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By David Forrest | THE FUTURE IS HERE innovationwatch.com ...strategic foresight... ...breakthrough innovations... ...global trends...

Brighton: the seaside resort that wants to be the smartest digital city in England

The blurb for Brighton’s new digital catapult centre reads like a political manifesto, with promises of encouraging innovation and unlocking value. To find out what it’s really about requires the tenacity of Jeremy Paxman crossed with a petulant toddler.

However, as Nick Hibberd, head of city …

England

Commercial farming...in your subdivision?

At a time when Americans want local produce, one farmer is raising fruits and vegetables in spare lots in the suburbs of Orange County, Calif. Could he be a model for others?

This is what passes for farmland these days in Orange County, Calif., population 3 million: a 22-acre rectangle in Irvine …

Agriculture

The bureaucrat who has tech terrified

After less than a year on the job, Europe’s competition cop, Margrethe Vestager, has picked a fight with the biggest names in global business. She’s not done yet.

It’s early evening and Margrethe Vestager is sitting in her Brussels office sipping coffee, talking about her now famous antitrust …

Brussels

Special Report: The war on big food

Major packaged-food companies lost $4 billion in market share alone last year, as shoppers swerved to fresh and organic alternatives. Can the supermarket giants win you back?

Try this simple test. Say the following out loud: Artificial colors and flavors. Pesticides. Preservatives. High-fructose …

Food

What’s in This Picture? AI Becomes as Smart as a Toddler

Artificial intelligence has graduated past the infancy stage of figuring out what's in an image. Computers have previously been capable of little …

Artificial Intelligence

The case for ‘unbundling’ higher education

The Great Recession and its aftermath have exposed a major mismatch between the skills of many college graduates and the skills employers are …

Education

China's Emerging Vision for World Order

During World War I, Britain and France suffered such appalling casualties that the ability to prosecute the fight against the Axis powers seemed at …

Asia

To Prepare For The Future You Need To Shape It -- Or Someone Else Will

The future. We may look forward to it or we may fear it, but either way, it’s something we all must deal with eventually. If we simply wait for it to come, then we are at its mercy, but if we meet the future head on, we can help shape it and the time to do that is the present.

These days, the future …

Hay Festival 2015: Why artificial intelligence needs to be regulated

The Astronomer Royal Martin Rees says some experts worry about whether humans can keep AI robots under control

The eminent scientist says "there's no harm" in experts coming together to find a way for society to benefit rather than suffer from the revolution in artificial intelligence (AI) and …

Artificial Intelligence

Funds feel heat of coal, oil sands divestment drive

For Rivka Micklewaite and fellow students, securing a pledge this week from Oxford University to avoid direct investments in companies producing coal or tar sands is just the beginning.

Getting that commitment involved a two-year campaign during which they staged a “marriage” between the …

Energy

A new Industrial Revolution is coming

Over the past 25 years, the Internet has radically altered the way people communicate and share ideas and the way businesses interact with customers and clients.

For an even longer period, starting in the 1950s with the so-called Third Industrial Revolution, businesses have become more digitized. In …

Asia

Patagonia’s Anti-Growth Strategy - The New Yorker

Earlier this month, a peculiar vehicle appeared on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn: a biodiesel-fuelled, reclaimed-wood camper that could have …

Patagonia

Shopping tools help patients find cash prices for medical procedures

When Vicki Burns was told she needed total hip replacement surgery in 2012 she asked her local hospital for a cash price. She got a $79,000 estimate for the surgery.

A doctor advised her to research the fee that the hospital accepts from Medicare and use that as a starting point. Her husband …

Health Care

Europe’s innovators need China’s capital

At a recent event held in London, 10 start-ups were pitching their ideas for seed funding. This in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, as …

Asia

The Time to Think About the 3D-Printed Future Is Now

3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, is likely to revolutionize business in the next several years. Often dismissed in the popular mindset as a tool for home-based “makers” of toys and trinkets, the technology is gaining momentum in large-scale industry. Already it has moved well beyond …

Fabrication

Some 40% of UK’s food imports from areas of high water risk

Globally, the agricultural sector consumes about 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater – more than twice that of industry, and dwarfing municipal use. The 2015 Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum ranked water the greatest potential economic impact risk.

Likewise, WWF research …

Natural Resources

Can high-tech photosynthesis turn CO2 into fuel for your car?

Imagine having a fuel pump in your driveway that uses photosynthesis, the same process plants use to feed themselves, to turn carbon dioxide into fuel for your car.

It’s not science fiction: research groups all over the world have been working to develop artificial photosynthesis, which could …

Environment

Rethinking the water cycle

Three billion people will join the global consumer class over the next two decades, accelerating the degradation of natural resources and escalating …

Natural Resources

The Great Decoupling: An Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Machines, it seems, can do almost anything human beings can. Now cars are even starting to drive themselves. What does that mean for business and employment? Will any jobs be left for people? Will machines take over not just low-skilled tasks but high-skilled ones too? If a man and a machine work …

Economics

The Self-Tuning Enterprise

Idea in Brief

Context

Leaders know that their organizations need to get better at adapting to changing marketplace conditions—but that’s far easier to accomplish in theory than in practice.

A New Approach

Help comes from an unexpected place: the companies that use self-tuning algorithms to constantly …

Management

Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation

Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers. …

Robots

France is about to make it illegal for supermarkets to destroy edible food

Responding to startling statistics on global food waste, France has moved to ban big supermarket from throwing away edible food and will force the retailers to donate the unsold merchandise to charity, or to farms where it could be used to feed animals.

The country’s parliament passed the measure …

Supermarkets

A New Material Could Make Storing Our Carbon A Viable Way To Stave Off Global Warming

Capturing carbon dioxide underground is currently too costly for widespread implementation. Until now?

When it comes to fixing climate change, most people focus on the idea that we need to stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if we could also take it out?

Many scientists are …

Climate Change

This Gadget Washes Your Car With Less Water Than You Probably Use To Brush Your Teeth

Send a few to California, please?

Washing a car in the driveway usually involves a bucket or two, a hose, and so much water that drought-stricken California started slapping $500 fines on anyone who does it wrong. Inspired to create an alternative, a former software entrepreneur designed a new …

Aquariums

American Companies Are One Step Closer To Claiming Asteroid Treasure

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would authorize firms to keep what they mine from asteroids. Welcome to the space rush.

Space may be the final frontier, but according to the pesky 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, celestial bodies may not be claimed for any particular country. But what …

Asteroids

Zendrive Uses Mobile Phones as Sensors To Reinvent The Accuracy of Auto Insurance In Partnership With Guild

If you look across the space of consumer Internet services and physical sensors, people are producing more data than ever before, which is being used to make all kinds of insurance more granular and accurate according to individual risk.

Zendrive, a company backed by First Round Capital, BMW i …

Insurance

New Silk Road Could Change Global Economics Forever

China and much of the world is intent on developing the largest economic development project in history

Part 1: The New Silk Road

Beginning with the marvelous tales of Marco Polo’s travels across Eurasia to China, the Silk Road has never ceased to entrance the world. Now, the ancient cities of …

Economics

See What Times Square And Wall Street Looked Like 100 Years Ago

See what places like Times Square or Wall Street looked like 100 years ago.

Software engineer Dan Vanderkam has embedded a collection of historical photos from the New York Public Library into an awesome interactive map of old New York. If you're a history nerd, or you just love New York, prepare to …

Times Square

Iris scanners can now identify us from 40 feet away

Biometric technologies are on the rise. By electronically recording data about individual’s physical attributes such as fingerprints or iris …

Scanners