Signals: Printed Flight ... Wind Futures ... Worldfuture conference report ... and more

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Volume 1,
Number 19
August 4, 2015

Printed Flight: Engineers Test-Fly 3-D Printed Aircraft

Engineers at Britain’s University of Southampton have test flown a 3-D printed unmanned aerial vehicle from the deck of a Royal Navy ship, demonstrating the possibility of manufacturing simple, lightweight UAVs while at sea.

Project Triangle researchers printed the vehicle in four parts using laser-sintered nylon and assembled it without the use of tools. The short flight demonstrated the potential for using simpler designs and production processes, according to the researchers.

“The key to increased use of UAVs is the simple production of low cost and rugged airframes,” said Andy Keane, a professor at Southampton’s Engineering and the Environment Department, in a press statement. “We believe our pioneering use of 3-D printed nylon has advanced design thinking in the UAV community worldwide.”

Details: University of Southampton

Signals: 3-D printing; drones; UAVs

Europe Advances in Wind Energy Capacity

The EU’s electricity grid reached 129 GW cumulative capacity in 2014, meeting 8 percent of European electricity demand (roughly the equivalent of the combined consumption of Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, and Ireland). Growth in EU wind capacity is on target to provide 12 percent of electricity within the next five years, reports the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

Wind power has seen the widest development and growth in the last two decades, and costs are on a downward trend. JRC concludes that wind energy will thus contribute significantly to EU’s goal for at least 20 percent of energy derived from renewable sources by 2020. The EU has now set a target of 27 percent for renewable energy and energy savings by 2030, along with a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990 figures.

With growing capacity from onshore and offshore wind installations, six countries—Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Romania, and Germany—generated between 10 and 40 percent of their electricity from wind.

Details: European Commission, Joint Research Center; image © EU

Signals: electricity, energy, Europe, wind power

Harnessing the Skills of Senior Workers: Report from Timothy C. Mack

An aging but healthier population includes accomplished leaders who are increasingly interested in public service. Many in this group seek meaningful contributions rather than income, but there is an absence of established pathways.

Thought-leaders in higher education have proposed developing new “schools for advanced institutional leadership” that offer more than retraining for new careers. But this approach views senior workers as a fully developed resource that stands ready for direction and a few new skills, ignoring their financial, health, and even psychological challenges.

Should we commit to harnessing a resource that by its nature is diminishing at an increasing rate? And by “diminishing,” I mean the natural decline of productivity of individual workers as their age increases. The fact that this issue falls into the “wicked problem” category should not in any way diminish the moral and social necessity to find solutions. Read more

Timothy C. Mack is managing principal of AAI Foresight Inc. This article is excerpted from the Foresight Signals blog.

Worldfuture 2015 Conference Highlights

Worldfuture 2015, the annual conference of the World Future Society, took place July 24-26 in San Francisco, and groups such as The Millennium Project and the Association of Professional Futurists also used the gathering to conduct separate business meetings and development sessions.

One reporter writes: “The opening plenary was well attended and the reception packed, with ‘so great to see you again’ everywhere. And many of the presentations [were] comfortingly familiar…. Speakers such as Peter Schwartz (Salesforce), Paul Saffo (Stanford University) lit their audiences on fire.”

Other familiar futurists inspiring enthusiasm among attendees included Jim Dator (University of Hawaii), Brian David Johnson (Intel) Janna Q. Anderson (Elon University), and Marc Goodman (author of Future Crimes).

APF activities included a professional development forum and announcements of the year’s most-significant futures work, such as Stuart Candy and OCAD’s game “The Thing From The Future,” which won in the methodology category.

At The Millennium Project’s Planning Committee meeting, co-founder and CEO Jerome C. Glenn previewed the 300-page 2015-16 State of the Future. “This contains the greatest assemblage of data, information, intelligence, and wisdom about the future ever organized in one source,” Glenn stated in a press release. The report may be ordered from The Millennium Project.

As Tweeted:

Blanca E. Duarte ‏(@blancaedu): @JannaQ I Loved the presentation - lots to think about. My dinner party conversations r going to get a lot more interesting. Thank you

Janna Q. Anderson ‏(@JannaQ): Fabulous presentation by Marc Goodman @FutureCrimes at #WF2015.

Tracey Wait ‏(@TraceyWait): Science meets Fiction with @grayscott brilliant! My personal fav so far at #wfs2015

Richard Yonck ‏(@ryonck): Great talk @ #WF2015 by @ramez "Radical Optimism w/ Very Real Concerns"> "the cost of tech trends toward zero"

SciFutures ‏(@scifutures): Standing room only for @IntelFuturist brilliant session at #WFS2015 'the future of the American dream'

Special Publications Project

AAI Foresight’s special publications project, Foresight Reports, produces white papers, futures-research work, and long-form essays on a variety of future-oriented topics. The purpose is to demonstrate foresight methodology in action as it is applied in all fields of interest to public-policy analysts, academicians, entrepreneurs, and public and private decision makers.

The reports are published periodically, with an expected frequency of four to six per year. All reports are offered as a free public service for the foresight and policy-making community, so authors are not offered remuneration at this time.

Manuscripts and inquiries may be submitted to AAI Foresight consulting editor Cindy Wagner at and should include the author’s brief bio and contact information.