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Less Energy

Consumers are incentivised to use significantly less energy as escalating growth in carbon emissions forces utilities to change their business models and government regulation to exert pressure

As highlighted previously, one of the four main certainties about the next ten years is that we will experience key resource constraints. One of the most significant issues here is clearly energy and, with our continued over-dependency on fossil fuels and the increasing global susceptibility to the impacts of climate change, momentum for change in building. However, we are not yet at a stage where either global agreements will take effect; where technological breakthroughs will provide new solutions; nor where credible alternative pathways for developing economies are on the table. Read more

Popularity: 1% [?]

Clinical Enhancement

The shift of enhanced functionality from an external add on to an integrated capability through cognitive drugs, implants and bionic surgery provides the option for super-human performance

Another potentially controversial topic was raised when looking at the future relates to the advances being made in replacement organs and limbs. Different people have varied perspectives on where this is going and what the mass impacts will be: Some point to the high tech developments that have taken place in prosthetics over the past few years allowing people to regain near full limb movement. Some take this further in a military context and mix in the topic of exo-skeletons as a possible option for enhanced battlefield performance. Then there are also developments like those at UCLA where digital cameras have been hardwired into the back of the retina of visually impaired patients to provide first black and white and now colour image recognition. In the world of cosmetic surgery, some experts are talking about sight and hearing enhancement which will be offered in key clinics within the next decade: If we can replace vital organs and limbs by alternatives with embedded technologies, why can’t the performance be tweaked to a higher standard? Higher frequency hearing and infra-red vision are often mentioned in this context. While this may sound like science fiction to some, in the world of pharmaceuticals a number of recent developments are bringing enhanced performance closer to the market than you might think. Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]

Community Living

Whether in established rural areas or within urban environments, the “village” community is increasingly a prized goal for the middle classes as they seek to reconnect with “people like us”

In a number of events, the increasing, and not decreasing, desire for many of us to want to reconnect with others in deeper, closer and more localised communities came up as an issue for the future: In discussions about the future of cities in Europe, the desire for “village” communities within cities where local facilities, local identities and closer connections all exist were repeatedly highlighted as key ingredients for sustainable urban living – with examples from Greenwich Village to Hampstead to The Marais all cited as role models; in a similar discussion in a workshop held in an Oxfordshire village pub, the recognition of the need for a community to provide a common set of values and stability for people with increasingly complex lives was aired; in the US the rising popularity of gated communities often marketed as places for “people like us” was noted, not just in the fast growing sprawls of Las Vegas and Houston, but also in more established locations such as Washington and Chicago; and in India the segregation of groups of people on a building by building basis was seen as both notable and growing – not just by race but also by creed. All over the world it seems that people are looking to reconnect with like-minded, common valued or similar status others as part of a growth of community living. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Alternative Proteins

To cope with the increase and shift in global diet from rice to meat, alternative sources of protein arrive with a shift to lab-growth manufactured meats and high protein vegetable combinations

One of the common challenges with rising economic growth is that of increased resource consumption. As highlighted in the first section of this book, as GDP per capita increases so does food consumption: Once people have more money available, one of the first things they do is to seek to improve their diet. Whether this involves an incremental shift to higher quality or more tasty foods or a more fundamental shift from say a rice based diet to one with more meat, the well recognised global impact of increased wealth is a higher calorie and ideally higher protein lifestyle. Just as individuals climb what is seen as the energy ladder, so they also climb the calorie and protein ladders. The more money you have, the more or better foods you eat and this is a pretty well linear relationship until you get to a point where enough is enough. Wrap all this together with an increasing population and steadily rising economic growth worldwide and we face a significantly growing world protein demand. The big issue here is that complete protein commodities are becoming increasingly scarce and alternative sources will be required. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Chinese Trains

China, the pacesetter for change in inter-urban transport, is investing over $1 trillion expanding its rail network to 120,000km by 2020 – the second largest public works program in history

In a world where city to city, inter-urban transportation is increasingly seen as the major growth area for mobility, competition is rife between air, road and rail. Around the globe, cities, countries and regions have been talking about the key issues of speed, efficiency and convenience of the relative options and are variously placing some big bets. While low cost airlines continue to grow in many markets and car ownership is rising steadily, many governments are investing heavily in rail as the future of inter-urban transport. Having been proven in Europe and ignored in the US and elsewhere, China is now considered by many to be the pacesetter for change. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Less Variety

The future of choice is about less variety, but not less interest, as retailers and manufacturers provide an increasingly edited portfolio of products through ever more efficient channels

One of the most provocative initial viewpoints in the Future Agenda programme was that on the Future of Choice by Professor Jose Luis Nueno of IESE in Barcelona. In it he indicated  that “as China and India and other fast-developing economies become the primary global marketplaces, the needs and wishes of the 4bn new consumers will dominate those of the 800m old ones in the US and Europe. The days where the US set the pace in the consumer mindset are over and this is not going to change.” Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]


The active gathering, analysis, and interpretation of data related to disease activity and threats to human and animal health delivers us faster early warning, detection, and situational awareness

In an era of increased globalization, public health and surveillance are playing an increased role in bio-security. Protecting us from the outbreak of disease has become an increasingly hot topic in the healthcare fraternity and one which is a focus for major investment. As part of global and national health security systems, public health surveillance is widely used for such activities as detecting new cases; estimating impact; modeling the spread of diseases; evaluating prevention and control measures and strategic prevention planning. To achieve these ambitious aims, it involves ongoing and systematic collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of a mass of health-related data of the population. An emerging field, known as bio-surveillance, has involved the expansion of the traditional public health surveillance into detected and predicting bioterrorist threats and disease outbreaks in animals and plants. Read more

Popularity: 5% [?]

Enjoying the Ordinary

Increasing satisfaction in the basics of life driven as a backlash against excess focuses more on making the most of the day-to-day and increasingly valuing and premiumising the ordinary

Even before the recent economic downturn in Europe and the US, there were several signals that more people in these regions were seeking a more simple, less complicated life. As one person commented “after fifty years of a consumerism bubble, maybe it is time we again focus on what is really important.” Allied to this some research shared at one of the early workshops pointed to a shift in attitudes in Europe to going back to basics, but with a twist. From restaurants to holidays to the simple day-to-day activities like catching a bus, in developed societies there is notable momentum building towards greater value in the ordinary. As austerity measures introduced into the same countries start to bite, some see that, rather than fighting against the economic necessity, many will embrace the opportunity to drop down a gear or two and enjoy the ordinary. Although evidently not currently on the radar in fast growing emerging economies where more not less is often the priority for many, some see that this attitude shift may spread as it embraces a more sustainable and more holistic view of life. Read more

Popularity: 1% [?]

Muslim Europe

With increasing economic migration into the EU, by 2020 the total Muslim population of Europe will be equivalent in size to that of Germany and a rising cultural and political influence.

Migration has been a contentious subject for a number of years and, as politicians continue to avoid the heart of the issue and media misrepresents many of the arguments, the real implications are misunderstood. Yet, in terms of impacts on other issues, migration is perhaps the archetypal cross-cutting issue. In his initial perspective on the future of migration, Professor Richard Black stated that “immigrant integration and increasing diversity in Europe and the North are significant questions for today’s societies.” From the varied discussions around the topic it is clear that in Europe there is a mounting population challenge that will lead to a shift in society. “Europe’s low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society” is one pertinent view. Many increasingly see that, to sustain competitive growth in the face of declining fertility, Europe will support increased migration – and this will largely come from North Africa and the Near East. Although raw data is highly sensitive and hard to come by, leading commentators see that by 2020 economic migration will have started to change the multicultural balance in a new direction. Europe will become increasingly Muslim and if current trends continue over 10% of European nationals will be Muslim by the end of the decade. Read more

Popularity: 5% [?]

Automated People-care

Economically viable support for the ageing population will increasingly be supplied remotely by robotic assisted care and vital signs monitoring so that people can stay home for longer

One of the key challenges of an ageing population is in providing medical support at home. Given that people are living longer and that the costs of hospital-based care are so great, in many countries there is increasing focus on providing solutions that help people within their own space. The traditional approach for this has been through using carers who either live with patients or visit them on a regular timetable to take health measurements, advise on diet and exercise and ensure that isolation and loneliness is avoided: However, it has been consistently argued that by supporting people at home, the need to admit them into primary or secondary healthcare units is prevented and so both the social and financial impacts of entering hospital or care homes are prevented, or at least delayed. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

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