Futurists Invade Toronto

There is nothing like meeting a bunch of forward thinking visionaries who dare to dream big and want to change the world for the better. Thus, I am very happy that this year’s World Future Society Conference will be held in Toronto, Canada.  I will definitely not miss it and am very much looking forward to attending.

If you plan to be there too and you see the big bold head (usually on the front row), do not hesitate to come and say “Hi.” I am always happy to meet in person Singularity Weblog readers.

For those still hesitating, here is all the event info you need to make an informed decision: 

Futurists from around the globe will meet in Toronto this July (27-29) to discuss sustainability, technology, and the future of the human race at the annual conference of the World Future Society. This year’s presenters include

Geordie Rose

Canadian computer scientist Geordie Rose is the creator of the D-Wave One, the world’s first commercial quantum computer—a breakthrough that will revolutionize the way computers are built and how they function. He holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of British Columbia, specializing in quantum effects in materials. Rose has just been named Canadian Innovator of the Year by the Canadian Innovation Exchange.

Lee Rainie

is one of the world’s foremost experts on the changing face of the Internet and the director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan fact tank that studies the social impact of the Internet.

In this keynote presentation based on his latest book, Networked: The New Social Operating System (co-authored with Barry Wellman), Dr. Rainie will discuss the findings of the most recent expert surveys on the future of teens’ brains, the future of universities, the future of money, the impact of Big Data, the battle between apps and the Web, the spread of gamefication, and the impact of smart systems on consumers.

Rainie “probably knows more about the impact of the internet on everyday life than anyone else on the planet,” according to the Guardian.”

Check out Rainie’s article in the July-August issue of THE FUTURIST magazine 

Brian David Johnson

Johnson is the chief futurist for Intel where his job is to guide the world’s most important chip maker into the future. He’s also the author of Screen Future: The Future of Entertainment, Computing, and the Devices We Love (Intel, 2010), in which he looks at the shifts taking place in TV, film, advertising, and the new roles that TV will take on in our Internet-driven world. Attendees at this year’s WorldFuture conference will hear Johnson give an opening plenary on Intel’s algorithm-based projections of what human life will be like in 2025.

For too long, computers, computational power, and even software have been thought of as cold mathematical pursuits, when in reality, the digital world is just an extension of human existence. With increasing generation of data through human activity and interaction, more complex processing and technologies are needed—but they must also be accessible. Building data processes for the future requires a more human design to interpret and deliver information in the right context, relatable to and understood by users.

At WorldFuture 2012, Brian David Johnson will discuss how Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, is crafting algorithms and processes that will better understand what it means to be human in 2025.

Scientific American recently called Brian David Johnson “Equal parts seer and evangelist, Johnson helps map out the future of technology and then guides his company toward that destination, whether it is five years or even a decade away.”

Check out his cover feature in the July-August issue of THE FUTURIST magazine 

Read the October 2011 Forbes profile of Johnson here. 

Read The Wall Street Journal Q&A here. 

Alex Peake

Alex Peake is the founder and CEO of Primer Labs, a startup that creates endless learning games to make all knowledge playable. His most recent creation, a game called Code Hero, teaches students how to program computers through a first-person shooter. He says that “computer programming literacy is the gateway to science, technology, engineering and mathematics literacy.” The gamification of education could fundamentally improve the way we learn over the next 10 years.

John Smart 

It’s a rare speaker who can engage audiences equally in corporate board rooms, university classrooms, and on stage at Burning Man Festival, Nevada’s notorious, annual desert rite of radical self-expression and edgy creativity. John Smart is such a speaker. He’s founder and president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, a respected associate professor of emerging technologies at the University of Advancing Technology, and sits on the Advisory Board member at numerous global futures institutions, including Singularity University. He is also the recurring host of Futurecamp, a Burning Man mainstay that Australian reviewer Amplfy.com describes as “legendary.”

At WorldFuture 2012, Smart will present on Chemical Brain Preservation: How to Live ForeverHe’ll describe the procedure, now in development, by which doctors might remove a dying person’s brain and preserve it in full, with all of the person’s stored memories and knowledge, so that he or she can be revived at a later date. Smart will forecast when this procedure might debut, and what implications it holds for medicine and society.

Andrew Hessel 

is a futurist and catalyst in biological technologies, helping industry, academics, and authorities better understand the changes ahead in life science. He is also the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world’s first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to make open source viral therapies for cancer.

Trained in microbiology and genetics, Hessel has continually worked at the forefront of genomics, first to read and comprehend bacterial, human, and other genomes and more recently to write them. At WorldFuture 2012, he’ll discuss how the technology that makes this possible, called synthetic biology, will eventually surpass information technology (IT) as an economic engine and driver of societal change. He speaks widely on topics that include cells as living computers, life science as an emerging IT industry, and biological safety and security. The future is open to infinite possibilities for innovative thinkers.

Josh Schonwald

The April 20th edition of MacLean’s magazine describes journalist Josh Schonwald’s revealation of the future of food thusly: “He’s explored everything from genetically engineered foods—like a cherry tomato modified to carry a lemon basil gene, which is said to be delicious—to meat grown in a test tube. Canadian scientists are working on this too, building healthier hot dogs and other processed foods.” Schonwald is the author of the book Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from The Future of Food 

Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley says “Schonwald gets the central point: the ‘foods-of-the-future question [is] inextricably linked to the future-of-the-Earth question,’ a question that self-indulgent, self-regarding foodies simply refuse to face.”

Check out Schonwald’s article for the May-June issue of THE FUTURIST magazine here 

Tomorrow’s Next Big Start Up at Futurists: BetaLaunch 

Futurists: BetaLaunch (or F:BL) is a technology petting zoo where engineers, designers and others can present their inventions to the 1,000 futurists expected to gather for the Society’s annual conference. The inaugural F:BL event in 2011, co-produced with 1×57 and sponsored by Disruptathon, was a huge success. “Futurists presented Bold Visions at the BetaLaunch expo in Vancouver” said Eric Mack of BYTE, published by Information Week. F:BL was also covered in the Vancouver Sun, CBC Canada, MarketWatch, and Xinhua News, the largest news agency in the People’s Republic of China. This year’s participants include 


Senstore is taking advantage of exponential developments in sensors, wireless connectivity, and artificial intelligence to provide access to health care from anywhere. Senstore is developing a home diagnostic device—a medical tricorder—with intuitive AI interactions and continuous monitoring of biometric data.

The Cyberhero League by Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D

Most children want to help other people, animals, and the environment—but they don’t know where or how to begin. The Cyberhero League is a social platform that will enable children to act digitally to help others around the world.

A child earns points through games and other activities, and uses those points for charitable gifts that supply emergency relief supplies (food, water, and medicine), support wildlife conservation, and protect the environment. As Cyberheroes, kids will have the power to change the world while learning about environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

The BiliSuit by i3 BioDesigns

The birth of a new child is a joyous occasion—but millions of babies each year are born with a common but serious jaundice condition, requiring extended hospital stays in an isolette tank for the child or mobility-constraining home treatments.

The BiliSuit is a form-fitting garment that delivers life-saving treatment through an LED and fiber-optic delivery system. The suit is reusable and its battery can be recharged with solar energy, so it can be used in remote locations with limited access to electricity—such as rural areas in Asia.

ZED.TO by The Mission Business

The Mission Business has developed an immersive, cross-platform entertainment strategy that combines foresight and education with transmedia events, fiction, and theatrical panache to thrill audiences. The first event, ZED.TO, will play out in real life and online over the course of months to explore critical uncertainties in technology and social values.

Filabot by Rocknail Specialties

A tool designed to make home 3-D printing cheaper and more environmentally friendly, Filabot (pictured left) is a desktop extruding system that grinds various plastics to make spools of filament for 3-D printers. Filabot can process milk jugs, soda bottles, and other types of plastics—as well as bad prints, turning what would be waste into usable filament for future prints.


This free, integrated social network focuses on futurist members’ interests in future predictions, goal setting, scenario planning, and impact analysis. The network will enable futurists around the world to collaborate on issues and work toward achieving goals. Check out the interview with Compose The Future founder Brian Merritt here 

Strategic Foresight & Innovation program at OCAD University

This program trains students to address complex, socially important issues through designing for creative social futures. The program instills the spirit of technological foresight and long-horizon innovation into new foresight thinkers through a combination of innovation practice, systems thinking, design leadership, and social research.

Ion Proton Sequencer by Life Technologies 

The Ion Proton Sequencer, featured in the May-June 2012 issue of THE FUTURIST as a Consumer Electronics Show pick and pictured here, offers affordable whole-human-genome sequencing in just hours instead of days or weeks. The Ion Proton Sequencer sequences DNA on a small semiconductor chip rather than using standard large, expensive optical-based instrumentation. 


To get people on their feet, B-TEMIA has developed a wearable dermoskeleton that restores, maintains, or enhances mobility. With military and medical applications, the dermoskeleton increases a person’s biomechanical capabilities and assists movement without impeding natural walking patterns.


The World Future Society

Founded in 1966 as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization in Washington, D.C., the World Future Society has members in more than 80 countries around the world. Individuals and groups from all nations are eligible to join the Society and participate in its programs and activities.The Society holds a two-day international conference once a year where participants discuss foresight techniques and global trends that are influencing the future. Previous conference attendees have included future U.S. President Gerald Ford (1974), Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy (1975), behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner (1984), age-wave expert Ken Dychtwald (2005), U.S. comptroller general David M. Walker (2006), and inventor Ray Kurzweil (2010). Others in attendance typically include business leaders, government officials, scientists, corporate planners, and forecasters from across the globe.You can learn more about the conference by visiting www.wfs.org.

Download the entire conference program here


Learn more about Futurists: BetaLaunch at www.wfsbetalaunch.com or contact Patrick Tucker at ptucker@wfs.org or call (443) 756-4205.

For journalists in Toronto, Patrick Tucker will be available to meet in person to discuss F:BL and the conference during the last week of July. Contact him to schedule an interview at 443-756-4205 or ptucker(at)wfs.org 

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