- Genetic Analysis of Children Detects Abnormalities in Parents
- Getting the Climate Models to Agree
- Foreign Investment in Agriculture—or Land Grab?
- Will We Have Smart Homes by 2020? Internet Experts are Divided
- What’s in THE FUTURIST magazine?
Previously undetected abnormalities may be revealed in the parents of children born with congenital anomalies, thanks to testing known as genome-wide array analysis.
The knowledge of a possible genetic source of their children’s abnormalities could help parents make more-informed decisions regarding their own health, as well as whether or not to have more children, according to researchers developing the testing technique.
The team of genetic researchers, led by Nicole de Leeuw of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Nijmegen, Netherlands, focused on "mosaic abnormalities," where both genetically normal and abnormal cells may be found in an individual.
The analysis uses samples taken from different cells—from blood and a mouth swab, for instance—to detect aberrations in the DNA of patients with intellectual disabilities or other abnormalities not traditionally thought to be genetically based. The same test is then used on their parents.
"These abnormalities occurred more frequently than we had expected," de Leeuw reports. "Armed with this knowledge, we can try to understand not only why, but also how genetic disease arises in individuals, and this can help us to provide better genetic counseling."
The researchers presented their findings June 24 at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics.
Hundreds of climate models forecast global climate warming this century, but they contradict each other on exactly how much warming will take place—and where. Now, Ohio State University statisticians may have found a way to form a climate model consensus.
The researchers—Noel Cressie, statistics professor and director of Ohio State’s Program in Spatial Statistics and Environmental Statistics, and former graduate student Emily Kang, now at the University of Cincinnati—used a combination of spatial statistics that Cressie pioneered to reconcile two projections of temperature increases across North America for the years 2041 to 2070.
Their analysis found commonalities between the models, determined how much weight to give to each, and crunched these values into a single forecast of average temperature increase for the continent as a whole and for each region in any season of any year.
North America’s land temperatures will rise by an average of 2.5°C (4.5°F) by 2070, according to their analysis. Winters in the Hudson Bay will see the most disruption, with temperatures rising an estimated 6°C (10.7°F), while the Rocky Mountains region is in for a summertime increase of 3.5°C (6.3°F).
Cressie and Kang hope to incorporate a larger number of models for other parts of the world to build public awareness of the widespread scientific agreement on climate change and the case for action. They presented their results in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation.
Source: Ohio State University
The world’s economic powerhouses are dealing with domestic resource shortages by buying land elsewhere. Rather than exporting food to their wealthier neighbors, countries in resource-rich regions are leasing or selling their agricultural land itself to foreign investors, reports the Worldwatch Institute.
Critics call the phenomenon a "land grab" by places like China, India, and Brazil, involving more than 70 million hectares around the world, according to data compiled by the Land Matrix Project. The biggest target for these investments by far is Africa, where 34.3 million hectares have been sold or leased since 2000.
While some of this foreign investment is a result of increased regional cooperation among emerging-economy neighbors, we are also seeing "wealthy (or increasingly wealthy) countries, many with little arable land, buying up land in low-income nations--especially those that have been particularly vulnerable to the financial and food crises of recent years," says Worldwatch researcher Cameron Scherer.
The trend may increase the displacement of local farmers, as well as replace small-farm practices with industrial agricultural practices that may have negative, long-term ecological consequences, Scherer warns.
Source: Worldwatch Institute
More than 1,000 Internet stakeholders, trend-watchers, observers, and futurists weighed on the future of the Internet. A report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Elon University found Internet experts optimistic about future improvements in smart devices and the experts see greater adoption of them among consumers. But respondents were split on the idea that many people will be living in the long promised "smart home" of the future, a home with replete with built-in sensors to detect and respond to its occupant's every wish and desire, by 2020.
More than half (51%) of the respondents agreed with the statement:
By 2020, the connected household has become a model of efficiency, as people are able to manage consumption of resources (electricity, water, food, even bandwidth) in ways that place less of a burden on the environment while saving households money. Thanks to what is known as "smart systems," the Home of the Future that has often been foretold is coming closer and closer to becoming a reality.
But 46% agreed with the contrasting scenario:
By 2020, most initiatives to embed IP-enabled devices in the home have failed due to difficulties in gaining consumer trust and because of the complexities in using new services. As a result, the home of 2020 looks about the same as the home of 2011 in terms of resource consumption and management. Once again, the Home of the Future does not come to resemble the future projected in the recent past.
"The experts pointed out the high level of complexity involved in smart systems," report co-author Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet, said in a press release. "They said the large hurdles to overcome include getting the various players to agree to standardize communication across sectors of consumer products and making the right moves in regard to oversight of regulation and the provision of incentives to encourage positive change."
The results were part of a survey conducted in the fall of 2011, which covered aspects of the future of the Internet ranging from smart devices to big data. The report on smart homes was released on Friday. You can read the report at http://www.imaginingtheInternet.org.
You can meet Rainie at WorldFuture 2012, the annual conference of the World Future Society taking place in Toronto at the end of this month.
We’re eagerly counting down the days till we all meet up in Toronto for WorldFuture 2012: Dream. Design. Develop. Deliver!
An Invaluable Learning Opportunity!
The adventure begins with the preconference Master Courses on July 26 and 27. These intensive all-day workshops are not only a great way to prepare your mind for the general sessions to come, but also an indispensible set of futuring skills to add to your professional portfolio. Learn more about Master Courses here.
Books Are Back!
We are pleased to announce the return of the on-site Futurist Bookstore, a highly popular meeting and browsing spot at previous conferences. And it will be better than ever! In addition to the latest in important futurist literature, the Futurist Bookstore will also carry many of the titles that WorldFuture 2012 presenters will be referencing during their sessions.
The Futurist Bookstore will also host our popular Meet-the-Author sessions, where you will be able to exchange ideas with many of the published authors participating at WorldFuture 2012.
With our partner, Training Systems Inc., the Futurist Bookstore will provide you the best possible resource for filling your own "futures syllabus"!
Attention Leaders: What Your Team Will Get from WorldFuture 2012
World Future Society conferences are not just an average training session. Rather than mastering a suite of specialized software tools or even a new marketing strategy, successful organizations require a more advanced and nuanced set of skills from their key personnel.
WorldFuture 2012 will empower your staff to identify weak signals, assess new ideas in the context of macrotrends, filter through the noise to better judge what truly matters to your organization, and make valuable and diverse contacts with individuals and institutions in a uniquely forward-thinking setting. It’s like sending your team to Visionary School.
Please contact Society headquarters if you would like to register a group of individuals at the special Members’ rate. Call 1-800-989-8274.
Save even more off the conference registration by becoming a member of the World Future Society, which entitles you to discounts on WFS events, a one-year subscription to THE FUTURIST magazine, and six free special reports.
Learn about the trends changing the future and make a better tomorrow, today!
A selection of articles, special reports, and other future-focused material on our Web site that you might have missed. Join now at www.wfs.org/renew.
By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Progress occurs when inventive people solve problems and create opportunities. Here, Peter Diamandis (left) and best-selling science writer Steven Kotler present just a few of the breakthroughs that offer the brightest prospects for a future that leaves austerity and deprivation behind. Read more.
By Brian David Johnson
Author Brian David Johnson, a futurist for Intel, shows how geotags, sensor outputs, and big data are changing the future. He argues that we need a better understanding of our relationship with the data we produce in order to build the future we want. Read more.
By Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman
Collaborative agent bots? A walled world under constant surveillance? Two information technology experts parse the future of human–network interaction. Read more.
By Chris Carbone and Kristin Nauth
Two foresight specialists describe how tomorrow’s integrated, networked, and aware home systems may change your family life. Read more.
By Center for Communities of the Future
The economic-development profession can be a positive force for change in communities as we transition from a materialistic economy to a transformational society. Read more.
By John M. Eger
Challenges facing city and regional governments today may spur a movement toward improving the creative resources of tomorrow’s citizens. Investing in the arts may help communities capitalize on shifting paradigms. Read more.
By Rick Docksai
Better health care doesn’t have to be costlier, as a number of innovative health practitioners are showing. In India, Venezuela, and elsewhere, the strategic use of technology, community involvement, and resource reallocations are enabling health-care providers to treat more patients more effectively, all while spending less money. Read more.
By Kenneth J. Moore
Futurists: BetaLaunch, the World Future Society’s second annual innovation competition, will allow WorldFuture 2012 attendees to preview a few of the life-changing and society-altering artifacts of the future. Read more.