Each year since 1985, the editors of The Futurist have selected the most thought-provoking ideas and forecasts appearing in the magazine to go into our annual Outlook report.
Over the years, Outlook has spotlighted the emergence of such epochal developments as the Internet, virtual reality, the 2008 financial crisis and the end of the Cold War. But these forecasts are meant as conversation starters, not absolute predictions about the future.
We hope that this report–covering developments in business and economics, demography, energy, the environment, health and medicine, resources, society and values, and technology–inspires you to tackle the challenges, and seize the opportunities, of the coming decade.
With no further ado, The Futurist Magazine releases its top ten forecasts for 2013 and beyond.
1. Neuroscientists may soon be able to predict what you’ll do before you do it.
The intention to do something, such as grasp a cup, produces blood flow to specific areas of the brain, so studying blood-flow patterns through neuroimaging could give researchers a better idea of what people have in mind. One potential application is improved prosthetic devices that respond to signals from the brain more like actual limbs do, according to researchers at the University of Western Ontario. World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2012.
2. Future cars will become producers of power rather than merely consumers.
A scheme envisioned at the Technology University of Delft would use fuel cells of parked electric vehicles to convert biogas or hydrogen into more electricity. And the owners would be paid for the energy their vehicles produce. Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2012.
3. An aquaponic recycling system in every kitchen?
Future “farmers” may consist of householders recycling their food waste in their own aquariums. An aquaponic system being developed by SUNY ecological engineers would use leftover foods to feed a tank of tilapia or other fish, and then the fish waste would be used for growing vegetables. The goal is to reduce food waste and lower the cost of raising fish. Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2011.
4. The economy may become increasingly jobless, but there will be plenty of Work
Many recently lost jobs may never come back. Rather than worry about unemployment, however, tomorrow’s workers will focus on developing a variety of skills that could keep them working productively and continuously, whether they have jobs or not. It’ll be about finding out what other people need done, and doing it, suggests financial advisor James H. Lee. “Hard at Work in the Jobless Future,” Mar-Apr 2012.
5. The next space age will launch after 2020, driven by competition and “adventure capitalists.”
While the U.S. space shuttle program is put to rest, entrepreneurs like Paul Allen, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos are planning commercial launches to access low-Earth orbit and to ferry passengers to transcontinental destinations within hours. Challenges include perfecting new technologies, developing global operations, building new infrastructure, and gaining regulatory approval. “The New Age of Space Business,” Sep-Oct 2012, p. 17
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