Community Foresight

This week's community foresight challenge

The Futures of the Flying Internet of Things and Real-Time Aerial Surveillance. Challenge ends Monday, June 8 at midnight ET.

Signals to consider: Protests, Covid-19, drones, law enforcement, community activism, computer vision, voice recognition, live mapping technology, spatial computing, racial injustice, education, city planning, local/ state/ national government, U.S. elections

Timeframe: between 2 - 10 years (your choice)

Write a short, descriptive title for your forecast.
Give us a range of years that apply to this scenario. Example: 2020 - 2022, 2033 - 2035
Write 3 or more sentences describing next-order implications. This isn't a prediction. It is a description of possible outcomes, given what we know to be true today.
We will feature a few community scenarios in each of our weekly newsletters. If you'd like to be considered for inclusion with attribution, please enter your name and any other information you'd want included (social media handle, company, location in the world).


Last week's community foresight challenge: the futures of algorithmic scoring

Rainforest protectionIdeal Future2022Given the land size and troubled access to rainforests, it is hard to protect against destruction. With high technogy drones, information Will be more accurate and real time and the drone can even be programmed for some kind of action (it can identify the route of the woods and get to the leaders of the operation).Sílvia Andrade (LinkedIn: silvia-a-andrade )
SplinternetPessimistic2040World wide web is no more. As polarization increased and the idea of a global citizen became further from reality the internet grew apart. Not longer a question of prefered apps or websites there now exists several physical internets which do not communicate with each other at all. This have increased security online but at the expense of the wilderness of ideas and people that the "golden age" 2000-2020 saw.Axel Gruvaeus, Kairos Future
Amazon Prime EdOptimistic10Synthetic media ushers in a new age of learning and certification. Tech leaders, already testing entry into education in the 20s, rush to create platforms offering synthetic versions of top educators and thought leaders, including those that have passed. This opens up opportunities to learn from the “best of the best” in any field and democratizes “world class” education. Early on, content is licensed as each professor (or estate) retains rights to the likeness and source material. New content developed by proprietary algorithms is owned by the content company however. Valuable data and fine-tuned interactions that “humanize” the experience are ultimately leveraged by synthetic content players to create hybrid professors, spinning the most effective aspects of "branded" synthetics off into private-label offerings.
I own Me.Optimistic2I see a future of possible outcomes and who owns a synthetic version is one of them - I see a world where synths will be created but would have expiration dates for their use especially when created from a human; If I sell a version of me I could see being able to attach an expiration date on how long it can be used for. Autonomous deletion (or shelf life) of one's own synthetic version will have to be written into contracts. I imagine creatives - actors/actresses. voice actors, writers, artist may or should be doing this already.Zobeida Soto - Chicago
PhyDigital charactersIdeal Future10Commodity cameras (and CCTVs) will capture the human and animal skeleton joints in public places and will do transfer learning (morphology to another morphology transfer) on multiple objects. we can see those characters through Augmented Reality interfaces or through Mixed Reality interfaces. Each characters will be running on a custom neuromorphic chip in a wearable such as watch when activated will enable us to understand the human emotions, smell, moods of people who are in our vicinity in real time. There will be non-fungible tokens and currencies which can be transferred in real time to nearby objects which will perform actions say dance as per wishes. ---Anonymous, India
What the people shall then do about synthetic media and themselvesPessimistic2050People starts to realise that synthetic media are now a quantum improvement for "fake communication" . So here we move from fake news to fake communication in its broadest sense and people and mass Media will than talk about this. (2020-2023). (Note: I added here the years since the field "years in the future" above does not permit to add (at least via my cell phone) a range of years. It accept only 1 year) People start to be curious a find funny and kind of gudget the AI manipulation via synthetic media (voice, face etc.) and use any tool or gudget that allow them to reoroduce it as well (to give an example something like gif files). 2022-2025. People shall be conditioned in their perception and way to value the new format of message they get 2021-2024 People become mature in the way the regard any communication 2024-2030 People get irritated, tense, to have to deal with this more complex fake communication 2025-2030 People shall be more and more disattisfied about any news and search for new "trustful" ways of comminication 2030-2040 Trust in politic,instititions, business partners will suffer. Motivation, engagement shall decrease. People shall become more and more "single" entities living in their own mental and physical space. Relationships will become more and more unsincere, fake, lacking spontaneity. 2030-2040 People get depressed, look for what is and tepresent "nature and natural behavior". This shall offer the ground to opportunists, populists, the " strong man" or"strong woman" that shall give them the feeling to bring back a world they lost 2040-2050Dr. Terenzio Facchinetti Darmstadt, Germany
Life ExtendedOptimistic2025With continued advances in deep learning and the democratization of 5G, we will be able to create realistic virtual models of our deceased loved ones. Consumer apps will let you upload a video fragment (or later on a single image and audio file) and output a 3D digital avatar that can replicate micro mannerisms in real-time. While the nature of interactions initially will be rather basic, premium versions allow for more personal conversations by connecting social media accounts and other public/private media such as phone conversations and text messages.Rob van Alphen Founder, School of Disruption
Freedom of Speech and Movement, at a Personal CostNeutral2The United States presidential election in November 2020 is accompanied by public violence and fatalities, with polarized population groups clashing violently at public demonstrations. Hundreds of lives are lost during these skirmishes. The violence is exacerbated by media groups which target their partisan demographic and polarizes the society (with the politicalization of COVID-19 pandemic playing a prominent role). Corporations and industries seek to mitigate their risks by using personal algorithms to identify individual's behavior risks based on their location data, consumer habits, and social media affinities. Healthcare providers will impose higher costs for service for those citizens who have defied "stay-at-home" orders and congregated at virus outbreak hot spots. Transportation providers will deny boarding to individuals who have participated in activities which resulted in civil unrest (regardless of individual's political affiliation). Personal tracking data (including facial recognition, GPS data, and contact tracing data) are used to make these determinations. With a society that is predisposed to violence (due to political polarization, economic deprivation for millions of citizens, and growing anti-Asian sentiments which have been fomented by politicians and media), corporations will use these data to determine whom they will provide services to while minimizing risk to their existence. China's Social Credit System will be looked to as the model for implementation. Until technology becomes more accurate, however, many marginalized groups will be adversely affected (due to higher error rate of facial scans of non-white individuals).Mo Nishiyama, Portland, Oregon, United States
Moderate use of Scoring and restrained delusion of feasibilityOptimistic2028Over the next few years, we will see two kinds of consolidations with regard to the use of data and advanced analytics. On the one hand, the excessive expectations of the reliability and trustworthiness of algorithms (e.g. bias or blurring of statistical models) on the part of institutions and companies are postponed because people start to understand the limits of AI. On the other hand, the general fear in the population of the non-transparent use of customer or citizen data is replaced by a competent and positive skepticism, which allows us as a society to use the technical possibilities of AI for more meaningful areas of application such as scoring. But what has been perceived as 'meaningful'? Scoring concepts gained acceptance mainly thanks to the uncertain times during and after Covid-19. People wanted to use technology primarily to maintain social and health security. And so health tech and data-driven criminology were able to establish themselves - but far away Chinese conditions, because regulatory measures such as GDPR in the EU and other efforts to promote transparency could have their effects from 2023.Eduardo Ernst /
Scoring for public spacesIdeal Future2030Since 2020 and the effects of COVID, people are taking more control of how emerging technology is being used. Voice and computer vision technology have become the gatekeepers of scoring for city planning. In public spaces like parks, malls, hospitals, offices, schools, and streets, voice technology is installed to track the tone, pitch, and accents of that space. Computer vision technology is installed to track facial and gestural interactions and create heat maps. Specific identifiers are not used to reveal individual data due to strict privacy laws. However, aggregate data can be gathered in public spaces. Regulators and city planners understand human mood, activity, behavior, and usage of certain areas using aggregate data. For example, they can identify which areas are high in crime, what spaces generate lots of social interaction, which areas require more infrastructure, etc. The city uses this data to score each public property in order to distribute taxes, grants, and funding for positive initiatives. Landlords will have the responsibility to pay attention to their scores.Betty Zhang Digital Strategist at Versett, Canada
Reputation-as-a-ServiceNeutral2025As algorithmic scoring took off, new reputation management services popped up everywhere. These companies touted personal protective services that monitored changes across a portfolio of scoring systems and flagged potential mistakes and significant drops in your reputation score. It sounded like a decent idea so you signed up with one of the premium services based on some recommendations. When you were tagged for smoking in a non-smoking area based on faulty facial recognition? Google Home verified that you were logged in and working from home at the time of the reported incident. Your reputation service automatically engaged to correct the damaging scoring mistake on your behalf. The multiple times you’ve been knocked for not picking up after your dog? Your top-shelf reputation service counteracted with small “boosts” to your score across multiple systems. It was a very pricey add-on, but popular with your friends and well worth it after the number of incidents you’ve had. As surveillance scoring systems increasingly gained the power to wreak havoc on people’s lives, reputation services have become essential in ensuring the ability to freely work, travel, shop, and engage with your regular social circles, for those that can afford it anyway. Otherwise, you’re on your own, and that really hasn’t worked out very well for anyone in that position.
Betrayed by your bladderPessimistic2030Continuous Health monitoring + iOT + Insurance. The thing about quantifying human activity is that it always come with the promise of improving our lives. Especially when it comes to our health. And COVID-19 will accelerate our need for better health monitoring. Insurers are particularly aware of it, hence they have already started to offer sports trackers in exchange of rebates (like John Hancock Vitality program). smart toothbrush based offers (like the SmartPremiums from Beam dental), connected watches (like Aetna subsidizing Apple Watches), and soon ... smart toilets (like the one under development by radiology professor Sanjiv “Sam” Gambhir) that will analyse your feces and give you advices about how to improve your diet). All these datas will inevitably impact your scoring (but you won't know how of course, nor how much the algorythm is biased). So, when you'll receive a raise in your insurance fees because you had a few too many drinks at a party and have been double-crossed by your connected loo, you'll think twice about joining your friends at your favorite bar.Frédéric-Gérard Leveque. Digital Transformation independant consultant. Paris, France. Twitter: @digitalizer
AgTech Reduces Demand for Traditional Farm Labor and Long-Haul Shipping, and Improves Produce QualityNeutral2028As AgTech begins flourishing in urban city centers across the United States--with now-vacant office buildings and parking structures becoming repurposed as vertical farms with precise monitoring and mechanical automation--the demand for produce in these areas will experience a downward trend. Traditional agriculture will supply less produce to these urban centers, and thus requires less farm labor. Seasonal job availability will become scarce for migrant farm workers, and there will be less need for long-haul produce shipping, as AgTech requires significantly shorter transportation needs within urban centers. Furthermore, the quality of AgTech-grown produce (which requires significantly less pesticides and other chemicals) improves the health and well-being of consumers.Mo Nishiyama (@synthcat), Portland, Oregon, United States
Urban FarmingOptimistic2027Following COVID, employers no longer required large office buildings as employees reduced the number of days they spent in the office. As commercial real estate management companies struggled to find enough tenants to fill their properties, prices tumbled. Vacant floors in buildings and empty parking decks started to attract AgTech into urban settings. Indoor vertical farms were built across cities. By localizing production, AgTech firms were able to reduce logistic costs & meet growing demand for sustainable fresh produce. As the technology scaled, vertical farms became even more cost effective. Neighborhood coops invested in vertical farms for residents while food banks & community gardens used them as a high-output, high quality source for produce, something previously out-of-reach.
The Personal FarmIdeal Future2025The Personal Farm is a small-scale vertical farming package for residential use in closets, basements and spare rooms. The systems are modular in nature, allowing a household to scale up its crop production over time. Bundled with the Personal Farm is a software package that gives the user access to: a profile for sharing their crop statistics, production setups and tips with friends; AI monitoring and tech support; "vacation mode"; as well as in-app purchases for the newest crop and fertilizer formulas, with seeds and nutrient mixes sent via drone courier. Hardware add-ons include integrated composting for a circular farming experience. The cover of the May 2030 issue of Home and Garden magazine features "The Top 10 Basement-to-Farm Makeovers". Interior design and architectural firms begin to consult with farm designers for support on new residential construction.Andrew Farnsworth, Toronto, Canada Morning Strategy
Microfarming flourishesOptimistic2030Individuals and small communities supplement their food requirements with “no soil, no sun” microfarms. City dwellers will also utilize these capabilities with Billy bookcase sized growers. Seeds and “dry” nutrient packs will be automatically ordered as required. Genetic engineering and the managed environment will enable faster growth creating an economically viable alternative to deliveries of grown produce.James Henry, California
SAAO - Software as an organOptimistic2030As wearables and gadgets to collect biomarkers became more common for personal use in the early 2020's software supporting it also was able to become more granular and better at predicting. Building on use cases of diabetics and athletes using wearables to monitor glands and nervous systems. In 2025 it had come so far that using a bundle of self measurments at home accurately where able to monitor and prescribe treatment for specific glands and some larger organs for people waiting for operations or donations. Treatments vary from taking a personalized drug to using brain stimulation and breathing techniques to stimulate different organs. In this way we have created synthetic software based external organs available in the cloud to support the physical ones.Axel Gruvaeus Kairos Future, Sweden @gruvligheter Twitter
The New Status SymbolPessimistic5Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many US citizens were left behind. Educational achievement gaps widened after already disadvantaged school districts were unable to bridge the digital divide. Local and state government budgets were hit hard and left without resources to address the situation for years due to slow recovery of tax revenues. Already disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s economic damage, these families fell further behind and wealth disparities exploded. Government funding in the US & Europe for synthetic biology research faced significant cuts in the early '20s given previously unimaginable debt levels. VC funding accelerated however and pushed more of the industry to profitable consumer products like cosmetics, sustainable clothing, and performance-enhancing foods. Out of reach for many, a synbio-enhanced life has become synonymous with wealth. As US leadership stalled, in 2025 China assumed the lead in synthetic biology with incredible levels of investment and world-leading AI capabilities.
the corporate green new dealNeutral2030The state bailout came too late to prevent massive austerity. As a consequence, a whole generation of kids was educated by algorithms that never seemed to work because they were developed by private companies competing for contracts. The right-wing opened up new religious schools that got public funding because of the court case of 2023. President Biden Instituted an ubi in 2022 to combat high unemployment which corporations used as an excuse to underpay workers. Automation has to flatten out companies making inequality worse many people save when they are employed because the average unemployed stint has grown to a year. Now Republicans are cutting benefits because unemployment is always a " big city problem" , climate change and China's digital currency has increase interest rates on bonds by zapping investors' appetite for debt. People are less certain about their future income so savings rate goes up hurting the economy. Synthetic biology and higher food prices mean farmers are thriving. Not that politicians need facts at all anymore with synthetic media and Separate media companies depending on your political beliefs rural people see fake scenes Los Angeles covered with homeless people drinking and partying. Los Angeles citizens see manufactured scenes of farmers throwing away food to keep prices high. All of this could be regulated by the government but with synthetic media only the most opportunistic politicians can win. People don't know what to believe so most people don't vote. As climate change gets worse Florida and other states become less populated this makes the Senate even more favorable to rural areas. Self driving cars do finally arrive but without proper regulation they promote sprawl. With people living far away from work those who can work from home do and physical laborers are stuck living with hours long commute when they do have a job. Most low income people sell their data with such a precarious life most don't have kids. As for the professional class they are doing better than ever they can have private robots, go on virtual vacations, or go to Mexico and get pregnant a genetically engineered baby that's still illegal in the states. In 2030 we are technoVictorian.Grant Gealy
Synthetic Biology, AI, & The Evolution of Brain-Machine InterfacingIdeal Future2025In 5 years medical technology and artificial intelligence will be symbiotic with human beings by complex development of neuron firing devices. With Elon Musk just recently making announcements on his company Neuralink, the company is planning on implanting the first human beings with implantable brain–machine interfaces, commonly referred to by the general public as microchips. This will alter privacy, quantum supremacy, the way human beings compete, communicate, operate, and perceive reality. The tools required for making this possible, require synthetic biological technology and safely regulated systems. Simultaneously, brain-machine interfaces will decide which company takes lead in this use of synthetic biological research, as well as who will be the father corporation of the market. This is projected to open up vast economic markets and employment opportunities, adscititious to the potential of massive cognitive advantage for users of the chip. It will be a fast leap forward into what could be compared to the films Kingsman, Limitless, or The Terminator. These brain-machine interface chips will likely be tested on volunteers who suffer from trauma or severe pain, providing a life preserving stimulus package to the body's nervous system if successful. If I wanted to predict anything, it would be that the synthetic biology needed to fund those rapidly growing brain-interface devices will be worth trillions by just 2022. By 2030, the science-fiction possibilities of telepathy may not be science fiction, but reality when considering the capacities of AI's ever expanding range of data. The social effects would be so radical and divisive, that it would be a 50/50 divide of people using it. Similar to the current population with iPhones, microchips will be another form of that. This technology is on the verge of reaching monumental demand as war times continue with China, while crisis fills the planet. "Never let a good crisis go to waste", as once said by famous Winston Churchill. I for one think the merge with AI is inevitable, as our phones are an extension of us today. However, I feel that humanity should hold its roots with nature and remain fully human. This technology will change the course of human evolution in ways not comprehensible to today's millenia, and the possibilities are unknown, but seemingly endless according to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program).Brendan Ecker Lapeer, MI 48446 Criminal Justice Major @ Olivet College, Senior (Pursuing 4-year Bachelor's Degree) Writer Author Screenwriter Future Law Enforcement