FUTURISTS RELEASE NEW YEAR'S TECHNOLOGY PREDICTIONS
December 29, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Technology NewsBethesda, Maryland — In the interests of helping people better prepare for and influence their future, and in response to the popularity of their recently published 2007 Outlook report, the World Future Society has released an updated and expanded list of its top ten technology forecasts for 2007 and beyond. Gleaned from the pages of THE FUTURIST magazine as well as other sources, the forecasts explore the key business and tech trends that are shaping the future, today. Among the society's findings:
#1: Hydrogen fuel cells will be cost competitive by 2010. By 2012, fuel cell power is expected to cost around $400 per kilowatt. Fuel cells will power cars and allow each home to have its own non-polluting electricity generator.
#2: The era of the Cyborg is at hand. Researchers in Israel have fashioned a "bio-computer" using the DNA of living cells instead of silicon chips. This development may soon allow a computer to connect directly with a human brain.
#3: By 2015, New York, Tokyo and Frankfurt may emerge as hubs for high-speed, large-capacity supersonic planes. NASA's X-43A Scramjet recently flew at 7,000 mph (nearly ten times the speed of sound). These hyperspeed planes will whisk passengers across continents in the time it takes most people to drive to the airport.
#4: Schools based on classrooms and a human teacher will dwindle over the next 25 years. Why sit in a classroom when you can visit virtual worlds and experience your subjects? An avatar, a personalized interactive guide, will answer all of your questions and help you pose new ones.
#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.
#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.
#7: A snail may save your life. A non-addictive painkiller one thousand times more potent than morphine could soon be on the market, thanks to research on conotoxins, the distinct set of chemicals found in tropical cone snails. Future medicines from the snails may help treat heart disease, depression and spinal cord injuries, among other ailments.
#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.
#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.
#10: Robots and smart environments will improve care and independence for the elderly. Intelligent walkers will help seniors get around while sensors on the handlebars monitor their vital signs. Handheld devices will track senior citizens' movements and guide them around town, keeping people mobile and independent.
A complete version of the forecasts, as well as more information about the Society, can be found at
"Much of what will happen in the future depends on what we humans decide to do," says World Future Society President Tim Mack. "If we could know the future with certainty, it would mean that the future could not be changed. Yet this is a main purpose of studying the future: to look at what may happen if present trends continue, decide if this is what is desirable, and, if it's not, work to change it. Knowing the trends can empower you for effective action."
ABOUT THE WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY:
The World Future Society is an association of people interested in how social and technological developments are shaping the future. It endeavors to help individuals, organizations, and communities see, understand, and respond appropriately and effectively to change. Through media, meetings, and dialogue among its members, it raises awareness of change and encourages development of creative solutions. The Society takes no official position on what the future will or should be like. Instead it acts as a neutral forum for exploring possible, probable, and preferable futures.
Founded in 1966 as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization in Washington, D.C., the Society has some 25,000 members in more than eighty countries around the world. Individuals and groups from all nations are eligible to join the Society and participate in its programs and activities.
The Society holds a two-day, international conference once a year where participants discuss foresight techniques and global trends that are influencing the future. Previous conference attendees have included future U.S. President Gerald Ford (1974), Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy (1975), behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner (1984), age-wave expert Ken Dychtwald (2005), U.S. comptroller general David M. Walker (2006), and scientist and inventor Ray Kurzweil (2006).
Membership in the Society is open to anyone who would like to know more about what the future will hold. Members come from all walks of life. They include sociologists, scientists, corporate planners, educators, students, and retirees. They are thinking people who seek a better future for themselves and society.
More information can be obtained at http://www.wfs.org/tomorrow or at the Society's official Web site, www.wfs.org . Interested parties can also call 301-656-8274, ext. 116.
Editors: For more information on THE FUTURIST magazine or the World Future Society, feel free to contact World Future Society president Tim Mack, 301-656-8274 ext. 104, Tmack@wfs.org, or director of communications Patrick Tucker 301-656-8274 ext. 116, firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the World Future Society can also be obtained from the Society’s Web site, www.wfs.org .
Director of Communications
THE WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY