MindBullets is a part of the global FutureWorld Network, constantly sensitive to changes in the technological, economic, social, political and business landscape. The MindBullets Contributors scan this rapidly changing environment for clues about possible future trends. The results of this synthesis are combined by our contributors into an on-going series of MindBullets: News from the Future - with a summary emailed to you every Thursday and the complete MindBullets data base available online to explore each scenario in more detail. Exciting scenarios of alternative futures based on breakthrough thinking today. A powerful tool to help you learn from the future - a new MindBullet every week!

"I find the weekly email inspiring and thought provoking. In the deluge of email that one receives, MindBullets is always one that I take time to read."

"A Thursday awaiting to see your latest concept to stretch my thinking is a red letter day of the week."


Filtered by tag: Agriculture

THERE'S A NEW FOREST IN TOWN

Published on: 3 January 2019 1 Comment

Printed bio solar cells are greening the city

Dateline: 3 January 2028

We've had vertical gardens and basement farms for some time now, in our cities, but now landscaping has taken on a whole new dimension. With 3D printers and bio-engineered shrubs and trees, terraced gardens and leafy lanes can be laid out by the robots, straight from the architect's designs. What's more, genetically altered algae are used to construct bio solar cells that form part of the leaf structure, harvesting solar power from panels that look and act like, well, leaves - nature's very own ...

Complete story...

ELECTRIC FEAST FROM THE EAST

Published on: 1 November 2018

China exports latest technology for organic food

Dateline: 9 January 2023

In dramatic style, China has surged ahead with the production of organic fruit and vegetables at affordable prices. Since the breakthrough achieved five years ago, China's 'ion farmers' have grown exponentially - and it's all thanks to electricity! If it sounds like science fiction, you're excused, but in fact electromagnetic pulses are beating pests and accelerating plant growth in millions of greenhouses across the country. Facing the daunting task of feeding a burgeoning population with ...

Complete story...

SPICE TRADE TAKES ON A NEW FLAVOUR

Published on: 15 March 2018

Reverse direction is the new normal as Silicon Valley dominates

Dateline: 21 March 2025

Do you remember the tea clippers plying the oceans or the camel trains bringing exotic spices from the east? Probably not, but those were important trade routes in their day. Flavours and fragrances have always had global appeal. Since then, coffee and tea cultivation has migrated all over the world, and artificial flavouring has dominated commercial food production. There's still a demand for the real thing, like organic vanilla from tropical islands, but it commands a hefty premium. Flavours and ...

Complete story...

THE GARDEN OF REASON (OR IS IT TREASON?)

Published on: 15 February 2018 2 Comments

Urban farming is here to stay, and that's a good thing, isn't it?

Dateline: 1 March 2021

For some time now, various cities have been experimenting with vertical farming, rooftop farming, and even basement farming with LED lighting. Now it's maturing into a fully-fledged industry, just like fish farming. Farming without land, or even soil, sounds like a contradiction in terms, but hydroponics is not a new idea - it's just become more profitable. Being physically close to the consumers is the ultimate competitive advantage. Beyond the need for land, traditional farming has to contend ...

Complete story...

WHO TURNED OFF THE NIGHT?

Published on: 4 January 2018

Greenpeace calls for light curfew to bring back the dark

Dateline: 9 January 2023

What happened to those lovely dark nights, when all the stars came out? They're gone, along with hurricane lamps and black outs. Now that LED lighting has conquered the world, seen from space our planet is a bright, glittering jewel at night. Even darkest Africa is filled with a billion points of light, and more's the pity. It's unnatural and astronomers hate it. The obsession with climate change has waned, and activists are focusing heavily on pollution, especially light pollution. They want ...

Complete story...

FARMING THE HIGH SEAS WITH ROBOTS

Published on: 16 November 2017

That's no tasty tuna, it's Robofish

Dateline: 12 September 2027

When is a robofish actually a cowboy or a sheepdog? When it looks after your fish, farmed in the open sea. Fishing as a food source has long been big business, but wild stocks have been severely over exploited in some areas, and fish farming has become a viable alternative. But farming fish in sheltered estuaries and bays offers limited scope for improving global food security. The best place for serious fish farming is the open sea, in deep water, but the infrastructure costs were considered ...

Complete story...

PHYSICAL NEEDS, DIGITAL SOLUTIONS

Published on: 2 November 2017

Food, shelter and clothing - they're all IT

Dateline: 3 November 2022

We're all familiar with Maslow's hierarchy, and we know that basic needs like food, shelter and personal comfort come first. But it seems information technology, that enabling force for modern civilization, was focused far up the scale, at education, entertainment and research, and of course, finance. Now the world of smart robotics and nanotech production has turned basic businesses into digital technologies. Energy is solid state solar and batteries, and traded like information on the internet. ...

Complete story...

INTERNET OF ORGANIC THINGS

Published on: 12 October 2017 1 Comment

Plants that tweet and pets that ping

Dateline: 13 October 2023

Does your prize rose bush send you an email when it needs specific nutrients, or tweet incessantly when it's thirsty? Does your Labrador retriever ping you on your smartphone, when he's restless and wants a walk? Only if you've got smart soil sensors, for the rose, and a smart dog-collar for the Lab. But all these things we've connected to the 'net, they all need power - battery power, and even enhanced with tiny solar cells, like all electronics, they eventually wear out and have to be replaced, or ...

Complete story...

NERDS TRIUMPH OVER COWS

Published on: 29 June 2017 1 Comment

Clean meat comes to market

Dateline: 28 June 2019

It's common cause that the meat industry is not very kind to animals, and intensive cattle farming is not very good for the environment in general. What's more, more than enough food is grown globally to adequately feed the world's growing population, but a large part of crop production goes to feeding cows, so that affluent people can enjoy nice juicy steaks. All this while the poor go hungry and survive on foreign aid in times of drought. In the interests of social justice and animal humanity, ...

Complete story...

WATER IS NO LONGER THE NEW OIL

Published on: 27 April 2017

Water in plentiful supply as 'Star Wars' tech makes it out of fresh air

Dateline: 24 April 2020

The first Star Wars movie featured Vaporators on the planet Tatooine for water farming from the atmosphere. Now they are available on Earth, although they look slightly different in real life. It's been known for many decades that condensing water vapor from the air holds the key to water supplies in arid, inland areas; but getting that water from dry rather than humid air was the challenge. By the same token, desalination has offered a solution for coastal cities, but only at substantial energy ...

Complete story...

WHERE HAVE ALL THE DESERTS GONE?

Published on: 23 March 2017 1 Comment

Climate change is making the world greener

Dateline: 11 August 2028

Climate change is a reality that we've all come to accept, even though the debate surrounding the root cause of climate change rages on. Whether it's warming caused by carbon emissions, natural release of methane gasses, dimming caused by polluting aerosols, or just the cosmic cycle of the solar system, the fact is the climate has changed. The change has been quite dramatic in some regions, while barely noticeable in others; but the climate continues to change, despite the best efforts of activists ...

Complete story...

HOORAY FOR THE MACHINES! THEY'VE CREATED MILLIONS OF NEW JOBS

Published on: 17 March 2017 4 Comments

Fears of jobless growth recede as markets demand new human skills

Dateline: 17 June 2023

The prophets of doom have been hard at work for the past decade, telling us that automation, robotics and machine learning are going to destroy jobs and leave millions of people unemployed and destitute. The reality has been somewhat different! Yes, some jobs have been taken over by the machines. But they're the dirty and dangerous jobs that most people did not want to do. Who wants to be a farm labourer or a production-line worker? It also true that many higher-level jobs have changed. AI systems ...

Complete story...

ROSES ARE RED, BATTERIES ARE GREEN

Published on: 9 March 2017

A field of daffodils can power a town

Dateline: 8 March 2023

Once we thought that batteries were made of corrosive chemicals and heavy metals. But what happens when you can grow e-plants that store solar energy like super-capacitors? Back in 2017, scientists discovered they could grow nanowires inside a red rose, using the plant's own capillary system to create an internal network, and absorb electrolyte. It's a little like that old school lab experiment, where you run an LED off a potato - natural, organic electricity. Except that, in the case of e-plants, ...

Complete story...

WALLS GO UP, TRADE COMES DOWN

Published on: 23 February 2017 3 Comments

Global downturn follows isolationist resurgence

Dateline: 7 March 2021

Brexit, Trump and now Le Pen. As the old, established economies turn inward and nationalist, global trade and co-operation suffer. It's been left to the new, New World, what used to be called Emerging Markets, to carry the torch of free trade. As Tim Harford notes: "The first and most fundamental insight is that all human civilisation is built on some sort of trade." ALL human civilisation. Productivity and progress rely on exploiting comparative advantages with trade, to everyone's gain. But the ...

Complete story...

SAY HI TO DECEPTIVE VEGGIES

Published on: 13 October 2016

Synthetic Biologists say it’s not what it seems

Dateline: 4 February 2022

The sugar taxes did not work, the juice cleanses came and went, and now that obesity rates have broken through the roof, it's time for us to try something different. In 2016 Oxford scientists created oranges that tasted and smelled like grapefruit. They were driven by purely economic reasons back then, as it took about 400,000kg of grapefruits to produce 1kg of grapefruit flavouring for use in other food products such as sweets and drinks. From there the technology improved exponentially as ...

Complete story...

ISLAND CROP DECIMATED BY GENE DRIVE FLIES

Published on: 30 June 2016 2 Comments

Scientists say no other theory seems to hold

Dateline: 15 October 2026

After watching Border Security Australia, passengers always got off the plane feeling an extra bit anxious and jittery. Thoughts like 'What if they say the dirt on my hiking boots smells funny? Or they confiscate my grandma's old dusty portrait?' often ran through peoples' heads. Quarantine officers checking for foreign organic matter and unwelcome species used to have an irritating, but doable job. That reality has changed dramatically. Ten years ago, the use of gene drive technology to eradicate ...

Complete story...

SKY WARS: HACKING THE CLIMATE

Published on: 23 June 2016

'Weapons' and casualties have just increased by an order of magnitude

Dateline: 1 March 2027

It was supposed to be the last ditch, 'in-case-of-emergency-break-glass' solution to climate change. Unfortunately, geoengineering - or climate hacking as it is also called - has now become the latest weapon in the arsenal of petty and desperate governments who want their way. Weather patterns have been going haywire. In Kenya it's been raining for three weeks straight; in Mumbai the average high temperature has increased from 33°C to 45°C; and in Texas the number of tornadoes for the first ...

Complete story...

SUMMER OF SUPER SURPLUS

Published on: 17 December 2015 1 Comment

Commodity prices hit 60-year lows as oil halves

Dateline: 4 July 2016

The world is awash with basic commodities, and for many people, prices have not been so low in living memory. It's back to the 1950's in real terms for resources like coal and iron ore; wheat and corn are dirt cheap too. Fueled by fears of climate change and radical new energy and transport technologies, oil has halved in a year and is now floating around US$ 20 per barrel. Supply continues to exceed demand worldwide, as producers fight for market share. Global electricity prices have continued ...

Complete story...

PAID TO PREFER PORK

Published on: 17 September 2015 1 Comment

Consumers given incentive to shy away from beef

Dateline: 1 March 2017

It's official. Climate change is happening and the best we can do is try to slow the process. We have to do everything we can - even intervening in peoples' diets. Back in 2015 it was apparent that beef produces the most emissions per unit of product (almost 300kg CO2-eq per kilogram of protein produced). Chicken and pork on the other hand scored below 100 CO2-eq/kg. Even though variations exist at the sub-global level as different farming practices and inputs are used, it has been clear for a ...

Complete story...

SOMETHING NEW IS FOR DINNER

Published on: 5 February 2015

Tempura crickets and locust mince are leaving diners bug-eyed

Dateline: 14 March 2024

For years, insect enthusiasts have been trying to get more people to join the bug buffet, but to no avail. In 2014 only about two billion people indulged in entomophagy, or insect eating; but that number has doubled within a decade. A culmination of events brought about the change in behaviour. Brazil and India, the biggest exporters of beef globally, have been struck by disaster simultaneously. Severe droughts in Brazil and an unidentified pest reminiscent of foot-and-mouth disease in India have ...

Complete story...

Filtered by tag: Agriculture