Fiction Science

Twee weken geleden schreven we over de voorspellingen van Back To The Future en wat daar allemaal niet van was uitgekomen. Zoals we verwacht hadden ontplofte het internet en schreven alle media, van gevestigde kranten tot onbekende blogs, over wat er nou eigenlijk allemaal terecht was gekomen van Back To The Future. Een kleine terugblik: Het hoverboard is er al, geproduceerd door velen, maar het board dat het beste werkt is van Lexus. Het ziet er niet zo 80's uit als het origineel uit Back To The Future, maar door middel van een hoop magneten en enkele liters  stikstof komen we toch al een heel eind. 

Ook de zelfstrikkende schoen is inmiddels bekend gemaakt. Nike lanceerde ze onlangs en in de zomer van 2016 zijn ze te koop. De veters trekken automatisch strak zodra de dragen de voet in de schoen gestoken heeft. De schoen heeft zelfs lichtjes! Al met al kunnen we concluderen dat Back To The Future een sterkt staaltje forecasting heeft geleverd en een goed voorbeeld is van het belang van Fiction Science boven Science Fiction, Back To The Future heeft ons het verlangen naar deze technologie gegeven. Met onze cursus Imagine The Future gaan we hetzelfde doen, creatief nadenken over de toekomst in al haar facetten.

The Trendwatcher Of The Year Awards 2015/2016

Andrea Wiegman: "It is vital to place several visions side by side" 

'Innovating with Visions & Trends for 2016 And Beyond'

This week the TrendWatcher Of The Year Awards (TWOTY Awards) are presented for the sixth time. This year the event will be held at the Accenture Innovation Awards in Utrecht on 30 October from 9 to 11 a.m. Please book your free places quickly as we have limited capacity.

This week the TrendWatcher Of The Year Awards (TWOTY Awards) are presented for the sixth time. This year 2015 the event will be held at the Accenture Innovation Awards in Utrecht on 30 October from 9 to 11 a.m. Please book your free places quickly as we have limited capacity.

The organisation of the TWOTY Awards encourages a broader and more open view of the future and this means that we are always on the look-out for new visions in the field of trends and possible futures. The TWOTY Awards are organised by SecondSight, an institute at which trendwatchers, trend forecasters and futurists share their visions and ideas about the future. What will be important over the next few years and why? And which developments are relevant to 2016 And Beyond? An independent jury of communication and marketing specialists, strategists and innovation experts review the documents submitted to them and examine which trends and visions of the future are relevant and why. On which developments could and should business and government focus?

Innovating and working on the future are goals that we increasingly hear about. ‘More people than ever before are working on innovation and are thus working on the future’, says Andrea Wiegman, initiator of the TWOTY Awards, ‘but the future is more complex than it may seem at first glance. And innovating without a vision or an idea about trends can be counterproductive. We believe that it is vital to place several visions side by side to allow people to develop their own vision.’

The nominees for TWOTY1516 are:
  • Trendwatcher of the Year - Jacqueline Wolfs, Sander Duivestein and Guido van de Wiel
  • Trend Forecaster of the Year - Truus Dokter, Carlos Cuellar Brown and Yang Design
  • Futurist of the Year - Rachel Armstrong and Justien Marseille
  • Upcoming Talents - Delany Boutkan, Steven van den Haak, Sanne Visser and Silvia Naber

‘You cannot innovate without a vision of the future, according to Wiegman. ‘The fact is that you have to know what is trending in a certain society if you want to know what to work on or what to develop in the next few years. And the same is true vice versa: trends are valuable only if words are put into action. Now is the time to approach the future in practical terms and to link vision development to innovation. That is why I present the TWOTY at the Accenture Innovation Awards this year. And of course it is the perfect occasion for a party as well. We are celebrating thinking about the future. Market and trend researcher Klaus van den Berg will play his TWOTY Nu-Disco playlist. We start off the day with a glass of champagne to toast the many futures that are currently being made!’

For more information about the TWOTY’s 2015-2016, the nominees or if you would like to attend the TWOTY Awards, please phone or email Andrea Wiegman - (pers@secondsight.nl) or +31 (0)6 4892 6019.

Social media: @TWOTYs #TWOTY1516 #2016AndBeyond @SecondsightNL

source: Klaus van den Berg


Nu-Disco: I Feel Love

Recently Tom Ford released his spring/summer 2016 collection with a video that was undoubtedly disco-inspired. With the cooperation of the star producer Nile Rodgers the new collection is shown on models dancing as if in the program ‘Soul Train’ accompanied with the song ‘I Want Your Love’ by Chic, covered by fashion icon Lady Gaga. Klaus van den Berg (depicted in the picture) devoted an article about it and the Nu-Disco trend that is linked to it on (in Dutch). “Nu-Disco is Chic with IQ”, he writes. So no empty disco glitter and boas. Nu-Disco goes deeper and further. During the coming SecondSight 2016 & Beyond event on December the 15th he will elaborate on this Nu-Disco trend. And now that we are talking music, performing as DJ Klaus he will spin some records during the TWOTY 15/16 Awards next week. Find a little taste of what is to come here: a marvelous playlist of old and new disco music to prepare for the festivities of the TWOTY Awards on the 30th of October and the SecondSight 2016 & Beyond event. We can’t wait!


Photo credits: Maarten Nauw

Time-Travel, a theme of all times

Traveling through time has sparked the human imagination for millennia. The earliest known story (whose origins are believed to fall between the 8th and 9th century BCE) that includes the phenomenon mentions a Hindu king who travels to heaven to meet the creator Brahma and, when coming back to the realm of mortals, notices to his surprise and shock that many centuries have past during the time he spend with Brahma. Other well-known stories about time travel are of course The Time Machine by H.G. Wells from 1895 and the famous trilogy Back to the Future that had reached it 30-year anniversary this year. Back to the Future was indeed trending the last year as many prototypes of the curious and extremely cool ‘hoverboard’ went viral and all had us believing, if only for a limited period, that high speed floating along the streets would soon be available at the local sports shop (Read more about this on the TWOTY blog).

            Time-travel is fascinating and from all times. On the one hand it answers to nostalgic feelings as it would create the possibility to actually (re)visit ‘ those good old times’, on the other hand it could dissolve borders and let us discover new ages. Apart from that it also unfolds entirely new themes for story telling, such as what would happen when your younger you would meet with your future you and what would be the consequences if you changed something in the past.

            Though-experiments for storytellers aplenty, but just how viable and possible would time-travel actually be? Through the principle of relativity, time-travel has already been experienced by several astronauts traveling away from earth. Coming back, their watches where several milliseconds behind on “proper time”, although there is no objective answer to how much time has actually passed. The blockbuster Interstellar also features this phenomenon as the protagonist comes back after traveling only limited time through interstellar space and meeting his daughter who has already exceeded retiring age. This principle, however, involves traveling away from extremely heavy objects as the velocity with which we jet away from a great source of gravity influences the flow of time, thus, when traveling backwards through time by using relativity would no allow us to meet our distant forefathers as we would have arrived in an a completely different world; one that would surely not include our ancestors.

            Being highly unlikely for mere earth-dwelling mortals, time-travel remains a fantasy and ever-trending topic, inspiring writers, artists and film directors.

- Our 2014 And Beyond book was about Traveling Through Times, you can order the book here.

- And also we organize a one day course about Creative Future Thinking where you dive into the topic of storytelling en science fiction writing in order to find hidden possible, probable and preferable futures as well as new opportunities, new ideas for products and services, read more about the next one day course...

To the Moon and Beyond

Now that we can drink our whiskey in space there is nothing holding us back from space colonisation. Ok, just kidding. But now that have found water on Mars, the possibility of living on Mars has become a lot more real. The discovery, along with the serendipitous release of the movie The Martian will spark will spark a revival of public interesting in living on Mars. Along with technological advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3D printing we can really start too look towards space colonisation. The question is no longer if or when we will live in space, but where we will live in space.

Ballantine’s Space Glass

One of the most well known recent projects to colonise Mars is Mars One, a non-profit project that sets out to send the first humans to colonise Mars by 2026 through permanent settlement. Before humans will make their way to Mars cargo shipments will bring the supplies for the outpost to mars which will be assembled by two rovers. With settlers already signing up for their one way ticket the project is one of the most ‘real’. But the program has also received a lot of criticism, two MIT scientists have run some feasibility tests and concluded that with the current plan the settlers would die after just 68 days on Mars. Bas Lansdorp, CEO of Mars One has had to admit the plan is mostly fiction. But there is still hope, NASA is also working towards colonising Mars. Last week the winner of the 3D printed Habitat challenge has been announced. The challenge set out a challenge for contestants to develop a vision of shelters for human habitation on Mars constructed by autonomous habitat manufacturing machines. “The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials."

But Nasa isn't just working on the colonisation of Mars, it also looking at the Moon. Using the same habitat manufacturing machines (robots) as means to build habitats on the Moon (and eventually far beyond the Moon and Mars). Nasa is mainly eyeing the Shackleton crater, which is about twice as big as Washington D.C.. Water has already been found inside the crater and NASA expects to be able to build a habitat using solar powered robots. The first challenge is to build reflective robots that redirect sunlight from the peeks into the crater. If these robots can be developed the plan to colonise the moon can proceed. And, once reusable space crafts are developed, colonising the moon will be a lot cheaper than we initially thought. Once colonised the moon can also be used as a base for further space travel.

Moon colony, image produced for NASA by Pat Rawlings 1995

And then there are the orbital space stations like the space colony in the movie Elysium. Based on the Stanford torus designed by NASA. But the Elysium design could serve as a model, the designers for the movie have made very precise calculations using the number of residents to create a realistically sized virtual model of the space station. Agricultural advancements, such as aquaponics, make it possible to cultivate ‘food’ without using earth’s soil, so that the future space inhabitants can enjoy the same foodture as humans on Earth.

While Mars, the Moon, and orbit seem to be the most likely possibilities, theoretical astrophysicist have recently ‘discovered’ that many earth like planets in other solar systems in our universe previously though to be inhabitable may be habitable after all. It was assumed that these planets didn't rotate, leaving one side permanently facing their sun and one permanently dark (read: scorching hot dessert on one side, freezing arctic conditions on the other) but this assumption now appears to be false. Only hurdle left is making space ships that travel faster so they can actually get us there.

“Please prepare for warp”

Let us be kind. Source: Seattle Humor


Foodture: The Future of Food and Food from the Future

The future of food is often envisioned as very practical, we will just take a pill for dinner that has all the nutrients we need. Many would argue eating is a social or cultural phenomenon and the act of having dinner would eventually prevent the rise of pill dinners. The cultural blindspot is often a problem when it comes to future predictions, but were our predictions of just a pill for dinner so wrong?


The last few years we have seen a strong countermovement to modified eating in the health food movement. Food has to be as natural as possible again, no additive, preservatives or GMO food and fastfood was countered with slow food. After sloughed we are now seeing healthy fastfood, which translates in the growing amount of take-out healthy food (local examples for Amsterdam include Sla and Stach). At the same time artisan versions of fast food have also gained popularity, in Amsterdam you actually need a reservation for some of the hottest hamburger joints, while the amount of gourmet burger joints keeps increasing.  


While there is a strong move towards more natural and healthy food, it is also a trend towards easy food. Take-away or quick dinner out are the modus operandi of most health food restaurants. A more efficient meal leaves us with more time for work. Efficiency gains, in particular too have more time to work, were not envisioned for the self driving car but they were envisioned for food. And its not just quick real fooddinner that are gaining popularity. By now many of us have probably heard of Soylent, a nutritious drink that eliminates the need to waste time eating. Marketed mostly on efficiency gains throughout days it is a perfect example of the values of todays society. A more efficient meal leaves us with more time for work. Not surprisingly Solent was developed in a typical Silicon Valley mode with starting out with a crowdfunding campaign and continuing with venture capital. Soylent may not be a pill, but its pureform and ideology do have striking similarities with the dinner pill.


So where are we going, back to real food or towards a dinner pill? or perhaps both? In the future we may strike a balance, as many solent users actually do. When lacking time we will grab a fakemeal, making eating real foodeven more of a special event. And we may even make quite a spectacle of food. Harvard bioengineering professor David EdwardsCafé ArtScience may be a clue as to what spectacle food may look like when we get to a time where we consciously take time to eat. Using science to create an entirely new eating experience spectacle is an appropriate word for the food offered. At the same time Edwards has also joined the pure nutrient food movement and has developed vaporised food as well as vaporised supplements for ao energy, sport, and sleep. So will eating become an experience in the future, something we experience, much like going to see a movie, while practically feeding ourselves with nutrients throughout the day without wasting any time?










In 2050 our planet is estimates to boast about 9 billion human inhabitants. Considering that the amounts of land suitable for agriculture and food production are mostly already used and probably will not miraculously increase there is a dire need for creative and innovative farming to make sure we can feed those billions of mouths. Together with Rabobank's Banking for Food we produced this book Today’s Farmers about the many innovations, initiatives and solutions today’s creative farmers have come up with to give the production of food new momentum and to make sure there will be enough food while still maintaining significant levels of sustainability.

Creativity is a key word and this also counts when we think of the food production industry, an industry generally thought of as very uncreative. The most important goal for this industry is to produce enough food for everyone on this planet, however by doing so it is very easy to forget about sustainability and wreck our planet while trying to expel and evade global hunger. That is exactly the reason why creative thinking is so important for this industry as to make sure the quantities of food are right, the quality of the food and way it is produced have to be equally right.

The new generation of farmers we write about and interviewed for this book are innovative, creative and open-minded to new technologies and insights in order to produce the best products. They are changing the farming business and embrace the newest innovations and trends in technology, demography, economy and ecology. New ideas about sharing and in that way caring about the concerned animals include idea as ‘Koop ‘n Koe’, an initiative in which people each buy a portion of a cow, until everything said cow has to offer has been bought to make sure that nothing will go to waste. Other players involve Duyvestijn Tomaten, a Dutch tomato-planting firm that uses the newest technologies to limit the use of precious energy and thus reduce the carbon footprint of the firm.

Read more about these initiatives and new ideas in agriculture in Today’s Farmers, in which we explain the importance of creativity in the farming business and how we will feed the many billions of people on our planet. Investing in the food security we all need, today’s farmers are tomorrow’s heroes.



Back To Which School?

By Rosanne de Koning

Source image (via readandrife.org)

Last week we announced Back to Work = Back to School, for us. But as we return to work, the kids return to school. However, what school they return to is no longer a simple question. Taking a cue from the charter schools in the US there is an ever expanding plethora of schools in the Netherlands as well. While most of us are familiar with concepts such as the British School, the American School, or now the more ‘exotic’ Finnish school, more and more new types of schools are popping up. Initiatives are based on lifestyle, convictions, academic achievement, or theories about education (for example that kids should move while reading as the image depicts).

This trend has now found itself a new partner in crime, the city of Amsterdam. Faced with a challenge of providing enough schools for the expanding population, the city of Amsterdam had joined forces with Stichting Nederland Kennisland and rolled out a competition. Aptly named Onze Nieuwe School (Our New School) the city sent out an open call for plans and initiatives. These plans, 124 in total, are up for public vote on the website for the first round in which the general public can vote for their favorite. The top 35 will advance to the next round, a pitch day, joined by 15 more candidates selected by a jury. During pitch day these 50 initiatives will present their ideas to a jury who will select 15 initiatives to join an incubator. At the end of this phase 3 or 4 projects will be selected and aided by the city to bring their plans to life and become an actual school. Ultimate goal is to find schools that are an addition to the current offering based on actual demand of parents, students, companies, and higher education

As a result, most plans are not too different from the current system but offer slight modifications. We asked Lisanne de Berg one of the initiators of the Wereldschool (World School) about their idea of the school of the future (the other initiators of this school are Bart Ongering (Meester Bart), Rik Seveke, Sultan Goksen, en Wouter Reitsema). She explains that the school will provide one place for both primary and secondary education (0-18) without the traditional ‘break’ between elementary school and High School. They intend to play into two main trends they see in demand and supply. They strive to “enrich the profession of teaching and give it back to the professionals” -put teacher back in charge of educational programs-, and “provide an educational experience that is in sync with the world kids live in today.” 

What is behind this search for a ‘new school’? In the US Charter Schools have become very popular, even though, on average, they perform worse than traditional schools. One of the reasons these schools are so popular is the lack of choice in the American system, parents are not free to choose a school, instead they are assigned a school. Similar systems have been introduced in the Netherlands with a preference based on postal code. So is it just a lack of choice or is there more to this story? The limited choice parents have also coincides with overcrowded classrooms and other problems due to severe budget cuts in the public school system.

Another influence is the competitive culture we live in today, reflected in all sorts of extra tutoring kids nowadays receive from a young age. Not a minute is wasted! A strong focus is placed on a child’s talents, developing only certain skills, either preferred or natural talents, often ignoring other subjects in which the child is underdeveloped. So what will the long term consequences of this cherry picking be?

As schools start to change we believe it is important to reflect and think about these changes, they are a reflection of society today while at the same time they shape our future through shaping future generations. Do we understand the consequences of the choices we make, especially when we omit certain subjects in favor of others? Can we forgo certain subjects to focus on others? Out of all these ideas, which will survive, and what will the school of the future be?



Summer Vibes and Summer Scouts

SUN! SUMMER! The last days it could be seen and felt everywhere: summer vibes. Happy people, terraces filled to the brim, heated faces and long lines at the swimming pools and ice cream parlors. But how can one actually measure these 'summer vibes'? Design students Mia Meusburger and Johanna Pilchbauer from Vienna asked themselves this question and designed the 'Summer Scouts', small and pretty designed sensors that measure different aspects of 'the summer'. Depicted in the picture, for example, is a scout that measures movements and thus can decide how much ice cream has been scooped and whether this corresponds with the levels associated with the summer.  Another scout floats on the water of a swimming pool and measures how much sunscreen is in the water and yet another one decides depending on the airflow in a bus whether the windows are opened to cool the heated passengers inside. All this information will be sent to a central headquarters where it is used to decide if summer has started or not. In a nutshell: big data, fun and happy people. Smart cities can use this technology to interact with the summer vibes, to share fun information and thus increase these vibes. We wish you all a very happy and sunny summer!


Because of the rise of new media and especially social media our communication has become short and dense. 140 symbols has become the norm. At the same time we have access to more and more information and we want to share everything of it. The limited space we have for sharing has resulted in particular terms getting more and more different meanings. These words are used, appropriately or not, without the particular meaning traditionally connected to these words. The word itself has become trending and that is when we are dealing with a buzzword. In every industrie, especially trend watching and innovation, buzzwords are fulfilling an important role. We see buzzwords like Big Data and Disruption popping up everywhere. But what do they actually mean?

Because of the enormous attention these words are getting they are slowly being pulled out of context and hence lose their meaning. The concepts are deflating like tired balloons. When one really wants to work with the future it is better to leave the buzzwords to what they are and just start executing plans. This is not just our opinion, also Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel writes about this in his book 'From Zero to One' - read more about this in our new issue SecondSight #41 'On Numbers'. We also offer courses on this subject in the autumn. Our credo is that the future is for those who can create it.

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