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People Tracking

The acceptance of being tracked by your mobile is accelerated with the adoption of ticket-less transport systems, increased surveillance and financially successful location-based services

Anyone who has used an iPhone will be aware that location services are now embedded in most smart-phones. By the start of 2010 there were over 6000 location-based iPhone apps, with 600 new ones being released every month. Equally those who may have used Google Latitude will be aware of how easy it is to see where your friends are real time on the basis of their phone location. For many the ability to be positioned by your mobile phone location may seem a new development but it has actually been used for quite some time Read more

Popularity: 4% [?]

Choosing God

The increasing fragmentation of society and looser connection between religion and the state in some regions sees more of us turning to God to help define who we are

There has always been a desire to counterbalance choice and individual responsibility with a sense of moral certainty.  This goes some way to explain the growing trend toward faith.  As John Micklethwait and Adrain Woolridge point out in their book, “God is Back”, “In a world of ever greater competition displacement and opportunity, faith has become a useful attribute for prosperous people.  But religion also fulfils a role lower down in society providing support for those who have lost out in global capitalism or feel bewildered by it.”  This probably explains why, across the globe, belief in god is on the increase. Read more

Popularity: 4% [?]

Richer Poorer

Widening differences in wealth generation between and within urban and rural communities extends the gap between rich and poor, and the have and have-nots – but they need each other

According to the UN, in recent years the gap between richer and poorer households has widened in most areas of the world despite strong economic growth that has created millions of jobs. This has applied not only in the gaps between some rich countries and some poor ones, but also within many nations: The rich / poor gap in the US has increased just as it has in Brazil. This has been driven by a number of factors, many of which are increasing rather than decreasing going forward. Urbanisation is perhaps the most significant issue. The ways in which governments use taxation and spending on social activities to redistribute wealth show little sign of changing; nor do the effects of access to education as a catalyst for greater differentiation of opportunity. Over the next decade, many experts across the world see that the gap between the haves and the have-nots will grow, even though there will be ever more inter-dependency, in some areas, between wealth-generation across the social spectrum. Read more

Popularity: 4% [?]

Systemic Euthanasia

The escalating economic and social costs of supporting ageing beyond natural lifecycles leads to wider acceptance of assisted suicide for those who have had enough

Given the certainty of imbalanced population growth and the increasingly ageing population, some claim that there are people born today who, if they wish, could live for over 200 years. With the current record at 120 and a host of people already living past 115 , there is little doubt that, with technology advancing as quickly as it is, physically adding another 80 years or so is looking possible. Whether or not mental capacity can be sustained for that long may be a greater challenge, but the world will certainly get used to more and more centenarians; in the UK alone there are over 9000 of them today. Read more

Popularity: 11% [?]

Local Foods

Increased transparency on resource availability, food security, land use and eco-literacy accelerate the shift towards mass consumption of locally grown and processed foods

After nearly a century of interest in global foods sourced from different countries, in some regions there has been a steadily growing middle class focus on returning to locally produced foods: The organic movement, seasonal produce and “locavores” have all come on to the food industry radar in many developed world countries over the past few years.  Across the globe, in the varied workshops and conversations undertaken over the past twelve months, we can see an alignment of multiple drivers of change around food from GM crops and improved irrigation through to concerns about national food security and an increase in urban farming. Together these are leading many of us towards a global solution to food supply that is increasingly focused on the local. Although the approaches differ from region to region and state to state, a world in 2020 where more people are better fed through more intelligent use of resources is, it appears, on the horizon. Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]

Solar Sunrise

Increasing national government focus on energy security and climate change drives the uptake of large-scale solar as the leading renewable supply

The combined pressures of rising global energy demand, increasing concern about climate change, greater focus on the advance of ‘peak oil’ and heightened awareness of the challenges around energy security are driving many countries to look for alternative energy sources. While long term prospects rest on technological breakthroughs and the wider adoption of nuclear energy that decrease the use of fossil fuels, as highlighted in section 1, the next decade is still very much where oil, gas and coal are the major sources of energy. With India and China growing fast, and so requiring greater energy to fuel this growth, with the US still very much “addicted to oil” and with governments yet to agree a global way forward, the energy world in 2020 will, according to International Energy Agency projections, still be over 70% fossil fuel based. Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]

Intelligent Highways

Mesh networks and ubiquitous mobile connections deliver the much heralded intelligent highway to improve safety and increase capacity while at the same time reducing congestion

The intelligent highway is a term used by many in the automotive industry and government bodies to describe a world where cars don’t crash, congestion does not occur and there are no accidents; a world where cars automatically detect a problem ahead and avoid it through either slowing down or taking alternative routes. Intelligent highways, when they arrive, will significantly reduce the number of deaths on the road, make travel smoother and faster and, all things being equal, means that we use less energy for mobility. The dream of transport professionals has been much discussed, has been the focus for multiple programmes over the years and led to many false starts. However, in the eyes of many, the reality is on the horizon and with forthcoming regulation, technology deployment and cooperation between manufacturers, looks like being part of our world by 2020. Read more

Popularity: 4% [?]

Switching Off

Being disconnected in an always connected world is a growing desire met by virtual cocoons at home but, in an increasingly crowded world real physical solitude becomes an option only for the rich

In one workshop it was highlighted that in an ever-present always-connected world, people will sometimes want to disconnect, to switch off and be, for a time, not available. In another it was mentioned that for many professionals today, rather than talk to their spouse, the last thing they do at night and the first thing they do in the morning is check their mobile for messages. While some find this lifestyle attractive and in many ways addictive, for others it has become apparent that it is not healthy and there must be an alternative. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Mobile Money

Proven systems built on mobile connectivity and increasingly flexible means of financial exchange provide a tipping point in the shift towards the cashless society

The ability to replace cash with digital money transferred by mobile phone has been one of the big ‘next big things’ for well over a decade now. Proponents have been predicting widespread use of mobile payments for a range of activities from transportation ticketing and buying a can of Coke for years and have seen that this would all take off in the technology savvy European markets, probably led by partnerships between banks, IT firms and mobile operators. What few recognised was that regulation and willingness by consumers to make the shift would be such a barrier and what even fewer saw was that serving the unbanked in Africa would be the catalyst for change. Today, with more money flowing around Africa by mobile phone, the adoption of micro-payment systems spreading globally and associated regular coverage of the impacts in the FT, WSJ and the Economist, many now believe that we really are at a point of change. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Pharma Foods

Customised foods, tailored to provide specific therapeutic benefit, blur the line between pharmaceuticals and food as nutrigenomics allows individualised diets to fit genetic profiles

As awareness of advances in biotechnology is increasing, a growing area of interest is in the use of foods for medical purposes. While there there is a long standing tradition in many cultures of  using natural herbs and foods to treat ailments. In recent years, so called ‘superfoods’ ,such as blueberries and acai,  have received increasing attention, particularly in the media.  Interest is now rapidly switching to foods with clinically enhanced properties. Probiotics, prebiotics, functional foods, clinical foods and neutraceuticals are all talked about and promoted as being good for you either in generally or by specifically targeting a bodily function, such as improving digestion, bone density and so on. As technology evolves and more is understood about how to tailor food and drug combinations to better fit individual needs,  , the opportunities for tailored foods that use improved genetic profiling are burgeoning. By 2020, many in the pharmaceutical and food industries  predict  the biotechnical  advances  of foods grown in the field and drugs developed in the lab to combine. In the next decade we can expect to see a shift in some of our basics from traditional “farmer- foods” to more sophisticated “pharma foods.” Read more

Popularity: 7% [?]

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