Briefs: Basic Science + R&D

Rising Giants: Companies Welcome

Gabriel White flickr

The landscape of global business is changing. While World 1 economies still dominate the global business landscape, more and more companies based in World 2 and even World 3 are making their presence known on a worldwide scale.

These rising giants are not only serving — and in some cases dominating — their home markets, but they also are increasingly seeking to expand into other markets, both from other emerging economies and from developed economies. The growth and expansion of companies from emerging economies will dramatically transform the global business landscape in the next two decades.

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DIY Biotech: Citizen Foresight in Science


The do-it-yourself (DIY) biotech movement includes individuals and groups who are engaged in biotechnology outside of traditional academic, government, and industrial laboratories. The Introduction 1 movement has also been described as “garage biology.”

Some participants in DIY biotech are also known as “biohackers.” In the last several years, community biotech laboratories have begun to Introduction to DIY biotech 2 emerge to support and encourage such citizen science. The first of these laboratories was Genspace, located in Brooklyn, New York.

Technology Disruptions through 2025


Technology has always been a major driver of change, even disruption, in human affairs. Through 2025, it is poised to do so in significant new ways—impacting areas ranging from energy to consumer lifestyles to World 3 development to warfare—thanks to revolutionary advances now in the wings.

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Eye-Tracking and Eye-Control: In the Blink of an Eye

Eye-Tracking Peter_Sheik_Flickr

Poets have long declaimed that the eyes are windows to the soul. Today’s technology entrepreneurs and marketers have a more prosaic idea—using eyes, specifically the movement and behavior of a person’s eye, to gauge interest, detect health problems, and control technology.

Bolstered by this possibility—and the spread of key technologies such as cameras, sensors, and cloud computing—eye-tracking and eye-control technologies are leaving the lab and demonstrations and moving into commercial settings. This could bring about new form factors for computing, new ways to interact with the built environment, and even new artistic processes. It will also likely continue to erode current privacy levels.

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The Future of International Science: Four Scenarios


The International Council for Science (ICSU), an organization that includes national scientific bodies from from 140 nations as well as international scientific unions, published International Science in 2031—Exploratory Scenarios, which offers outlines of four distinct scenarios on the possible future of international science.

These scenarios describe four plausible yet very different futures, were the culmination of two years of foresight analysis that invited input from all of ICSU’s members. The focus of the foresight process was to identify the key drivers that will influence international science over the next two decades and to develop strategies to support international science collaboration in a way that advances progress and benefits society.

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Artificial Photosynthesis: Creating Solar Fuel


Over the long term, new energy sources will be needed to meet increasing energy demand, mitigate climate change, and provide energy self-sufficiency at the national and regional level. Ideal sources would be abundant, renewable, carbon neutral, portable, and affordable and make use of the existing energy infrastructure.

The energy needs of living organisms are met directly or indirectly through photosynthesis, a process that converts sunlight into fuel. Renewable energy strategies already convert sunlight to electricity with photovoltaic cells and convert biomass—a product of photosynthesis—to fuel such as ethanol.

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How Technology Will Change Business: Disruptions Through 2020


New developments in information technology have had a profound effect on the way organizations operate. In what spheres of business and government will technology have the greatest impact over the next decade? Which parts of organization life will undergo the greatest changes? Will technology be even more disruptive going forward, or has the impact of IT plateaued?

To answer these questions, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) interviewed a number of well-known technology and business leaders and thinkers about the impact of technology on business over the next decade. The EIU also surveyed 500 senior executives from a wide variety of industry and government organizations in more than 25 countries. The results paint a broad picture of ongoing, even accelerating, technology-enabled change.Read more…

Integrated Solutions, Diversity of Vehicles


As cities grow ever larger, more numerous, more congested, and more polluted, consumers, governments, and automakers are looking for transportation solutions that move beyond the conventional personal auto.

The goal of so-called micromobility solutions is to provide convenient transport in congested urban areas (e.g., for short urban commutes or shopping trips) and to solve the “first/last mile connectivity” problem — the need to connect public transportation points of entry/exit to homes, workplaces, shopping, and other destinations.

While there are a wide variety of possible solutions — including walking, biking, and ride-sharing — that can meet these needs to various extents, this brief explores personal transport vehicles that are smaller than a conventional auto and are powered by a drivetrain other than a simple internal combustion engine. These types of vehicles may become a more important part of integrated urban mobility solutions over the next decade and beyond.Read more…