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CNN PRESENTS: Future Trends
Aired October 9, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN: Good evening. I'm Carol Lin and here's what's happening right now in the news.
It is nearly dawn Monday in earthquake-ravaged south Asia. A top U.S. military commander from Afghanistan will be arriving in Pakistan to coordinate relief efforts.
U.S. heavy lift helicopters are on the way as well. Saturday's quake killed at least 22,000 people.
And in Guatemala they are about to give up hope of finding the bodies of 800 people buried in a landslide. Rain from the remnants of Hurricane Stan caused mudslides that devastated a number of villages.
And time now for CNN 25: FLASH FORWARD. "Fortune" magazine takes a look into the future and tells us the ideas and tools and innovations that will shape our lives.
And at 9:00 it's "LARRY KING LIVE." Tonight, J.F.K's nephew, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, tells all. He talks about growing up around the legendary president and about Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and his own battles with addiction.
His first prime time interview with Larry.
And I'll see you at 10 p.m. with up to the minute news on "CNN SUNDAY NIGHT." I'm Carol Lin.
Now, CNN PRESENTS.
ANDY SERWER, FORTUNE MAGAZINE (voice over): Trends of the past 25 years. Not the fashion, or the food, but the way we lived our lives. Many things have changed. Our cars, our medicine:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very exciting time because of these new technologies.
SERWER: Our homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The simplicity, the reliability of it is paramount.
SERWER: And our very planet.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: Climate change is real; its effects are being felt all over the world.
SERWER: But what's next? Trends in humanity, past, present and future.
SERWER (on camera): The trends that shaped our world and an entire generation. CNN was there and will be there in the future.
I'm Andy Serwer in New York. In honor of CNN's 25th anniversary, we asked the editors and writers of "Fortune" magazine, to flash forward or look ahead, and give us some ideas about how the world will work.
Let's get the show started with a trend that keeps America running, literally. What powers our cars and our homes and our businesses then, now, and in the future?
Ali Velshi has more.
ALI VELSHI, CNN: How much oil do you think the world used today? Eight-four point three million barrels.
Know how much oil was produced today? Eighty-four point six million barrels.
Big problem, and it's getting worse. Not just in America, but in places like India and China. Countries that have explosive growth.
We're not running out of oil, just yet. If we had to, we could squeeze oil out of the sands of western Canada.
There could be enough there to supply the entire world at today's rate for 50 years.
And it's not all about oil: about 40 percent of the world's electricity is generated from coal, though in America, natural gas has become the fuel of choice for those plants that create electricity and for most of America's homes.
Natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, but it's in short supply. And it's getting expensive.
And then there's nuclear power, also cheap to produce, and plentiful, but then there's that little problem of where to bury the waste that comes from making it.
Everybody likes water. It's a clean, cheap way to create power. But we don't have an endless supply of it. And as sure as the sun rises every day, retro fitting millions of homes for solar power is getting cheaper, but it's still expensive.
The answer? Some say it's blowing in the wind. Well, don't be surprised to find a windmill like this popping up in your neighborhood. They're coming up all over America. They are part of wind farms. Wind farms create electricity, electricity that goes into the power grid, which is then sold to you the customer.
The Department of Energy says there's enough wind in this country to create double the electricity that we use today. And what could be cheaper than wind?
STEPHEN LEEB, AUTHOR, "THE OIL FACTOR": So cheap, in fact, that it could provide a gateway to the whole hydrogen economy.
VELSHI: So what exactly is the hydrogen economy? It means that hydrogen becomes the oil of the future and it could be what's coming down the road.
If you think hybrid electric cars are the future, think again. This car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
DENNIS CAMPBELL, CEO, BALLARD POWER SYSTEMS: A fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity with no emissions. At all.
VELSHI: Fuel cells are still too expensive. And the look of this car needs some serious work if it's going to take on the muscle trucks that dominate America's roads today.
Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn says the gas-burning car is here for a while.
CARLOS GHOSN, CEO, NISSAN: The problem for fuel cell car is not so much the car itself, it's how you going to transform society into society where hydrogen is easily distributed and available everywhere.
VELSHI: He means that some of these would have to become some of these. That's a problem in America, but maybe not so much in China.
The Chinese are getting richer and buying more cars. So why not steer that growth down the road toward that hydrogen economy?
Experts tell us the winds of change are blowing. Cleaner, cheaper fuels will eventually break our old habits. It's just a matter of time.
SERWER: Joining us to talk more about trends in energy our own Ali Velshi and "Fortune" magazine's senior editor Cait Murphy. Thanks for joining us.
Ali, in your piece you obviously talk about energy after oil. Which sources are you most sanguine about and when will to happen?
VELSHI: They all work, that's the good news. You can get energy from - from the wind. You can get energy from fuel cells. They're not yet economical. They become more economical as oil prices and gasoline prices and natural gas prices go up, so recent events have caused a lot more people to think more about wind and about natural gas and about fuel cells.
SERWER: Cait, obviously the hurricane has been front and center - both hurricanes over the past weeks. What has that done to oil prices and where do you think things are headed because of the hurricanes?
CAIT MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Well, I think the main thing its done is its illustrated to the man at the gas pump just how tight the situation is between oil supply and oil demand.
That you take out 10 percent of refinery capacity and all of a sudden, prices are booming at the pump.
SERWER: Can we build new refineries in this country or in other countries?
MURPHY: In terms of building refineries, the big issue there is political. A lot of people don't want refineries in their back yard.
The Gulf Coast is actually very comfortable with it, and that's why so much of our refinery capacity is there. It's where a lot of our petroleum capacity is for obvious reasons.
It's where the gas is. But California, for example, has shut down 20 percent of its refinery capacity. And so this is why you have this cluster and one of the reasons you have this clustering and it obviously makes us rather vulnerable.
SERWER: Ali, getting back to the future a little bit, what about hydrogen? Is that the fuel that we're really going to be talking about decades out?
VELSHI: Well, one of the reasons Cait was saying people don't like refineries, is because they're kind of dirty. You know, when you live around one you know they belch out a lot of smoke. People don't want them.
At the prices that we're paying now for gasoline and for oil, the decision to go to cleaner fuels now moves from being just environmental to being economic for some people.
People who wouldn't have cared about whether refineries dirtied the place are now thinking, you know what, this is just expensive.
Well, fuel cells are expensive right now. The cost of the fuel cell, the power part of a car that's made from a fuel cell is somewhere like three times the cost of a regular old combustion engine.
Until that comes down, people won't make the decision to dive into these things. So like I say, it's there. Until we all start thinking seriously about changing the way we think of consuming energy, we won't get those prices down.
Remember though, a lot of people say this is nonsense. The energy companies are the biggest companies in the world; they're not going to give this up. The energy companies are not going to suffer.
The energy companies make a lot of money; they will continue to make a lot of money for as long as we're alive.
SERWER: Cait, are we running out of oil?
MURPHY: No. Absolutely not. Right now our approved reserves are about 1.3 trillion barrels; that's double what they were in 1980.
SERWER: All right, Ali Velshi from CNN; Cait Murphy from "Fortune" magazine. Thank you very much.
Stay tuned. Up next, American soccer phenom Freddy Adu. There's more to come on FLASH FORWARD. "Fortune" magazine's top trends.
How do you spend your free time? It will change in the next 25 years and you may have more options.
Then, monster hurricanes may be an omen of things to come. The evolution of our environment.
And later, tiny technology with gusto. How it will change the world.
SERWER: Americans work hard and play hard, too. Trends in leisure have evolved in the past 25 years through technology and precious time.
What's driving most of those trends? Convenience.
Erica Hill explains.
ERICA HILL, CNN: You know what they say about all work and no play? Well, no worries. Many of us are playing.
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, SENIOR EDITOR, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: One of the overarching themes of leisure time is that because people work so hard, they want to ensure that when they're not working, they're really having fun.
HILL: A recent Harris interactive poll says American adults have about 19 hours of leisure time per week. And apparently they're not spending much of it in theatres.
Box office revenues have been declining since 1980. Now lots of us are staying home and the movie trends have made it easy. More movies to rent or to buy in a store, or by mail.
As for TV trends, reality shows aside, what we watch on TV has changed less in the last couple of decades than how we watch TV.
In the '80s, VCRs were the rage. Then enter the digital video recorder. First commercially available through TiVo in 1999, it can pause live TV for your convenience and no setting that flashing clock.
The love of TV and movies has also impacted trends in games.
We used to grab Monopoly, but now videogames are dominating and board games are adapting.
KIRKPATRICK: Board games aren't really just board games any more. There are a number of games that incorporate DVDs so that you react to things that you see on your TV in playing the board games.
HILL: Many leisure trends have been and will be tied to the handy computer.
REGINA LEWIS, AOL ONLINE ADVISOR: Just take simple things; are we going to go to the movies? Quick, let's check the listings.
I wonder what white water rafting is like. That kind of research that used to take a lot of phone calls and a lot of time now takes minutes.
HILL: Some argue leisure trends such as Internet dating, chat rooms, online gambling and blogging keep us out of the real world and put us in a virtual one.
LEWIS: So those are kind of old leisure activities with a new twist.
HILL: Many Americans spend their leisure time participating in some type of fitness activity. In the '80s Jane Fonda spurred the aerobics craze with her home workout tapes.
Now, people are hitting the gym and using fitness equipment like this and watching, what else? TV.
Trend spotters say the future of fitness is core conditioning and odd combinations of past trends think yogalaties. As for sports trends, many are choosing online fantasy leagues instead of hitting the real fields, but for those still outdoors, the trend is toward individual sports.
The only team sports still growing in popularity are ice hockey and soccer.
KIRKPATRICK: I think the media, how the media portrays sports, the popularity and celebrity of sports figures are major factors in causing people to play more sports.
HILL: Whatever causes new trends in leisure, the effect is that people will always kick around their options, choosing whatever might be convenient and that - that's just life.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SERWER: And joining us to talk more about how his sport is changing the face of America's leisure time, D.C. United's youngest player and "Fortune" magazine's top ten to watch, Freddy Adu.
Freddy, thank you very much for joining us.
FREDDY ADU, D.C. UNITED: Thanks for having me, man.
SERWER: As a young representative of the sport of soccer I've got to ask you, you know, a lot of kids play soccer in the United States growing up but when they get older it seems that they change sports.
Will soccer ever catch on to be a big time sport in the United States?
ADU: I think in probably the next ten years, you know, that's when it's going to make a huge jump because the talent that we have now is so deep and we have such great talents right now that I think, you know, in the near future we're going to be able to compete against the rest of the world, you know?
SERWER: How is your life changed, Freddy, over the past couple of years? I mean, three years ago you were just a kid. Now you're a professional athlete. Do people recognize you when you go around?
ADU: Yeah. Yeah. It's great. I mean it's - it's - actually I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, you know, whenever, you know, you start coming out and everywhere you go people recognize you and they always say hi and they want your autograph.
It's great. And I always see it as a compliment to my game and the kind of person I am.
SERWER: Do you envision a time when there's a global league, when you'll be able to play teams in Europe from the United States and all around the world?
ADU: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that would be great. I mean they should have a - they actually have a tournament right now which all the champions from every country come together and play in a huge tournament which is - you know - so which ever team wins is the best team in the world.
You know aside from the world cup that's another tournament you can play in to get notification or notoriety.
SERWER: When you see videogames, when you see TV, do you see them all coming together, do you see kids being able to play interactive games, interactive professional soccer on video while they're watching TV? Do you think about that stuff?
ADU: Yeah. I mean, obviously, you know, like you said - take videogames, for example, and there's lot of sports games in that you know and kids play it and they enjoy themselves and they probably figure, hey, let me give this a try in real life. And that definitely helps out - helps the sports out a little bit and so hopefully continues to help out and hopefully we get kids out playing and it would be real great to have more kids, you know, playing soccer and actually real interested in soccer because it truly is the best sport in the world.
SERWER: Last question Freddy. How does it feel to be watched and to be a super star at such a young age?
ADU: Ah, it's great. It's just a great feeling. It's everything you dream of but I'm just fortunate to - for it to happen to me at such a young age. A lot of people dream of being here and I'm enjoying life and I'm fortunate enough to be here right now so I'm not going to let it slip away.
I'm just going to keep working hard and just work hard towards my goal, which is to become one of the best players to play the sport, period.
SERWER: All right. D.C. United's soccer phenom Freddy Adu thanks very much for joining us.
ADU: All right, thanks for having me.
SERWER: Much more ahead on FLASH FORWARD.
Water, wind, rain and drought. Global warming or the cycle of a planet? Could weather be the story of our future?
And home smart home. When you're abode does the thinking for you. Stay tuned.
SERWER: Pollution has changed the face of the world. And as the earth's population grows, so do the environmental issues.
Veronica de la Cruz takes a look at what could be next on land and in the sea.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN: In the next 25 years, the might oceans that provide food for billions worldwide are expected to get warmer, threatening our coasts and fueling more powerful storms.
Many scientists predict hurricanes and other tropical storms will get more intense. Droughts will last longer, heat waves will become more frequent and downpours will be longer and more damaging.
All side effects of global warming.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: The climate change is real and its effects are being felt all over the world.
DE LA CRUZ: While some say its nature's course, others argue that humans are speeding up the process by burning fossil fuels, which release warming gases that get trapped in the atmosphere.
We're already seeing the signs of warming. Hungry polar bears have been caught sniffing around human areas for food because the rising temperatures have shortened their icy hunting season.
People used to living in sub-zero conditions are now living on thin ice.
MAYOR GEORGE AHMAOGAK, BARROW, ALASKA: Years back when I was a kid I used to see 14 feet thick ice. Forty years later, I'm now seeing ice at the most at less then two feet thick.
DE LA CRUZ: The ice melt from Antarctica is swelling rivers and oceans. Scientists say in the next 25 years, ocean sea levels will continue to rise, flooding coastal areas and islands.
For example, people on the island of Tuvalu in the south Pacific are preparing to move on as the ocean moves in.
PAANI LAUPEPA, TUVALU FOREIGN AFFAIRS REP: Eventually we will be forced to move from this place. We'll be forced to move through no fault of our own.
DE LA CRUZ: Rising ocean waters could come knocking on the doors of millions of people now living along the coast. Thirteen of the world's 17 largest cities are near water.
Jakarta, Bombay, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles.
As scientists debate whether humans can slow global warming by burning less fossil fuels, research suggests that we're fishing our oceans to death and for more than a billion of the earth's inhabitants seafood is more than just a popular choice on the menu.
DR. RANSOM MYERS, BIOLOGIST, DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY: Many of the poor in third world country's critically depend upon the protein from fish for their survival.
DE LA CRUZ: Oceanographer Ransom Myers has studied the disappearance of vast quantities and varieties of fish.
MYERS: Between 25 and 50 years ago, industrial fishing spread throughout the world's oceans. And this lead to an incredibly rapid decline of the big fish that live in the ocean.
To where we're now it's to 1/10th or less of the original level.
DE LA CRUZ: We can continue in business as usual and fish our favorite species out of existence, he says, or we can stop over fishing.
MYERS: We can save the sharks, we can save the cod, we can save the large fish if we make that choice.
DE LA CRUZ: Myers has seen this done successfully to save vanishing whale populations and Alaska is running bountiful and profitable salmon fisheries, to supply fish fries for many years to come.
SERWER: Joining us to talk more about environmental trends, Dr. Carl Safina, president of Blue Ocean Institute and "Fortune" magazines senior editor Cait Murphy. Welcome.
DR. CARL SAFINA, PRESIDENT BLUE OCEAN INSTITUTE: Thank you.
SERWER: Carl, let me start with you and ask you, are you concerned about global warming and its impact on fisheries?
SAFINA: The globe is warming and we know that because the temperatures have gone up in different places and the effects of the warming have been to change the distribution of fish and other marine animals, land animals as well, but to just stick with the ocean - and that is resulting in declines in some species, difficulty with breeding in other species, apparently suppressing the recovery of cod populations that have been decreased by over-fishing but now seem unable to start recovering possibly because of changing water temperatures.
SERWER: Cait, continue with this global warming questioning, are you concerned that this is changing our weather patterns, causing more hurricanes?
MURPHY: Well, what you can say in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina you can't isolate any single weather event and say that was global warming.
What you can say is if global warming plays out the way a lot of scientists predict, you'll have more and more intense such weather events.
SERWER: How is water a commodity, Carl, like oil? And is it becoming more precious?
SAFINA: Water is becoming scarcer in many parts of the world. Fresh water, for drinking, is becoming scarcer in many parts of the world.
And in some places it's starting to be sold by - by private businesses and occasionally controlled by warlords, even worse.
So people are putting more and more of a squeeze on fresh water supplies. In this country we just assume that water is a right but in many places its much more of a commodity and its becoming scarcer as there are more and more people and also as climate changes effect the patterns of the availability of fresh water.
SERWER: We do seem to be having issues with barrier islands and coastal areas, Cait. Should people live there?
MURPHY: Well, considering half the world does, just moving them all inland isn't really an option.
SERWER: Be a problem.
MURPHY: That would be something of a logistical nightmare. But what you can and should be doing is thinking about how you develop your coastal areas. There are some coastal areas that play an important part in marine ecosystems and also as we just saw in New Orleans in terms of flood prevention.
SERWER: But isn't it true that people who live in the interior parts of countries end up subsidizing people who live in coastal areas?
MURPHY: Well, you can do - for example in our country we have these silly flood insurance system programs that actually subsidize people to build in places where they would not be able to get private insurance and there's a good reason they can't get private insurance in that the risk/reward ratio was out of whack.
So in that sense, yes. I am subsidizing people to build in fragile ecosystems in, say, South Carolina. And that obviously makes no sense at all.
SERWER: All right we're going to have to leave it at that. Cait Murphy of "Fortune" magazine and Dr. Carl Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute.
Thanks for coming on.
MURPHY: Thank you.
SAFINA: Thanks a lot.
SERWER: Stay tuned for more of FLASH FORWARD, "Fortune" magazine's top trends.
Hold on now and leave the truck at home. Commute to work on your own personal aircraft. We'll take to the skies coming up.
And how to stay healthy, wealthy, and wise in the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can treat diseases in a single cell, detect it, identify it and treat it.
LIN: Good evening I'm Carol Lin and here's what's happening right now in the news.
The world is responding to pleas for help in south Asia as the death toll from this weekend's massive earthquake climbs to 22,000.
The U.S. is bringing in helicopters and U.N. response teams are arriving
SERWER: Welcome back to FLASH FORWARD, "Fortune" magazine's top trends. I'm Andy Serwer.
In honor of CNN's 25th anniversary we asked the editors and writers of "Fortune" magazine to look ahead and give us some ideas about how the world will work in the future. So far, we've explored trends in energy, the environment and how we spend our free time.
Now, we're going to take you home but there's no place like this in your corner of suburbia. Carol Lin takes us inside a very smart home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over here there's an electronic oven that cooks a roast in 20 minutes.
LIN (voice-over): Loosely defined as a home where all the infrastructure works in unison, it's a concept that has captivated home buyers' imaginations for decades.
TIM WOODS, INTERNET HOME ALLIANCE: We've been talking about the smart home for about over 50 years now and from the first one that came about at the New York World's Fair at the end of the 1930s, it's kind of enamored the American public for years and years.
LIN: But the necessary technological advances have been slow to develop. Robots are on Mars but we're still waiting to use refrigerators that automatically order food.
WOODS: Oh, about 25 years ago smart home constituted things like some really robust structured wiring and also a technology called X10 which used power line control to basically turn things on and off for people.
LIN: Today, power lines have given way to broadband, which holds the promise of taking the smart home concept to the next level.
WOODS: As we crested to the 20 million, 25 million homes that have broadband we start to put in place a platform where we can allow the smart home to be developed.
LIN: And with it transform some of life's most mundane activities.
WOODS: As you wake up in the morning your alarm clock goes off and because your alarm clock goes off it turns on your coffee maker and tells you in your bathroom mirror what the traffic is like going to work. You understand what the weather is going to be so you dress appropriately.
LIN: But for this to happen ease of use must be front and center.
MATT SWANSTON, CONSUMER ELECTRONICS ASSN.: The simplicity, the reliability of it is paramount. The consumer won't invite anything into their home that makes their life more complicated, especially if it's something that is designed to make their life simpler. LIN: After an unsuccessful run in the 1990s, manufacturers are beginning to understand this.
WOODS: We love to jam technology into things because we thought it was cool, because we thought the consumer wanted it and what the consumer told us is they don't want it. What they do want is help.
LIN (on camera): Help could come in many forms like a sensor- lined mattress that alerts paramedics when a health problem occurs or rotating platforms that allow a house to shift to capture the best views.
(voice-over): As researchers work on improving our home lives, others are busy exploring the future of travel. Like those as NASA who are working on a highway in the sky program. That envisions the day personal cars take flight monitored by global positioning signals. In reality, for any of these technologies to take off costs will have to be affordable to all, a trend we look forward to covering.
SERWER: We're joined by "Fortune" magazine's senior editors Cait Murphy and David Kirkpatrick to talk about the future of homes and personal aircraft. David, I got to start with you, personal aircraft means flying cars right?
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, SENIOR EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes.
SERWER: Is that really going to happen?
KIRKPATRICK: It will happen. It's a matter of when. I think NASA believes that they'll have prototypes that are operational within five years. The question I think is when will we have affordable energy that makes it really feasible to fly these things economically?
So, it will take a breakthrough in production of energy whether we use nuclear power to produce hydrogen or we have some other breakthrough and until we have that we won't see it routinely.
SERWER: But wait aren't there practical problems that have to be addressed in the future like power lines?
KIRKPATRICK: Yes, but the thing -- the thing that you don't realize when you ask that question is that computer control is the key to making this work. It's not -- the challenge is not going to be so much the devices that can fly, although we have to solve the energy problem. The challenge is the air traffic control in effect.
KIRKPATRICK: And it will all be computerized and I'd say you'll get to the point where the air vehicles that we fly around are controlled sort of the same way bits on the Internet are controlled and they all go in sequence and nothing can ever crash into anything else.
SERWER: All right, maybe I'll fly over and see you sometime in the future.
KIRKPATRICK: Please do. Cait, talk to us about smart homes. What are some of the things that you see gizmos around the house that will really happen in the future?
CAIT MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well, the real difference between what we have now and what we're going to have in the smart home of the future is that right now our houses just sort of sit on a plot of land. The smart home is going to work. It's going to generate its own energy. It'll be able to do things like change its color. It's also going to be very interactive.
You can program it so that if your grandmother has a fall that the emergency services will be contacted. Your bathroom will be a therapeutic device. You'll look in the mirror and it will tell you what medications to take. Your toilet seat will measure your body fat in your urine and things like that. So, it's going to be very interactive and very hard working.
SERWER: It almost sounds a little scary some of those things maybe but I mean it is the future right?
MURPHY: Well, I've often thought that when I designed the smart home for "Fortune" magazine the thing I failed to put in was a switch to turn everything off because it is a little scary.
SERWER: Right. David, what are some gizmos that have really got your attention?
KIRKPATRICK: Well, I mean I think the real interesting issues when you look really far out are sort of implanted electronics where we're essentially blending the biological and the, you know, information technology breakthroughs that we're now having, almost like having Google in your brain so that you really will -- not just for information but also for logic, for understanding, for calm.
I mean we will see both electronic and pharmacological modification of our brains in so many different ways. I think it again becomes a little scary or certainly morally and intellectually troubling how much control we will be capable of having in the future.
SERWER: All right, fasten your seat belts. The future is coming; senior editors David Kirkpatrick and Cait Murphy from "Fortune" magazine, thanks for joining us.
MURPHY: Thanks for having me.
SERWER: More top trends coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERWER (voice-over): Unlocking the potential of modern medicine, a look at treatments and cures, more sci-fi than high tech.
And later, watches that detect UV levels and self-cleaning glass that sheds dirt, the fruit of a mighty and miniscule technology. Stay tuned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERWER: We're living longer, healthier lives thanks to fast- moving trends in science and medicine. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at post modern medicine inside and out.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most of the major advances in medical technology have occurred within the last quarter century, everything from Viagra to laser vision eye correction surgery. Just within the last ten years alone, we've decoded the human genome, unlocked the secrets of life and death, a discovery that will undoubtedly change the face of medical science forever.
So what advances lie ahead? Will the world in the future look like a scene from the "Jetson's"? Maybe and some of those technologies are already here. Check out the pill cam. It's not much bigger than a Tylenol and when you swallow it, it transmits thousands of pictures of your esophagus and your intestines straight to your doctor's computer.
DR. MARC ROSENBERG, GASTROENTEROLOGIST: I think that it's a very exciting time in medicine because of these new technologies.
GUPTA: And the virtual colonoscopy for those who may be hesitant to have the traditional procedure this one uses a CAT scanner to build a 3-D image of a patient's colon in about ten minutes without anesthesia and still allows doctors to spot problems early.
And, of course, there are stem cells and cloning but these are only the beginnings of a new wave of micro technologies and medical treatment specifically contoured to your genes. Some day you may be carrying your entire genetic sequence in your pocket and the prefix Nano will become a household world.
Speaking of which, check out these nanobots, these microscopic robots could be swallowed or injected and as they travel around in your bloodstream they seek out and destroy cancer cells, repair tears in your tissues and dissolve plaque in your arteries.
And, alongside them in your vessel super highway will be new super drugs. These drugs will be specifically designed for your genetic sequence and may make diseases like cancer or AIDS seem like relics of 2010.
And how about those stem cells, they would be injected directly into your body to re-grow damaged organs and sprout replacements for damaged limbs. Or, put those cells into a Petri dish and you could re-grow a limb outside the body and attach it later on. That's the post modern day prosthetic.
Hoping for a baby girl would be seen as retro. You could easily customize the sex of your baby to be and comb through their genome to weed out potential anomalies like Down's Syndrome.
The mere thought of having technology like this is pretty cool but it doesn't come without cost. DNA specific medication is not the only thing your genetic readout could be used for.
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: They have the potential to lose their job if in any way this genetic testing information found its way to the insurer or to a potential employer or to an employer. That's the problem.
GUPTA: So, Senator Snowe has introduced legislation to prevent just that from happening. And there are other roadblocks that are likely to arise. Take stem cells, for example. The technology is here now but the money isn't.
DR. ALTA CHARO, BIOETHICIST, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: I think we are going to see significant advances but it won't be as if we snap a finger and magically overnight we cure hundreds of thousands of people.
GUPTA: So, while the future of medicine looks bright we still got a long way to go.
SERWER: Here to talk more about the future of medicine is CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta and, here in New York, "Fortune" magazine's senior editor David Kirkpatrick.
Sanjay, let me start with you and ask you what things excite you the most in medicine that are right over the horizon?
GUPTA: Yes, sure. I mean if you look at some of the biggest killers in society now, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, those sorts of things, a lot of that might be treated, if not reversed, by some of the treatments that are being developed right now.
Stem cells, we've talked a lot about that, the idea that you could actually take some stem cells in someone who has heart disease, inject those stem cells into the heart and turn around or at least treat their heart disease is pretty real, pretty likely I think within the next several years.
Also there's more practical things like this. This is an artificial leg, really remarkable artificial leg. Take a look here. We talk a lot about amputees. This has microchips onboard, actually takes measurements 50 times a second.
Somebody was actually able to run down 70 flights of stairs after 9/11 in the World Trade Center with one of these legs. These sorts of things are here and now and you're going to see more and more developments like that -- Andy.
SERWER: David, Sanjay mentioned stem cell research. Obviously that is a very contentious issue and that brings us to the topic of medical advancement and ethical questions. Is this a problem in our society?
KIRKPATRICK: The ethical issues that come up when you look at what's going to be possible with medicine and medical advancements in the future are manifold, so for example, will we allow artificially enhanced athletes to compete freely? Well, will all athletes have to be artificially enhanced then? Similarly, intellectual competition, in education will some people be enhanced and others not?
SERWER: Sanjay, I want to turn to you with the same question. Do you see physicians really having to deal with these ethical issues down the road and is this something that could really inhibit medical progress?
GUPTA: We've reached a point where some scientists are starting to use this term quietly but starting to use it, practical immortality. Could we get to the point that if we really wanted to that we could start to make people live as long as they wanted to live, turning out, exchanging out body parts like you would in a car for example, enhancing along the way so that people actually look good, feel good, are functionally active as they get older? But it does raise all sorts of ethical issues that you can't have these discussions about the scientific progress without having those ethical issues.
KIRKPATRICK: Sanjay, nonetheless, don't you think this will happen? There's really nothing we can do about it. We're going to have to face these issues but the advancements are going to be inexorable.
SERWER: What do you say Sanjay?
GUPTA: Yes, I think that that's true. I mean, you know, people are -- I think for the first time we're getting to the point where science is starting -- is starting to out strip our ability to think about how we're going to use the science.
GUPTA: We're progressing faster than we really know how to figure out what we're going to do with these advancements and I think we really have to be very careful about that. I mean not everybody wants to live forever. Not everybody even wants to live over 100 years old.
SERWER: And what about life expectancy, David? I mean what are we -- are we talking here about a situation down the road where we really will be able to cure things like cancer and AIDS and would that make life expectancy go beyond 100 years as Sanjay is suggesting?
KIRKPATRICK: Yes, I think life expectancy is going to really, really increase and most diseases, the ones that we know today, are going to be more or less curable and preventable. So, I agree with Sanjay that we are really reaching a point where, you know, life expectancy is going to be more or less a judgment call, how long do you want to live?
SERWER: Those really are fascinating questions. David Kirkpatrick of "Fortune" magazine and CNN's own Sanjay Gupta thank you very much for coming on the program.
Stay tuned as we continue to FLASH FORWARD. Up next, we'll talk to a nanotechnologist whose innovations are inspired by nature.
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SERWER (voice-over): Good things come in small packages, really small packages, actually teeny, tiny technical titans.
MARSHALL BRAIN, HOWSTUFFWORKS.COM: It really has the ability to touch almost any industry, any product because it's such a different way to look at material.
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SERWER: We've arrived at the final trend of shaping our lives now and into the future. It's undetectible to the human eye but a little thing called nanotechnology is poised to revolutionize our world in ways that seem hard to imagine.
Daniel Sieberg takes a closer look.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Invisible to the naked eye, each smaller than 1/50,000 of a human hair, atoms and molecules, the building blocks for advancements that could one day revolutionize everything from your cell phone to an airplane wing.
DR. ZHONG LIN WANG, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Nontechnologies that we'll be able to design, control, manipulate and construct from the smallest unit we have.
SIEBERG: Twenty-five years ago nanotechnology was mostly an academic research field, not the cutting edge commercial darling it is today. By creating a layer of air above the fabric, it's the tool that keeps your pants stain free following a coffee or wine spill.
And, Wang says nanotechnology has opened up the possibility of watches that detect UV levels or toxic chemicals, self-cleaning glass that sheds dirt and enhanced electronics that exceed even today's plasma or LCD standards.
WANG: We have the tool to see the atoms, to (INAUDIBLE) atoms. That's the tools atomic allow. We were unable to do that 20 years ago. Today we can do it.
SIEBERG: Throughout history we've had to accept raw materials as nature created them but with this ability to rearrange atoms and combine them in new ways that might create different properties the possibilities may be limitless.
BRAIN: It really as the ability to touch almost any industry, any product because it's such a different way to look at materials.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My budget supports a major new national nanotechnology.
SIEBERG: In 2000, President Clinton almost doubled the nation's investment in nanotechnology research to nearly $500 million. Brain says the healthcare sector may be one of the largest investors in nanotechnology. For example, the atoms in a drug could be programmed to go after only the affected areas of the body.
BRAIN: Chemotherapy goes and it messes up your entire body. It makes your hair fall out. It makes you throw up. Instead the drug would attach directly to the tumor and nowhere else.
SIEBERG: Back on Main Street you could one day see smart packaging that senses when food has spoiled. Nanotech could also give ice cream a more uniform texture or allow drinks to change color.
(on camera): With a gadget like your cell phone, it could actually blend the display more into the phone itself. It could also improve your battery by making it last longer and recharge faster, all of this while increasing the power of your phone while decreasing the amount of energy that it uses.
(voice-over): But many advancements will require several years and governments, along with the private sector, will have to decide how much money to invest and decide soon.
BRAIN: It's such a wide open playing field. If we don't make the investment and step up to the plate, it could be that the world actually is much better at nanotech than we are.
SIEBERG: It may be small but its impact could be beyond measure.
SERWER: To talk more about this fascinating technology is a leading nanotechnologist and one of "Fortune's" top ten to watch, Professor Angela Belcher from MIT. Angela, let me ask you how realistic are our expectations about nanotechnology to produce something over the next ten years or so?
PROF. ANGELA BELCHER, NANOTECHNOLOGIST, MIT: Well, I think that expectations are very good. There's a lot of both basic science and applied science that's working towards bringing nanotechnology into many current kinds of applications and these are a very wide range of applications anywhere from electronics to medicine to other kinds of healthcare and interactive textiles.
SERWER: Now you brought a couple of seashells with you didn't you? I want to know how they relate to this topic.
BELCHER: Well, these are two different natural bio materials that are made from nanotechnology and these organisms basically have genetic information. They have DNA which helps them construct nanostructured material from what they have in the ocean, basically salts that they have in the ocean.
And, these organisms through millions of years have evolved the ability to make really exquisite nanostructures, materials that are very strong and very tough and what we'd like to do is actually to mimic these same kinds of interactions but do them with more technologically important materials.
SERWER: Can you make genetically engineered viruses grow electronic components is that a possibility?
BELCHER: That's a definite possibility and it's been a major focus of my research group for the last six years. What we do is we encourage organisms like viruses and yeast to interact with electronic materials and try to get them to incorporate these materials into their natural environment and get them to grow electronic materials anywhere from materials used for computing to batteries to solar cells.
SERWER: Are there examples of nanotechnology being used today?
BELCHER: Nanotechnology is already used in many commercial applications like sunscreens and you can now find clothing that has -- that has nano science built into it to make it more stain resistant. And there's also nanotechnology that's being used in electronics but it's only going to get better and it's only going to get to be used in more different kinds of applications.
SERWER: Oh, that's fascinating stuff and we appreciate your perspective. That's Professor Angela Belcher from MIT. Thank you very much for coming on the program.
BELCHER: Thank you.
SERWER: That wraps up our look at the top trends of the future. To learn more, check out our website at cnn.com/cnn25.
We would like to thank the editors and writers from "Fortune" magazine for helping us look into a crystal ball of trends.
And, of course, our special guests, Freddie Adu, Dr. Carl Safina and Professor Angela Belcher for joining us. I'm Andy Serwer thanks for watching.
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