit their ability to mutate. This would allow patients' own immune systems to help battle infections. Unfortunately, he notes, the economics of the pharmaceutical industry has slowed the pace of antibiotic discovery that could achieve these goals.
Solar energy technologies need about a decade more of research and development investment to become an economically competitive alternative to petroleum, according to Caltech chemistry professor Harry Gray.
"Solar can potentially provide all the electricity and fuel we need to power the planet," Gray says. "The holy grail of solar research is to use sunlight efficiently and directly to 'split' water into its elemental constituents—hydrogen and oxygen—and then use the hydrogen as a clean fuel."
The biggest challenge to meeting this goal is reducing costs enough so that shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of electricity makes economic sense. The breakthrough will be when the cost of photovoltaic energy can be reduced to about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, Gray told a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society.
SOURCE: American Chemical Society.
Americans with low income and education levels are less likely to have Internet access than their wealthier, better-educated counterparts, but they spend more time online when they do have access.
Concerns about an economic and digital underclass have led activists to urge the government to subsidize Internet access for poor families; research led by Jeff Prince, assistant professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, suggests that there may be social and economic benefits to such a policy.
Like affluent Internet users, low-income families use the Internet for researching products they may purchase, gathering health information, and reading the news. However, the lower-income users spend more time communicating (e-mail, chat) and gaming.
"From the perspective of an economist, some of these activities benefit not only those partaking in them, but other members of society as well, making it possibly in the government's interest to encourage them," says Prince. "For sure they may use it for things we don't care about, like chat and games, but we also predict that a decent proportion would use it for things we might think socially beneficial. We find some argument for a subsidy."
When I started working at the World Future Society, one of the first authors I worked with was Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and now president of the Earth Policy Institute. He wrote eloquently and urgently in THE FUTURIST about the need to make more sustainable choices in our lifestyles.
I took what Brown wrote to heart when I decided to move to an apartment building that was within walking distance of the office. I do own a car, but I drive less than 4,000 miles a year. I feel that this choice was a healthy one for myself and is in some small way contributing to a cleaner future environment—at least in my own neighborhood.
We at the World Future Society are looking for other stories about how the study of the future, membership in the Society, or participation at a conference made a difference. In short, why are you here, thinking about the future? Why does the future matter?
Tell us (in about 500 words or fewer) either a personal story or an anecdote out of the history of futuring that inspired you to take a deeper and more active interest in the future—a story to help others see the future with new eyes.
This isn't a contest. We simply believe that stories told by the voices of experience will help show young people and other potential members exactly why thinking about the future is so vital to individuals and to the world right now.
Sharing information, techniques, and inspiration is vital to the improvement of professional services. That is the philosophy behind the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's online repository for health-care innovations.
Examples of innovations described on the new exchange:
* Administrators for the Iowa Department of Public Health used tools and resources developed by the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment to overhaul the department's substance-abuse services.
* An intensive-care unit team shares its communications protocol for connecting staff, patients, and family members in setting daily goals for patients' care and treatment. The regular communication helps ensure progress toward meeting treatment goals.
* A nursing-home care model, known as the "Wellspring Model," is described, showing how nursing homes can come together in a learning collaborative to exchange staff performance data and conduct group training to enhance resident care.
An excellent resource for health-care providers, the site allows registered viewers to read articles and expert commentaries, sign up for the e-mail newsletter, browse the Innovations Exchange by subject, and participate in topic-specific discussions.
* EXPLORING THE FUTURE COURSE: FTR–100 Exploring the Future is three-credit-hour course offering a cross-disciplinary investigation of the future in a changing world. The course is offered at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, July 7 through August 12. Section 870 of the course is online, and Section 840 is a "hybrid" course, led by Stephen F. Steele, incorporating participation in the World Future Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., and online modules before and after the meeting. (Conference registration and travel/lodging arrangements are separate from tuition and are the registrant's responsibility.) DETAILS and REGISTRATION.
* THE WAY WE WILL BE 50 YEARS FROM TODAY: This new book edited by longtime 60 MINUTES anchor Mike Wallace is a collection of essays by "60 of the World's Greatest Minds" who "Share Their Visions of the Next Half-Century." Among the diverse and esteemed contributors are Internet "father" Vint Cerf, children's rights advocate Marion Wright Edelman, geneticist and Human Genome Project leader Francis S. Collins, and World Future Society President Timothy C. Mack. The just-released book, published by Thomas Nelson, is available for $24.99. DETAILS: www.mikewallacebook.com/
In This Issue:
Manufacturing's Top Challenges
Hurricanes Hitting Harder Financially
Resurgence of Anti-Semitism
Salt Found on Mars, Methane Beyond
Click of the Month: Institute for Emerging Issues
News from the Futurist Community
Capturing the power of nanotech, integrating information technology throughout manufacturing processes, and developing hydrogen energy technologies are the three top priorities for research and development in manufacturing, according to a report from a U.S. government interagency working group.
Selection of these interrelated priorities will help industry focus resources on meeting future needs, such as job creation, transforming research into competitive products, and ensuring a cleaner environment.
Nanotechnologies are expected to be a "critical driver of future economic growth, affecting potentially every industry from aerospace and energy to health care and agriculture," according to the report. The emphasis on hydrogen energy R&D, such as developing affordable and reliable fuel cells, is intended to help ensure a more secure energy future.
If the hurricane that hit Miami in 1926 were to hit the city now, it would cause up to $157 billion in damages. (By comparison, Hurricane Katrina caused $81 billion in damage in 2005.)
According to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the economic costs of hurricanes have been doubling every 10 to 15 years in the United States, not because the storms are stronger but because hurricane-prone coastlines have seen increased development of more valuable properties.
Researcher Chris Landsea claims that while global warming and climate change may be blamed for many environmental problems, there is no evidence that it has caused increased destruction along U.S. coasts. Rather, he says, the problem with hurricane destruction is the higher costs of homes and businesses built in hurricanes' paths.
This view is not shared by the majority of climate scientists. In September of 2005, Peter Webster of Georgia Tech and Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research published a paper in the journal Science showing that while the total number of hurricanes had remained the same over the past 30 years, the number of more intense category 4 and 5 hurricanes had increased by as much as 80%. Other climate researchers such as Kerry Emmanuel of MIT agree that the upward trend in more category 4 and 5 hurricanes is clear but put the increase at closer to 50%.
The NOAA report makes a somewhat obvious and uncontroversial recommendation: People shouldn't live where hurricanes are likely to strike. "Unless action is taken to address the growing concentration of people and property in coastal hurricane areas, the damage will increase by a great deal as more people and infrastructure inhabit these coastal locations," says Landsea.
A U.S. State Department report to Congress warns of an upsurge in anti-Semitism, a trend that has been observed by governments and NGOs worldwide. The report documents incidents of violence, desecration of property, and intimidation toward Jews.
In 2006, countries reporting significant increases in anti-Semitic incidents and expressions included Argentina (35% more than in 2005), Australia (32.5%), and the United Kingdom (31%). Countries where anti-Semitism appears to have become official state policy include Iran, Syria, Belarus, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, the report charges.
Newer forms of anti-Semitic expression are also emerging, such as criticism of Zionism and Israeli policy that, intentionally or unintentionally, results in promoting prejudice against all Jews and demonizing Israel. "Anti-Semitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of anti-Semitism," the report notes.
The report calls on world governments to publicly condemn all forms of anti-Semitism and to promote tolerance in schools and in society at large. Civic and religious organizations are encouraged to support awareness, education, and dialogue to promote tolerance and oppose discrimination.
Astronomers have detected methane in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting the Jupiter-sized star HD 189733b in the constellation Vulpecula (Little Fox). This first discovery of an organic molecule outside our solar system strengthens hope for finding extraterrestrial life.
The discovery was made by a team led by Mark Swain of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory using observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer.
The ability to detect organic molecules outside our solar system is "a crucial stepping stone to eventually characterizing prebiotic molecules on planets where life could exist," says Swain.
Closer to home, salt on Mars has been detected by a University of Hawaii-led team using data from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The salt deposits indicate where water may have been abundant and therefore where ancient life may have existed. Salt helps preserve organic material; bacteria have been revived from salt deposits on Earth after millions of years.
Describing itself as not just a think tank, but a "think-and-do" tank, North Carolina State University's interactive Institute for Emerging Issues explores significant areas impacting global, local, and personal futures, such as realizing opportunities in energy challenges and transforming higher education.
At the site, visitors may listen to audio presentations from previous forums, download full reports, participate in surveys on the issues at hand, and subscribe to the Institute's monthly newsletter.
Though the emphasis is on North Carolina's future, the Institute's use of participatory tools such as the ongoing surveys offers a model for global thinkers and doers.
* SEOUL DIGITAL FORUM: Korean broadcasting network SBS presents the Seoul Digital Forum 2008, to be held May 6-8 at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul, Korea. This international conference will explore the progress of the digital revolution and collaborate in shaping our future. Under the main theme IMAGINATION: Explore T.I.M.E., Space, and Beyond, Seoul Digital Forum 2008 will scrutinize the power of imagination that inspires change and evolution in areas such as technology, information, media, entertainment, and space to push the human race beyond. DETAILS:
* DESIGNING GLOBAL ENERGY SOLUTIONS: The annual Design Science Lab, a collaboration of BigPictureSmallWorld and the Buckminster Fuller Institute, is being held June 16-23 in New York at the UN and UN International School. This year's program will focus on the global energy situation. The program will also feature an online Extension to the Lab that will run June 24 through August 29. Medard Gabel will facilitate both the New York and online Labs. DETAILS: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
* FINLAND FUTURES CALL FOR PAPERS: Finland Futures Research Centre announces a First Call for Papers and Posters for two upcoming conferences: October 1-3, 2008: Grasping the Future - A Challenge for Learning and Innovation (Helsinki, Finland) and May 28-29, 2009: Future of the Consumer Society (Tampere, Finland). DETAILS:
* GOT BLOG? If you have a future-oriented blog or newsletter and would like to sponsor a link to it in the World Future Society's proposed Futurist Community Newsletter, please contact business manager Jeff Cornish, mailto:email@example.com, for details.
In the meantime, you are encouraged to link to THE FUTURIST magazine's MySpace and Facebook pages, maintained by communications director Patrick Tucker, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. And you are also invited to visit the not-very-future-oriented personal blog of your humble editor at http://hosaasblog.blogspot.com
In This Issue:
Infertility May Become More Common
Engineering's Grand Challenges
News from the Futurist Community
News From WFS
As economists and other pundits dance around the "R" word, workers and investors worried about their future security have several directions in which to look for protection from a potential recession in the United States, according to workplace trend watchers Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
Among the most recession-proof industries offering new job and investment opportunities are energy, security, health care, and education, according to the firm. Meanwhile, retail and manufacturing industries are more vulnerable. In places such as Michigan, where auto manufacturing appears to be on the skids, new jobs are likely to be created by wind turbine and solar manufacturing projects.
Future generations already have a problem: There may be fewer of them, as infertility becomes common, according to recent research published in the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL.
In affluent countries, infertility affects approximately 15% of couples trying to conceive; up to 6% of children are conceived through assisted reproductive technologies in some countries.
A complex array of factors underlie fertility and fecundity, from social and economic choices that reduce the number of children desired to environmental risk factors that impair childbearing, such as those associated with reduced sperm counts in young men (the endocrine-disruption hypothesis). More direct markers of fecundity trends are urgently needed in order to identify public-health concerns, the researchers warn.
BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL (16 February 2008).
How can future engineers make the world a better place? The U.S. National Academies have issued a set of twenty-first-century challenges designed to inspire engineering students toward creative problem solving and "game changing" projects that could dramatically improve life. Among the Grand Challenges are:
* Make solar energy affordable.
* Provide access to clean water.
* Restore and improve urban infrastructure.
* Engineer better medicines.
* Reverse-engineer the brain.
* Prevent nuclear terror.
* Secure cyberspace.
* Advance personalized learning.
"Tremendous advances in quality of life have come from improved technology in such areas as farming and manufacturing," says Google co-founder Larry Page, a member of the Challenges committee. "If we focus our effort on the important grand challenges of our age, we can hugely improve the future."
Children learn to act toward achieving specific goals at about the age of 3, basing their behaviors on expected, valued outcomes, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge. This developmental skill is what sets the 3-year-olds apart from kids in "the terrible twos"--the age at which toddlers' inability to get what they want causes sleepless nights for parents.
The experiment tested the behaviors of children ages 18 months to 4 years old who were trained to touch a red or a green butterfly icon on a computer display in order to see different cartoon clips. One set of cartoons was repeated frequently in order to bore the children and be a less-valued outcome of touching the correct butterfly icon. The researchers found that at age 3 the children were better able than the younger kids to choose the right butterfly for the more-interesting cartoons, even when the cartoons weren't immediately shown.
Goal-directed behavior is not something we are born with, but something we develop as we grow up. The researchers conclude: "This capacity [to internalize one's control over the environment] is an important component of becoming a fully autonomous intentional agent."
Sign up for your own free subscription delivered directly to you inbox at http://www.wfs.org/futuristupdate.htm
* NOMINATE A TECHNOLOGY INNOVATOR: The Tech Museum Awards is calling for nominations of innovators--individuals or organizations--whose use of technology has benefited humanity. Deadline for nominations is March 24.
* TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION: TechEd 2008, a program of the Community College Foundation, will be held April 13-16 at the Ontario (California) Convention Center. The conference will bring together more than 3,500 educators and administrators from around the world to focus on digital media, virtual learning, social networking, instructional technology, and more.
* LONDON FUTURES SYMPOSIUM, to be held April 18 at London South Bank University's Keyworth Centre, will cover the cashless society, the disappearance of the nation-state, the future of work and management, and more. World Future Society members are offered a generously discounted registration fee of ₤60.
* FORESIGHT CANADA CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOPS: Foresight Canada is hosting a conference on strategic foresight in Calgary, April 30 to May 2, titled Seeing and Shaping Tomorrow. Two preconference professional training workshops will also be held: Strategic Foresight (April 28-30) and Complexity and Systems Thinking (April 30). Content. For information about the conference programs, contact Ruben Nelson; for information about registering, contact registration.
* MAGDA CORDELL McHALE: We were saddened to learn of the death on February 21 of Magda Cordell McHale, a visionary architect and pioneering futurist, in Buffalo, New York, where she had taught at the School of Architecture and Planning. She was 87 years old. With her late husband, John McHale, Magda was a longtime supporter of the World Future Society, generously contributing her inspiring ideas to its publications and conference programs.
Futures scholar James Dator of the University of Hawaii described Magda as "flamboyant, gruff, and always stylishly dressed" and as a "superb artist." With her husband, she "produced excellent textual/visual presentations of trends, emerging issues, and new and interconnected ideas," Dator wrote in a post to the Association of Professional Futurists. "They were always tirelessly searching for something 'new,' and excelled in seeing, early on, patterns that most of us did not see until much later, presenting them to us in very memorable ways."
Another moving tribute to Magda McHale appears on the blog of architect and graphic designer Alex Bitterman.
* WORLDFUTURE 2008: SEEING THE FUTURE THROUGH NEW EYES, the World Future Society's annual meeting, will be held July 26-28 in Washington, D.C. The preliminary program will soon be mailed to all Society members. LEARN MORE or REGISTER BY FEBRUARY 29 and save $150 off the on-site registration fee.
* BEST FUTURES BOOKS OF 2007: FUTURE SURVEY editor Michael Marien has selected the 30 most authoritative, original, and important future-oriented books of the past year. Among his picks are VITAL SIGNS 2007-2008 by the Worldwatch Institute; 2007 STATE OF THE FUTURE by Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon; THE BOTTOM BILLION by Paul Collier; THE NEXT CATASTROPHE by Charles Perrow; A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR 21st CENTURY AMERICA by Joseph F. Coates; and THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE by Andy Hines and Peter Bishop. Visit FUTURE SURVEY online to see the entire list.
* PRESIDENT'S BLOG NOTES INCREASING INTERACTIVITY: WFS President Tim Mack's latest blog offers some figures and reflections on Internet culture and activity.
* FUTURES LEARNING SECTION is seeking participants engaged in all forms of futures learning to help develop new tools for educators and learners. Planning is now under way for a major Educational Summit at the Society's 2008 conference in Washington, D.C.
In This Issue:
Cosmic Collision Ahead
U.S. Failing to Prevent Preventable Deaths
Click of the Month: Legacy Letter Project
News from the Futurist Community
We may soon be seeing our world through electronic eyes, and they'll be as easy to use as popping in a contact lens.
A bionic display consisting of electronic circuits and lights imprinted on a contact lens would allow wearers to see electronic information superimposed over their view of the world in front of them. Potential applications include virtual reality enhancements for video gamers and heads-up displays for pilots and drivers.
One key challenge was to find materials that are safe for use in the body, according to Babak Parviz, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, where the device is being developed. Because the electronic circuits can be built from layers of metals only a few nanometers thick, they can be printed on the delicate, biologically compatible plastic materials used for contact lenses.
Though the prototype device does not correct the user's vision, future models will do so. Other enhancements may include the addition of wireless communication powered by radio frequency and embedded solar cells.
DETAILS: University of Washington
A massive gas cloud is hurtling toward the Milky Way at a speed of 150 miles per second, set to strike our galaxy at about a 45-degree angle. Though the light show will be spectacular, it's still 8,000 light-years away, so don't look for it for about another 40 million years.
The leading-edge of the massive Smith's Cloud, named for its 1963 discoverer, is already interacting with the Milky Way's gases, and when it hits, the energy will likely ignite a rush of new star formations, according to Felix J. Lockman of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico.
"Many of those stars will be very massive, rushing through their lives very quickly and exploding as supernovae," says Lockman. "Over a few million years, it'll look like a celestial New Year's celebration, with huge firecrackers going of in that region of the galaxy."
The study of the stars has enabled humanity to navigate, tell time, and plan the future; astronomy has also advanced the development of new imaging technologies. The NRAO is operated by Associated Universities Inc., which is now forming a Committee on the Future of U.S. Radio Astronomy aimed "to determine radio astronomy's role in answering fundamental questions in astronomy as an integral part of a broad scientific agenda."
DETAILS: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
The United States ranks last among 19 industrialized nations on preventing deaths by assuring access to effective health care, report researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
More than 100,000 lives per year could be spared if U.S. performance equaled the top-ranked countries on effective health-care measures: France, Japan, and Australia.
All other nations showed significant improvements in preventing premature deaths between 1997-98 and 2002-03, while progress in the United States slowed. One possible explanation is an increase in the uninsured populations, according to authors of the study published in the journal HEALTH AFFAIRS.
"The fact that other countries are reducing these preventable deaths more rapidly, yet spending far less, indicates that policy, goals, and efforts to improve health systems make a difference," notes Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, which supported the study.
SOURCE: The Commonwealth Fund
For a big-screen view of the future that peeks beyond the action-packed dystopias of sci-fi blockbusters, here are two thought-provoking documentaries recently brought to our attention.
* THE WORLD WITHOUT US evisions what the world would be like if a fictional presidential candidate named Turner succeeded in removing U.S. troops from the international scene. The film debates and explores the consequences of U.S. isolationism, with expert interviewees such as British historian Niall Ferguson and former U.S. ambassador James Lilley.
"This documentary struck me because it took in expert and common opinions from people of all different races, cultures, and positions," says WFS member Nathan Smythe, who sent us the tip about THE WORLD WITHOUT US. "It had challenging questions, and it was still entertaining."
*THE LINGUISTS follows the work of researchers studying the global trend of language extinction, with an average of one language disappearing every two weeks.
In their frequently risky adventures, the scientists explore the cultural and political pressures contributing to language loss in vulnerable indigenous communities. The documentary was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and premiered at the famed Sundance Film Festival on January 18.
* CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: The World Futures Studies Federation's 20th World Conference, Transitions: Encouraging Emerging Worlds, will be held June 30-July 3 in Trollhätten, Sweden. Deadline for submitting an abstract of your paper or presentation is January 31. DETAILS: Contact Marianne Rugård Järvstråt at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* EXPLORING THE "BRIC" NATIONS: Social Technologies' new Futures Expeditions series will explore the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The tours are led by futurist consultants and local market experts to provide insights tailored to clients' needs. The first trip is to Hyderabad, India, February 28 through March 4. DETAILS: email@example.com
* EUROPEAN FUTURISTS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS: Videos, slides, and visual minutes of the November 2007 European Futurists Conference are now available. Learn about future business models, brain research, social innovation, mobility trends, and much more.
In This Issue:
Robots for Handicapped Babies
Do Fish Farms Imperil Wild Salmon?
Trends in Consumer Behavior
Click of the Month: Legacy Letter Project
News from the Futurist Community
Babies need to move around independently and explore their environments. Not doing so can impair their cognitive development.
Infants with Down syndrome or other handicaps need extra help to explore their worlds, and at present there are no power-assisted wheelchairs for youngsters under the age of five or six, long after the age of rapid brain development.
So the University of Delaware has developed prototype driving robots for babies. James C. Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy, and Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering, have equipped the robots with environmental sensors and safety features that will help babies explore without crashing into pets, furniture, or other obstacles. The robot's simple joystick control is easy enough for infants as young as seven months to operate.
The researchers' goal is to place such robots in all learning centers where children have special needs. "It was a special feeling to see a potential solution to a really serious health-care gap for young kids,"
says Galloway. "There was and still is a special tingle when we think of the not so distant future."
SOURCE: University of Delaware
Parasitic lice infections in salmon farms may be driving a dramatic decline in wild salmon populations. According to a study by the University of Alberta, affected pink salmon populations may see a 99% collapse in another four years if the infestation continues.
Wild salmon are affected by the fish farm infestations because they are exposed to the parasites on their way through a gauntlet of open-net fish farms before they reach the sea; adult salmon can survive a small number of lice but the juveniles cannot.
"Salmon farming breaks a natural law," says the study's co-author, Alexandra Morton. "In the natural system, the youngest salmon are not exposed to sea lice because the adult salmon that carry the parasite are offshore. But fish farms cause a deadly collision between the vulnerable young salmon and sea lice."
Temporarily shutting down the fish farms along the primary salmon migratory routes, thus eliminating the exposure of wild salmon to the lice, could be one solution.
SOURCE: University of Alberta
Consumption in the future will be more cooperative, predicts advertising giant J. Walter Thompson. Extending the "time-share" model for owning a vacation home, consumers will increasingly accept fractional ownership of art work, cars, and other high-end products, according to JWT's "10 Trends for 2008" report.
More trends under JWT's scrutiny:
* As the genetic links are identified for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure, look for commercial genetic testing services promoted alongside pharmaceutical ads.
* Consumers are rethinking "instant gratification" and choosing to hold off buying mass merchandise in favor of custom made or one-of-a-kind products and services.
* Demographic "pigeonholing" will become less useful to marketers, as consumers change their behaviors--such as when they marry or attend school and for how long--in less predictable ways. Marketers and others will focus on behavioral segmentation rather than age when targeting their campaigns.
* Blue is the new green. Products that lessen impacts on climate? Been there, done that. What consumers will really be looking for in the future is "blue," the color of spiritual fulfillment and good-citizen ethics.
"Make a list of things you have survived and keep it where you can see it often." Sharon Stubbs
"Don't speak those cutting words you are always sorry for later." Lynn Campbell
"Others give meaning to our lives. Be interested in others and you will be interesting to others. Be committed to others and they will be committed to you." Willard "Sandy" Boyd (president emeritus, University of Iowa)
These simple bits of wisdom come from contributors to the online Legacy Letter Project, the brainchild of University of Iowa leisure studies lecturer David Gould.
The project began when Gould invited senior citizens in the community to share their life lessons with his students; as the project grew, Gould began receiving letters from as far away as Venezuela, connecting not only generations, but cultures as well.
"From the students' perspective, there's an unsaid need to want to know what's down the road," says Gould. "And the authors are thrilled to be asked. You live 70, 80 years and endure a host of high points and low points to arrive where you are."
The site also includes information on how to submit your own legacy letter.
DETAILS: University of Iowa
* MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAM IN FUTURES STUDIES: At this two-year program of Futures Studies organized in Turku, Finland, students gain their master's degree in economic sciences along with the expertise in future business and in the business of the future. The program focuses on strategic thinking, visionary management, foresight, sustainable futures, and futures studies methods, theories, and practices. All teaching is given in English. Deadline for the applications is on January 31, 2008. DETAILS
* NEW LEADERSHIP AT INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE: Stephen Steele steps down on January 1 from his longtime position as director of the Institute for the Future at Anne Arundel Community College. He will be succeeded by faculty members Steven Henick, a retired international business executive, and Maureen Sherer, co-editor of the Institute's electronic newsletter Futureportal. Steele will continue his association with the Institute as a professor of sociology and futures studies. DETAILS
* EDITOR'S THANKS! The response was overwhelmingly positive to our inquiry last month on the possibility of a separate monthly newsletter exclusively covering News from the Futurist Community. While we are developing the format of the new Community Newsletter, please continue to watch this space in Futurist Update for news of interest to futurists around the world.