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Want to Predict the Future? Get a 13-Year-Old Mentor

Inc. asked future-focused experts how to make money in 2013 (and beyond). Intel's in-house futurist says you'd be wise to look in junior high school.

This article is part of Inc.'s special report on How (and Where) to Make Money in 2013 (and Beyond). Follow the links at the end of the story for more game-changing trends, bold predictions, and hot markets to watch next year.

 Brian David Johnson is Intel's resident futurist. Inc. sat down with him recently to get his vision for the future.

You travel all over the world to study how people are using technology. What specific things do you look for?

I try to figure out what it will feel like to be a human using technology 10 years from now. One thing I always look for is the silly, crazy, niche apps--like Angry Birds, say, or an app that lets you track your baby's sleep schedule. These get into the richness and complexities of humans.

In what ways are our interactions with technology changing?
Touch and voice technology are getting better. And gesture recognition will be used more broadly. We're looking at how to bridge multiple inputs--motion, sound, and gesture--combined with information about people's locations to put it all in context. Foursquare is just the tip of the iceberg.

As a futurist at Intel, you have all the resources of a giant company to draw on. How can someone with fewer resources predict the future?
Get yourself a 13-year-old mentor. The perspective of someone who has grown up with computing power in his pocket, always being connected, is fascinating. And at 13, people are just starting to form their own vision of the world and have the language to communicate it.

Should we be worried about the future?
I try to get people to think and understand that you can't let the future happen to you. You have to take action. We all own the future and have the power to shape it by creating a vision of the world we want.


Last updated: Dec 18, 2012


Adam Bluestein is a frequent contributor to Inc., writing about health care, innovation, and new technology. He lives with his wife and two children in Burlington, Vermont.

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