Tracking the Future
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Tracking the Future
Explore the most important technology and science trends! News, Analysis, Interviews, Presentations, Documentaries. All in one place at Tracking the future magazine
Curated by Szabolcs Kósa
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20 Crucial Terms Every 21st Century Futurist Should Know

20 Crucial Terms Every 21st Century Futurist Should Know | Tracking the Future |

We live in an era of accelerating change, when scientific and technological advancements are arriving rapidly. As a result, we are developing a new language to describe our civilization as it evolves. Here are 20 terms and concepts that you'll need to navigate our future.

Pushpendra Mishra's curator insight, March 24, 2014 7:12 AM

Aamod at Bhimtal is a magnificent hill resort surrounded by untouched Oak and Pine forests on one side and a small lake on the other with lush green

Pablo Munévar's curator insight, March 28, 2014 9:46 AM

Estamos en una época de aceleración y vale la pena repensar estas nuevas formas de comprender estos términos

PIRatE Lab's curator insight, August 10, 2014 6:29 PM

An interesting compilation of terms.  Perhaps most interesting to me is the utter "out of touch" aspect of some of these terms.  Most of very human/wealthy human-centric and are likely to be niche terms at best.  Only the "anthropocene" and "mule" really seem to stretch beyond our wealthy, western lifestyles.  Nevertheless a good read to stimulate your thinking about what the future may bring.


Thanks to Szabolcs for posting! 

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Magnetic behavior discovery could advance nuclear fusion

Magnetic behavior discovery could advance nuclear fusion | Tracking the Future |

Inspired by the space physics behind solar flares and the aurora, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Princeton has uncovered a new kind of magnetic behavior that could help make nuclear fusion reactions easier to start.

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The future of education

Videogames, digital pens, holograms and tactile learning platforms could all become the norm as education looks set to change dramatically over the next 30 years. With technology dominating in and outside the classroom, interconnectivity is likely to play a key role in helping students adapt to the changing world around them

Rachael Bath's curator insight, March 15, 2014 9:05 AM

Nice thoughts and interesting predictions.

XLPro Training's comment, April 14, 2014 12:58 AM
Nice Predictions....
XLPro Training's comment, April 14, 2014 12:58 AM
Nice Predictions....
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How do you build a large-scale quantum computer?

How do you build a large-scale quantum computer? | Tracking the Future |

Physicists led by ion-trapper Christopher Monroe at the JQI have proposed a modular quantum computer architecture that promises scalability to much larger numbers of qubits. The components of this architecture have individually been tested and are available, making it a promising approach. In the paper, the authors present expected performance and scaling calculations, demonstrating that their architecture is not only viable, but in some ways, preferable when compared to related schemes.

Andreas Pappas's curator insight, March 28, 2014 4:40 AM

This article shows how scientists can increase the scale of quantum machine while still making them behave quantum mechanically by reading the qu-bits with lasers instead of conventional wiring.

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Tech Talk: John Martinis, "Design of a Superconducting Quantum Computer"

John Martinis visited Google LA to give a tech talk: "Design of a Superconducting Quantum Computer." This talk took place on October 15, 2013

Andreas Pappas's curator insight, March 28, 2014 12:42 AM

Although the video is quite long, it manages to thoroughly address the concepts and difficulties behind developing a quantum super computer. Nevertheless, the language used though-out the video is somewhat complex and without an understanding of the metalanguage used it is difficult to follow. Therefore, this a good resource for those with an advanced knowledge and understanding of quantum computers. 

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The Next Generation in Neural Prosthetics

The Next Generation in Neural Prosthetics | Tracking the Future |

Following up on the success of cochlear and retinal prostheses for people who have lost sensory function, neuroscientists see a limitless horizon for related devices that are able to read electrical and chemical signals from the nervous system to stimulate capability and restore quality of life in persons suffering injury and disease.

In the future, according to researchers, the devices – known as neural prosthetics – will help epileptics, persons with treatment-resistant depression and chronic pain, victims of Alzheimer’s disease, wounded war veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, persons with speech disabilities, and individuals who have sustained spinal cord injury and loss of limbs, among other applications in the research pipeline.

But before neural prosthetics can advance, engineers will be called on to make innovative use of materials to design and fabricate devices that allow sustained electronic functioning in the harsh environment of the human body, without causing tissue infection and other serious adverse conditions. Research efforts have focused on enhancing the performance of various types of materials used in neural prosthetics, in addition to developing interface technologies that enable the micro devices to be safely implanted in human tissue for long periods.

aanve's curator insight, March 1, 2014 10:05 PM


Richard Platt's curator insight, March 2, 2014 11:46 AM

Very interesting wearable - on the inside of the body, - their big issue is having to solve the contradiction of stiff and flexible, turns out it is what is known as Physical Contradiction based on time.  Numerous inventive principles for solving that problem. 

Jordan Melnik's curator insight, March 27, 2015 6:16 AM

This source further discusses the use of brain signals for prosthetics. It also discusses the progression of this technology and its importance.

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Gabor Forgacs: "We live in a time when it is really difficult to say: "This is impossible!""

Dr. Gabor Forgacs is a theoretical physicist turned tissue-engineer turned entrepreneur. His companies are pioneering 3D bio-printing technologies that will produce tissues for medical and pharmaceutical uses, as well as for consumption, in the form of meat and leather.

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More AI for developers as Expect Labs releases the MindMeld API

More AI for developers as Expect Labs releases the MindMeld API | Tracking the Future |

Expect Labs, makers of the MindMeld app for dynamically suggesting content in response to the topics in a spoken conversation, is opening its artificial intelligence engine to the world via the new MindMeld API. It’s the latest example of just how powerful APIs are becoming and offers yet another glimpse into how intelligent we will expect applications to be in the years to come.

Roger Ellman's curator insight, February 26, 2014 7:01 AM
Some AI news will be action taking place right now, some will be premature and some will surprise us by happening NOW or decades ahead - so glance at all ideas - that's best for keeping abreast!
Terry Yelmene's curator insight, March 1, 2014 7:37 PM

This API can enable automated curation and should be considered as a real advantage in some dev projects.

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The future of food

The future of food | Tracking the Future |

When three continents witnessed food riots in 2007 and 2008, we saw the international food system is not as stable as it looks. There’s unprecedented competition for food due to population growth and changing diets. Experts predict that by 2050, if things don't change, we will see mass starvation across the world.

In this documentary, George Alagiah travelled the world to unravel the complicated web of links that binds the world's food together, bringing it from farm to table. It reveals a growing global food crisis that could affect the planet in the years ahead. What can we do to avert this?

aanve's curator insight, February 16, 2014 9:53 PM


RuthHoward's curator insight, February 17, 2014 6:38 AM

BBC doco link below regarding overconsumption on the one hand and inability to maintain the enormous variety and stocks of food that the recent food markets have enjoyed into our future. I'm a meat eater BTW. I'm not advocating everyone stop eating meat, although some do. But I do think its a worthy problem to help solve.
There will be so many solutions already being developed, how to cultivate and develop a long term plan to develop diversification of crops not reliant upon heavy oil and water production and use, that sustain populations through unpredictable climate changes with responsive agility to markets? In my mind a plan that doesn't rely on super farms, but responds to the small farmer and the local market as much as to export demand is preferable and more resilient. On that note I know the robots cometh. How to factor all of those exponential technological leaps in, to include them but not at human expense.

My notes here. Earth Policy Institute Lester Brown foresees food security as the number one challenge for affluent and non affluent countries. He's been an environmental and agricultural analyst for 50 years.

Todays modern farming techniques wont feed us by 2050 unless we double productivity/yield. The finite arable land wont support this.
In addition changing weather is destined to reduce all crop yields world wide which will increase food prices.

-Richard Warburton head of Bidwells Agribusiness predicts food and water wars.

-Maasai Chief Saamy Ole Terakuai states weather has changed. He cant use his cattle for sale, for food, nor for milk, nor use their hides. Based upon Kenya, Australia in particular is at risk.

-Waitrose Farmer UK recounts volatility in grain market in part due to climate changes.
-Oil is used in intensive agriculture for fuel, fertilisers, pesticides, packaging, processing. 100g of cheese requires 140ml of oil. One tomato grown in a greenhouse uses more than a third of a litre of oil. Oil prices inflate food prices let alone affect food production.
Cuba's economy collapsed due to their reliability upon oil. A fuel shock fuels a food shock.
A very important part of this discussion documents that fuel crops (biofuels) are replacing food crops! At huge cost to locals, workers and future food security. Demonstrating that competition between fuels (cars) and food (for people) needs monitoring, especially as it is further exacerbating the divisions between rich and poor, developed and undeveloped worlds.

-Water is then tackled as a diminishing resource. Obviously essential for food production.

-Overfishing is next. World stocks of seafood could collapse by 2048. 90% of bottom fish (bottom trawls) are already gone! 80% of UK fish species are under threat. Meanwhile the market demand for fish in the UK is greater than ever, sourcing from outside including poorer countries such as Senegal, who themselves have food shortages. Senegalese are forced to share their waters with modern european fleets-Trawlers. Actionaid who monitor overfishing, observe the unlimited trawling by europeans who are profiteering from and at the expense of the Senegalese. 3/4 global fish stock are overexploited.

-Milk and meat consumption are expanding unsustainably as developing world's incomes rise. The film states that there's not enough land to produce the meat that both the developed and developing world require. 2.3kg of grain to produce 1 kilo of chicken, 15kg of grain to produce 1 kilo of beef.


Celest Ybarra's curator insight, March 29, 2014 9:25 PM

Title: The Future of Food

Author: BBC

Main Idea: Prediction that if eating habits don't change now, there will be a mass food scarce in the future


1) The world is constantly changing and evolving over time, and if things don't change soon then we could be in serious trouble

2) A growing global crisis means that's there's competition for food and could affect the planet years ahead

3) Since food has become a commodity in other countries it makes it hard to believe that we could possibly run out in the future

Opinion: No, its factual.

Question: Why do researchers believe this theory? How can we help change this idea?

Is this article important to science?: Yes, because it can help us figure out how to not make this come true since food is such an important factor, and key, to our survival.


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Of Hellabytes and Recombinant Innovation: The Second Machine Age

Andrew McAfee argues that we are advancing so rapidly that our progress is no longer about a difference in degree, but a difference in kind. Along with Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew is the co-author of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Roger Ellman's curator insight, February 13, 2014 7:27 AM

Fair 4.5 minutes video address ( 30% information 70% inspiration) on our step up to new progress levels - rather than just mulitplication etc, and the new shapes of progress building upon progress. Not a revelation, but good to be supported and reminded that we are moving on!

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CRISPR and Other Genome Editing Tools Boost Medical Research and Gene Therapy’s Reach

CRISPR and Other Genome Editing Tools Boost Medical Research and Gene Therapy’s Reach | Tracking the Future |

Over the last decade, as DNA-sequencing technology has grown ever faster and cheaper, our understanding of the human genome has increased accordingly. Yet scientists have until recently remained largely ham-fisted when they’ve tried to directly modify genes in a living cell. Take sickle-cell anemia, for example. A debilitating and often deadly disease, it is caused by a mutation in just one of a patient’s three billion DNA base pairs. Even though this genetic error is simple and well studied, researchers are helpless to correct it and halt its devastating effects.

Now there is hope in the form of new genome-engineering tools, particularly one called CRISPR. This technology could allow researchers to perform microsurgery on genes, precisely and easily changing a DNA sequence at exact locations on a chromosome. Along with a technique called TALENs, invented several years ago, and a slightly older predecessor based on molecules called zinc finger nucleases, CRISPR could make gene therapies more broadly applicable, providing remedies for simple genetic disorders like sickle-cell anemia and eventually even leading to cures for more complex diseases involving multiple genes. Most conventional gene therapies crudely place new genetic material at a random location in the cell and can only add a gene. In contrast, CRISPR and the other new tools also give scientists a precise way to delete and edit specific bits of DNA—even by changing a single base pair. This means they can rewrite the human genome at will.

BigField GEG Tech's curator insight, February 15, 2014 6:51 AM

In little more than a year, CRISPR has begun reinventing genetic research.

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Physicists correct quantum errors

Physicists correct quantum errors | Tracking the Future |

Scientists from the FOM Foundation and the Technical University Delft, working together at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, have succeeded in detecting and correcting errors during the storage of quantum states in a diamond. This is an important step towards protecting fragile quantum information long enough to realize a functioning quantum computer.

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Google isn't the only company working on artificial intelligence. It's just the richest

Google isn't the only company working on artificial intelligence. It's just the richest | Tracking the Future |

Everyone’s more interested in artificial intelligence since news broke that Google acquired a secretive startup called DeepMind. The technology has big promise, but make no mistake: It’s not sentient yet, and Google is far from alone in its quest.

Christian Verstraete's curator insight, February 3, 2014 1:31 AM

AI has been around for many years. Are we finally cracking the ceiling? 

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Brain Implants: The Laser Eye Surgery of the Future?

Brain Implants: The Laser Eye Surgery of the Future? | Tracking the Future |

Brain implants today are where laser eye surgery was several decades ago, fraught with risk, applicable only to a narrowly defined set of patients – but a sign of things to come. 

aanve's curator insight, March 20, 2014 3:34 AM
zwilenkosi's curator insight, March 25, 2014 2:41 PM

new brain implants that could revive your memory and makes you to learn things fast.


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An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web

An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web | Tracking the Future |

The inventor of the world wide web believes an online "Magna Carta" is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the "open, neutral" system.
Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: "We need a global constitution – a bill of rights."
Berners-Lee's Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called "the web we want", which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country – a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials and corporations.

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60,000 miles up: Space elevator could be built by 2035, new study says

60,000 miles up: Space elevator could be built by 2035, new study says | Tracking the Future |

Imagine a ribbon roughly one hundred million times as long as it is wide. If it were a meter long, it would be 10 nanometers wide, or just a few times thicker than a DNA double helix. Scaled up to the length of a football field, it would still be less than a micrometer across — smaller than a red blood cell. Would you trust your life to that thread? What about a tether 100,000 kilometers long, one stretching from the surface of the Earth to well past geostationary orbit (GEO, 22,236 miles up), but which was still somehow narrower than your own wingspan?

The idea of climbing such a ribbon with just your body weight sounds precarious enough, but the ribbon predicted by a new report from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will be able to carry up to seven 20-ton payloads at once. It will serve as a tether stretching far beyond geostationary (aka geosynchronous) orbit and held taught by an anchor of roughly two million kilograms. Sending payloads up this backbone could fundamentally change the human relationship with space — every climber sent up the tether could match the space shuttle in capacity, allowing up to a “launch” every couple of days.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Laura E. Mirian, PhD's curator insight, March 9, 2014 12:49 AM

Think I will pass on this

Linda Liem's curator insight, March 9, 2014 8:06 AM

Science fiction may be coming true.

Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, March 10, 2014 10:41 PM

Hundreds of challenges remain to be solved but as even NASA struggles to maintain an edge, the pay-off of a Space Elevator has never been clearer. The original idea of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky which Arthur C. Clarke turned into a novel could be the revolution space exploration needs.

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Nanotechnology may be key to solar energy and energy storage

Nanotechnology may be key to solar energy and energy storage | Tracking the Future |

A new study from the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI has found that nanotechnology will bring significant benefits to the energy sector, especially to energy storage and solar energy. Improved materials efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs are just two of the real economic benefits that nanotechnology already brings these fields and that’s only the beginning. Battery storage capacity could be extended, solar cells could be produced cheaper, and the lifetime of solar cells or batteries for electric cars could be increased, all thanks to continued development of nanotechnology.

aanve's curator insight, March 2, 2014 9:36 PM


mariam tounkara's curator insight, March 3, 2014 1:04 PM

Brèche radicale ! Nos autos seront-elles plus légères ? 

Alexandra Minks's curator insight, March 21, 2015 2:28 AM

As nanotechnology continues to grow, the amount of pre-existing technologies that can be improved by it increases significantly. As described in this article, the use of nanotechnology could result in drastic changes to the way energy is stored and used. It could provide extended battery life as well as larger storage capacities, making it incredibly useful in the ever-expanding technological world.

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Technology Is Completely Upending the Traditional Idea of the Self

Technology Is Completely Upending the Traditional Idea of the Self | Tracking the Future |

A qualitative change in our information environment that is every bit as seismic as the meteor that marked the end of the dinosaurs. Deity-scale information capability. Complexity driving cognition to ever more competent techno-human networks. Perceptual, conscious, and subconscious processing increasingly outsourced to technology systems. Fragmentation of self across avatars in various increasingly engaging virtual realities. But any such list is misleadingly simplistic. The technological evolution impacting the self is not simply a case of interesting but isolated case studies but, rather, represents profound and accelerating evolution across the entire technological frontier. And the conscious self is where these must be integrated, or at least collated.

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AR helps amputee experience first pain-free night in 48 years

AR helps amputee experience first pain-free night in 48 years | Tracking the Future |

An augmented reality game has helped an amputee suffering from phantom limb pain (PLP) enjoy a good night's sleep for the first time in 48 years.

The system, which works by translating muscular electrical signals picked up by electrodes at the site of the amputation into movements onscreen, was developed by a team at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and nearby Sahlgrenska University Hospital. It is an offshoot of work done by Max Ortiz Catalan, who in 2012 developed and trialled a groundbreaking technique for implanting thought-controlled robotic arms and their electrodes directly to the bones and nerves of amputees. He says the idea for the AR phantom pain system came from listening to the struggles of amputee patients at his own clinic. When he decided to trial it, there was one individual whose case was known to be particularly difficult. 

The effects of the trial, have been transformative for that individual. 

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The New Rules of Robot/Human Society

As technology speeds forward, humans are beginning to imagine the day when robots will fill the roles promised to us in science fiction. But what should we be thinking about today, as robots like military and delivery drones become a real part of our society? How should robots be programmed to interact with us? How should we treat robots? And who is responsible for a robot's actions? As we look at the unexpected impact of new technologies, we are obligated as a society to consider the moral and ethical implications of robotics.

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Graphene nanoribbons could be the savior of Moore’s Law

Graphene nanoribbons could be the savior of Moore’s Law | Tracking the Future |

With each new generation of microchips, transistors are being placed closer and closer together. This can only go on so long before there’s no more room to improve, or something revolutionary has to come along to change everything. One of the materials that might be the basis of that revolution is none other than graphene. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are hot on the trail of a form of so-called nanoribbon graphene that could increase the density of transistors on a computer chip by as much as 10,000 times.

Thierry Bodhuin's curator insight, February 18, 2014 4:10 AM

Moore's law may continue ... 


Yaroslav Writtle's curator insight, February 18, 2014 6:44 AM

Interesting stuff - wonder what could this mean for computing capacity 10 years down the line?

Benjamin Rees's curator insight, March 27, 2015 8:06 AM

For the past few decades, the concept of Moore's Law has proven to be relatively accurate in saying that the density of transistors able to be placed on an integrated circuit roughly doubles every two years. However, as transistors are manufactured to be placed increasingly close together, it can be foreseen that there will soon be no more room for improvement using current methods and materials. Recent developments in graphene technology may allow for more spatially efficient  circuits in the future, thereby continuing this trend of doubling transistor density.

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The Dawn of the Age of Artificial Intelligence

The Dawn of the Age of Artificial Intelligence | Tracking the Future |

The advances we’ve seen in the past few years—cars that drive themselves, useful humanoid robots, speech recognition and synthesis systems, 3D printers,Jeopardy!-champion computers—are not the crowning achievements of the computer era. They’re the warm-up acts. As we move deeper into the second machine age we’ll see more and more such wonders, and they’ll become more and more impressive.

How can we be so sure? Because the exponential, digital, and recombinant powers of the second machine age have made it possible for humanity to create two of the most important one-time events in our history: the emergence of real, useful artificial intelligence (AI) and the connection of most of the people on the planet via a common digital network.

Either of these advances alone would fundamentally change our growth prospects. When combined, they’re more important than anything since the Industrial Revolution, which forever transformed how physical work was done.

Celest Ybarra's curator insight, March 29, 2014 9:43 PM

Title: The Dawn of the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Author: Erik Brynjolfson and Andrew McAfee

Main Idea: How artificial intelligence is gaining popularity in the world


1) The technology ranges from smart phones to hearing aids and much, much, more.

2) The world is beginning to industrialize and expand more in technology

3) It's believed that in the future everything will be automated

Opinion: No, its filled with facts about the present and hypotheses about the future

Question: Is the advancement in technology a good or bad thing? Will it make people more lazy in the future?

Is this article important to science?: Yes, because its beneficial to people who are interested in knowing about the future of technology.


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We're One Step Closer to Nuclear Fusion Energy

We're One Step Closer to Nuclear Fusion Energy | Tracking the Future |

Scientists with the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced today that they have achieved a critical step in fusion research: For the first time, their hydrogen fuel has given off more energy than it took in.

Martin Jaime De Alda Earle's curator insight, February 15, 2014 11:52 AM

¿Sería bueno? Sí pero.....

Celest Ybarra's curator insight, March 29, 2014 8:26 PM

Title: We're One Step Closer to Nuclear Fusion Energy

Author: Adam Mann

Main Idea: Scientists have a breakthrough and have discovered a new way to harness power through the use of fusion.


1) The National Ignition Facility (NIF) have achieved a critical step in fusion research: hydrogen fuel has given off more energy than it took in.

2) Nuclear fusion is the energy source of the stars., and can now give off as much as 1.7 times more energy than it had taken in

3) Troubles came when scientists found it was extremely difficult to get their hydrogen fuel to compress in the right way, but  NIF scientists learned from their experiments, and tweaked their designs

Opinion: No, this article was based off of facts, research, and assumptions buy scientists.

Questions: How will nuclear energy effect the environment? Can it be used for war?

Is this article important to science?: Yes, because it was such a big breakthrough in science and can one day be a major energy resource.


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US military begins work on brain implants that can restore lost memories, experiences

US military begins work on brain implants that can restore lost memories, experiences | Tracking the Future |

DARPA, at the behest of the US Department of Defense, is developing a black box brain implant — an implant that will be wired into a soldier’s brain and record their memories. If the soldier then suffers memory loss due to brain injury, the implant will then be used to restore those memories. The same implant could also be used during training or in the line of duty too, stimulating the right regions of the brain can improve how quickly you learn new skills, reduce your reaction times, and more.

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Beyond the Moore's Law: Nanocomputing using nanowire tiles

Beyond the Moore's Law: Nanocomputing using nanowire tiles | Tracking the Future |

An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from The MITRE Corporation and Harvard University have taken key steps toward ultra-small electronic computer systems that push beyond the imminent end of Moore's Law, which states that the device density and overall processing power for computers will double every two to three years.

The ultra-small, ultra-low-power control processor—termed a nanoelectronic finite-state machine or "nanoFSM"—is smaller than a human nerve cell. It is composed of hundreds of nanowire transistors, each of which is a switch about ten-thousand times thinner than a human hair. The nanowire transistors use very little power because they are "nonvolatile." That is, the switches remember whether they are on or off, even when no power is supplied to them.

James Jandebeur's curator insight, February 1, 2014 12:57 PM

It mentions that the processors can now be made smaller than a neuron, I wonder how its power compares. Still, quite a breakthrough if it works out.

aanve's curator insight, February 1, 2014 11:09 PM
Christian Verstraete's curator insight, February 3, 2014 1:29 AM

Will this address our needs when we reach the physical limits of our current chip technology?