New Next Now (Trends for July 2017)

19 July 2017 | Keep­ing Up with the Trends

Endgame for oil: A new trend? Since the dis­cov­ery of crude off Dubai’s coast in 1966, the once-sandy vil­lage has trans­formed into a resplen­dent cos­mopoli­tan oasis. Sci-fi sky­scrap­ers and ritzy beach­front hotels dom­i­nate the sky­line beneath the tow­er­ing Burj Khal­i­fa, the tallest man­made struc­ture on Earth. But Dubai isn’t con­tent to sit idle on its rich­es while cli­mate change takes its toll — and, more prac­ti­cal­ly, it under­stands that oil is a finite (and dwin­dling) resource. Reports Andrew Blum (@ajblum) for @PopSci: “Dubai wants to be known more as a lab­o­ra­to­ry for world-sav­ing tech­nol­o­gy than for… beach­es, indoor ski slopes, and vast air-con­di­tioned malls.”

So, what is the city’s game plan? Already, Dubai has made a $14 bil­lion invest­ment to estab­lish a 5,000-megawatt solar pan­el net­work that will pro­vide 25 per­cent of the city’s need­ed elec­tric­i­ty, says Blum. City lead­ers are also active­ly imag­in­ing a future defined by inno­va­tion: bio-desali­na­tion, robot­i­cal­ly main­tained indoor farms, even fly­ing cars. Min­is­ter of Cab­i­net Affairs Moham­mad Al Ger­gawi frames Dubai’s vision: “We need to think faster, and we need to rein­vent every sin­gle product.”

In 2020, Dubai will host the World Expo — just in time to cel­e­brate the 50th anniver­sary of the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates — and the city plans to make an enter­pris­ing state­ment for the esti­mat­ed 17.5 mil­lion for­eign atten­dees: 50 per­cent of the event’s ener­gy will be renew­able. The city has also pledged $100 mil­lion to lure and finance new tech star­tups to Dubai. “We are young kids on the block,” admits Al Ger­gawi, “[but] every day we say, ‘How can we improve?’” [Read More Now]

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Rid­ing the waves. Ultra­sound tech­nol­o­gy may fuel the next great leap in tech inno­va­tion, says Andrew Feeney (@Andrew_Feeney) for @smithsonianmag. For over 80 years, doc­tors have har­nessed the vibra­tions of ultra­son­ic sound waves to “see” unborn babies as they devel­op inside the womb. But for­ward-thinkers across the globe are prov­ing that the tech­nol­o­gy can achieve far more. Exam­ple: sound waves help bats to “see” and nav­i­gate their sur­round­ings; could the same prin­ci­ple work for blind peo­ple? A Cal­i­for­nia research group is work­ing to answer that very ques­tion, thanks to a pro­to­type hel­met that sends out sound waves and then trans­lates the reflect­ed sig­nals into visu­al data for the human brain. Reports Feeney: “In time, this tech­nol­o­gy could become more prac­ti­cal and portable… [i.e.] spe­cial­ly designed glass­es.” [Read More Now]

Up, up, and away! Some unlike­ly heroes have joined the fight to keep birds away from air­ports. Robot­ic fal­cons — yes, you read that right — will begin patrolling Canada’s Edmon­ton Inter­na­tion­al Air­port in an effort to deter both res­i­dent and migra­to­ry birds from dis­rupt­ing air traf­fic. Devel­oped by Dutch drone mak­er Clear Flight Solu­tions, these robo-fal­cons look like — and move like — their liv­ing preda­to­ry coun­ter­parts, flap­ping as they cir­cle the open areas between run­ways. “The hope is that this will be an eco-friend­ly solu­tion… and thus a win for both birds and planes,” reports Cara Giaimo (@cjgiaimo) for @atlasobscura. [Read More Now]

Book­marked. It’s that time of year: uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­ates every­where are eager­ly prepar­ing to launch into their pro­fes­sion­al lives. But Oliv­er Sta­ley (@Ostaley) at @qz believes it’s nev­er too late for a lit­tle sum­mer read­ing — which is why he’s asked CEOs and oth­er busi­ness lead­ers to share their post-grad­u­a­tion must-reads. It’s no sur­prise to see team-ori­ent­ed best­sellers, like McChrystal’s Team of Teams and Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, on the list; or even 2014’s The Inno­va­tors, a sur­vey of the rise of com­put­ers by not­ed Steve Jobs biog­ra­ph­er Wal­ter Isaac­son. What’s more intrigu­ing — if not out­right telling — is the inclu­sion of 1984, Orwell’s clas­sic dystopi­an warn­ing against total­i­tar­i­an­ism. Says Tup­per­ware CEO Rick Goings of his rec­om­men­da­tion, Cousineau’s The Hero’s Jour­ney: “It expands your vision of what the road of life could look like.” [Read More Now]

For more on biz­books. If you’re try­ing to keep up on the best of cur­rent busi­ness books, there’s no one bet­ter to fol­low than Ted Kin­ni (@tedkinni). he now has a reg­u­lar col­umn on the Inc. @Inc web­site. [Read More Now]

Sea bog­gling. Did­n’t want you to miss this arti­cle from ear­li­er this year by Cather­ine Zuck­er­man (@CatherineZDC) about the amount of waste that enters our ocean reg­u­lar­ly. Says the @NatGeo author: “Rough­ly eight mil­lion tons of plas­tic enters the ocean every year. That’s accord­ing to a 2015 report, which also iden­ti­fied where the bulk of this trash orig­i­nates. At the top of the list: Chi­na, the Philip­pines, and Indone­sia.” [Read More Now]

Phar­ma to table. Mega-online retail­er Ama­zon looks poised to enter yet anoth­er mar­ket to its rapid­ly expand­ing empire of offer­ings: phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. @CNBC reports that the U.S.-based com­pa­ny is in the begin­ning stages of busi­ness devel­op­ment and recruit­ing. It’s easy to see why this move makes sense. Writ­ing for @FortuneMagazine this month, Har­ry Krae­mer (@HarryKraemerJr) points out that the Amer­i­can health care mar­ket accounts for 18% of the U.S. GDP — an entic­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty, he says, “giv­en the company’s abil­i­ty to reach vir­tu­al­ly every house­hold.” Still, Ama­zon will need to devise new meth­ods of dis­tri­b­u­tion to meet the industry’s exten­sive safe­ty reg­u­la­tions, and patient pre­scrip­tions will need to be account­ed for, as well. Nev­er­the­less, Krae­mer reit­er­ates that, for Ama­zon, health care is “sim­ply too big a mar­ket to pass up.” [Read More Now]

Genome dreams. Chi­nese genet­ics giant BGI is set­ting its sights on the next leap for­ward in human genome research. Recent­ly, the com­pa­ny estab­lished the West Coast Inno­va­tion Cen­ter, a U.S.-based R&D oper­a­tion in part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton and the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion. Its aim, says Megan Molteni (@MeganMolteni) for @WIRED, is two-fold: (1) expand devel­op­ment of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine and (2) build the next gen­er­a­tion genome sequencer. Already, both the U.S. and Chi­na have invest­ed hun­dreds of mil­lions in large-scale human genome map­ping in hopes that the data will even­tu­al­ly lead to effec­tive treat­ments of the world’s most threat­en­ing dis­eases. But Jay Flat­ley, chair­man of BGI com­peti­tor Illu­mi­na, believes that goal is a dis­tant one: “There still remains a lot of work to be done to extract clin­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance from the human genome.” [Read More Now]

Con­nec­tiv­i­ty. From Quartz (@qz): “Out of the 7.5 bil­lion peo­ple in the world, two thirds, or 5 bil­lion, now sub­scribe to a mobile ser­vice.” [Read More Now]

So, no sur­prise here. From @WaPo: “If Face­book were a reli­gion, it would be the sec­ond largest in the world.” This is a great report from Christo­pher Ingra­ham (@_cingraham). [Read More Now]

Help your hag­gle game. Think­ing about ask­ing your boss for a salary raise? This month, @mental_floss has offered up some inspired tips on how to be a more effec­tive nego­tia­tor. The very first les­son — think of nego­ti­at­ing as col­lab­o­ra­tive, not com­bat­ive — is per­haps the most rel­e­vant in today’s work­place, but I believe it’s equal­ly impor­tant to “know your mar­ket val­ue” and “what you can bring to the table.” After all, nego­ti­a­tion is about find­ing the best solu­tion for all par­ties, and that includes you. Anoth­er great tip: “Think beyond salary.” Vaca­tion time, work­ing from home, stock options — all are poten­tial incen­tives that can be scored to lead you to a hap­pi­er, more pro­duc­tive, and more ful­fill­ing work life. [Read More Now]

PR pirou­ette. As the say­ing goes, things don’t always go accord­ing to plan: just ask Cal­i­for­nia meal kit mak­er Gob­ble. Recent­ly, the com­pa­ny swapped out their gel ice packs in favor of eco-friend­ly dry ice packs, but the results were less than favourable — the new packs couldn’t hold an even tem­per­a­ture, result­ing in a lot of spoiled din­ners. The back­lash was pre­dictably strong, but the team ral­lied with per­son­al emails to every cus­tomer and a let­ter of apol­o­gy from CEO Oosh­ma Garg: “Peo­ple were floored by the hon­est expla­na­tion…. It showed me that even as we become a big­ger com­pa­ny and hire more teams in mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, how impor­tant it is to main­tain our valu­able and authen­tic dia­logue.” Take a peek at Garg’s inter­view with Lydia Belanger (@LydiaBelanger) at @Entrepreneur: [Read More Now]

Grad day take­aways. Bill Gates recent­ly took to Twit­ter with some spe­cial advice for uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­ates — in part, the cul­mi­na­tion of all he’s learned over the past 40 years. First, he offered up a trio of cut­ting-edge fields — arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, ener­gy, and bio­sciences — that he would pur­sue if start­ing over today. Sec­ond, he extolled the val­ue of con­tin­u­al­ly learn­ing and acquir­ing new skills: “Intel­li­gence takes many dif­fer­ent forms.” Third, and per­haps most essen­tial, he calls for the next gen­er­a­tion to take on the world’s strug­gles: “You know more than I did when I was your age. You can start fight­ing inequity, whether down the street or around the world, soon­er.” Thanks to Ariel Pang at @sphasiaone for shar­ing Mr. Gates’ words of wis­dom! [Read More Now]

Grav­i­ty Light. Some­one is try­ing to help peo­ple solve a most basic prob­lem: illu­mi­nat­ing their world. Per the web­site: “Over 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple glob­al­ly have no access to elec­tric­i­ty and mil­lions more have an unre­li­able sup­ply. Instead they use dan­ger­ous, pol­lut­ing and expen­sive kerosene lamps for light.” You might find the work of the Grav­i­ty Light Foun­da­tion (@GravityLight) to be worth your inter­est, if not sup­port. [Read More Now]

Agro-tech in Africa. A wave of new tech­nol­o­gy is sweep­ing over Africa’s farm­land — and not a moment too soon. Accord­ing to Ndubuisi Ekek­we, founder of the African Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy, “agri­cul­ture accounts for more than 30% of the continent’s GDP and employs more than 60% of its work­ing pop­u­la­tion.” And yet, weath­er changes, defor­esta­tion, and urban migra­tion have cut dra­mat­i­cal­ly into Africa’s crop yields. In many areas, farm­ers are still using out­dat­ed tools and equip­ment, but sev­er­al new star­tups are look­ing to change that by pro­vid­ing access to dig­i­tal weath­er data, soil sen­sors, solar-pow­ered irri­ga­tion, and more — all of which will help increase farm pro­duc­tion and reduce waste. These new advance­ments, Ekek­we says, are even entic­ing young peo­ple to explore career oppor­tu­ni­ties in farm­ing. Check out the full arti­cle at @HarvardBiz. [Read More Now]

Kyle ElzyKyle Thomas Elzy research­es and writes our month­ly fea­ture of what’s hot in the nextsens­ing world. He is a sto­ry­teller by trade. His pro­fes­sion­al back­ground lies in copy­writ­ing, edit­ing, scriptwrit­ing, graphic/web design, and audio/video edit­ing. He has col­lab­o­rat­ed close­ly with numer­ous muse­um, aca­d­e­m­ic, cor­po­rate, and non­prof­it organisations.

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