segunda-feira, 30 de junho de 2008

News & Previews from the World Future Society May 2008 (Vol. 9, No. 5)

Receiving a pass-along copy or haven't joined WFS yet? Check out our special membership offer.


In This Issue:
* New Nanotech Products Hit the Market
* Will "Super-Bugs" Outlast Us?* Solar Energy May Be Competitive in 10 Years
* Bridging the Digital Divide
* Editor's Query: Why Are You Here?
* Click of the Month: Health Care Innovations Exchange
* News from the Futurist Community


Nanotechnology is churning out new consumer products at a rate of three or four a week, according to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

There are now more than 600 nanoproducts in the project's registry, including nanowhitening toothpaste (containing calcium peroxide nanoparticles), automotive parts using nanocomposites, and even golf clubs made with nanotech-derived materials.

The biggest category for nanoproducts is health and fitness items, such as cosmetics and sunscreens, which represent 60% of the products in the inventory. Sales of products incorporating nanotechnology reached an estimated $88 billion in 2007 and could reach $2.6 trillion by 2014, according to Lux Research.

"Public perceptions about risks-real and perceived-can have large economic consequences," says David Rejeski, the project director. "How consumers respond to these early products in food, electronics, health care, clothing, and cars is a litmus test for broader market acceptance of nanotechnologies in the future."

SOURCE: Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, or


Bacteria may eventually prove to be Earth's greatest evolutionary success story. While humans scramble to arm themselves with new antibiotic weapons to fight deadly microbes, we are likely to lose the war in the long run, according to Lester A. Mitscher, a University Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Miracle drugs like penicillin have saved countless lives, especially during World War II, but the downside is that, because these antibiotics were deemed so safe and effective, they were overprescribed, giving the target microbes the opportunity to evolve their way around the weapons aimed at them, Mitscher notes in the JOURNAL OF NATURAL PRODUCTS.

Drug-resistant "super-bugs" like MRSA (Methacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are making headlines as hospitals become breeding grounds and patients become all-too-available victims.

Mitscher urges drug corporations to develop antibiotics that not only kill the immediate microbial enemies, but also inhibit their ability to mutate. This would allow patients' own immune systems to help battle infections. Unfortunately, he notes, the economics of the pharmaceutical industry has slowed the pace of antibiotic discovery that could achieve these goals.

SOURCE: University of Kansas,


The United States Army War College, the National Intelligence University, and The Global Futures Forum will sponsor the Third Annual Proteus "Futures" Academic Workshop from 16-18 September 2008 at the Center for Strategic Leadership (CSL), Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

The objective of this year's workshop is to assist in ongoing foresight efforts by bringing together experts from the military, national security and intelligence communities, academia, and the private sector to present papers on global trends that will offer significant challenges and opportunities for United States and its partners well into the 21st century and to exchange ideas and showcase studies on "futuring" methods.

For more information, visit the Proteus Web site,, or contact Mr. Bill Wimbish at or telephone 717-245-3366; or Mr. Pat Cohn at or telephone 717-245-3196.


Solar energy technologies need about a decade more of research and development investment to become an economically competitive alternative to petroleum, according to Caltech chemistry professor Harry Gray.

"Solar can potentially provide all the electricity and fuel we need to power the planet," Gray says. "The holy grail of solar research is to use sunlight efficiently and directly to 'split' water into its elemental constituents-hydrogen and oxygen-and then use the hydrogen as a clean fuel."

The biggest challenge to meeting this goal is reducing costs enough so that shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of electricity makes economic sense. The breakthrough will be when the cost of photovoltaic energy can be reduced to about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, Gray told a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society,


Americans with low income and education levels are less likely to have Internet access than their wealthier, better-educated counterparts, but they spend more time online when they do have access.

Concerns about an economic and digital underclass have led activists to urge the government to subsidize Internet access for poor families; research led by Jeff Prince, assistant professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, suggests that there may be social and economic benefits to such a policy.

Like affluent Internet users, low-income families use the Internet for researching products they may purchase, gathering health information, and reading the news. However, the lower-income users spend more time communicating (e-mail, chat) and gaming.

"From the perspective of an economist, some of these activities benefit not only those partaking in them, but other members of society as well, making it possibly in the government's interest to encourage them,"says Prince. "For sure they may use it for things we don't care about, like chat and games, but we also predict that a decent proportion would use it for things we might think socially beneficial. We find some argument for a subsidy."

SOURCE: Cornell University,


WorldFuture 2008: Seeing the Future Through New Eyes, to be held July26-28 in Washington, D.C., will bring together a thousand different perspectives, with presenters and attendees from diverse disciplines and from all regions and cultures.

REGISTER BY APRIL 30 to save $100 off the on-site registration

WATCH selected videos from the 2007 conference on


When I started working at the World Future Society, one of the first authors I worked with was Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and now president of the Earth Policy Institute. He wrote eloquently and urgently in THE FUTURIST about the need to make more sustainable choices in our lifestyles.

I took what Brown wrote to heart when I decided to move to an apartment building that was within walking distance of the office. I do own a car, but I drive less than 4,000 miles a year. I feel that this choice was a healthy one for myself and is in some small way contributing to a cleaner future environment-at least in my own neighborhood.

We at the World Future Society are looking for other stories about how the study of the future, membership in the Society, or participation at a conference made a difference. In short, why are you here, thinking about the future? Why does the future matter?

Tell us (in about 500 words or fewer) either a personal story or an anecdote out of the history of futuring that inspired you to take a deeper and more active interest in the future-a story to help others see the future with new eyes.

This isn't a contest. We simply believe that stories told by the voices of experience will help show young people and other potential members exactly why thinking about the future is so vital to individuals and to the world right now.

TELL YOUR STORY to editor Cindy Wagner, or post a comment at:


FUTURIST UPDATE readers are encouraged to forward their copy to family, friends, students, clients, and colleagues!

Did you receive this copy from someone else? Sign up for your own free subscription at


Sharing information, techniques, and inspiration is vital to the improvement of professional services. That is the philosophy behind the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's online repository for health-care innovations.

Examples of innovations described on the new exchange:

* Administrators for the Iowa Department of Public Health used tools and resources developed by the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment to overhaul the department's substance-abuse services.

* An intensive-care unit team shares its communications protocol for connecting staff, patients, and family members in setting daily goals for patients' care and treatment. The regular communication helps ensure progress toward meeting treatment goals.

* A nursing-home care model, known as the "Wellspring Model," is described, showing how nursing homes can come together in a learning collaborative to exchange staff performance data and conduct group training to enhance resident care.

An excellent resource for health-care providers, the site allows registered viewers to read articles and expert commentaries, sign up for the e-mail newsletter, browse the Innovations Exchange by subject, and participate in topic-specific discussions.

* EXPLORING THE FUTURE COURSE: FTR-100 Exploring the Future is three-credit-hour course offering a cross-disciplinary investigation of the future in a changing world. The course is offered at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, July 7 through August 12. Section 870 of the course is online, and Section 840 is a "hybrid" course, led by Stephen F. Steele, incorporating participation in the World Future Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., and online modules before and after the meeting. (Conference registration and travel/lodging arrangements are separate from tuition and are the registrant'sresponsibility.) DETAILS and

This new book edited by longtime 60 MINUTES anchor Mike Wallace is a collection of essays by "60 of the World's Greatest Minds" who "Share Their Visions of the Next Half-Century." Among the diverse and esteemed contributors are Internet "father" Vint Cerf, children's rights advocate Marion Wright Edelman, geneticist and Human Genome Project leader Francis S. Collins, and World Future Society President Timothy C. Mack. The just-released book, published by Thomas Nelson, is available for $24.99. the


This special WFS report, prepared by Forecasting International's Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, is the latest update of an ongoing study four decades in the making.
Among the trends featured in the report, originally excerpted in the March-April and May-June 2008 issues of THE FUTURIST: The world's population will double within the next four decades. Important medical advances will continue to appear almost daily. The global economy is growing more integrated. Future seniors will be healthier and wealthier.

55 TRENDS NOW SHAPING TOMORROW'S WORLD is now available in either print or PDF format for $10 ($9 for Society members).

FUTURIST UPDATE: News & Previews from the World Future Society is an e-mail newsletter published monthly as a supplement to THE FUTURIST magazine. Copyright © 2008, World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA. Telephone 1-301-656-8274; e-mail; Web site

Editor: Cindy Wagner, cwagner@wfs.orgWeb Editor: Patrick Tucker, Network Administrator: Jeff Cornish, Vice President, Membership/Conference Operations: Susan Echard,

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The WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association with a global membership. Regular membership in the Society, including a subscription to THE FUTURIST, is $49 per year, or $20 for full-time students under age 25. Professional and Institutional membership programs are also offered; contact Society headquarters for details: