Every founder has a vision of the future, if only to imagine a world in which his or her company stands where there once was a void. But some companies will play a truly outsize role in determining what lies ahead for all of us.

We've identified more than a dozen such companies and technologies in the Up Next package. Executive director of editorial Jon Fine and San Francisco bureau chief Jeff Bercovici teamed up to find founders and firms that are extending the limits of what's possible across several industries. Take, for example, Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that is solving two problems at once by converting household waste into jet fuel. Or theMednet, a brother-and-sister-led firm that is opening up an entirely new communication channel between doctors--with a huge potential for changing how health care is delivered.

We've been reading for years about the effects that artificial intelligence and robotics will have on the workplace. A study released in September by the World Economic Forum predicted that in 2025--just seven years from now--robots will provide more than half of the work hours needed to complete all tasks in the global workplace. That prediction may be off, but, as contributors Tom Foster and Matthew Yeomans explain, much more thinking needs to be devoted to the complex interaction of humans and machines that will soon be commonplace for offices and shop floors.

The scenarios raised by these stories and the paths they blaze toward an idealized future are--like the path of a fast-growing business--rarely smooth. There will be reversals, backlashes, and unintended consequences. Nonetheless, we're excited to present this vision of the future through the eyes of creative and ambitious founders. Like you.