7 Top Futurists Make Some Pretty Surprising Predictions …

From smartphone apps that can do seemingly everything to driverless cars and eerily humanlike robots, the past decade has seen dramatic advances in science and technology. What amazing advances are we likely to see in the next 10 years?

To find out, HuffPost Science reached out to seven top futurists -- and they gave us some pretty surprising predictions. Keep reading to learn more.

Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and author of "The Future of the Mind:"

"In the next 10 years, we will see the gradual transition from an Internet to a brain-net, in which thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories might be transmitted instantly across the planet.

Scientists can now hook the brain to a computer and begin to decode some of our memories and thoughts. This might eventually revolutionize communication and even entertainment. The movies of the future will be able to convey emotions and feelings, not just images on a silver screen. (Teenagers will go crazy on social media, sending memories and sensations from their senior prom, their first date, etc.). Historians and writers will be able to record events not just digitally, but also emotionally as well.

Perhaps even tensions between people will diminish, as people begin to feel and experience the pain of others."

Dr. Ray Kurzweil, inventor, pioneering computer scientist, and director of engineering at Google:

"By 2025, 3D printers will print clothing at very low cost. There will be many free open source designs, but people will still spend money to download clothing files from the latest hot designer just as people spend money today for eBooks, music and movies despite all of the free material available. 3D printers will print human organs using modified stem cells with the patient's own DNA providing an inexhaustible supply of organs and no rejection issues. We will be also able to repair damaged organs with reprogrammed stem cells, for example a heart damaged from a heart attack. 3D printers will print inexpensive modules to snap together a house or an office building, lego style.

We will spend considerable time in virtual and augmented realities allowing us to visit with each other even if hundreds of miles apart. We'll even be able to touch each other.

We will spend considerable time in virtual and augmented realities allowing us to visit with each other even if hundreds of miles apart. We'll even be able to touch each other. Some of the 'people' we visit with in these new realities will be avatars. They will be compelling but not quite human level by 2025 -- that will take to the 2030s. We will be able to reprogram human biology away from many diseases and aging processes, for example deactivating cancer stem cells that are the true source of cancer, or retard the progression of atherosclerosis, the cause of heart disease.

We will be able to create avatars of people who have passed away from all of the information they have left behind (their emails and other documents, images, videos, interviews with people who remember them). These will be compelling but not fully realistic, not until the mid 2030s, so some people will find this 'replicant' technology to be in the 'uncanny valley,' that is, disconcerting."

Dr. Anne Lise Kjaer, founder of London-based trend forecasting agency Kjaer Global:

"The World Health Organization predicts that chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide by 2020, so the evolution of M-Health (mobile diagnostics, bio-feedback and personal monitoring) is set to revolutionize treatment of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Apps designed by medical professionals will provide efficient real-time feedback, tackle chronic conditions at a much earlier stage, and help to improve the lifestyles and life outcomes of communities in the developed and developing world.

This improvement to our physical well-being is exciting, but what excites me even more is the parallel development of apps that meet our under-served mental health needs."

Dr. James Canton, CEO of the San Francisco-based Institute for Global Futures and author of "Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that will Transform Your World:"

"Wearable mobile devices will blanket the world. By 2025, there will be a massive Internet of everyone and everything linking every nation, community, company and person to all of the world's knowledge. This will accelerate real-time access to education, health care, jobs, entertainment and commerce...

Humans and robots merge, digitally and physically, to treat patients who may be around the world. Robo-surgeons will operate remotely on patients. RoboDocs will deliver babies and treat you over the cellphone.

Artificial intelligence becomes both as smart as and smarter than humans. AI will be embedded in autos, robots, homes and hospitals will create the AI economy. Humans and robots merge, digitally and physically, to treat patients who may be around the world. Robo-surgeons will operate remotely on patients. RoboDocs will deliver babies and treat you over the cellphone.

Predictive medicine transforms health care. Early diagnosis of disease with medical devices that sniff our breath, and free DNA sequencing that predicts our future health will be common. Personalized genetic medicine will prevent disease, saving lives and billions in lost productivity... The next generation Bitcoin will replace traditional hard money, creating a new paradigm for digital commerce and business that will create a legitimate new economy."

Jason Silva, host of National Geographic Channel's "Brain Games:"

"The on-demand revolution will become the on-demand world, where biological software upgrades, personalized medicine, artificially intelligent assistants will increasingly transform healthcare and well-being. Additionally, increased automation will continue to make our day-to-day lives infinitely richer. Self-driving cars will be ubiquitous, transportation itself will be automatic, clean, and cheap. We will move into a world in which access trumps ownership and the world is at our fingertips."

Dr. Amy Zalman, CEO & president of the World Future Society:

"Researchers now have at their disposal increasingly acute ways of looking into our brains and bodies to understand our attitudes and behavior. A few years ago, Harvard researchers showed that leaders actually have less stress, not more, than non-leaders... At Ben-Gurion University, a study of judges showed that they handed out stricter judgements before lunch -- when they were hungriest.

I find the potential application of these kinds of insights awe-inspiring. A more accurate understanding of how we humans function -- how we trust, cooperate and learn but also fight and hate -- is a tool that public policy-makers and we citizens can use to build better governance and better futures."

Mark Stevenson, author of "An Optimist's Tour of the Future:"

"The technologies arent the most important bit -- although they are super cool. Its what society does with them, and right now its institutional change thats the sticking point. What you really want to look at, in my opinion, is new ways of organizing ourselves. So, my next book covers, for instance, the renewables revolution in a small Austrian town, open source drug discovery in India, patient networks like PatientsLikeMe and schools that are throwing out the curriculum in order to get on with some actual learning."

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7 Top Futurists Make Some Pretty Surprising Predictions ...

Futurism | Definition, Manifesto, Artists, & Facts …

Futurism, Italian Futurismo, Russian Futurizm, early 20th-century artistic movement centred in Italy that emphasized the dynamism, speed, energy, and power of the machine and the vitality, change, and restlessness of modern life. During the second decade of the 20th century, the movements influence radiated outward across most of Europe, most significantly to the Russian avant-garde. The most-significant results of the movement were in the visual arts and poetry.

Futurism was first announced on February 20, 1909, when the Paris newspaper Le Figaro published a manifesto by the Italian poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Marinetti coined the word Futurism to reflect his goal of discarding the art of the past and celebrating change, originality, and innovation in culture and society. Marinettis manifesto glorified the new technology of the automobile and the beauty of its speed, power, and movement. Exalting violence and conflict, he called for the sweeping repudiation of traditional values and the destruction of cultural institutions such as museums and libraries. The manifestos rhetoric was passionately bombastic; its aggressive tone was purposely intended to inspire public anger and arouse controversy.

Marinettis manifesto inspired a group of young painters in Milan to apply Futurist ideas to the visual arts. Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carr, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, and Gino Severini published several manifestos on painting in 1910. Like Marinetti, they glorified originality and expressed their disdain for inherited artistic traditions.

Although they were not yet working in what was to become the Futurist style, the group called for artists to have an emotional involvement in the dynamics of modern life. They wanted to depict visually the perception of movement, speed, and change. To achieve this, the Futurist painters adopted the Cubist technique of using fragmented and intersecting plane surfaces and outlines to show several simultaneous views of an object. But the Futurists additionally sought to portray the objects movement, so their works typically include rhythmic spatial repetitions of an objects outlines during transit. The effect resembles multiple photographic exposures of a moving object. An example is Ballas painting Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912), in which a trotting dachshunds legs are depicted as a blur of multiple images. The Futurist paintings differed from Cubist work in other important ways. While the Cubists favoured still life and portraiture, the Futurists preferred subjects such as speeding automobiles and trains, racing cyclists, dancers, animals, and urban crowds. Futurist paintings have brighter and more vibrant colours than Cubist works, and they reveal dynamic, agitated compositions in which rhythmically swirling forms reach crescendos of violent movement.

Boccioni also became interested in sculpture, publishing a manifesto on the subject in the spring of 1912. He is considered to have most fully realized his theories in two sculptures, Development of a Bottle in Space (1912), in which he represented both the inner and outer contours of a bottle, and Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), in which a human figure is not portrayed as one solid form but is instead composed of the multiple planes in space through which the figure moves.

Futurist principles extended to architecture as well. Antonio SantElia formulated a Futurist manifesto on architecture in 1914. His visionary drawings of highly mechanized cities and boldly modern skyscrapers prefigure some of the most imaginative 20th-century architectural planning.

Boccioni, who had been the most-talented artist in the group, and SantElia both died during military service in 1916. Boccionis death, combined with expansion of the groups personnel and the sobering realities of the devastation caused by World War I, effectively brought an end to the Futurist movement as an important historical force in the visual arts.

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Futurism | Definition, Manifesto, Artists, & Facts ...

How to Think Like a Futurist – MIT Technology Review

Futurist and business consultant Amy Webb says that by asking the right questions, just about anyone can do what she does: separate real trends from hype and glean the paths that technologies will take. In her recently released book, The Signals Are Talking: Why Todays Fringe Is Tomorrows Mainstream, Webb shares some of her methods for analyzing the impact of innovations. She spoke to MIT Technology Reviews executive editor, Brian Bergstein, in an interview that Insider Premium subscribers can listen to here. Highlights condensed for clarity follow.

Why did you write this book? People pay you and your consulting firm for insights into the future. Arent you giving away some secrets?

My goal is to democratize the skills of a futurist, so that more and more people have the ability to see around corners. I just think its so important. Because Im concerned about the direction that were headed in.

Im not concerned in the conventional way; Im not one of those people who believes that artificially intelligent robots are going to take all our jobs and destroy humanity. The concern that I have is that technology is becoming more and more fantastical and politicized. And in the process, we fetishize the future rather than [having] the more boring conversations that are just as important.

What do you mean when you say we fetishize the future?

Ive gone back and looked at spikes in innovation. Theres a cycle that follows each one of those innovation spikes. If you track all the way back to the invention of the light bulb, you have this sudden introduction in newspapers and people get very excited. The story goes in a weird direction from there. That was the birth of modern science fiction. Theres this sudden interest in what is fantastical versus what is realistic. Weve seen that happen with the introduction of [artificial] light, with cars, with the Internet. Now as we stand on the precipice of AI, the same things happening again. I see the word futurist in many more Twitter bios than I ever have before. Were all really excited about it, but I dont see very many people working in a diligent, methodical way on thinking through the implications.

Lets talk about how you sort through the implications of technologies. In your book you say you look at trends in seemingly unrelated fields that could converge.

I was just at IBMs T.J. Watson Center, where all the research scientists are based, talking to them about artificial intelligence. They live, breathe, eat, sleep AI. One of the challenges with working in such a rarified field is that at some point, in order to do your job well, you have to block out all of the distraction and noise from other spaces. You sort of acclimate yourself to not paying attention to how the work that youre doing may impact other fields. Youre just trying to get the next part of your experiment or the next part of your research pushed forward. Therefore, you dont want to waste any time thinking about how this line of code or this outcome may impact health or geopolitics or whatever it might be.

[But] it is that kind of thinking thats so imperative because in the absence of [it], you wind up with what we saw in March when Microsoft took a research project that it had from China, which was a chatbot, introduced that same chatbot here in the United States on Twitter, and within 24 hours it went on a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic rampage. That was Tay.AI.

Its not like no one couldve seen that coming.

Yes. They shouldve seen that coming.

To find trends that might converge, you say you look for signals on the fringe, beyond the usual things that get covered in the technology press. Fair enough, but how can all of us look on the fringes?

Its not like theres a singular source where you would go to find the unusual suspects at the fringe. Instead, its a series of guiding questions. Pick a topic and then say, Okay. Who do I know of thats been working directly and indirectly in this space? Maybe try to figure out, Well, whos funding this work? Whos encouraging experimentation? I always find it fascinating to go on Iarpas website. They publicly post their RFPs. Thatll give you a window into the kinds of things that theyre thinking about. Who might be directly impacted if this technology succeeds one way or the other? Who could be incentivized to work against any change? Because they stand to gain something, they stand to lose something, who might see this technology as just the starting-off point for something else? Start asking those questions.

One of the chapters in the book goes through bio-hackers. There are these bio-hacking communities all over the place, and theyre doing all kinds of experimentation, whether thats injecting RFID tags under their skin or any other number of things. A lot of people would look at those folks and laugh at them or think theyre ridiculous, but again were looking through the lens of our own present reality without thinking about, Where are we headed?

Whats one of your favorite predictions right now?

I think some of my favorite things that are on the horizon are interesting, promising, and also scary. One of them is smart dust. Youve actually covered this in Tech Review. Smart dust are these tiny computers that are no bigger than a grain of salt or a speck of dust. Theoretically you could, in your hand at any given time, hold 5,000 sensors. Lets say that youre holding this handful of dust and you blew it into the wind. We are going to soon be in an era when its going to be really difficult to tell if you as a person have been hacked in some way, which is breathtaking and terrifying and fantastically interesting.

While reading your book, I was thinking of Future Shock by Alvin and Heidi Toffler, published in 1970. The book argued that the modern world stresses and disorients people by creating more change than we can handle in a short period of time. Is that right?

Unfortunately, I think thats still very true in the year 2016. My goal with the book and my goal in general is to break that cycle of continual surprise and shock.

If theres a way to make the future a little less exciting and a little bit more boring, thats good for everybody because that means that were not continually shocked by new ideas, that were not continually discounting people on the fringe.

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How to Think Like a Futurist - MIT Technology Review

Does The Travel Industry Have A Future? – Forbes

Although it might not seem like it now, the travel industry has a future. A bright future.

It might seem jarring to read those words now, as the travel industry reels from a coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak has hit the travel industry hard, canceling flights, hotel reservations and cruises. Before coronavirus is contained, the travel industry will lose jobs and there will be bankruptcies and consolidations.

But then what?

The travel industry does have a future. By 2030, there will be 1.8 billion worldwide tourists a year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization 400 million more than last year. That's a lot of people clamoring for cheap airfares, affordable hotel rooms, rideshares, and whatever the next big thing in travel will be.

Ten years from now, look for even bigger changes, say experts. Futurologist Ray Hammond predicts the number of airline passengers will double by 2040, and consumers will demand a faster and more efficient travel experience.

The face of travel as we know it will change dramatically over the next 20 years," he says.

High-speed rail is an essential part of the travel industry's future.

What will travel be like in 2040?

Hammond outlined his predictions in a new report called The World in 2040, which he created on behalf of Allianz Partners.

Among his 2040 predictions for the future of travel:

Other experts and they agree. The travel industry has a future, and here's what you can expect from it:

Ground transportation will get smarter in the coming decades.

Smarter ground transportation

Advances in self-driving technology will profoundly affect the way you travel by car. "Long road trips could be much more tolerable when the vehicle itself does the driving," says Josh Calder, a futurist with Foresight Alliance, a consulting firm. "This could spur more comfortable cars, and make RVs and camper vans much more popular. Ground vehicles will increasingly be powered by electricity."

New jets will travel at supersonic speeds in the future.

The return of supersonic air travel

Supersonic travel will make a welcome comeback in the 2030s, according to Netflights 2050: The Future of Air Travel report. Short breaks to far-flung destinations like San Francisco and Sydney will be possible. "And everyone will have the opportunity to fly on a plane that travels faster than the speed of sound," adds Andrew Shelton, Netflights managing director. "Itll not just be for wealthy travelers."

Virtual reality is a key part of the future of travel.

Virtual reality is the new reality

A recent global traveler survey conducted by Travelport found that 61% of travelers believe that virtual reality and artificial reality experiences will help them would make for better trip planning. "With the emergence of 5G, travel brands will be able to create more immersive digital experiences with friends and families," says Sharon Doyle, a global vice president of product management at Travelport. "We are already seeing companies offer ways of discovering and experiencing travel through virtual and augmented reality."

Trains will go even faster in the future.

Trains running at 700 mph?

In 20 years, new forms of transportation could whisk passengers between major cities at speeds rivaling today's commercial jets, predicts futurist James Patrick. "Above-terrain high-speed tube trains will reach speeds of 500 to 700 mph as they connect population centers of greater than 250,000 people," says Patrick, a former airline executive who also owns a bed and breakfast in Denton, Texas.

Aircraft will emit less carbon in the future and some airlines may emit none, thanks to biofuels.

A carbon zero future

Travel companies are serious about cutting their dependence on fossil fuels. For example, United Airlines already uses more sustainable biofuel than any other airline. "When thinking about the future of travel, particularly in the aviation industry, the move towards making operations more sustainable is going to continue to be a priority that shapes the industry," says United spokeswoman Christine Salamone. "Looking ahead to the next 10-plus years, we want to take the carbon out of flying from more supply of sustainable aviation fuel to investing in new technologies in the air and on the ground."

Space tourism may become a reality in the coming decades.

The final frontier for travel?

Space tourism isn't science fiction. Just visit Cape Canaveral in Florida to see all the private contractors who are preparing for the next phase of travel. Just as Port Canaveral is a big tourism destination, so, too the Cape may soon welcome space tourists. The prospect of space tourism seems very real with all the companies that are currently working on this, said Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

But some things probably won't change, says Joe Mason, chief marketing officer at Allianz Partners.

"Though some aspects of travel should be much less stressful by the year 2040, there will still be some familiar risks for travelers to contend with, along with some new ones," he says. "Unforeseen trip cancellations, delays and emergencies abroad will continue to happen, meaning that travelers will continue to need travel protection and assistance services to travel with peace of mind."

What does the future of travel mean for you?

So what does the travel industry's future mean for you?

It's one thing to talk about the possibilities. Faster trains and planes, self-driving cars and biometrics are exciting. But what do they mean to you?

More competition and lower prices. The airline industry's monopoly on America's skies will end as new transportation options become available. That means the days of overpaying for bad airline service will end.

A faster experience. Everything about the future will be faster, from the way you check in for your trip to the length of time it takes to get there.

A more connected world. As more people travel, walls will break down. The insular politics that have defined the last few years will can't thrive in a well-traveled world.

The future of travel looks bright, but let's hope that the customer experience also improves dramatically.

That's the thing about the future, though. No one knows what will happen.

"With the rate of technology, the next 20 years are up for debate," says Parag Khanna, founder of FutureMap, a data and scenario-based strategic advisory firm, "anything can happen."

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Does The Travel Industry Have A Future? - Forbes

IGCF: What are the best practices in government communication? – Euronews

The 9th edition of International Government Communication Forum brought together global communication experts to explore best practices in the field.

Key issues discussed at the event, which took place in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, included the impact of media in forming public opinion and how effective communication can benefit body and mind.

Speakers included the actress Priyanka Chopra, the futurist physicist Professor Michio Kaku and and the veteran journalist Michaelle Jean, who was the former Canadian Governor General.

Having been sworn in as Governor General in 2005, Jean promoted the democracy, freedom and human rights of Canadians for five years, inspiring a generation of young men and women.

She defined communications, through the prism of the North American society in which she lives and works.

Per se, it is about respect, she said. And to respect you have to listen, and by listening you have to include.

Whilst in office, Michaelle came face-to-face with a man who served as her inspiration, a newly-elected President Barack Obama. She says they shared a common view on strong communication and engagement with others. They also, Jean noted, shared the belief that they were making history in their respective roles.

The first thing we said to each other was, Who would have thought that the Commander in Chief of the United States and the Commander of Chief of Canada, myself, would both be of African descent - and in office at the same time? And something we shared profoundly was the importance of listening.

For almost five decades, Sharjahs leadership has leveraged communications role as an engine of positive change and sustainability in society.

Its media council is spearheaded by His Royal Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, who in 2009 established and restructured Sharjahs TV and radio operations.

Sheikh Ahmed is also responsible for launching IGCF, which, amongst its pillars has strengthening public interactions with the government, adopting advanced digital education and boosting innovation in the media sector.

In a country comprised of more than 200 nationalities, Inspire Middle Easts anchor Rebecca McLaughlin-Eastham spoke to His Highness about how mass communication was best achieved in such a diverse and media-savvy society.

Rebecca: You say that, within this new age of media, something of a communication revolution has taken place. Revolution would imply that change was somehow needed. So, what was the catalyst?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: I've worked through a time when TV was the first thing youd see, and the mobile phone was the second screen. Now, the mobile phone is the first screen that you see and the TV is the second screen. As government, as people working in the government, we need to be as fast as everyone else with technology. So, that's a revolution.

Rebecca: If you had to sum it up, how would you describe the media scene here in Sharjah? And what steps should be taken to advance it further?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: Sharjah used to be very closed. A lot of entities in Sharjah didn't want to be open to government, to publicor the media. But now, we are showing them that it's okay to be open. It's okay to talk about your pros and cons. If you have a problem, if you say it, it's better than someone else talking about it. And we are improving in Sharjah. We are taking this forward.

Rebecca: In the spirit of more transparency more openness, how do you view a freer press and more freedom of speech in the UAE?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: I think there's a very thin line between being free to speak and between being, if I may say, rude. But, I think we're in a culture that understands that. We do have freedom of speech, we do have ethics though - we have ethics that we adhere to. We always look at the positive side of the freedom of speech and we're actually all for it.

Rebecca: To what degree do you believe that a governments, or state-run media entities, should be able to influence people's behaviour and attitudes? To what degree should they be forming people's opinions?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: I think it's a two-way road. I think even the public should be able to persuade the governments to do things that they want, at the end of the day. The government is here to serve them. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has a good idea. Everybody can share their ideas, even with the government, and we open our doors and our minds to the public.

Rebecca: You've said in the past, that a particular challenge of recent years was to change peoplesperception of the emirate of Sharjah. So, what was the perception back then, and what is its image today?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: I think for people who were in Sharjah, let's say 15 years ago, they might notice a big difference in the way we communicate. They would definitely see, that in the past, a lot of entities in Sharjah used to have closed-door policies. If you don't speak about anything, no-one would know about it etc. But this is a good time to be clear and to be to be truthful about what you have.

Rebecca: Looking at history, and looking at the Arab world, arguably certain countries and certain media organisations have portrayed the region in a particular light. Its not easy to control nor influence that. What's your view?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: I think if you need your picture to be painted in a nice way, you should be the one talking about it. And I think you always have to have the right tools and the right way of talking about it.

Rebecca: Lets talk about COVID-19 currently dominating headlines around the world. To what degree, is it fair to lay blame at the medias door for sparking something of a health panic? And should governments be the ones to calm people down?

Sh. Sultan Al Qasimi: I think government should always be the one who calm people down. But I think also they should do it the right way. I think they should do it the scientific way. The UAE has done a good job in talking about it being clear about it, saying how many cases we have in the Emirates and how theyre being treated.

Irina from Russia enjoyed meeting the futurist Professor Michio Kaku at IGCF.

Saad, and his co-writers, from Kuwait were thrilled to launch their book at the Sharjah forum.

With contribution from Nancy Sarkis, Ana De Oliva and Nicolas Tabbal.

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IGCF: What are the best practices in government communication? - Euronews

Bright-Red "Blood Snow" Is Falling From the Sky in Antarctica – Futurism

Blood Snow

A Facebook post by Ukraines Ministry of Education and Science shows a research station on an island just off the coast of Antarcticas northernmost peninsula covered in blood snow.

The gory-looking scene is not the result of a seal hunt gone wrong its an astonishingly red-pigmented, microscopic algae called Chlamydomonas nivalis,which thrives in freezing water as the ice melts during Antarcticas record-breaking warm summer.

When summer hits the polar regions, the algae bloom, staining the snow and ice around it in blood-resembling red, as Live Science explains. The phenomenon was first noticed by Aristotle thousands of years ago and is often referred to as watermelon snow thanks to its subtly sweet scent and color.

What makes the blooming algae red is the same stuff that give carrots and watermelons their reddish tint carotenoids.

Its a stunning display of a natural phenomenon but it also creates a nasty feedback loop that causes the ice to melt faster. The red color causes less sunlight to be reflected off the snow, causing it to melt faster, as the Ukrainian team explains in its post. The accelerated melting then causes more algae to grow, completing the cycle.

Its not the only surreal display in the world caused by such a feedback loop, as Live Science points out. Blooming algae caused sea foam to swallow up the coast of a Spanish town in January. Similar algae blooms even caused shores around islands in the East China Sea to glow blue.

READ MORE: Spooky blood snow invades Antarctic island [Live Science]

More on algae: A New Bioreactor Captures as Much Carbon as an Acre of Trees

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Bright-Red "Blood Snow" Is Falling From the Sky in Antarctica - Futurism

Here’s a Glossary for the Ongoing Coronavirus Outbreak’s Vocab – Futurism

As the ongoing coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, sickening and claiming the lives of patients around the world, a plethora of confusing and occasionally-conflicting information is spreading along with it.

It doesnt help that it took so long for the World Health Organization (WHO) to nail down an official name for the disease. Nor is it ideal that the name we know it by, the name of the actual virus itself, and the outbreaks previous (unofficial) moniker are all fairly similar.

To help you and ourselves here at Futurism, to be honest stay on top of the vocabulary surrounding the outbreak, we put together the following glossary.

This is a now-outdated term that was used to describe the coronavirus linked to the outbreak before the WHO formally named it SARS-CoV-2 (see below). Its an acronym that stands for the novel CoronaVirus discovered in 2019.

The word coronavirus has served as an easy way to reference the ongoing outbreak, but its not terribly specific,since a coronavirus is a broad category of virus. There are hundreds of coronaviruses which, when they infect a human, cause diseases with flu-like symptoms. Think respiratory trouble, soreness, fever and, in more serious cases, pneumonia or kidney failure.

COVID-19, short for COronaVIrus Disease 2019, is the illness caused by a SARS-CoV-2 infection.You could say that a SARS-CoV-2 infection made someone come down with a case of COVID-19 not unlike how the varicella zoster virus causes the disease chickenpox.

A mortality rate is a statistic that represents the proportion of people dying from a specific cause. In this case, it means the percentage of people who get COVID-19 and ultimately die, not a tally of total fatalities.

As of this storys publication, Chinas COVID-19 mortality rate is around 3.4 percent higher than the mortality rate for the rest of the world, which is currently about 1.7 percent.

A pandemic is the term for an outbreak thats spreading rampantly on an international or global scale, as opposed to a more localized epidemic.

The WHO maintains that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is not a pandemic: even though cases have been confirmed in 41 global territories, most of the countries affected have more or less contained the disease thus far.

Pronounced R naught, this is a statistical measure that represents how many people, on average, someone whos infected with a disease will spread it to. Tracking down an R0 value for COVID-19 has been difficult, in part because mild cases can go undetected and also because some countries have been hit harder than others.

Different studies have arrived at wildly different R0 values for the COVID-19 outbreak, and the number likely wont be solidified until after the fact but thus far the WHO suggests the R0 lies between two and three.

This is the formal name of the specific coronavirus thats causing a commotion right now.

The name is an acronym: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related CoronaVirus 2. SARS-CoV-2 is highly similar to the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. In fact, when SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in Wuhan, China in December, one of the first doctors to send out a warning about it actually confused it for a resurgence of SARS.

A vaccine is a preventative tool that can strengthen the immune system against a disease. Administered in advance, a vaccine is different from a treatment or cure in that it doesnt fight the virus directly it just better equips your body fight it off and prevent the associated disease.

Specifically, a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 would contain inert and harmless fragments of the virus. If your immune system is exposed to the vaccine, it would generate antibodies capable of fighting the virus in the future, ultimately preventing you from getting sick with COVID-19. Thus far, there are no vaccines available, though many teams are working on them.

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Here's a Glossary for the Ongoing Coronavirus Outbreak's Vocab - Futurism

Space Force Working "Pretty Closely With Elon Musk and SpaceX" – Futurism

Some Answers

As the Space Force evolved from a vague Trumpian thought to a full-fledged branch of the U.S. military, questions surfaced about what exactly it would do and how it would differ from NASA and the Air Forces ongoing work in orbit.

Lieutenant General David Thompson, the Space Forces second-in-command, sat down with GEN to clarify exactlywhat it does revealing the agencys goals, the scope of its operations, and that its already collaborating with SpaceX and Blue Origin.

In addition to scanning for hostile missile launches and other surveillance missions, the Space Force is also responsible for maintaining communication, GPS, and military satellites.

We already work pretty closely with Elon Musk and SpaceX, Thompson told GEN, specifically on developing and maintaining satellite constellations like Starlink.

Mainly, Thompson pressed back against the idea that launching a Space Force would be anything like Star Trek or Star Wars. The uniforms wont be spandex or have capes, he told GEN, nor does it expect to fight battles on the Moon or Mars any time soon.

Rather, Thompson told GEN the Space Force exists because we have to ensure space capabilities are there for the folks on the ground.

READ MORE: Space Forces Second-in-Command Explains What the Hell It Actually Does [GEN]

More on space: Space Force General: Russian Satellite Is Unusual and Disturbing

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Space Force Working "Pretty Closely With Elon Musk and SpaceX" - Futurism

Uber Tells Drivers to Stay Home If They Have the Coronavirus – Futurism

Uber is warning all its drivers to stay home if they have symptoms of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.

On Friday, the company sent a memo of recommendations like frequently washing hands and covering sneezes as well as encouraging drivers to turn away passengers who make them feel unsafe, according to Business Insider.

But Ubers advice struck drivers as tone-deaf: the company advised drivers to stay home if they start experiencing coronavirus symptoms like fever or respiratory trouble. Thats solid workplace advice from a public health standpoint, but it also assumes that sick workers can afford to stay home until theyre feeling better.

Its worth noting that Uber doesnt offer drivers sick leave. In fact, it doesnt consider them employees at all. So like other gig economy workers, if a driver stops taking passengers, they also stop making money. In that light, the company urging its contractors to stay home doesnt reflect the realities of life without a steady income.

Its a troubling disconnect. Nipping an outbreak in the bud could at least partially come down to the publics everyday behavior, but many dont have the resources to simply stop working when theyre not feeling 100 percent.

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Uber Tells Drivers to Stay Home If They Have the Coronavirus - Futurism

Artificial and Biological Neurons Just Talked Over the Internet – Futurism

For the first time, scientists haveengineered and switched on a working neural net that allows biological and silicon-based artificial brain cells to communicate back and forth.

Researchers in Switzerland, Italy, and the U.K. connected a series of neurons: two high-tech artificial neurons and one biological neuron cultured from a mouses brain, that were able to communicate back and forth over the internet in a highly similar way to how neurons pass along signals in the brain.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, is in its early days. After all, one mouse neuron in a petri dish is hardly the same as an internet-connected human brain. That cell is housed in a lab at Italys University of Padova, from which it signals back and forth with the artificial neurons at University of Zurich via University of Southampton-build nodes called synaptors, named after synapses, the connections between individual brain cells.

For now, its a simple network. But, it could be an important first step toward smarter and more adaptive prosthetics and brain-computer interfaces and potentially lay the groundwork for a world where neural implants create real brain networks.

On one side it sets the basis for a novel scenario that was never encountered during natural evolution, where biological and artificial neurons are linked together and communicate across global networks; laying the foundations for the Internet of Neuro-electronics, Themis Prodromakis, a nanotechnology researcher and director at the University of Southamptons Centre for Electronics Frontiers said in a press release.

On the other hand, it brings new prospects to neuroprosthetic technologies, paving the way towards research into replacing dysfunctional parts of the brain with AI chips.

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Artificial and Biological Neurons Just Talked Over the Internet - Futurism

Astronomers: Our Planet Might Have Another Moon, Except It’s Tiny – Futurism


The Earth might have asecond Moon albeit a tiny and temporary one.

Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3, wrote Kacper Wierzchos, astronomer and self-described comet hunter at the Catalina Sky Survey, in a Tuesday tweet. On the night of Feb. 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object.

A team of astronomers at the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey near Tuscon, Arizona suspect theres a small asteroid that caught itself in our planets gravity, as CNET reports. The discovery was confirmed when The International Astronomical Unions Minor Planet Center (MPC) announced on Tuesday that Earth has a new temporary captured object.

According to Wierzchos, the comet entered Earths orbit about three years ago. Its diameter is between 1.9 and 3.5 meters (6.2 and 11.5 feet). Despite its tiny size, its a big deal as out of ~ 1 million known asteroids, this is just the second asteroid known to orbit Earth, Wierzchos noted in a follow-up tweet.

The first asteroid tobe discovered orbiting our planet was RH120, also discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey in 2006. It featured a similar diameter, stayed in orbit for 18 months, and was later given minor planet designation in 2008.

Astronomers are now racing to find out more about the unusual space rock.

Further observations and dynamical studies are strongly encouraged, wrote the MPC in its announcement.

READ MORE: Astronomers say Earth might have a new mini-moon [CNET]

More on asteroids: Europes Space Agency Joins Mission to Deflect Killer Asteroids

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Astronomers: Our Planet Might Have Another Moon, Except It's Tiny - Futurism

Governments Shut Down the Internet Hundreds of Times in 2019 – Futurism

Fake News

According to a new report by digital rights group Access Now, dozens of world governments intentionally shut offthe internet more than 200 times last year, affecting tens of millions of people world wide.

This kind of harm may on its face look less damaging from the standpoint of scope, reads the report. Yet these silenced voices may be absolutely crucial for alerting the public to human rights violations and abuse, and for getting help to those impacted.

According to the new report, India had the most shutdowns in 2019: 121 occasions, the majority of which occurred in the disputed Kashmir region. Venezuela, the second on the list, only shut down the internet 12 times.

Access Now also found an increasing number of shutdowns were smaller, but targeting specific groups of people.

In 2019, there were at least 14 cases of internet providers significantly slowing down the connection, rather than a complete blackout. The idea is to stifle sharing of multimedia, particularly over social media. Most of these cases ended up in a complete blackout eventually.

The shutdowns often appeared to be responses to public protests, according to the report, which framed them as an overreaching method to stifle dissent.

It seems more and more countries are learning from one another and implementing the nuclear option of internet shutdowns to silence critics, or perpetrate other human rights violations with no oversight, Access Now told the BBC.

READ MORE: What happens when the internet vanishes? [BBC]

More on the internet: In the Face of Climate Change, the Internet Is Unsustainable

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Governments Shut Down the Internet Hundreds of Times in 2019 - Futurism

Whistleblower: US Gov May Have Helped Spread Coronavirus – Futurism

A whistleblower has come forward with some serious allegations, claiming that the US government may have inadvertently helped spread the deadly COVID-19 outbreak inside US borders by breaking protocol, according to an exclusive report by The Washington Post and afollowup by The New York Times.

Its an accusation that will likely cause problems for the White House, which is already struggling to find a consistent message about the ongoing outbreak.

The whistleblower alleges that she was unfairly and improperly reassigned after ringing alarm bells that more than a dozen healthcare workers from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) were deployed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to quarantined areas in which COVID-19 patients coming from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, were being processed.

According to the whistleblower, the HHS workers didnt receive adequate training and didnt bring appropriate protective gear, potentially putting them in danger of becoming infected and infecting others.

The workers were in contact with evacuees in quarantined areas at Travis Air Force Base and March Air Reserve Base, according to the complaint. The whistleblower wrote that appropriate steps were not taken to quarantine, monitor, or test [the workers] during their deployment and upon their return home, as quoted by the Post.

One of the whistleblowers lawyers, Lauren Naylor, told the Post that the ACF workers were allowed to leave quarantined areas and return to their communities, where they may have spread the coronavirus to others.

According to the Post, several people within HHS voiced objections over sending the unprepared ACF workers. The workers were also never tested for COVID-19, since they didnt meet the criteria at the time.

The whistleblower claimed that concerns over the ACF workers health were dismissed by administration officials as detrimental to staff morale, and that concerned employees were accused of not being team players, as quoted by the Times.

Ominously, the whistleblower report comes shortly after the first community transmission of the deadly virus observed in the US was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention early this morning. In other words, this is the first infected person in the country who is not known to have traveled anywhere linked to an outbreak. That means they may have picked up the virus in the US instead of abroad.

That connects to the whistleblower story albeit circumstantially because the patient is from Solano County, the same county as Travis Air Force Base. CNN did note however that the patient has no connection to [the base].

To be clear, any ties between the whistleblowers report and this particular infection have not been confirmed. But commentators as prominent as MSNBC host Chris Hayes are suggesting that the connection may be more than a coincidence.

HHS confirmed the existence of the report, but distanced itself from any wrongdoing.

We take all whistle-blower complaints very seriously and are providing the complainant all appropriate protections under the Whistleblower Protection Act, a spokeswoman told the Times. We are evaluating the complaint and have nothing further to add at this time.

During a Thursday briefing, representative Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) pressed HHS Secretary Alex Azar on the whistleblower reports.

To your knowledge, were any of the ACF employees exposed to high-risk evacuees from China? Gomez asked, as quoted by the Times.

Unless with the proper equipment and special suits, they should never have been, Azar replied. To maintain quarantine, that should be the case.

Online, the report was met with outrage.

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Whistleblower: US Gov May Have Helped Spread Coronavirus - Futurism

Anti-Coke Lawsuit: "Plastic Is Set to Outweigh Fish in the Ocean" – Futurism

Environmental group Earth Island Institute filed a lawsuit in California last week against Coke, Pepsi, Nestl, and a number of other plastic polluters for knowingly misleading the public about how much of their produced plastic is being recycled (and landing in the ocean instead), VICE reports.

These companies should bear the responsibility for choking our ecosystem with plastic, said David Phillips, executive director of Earth Island Institute, in a statement sent to The Guardian. They know very well that this stuff is not being recycled, even though they are telling people on the labels that it is recyclable and making people feel like its being taken care of.

At this rate, plastic is set to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050, the complaint reads, as quoted by VICE. The complaint also alleges that the ten companies named in the suit are guilty of engaging in a decades-long campaign to deflect blame for the plastic pollution crisis to consumers.

This is the first suit of its kind, Phillips said in a statement. These companies are going to have to reveal how much theyve known about how little of this stuff is being recycled.

According to 2017 numbers, the US only recycled roughly nine percent of all produced plastic with the rest ending up in incinerators (about 12 percent), or the landfill.

And that was before China, formerly Americas largest importer of recycling materials, banned most types of plastic imports in 2018. The ban recycling programs across the globe to stall and landfill to pile up.

Beverage companies shot back saying that they were already working on a solution, of course:

Americas beverage companies are already taking action to address the issue by reducing our use of new plastic, investing to increase the collection of our bottles [], and collaborating with legislators and third-party experts to achieve meaningful policy resolutions, read a statement by an American Beverage Association spokesman, as quoted by Bloomberg.

READ MORE: Coke and Pepsi sued for creating a plastic pollution nuisance [The Guardian]

More on plastic: China Announces Plan to Ban Single-Use Plastics

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Anti-Coke Lawsuit: "Plastic Is Set to Outweigh Fish in the Ocean" - Futurism

A top Silicon Valley futurist on how AI, AR and VR will shape fashion’s future – Vogue Business

Key takeaways:

Entrepreneur and investor Peter Diamandis predicts that the future of shopping will be always on, thanks to ubiquitous augmented reality.

Artificial intelligence is in position to streamline and personalise the process, while virtual reality shopping can be successful if it creates a more social experience.

Brands should prepare for far more data collection by asking the right questions and using AI to correlate more details.

SAN FRANCISCO Heres the future of shopping, as Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Peter Diamandis sees it: augmented reality glasses will present an always-on shopping mode, artificially intelligent digital assistants will know your taste better than you and clothing will be made exactly to your measurements.

And it could happen faster than one might think, he says. Diamandiss book, The Future is Faster Than You Think, out today and co-written with Steven Kotler, outlines his vision for how a number of converging innovations will drastically and imminently change industries like retail and advertising.

Diamandis is in the business of looking toward the future. In 1994, he founded the X Prize Foundation, which rewards technological development and whose board of trustees include filmmaker James Cameron, media mogul Arianna Huffington and Google co-founder Larry Page. In 2008, he co-founded Singularity University, the Silicon Valley innovation school that counts Moncler among its pupils.

On the fashion front, Diamandis outlines three key developments on his radar: shopping through virtual reality, in which an AI fashion advisor is there to guide you; AR shopping that is supercharged by AI and 5G; and 3D printing and just-in-time manufacturing.

The proliferation of AI and AI assistants, he says, will play a significant role in intuiting what people want and influencing purchasing decisions.

The question is, can AI ultimately become a better fashion adviser to me than any human can?I believe the answer is going to be yes because AI will know me even better than myself, he says. But this decade is less about AI displacing humans [and] more about AI-human collaboration.

Here is what Diamandis thinks fashion should be thinking about in the 2020s. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

AR and VR are two of your core pillars influencing fashion, but it seems that AR has so far been leading the charge.

If you look at comments by [Apple CEO] Tim Cook and others, they expect that augmented reality will be 10x the opportunity of VR. That's true.

We talk in the book about turning on shopping mode, so as you're walking down the street [wearing AR glasses], rather than seeing what the shop owner puts in the window, your AI knows what you're shopping for, your size and your favourite colours. Imagine looking into a window and seeing what's in the store that you might actually like. Even more interesting is if youre looking at a friends dress or jacket, and if you've got shopping mode on, the price and the designer pops up, and you can buy it right then.

What I find fascinating is being able to determine how the world sees you. Like [having] different ringtones depending on who is calling, imagine having a digital wardrobe so that when this group of friends sees you, you're wearing [one outfit], when strangers see you, youre wearing [something different].

Diamandis's new book, co-written with Steven Kotler, discusses how technological convergence could increase the pace of change in transportation, retail, advertising, education, health, entertainment, food and finance.

So why hasnt fashion been successful with VR? Three years ago, everyone in fashion was really excited about it.

VR has failed from the lack of being a social experience. But that's going to get solved. When you walk into a VR store, an AI fashion attendant will say, What are you looking for? And you can see in front of yourself a fashion show where everyone on the runway is you.

And there's also a digital twin of everything you own, which is fascinating. You can say, What is that going to look like with my shoes, my handbag, my tie? or whatever it might be.

A lot of these technologies are years away from becoming mainstream. Are there any specific technologies that a fashion brand should invest in now?

It's all about data and asking great questions, and I can start to ask AI to analyse it.

There is already a combination of sensors and networks, and we're heading toward a world where it's going to be possible for you to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere. Now, you can look up the GDP of Ghana in about 30 seconds, but if I asked you how many red sports cars have driven down the street in the last half hour? That's unlikely but the information is there.

Were heading toward what I call a trillion sensor economy which means that there will be cameras everywhere. So if I'm a fashion designer, I can ask, What colours are most popular today walking down Madison Avenue? Does it correlate with the temperature or the weather? Does it correlate with any fashion campaigns or Vogue covers?

While some of this technology might already exist, customers might not be ready to adopt it. How can brands navigate that without moving too fast?

The reality is for consumers to adopt; there really needs to be a 10x better price-performance improvement. It can't be a little bit better. It has to be a lot better. Sometimes you have to do that at your own cost to get people to shift over.

Amazon prioritised speed, cost and variety over profitability, but they won the world.But, its important to note, the adoption rate for technologies is accelerating.

Your book references the success of Amazon, but it hasnt yet mastered luxury fashion. Is Amazon well-positioned to offer luxury concessions?

Amazon's brand stands for cheaper, faster, more variety which is the opposite [of luxury]. Amazon is a global fulfilment house and a front-end for search. They'll have to do luxury goods through someone else's brand.

I mentor CEOs about software as a service and AI as a service. Every company today needs to rethink how they're building their organisation. You're not hiring the same old groups of people and building a giant org chart stuffed with people. You're now building an organisation where you have layers of software. Your fulfilment layer may be delivered by Amazon; your customer service layer may be provided by Amazon; your marketing may be provided by Amazon. And you're really at the top of the stack deciding what products you want to provide, shaping your brand.

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Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@voguebusiness.com.

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A top Silicon Valley futurist on how AI, AR and VR will shape fashion's future - Vogue Business

‘Futuring’ can help us survive the climate crisis. And guess what? You’re a futurist too – The Conversation AU

Editors note: Today, on Trust Me, Im An Expert, we hear from Clare Cooper, design lecturer at the University of Sydney, on how futuring techniques can help us think collectively about life under a drastically hotter climate. Her accompanying essay is below.

Australians, no matter where we are, are coming to acknowledge that our summers and our autumns, winters and springs are forever changed.

We are, bit by bit, reviewing our assumptions. Whether we need to radically rethink our calendars, or question where and how we rebuild homes and towns, we face a choice: collective, creative adaptation or increased devastation.

How might this time next year feel - anxious, hot and sticky? How might it smell - like bushfire smoke? How might it taste - would seafood and berries still be on the menu in future summers as our climate changes? (One of my favourite placards at a recent climate rally was shit climate = shit wine).

When we think about this time next year, are we freaking out, or are we futuring?

Read more: Why we should make time for remembering the future

Futuring is sometimes called futures studies, futurology, scenario design or foresight thinking. It has been used in the business world for decades.

Futuring means thinking systematically about the future, drawing on scientific data, analysing trends, imagining scenarios (both plausible and unlikely) and thinking creatively. A crucial part of the process is thinking hard about the kind of future we might want to avoid and the steps needed to work toward a certain desired future.

But futurists arent magical people who sweep in and solve problems for you. They facilitate discussions and collaboration but the answers ultimately come from communities themselves. Artists and writers have been creatively imagining the future for millennia. Futuring is a crucial part of design and culture-building.

My research looks at how futuring can help communities work toward a just and fair transition to a drastically warmer world and greater weather extremes.

Collaborative futuring invites audiences to respond to probable, possible, plausible and preposterous future scenarios as the climate crisis sets in. This process can reveal assumptions, biases and possible courses of action.

Read more: How we forecast future technologies

Futuring is not predicting futures.

Its a way of mixing informed projections with imaginative critical design to invite us to think differently about our current predicaments. That can help us step back from the moment of panic and instead proactively design steps to change things for the better not 20 years from now, but from today.

If you peeked into a futuring workshop with adults, you might see a lot of lively conversations and a bunch of post-it notes. For kids, you might see them making collages, or creating cardboard prototypes of emerging technology.

You might have done some futuring today, talking with friends and family about changes you might make as it becomes obvious our summers will grow only hotter.

Ive seen futuring occur at my daughters school, where children are invited to imagine being on the other side of a difficult problem, and then work out the steps needed to get there.

Read more: 'This situation brings me to despair': two reef scientists share their climate grief

When we are imagining this time next year, are we limiting our (mostly city-dwelling) thinking to how we avoid the conditions we faced in this summer?

For example, are we thinking about staying away from bushfire-prone areas, or buying air purifiers and face masks? For those who can afford it, are we thinking about booking extended overseas holidays?

Or are we challenging each other to think beyond such avoidance strategies: to imagine a post-Murdoch press and a post-fossil fuel lobby future? Can we imagine ways to respond to extreme weather beyond individual prepping?

Including a diverse range of voices, especially Indigenous community members, is crucial to a just transition to a warmer world. We cant allow a changed climate to mean comfortable adaptation for a wealthy elite while everyone else suffers.

Many of us have joined climate protests in recent months and years.

But more work needs to be done and bigger questions asked. What steps are needed to meet demands for public ownership of a renewable energy system: more support for those battling and displaced by bushfires? How do we work toward First Nations justice, including funding for Indigenous-led land management, jobs on Country, and land and water rights?

It is not enough to pin an image of our future to a wall and pray we get there.

Short term fixes in the form of drought or emergency relief wont address the fact that extreme weather events are not going away.

Responsible, useful futuring mixes equal parts of imagination and informed projections. Its not wild speculation. Futuring practitioners draw on scientific and social data, and weave it with the stories, concerns and desires of those present to find new ways into a problem.

Read more: What would a fair energy transition look like?

Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating last year criticised the Morrison government for what he saw as a lack of vision:

If you look, there is no panorama. Theres no vista. Theres no shape. Theres no talk about where Australia fits in the world.

Prime Minister Scott Morrisons performance during the unfolding bushfire horrors widely perceived as lacklustre suggests growing thirst for bolder vision on dealing with the new normal.

In their book Design and the Question of History, design scholars Tony Fry, Clive Dilnot and Susan Stewart argue that we should speak of catastrophe in order to avoid it.

Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman wrote

prophesying the advent of that catastrophe as passionately and vociferously as we can manage is the sole chance of making the unavoidable avoidable and perhaps even the inevitable impossible to happen.

We owe it to those worst affected by the climate crisis and to ourselves to dedicate time to collaborative futuring as we rethink life in an increasingly hostile climate.

The next time youre having a chat about this time, next year, are you collectively fretting or collaboratively futuring?

Everything you need to know about how to listen to a podcast is here.

Additional audio credits

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Not Much by Podington Bear, from Free Music Archive

Above Us by David Szesztay, from Free Music Archive

Pshaw by Podington Bear, from Free Music Archive

Podcast episode recorded and edited by Sunanda Creagh.


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'Futuring' can help us survive the climate crisis. And guess what? You're a futurist too - The Conversation AU

The fashion futurist: how Vogue’s wartime editor revolutionised women’s lives – The Guardian

Amid the rubble of a bombed building stands a woman, immaculate in hat and gloves, wearing the kind of nipped-in suit that screams 1940s chic.

Her back is to the camera, her expression unreadable as she surveys the wreckage. But the caption reads: Fashion is indestructible. Even in the midst of horror, this image by the legendary fashion photographer Cecil Beaton is saying, womens lives go on. Yet they cannot be untouched by the world around them, nor unchanged by it.

The picture was conceived for British Vogue in 1941 by its wartime editor Audrey Withers, and, as a new biography by the historian Julie Summers makes clear, captures something of her pioneering beliefs. Dressed For War tells the story of a woman who brought frontline war reporting to her pages alongside features on spring hats, arguing passionately that female readers should be equally curious about both. It is simply not modern, she wrote in 1946, to be unaware of or uninterested in what is going on all around you.

But like many women whose horizons expanded dramatically during wartime, Withers struggled with the pressure to retreat back into a traditional role afterwards. The editor who had the ear of powerful men in government, and often proofed her pages from a makeshift office in the cellar as bombs fell overhead, had thrived on the idea of doing something meaningful. When she was putting Vogue to bed, she was in her element, says Summers. She was being bombed, but she was doing this, and at that moment she realised that Vogue had a purpose beyond promulgating fashion. It was really about influencing womens lives. Not for nothing did the head of the board of trade once call her the most powerful woman in London.

Summers first became fascinated by her while researching a book on wartime fashion for the Imperial War Museum, only to discover a more personal connection. I was having lunch with an uncle and I told him how enthused I was about this woman, and he just leant back in his chair and went: Darling, didnt you know she was Grandpas cousin? And I didnt know. It was, she explains, a big family but she hadnt heard the story before: Withers was not one to blow her own trumpet.

Withers was born in 1905, into an unusually free-thinking family. Her mother, Mary, had been university-educated, while Summers describes her father, Percy, a doctor who had stopped work through ill health, as a very liberal father who fostered self-reliance in his daughters. The young Audrey read English at Oxford, worked in a bookshop and then got a job in publishing before being made redundant, on the grounds (then perfectly legal) that the company wanted a man instead. She was devastated, but that led her to answer a newspaper ad for a subeditor at Vogue, where she flourished. She was only 35 when, with her American boss stranded overseas by the war, she stepped into the editors chair.

The practical challenges of publishing in wartime were daunting. Paper was rationed and, by 1941, so were clothes, an existential problem for an industry built on craving the new and pretty. (Were she alive today, Withers would surely recognise the pressure on glossy magazines to stop pushing fast fashion because of its impact on the planet; Summers thinks she would have been all over current thinking with remodelling and reusing clothes: for environmental reasons). Staff were bombed out of their homes and the magazines Old Bond Street headquarters was hit at least once. The idea of writing about hemlines amid such death and destruction may seem incongruous, but maintaining some semblance of normality on the home front was seen as an important act of defiance against the Nazis. Besides, it soon emerged that Vogue had a role in the war effort.

Withers met regularly with the Treasury and the Ministry of Information, who saw magazines as a better channel than newspapers for communicating with women about the sacrifices that would be needed. And Vogue was seen as particularly important, because its readers were influential women who could set trends. Initially, the message was they should keep shopping for the benefit of the economy, but all that changed in 1941; clothing factories were making military uniforms, rationing came in, and women were urged to make do and mend old clothes. (Even Withers rewore the same few outfits endlessly; Summers says her wardrobe consisted of little more than three suits and some blouses for work, one wool dress for evenings, and slacks and a jumper at weekends).

Vogue commissioned designers to show what could be done with utility clothing, a government-approved range available to buy with ration coupons. It ran features on growing your own vegetables and even promoted short haircuts, amid fears about female factory workers getting their hair tangled in machinery.

But Withers wasnt content merely to churn out propaganda. She wanted her readers to really get the war, says Summers. Which is where Lee Miller, the model turned war photographer and reporter, came in.

Miller was American, enabling her to get accreditation via the American military (British troops wouldnt accommodate a female photographer). But she needed a press sponsor and Withers stepped in. One of Millers first dispatches for Vogue was from St Malo on the Brittany coast, where she had expected to be covering a surrender to the Americans but instead found herself in the thick of battle, capturing pictures of what would turn out to be napalm attacks: the war censor refused to let Vogue use them.

Miller also had an eye for things a man might have missed. Arriving in newly liberated Paris, she sent back pictures of a hair salon where small boys powered the dryers by pedalling furiously on bicycles hooked up to a furnace. In Munich, she got into Hitlers private apartment after he had fled and had herself photographed in his bathtub, her dirty army-issue boots placed on his primrose-yellow bathmat.

But she wrote for Vogue, too, about the massacres of women and children in occupied France and sent back harrowing images of skeletal bodies from the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Withers agonised over whether her war-weary readers could cope with this, but eventually included one picture, berating herself later for not running as many as the newspapers did.

Unsurprisingly, both women found adjusting to peacetime difficult. After the atrocities she had witnessed, Summer says, Miller suffered from PTSD but she also struggled to find substitutes for the intense adrenaline highs of war reporting. Withers, meanwhile, was battling against her American publishers expectations that she would meekly return to producing a conventional fashion paper.

In 1946, she wrote a long memo to her American editor-in-chief Edna Chase, arguing passionately that Vogues future was to cover every subject in which the intelligent sophisticated woman is currently interested, and that its politics must be progressive. Politics could not be ignored, Withers argued, when it shaped everything in womens lives from education and health to prices in shops. Moreover, to avoid political arguments was political in itself, because it meant consenting to the status quo and that was innately conservative: One is being every whit as political, for instance, in giving ones tacit approval to things as they are in pressing for change. It is an old rightwing trick to sit tight and say nothing (because thats the best way of keeping things as they are) and to accuse the left wing of being political because it is forced to be vocal in advocating anything new.

It is striking how contemporary that argument sounds, now that British Vogue urges its readers to become forces for change while American Teen Vogue takes on Donald Trump. But it was too much for Chase, who said that Vogue should develop the taste and manners of its readers and let them set the pattern of their political thinking themselves.

She had lost that argument, but Withers kept pushing the boundaries throughout the 50s. She hired a female motoring correspondent, at a time when very few women drove themselves, and argued that women should feature in Vogue in their own right rather than as famous mens wives. (Tellingly, the woman in that fashion is indestructible picture wasnt a professional model, but the BBCs first female TV announcer). She prided herself on hiring as beauty editor Evelyn Forbes, a mother of four who was the breadwinner in her marriage, at a time when middle-class women were still expected to stop work after getting married.

Withers herself did not have children, which Summers suspects may have been by choice. She and her salesman husband, Jock, were a famously glamorous, social couple, but Jock was repeatedly unfaithful and they eventually divorced.

Yet painful as his pursuit of other women must have been, in some ways their rather distant relationship was professionally liberating. I think Jocks interest in other women almost gave Audrey the licence to run her own life as she wanted, says Summers, who points out that she wouldnt have been free to work such long hours had she had a husband waiting impatiently at home. I think they drifted apart, but she never hated Jock.

After the divorce, she married a man called Victor Kennett, who had propositioned her years earlier, while she was still with Jock (she briefly considered leaving her husband at the time, but feared a scandal). Kennett was more possessive of her time, and when Withers retired from Vogue in 1959 she largely retreated from public life one reason, Summers thinks, she did not remain as well known as other pioneering women of the era. But now, perhaps, her moment has come.

Dressed for War: the Story of Audrey Withers, Vogue Editor Extraordinaire from the Blitz to the Swinging Sixties, by Julie Summers, is published by Simon & Schuster on 6 February (RRP 20). To order a copy for 17.60 go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over 15.

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The fashion futurist: how Vogue's wartime editor revolutionised women's lives - The Guardian

Scientists Want to Explore Ocean With "Cyborg Jellyfish" – Futurism

A team of Stanford and Caltech scientists attached low-power microelectronics to the undersides of jellyfish to create biohybrid robots that swim three times as fast as normal ones.

The idea is to one day allow cyborg jellyfish, equipped with sensors, to explore the vast depths of our planets oceans rather than relying on unwieldy and inefficient submarines, Scientific American reports.

In a trial, the scientists were capable of using electrical jolts from microelectronic controllers to make jellyfish swim not only faster but also more efficiently,according to a paper published in Science Advances today.

Weve shown that theyre capable of moving much faster than they normally do, without an undue cost on their metabolism, said co-author and Stanford bioengineering PhD candidate Nicole Xu, in a statement.

This reveals that jellyfish possess an untapped ability for faster, more efficient swimming, Xu added. They just dont usually have a reason to do so.

Thanks to the simplicity of the design, the electronics use orders of magnitude less external power per mass than other aquatic robots, according to the paper.

The jellyfish cyborgs could revolutionize the way we explore the mysteries of the planets oceans. To do that, the researchers are already looking to take their project a step further by adding controls, using only a few modifications to the microelectronics.

If we can find a way to direct these jellyfish and also equip them with sensors to track things like ocean temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, and so on, we could create a truly global ocean network where each of the jellyfish robots costs a few dollars to instrument and feeds themselves energy from prey already in the ocean, said lead author and Caltech mechanical engineer John Dabiri.

READ MORE: Cyborg Jellyfish Could One Day Explore the Ocean [Scientific American]

More on cyborgs: This Biohacker Conference Sounds Absolutely Outrageous

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Scientists Want to Explore Ocean With "Cyborg Jellyfish" - Futurism

Google Says Its Chatbot Is Capable of Near-Human Conversation – Futurism

Better Tay

If youve ever tried to have a conversation with a chatbot, you know that even todays state-of-the-art systems arent exactly eloquent, regularly doling out nonsensical orpainfully generic responses.

Now, though, Google has created Meena, a chatbot it says is better than any other its tested a claim the company supports using a new metric it developed specifically to measure an AIs conversational abilities.

After creating Meena, a process detailed in a paper published on the preprint server arXiv, Google needed a way to evaluate the chatbot. To that end, it developed something it calls the Sensibleness and Specificity Average (SSA).

To compute this metric, Google asked human workers to conduct about 100 free-form conversations with Meena and several other open-domain chatbots. Each time the chatbot responded, the worker had to answer two questions about the response.

First, did it make logical and contextual sense within the conversation? If yes, they then had to answer the question, Was it specific to the conversation? This was to weed out any generic responses for example, if the human wrote that they liked tennis, and the chatbot responded, Thats nice, the response would be tagged as not specific.

Google determined that an average human would achieve an SSA score of 86 percent.

The other chatbots in the teams study scored between 31 percent and 56 percent. Meena, however, scored a 79 percent putting the AI closer to the level of conversation expected from a human than another chatbot.

READ MORE: Meena is Googles attempt at making true conversational AI [VentureBeat]

More on chatbots: Taylor Swift Reportedly Threatened Microsoft Over Racist Chatbot

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Google Says Its Chatbot Is Capable of Near-Human Conversation - Futurism

Smart Bandage Detects Infections, Auto-Releases Antibiotic – Futurism

A colorful new weapon has emerged in the war on antibiotic resistance.

On Wednesday, researchers in China published a study in the journal ACS Central Science detailing their creation of a new kind of smart bandage. At first, when you apply it to a wound, the bandage is green. But if it detects a bacterial infection, the bandage turns yellow and releases a built-in antibiotic to treat the infection.

And if the bandage senses the presence of drug-resistant bacteria the kind that traditional antibiotics alone can have trouble killing it releases the antibiotic and turns red. As that point, doctors can shine a light on the bandage, which causes the material to release special molecules that can kill the bacteria or at least weaken it enough to improve the efficacy of the antibiotic.

When the team tested the smart bandage on mice, it improved the healing times for wounds containing either drug-sensitive or drug-resistant E. coli bacteria.

Because the bandages themselves can detect and treat the bacteria, they can dramatically cut the time between when an infection forms and when treatment begins. The added capability to know when the bacteria is drug-resistant could make the bandages even more helpful, given that the rise in antibiotic resistance is a full-on global health crisis in need of creative solutions.

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Smart Bandage Detects Infections, Auto-Releases Antibiotic - Futurism