The Futurist

The Futurist, subtitled A Journal of Forecasts, Trends and Ideas About the Future, is a journal that explores social and technological changes, with forecasts, trends and ideas about the future. Founded in 1967, The Futurist is published bimonthly by the World Future Society.Articles focus on the topic of sociology. The Editors of this journal are Edward S. Cornish and Jeff Cornish.

Articles from Vol. 45, No. 4, July-August

A Chemical Mission to Mars: Methane Lures Astrobiologists to Look below the Martian Surface
For millennia, humans have suspected that life exists on other planets. Science writer Marc Kaufman thinks that it does--and that we might have to look no further than Mars. "There is a very good chance that [a near-future Mars mission] will say...
A Playful Utopia
This past March, South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) attendees in Austin, Texas, had the chance to attend Plutopia 2011: The Future of Play. Held at the Mexican American Cultural Center, the event showcased configurable, experiential, and interactive...
Connectivity and Its Discontent: Once a Cheerleader for New Electronic Technologies, an MIT Professor Now Worries about Their Long-Term Effects
Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent more than 15 years studying the relationship of humans with robots and other electronic technologies. Once a techno-cheerleader, she now questions...
Dealing with Data
Fifteen years ago, Future Survey editor Michael Marien organized a debate at the World Future Society's annual meeting to address the issue of whether the ongoing Information Technology Revolution would turn out to be all that good for us. In other...
Eroding Futures Why Healthy Soil Matters to Civilization: The Earth beneath Our Feet Is the Earth's Infrastructure for the Resources That Sustain Our Civilizations-And Our Futures. A Leading Agricultural Policy Expert Shows What We Must Do to Save the Soil
The signs that our civilization is in trouble are multiplying. During most of the 6,000 years since civilization began, we lived on the sustainable yield of the Earth's natural systems. In recent decades, however, humanity has overshot the level that...
Four Scenarios for Co-Working: Sharing Workspace Offers Potential Benefits in an Uncertain Economy
Telecommuters, freelancers, and others without a regular office to anchor their workday may suffer from loneliness or require a more professional environment than a local coffeehouse from which to conduct business. One solution, co-working, may offer...
Gaming for Better Decision Making: Overconfidence Can Lead to Poor Decisions, as Gamblers Should Know
A new Web-based game developed by researchers in the U.K. endeavors to help users quantify their level of confidence to improve decision making. World of Uncertainty uses mathematics, statistics, critical thinking, knowledge management, and educational...
Mapping New Zealand's Long-Term Future
Over four days in March 2011, conference goers at StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future envisioned the most preferable long-term future for New Zealand and searched for innovative ways to meet future challenges. The conference, sponsored by the Sustainable...
My First Meltdown: Lessons from Fukushima: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Carries a Number of Important Lessons, Such as How and When to Deploy a Worst-Case Scenario. While Working in Kyoto, the Futurist's Senior Editor Observed Japan's Nightmare and the Costs of Poor Communication during a Crisis
SCENE: The date is March 11, 2011. I am in my apartment in Kyoto, Japan, watching my first partial nuclear meltdown 335 miles away in Fukushima. Because the word "melt" suggests a visible and even transition between physical states, I always thought...
Our Naked Data: The Ease of Communicating on Modern Networks Has Meant a Rise in Data Vulnerability. A Security Specialist Outlines the Steps That the IT Industry Should Take to Protect Consumers from Data Attacks-And Itself from Reactionary Regulators
Many of us find ourselves with multiple gadgets--in our pockets, our homes, our cars, our offices--and these gadgets are increasingly built to talk to each other, often automatically and invisibly. Camera phones upload straight to the Web and connect...
Purification at the Nano Scale: A Japanese Water-Filtration System Could Help Quench the World's Growing Thirst
Recent events in Japan have sparked concerns about freshwater availability in many parts of the country. Fortunately for Japan, the nation is also the world's leader in water filtration. Japanese manufacturer Nitto Denko is currently marketing what...
Science Fiction Futures: Aliens and Robots Need Not Apply: On a Recent Afternoon on Twitter, We Pondered Some of the Stereotypes about How the Future Is Depicted in Science Fiction Books and Movies
Our Twitter followers responded to our quest to find robot- and alien-free scifi with a very diverse reading and movie-renting list of suggestions. And they reminded us that good science fiction also doesn't have to be about the future, though of course...
Technology's Role in Revolution Internet Freedom and Political Oppression: Revolutions Depend on People, Not on Social Media, and the Internet Both Promotes Democracy and Thwarts It, Says a Foreign-Policy Scholar. Cyber-Utopians Be Warned: Authoritarian Regimes Are Adapting to the Internet Age
The only place where the West is still unabashedly eager to promote democracy is in cyberspace. Enthusiastic belief in the liberating power of technology, accompanied by the irresistible urge to enlist Silicon Valley start-ups in the global fight for...
The Case against Cash: Alternatives to Cash Would Not Only Reduce Violent Crime, but Also Deter Underground Economic Activity That Goes Untaxed. an Advocate for a Cash-Free Economy Asks Why the U.S. Government Isn't Promoting It
Twenty years, ago Harvey F. Wachsman, a lawyer and medical doctor, wrote an op-ed piece published in the New York Times proposing that cash be abolished and replaced by government bank cards. His purpose was to reduce tax evasion, muggings, and other...
The Emerging Digital Lifestyle: From Social Networking to Location-Based Mobile Applications, Our Digital Devices Are Increasingly Shaping Our Lives. A Business Futurist Examines What This Will Mean for Organizations and Individuals in the Coming Decade, Highlighting Some of the Key "Beads" on the "Data Abacus."
We live in an age in which the digital and the real worlds comingle effortlessly. In a relatively short period of time, a variety of computing and communications devices have seamlessly incorporated themselves into our lives. New applications and tools...
Treading in the Sea of Data: Information: Our World Is Swimming in It. with Each Passing Day, Our Lives Become More Dependent on It. Yet, the Very Magnitude of This Torrent of Data Compromises Its Benefits to Us. New Strategies and Technologies Are Now Evolving That May Save Us from Drowning-And Even Help Us Thrive
The desire for information is rooted deep within us, evolved into our genes. Essentially an outgrowth of food foraging behavior, information foraging provides similar neurological payoffs. In a now-famous 2009 study on monkeys, Ethan Bromberg-Martin...
Visionary Forecasting with Graham T. T. Molitor: One Futurist Ventures Where Few Other Forecasters Dare to Go, Offering Forecasts for the Next Thousand Years and Explaining How He Does It
Graham T. T. Molitor, former vice president and legal counsel for the World Future Society, bases his forecasts on the assumption that successive waves of economic change are the primary forces shaping human life. "The dominant economic activities...
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