The Blog

Seven Cutting Edge Innovations That Will Change the World

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Its 2016 and do you know what innovations will change your world? Here is your executive summary. This is a quick take from my annual forecast from the Institute for Global Futures that focuses on what's coming in the year ahead and beyond. Get ready for accelerated and complex changes coming fast this year.

If your a leader of any type of organization--enterprise, startup, government or non-profit you might want to take notice. Here are the cutting edge innovations that I think will shape personal choices and business strategy. I have been doing this forecast, the Global Futures Forecast for about twenty plus years and my think tank clients look forward to get a sense of what's on the horizon.

The sources of the Global Futures Forecast come from intelligence gathering, keynotes, surveys, reports and studies I and my colleagues do yearly to help our clients develop a more predictive capability to run their global organizations.

What I focus on are: Where are the early warnings that shape trends and have some basis in science, geopolitics, technology, business or economics. I am less fascinated with cool devices then emerging trends that might disrupt markets, economies, business and global security--to set the stage for you to consider.
Are you ready for the top innovations that will shape the coming year? This look ahead could be your strategic recipe for competitive advantage in your company, new venture or your career.

These innovation trends originate in the Global Futures Forecast. The GFF looks at strategic global trends that will affect jobs, competition, innovation, asset classes and risk. These global innovation trends should be on every leaders mind as he or she looks out ahead on what may come in 2016.

We need to all become more Future Ready, cultivate a perspective on the emerging trends coming to avoid strategic surprise. This could affect your job, career or the destiny of your organization. Preparing for the future, developing a capacity as a leader to look ahead and prepare for risk, disruption and opportunity is the smart way to navigate change. This is my contribution to that journey.

World Changing Innovations Coming

1. Crispr: You Say You Want a Revolution
Crispr is the next generation gene editing technology that is in its infancy but holds great potential to incite a revolution. The changing out, editing in and altering genes will be a achievable science in the near future. We are already using this innovation today. This year will see an acceleration around the world of this new editing tool. It would be a gross error to try to overestimate how important and ultimately disruptive Crispr could be in shaping the future of our world. Think ending certain diseases, feeding the planet and forever altering health care and human evolution even, eliminating even birth defects. This is the Big Future Coming.

2. SynBio: Take Me to the Stars
If engineering and biology got married they would be called SynBIo. SynBio short for synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems. We could use SynBio to create start ships to travel the universe, absorb carbon or replenish the oceans, to create new clean fuels or enhance the agriculture output to feed the planet. The potential of SynBio is unlimited.

3. Blockchain: The Crypto Future of Money
The blockchain is the secret sauce, the tech behind Bit Coin the leading crypto-curriency that just might be the future of money. The blockchain is the program that enables the efficiency and accounting validity of the Bit Coin transactions but it could be used for much more. Like managing larger digital currencies and even larger economic planetary ecosystems. The blockchain is a distributed database based on the bitcoin protocol that maintains a continuously growing list of transactions and does not require a central authority, like a government to regulate or manipulate the currency. It is disruptive by nature. Global companies such as Citi, Nasdaq, Visa and other large financial institutions have set up projects to explore the block chain. Maybe you should?

4. IoT: The Internet of Smart Things or When Things Wake Up
When "things" wake up and become smart--aware of each other and can communicate with each other and us, you have a different world. We may have 20 billion connected things by 2020. This is coming faster then you may see. Smart things can pay attention to what we humans need and want. They can monitor, sense, protect, transact, communicate and share info that could enhance the quality of our lives and well being. Smart things together can lead to Smart Cities, connected, aware and collaborative for the benefit of the humans that live there. Imagine when every thing has an IP address or has a chip in it that can go online and or even Think connected drones, robots, highways, buildings you get the idea.

5. OpenAI: Deep Learning and Smart Machine Futures
Space X's Elon Musk has seen the future of artificial intelligence, good, bad and maybe ugly. He's concerned as I am that we could have a runaway AI that is smart but a threat to humanity. I would bet that this is a certainty someday so preparing for this future makes sense. But the idea of having an open source AI non-profit to share tools, programs maybe even AI entities or platforms is a way to protect the future. More transparency the better. By sharing AI intellectual properties we might just solve some civilization type challenges that could change the world. Given that there is over $10 Billion currently being spent on AI R&D by the big tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google and many governments, we need an Open AI strategy to level the playing field. And maybe someday in the future save our species. OpenAI is good insurance.

6. Big Data Analytics: Building the Predictive Organization
The Data Tsunami of exploding video, social media, text, pictures, geospatial information is threatening to overwhelm humans let alone machines. Our supercomputers will need vacations just to try to figure out what the meaning is from all of the data we are generating which is yodabytes of information well beyond our capacity to use or even understand. Now some of this data such as about medicine and disease if we understood it better, we could save lives, develop new drugs or even eliminate diseases all together. The other applications of big data such as improving shopping or product development could be vitally important to business. We stand on the edge of developing a new data science that will transform every industry and profession as the rise of the Predictive Organization becomes possible.

7. Geoengineering The Planet
If you accept that rising ocean levels, droughts, pollution increases and abrupt climate change is going to be a reality in the near future--even this coming year, then this trend is for you. We must create a new climate science to manage the planet's changing climate. This will require building up cities to protect coastal areas, shifting resources to protect populations at risk and enhancing agriculture yields and developing cleaner global energy systems. Geoengineering is a new science on the cutting edge that needs to be invented to meet the challenges of the future. This new science maybe more vital to the future of humanity then any other innovation as it may help our civilization adapt and protect itself from aggressive climate change.

It is of course only realistic to remind all that there is always the possibility of unknown developments, unintended consequences and the proliferation of threats. Some of these innovations could be hijacked by rogues or bad actors. This will likely happen that for every positive outcome there will come a dark side. We love going on the web yet the threats to our identity and security are often at risk. Some of the same innovations here can be used for criminal and terrorist acts. You know the drill.

We should not fear the future as it always comes with a double-edged sword of good and bad possibilities. But I am more then hopeful that the upside, the benefits in a rationale and reasonable society will prevail.