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Can We Harness Disruption to Improve Our World’s Future?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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At Scientific American, we take it as a given that science and technology form a key underpinning for human advancement. But all anybody needs to do to be convinced about their importance is to scan today’s headlines about pressing global concerns of our finite world. Consider, for instance, the coming food-water-energy crisis, the ongoing transformation of medical care through technology, how the digital age and new technologies are shifting employment, and the increasing role of megacities as both a source of innovation and a concern as they grapple with the challenges of rapid urbanization.

Good news for those of us who want to keep up on all of those important topics: The Atlantic Council is holding its “2013 Strategic Foresight Forum Agenda: Harnessing Disruption” on December 9 and 10. The event is full, but you can watch it live in a series of what will surely be thought-provoking panel discussions with top experts in technology and policy. Full details of the agenda—and how to see the live streams are at The Atlantic Council’s event page.

As it was last year, when the topic was “Global Trends 2030: U.S. Leadership in a Post Western World,” Scientific American is a media partner for this important series of discussions. (See the report, “Envisioning 2030: U.S. Strategy for a Post Western World” and my blog about the event, “Which World Will We Face in 2030?“). This year, Dina Maron, associate editor, will moderate the panel on “The Bio-ICT Convergence: Increasing Risks, Ubiquitous Vulnerability, Promising Breakthroughs,” to be held on Tuesday, December 10.

Hope you can join the event live. And stay tuned for our coverage from the event.

Mariette DiChristina About the Author: Editor in Chief, Mariette DiChristina, oversees Scientific American,, Scientific American MIND and all newsstand special editions. Follow on Twitter @mdichristina.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. gesimsek 5:00 pm 12/8/2013

    Judging by the speakers, it will be a future of money and army again. As M.Ignatieff recognized, markets cannot create stability but they need stability. The paradigm of a world where the bankers govern the world to maximize returns with the help of US army needs to change to make it a secure and stable place.

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  2. 2. gs_chandy 5:06 pm 12/8/2013

    The ‘disruption’ needs to be to the ‘way we humans think’. We have long held the belief – encouraged by our religious texts – that we humans are the “Masters of the Universe”, which is clearly not true.

    I believe it is too late for us to change in time. We’re doomed to ‘go over the abyss’, much like the fabled lemmings.


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  3. 3. Pluvinergy 12:02 am 12/9/2013

    It’s interesting that you focus on the three core commodities of food, water, and energy. This is the subtitle of my book Pluvinergy. The tree commodities are inseparable yet interchangeable. The most disruptive undertaking is to define the challenge as concentrating energy to improve the environment. If we can do this, then the more energy that we use the more we improve the environment. Consider it. It is possible, we just never considered it possible, because we never set it as an objective before.

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