Wednesday, December 28, 2011

5 Giant Industry And Techno-Trends: The Global Futurist

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Drawing from a variety of sources during the course of these past four weeks, I've distilled the information I've gathered regarding major trends (industries and technologies) down to my favorite five, each of which which I believe is going to be booming during the next five years, and each of which warrants careful observation, as well as some business and investment planning. But, of course, I do not offer any investment, financial, legal, health or tax advice.

One thing that all of these giant industry and technological trends have in common is that they are each already significantly underway. They are all gaining momentum. Quickly.

1. Nanotechnology, Nanotubes And Cardiovascular Pipecleaning.

Big Think Daily Ideafeed 15 October 2011
Microscopic Robots in Your Bloodstream
Engineers have used carbon nanotubes to create artificial muscle that moves like an elephant's trunk, which could be used to propel microscopic nanobots through the bloodstream.

2. Stem Cells, Computers and LIFE.

Researchers grow partial pituitary gland using stem cells

Japanese researchers used embryonic stem cells to grow partial pituitary glands, then transplanted the tissue in the kidneys of mice without pituitary glands. The transplanted tissue returned hormone levels to normal, according to the study published in Nature. The initiative is part of a worldwide effort to grow complete organs in a lab setting using stem cells. The Guardian (London) (12/4)...

And there's much more:


What's the Latest Development? [From BigThink's Idea Newsletter] - Computer Printer-Assisted Bone Regrowth.

3D printers have been used to create bone-like material which researchers say could aid in repairing injuries. The new material would act like scaffolding, promoting the growth of new cells and then dissolve away with no ill-effects. Professor Susmita Bose, who helped carry out the work at Washington State University, has been at work on the material for four years. A breakthrough came recently when she found a way to double the strength of the main ceramic powder—calcium phosphate—by adding silica and zinc oxide.

What's the Big Idea?

Within just a few years, doctors could use the printing technique to custom-order replacement of bone tissue. "Tests carried on immature foetal bone cells in the laboratory found that new bone cells started growing over the scaffold within the first week of it being attached." Dr. Bose predicts that within a decade or two, doctors will be able use artificial bone from 3D printers as scaffolds, along with bone growth factors, to repair anything from a broken jaw to a broken spine.

Photo credit:

3. Video Surveillance, Mobile Tracking and RFID
  • Malls use cellphone location data to track shoppers
    Malls in California and Virginia have begun using cellphone signals to track the locations of shoppers. The malls use the tools to triangulate shoppers' locations based on their cellphone signals as part of a trial that runs through the end of the year. Forest City, which owns the malls, says it is not collecting any data that could identify a shopper, though experts say the data could be paired with other sources of information to target offers. Some experts, however, have raised questions about the legality of such tracking. Ars Technica (11/26)

4. An Increase In The Number Of Prisons, Prisoners, Privatization Of Facilities, And Incarceration-Related Employment - Prisons Are One Of The Largest Domestic Growth Industries In The USA.

Prison Nation

December 21, 2011 by

Prison Nation
There are more than 2.3 million people in American prisons.
America has come to be more like North Korea than the America our fathers grew up in. The United States is not a country descending into totalitarianism. Totalitarianism, the police state, is here.

According to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics and reported in USAToday, one in three Americans will be arrested by the time they are 23. That’s up from 22 percent of youths that age 44 years ago.

Crimes leading to arrest in this age group range from truancy and vandalism to shoplifting and underage drinking to assault and murder. Criminologist Megan Kurlychek told the newspaper that localities handled many minor offenses more informally 40 years ago than they do now.

“Society is a lot less tolerant of these teenage behaviors,” she said.

In fact, it’s not just teenage behaviors society is not tolerating. Now elementary school children are charged with sexual assault over innocent hugs and kisses and assault when they get into fights on school grounds.

And with drug laws criminalizing possession of as little marijuana as a seed or stem, it’s easy to understand why there are more than 2.3 million people in American prisons.

According to a 2008 study by the Pew Center on the States, one in 100 Americans is behind bars. For blacks, the statistics are staggering. One in 15 black men aged 18 or older is behind bars. For blacks ages 20 to 34, the number is one in nine. Black women are three times more likely to be incarcerated than white women.

America’s rate of incarceration far outpaces countries like South Africa and Iran. For every 100,000 Americans, 750 are in jail. In Germany the rate is only 93 per 100,000.

In America, people can be fined and/or imprisoned for simply taking raw milk across State lines, selling “unapproved” rabbits, or uprooting a plant or draining a pond on their own property.

Now, Congress has passed and the President has signed legislation that designates America a battlefield in the War on Terror and subjects Americans to indefinite incarceration without a hearing.

Face it: America is now a prison Nation. And with America’s penchant for militarism and her people’s fondness of orators, Herr Hitler would feel right at home. ####
The profits and possibilities for companies in the building and management of prisons are promising. They'll be job opportunities for returning soldiers, retired law enforcement, and some local, but otherwise unskilled labor. And demand will continue to expand as the "Nation Of Regulation, Litigation And Incarceration" -- that's the United States...Land of the free/ Home of the brave -- continues to try to fuel a failing economy and an ever-increasing draconian system of punishment by A) locking up non-violent offenders and destroying families [leading to more crime] and B) giving non-productive jail-based jobs to anybody who is still outside of the prison (and is not an escapee) after the evening's lockdown.

5. Electroshock, Direct Computer-Brain Interaction And Virtual Reality To Enhance Learning Ability, Accompanied By A Renewed Interest In Subliminal Entrainment.

The following article excerpt appears courtesy of a slightly-dated but highly-relevant edition of BigThinks's Daily IdeaFeed. The article was every bit as stimulating (pun intended) as the slightly-Frakensteinian notion of using a highly-refined variant of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a controversial treatment for schizophrenia, catatonia, and some forms of severe clinical depression in order to stimulate and accelerate learning (the assimilation of knowledge) as well as recall (the ability to rapidly access the assimilated knowledge), and intelligence (the ability to use assimilated knowledge to identify and solve problems -- putting it simply):
Mild Electric Shocks Speed Learning
Running a mild electric current through the brain improves learning speed, according to Air Force researchers. The technique was used to teach personnel how to identify drone targets.
Don't throw away those binaural and subliminal CDs. Keep Your Headphones. Entrainment [the creation of thoughts and emotions by inducing brain wave patterns through external means] will indeed be making a comeback, with improved targeting and precise technology. It is interesting to note that the brain tends to "pick up the rhythm' to certain patterned beats and sounds through an amazing process of mimicry. Whether this is done with headphones or electrodes, the possibilities are exciting, if not just a bit frightening. The ultimate result would be similar to Neo's crash course in, and rapid mastery of various styles of martial arts by immersion in a computer-simulated and controlled environment. Virtual reality is going to be an increasing preoccupation. Whether for education or recreation, the temptation of alternative realms is far too exciting to stay put.

Douglas E. Castle for THE GLOBAL FUTURIST

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bioenergetics - The Ultimate Power Source

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Living organisms consume food (as fuel) and carry on with the various tasks of living. Each living creature is a consumer and creator of bioenergy. Plant and animal bioenergetics is being looked at very seriously as a potentially limitless source of power for virtually every conceivable use. The difference between input (food) and output (work) is the magical key.

The issues surrounding its inevitable development and deployment include:

1) Obtaining it efficiently;

2) Transporting (or 'conducting') it efficiently;

3) Storing it for future use with a minimal loss or decay factor;

4) Converting it from one form to another as may be required in the circumstances;

5) Multiplying its efficiency in terms of input versus output, and perpetuating the production cycle.

Regarding this latter issue, picture the example of trying to get a hamster to cycle a wheel to the greatest number of revolutions per minute while feeding it the least expensive source of nutrition.

If you combine living creatures which are highly energetic little machines (such as microbes or even viruses) which consume waste products or pollutants for the purpose harnessing a source of energy, several perplexing problems facing us in the present and in the future could theoretically be solved (or at least mitigated) simultaneously.

The utopian picture of bioenergetics would be harnessing energetic output to produce electricity from a species of microbes which consumes oil spills and excretes (as a byproduct of the energy production process) harmless waste products that are readily biodegradable, or perhaps even useful.

I strongly believe that enterprises which invest in bioenergetics in any aspect will begin to make an appearance late in 2012 (principally as academically-sponsored start-ups and ventures), and will be very valuable in terms of profit potential and stock pricing potential by the third quarter of 2015.

The following article excerpt comes to us courtesy of SmartPlanet:

Using everyday microbes to power electrical devices

A grad student is improving technology that creates electrical fuel cells from everyday microbes like yeast. Read the full story

This field is fashionably green, ecologically unassailable, and addresses an almost unimaginably enormous demand while simultaneously solving some very serious problems. It has the ancillary sociological benefit of bringing together a merger of interests between naturalists and preservationists with the lust for innovation and profits of entrepreneurs and capital providers. Perhaps some venture capitalists, accredited angel investors and crowdfunding organizers are listening.

I would certainly hope so.

Douglas E. Castle for The Global Futurist

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trading Commercialization For Public Access: Crowdsourcing, Brainstorming, Collaboration

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English: Front of white iPad 2.Image via Wikipedia - Apps and Icons

Crowdsourcing, Brainstorming And Collaboration: everyone seems to see the benefits to the populace as a whole when 'free' computer and mobile apps, 'open source' programs and software products are made available to the eager, ever-hungry public. The group-centered creative process is indisputably powerful -- its magic formula... limitless access to limitless numbers of limitless minds. The distribution process is hyper-efficient: all of the co-creators and their social circles will use, review and promote what's produced. Ultimately, word and utilization travel virally.

The social media and communications platforms benefiting (i.e., improving or increasing their respective use of their platforms; platforms and communications media like Twitter, Facebook, iPad, Blogger, Wordpress and others)  by this seemingly endless cloudburst of apps even help to encourage ["Developers? Work with our API to develop your ingenious new applications and integrated uses for our product! Work with our development team.), advertise and promote them.

Confession: The title of this article is slightly misleading. Apologies. My trend-watchers, predictors, market prognosticators and sophisticated business audience already know that the notion of "trading" commercialization for public access is actually ephemeral. Sooner or later, the endgame is invariable the harnessing of every application, innovation and invention for a profit. It's just a matter of "How?" and "When?" And after these are answered, the question is "Who will gain and who will turn (the customerization process) from a free-user to a monthly payer or subscriber?"

Skeptics ask two questions: "Who makes a profit?" and "How do they make it?" Take a glance at the following article excerpt, which is over a month old but incredibly applicable, and then please hit the "BACK" button on the upper left-hand corner of your browser and return. We'll wait for you.

From the BigThink Daily IdeaFeed:

Crowdsourced And Free Navigation Apps Taking Off
New, free navigation apps with an emphasis on social features and crowdsourced data are providing competition for premium providers such as TomTom, Garmin, CoPilot and Navigon.


And now to the ever-irksome questions that are begging to be asked by business strategists, obsessive monetizers, dependent users and Global Futurists... and other persons who are considered by some to be skeptics and cynics, but whom I consider to be intelligent business pragmatists.

The process of monetization of these "open" and "free" source innovations is ongoing, but I believe that the timeframe from first release of new technology to monetization is going to be shrinking as a result of the weak global economy, the rise in the acceptability and utilization of cybercommerce, the increasing dependence on mobile devices for information and communication, and the growing population of people actively involved (either socially or commercially) in social media.

Ego gratification and the desire to share may initiate the creative processes, but real-world, real-time necessity accelerates the compulsion to convert from ego gratification and "psychic income" to creative conversion over to monetization.


1) Developers - Developers will be paid in the form of awards, contest prizes, promotion, and occasionally sales-based royalties from the benefitted platforms and media. If the developers have used open-sourcing, collaboration or crowd-sourcing they could, in theory pro-rate their benefits (both direct financial and endorsement-based) with their many collaborators as stakeholders. It is far more likely that the visionary organizers of these projects shall benefit directly and give 'thanks' to their contributors in the form of honorable mention. Exploiters often dominate and prevail. Others, less assertive merely settle for 'thanks,' laminated MVP certificates, bragging rights and other honorable discharges and trivial dismissal documents.

Some developers will be acquired, individually or corporately by the platform and media hosts in a "brain roundup" of talent and in marriages of political convenience -- i.e., to avoid IP legal battles and to avoid encouraging too much entrepreneurial independence. Picture a kinder, gentler Bill Gates, giving you a choice between a wonderful, glamorous career or an exsanguination. 

Other developers will remain independent and continue to offer a free version of their innovations, but will begin developing and offer a "premium" or "professional" upgraded version of their products and services for a small recurring fee to the users. Picture charging a growing population of adherents a very small nuisance tax that is just too inexpensive to be objectionable. Heck, my subscription to Pingler only costs me $5.00 per month. I couldn't live without it. To get the Widgetbox "Pro" membership costs me, on average, $1.99 per month -- while I don't use it much, I just can't be bothered to cancel it.

2) The Platform Hosts And Media Providers - These companies will be benefitted by an increased flood of user volume to their respective platforms and media due to the convenience and an increased us of these applications, from Sudoku, to GPS restaurant locators, to mobile apps to access and support all of your social media and messaging activity. Firstly, their revenues will be increased from advertisers and commercial users due to their decreasing CPM and ever-increasing social and business audience and influence. Advertisers and promoters will be paying more to these old pros -- rates will rise.

After advertisers and commercial users are more fully trussed up and dependent, these larger hosts and providers will go after consumers (picture Bank Of America, Netflix and your beloved utilities providers raising prices to end-users directly, but with less fanfare, and engendering less hatred or mass exodus threats). Of course, once consumers begin to get used to the idea of paying a "trivial" fee for what used to be free services, those fees will never, ever be reduced --- I would predict a high likelihood that they will be increased on a regular basis thereafter.

3) Collaborators, As Teams And Individual Members - As the participants in these large, currently nameless, faceless crowds become more sophisticated with time, experience and watching the success of the early-exploiters (my projected horizon for this awakening is over the course of three years, starting toward the end of the first quarter of 2012, and slowing down toward the end of the time horizon due a flooding of the marketplace with app litter, increased competition amongst these collaborative developer teams, i.e., bidding the price of the services down in accordance with the basic Law Of Supply And Demand), and the increased acceptance of software as a service with the expansion of the Cloud.

Incidentally, "The Cloud" still scares me. This is not only in terms of the dependency on yet a new set of utilities-like companies, but also due to the increased vulnerability to data theft, and the cost of downtime and defaults, and a feeling of the backups and modifications and parallel systems which will have to be deployed by companies which wish to mitigate and contain the risks involved in this "one-size-fits-all" type of solution. Also, The Cloud sounds ominously like the title of a B-grade science fiction movie or of a lesser Stephen King short story.

Douglas E. Castle for The Global Futurist

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