July 10th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | Comments Off

Human resilience in the future

I read and watch a fair number of stories that suppose the Earth is in some kind of apocalypse. Even contemporary futurist thought is rife with societal collapse scenarios. Recently Jamais Cascio wrote a nice critique of these dystopian views. He simply points out that any future that assumes that people will not be resilient and fight back (against aliens, against tyranny, against plague, against climate change when it really bites, etc.) are missing the essential nature of human beings. Worth a read.

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July 9th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Innovation | Comments Off

Future of water and advertising – a billboard that produces drinking water

Yesterday I had a conversation with John Kenny of the draftFCB Agency. John and I met some time ago when co-presenting to an executive development program. We chatted about the future of marketing and advertising (hey, I’m a huge fan of Madmen). John mentioned that his global firm is moving away from persuasion-based marketing to something that can be called action marketing. That means, do something real, in the actual world, and let viral video do the rest. The example his firm was engaged with blew me away.

There is in Chile and Peru a coastal desert. I’ve been to Lima, which is in that desert. It rains an average of .5 inches a year though the city is next to the sea. The air is quite moist, however, because of the sea. People need clean drinking water, the water is in the air, but it does not fall out. What to do?

The answer came when a technical university, UTEC, needed a marketing campaign. You can read about the project here, but in simple terms what they did was design a highly technical billboard that precipitates and collects water out of the air, and delivers it to tanks built into the structure. Scores of families can obtain weekly drinking water simply by turning the tap a the base of the billboard. Wow. That is future thinking.

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July 9th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | Comments Off

The security industry and the future

Thinking about the billions spent on security since 9/11 in America, including the recent revelations about PRISM and other data surveillance activities, I came across these interesting numbers from the Atlantic

Since 9/11, the Brady Campaign tells us, there have been an estimated 334,168 gun deaths* in the United States, a figure that includes homicides, suicides, and unintentional shooting deaths. The total is 100 times larger than the toll of September 11, 2001.

And the Economist helpfully points out that the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack have been about 1 in 20 million since 9/11.

Our priorities are strange. We will spend a lot to prevent the unlikely, but little to deal with the obvious.

h/t to Digby

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June 26th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra and Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Innovation | 1 Comment

Eating Healthy, And Other Ideas We Should be Sharing Globally

healthy eatingToday I searched the surprisingly niche Google topic “how online education improves healthy diets in the future”. I came across several American and UK publications, but very few publications from other places around the globe. One  related post  I found talks about the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign. Its Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recognizes 54 children as winners who will attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House hosted by Mrs. Obama. The group will join The First Lady for a healthy lunch, featuring a selection of the winning recipes, followed by a visit to the White House kitchen garden.  This seems to me like a very inspiring event- kids getting governmental encouragement to eat and cook healthy meals.

I then came across  a blog from a Malaysian publication called The Star. The article talks about the importance of starting healthy eating at a young age, and it gives great tips to help parents implement a healthy diet for their children.  I posted the article to my social media channels and  realized I was surprised that this blog post was from Malaysia. Why? My search results, although unfiltered and open to any information on the internet, oftentimes come up with American, UK, and Canadian publications when I search for trends, innovative ideas and projects for the future. It’s hard to say if this is the internet’s fault, or foreign publications lacking presence online, but it got me thinking of how important it is to keep communication and ideas flowing openly on a global scale, and how it will only disadvantage us if we stick to reading and watching national news and publications.

Cross-posting blogs from different countries is a good thing. It promotes global communication. Here at Futurist.com we get visits from an average of 120 nations a month.  We know that this promotes culture sharing, but at the same time know this could be expanded greatly if we could put our site out in multiple languages, or at least set up SEO so that it searches better in other languages and regions. One need only travel internationally once to discover how insulated and isolated we tend to be, despite the reach of the Internet, and so using the net to foster international dialogue is an excellent goal. And most importantly we can do more to promote learning and sharing innovative ideas that cure global issues and inspire new inventions. The world will have 8 billion people before too long, and to make that work will require an ever-increasing level of international learning, cooperation, and innovation, if we are to live in relative comfort and peace.

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