Insuring the Future

March 21 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future
Category: Economics   Year: 2008   Rating: 11 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from

A few weeks back as I was flying all across the country from Hawaii to Wichita to Atlanta giving presentations on nanotechnology, genomics and robotics to a variety of different industry associations, I had the opportunity to read Peter Bernstein’s best-selling book, Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk.

Although it was written in 1996, I highly recommend it for anyone seriously interested in contemplating the future. This is because -for better or worse – the future will largely be determined by the insurance industry’s ability to understand – and thus underwrite – the future of various technologies.

For example, while I am personally optimistic about nanotechnology’s ability to create everything from scratch-resistant car panels to tailor-made drug delivery vehicles capable of killing cancer cells at an early stage, these products will not be commercially mass-produced until the insurance industry understands the environmental and health-related risks associated with new nanomaterials and nanoparticles.

Similarly, RFID (radio frequency identification) technology and nanosensors have the ability to create a host of wonderful applications. But until the insurance industry can adequately assess the potential dangers of how prolonged exposure to wireless technologies might impact people, the RFID industry could advance at a much slower pace than many people (including industry experts) expect.


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Regulatory Virtual Worlds Backlash on the Horizon?

May 13 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

The broader Second Life consumer backlash that many predicted for 2007 (and actually occurred) may pale in comparison to the regulatory backlash coming in late 2008 or 2009.

Marking what could well be the first resounding shot in a full-fledged war on virtual worlds, and rich online environments in general, US House Representative Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) extended his crusade against online predators to the rapidly growing virtual world of Second Life , calling for “common sense reforms” that would make it harder for predators to intermingle with youngsters.

Coming on the heels of a Congressional hearing on the positives and negatives of virtual worlds , Kirk’s recent remarks are the most negative to date by a U.S. legislator and marks a serious push to regulate new digital terrain, especially during a presidential election year that looks to pit young vs. old, innovation vs. conservativism.

In a May 11 interview with a local news channel Kirk presented Second Life as “one of the fastest growing websites on the planet” adding that he’s worried “that they don’t properly screen for children.” “Parents should be more aware of this,” he said. (cont.)

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Energy Scanner: Wave power, Smart Grids, Solar Thermal & Tax Credits

September 25 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 2

The Energy Scanner Daily Top 5 highlights some of the best energy category scans submitted to the Future Scanner community.

Portugal’s Agucadoura commercial wave project
Scan by fantasywriter
-The long-term view on wave power potential is positive. But engineers are still trying to figure out the best way forward given the diversity of ocean/tidal currents across regions in the world. Scaling standards for kinetic wave energy could be a challenge.

New ‘snake-like’ wave power concepts
Scan by jvarden
-Unique bio inspired design using a giant rubber tube developed by UK-based BulgeWave

GridPoint grabs more attention, money Scan by Mielle Sullivan
-The big near future disruption to electricity grids is the potent combination of ‘storage’ and ‘software’. GridPoint is a highly regarded ‘smart grid’ company worth watching. The other thing worth watching will be the calculated reaction of utility companies to the changing landscape of power generation! Big battles ahead as business models will be challenged around distributed power management. Storage and software are big disruptors!

-GreenVolts building CPV Project in California
Scan by fantasywriter
-Utility scale solar systems that tap the heat (thermal) power of the sun are widely seen as commercially viable in the near term.

Congress moves forward on Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for alternative energy-
Scan by Mielle Sullivan
-Emerging industries always need public sector help during early stages of development. Clean coal is getting help, deep water drilling is getting help. Alternative energy is no exception. We’re watching as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) legislation works its way through Congress. And the world solar industry is watching to see what happens to the US tax credit extension.