There has been a great expansion of high-quality online futures literature in recent years. Here are some exceptional futures PDFs related to conference themes, with commentary by ASF staff. If you have trouble downloading or viewing, upgrade to the free Adobe Reader 7.0.
Biotechnology | Beyond Borders, Ernst & Young Biotechnology Report, 2005. See also: 2003 Exec Summary (PDF, 12 pages). Biotechnology as a business sector continues to grow, though much more slowly than originally anticipated. Founded 29 years ago with Genentech in 1976, the sector as a whole lost $6.4 billion last year, and $5.4 billion in 2003. The industry's total accrued loss since its birth in Silicon Valley in the mid-1970s is more than $45 billion. In 2004 Mike Hildreth at E&Y predicted the sector would reach breakeven in 2008. He now predicts 2009 or 2010. The report notes rising costs of federal safety regulations and onerous new Sarbanes-Oxley accounting compliance as significant impacts. International biotech efforts in China (GM rice), and in Sweden and Singapore (stem cells) are also gaining ground. The 1,444 public firms in the U.S. still count for more than half the world's public biotech companies and 78 percent of the sector's global revenues.
Digital Worlds | Changing Realities: User Creation, Communication, and Innovation in Digital Worlds, Cory Ondrejka, 2005 (PDF, 23 pages). Great overview of the uniquely creative opportunities available in today's digital worlds. Third generation successor to the first basic open platform, Habitat (1986) and the more complex Active Worlds (1995), Second Life (2003) is the first online world where users own copyright to the content they create, the first where its user-manipulated graphical primitives follow the laws of physics, and the first to emerge in the broadband era. With many thousands of users in world at any time, the creativity and economic activity now occurring in Second Life is impressive, with some $50,000 of real commerce transpiring daily "in world" and over $800 million annually in all digital worlds. Where will they go next? An excellent overview of the promise of this rapidly emerging new economic and creative space, by an AC2004 keynote speaker.
Displays | BT "Bank of the Future" Outline (Web, 2 pages). Nice concept piece by Relisys, a European leader in flat panel plasma screens showing the value of plasma and touch screen interfaces for marketing and customer relations. Outlines a BT technology demonstration ("BT's Agile Bank"). As displays get cheaper and smarter these kinds of applications will proliferate, and new etiquette will emerge. Consider how our social life will change when we can get a touch screen LCD that doubles as a kitchen table, with slide out keyboards underneath and an integrated LCD projector for displaying images on the wall. This Family Gaming Platform will facilitate the emergence of interactive multimedia versions of everything from Scrabble to Monopoly to Role Playing Adventures, to be played both in small groups around the table, and in networked mode with friends all over the internet.
Energy | Energy
Needs, Choices, and Possibilities: Scenarios to 2050, Shell, 2001
(PDF, 33 pages). Highly valuable scenario work. The first scenario, Dynamics
as Usual, seems most likely going forward. Natural gas is argued
as the natural bridge strategy for the planet if our worldwide atmospheric
CO2 levels or oil prices continue to escalate over the long term (conditions
which may or may not occur in coming decades). Note the energy saturation
graph, "Climbing the Energy Ladder," on page 7 of the PDF (page
11 of the report). This multi-country data argues that total energy demand
will plateau for the planet in coming decades, as it has in all industrialized
countries. Such saturation has dramatic and generally unrealized consequences
for our long term energy needs.
Innovation Development | National Innovation Initiative Report, Council on Competitiveness, 2004 (Executive Summary PDF, 6 pages, Full Report, 68 pages). An excellent proscriptive study of U.S. innovation published by the National Innovation Initiative (NII), co-chaired by IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, and Georgia Tech president G. Wayne Clough. A 15 month project of the Wash, DC-based Council on Competitiveness, involving 400 leaders of corporations, universities, and professional societies. Palmisano says innovation is our most important heritage, and should be among our top national priorities. Nevertheless, we are slipping badly in this area in recent years. Consider these helpful facts:
The NII makes about 30 recommendations in the report, and many seem excellent: immigration fast tracking for sci-tech, technology graduate fellowships, better innovation metrics, 10 designated "innovation centers" federally funded for 5 years to reward regional competitiveness, safe-harbor provisions allowing public companies to talk about intangible innovation assets, tax credits for companies that create sci-tech scholarships, and many others. As Thomas Friedman (The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999; The World is Flat, 2005) notes, our current political administration ignored this report when it came out, and has ignored innovation development in general since its inception. That's a serious problem that needs to be rectified if we are to accelerate U.S. technology and economic development.
| Mind Over Technology,
Dick Swanson, 2004 (PDF, 273 pages).
Neurotechnology | The
Neurotechnology Nexus, Zack Lynch, 2005 (PDF, 35 pages; online email
registration, report emailed). The market and investment strategy group
NeuroInsights evaluates 20
regions worldwide with regard to the emerging neurotechnology industry
(neuropharmaceuticals, neurodevices, and neurodiagnostics). According
to factors such as the concentration of neurotech companies, access to
risk capital and social institutions to support future innovation, the
SF Bay Area currently ranks highest in NI's assessment. Excellent overview
of this important new business sector.
Science and Technology |
Science and Technology: Policies, Programs, and Investments, Technology
Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 2000 (PDF, 77 pages). Great overview
of the science and technology innovation paradigms of various nations.
A good way to see the superior S&T promotion policies of such countries
as Taiwan, Singapore, China, India, Finland and Sweden. Emphasizes the
importance of S&T to competing in today''s economy, and of getting
the most out of each countries unique talents in a globalizing world.
A bit dated (many new S&T policies in Asia aren't covered) but a good
More PDF's coming soon.
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