News & Views from the World Future Society March 2003

  • * Software That Writes Software
  • * Mediterranean Diet May Relieve Arthritis
  • * Tidal Turbines vs. Wind Farms
  • * Happy Talk Makes Happy Folk
  • * A Forecaster Looks Back at the Future
  • * Click of the Month: Horizon


A small British company claims to have created software that can write new software--one of the long-sought goals in computer programming.

The new applications software developed by Appligenics Ltd. in Surrey is "up to 500,000 times faster than human programmers and completely error-free," says Jim Close, the company's business development director. "That means whereas a human would consider 400 lines of computer code a good day's work, our software writes that in under a quarter of a second."

The implications of software-writing software could be profound--and not just in terms of improved computer operations.

Though it brought automation to so many other industries, computer programming itself is far from automated. Most software is written manually. Because the work is labor intensive, many software-writing companies in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere have sent the work out to low-wage developing countries, where sweatshop conditions may prevail.

DETAILS: Appligenics Ltd., http://www.appligenics.com


Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis were alleviated among study participants adhering to the so-called Mediterranean diet--high in fish, low in dairy.

The small Swedish study at Visby Hospital placed 26 patients on the experimental diet for three months; another 25 patients of similar weight and smoking habits continued on their normal diet. The Mediterranean diet consisted of olive and canola oils, fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables, and legumes, and it minimized the consumption of red meat and high-fat dairy products.

After six weeks, the diet patients not only lost weight and lowered their cholesterol, but they also experienced lower inflammation levels. After 12 weeks, physical function and vitality also improved.

READ the study: http://press.psprings.co.uk/ard/march/ar02103.pdf


Get everyone on the same page! FUTURE SURVEY subscriptions for all members of your group will help you select the most interesting and significant books for discussion and debate.

CONTACT: Jeff Cornish, World Future Society business manager, mailto:jcornish@wfs.org

VISIT FUTURE SURVEY: http://www.wfs.org/fsurv.htm


Marine-current turbines could generate four times as much electricity as wind turbines and do so more reliably, according to researchers at the University of Southampton.

The British government has committed to developing wind power in vast areas of shallow sea around the coast, but wind is not as reliable as the tides, notes AbuBakr Bahaj, head of the university's Sustainable Energy Research Group.

"The potential of the electricity that can be produced from the resource is high," he says. "For example, our current estimate of such a potential for only one site, the races of the Channel Islands, indicates that this will be about the same as the electricity produced by three Sizewell B nuclear power stations."

The researchers are working to optimize turbine designs for maximum efficiency in marine environments.

SOURCE: University of Southampton, http://www.externalrelations.soton.ac.uk/media/03023.htm


Shy people could become happier if they acted more outgoing, believes William Fleeson, Wake Forest University associate professor of psychology.

When study participants were asked to act outgoing, adventurous, or assertive--such as asking a question in class or flirting with someone attractive--they reported that they were having fun and felt happy, says Fleeson. When asked to act more passive and shy, the same participants reported feeling unhappy.

"As a society, we tend to think of happiness as something that comes from outside us. It's kind of a radical idea that we have some control of happiness, that personality is a factor in happiness, and that, to some extent, we have  control over our personalities," Fleeson says. "The research demonstrates that extroversion can actually cause happiness."

SOURCE: Wake Forest University, http://www.wfu.edu/wfunews/2003/021903f.html


Imaging systems expert Curtis R. Carlson and business consultant Edie Weiner are among the extraordinary futurists recently confirmed as speakers at the World Future Society's next annual meeting.

Carlson was named president and CEO of SRI International in 1998, having worked 25 years at RCA's Sarnoff Laboratory, where he led the HDTV program.

Weiner is president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc., a futures consulting firm providing expert trend analysis and strategic planning for corporate, academic, and government clients.

With partner Arnold Brown, she is co-author of THE INSIDER'S GUIDE TO THE FUTURE.

WorldFuture 2003 will be held July 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco @ Embarcadero Center.

HURRY! Register by February 28 to save $135 off the onsite registration fee: http://www.wfs.org/2003framemain.htm


It is a brave futurist indeed who willingly assesses the accuracy of his previous forecasts, but such tests are vital if the tools of forecasting are to be honed.

In his 1992 book PREDICTIONS, strategic analyst Theodore Modis noted that the rise and fall of many things--from a new computer model's sales to an artist's creative output--follows the same S-shaped curve found in natural life cycles. In that book, he examined whether death rates in the United States would continue falling, among other issues.

How did the S-curve model do as a prediction tool?

Pretty well, Modis argues in his new book, PREDICTIONS: 10 YEARS LATER.

In 1992, he predicted that the U.S. death rate would no longer decline by the late 1990s, and indeed it has practically stopped, settling at a "well-tolerated equilibrium" of about 9 deaths per 1,000 population.

The 335-page book is available on CD-ROM for $15 plus shipping or as an e-mailed PDF file for $12. Order PREDICTIONS: 10 YEARS LATER from the author: http://www.growth-dynamics.com

In the May-June 2003 issue of THE FUTURIST, Modis applies his technique to an analysis of accelerating change and complexity, which many futurists believe will result in a technological Singularity. Modis argues that change may be slowing down, deferring the Singularity for the foreseeable future.

The May-June issue mails to subscribers after April 7. Join the World Future Society or renew your membership now to ensure that you receive your copy: https://www.wfs.org/membord2.htm

FEEDBACK WANTED! Send comments, contributions, and "Click" nominations for FUTURIST UPDATE to Cindy Wagner, editor, mailto:cwagner@wfs.org

HORIZON, http://www.horizon.unc.edu

HORIZON is the online reincarnation of education professor James L. Morrison's esteemed ON THE HORIZON newsletter.

The site includes an "On-Ramp" offering links to important sources of information in five key trend sectors: social, technological, economic, environmental, and political. The site also lists notices for workshops, presentations, and conferences, where Morrison has included a link to his 2002 World Future Society conference presentation--and the commentaries it has inspired.

Also available on HORIZON is the latest issue of THE TECHNOLOGY SOURCE, Morrison's free, bimonthly e-journal informing educators on ways to use new technologies to enhance teaching, learning, and administration.

FUTURIST UPDATE: News & Previews from the World

Future Society is an e-mail newsletter published monthly as a supplement to THE FUTURIST magazine. Copyright 2003, World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.
Telephone 1-301-656-8274;  THE WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association with some 25,000 members worldwide. Membership in the Society, including a subscription to THE FUTURIST magazine and numerous other benefits, is just $45 per year. For more information on the Society and all its programs, publications, and services, contact Membership Director Susan Echard, mailto:sechard@wfs.org, or visit http://www.wfs.org.