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Tuesday, 12 April 2011 15:49
Forward gazing: Mega trends according to Frost & Sullivan – and the end of the world as we know it

If there is one lesson that should be learned from the last 15 years, it is that the future rarely pans out as people expected.

Take the internet for example, or mobile phones, Google or Groupon – even the recession.

Some things though are predictable because they seem inevitable.

Malthus for example, couldn’t see any way round the problem of population growth. He predicted mass starvation long before now as births hugely outnumbered deaths. He had not foreseen the impact of birth control, or the even more interesting trend that people have less children, the more affluent they become.

Frost & Sullivan says in its recently released Mega Trends report, that a number of Mega Cities will be built on a hub and spoke framework with population corridors linking them across the world. It can’t see any other way around the desire for people to live in cities, the lack of fuel for travel, or the sustainability benefits of people living close together in small spaces. Time for a new idea perhaps?

Frost and Sullivan also predicts a reverse brain drain, as ex-citizens of emerging nations such as India, together with Europeans and Americans, will migrate to these emerging lands of opportunity.

It also predicts more electric travel, and the emergence of Innovating to Zero.

Now this is a really important one that needs to be dropped into conversations when you want to impress. This trend examines a world of zero emissions, zero accidents, zero fatalities, zero defects, zero breaches of security and carbon-neutral factories. The term Innovating to Zero will be used as a marketing tool by those companies struggling to differentiate themselves in an increasingly Sustainability conscious world.

Frost & Sullivan says it will be researching also the progress of Mega Trends in: “Smart” emerging as the new Green, Geo Socialization, Space Jam, Personal Robots, e-Mobility and New Business Models, to name a few. It paints a picture of a brave new world where sustainability shapes human, organisation and government behaviour and where wellness and well-being has a much wider definition than mere healthcare, which will include body, mind and soul.

It reveals that women empowerment will reach new heights, with one in three workers being a woman and up to 40 percent of boardrooms in some nations comprising women by 2020.

The next level of social networking, says Frost & Sullivan, will focus on geographic services and capabilities such as geocoding and geotagging to enable additional social dynamics. User-submitted data with profiles and interests will be matched with location-based services to connect and co-ordinate with surrounding people or events. This type of geo-networking will drive markets, businesses and individuals to interact, advertise and promote in real time.

End of the world in 2012
There are a few things that Frost & Sullivan failed to mention, such as a mass of predictions that the world might end in 2012.

The Solstice on December 21, 2012 - precisely at 11:11 AM Universal Time - marks the completion of the 5,125 year Great Cycle of the Ancient Maya Long Count Calendar.

While some are suggesting this will be it, the Mayans believe that rather than being a linear end-point, this cycle that is closing is naturally followed by the start of a new cycle. What this new cycle has in store for humanity is a mystery that has yet to unfold...

2012 is also considered the completion of the 26,000 year Precession of the Equinoxes cycle, and some say it also signifies the end of a 104,000 year cycle.

The recent "2012" movie serves to alert a targeted 140 million people, in case they too haven't already heard the news. Followers of the Mayan religion say that the movie does a dis-service because it distorts the message of this ancient prophecy by associating it with fear and destruction, as depicted by the movie's global disaster scenario, rather than the themes of transformation and renewal the prophecy is actually based in.

“The 2012 date indeed marks the completion of this World Age Cycle. Rather than something to fear, we can understand the 2012 prophecy as signalling us that we need to awaken and realize that these times on Earth are auspicious; we are living in land-mark times in the history of our planet.”

So says Eden Sky, who has devoted her life to researching and teaching the mysteries of the Ancient Maya, their prophecies, and their time science.

So how about Nasa? What do they think? They actually have a statement on their website. It says:
Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
Answer (A): Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Now if this was a sci-fi film, this is how the apocalypse story would start.

As a matter of interest, here are some other science-based predictions that didn’t come true (and then read on to find some thought-provoking ones that did).

Top Ten Science-based predictions that didn’t come true:
10. “The earth’s crust does not move”- 19th through early 20th century accepted geological science

9. “The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” — Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

8. “That virus is a pussycat.” — Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988

7. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

6. “Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” — William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899

5. “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” — Albert Einstein, 1932

4. “Space travel is bunk.” — Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957 (two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth)

3. “If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” — Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads

2. “Stomach ulcers are caused by stress” — accepted medical diagnosis, until Dr. Marshall proved that H. pylori caused gastric inflammation by deliberately infecting himself with the bacterium

1. “Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F.” — Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University in Time Magazine’s June 24th, 1975 article Another Ice Age?

This list courtesy Andrew Watts at:

Ten predictions that did come true:
1.    CCTV – as imagined by George Orwell in ‘1984’ (1949) In one of the most famous dystopian imaginings, George Orwell plunged his character Winston into a world of paranoia and suspicion, watched over by the sinister Big Brother

The Internet – as imagined by Mark Twain in ‘From the London Times of 1904’ (1898) "The improved 'limitless-distance' telephone was presently introduced, and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues." A little bit more a stretch for this one, but back in 1898, Twain wrote of a global communications network called the telelectroscope that you could see and hear through – pretty good going for the 19th Century!

Geosynchronous Satellite – as imagined by Arthur C Clarke in ‘Extra-Terrestrial Relays’ Wireless World magazine (1945) Arthur C Clarke came up with one of the most astoundingly accurate predictions of our time when he postulated that a network of geosynchronous satellites that revolved at the same speed as the earth and therefore remained in the same position over it, could make global communication possible

The video iPod – as imagined by HG Wells in ‘When The Sleeper Wakes’ (1899) Wells, the writer of some of the most important books in science fiction, came up with a device that sounds almost exactly like a modern day media player such as a video iPod in his book ‘When The Sleeper Wakes. His version was a flat square with a little picture that was ‘very vividly coloured.’ Not only were the people on the screen moving, but they were conversing with clear small voices.

5.    Test-tube babies – as imagined by Aldous Huxley in 'Brave New World' (1932) Brave New World is one of the most famous glimpses into an imagined future, and author Aldous Huxley’s imagination conjured up a world where the population is not born naturally but from a machine, where their genes can be perfected and the nutrition controlled

6.    CD/DVD – as imagined by EE ‘Doc’ Smith in 'Triplanetary'. (1934) In Smith’s book Triplanetary, the author talks of records surviving a noxious gas attack because they were on playable discs of platinum alloy. Although CDs and DVDs are, of course, not platinum alloy, a metallic looking storage disc is fairly prescient

7.    Robot – as imagined by Karel Capek - 'Rossum’s Universal Robots' (1920) There are links to mechanical servants traceable back to Greek Mythology and the legend of Pygmalion, but the first use of the word robot in its modern usage comes from Capek’s play R.U.R – the root is from the Czech word ‘robota’ which means drudgery

8.    Nanobots – as imagined by Raymond Z Gallun in 'A Menace in Minature' Astounding Stories magazine (1937) Gallun talks of ‘Scarabs’, a machine constructed by man which in turn constructs a replica of itself that is much smaller and so on, until you have an ‘ultra-microbot. This is an idea that caught on in a major way in fiction, and work is still ongoing on a real working nanobot to this day

9.    The Screensaver – as imagined by Robert Heinlein in 'Stranger in a Strange Land' (1961) Heinlein talks of a television screen ‘disguised as an aquarium’ in his book Stranger in a Strange land, with guppies and tetras swimming around, describing the now familiar site of a computer screen with fish floating serenely across it. Screen savers were brought in to stop an image being burnt on to a screen, and even the advent of monitors much more resistant to this problem has not really curbed their usage

10.    Scuba diving – as imagined by Jules Verne in '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' (1875) Although diving gear was nothing new, even in 1875, it was then only possible through a pipe to the surface and a semi-rigid suit. Captain Nemo introduces Arronnax to a portable system of diving in which air is compressed into a tank that is then ‘fixed on the back by means of braces, like a soldier’s knapsack.’

Courtesy of Daily Top Ten List

If you want to smile at some more failed predictions, go to

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