A Guide to the Future

Photo Credit: Imperial College London (Click to enlarge)

The future may seem intangible, but according to Business Insider, Academics at Imperial Tech Foresight are helping us grasp just what it might look like. Inspired by the periodic table of chemical elements, the academics replaced its contents with elements we may very well one day see.

The predictions are slotted into a space across two axis: The Y-axis ranks the potential for disruption from high to low, while the X-axis determines how soon it will become a reality. All elements are also color-coded to reflect the present, 20 years into the future, and up to the far away future.

For example, green elements are a reality now: Cm – Cultured meat, Pp – Predictive policing, and Rc – Robotic care companions.

And yellow elements are those that may occur in the near future: Em – Emotionally aware machines, Mm – Public mood monitoring, and Bs – Artificial human substitutes.

Red elements are predicted to take place up to 20 years from now: Le – Life-expectancy algorithms, Ip – Implantable phone, and Is – Invisibility shields.

Lastly, are grey elements. Elements that are “highly improbable, but not actually impossible,” like: Ht – Human head transplants, Vr – Fully immersive virtual reality, and Te – Telepathy.

The table was created by Richard Watson and Anna Cupani after reading a dry list of emerging technologies on Wikipedia. They spoke to experts to shape the table and produced a number of drafts using Post-it notes for each element before agreeing on a final version.

Maria Jeansson, who worked on the project, said it was designed as a visual conversation starter. “Some corporate organizations have used it in workshops highlighting things that they should be thinking about,” she told Business Insider.

Another way to look into the future is by listening to the scientist and engineers of today. Meetings held by societies like ECS draw in academics and researchers from all around the world. The meetings are used as a platform by scientists and academics, as a place to share and discuss ideas and work. Get a glimpse of the future at this year’s AiMES 2018 meeting in Cancun, Mexico from September 30 – October 4, 2018 ! Can’t make it? There’s more. ECS offer biannual meetings. Check them out.


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