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On the Horizon Futures Report

Curated by Pamela McConathy Schied, MS, Futures Studies in Commerce, College of Technology, University of Houston; Principal, Foresight Communications Group,

60 Futurists Weigh in on the Future of Business

Man in suit with wrench in pocket“The future of business over the next two decades will not be a linear extrapolation from the present day,” says global futurist Rohit Talwar. In his book, The Future of Business, Talwar draws on critical insights from more than 60 contributing authors — established and emerging futurists, foresight researchers and future thinkers from around the world. “At the heart of the story about tomorrow’s business is the impact of the ever quickening pace of advances in information and communications technology,” he adds. Talwar says scenarios of possible futures will result from an interplay of socio-demographic changes, political and economic shifts, alternative trajectories for many industries, new business thinking on a global level, and rapid, convergent developments in science and technologies. (For a glimpse of the book’s content, read the first chapter here.)

New TV Series ‘The Brain’ to Explore Humanity’s Big Questions

OTH Q2 2015Houston’s rock star neuroscientist and award-winning author, David Eagleman, reveals the ultimate story of us in a new PBS series called The Brain. Its goal? To discover why we feel and think the way we do. Addressing some big questions, this ambitious project blends science with innovative visual effects and compelling personal stories. According to Eagleman, “By understanding the human brain, we can come close to understanding humanity.”


There’s an App for That?

Taxis and a dump truck in the cityTrash pick-up for the residential market may never be the same if Oscar Salazar, founding CTO of Uber, has his way. He recently joined Rubicon Global as technical director, with a goal of making garbage pick-up more convenient, while boosting recycling and reducing the cost of garbage handling. The company doesn’t own trucks or landfills, but uses technology to analyze trash content and flow, then connects small, local haulers for more efficient pickup. Rubicon Global has proven its model with commercial companies and is now taking aim at the residential market with an app that works like Uber’s.

Ten Disruptive Technologies Transforming Pharma

Baby with stethoscope and bearAccording to Bertalan Mesko, medical futurist and author of a new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, key trends are converging that will forever alter our approach to health and well-being, and “the way pharma does business.” 1. Empowered patients are now partnering with healthcare providers and “hacking” the system to get into clinical trials. 2. Gamification of education and marketing are impacting the communication of health information and products. 3. Augmented and virtual reality devices such as Google Glass offer opportunities to view and experience information in a whole new way. 4. Genomics and personalized medicine enable us to receive customized therapy and treatments based on individual DNA information. 5. Body sensors can now measure patient health indicators comfortably and inexpensively. 6. “Do-it-yourself” biotechnology is giving birth to citizen scientists who see no limitations in research. 7. 3D printing can now manufacture medical prostheses, equipment and pharmaceuticals without big pharma. 8. The end of human experimentation is nearing as simulation modeling the physiology of the human body with supercomputers moves to the forefront. 9. Artificial Intelligence via supercomputers can now analyze big data in genomic research and biotechnology to develop new drugs and treat patients. 10. Nanorobots can now make early diagnoses by measuring health indicators in our blood.

What Will You Do with Your Jobless Future?

OTH Q2 2015Technology available today will bear fruit in the 2020s, but are you ready? It could mean many of us will only work 10 – 15 hours a week from anywhere we want. On the surface this sounds great. But without jobs, some of us will struggle with a loss of dignity, social engagement and a sense of fulfillment that we looked to our jobs to provide. Policy makers, especially, need to prepare for this. And we will need economic structures to distribute the prosperity we create. On the other hand, Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and a distinguished fellow at Singularity University, believes “there are as many things to be excited about as to fear.” The tourism and recreational industries will see a boom and new jobs for some. Many of us will have more time for leisure, social work and attainment of knowledge.


Forget Flying Cars, Hoverbikes are Coming The U.S. Dept. of Defense is working with UK/U.S. firms to develop hoverbikes for the military.Manufacturers say hoverbikes are cheaper than helicopters and will be able to help soldiers cross difficult terrain, follow a path and then return to base automatically. Once perfected, a version hoverbikes will hit the civilian market.

Farming Goes Vertical In the name of better-produce-for-less, an old steel factory in Newark, New Jersey has been converted to a large, vertical vegetable garden that will open later this year. It is expected to grow more than 2 million pounds of pesticide-free produce annually. Built by Aero Farms, the facility requires no soil and uses 95 percent less water than a farm of similar size spread across a flat, open field. 

The Future of Venture Capital By tapping entrepreneurs that might not be in the usual networks, venture capitalists may find investment opportunities that will deliver outstanding returns in the long term. 

Future Conversations with Computers May Use Old-School Texting If you want a glimpse of how we’ll interact with computers in the future, forget apps and think texting. Really? Well, texting is easy and familiar. And according to a recent study by Pew Research Center, text messaging is the most widely used smartphone feature, accessed by roughly 97 percent of users. 


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