2010 has been filled with extreme weather, an economic crisis and breakthroughs in medical technology. What do all these events mean for the future? An organization called the World Future Society provides glimpses of what may happen and warnings about potential global problems in its annual forecast.
Tim Mack heads the World Future Society, an organization that publishes an annual forecast of how the economy, technology and society are shaping the world. He says one bright spot in this year's forecast is medicine. "I was surprised by the enormous growth in medical technology," he said.
Mack says the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology are working together and creating new ways of helping patients. "New ways of delivering medicine," he said. "New ways of diagnosing internally without invasive surgery."
And Mack says advances in artificial intelligence could lead to a future where disabled patients could be cared for by a voice activated robotic nurse.
On the environment, Mack predicts problems caused by climate change will continue to grow until global efforts are made to reverse the trend. "In some areas we don't even understand the impact of climate change, for example the oceans and I'm not just talking about ocean currents but the way a change in ocean temperature would affect wide ranges of biological and environmental structures," he said.
And one big contributor to the world's environmental problems, he says, is China. "Their environment commitment or lack of commitment to continue to use coal in electricity production and other power systems are causing pollution that spread globally," Mack explains.
On a positive note, though, Mack says there is a new generation of Chinese who are trying to change the country's environmental policy.
On the topic of the economy, Mack says even though the economic crisis in the United States has led to a change in how people do business, the tuture is still uncertain. "We don't know when and if the recession comes to a clear end what we're going to find," he said. "Because there have been so many what I would call adaptations in the economic system."
Companies are cutting traditional employment benefits in retirement and health care, and Mack says it is unclear whether these benefits will return.