2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




China’s New Frontiers in Dystopian Tech — from theatlantic.com by Rene Chun
Facial-recognition technologies are proliferating, from airports to bathrooms.


China is rife with face-scanning technology worthy of Black Mirror. Don’t even think about jaywalking in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Last year, traffic-management authorities there started using facial recognition to crack down. When a camera mounted above one of 50 of the city’s busiest intersections detects a jaywalker, it snaps several photos and records a video of the violation. The photos appear on an overhead screen so the offender can see that he or she has been busted, then are cross-checked with the images in a regional police database. Within 20 minutes, snippets of the perp’s ID number and home address are displayed on the crosswalk screen. The offender can choose among three options: a 20-yuan fine (about $3), a half-hour course in traffic rules, or 20 minutes spent assisting police in controlling traffic. Police have also been known to post names and photos of jaywalkers on social media.

The technology’s veneer of convenience conceals a dark truth: Quietly and very rapidly, facial recognition has enabled China to become the world’s most advanced surveillance state. A hugely ambitious new government program called the “social credit system” aims to compile unprecedented data sets, including everything from bank-account numbers to court records to internet-search histories, for all Chinese citizens. Based on this information, each person could be assigned a numerical score, to which points might be added for good behavior like winning a community award, and deducted for bad actions like failure to pay a traffic fine. The goal of the program, as stated in government documents, is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”





With great tech success, comes even greater responsibility — from techcrunch.com by Ron Miller


As we watch major tech platforms evolve over time, it’s clear that companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon (among others) have created businesses that are having a huge impact on humanity — sometimes positive and other times not so much.

That suggests that these platforms have to understand how people are using them and when they are trying to manipulate them or use them for nefarious purposes — or the companies themselves are. We can apply that same responsibility filter to individual technologies like artificial intelligence and indeed any advanced technologies and the impact they could possibly have on society over time.

We can be sure that Twitter’s creators never imagined a world where bots would be launched to influence an election when they created the company more than a decade ago. Over time though, it becomes crystal clear that Twitter, and indeed all large platforms, can be used for a variety of motivations, and the platforms have to react when they think there are certain parties who are using their networks to manipulate parts of the populace.



But it’s up to the companies who are developing the tech to recognize the responsibility that comes with great economic success or simply the impact of whatever they are creating could have on society.





Why the Public Overlooks and Undervalues Tech’s Power — from morningconsult.com by Joanna Piacenza
Some experts say the tech industry is rapidly nearing a day of reckoning


  • 5% picked tech when asked which industry had the most power and influence, well behind the U.S. government, Wall Street and Hollywood.
  • Respondents were much more likely to say sexual harassment was a major issue in Hollywood (49%) and government (35%) than in Silicon Valley (17%).

It is difficult for Americans to escape the technology industry’s influence in everyday life. Facebook Inc. reports that more than 184 million people in the United States log on to the social network daily, or roughly 56 percent of the population. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of all Americans and 94 percent of Americans ages 18-24 use YouTube. Amazon.com Inc.’s market value is now nearly three times that of Walmart Inc.

But when asked which geographic center holds the most power and influence in America, respondents in a recent Morning Consult survey ranked the tech industry in Silicon Valley far behind politics and government in Washington, finance on Wall Street and the entertainment industry in Hollywood.





Per Debra Chen, Founder Rockin’ Hood Project (emphasis DSC)

It is with great pride that we announce the official launch our entrepreneurship initiative with the unveiling of our website:

As studies have demonstrated, only one thing consistently brings children raised in poverty into the middle class: entrepreneurship education. And so it is our mission to expose students from inner city schools to successful entrepreneurs, influencers, and accomplished individuals who can inspire and educate on the principles of thinking outside the box and on believing in their own achievements.

Essentially we are building the Ted Talks for Kids.

If you’d like to get involved, know of corporate sponsors, or would like to do an interview with our organization Rockin’ Hood Project, please email us at debra@rockinhoodproject.com.


Also, an excerpt from:
Why Every School in America Should Teach Entrepreneurship — from time.com by Steve Mariotti (2012)

Why Aren’t We Teaching Entrepreneurship in Our Schools?
The Williams brothers’ story is one of countless examples from NFTE’s files that beg the question: If entrepreneurship education can create jobs, encourage students to stay in school, and provide economic rescue for people in our low-income communities, why aren’t we teaching it in every high school in America?

Let’s begin state and national discussions about owner-entrepreneurship education, focused on four goals:

  • Engage young people in school by teaching math, reading, writing and communication within the motivating context of starting and operating a small business.
  • Teach young people about the market economy and how ownership leads to wealth creation.
  • Encourage an entrepreneurial mindset so our youth will succeed whether they pursue higher education, enter the workforce, or become entrepreneurs.
  • Make young people financially literate so they can save and invest to achieve goals like home ownership and retirement.




Schools Should Be Cathedrals of Learning — from blogs.edweek.org by Sajan George

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

What may surprise us though is how the underlying elements of these beautiful designs can follow certain principles–what Goldhagen refers to as “embodied metaphors.”  These embodied metaphors suggest, reinforce, and captivate an action sequence from us that is both cognitive and non-cognitive in response.  Examples of these natural, unconscious design principles that evoke conscious responses include:

  • Natural landscapes settle a person’s elevated heart rate after just 20 seconds
  • Bright lights stimulate creativity and bright ideas
  • Closed spaces offer a sense of refuge
  • Expansive spaces invite exploration
  • Colors can heighten (red for anger) and dampen (pink for calm) emotions
  • Sharp edge surfaces suggest retreat
  • Curving surfaces suggest approach
  • Repeating patterns with respites from that same pattern can stimulate problem-solving capacity

This has profound implications for the built environments of school buildings.  Goldhagen cites one study of 34 different British schools where the six design parameters of color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light, and connectivity affected a student’s learning progress by 25 percent! The difference in learning between the best and worst designed classrooms was equal to the progress of an average student over an entire academic year.  

The difference in learning between the best and worst designed classrooms was equal to the progress of an average student over an entire academic year.  




Too often, children in poverty live in dwellings that are cognitively dulling environments, often limited in natural sunlight, creative use of color, changes in texture, or sightlines to landscaping, greenery, or vegetation. Low-income housing often wrings out the least costly, most expedient design. These children of poverty often leave such home dwellings and enter school buildings and classrooms each day that are equally devoid of cognitive inspiration. Where is the inspiration in uniform rows of wooden desks and plastic chairs?



How well does your school’s built environment contribute to human flourishing?




On Change and Relevance for Higher Education — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Phil Long
A Q&A with Phil Long


Mary Grush: You’ve been connected to scores of technology leaders and have watched trends in higher education for more than 30 years. What is the central, or most important concern you are hearing from institutional leadership now?

Phil Long: Higher ed institutions are facing some serious challenges to stay relevant in a world that is diversifying and changing rapidly. They want to make sure that the experiences they have designed for students will carry the next generation forward to be productive citizens and workers. But institutions’ abilities to keep up in our changing environment have begun to lag to a sufficient degree, such that alternatives to the traditional university are being considered, both by the institutions themselves and by their constituents and colleagues throughout the education sector.

Grush: What are a few of the more specific areas in which institutions may find it difficult to navigate?

Long: Just from a very high level view, I’d include on that list: big data and the increasing sophistication of algorithms, with the associated benefits and risks; artificial intelligence with all its implications for good… and for peril; and perhaps most importantly, new applications and practices that support how we recognize learning.



“The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the issues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.” — Phil Long




The Space Satellite Revolution Could Turn Earth into a Surveillance Nightmare — from scout.ai by Becky Ferreira
Laser communication between satellites is revolutionizing our ability to track climate change, manage resources, and respond to natural disasters. But there are downsides to putting Earth under a giant microscope.


And while universal broadband has the potential to open up business and education opportunities to hundreds of thousands of people, it’s the real-time satellite feeds of earth that may have both the most immediate and widespread financial upsides — and the most frightening surveillance implications — for the average person here on earth.

Among the industries most likely to benefit from laser communications between these satellites are agriculture and forestry.

Satellite data can also be used to engage the public in humanitarian efforts. In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, DigitalGlobe launched online crowdsourcing campaigns to map damage and help NGOs respond on the ground. And they’ve been identifying vulnerable communities in South Sudan as the nation suffers through unrest and famine.

In an age of intensifying natural disasters, combining these tactics with live satellite video feeds could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people.

Should a company, for example, be able to use real-time video feeds to track your physical location, perhaps in order to better target advertising? Should they be able to use facial recognition and sentiment analysis algorithms to assess your reactions to those ads in real time?

While these commercially available images aren’t yet sharp enough to pick up intimate details like faces or phone screens, it’s foreseeable that regulations will be eased to accommodate even sharper images. That trend will continue to prompt privacy concerns, especially if a switch to laser-based satellite communication enables near real-time coverage at high resolutions.

A kaleidoscopic swirl of possible futures confronts us, filled with scenarios where law enforcement officials could rewind satellite footage to identify people at a crime scene, or on a more familial level, parents could remotely watch their kids — or keep tabs on each other — from space. In that world, it’s not hard to imagine privacy becoming even more of a commodity, with wealthy enclaves lobbying to be erased from visual satellite feeds, in a geospatial version of “gated communities.”



From DSC:
The pros and cons of technologies…hmmm…this article nicely captures the pluses and minuses that societies around the globe need to be aware of, struggle with, and discuss with each other. Some exciting things here, but some disturbing things here as well.




In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s — from edsurger.com by Sydney Johnson


These days, though, many MOOC platforms are courting the traditional higher-ed market they once rebuked, often by hosting fully-online masters degrees for colleges and universities. And today, one of the largest MOOC providers, Coursera, announced it’s going one step further in that direction, with its first fully online bachelor’s degree.

“We are realizing that the vast reach of MOOCs makes them a powerful gateway to degrees,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said in a statement.

The new degree will be a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of London. The entire program will cost between £9,600 and £17,000 (approximately $13,300 to $23,500), depending on a student’s geographic location. According to a spokesperson for Coursera, the program’s “cost is adjusted based on whether a student is in a developed or developing economy.”



From DSC:
At least a couple of questions come to mind here:

  • What might the future hold if the U.S. Department of Education / the Federal Government begins funding these types of alternatives to traditional higher education?
  • Will Coursera be successful here and begin adding more degrees? If so, a major game-changer could be on our doorsteps.




Virtual reality technology enters a Chinese courtroom — from supchina.com by Jiayun Feng


The introduction of VR technology is part of a “courtroom evidence visualization system” developed by the local court. The system also includes a newly developed computer program that allows lawyers to present evidence with higher quality and efficiency, which will replace a traditional PowerPoint slideshow.

It is reported that the system will soon be implemented in courtrooms across the city of Beijing.




Watch Waymo’s Virtual-Reality View of the World — from spectrum.ieee.org by Philip Ross

From DSC:
This is mind blowing. Now I see why Nvidia’s products/services are so valuable.



Along these same lines, also see this clip and/or this article entitled, This is why AR and Autonomous Driving are the Future of Cars:




The Legal Hazards of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Apps — from spectrum.ieee.org by Tam Harbert
Liability and intellectual property issues are just two areas developers need to know about


As virtual- and augmented-reality technologies mature, legal questions are emerging that could trip up VR and AR developers. One of the first lawyers to explore these questions is Robyn Chatwood, of the international law firm Dentons. “VR and AR are areas where the law is just not keeping up with [technology] developments,” she says. IEEE Spectrum contributing editor Tam Harbert talked with Chatwood about the legal challenges.




This VR Tool Could Make Kids A Lot Less Scared Of Medical Procedures — from fastcompany.com by Daniel Terdiman
The new app creates a personalized, explorable 3D model of a kid’s own body that makes it much easier for them to understand what’s going on inside.


A new virtual reality app that’s designed to help kids suffering from conditions like Crohn’s disease understand their maladies immerses those children in a cartoon-like virtual reality tour through their body.

Called HealthVoyager, the tool, a collaboration between Boston Children’s Hospital and the health-tech company Klick Health, is being launched today at an event featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama.

A lot of kids are confused by doctors’ intricate explanations of complex procedures like a colonoscopy, and they, and their families, can feel much more engaged, and satisfied, if they really understand what’s going on. But that’s been hard to do in a way that really works and doesn’t get bogged down with a lot of meaningless jargon.



Augmented Reality in Education — from invisible.toys


Star Chart -- AR and astronomy



The state of virtual reality — from furthermore.equinox.com by Rachael Schultz
How the latest advancements are optimizing performance, recovery, and injury prevention


Virtual reality is increasingly used to enhance everything from museum exhibits to fitness classes. Elite athletes are using VR goggles to refine their skills, sports rehabilitation clinics are incorporating it into recovery regimes, and others are using it to improve focus and memory.

Here, some of the most exciting things happening with virtual reality, as well as what’s to come.



Augmented Reality takes 3-D printing to next level — from rtoz.org


Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work. To use the Robotic Modeling Assistant (RoMA), a designer wears an AR headset with hand controllers. As soon as a design feature is completed, the robotic arm prints the new feature.




From DSC:
How might the types of technologies being developed and used by Kazendi’s Holomeeting be used for building/enhancing learning spaces?





AR and Blockchain: A Match Made in The AR Cloud — from medium.com by Ori Inbar


In my introduction to the AR Cloud I argued that in order to reach mass adoption, AR experiences need to persist in the real world across space, time, and devices.

To achieve that, we will need a persistent realtime spatial map of the world that enables sharing and collaboration of AR Experiences among many users.

And according to AR industry insiders, it’s poised to become:

“the most important software infrastructure in computing”

aka: The AR Cloud.





Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds — from theguardian.com by Sam Levin
Majority of drivers make less than minimum wage and many end up losing money, according to study published by MIT

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Uber and Lyft drivers in the US make a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes, according to a new report that suggests a majority of ride-share workers make below minimum wage and that many actually lose money.

Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

The findings have raised fresh concerns about labor standards in the booming sharing economy as companies such as Uber and Lyft continue to face scrutiny over their treatment of drivers, who are classified as independent contractors and have few rights or protections.

“This business model is not currently sustainable,” said Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University and co-author of the paper. “The companies are losing money. The businesses are being subsidized by [venture capital] money … And the drivers are essentially subsidizing it by working for very low wages.”



From DSC:
I don’t know enough about this to offer much feedback and/or insights on this sort of thing yet. But while it’s a bit too early for me to tell — and though I’m not myself a driver for Uber or Lyft — this article prompts me to put this type of thing on my radar.

That is, will the business models that arise from such a sharing economy only benefit a handful of owners or upper level managers or will such new business models benefit the majority of their employees? I’m very skeptical in these early stages though, as there aren’t likely medical or dental benefits, retirement contributions, etc. being offered to their employees with these types of companies. It likely depends upon the particular business model(s) and/or organization(s) being considered, but I think that it’s worth many of us watching this area.



Also see:

The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes— from ceepr.mit.edu / MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research by Stephen Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu, and Gonzalo Pozo

February 2018

We perform a detailed analysis of Uber and Lyft ride-hailing driver economics by pairing results from a survey of over 1100 drivers with detailed vehicle cost information. Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included. On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile. For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes. If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed.

Keywords: Transportation, Gig Economy, Cost-Bene t Analysis, Tax policy, Labor Center
Full Paper
| Research Brief



Addendum on 3/7/18:

The ride-hailing wage war continues

How much do Lyft and Uber drivers really make? After reporting in a study that their median take-home pay was just 3.37/hour—and then getting called out by Uber’s CEO—researchers have significantly revised their findings.

Closer to a living wage: Lead author Stephen Zoepf of Stanford University released a statement on Twitter saying that using two different methods to recalculate the hourly wage, they find a salary of either $8.55 or $10 per hour, after expenses. Zoepf’s team will be doing a larger revision of the paper over the next few weeks.

Still low-balling it?: Uber and Lyft are adamant that even the new numbers underestimate what drivers are actually paid. “While the revised results are not as inaccurate as the original findings, driver earnings are still understated,” says Lyft’s director of communications Adrian Durbin.

The truth is out there: Depending on who’s doing the math, estimates range from $8.55 (Zoepf, et al.) up to over $21 an hour (Uber). In other words, we’re nowhere near a consensus on how much drivers in the gig-economy make.



Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2017 | Daniel Christian