Monday, March 5, 2007

Exploring Tomorrow – A Report from the World Future Society

The following are five forecasts from The World Future Society and its magazine THE FUTURIST.

Social and Technological Forecasts for the Next 25 Years

Forecast #1: Hydrogen fuel cells will be cost competitive by 2010. The cost of power via fuel cell is dropping rapidly-from $600,000 per kilowatt-hour in the 1970s to $1,200 today. By 2012, fuel cell power is expected to cost around $400 per kilowatt-hour. It would then be competitive with every type of power. Fuel cells will power cars and allow each home to have its own non-polluting electricity generator.

Forecast #5: Speculation in hydrogen energy stocks could create an investment bubble, as happened with the Internet. When investors see the huge potential of hydrogen energy, the stocks of companies with promising technologies may skyrocket to unsustainable levels.

Forecast #6: Ocean Currents May Surpass Wind as an Energy Source. Turbines driven by ocean currents could generate four times more electricity than windmills. At one site alone-in the Channel Islands off the coast of France-the potential electricity could match that produced by three nuclear power plants.

Forecast #8: Weapons of mass destruction will be even easier to obtain over the next 15 years. Terrorists may move from bombs to creating havoc on the cellular level. The weapons of the future-genetic engineering and nanotechnology-require neither large facilities nor mass materials.

Forecast #9: The convergence of genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics will allow humans to change their bodies in profoundly new ways. In the next 15 years, people may be able to rearrange their genes to change their physical features, extend their lifespan, merge their brains with computers and their bodies with robots, among many other remarkable developments.

I bring these to your attention because nanotechnologies play an enabling role in each scenario.

Specific to nanotechnology, they also offer these forecasts for the next 15 years:

Two to five years from now:

  1. Car tires that need air only once a year.
  2. Complete medical diagnostics on a single computer chip.
  3. Go-anywhere concentrators that produce drinkable water from air.

    Five to 10 years:

  4. Powerful computers you can wear or fold into your wallet.
  5. Drugs that turn AIDS and cancer into manageable conditions.
  6. Smart buildings that self-stabilize during earthquakes or bombings.

    10 to 15 years:

  7. Artificial intelligence so sophisticated you can't tell if you're talking on the phone with a human or a machine.
  8. Paint-on computer and entertainment video displays.
  9. Elimination of invasive surgery, since bodies can be monitored and repaired almost totally from within.

I highly recommend reports from the WFS as well as membership. There are very few sources of credible information about the future, and fewer still at the rate WFS charges.

For details, visit

(Full disclosure: I was not paid for or otherwise compensated for this endorsement.)

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