India is the world's largest democracy, and one of the few legitimate
democracies in Asia showing that, contrary to statements of certain
pundits, that democratic concepts can be successfully applied
outside the West.
Contrary to what is happening in China, its population of 1.2
billion, according to the latest census, continues to grow in
spite of the fact that it has the world's highest infant mortality
rates. Its working age population is expected to add another 125
million in the next 10 years. This translates in large capital
needs for additional infrastructure, making it dependent on foreign
investments to a much larger extent than China. Unless it invests
massively in infrastructure, its development will be very much
There is a large imbalance between the genders with a ratio at
birth of 914 girls for 100 boys. Life expectancy at birth is of
65 years. Half the population is younger than 18, a quarter is
rural and a third lives in extreme poverty.
A large proportion of the population is poor, with 50% having
no access to electricity. Poverty is not evenly distriuted geographically,
with some states considerably poorer than others - a gap widening
ever more thus creating the threat of social movements. A Maoist
insurgency has already taken hold.
Nevertheless, the middle and upper class is forecast to grow from
its present figure of 200 million to 1 billion by 2050.
Credits: BFA 2010 (ab.eu)
economy, the world's third largest and second-fastest growing,
should reach USD 25 to 30 trillion by 2050 and could be the world's
third largest after that of the US and China. Some analysts even
believe it will be the world's largest on a PPP basis, reaching
USD 86 trillion, in that time horizon.
In as much as, contrary to China, its economy is not geared to
exports, it is less sensitive to global economic crises. However,
it does rely on foreign direct investments to fund its large trade
India's development hinges on its ability to carry out a number
of reforms, and in particular improve its infrastructure and the
educational level of its citizens with a concomitant evolution
of the population's mentality away from a mindset embedded in
traditions that forbid it from developing into a modern country,
and clean up the environmental damage created by an unruly development.
The country's interaction with the other Asian countries remains,
however, weak as Pakistan acts as an effective geographical barrier.
It fears the strengthening of the China-Pakistan alliance; has
no direct access to Central Asian energy producers and mistrusts
the US. One of its main oil suppliers is Iran.
In spite of these shortcomings, it has been successful in attracting
businesses, particularly from Europe, to outsource their manufacturing
and services or even to acquire Indian corporations.
The country became a nuclear power in the 1990s and is continuing
to develop its delivery capacity. Its agreement with the Atomic
Energy Agency has created a precedent of allowing the country
to have access to nuclear technology without signing the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is thus able to divert uranium from
civilian to military programs.
Military spending makes it the world's largest buyer of weapons,
with Russia as its main supplier. It is believed to have budgeted
USD 100 billion for purchases over the next 10 years. It is expanding
its naval power, acquiring aircraft carriers and planes to secure
shipping lanes for hydrocarbons, just as China is doing.
the future now, where near-future impact counts and visions and
strategies for preferred futures start.
Do we rise above global challenges? Or do we succumb to them?
The Future Now Show explores how we can shape our future
now - where near-future impact counts. We showcase strategies
and solutions that create futures that work.
Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges
- sparking discussion about the connection between today and the
futures we're making - and what we need, from strategy to vision
- to make the best ones.
Featuring Andreas M. Walker, weiterdenken.ch, Co-President, swissfuture,
Switzerland Nick Price, Creative Business Consultant and Futurist,
UK Hardy F. Schloer, Owner, Schloer Consulting Group, Malaysia Lise Voldeng, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Ultra-Agent
Industries Inc., Canada / USA Paul Holister,
are we doing? If you ask that question of a politician or journalist
you will likely get an answer quoting the gross domestic product
(GDP), an impersonal metric that someone once derided as a measure
of how much we are stealing from the future to sell in the present.
So what should we usefully measure? Bhutan introduced Gross
National Happiness 40 years ago. The Swiss have been indexing
fears and worries for 30 years, but they now also have a barometer
of hope. How do these measures differ in terms of focus (personal,
national, global) and depth, in the sense of being reactive
to current events (disasters, terrorist attacks) or founded
on fundamental human desires? How do they differ across cultures?
A rich topic in which investigation and discussion have only
The topic of this
show is collaborative networks, which are generally associated
with leveraging the internet to work in groups where the members
are geographically separated. But the mere existence of social
networks like Facebook enables spontaneous collaboration regardless
of geographical separation and some activist groups are already
using this to great effect. But what are the broader implications
of such collaboration? National cultures show strong differences
in sentiment, in perception of threats and priorities, and we
know that people instinctively behave differently in groups
than individually. Will globally connected groups emerge that
overshadow national groups or will group sentiments give way
to individual sentiments? Will we become more varied or more
homogenous, more easily manipulated or more independent in mind
and heart, more harmonious or more discordant?
outrage about intrusions of the NSA into our privacy, hordes
of us are letting companies like Google ever deeper into our
private lives because of the targeted services this enables.
Social and work-related discussions increasingly take place
in public forums. Do we need to abandon our privacy and accept
that our chats, our musings, our lives in general, are open
to public view?
such an evolution lead to a culture of transparency with greater
openness? Greater tolerance? Or more mindless mobs? Is it actually
a step back, to the days of the village or tribe when everyone
knew what everyone else was doing, an environment for which
humans evolved and are arguably better adapted to than the more
recent civilisation with its anonymity and demigods?
Event: the future of Collective Intelligence
The entrance is free. Please reserve your seat[s] - there is only
a limited amount of seats available.
To reserve your spot please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
will humanity manage the transition from a human based intelligence
to a superior machine intelligence in a constructive, peaceful
and practical way?
The emergence of Global Intelligence marks the fundamental transition
from event-based development and event-based learning to continuous
network enabled parallel development and continuous learning,
by man, and by machine; simultaneously and complimentary. Similar
to aspen trees, where the roots grow for 100s of meter underground,
to meet roots of other aspen trees, to exchange information about
water and soil conditions, the global networks of machines and
its operators begin more and more to understand in real-time the
causalities of changes in information streams and react in real-time
as well. This process will shape the future more than anything
else of the past 1,000 years. One of the most profound changes
will be that Intelligence will not be any longer a competitive
process, but a complimentary and cooperative process. This will
shape, how we govern countries, conduct commerce and manage crisis.
Managing Director, Schloer Consulting Group,
Advisory Board, Club of Amsterdam
When you join THECUBE,
you join a curated, diverse and smart community of scientists,
engineers, designers, technologists, artists, futurists and anthropologists.
We help our members innovate through our events, innovation labs
and one to one mentoring. As a community we actively collaborate
to create innovative solutions via our consultancy and independent
The physical space
is open plan and designed to make you feel calm, focused and happy.
We have created a space that is a tool for the 21st century work
needs, this means no cubicles, minimum artificial light, art,
natural elements and openness.
Our story began as
a response to the financial crash of 2008; we hypothesised that
it was the start of an economic and anthropological pivot. This
kind of pivot brings monumental change, which needs a new way
of thinking and tools. In 2014 we are starting a series of workshops
which will extrapolate tools and intelligence from neuroscience,
culture and industrial engineering. thecubelondon.com
and Mrs. Fleming, .Step
Forward to Make This Energy Transition
global economy, powered mainly by renewable energy, is the best
long-run bet to sustain a projected population of over nine billion
people. 2015 will be an interesting year with the United
Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21)
seeking a legally binding, universal agreement on climate, from
all nations. If we do not step it up, real progress beyond calls
for action will be a challenge though. This is not just because
of the re-emergence of political tensions between East and West.
We are also still missing the magic recipe and some of its core
ingredients. The key question is, how can we get to breakthrough
solutions, and deploy them at scale?
In spite of the UN conferences, emissions growth has pretty much
gone unabated thus far, with the only major dips at the end of
the Cold War, when Eastern Europe's industrial production suddenly
collapsed, and during the global financial crisis. Moreover, almost
1.3 billion people do not yet have any access to electricity whatsoever,
and 2.7 billion people rely on traditional use of biomass for
cooking. Under a business as usual scenario, we are well on our
way to 45 Gigatons of energy-related emissions by 2035 (see Figure
As the year kicks
off, let's be clear: to truly compete, renewable energy will have
to become fully price competitive and substitutable with fossil
fuels much faster. In other words, if renewables can turn out
electricity at a few cents a kilowatt hour, solar panels can capture
energy at night, and storage solutions can compete with gasoline
in terms of energy density and ability to release energy, then
we are talking.
Advances in science are key to achieve this. We will need inventors
and human ingenuity to come up with the next generation of solutions
and bring the remarkable advances in fields such as materials
sciences and nanotechnology, information technology, engineering,
and other natural sciences to bear on the problem much faster,
shortening the innovation cycle.
Science fiction? Not necessarily. Just look at the efficiency
improvements in solar photovoltaics over the past forty years
(see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Efficiency improvements in solar photovoltaics,
1975 - 2012 (Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Already today, multi-junction
cells allow for a 44.7% conversion efficiency. The fast rise of
the efficiency curve of a newer class of materials with a particular
crystal structure which is the same as that of CaTiO3
(calcium titanium oxide or ABX3) or 'perovskite'-after
which they are named-is even more exciting: perovskites have a
band gap that can be tuned by changing halide content which makes
certain materials very good light absorbers over the whole visible
solar spectrum. In addition, reported high carrier mobility and
long diffusion lengths mean that photo generated charges can travel
longer distances, increasing charge absorption and ultimately
producing more electricity.
And this is not all. For example, using rectifying antennas (or
'rectennas'), it is already possible to convert conversion electromagnetic
radiation to electricity, with reported efficiencies of over 90
percent in the microwave range. This is reminiscent of the solex
agitator as depicted in the James Bond movie "The Man with
the Golden Gun", which was released right after the first
oil crisis. In principle, physics predicts that it could be possible
to also reach these efficiencies in the infrared and optical ranges,
i.e., converting sunlight to electricity. Just think about the
energy cost and availability implications of high-efficiency solar
energy harvesting, leveraging a wide spectrum during the day,
and possibly even conducting infrared harvesting at night.
Diligently applying science, there are many such possibilities.
And they seem less out of the box when we think them through thoroughly.
For example, what if wind turbines were routinely coated in ways
that would enable them to much better deal with turbulence, so
as to produce energy at lower wind speeds and suffer from much
less downtime? Again, this is in principle possible, merging design
thinking from bionics with advances in materials sciences. After
all, birds can do this-and so can we with a little effort.
In comparison, new combinations such as Lithium and Sulfur that
hold the potential to dramatically raise the energy density of
batteries and lower their cost almost seem conventional (though
they also need support to reach productization). Notwithstanding,
storage continues to be one of the frontiers our inventors need
to conquer to render the renewable economy possible. It needs
to become much cheaper and better adapted to energy demand patterns
(see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Battery technology roadmap (Source: Gopalakrishnan,
D., Essen, H., Kampman, B., & Grünig, M. (2011). Impacts
of Electric Vehicles-Deliverable 2. Assessment of Electric Vehicle
and Battery Technology, Delft, CE Delft)
As the world of politics
gets ready for COP21 in Paris, in 2015 we need to make progress
on a key roadblock that stands in the way of a viable energy path
forward: the duration of the innovation cycle in science. In solar
photovoltaics, it took more than one hundred years from Becquerel's
discovery of the photovoltaic effect in 1839 to Bell Lab unveiling
the first usable silicon solar cell in 1954, with a six-percent
efficiency. We have gotten better since-but time is not on our
side, and we need to keep stepping it up. Google's $1million "Little
challenge calls for a small laptop-sized solar inverter to shrink
power conversion technology-because an inverter one-tenth the
size of existing devices would make it much easier to bring electricity
everywhere where it is needed.
To accelerate the process and help to push the boundaries of usable
energy solutions, we have created the Exergeia
We back potentially groundbreaking inventions and innovations
in all fields of alternative energy, including unconventional
approaches-including energy efficiency, generation, storage, transmission,
and distribution. Nanomaterials for example could make a big contribution
to energy conversion and storage.
Of course, progress sometimes happens in unexpected ways. When
the namesake of the creator of the James Bond character mentioned
earlier, Ian Fleming, Sir Alexander Fleming (who was otherwise
unrelated), discovered penicillin in 1928, this was after ten
years of searching for anti-bacterial agents. But the breakthrough
came in a serendipitous fashion. Fleming had just returned from
a family holiday-upon departure, he had left his laboratory a
bit untidy, stacking all his cultures of staphylococci in one
corner, where one culture became contaminated with a fungus while
he was vacationing, which then destroyed the colonies of staphylococci
immediately surrounding it. It is fortunate for humanity that
Fleming was open minded and willing to be surprised, thus recognizing
the extraordinary event. The rest is history.
It is now time to come up with analogous breakthroughs and make
the energy transition real. If you work on something that has
the potential to be the next steam engine or Internet, it is time
to step forward, and help bring the 100 percent renewable energy
economy into view. Mr. and Mrs. Fleming-and colleagues-please
impact of culture on education
by Huib Wursten, Senior Partner, itim International and
Carel Jacobs is senior consultant/trainer for itim in The Netherlands,
he is also Certification Agent for the Educational Sector of the
Spinfloat is a
new vertical axis floating wind turbine technology developed
Floating wind turbines
make it possible to harness the full offshore wind potential
as they can be installed in water depths of several hundred
meters. Characterized by a vertical axis and pitched blades,
Spinfloat displays an enhanced aerodynamic performance and more
than 5MW power.
Using heat from Lake Constance equivalent to the energy produced
by one or two nuclear power plants would lead to a change in water
temperature of less than 0.2°C, with no appreciable impacts
on the ecosystem. This is one of the findings of a recent Eawag
study which, for the first time, systematically simulated how
lake stratification and water temperatures would be affected by
substantial withdrawals of thermal energy in the winter or inputs
of cooling water in the summer.
Eawag is a world-leading aquatic research institute. Its research,
which is driven by the needs of society, provides the basis for
innovative approaches and technologies in the water sector. Through
close collaboration with experts from industry, government and
professional associations, Eawag plays an important bridging role
between theory and practice, allowing new scientific insights
to be rapidly implemented.
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014) is
a non-fiction book by Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom.
The book argues that if machine brains surpass human brains in
general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could replace
humans as the dominant lifeform on Earth. Sufficiently intelligent
machines could improve their own capabilities faster than human
computer scientists. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more
on humans than on the actions of the gorillas themselves, so would
the fate of humanity depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.
Absent careful pre-planning, the most likely outcome would be
- touch the sound
- a new musical interface based on the revolutionary technology
of non-contact tactile feedback. 121 ultrasonic transducers are
focusing acoustic energy into one spatial point, thus creating
a tangible vibration in midair. Syntact enables musicians to virtually
mold and shape the sound with their hands. It allows easy and
playful generation of meaningful and diverse musical structures.
The technology behind
Syntact provides contact-free tactile feedback to the musician.
By utilizing airborne ultrasound a force field is created in mid-air
that can be sensed in a tactile way. The interface allows a musician
to feel the actual sound with its temporal and harmonic texture.
While an optical sensor system is interpreting her or his hand
gestures, the musician can physically engage with the medium of
sound by virtually molding and shaping it i.e. changing
its acoustic appearance directly with their hands.
Live music creation
multimedia installations in museums, galleries, science centres
the capacity to "See More" .is
the great adventure of our time
We find ourselves facing an unprecedented paradigm shift; never
before have human beings had to face such a global challenge.
There is much talk
of this "Paradigm Shift", as well as of an "Era
Of Change", and even of a "Change of Era" ...,
but we begin to quake when we are told that this change means
"detaching", and not only from the need to own material
things, it is not only a matter of measures such as "tightening
one's belt" or of "cuts", that in the end always
have to be taken by the most vulnerable social classes. This frightens
us because our intuition tells us this change concerns each and
every one of us, and that it is so deep at a personal interior
level that it is going to break structures of social models (this
is already happening) and implies renouncing beliefs that up to
now have been felt to be immovable and have been the foundation
of our confidence, of our control and even of our identity. And
this involves all social strata, all areas and all societies.
It is a change of mental model, and brings a widening of vision,
of thought, where opposites begin to be seen as complementary
and that is good news.
A dominant social
paradigm is a mental image of social reality that guides a society's
expectations. The dominant mental model in our current social
paradigm has, in general terms, the following features:
a. It makes the
subjective invisible and tries to reduce it to the objective,
to be able to measure and handle it, thus impoverishing the
variety and wealth of existence and its manifestations.
b. It needs to
break the universe down into pieces to understand it, while
believing the division to be real, and provoking the disconnection
of each human being with him- or herself, with all other human
beings and with nature, with the dramatic consequences this
holds for all.
c. It assumes there
is nothing beyond what one sees, making it impossible for human
beings, men or women, to seek in their interior the key factors
that will allow them access to a vision of the world that is
deeper, richer and more diverse, as well being simultaneously
more unifying and true.
The mental level,
the mental space, the thought that drives us, that we act on,
that we create reality with at this time, is not appropriate to
the most advanced being evolving right now on this planet. Human
beings evolve through the mind, and the more evolved this is the
more subtle, richer and more diverse is the reality it contemplates;
and in consequence, the more material and ideas it can use to
construct the world it needs to continue on its evolutionary path
towards an ever greater perfection of the physical body, the emotions,
the mind and the spirit that feeds it. Human beings are finding
that they are being pushed to take on the difficult, definitive
and pending task of transforming themselves in order to make the
We human beings, in spite of our constant talk of "transformation",
of our need to "transform", do not understand that "transformation"
is something that happens in spite of us, in fact the transformation
is taking place right now, before our very eyes, even though we
cannot see it because of the expectations and assumptions that
are an integral part of our mental model, our social and personal
We human beings can
only bring about changes. These successive changes in our way
of acting bring about small transformations in our surroundings.
However, the profound, voluntary changes in our way of thinking;
interior changes that open us up to new logic, bring about transformations
that are so important as to give rise to that sought-after, significant
social paradigm shift, and even to a change of era.
Thought is malleable,
but what we have created around it, in the very structure -so
perfect and extraordinary- of the mind, what reinforces and strengthens
the mental model, is difficult to understand, to detect and finally
to demolish. Changing a thought can change reality. That is true;
but are we willing to change reality? Or at least are we willing
to change a thought? No, if it is trapped in the web of the mental
model and we do not know the latter, it is invisible.
The mental model reinforces and strengthens itself through the
assumptions and the expectations about how things, people and
so on should be, and how the outcomes, consequences, relations
and so on should be; thus our actions, our being in the world
spring from assumptions that give rise to expectations as to how
things, relations, business will and should be.
We never see the
world, reality as it is, but as how we assume it has to or should
be, without realizing that in this way we are also "mortgaging"
our future, adapting it to the same assumptions. This way things
go well or not for me, my life is happy or not, my relationship
is satisfactory or not, ... depending on whether or not my expectations
are met, or even beyond that, the social expectations about it,
what is or is not socially accepted in the model.
If we reflect on this fact, we realize we only live in the past,
the present is hidden from us by the veil of the assumptions about
what is or should be, and we prepare our future so that the same
expectations are met, either improved or following the same rules
that we already know and are "approved" by the model.
Thus, we can define the mental model as: the set of assumptions,
beliefs and thoughts with which we interpret reality. They make
up a filter that translates what we perceive and gives rise to
personal experience and, of course, also social experience, as
we have already seen.
When applied to any
area, they are the beliefs, thoughts, assumptions that shape cultures
and guide strategies, policies, laws, actions and decisions, while
at the same time conditioning and restricting these to strengthening
the existing model itself, as mentioned earlier.
Now we can begin
to understand why it is so difficult for us to be receptive to
new fields of thought. We believe it means renouncing so many
assumptions, beliefs, truths.... And that it is something that
is ours, where our identity lies. However, it is extremely liberating.
Once you have lost your fear of abandoning an assumption created
by a thought trapped in a certain mental model, once you have
stopped being afraid to rid yourself of a belief, the limits disappear
and, following that, freedom appears, along with a smile.
To teach the mind
to free itself, to educate the mind to the logic of interior reflection,
to meditation, is pleasant. To get to know the mental model, become
aware of it and its workings, is the fastest, most effective and
necessary way to bring about real and effective transformations
in any field of operation that can take us beyond where we are
and make us capable of seeing it.
New neuronal connections
are made in the brain of those people who have decided to see
more. And it is the most extraordinary of adventures; it is the
Great Adventure of Our Time to develop the capacity to See
Portrait: Ramez Naam
Naam is a Computer Scientist, Futurist & Award-Winning
Ramez spent 13 years at Microsoft, where he led teams developing
early versions of Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, and the
Bing search engine. His career has focused on bringing advanced
collaboration, communication, and information retrieval capabilities
to roughly one billion people around the world, and took him to
the role of Partner and Director of Program Management within
Microsoft, with deep experience leading teams working on cutting
edge technologies such as machine learning, search, massive scale
services, and artificial intelligence.
Between stints at
Microsoft, Ramez founded and ran Apex NanoTechnologies, the worlds
first company devoted entirely to software tools to accelerate
molecular design. He holds 19 patents related to search engines,
information retrieval, web browsing, artificial intelligence,
and machine learning.
Naam currently holds
a seat on the advisory board of the Acceleration Studies Foundation,
is a member of the World Future Society, a Senior Associate of
the Foresight Institute, and a fellow of the Institute for Ethics
and Emerging Technologies.