[Paleopsych] WP Outlook: What Will Be Essential in 2020?

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What Will Be Essential in  2020?
[These articles were spread over three pages, B1-3, in today's Outlook
section of the Washington Post, i.e., 5.1.2, each with its own URL.]


     What Will Be Essential in 2020?
     By Philip Kennicott

     If you're one of those people who use this season to clean up and
     throw out the accumulated baggage of another year, just take stock of
     how deeply a basic optimism pervades the house. In the kitchen, a
     little bit of desiccated saffron waits for the proverbial blue moon
     when you decide to color a pot of rice. On the bookshelf, Thomas
     Mann's "Magic Mountain" still inhabits its two inches of precious
     space, waiting for a long, undistracted summer to be given its due. In
     the closet, your youth hangs in between old winter coats and forlorn
     ties, waiting for the new you that will emerge from the gym and a
     regimen built on tofu and greens.

     There is an optimism so fundamental to life that we hardly notice its
     presence, an optimism of essentials: We hoard and we plan and we
     muddle on regardless of a world that gives us little reassurance about
     our future. Our world is constructed of ephemera -- technology and
     entertainment and celebrities -- that we know will come and go. And
     often it feels full of dreadful omens. But before the mind darkens
     contemplating that glass -- half full, or half empty? -- the body
     thirsts, simply, essentially. So the glass and the water precede the
     philosophical messiness of the human condition. And it is comforting,
     and chastening, from time to time, to work backward, from the
     anxieties and ambiguous portents of daily life to the basics. What is
     essential? What will remain essential in . . . oh, let us say 15

     Outlook has put this question to six diverse writers. Our choices
     reflect, of course, our own most basic bias toward the essentials of
     life. We assume that a decade and a half from now we will still be
     essentially what we are today: mortal beings who struggle in the world
     to raise families, stay healthy, satisfy curiosity, amuse ourselves
     and leave behind us a record of who and what we were during our
     allotted time on the planet.

     It's never easy to answer this kind of question, which demands equal
     parts contemplation and speculation. And the question itself -- what
     is essential? -- is ultimately an elegant rephrasing of the most basic
     question we face: What is the meaning of our lives? But we ask it now
     because we are at a moment in American history that is filled with
     anxiety, and nothing allays fear like getting back to basics.

     Fifteen years ago, when laptops and portable phones were rare and
     unwieldy luxuries, not essentials, we saw the Cold War come to an end.
     Four years ago, at the end of a summer troubled by missing interns and
     marauding sharks, we saw the post-Cold War idyll shattered by
     terrorism. One of the things that went up in smoke that day was a
     crude kind of futurism -- fantasies of a technological golden age,
     theories of rapid new human evolution. Today, the language of the
     future has a dark edge to it. We live in a time not just of known
     unknowns, but unknown unknowns, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
     has said, none too reassuringly.

     Remember the Long Boom? The theory put forth in the late 1990s that
     our big worry was no worries? That prosperity and technology and the
     end of the Cold War meant years, decades even, of troublesome peace
     and stability? Remember the end of history, Francis Fukuyama's hailing
     of a new post-ideological age, without the grand historical
     confrontations of the Cold War? Alluring ideas are not necessarily
     essential ones. But new ideas replace them, and some of them may prove
     more lasting.

     In producing the pages you see here, we have chosen a span of 15 years
     to make it manageable. Except for the very aged, who may be excused
     for worrying less about a time they will not see, we can all make out,
     if somewhat dimly, the year 2020 on the horizon.

     Thinking about someone else's future, a century from now, is pleasant
     sport, played without much responsibility; thinking about our own
     future requires more care and caution. Most predictions involve a
     little wish fulfillment (pundits are notorious for this), and the good
     that we wish for -- or the evil we would wish away -- says everything
     about who we would like to be.

     In the end, the particulars of what people today think will be
     essential in 2020 matter less than the exercise of pondering the
     question. It is an antidote to the myopia and chaos of our public
     life, a bulwark against Cassandra and Pangloss alike, against fear
     mongering and complacency. This centering question -- what is
     essential? -- is elemental to our spiritual and religious life, our
     daily habits, our arts and sciences, and yet seems all too often
     utterly absent from our political world. A politician who would
     confront the rabble of Scandal, Cant and Empty Symbols with a little
     impatience and a dismissive wave of the hand, saying, "that's not
     essential," might rise to the first rank of public life. But then
     again, politicians are not a breed apart, but a reflection of some
     part of ourselves, perhaps that part of us which, like Milton's
     Mammon, keeps looks and thoughts "downward bent," admiring the
     pavement and not the vaults of heaven.

     Perhaps in 15 years, if someone should return to these pages,
     everything he or she reads here will have been proved wrong. But a
     failure of prescience is not so lamentable as a failure of hope -- and
     by focusing on what will be essential, rather than what will change,
     we ground our speculation in hope. The future sketched here, even if
     it is not all that we would like it to be, is nevertheless one we
     expect to see.

     Author's e-mail: kennicottp at washpost.com
     Phil Kennicott, a staff writer for the Style section, is The Post's
     culture critic.

     Some Dramatic Insight . . .

     Okay. It's 3 a.m. Lying on the sofa, you've drifted off into some
     flighty dream listening to the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting
     in air . . . only to be jolted awake by the static scream of the
     television set. If you remember nights like that, chances are you also
     remember losing your patience while trying to make an urgent call on a
     rotary phone.

     From UHF to satellite, VHF to Direct TV, the technological advances
     have been phenomenal, but they have accompanied a disturbing trend --
     the evolution of the media as purveyors of entertainment rather than
     news, as investigators into celebrity lives rather than into current

     These changes leave me guessing what we will encounter in the next
     decades. Perhaps we will have put aside those 3-D glasses in favor of
     personal LCDs that will allow us to view news clips (indistinguishable
     from fiction) just centimeters from our eyes while riding the subway;
     or maybe we'll catch "click-a-flicks" in which one click of a
     ballpoint pen will project the latest blockbuster hit (with real
     politicians and celebrities morphed into the leading roles) onto any
     surface. Or should we look beyond PlayStation and Xbox and see that
     our obsession with gang violence, carjackings, presidential
     assassinations and sex is just the vulgar precursor to affective
     computer games that will make us feel as if we really are invading
     malls and churches or attacking public transportation systems as
     suicide bombers?

     As the media that once assumed the responsibility for educating and
     informing us devolve into mere entertainment, we shall, ironically,
     find ourselves looking to one of the oldest forms of entertainment --
     theater -- to educate and inform us. What will be essential then will
     be to develop theater that does not yield to special effects in an
     effort merely to amuse but takes us places where we often do not want
     to go, the places of our most intimate personal fears and not just
     fear-fueled fantasies.

     It is in the political and social arena that the theater will thrive,
     tackling 2020's versions of the Columbine massacre, 9/11 and the Iraq
     war and compensating for the failings of our sources of news and
     information. We've seen this trend already, beginning with the works
     of playwrights Adrienne Kennedy and Ed Bullins in the 1960s and '70s
     and more recently with August Wilson, Kia Corthorn, David Hare and
     Tony Kushner.

     How will theater compete with the technologically driven media?
     Hip-hop moguls like Russell Simmons have already brought that genre as
     far as Broadway, expanding theater's boundaries. That's promising. At
     any rate, let's hope the stage can resist the cravings to pry into
     individuals' personal lives by creating reality theater. Let's hope we
     won't be inviting audiences to "go backstage and witness the
     uncensored drama" where the greenroom, the egos and the insecurities
     would all be put on display.

     Most likely, I think, is that, in a world where the news media will
     have been given over entirely to shock programming, theater will
     provide an essential forum for tackling the affairs of our nation. And
     there's no denying that current affairs are as dramatic as ever
     before. Theater may draw back the curtain to focus on the essential

     Author's e-mail: TimothyJavon at msn.com
     By Javon Johnson, the author of 11 plays, including "Breathe" and
     . . . and Portable Serenity

     Few industries are supposed to have more to look forward to than the
     travel industry. We hear that by the year 2020, the skies will be
     filled with gigantic double-decker airplanes, and everyone will be
     spending a sizable portion of their income and even their time going
     somewhere else.

     Despite these predictions, my guess is that more and more of us will
     find the confidence to stay at home, and that after peaking around
     2015, the leisure travel industry will go into gradual but terminal
     decline. Weeds will grow in the atriums of the world's big airports
     and vast concrete hotels will stand empty by azure shores. We will by
     then have grasped what is essential to successful travel: We will have
     understood that our deepest problems and anxieties are not resolved by
     transporting ourselves somewhere else.

     The prospect of a vacation can usually persuade even the most downcast
     that life is worth living. Aside from love, few events are anticipated
     more eagerly, or form the subject of more enriching daydreams, than
     our vacations. They seem to offer us perhaps our finest chance to
     achieve happiness outside the constraints of work. During the long
     working weeks, we can be vitally sustained by our dreams of going
     somewhere else, a place with better weather, more interesting customs
     and inspiring landscapes -- a place where it seems we stand a chance
     of finally being happy.

     But of course the reality of travel seldom matches the daydreams. The
     tragicomic disappointments are well known: the sense of
     disorientation, the mid-afternoon despair, the arguments, the lethargy
     before ancient ruins. When we look at pictures of places we want to go
     and see (and imagine how happy we would be if only we were there), we
     are inclined to forget one crucial thing: that we will have to take
     ourselves along with us. That is, we won't just be in India/South
     Africa/Australia/Prague/Peru in a direct, unmediated way; we'll be
     there with ourselves, still imprisoned in our own bodies and minds --
     with all the problems this entails.

     By 2020, we stand to recognize that our capacity to draw happiness
     from aesthetic or material goods is critically dependent on first
     satisfying a more important range of emotional or psychological needs,
     among them the need for understanding, for love, for self-expression
     and respect. We will not enjoy -- we are not able to enjoy --
     sumptuous tropical gardens and attractive wooden beach huts when a
     relationship to which we are committed abruptly reveals itself to be
     suffused with incomprehension and resentment, or when we remember that
     our career is not heading in the direction we would like it to. The
     key ingredients of happiness remain stubbornly psychological.

     The travel industry conspires to make us forget this essential truth.
     It promises us that happiness can be attained by changing the color of
     the sky. But no one was ever cheered up by a beautiful location for
     longer than about 15 minutes -- unless, that is, they were ready to be
     happy anyway.

     By 2020, what will be essential to travel, if you must undertake it,
     is a calm heart and a satisfied mind, and an awareness that we cannot
     solve most of our ills by changing locations. For those who stay at
     home, Pascal's famous aphorism will be the guiding light: "The sole
     cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay
     quietly in his room."

     Author's e-mail:adb at netcomuk.co.uk

     By Alain de Botton, the author of seven books, including "The Art of
     Travel" (Vintage), who lives in London.
     We'll Need a Threatometer . . .

     If you believe the sci-fi films of the 20th century, life in the year
     2020 will indeed be much simpler -- either because we'll all be
     wearing spandex jumpsuits all the time, or because we'll all be living
     underground like cockroaches. But despite my natural tendency to think
     about the Worst-Case Scenarios ((TM) and © Quirk Productions), I
     consider myself a realistic optimist. As a result, I think the future
     in store for us 15 years from now is unlikely to be dramatically
     different from the present -- just dirtier, multifunctional and
     miniaturized. So here's my short list of the essential gear for
     surviving in 2020:

     o EyePod Sunglasses. From AppleApparel, these special spectacles will
     not only screen out those increasingly nasty UV rays but will also
     filter out the visual and aural messages that will be assaulting us
     from all directions, via electronic billboards on everything from
     street signs to urinals. These glasses will be essential for
     maintaining sanity, focus and safe driving skills. They will also,
     however, allow the wearer to download music, videos and the latest
     episode of Dr. Phil.

     o Nasal filters. These will be standard issue due to air pollution,
     the ever-increasing threat of bioterrorism and the continued ubiquity
     of stick-on air fresheners.

     o Swiss Army Gloves. Repackaging the basics for human survival in the
     ultimately handy format. The 2020 model will include a compass,
     scissors, pocketknife, sewing kit, flint, magnifying glass, gas mask,
     water purifier, GPS-enabled satellite phone, web browser and, of
     course, a toothpick.

     o George Foreman Low-Fat Grill with Meat Thermometer/Terrorist
     Threatometer. The latest version will not only remove all the fat from
     a hamburger, but also monitor the color-coded alerts from the Homeland
     Security Advisory System, allowing you to decide in an instant if you
     need to eat and run.

     o Groomba. Indispensable in a time-challenged society: A tiny,
     spiderlike robotic grooming device that will trim your hair, shave you
     and give you a facial while you are sleeping.

     o MiVo. This microscopic camera implant will record your life onto a
     small hard drive in 30-minute segments. Via remote control, Homeland
     Security can use it to watch you packing your suitcase for a flight;
     or you can set it yourself to record a "season pass" of all family
     events, skipping the boring parts.

     o Beau-toxe. A new Botox-infused cologne that will simultaneously
     eliminate your wrinkles and attract the opposite sex. Essential? You
     be the judge.

     o Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Still good for sooooo many things.

     Author's e-mail: david at quirkbooks.com

     By David Borgenicht, co-author of "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival
     Handbook" (Chronicle Books).
     We'll Have to Use Data Wisely

     "You know more than you think you do," Benjamin Spock encouraged
     parents in the first line of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care," more
     than half a century ago. Nowadays, when we think about all the
     information available to us at the tap of a finger and the flash of a
     screen, it sometimes seems that we know more than we ever thought we'd
     know about our children, ourselves, our health. The essential question
     is what to do with all that knowledge. By 2020, we will know much
     more, and the question of how to use that vastly expanded knowledge to
     make intelligent choices will be our health imperative.

     We already know an astonishing amount, at times more than we really
     can handle: Ask any parent who has had to make an agonizing decision
     about a fetus with a genetic problem, or any adult who has had to
     decide whether to be tested for Huntington's disease.

     Soon we'll understand much more, about a fetus, a baby, a child, an
     adult, about genetic susceptibility and risk, about predicting who
     might get heart disease, mental illness and certain types of cancer.
     You won't just say in a general way, oh yes, that runs in my family --
     you'll be able to know specifically what runs, so to speak, in your
     veins. And the health challenge to us, as individuals, and as a
     society, will be what to do with this information, how to use it well
     and wisely at every level.

     "The whole world is going to see how cardiovascular disease,
     obesity-related disease, mental illness, how these major causes of
     death and morbidity arise in utero or in childhood, how they're
     multi-generational, and the challenge is how to interrupt these
     processes so people can live long and healthy lives," says Matthew W.
     Gillman, associate professor of ambulatory care and prevention at
     Harvard Medical School, whose research focuses on long-lasting health
     effects of early human development.

     Most of the great advances in human health, he points out, are
     connected to public health improvement, to greater public hygiene or
     safety or greater understanding applied on a population-wide basis, to
     changes we make in our society or our environment that affect
     everyone. Our job will be to look for ways to use our increased
     information to improve the health of the population, as well as the
     health care of the individual.

     If we do this right, we'll pick our questions carefully, bearing in
     mind that a screening test is only valuable if a reasonable
     intervention is available. We're already doing it in certain areas,
     guided by family history: Hey, you have a high risk of cardiovascular
     disease, so modify your lifestyle and your diet in ways that will
     really change your odds! And you, over there, you have a
     higher-than-average chance of developing a hidden cancer, so you need
     to get yourself checked more often than most people.

     Well, imagine those pieces of advice to the nth degree, a custom-made
     set of lifestyle advisories so you don't end up like poor Uncle Al, or
     so that your sweet 1-year-old, who happens to share his genetic
     susceptibilities, doesn't take any baby steps in that direction. Or
     imagine a carefully tailored set of pharmaceutical recommendations
     about which drugs are likely to work well for you and which may be a
     little dangerous, all based on your genetic makeup.

     But doing this right will mean thinking not just about what will work
     for you, but about how this understanding of susceptibility,
     environment and prevention should help us shape our medical system and
     our social policy. If we do this right, it ought to mean sense and
     safety; if we push too hard and too egotistically, it could mean,
     unfortunately, a custom-made set of predictions, anxieties and
     paranoid, late-night hypochondrias, or the kind of anxious hovering
     over a child that leads to limited expectations and self-fulfilling

     Doing it right will mean using screening tests intelligently to
     pinpoint problems where early detection and prevention change the
     odds. Doing it right will mean learning to assimilate additional
     information about individual risk, and yet not letting that
     information limit our horizons. And above all, doing it right will
     mean thinking not only individually -- as privileged consumers of
     health care -- but for everyone, so that this information is available
     to all, so that we use what we learn about risk and prevention to make
     the world a little safer, improve our health care delivery as well as
     our health, and meet the challenge of staying healthy in 2020.

     By Perri Klass, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University
     School of Medicine and co-author of "Quirky Kids: Understanding and
     Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit In" (Ballantine).
     . . . See Today as the Past

     Like bulbs lying dormant in the ground before pushing their way to the
     surface, the forces ready to transform the world by 2020 are all
     around us, yet hidden. And like the bulbs, those forces already
     contain substance and direction that we who have planted them cannot
     clearly discern.

     For historians 15 years hence, it will be essential to work backward,
     from blossoms to roots. And when they do, they will undoubtedly have
     to sift through the implications of globalization -- whether to
     interpret it as the seed of a tighter world community or as the root
     of a profound, more pessimistic shift in the world and in the United

     America sailed into world prominence under the banner of progress.
     Buoyed by decades of material advances, 20th-century historians
     largely made it their task to explain how the United States became the
     richest and most powerful country in the world.

     Policymakers in the United States assumed then, as they do now, that a
     uniform human nature inspired all individuals, from childhood on, to
     strive for more goods. Discounting the crazy quilt of ethnic variety,
     our leaders have long seen people in all nations as yearning for a
     free enterprise economy and a democratic government patterned after
     the United States. So strong has been our sense of this ineluctable
     march forward that our nation has even resorted to military force to
     hasten globalization, American style.

     With this outlook, it has been easy to miss a great paradox that might
     be about to unfold: that the closer the peoples of the world draw
     together through communication, commerce and a shared commitment to
     human rights, the more they may claim their freedom to nurture
     distinctive ways. The homogenization of human societies, so evident in
     the closing decades of the 20th century, could come to an abrupt halt.

     That could be a positive thing. Building on sustainable, indigenous
     economies, countries could find ways to participate in a world
     community without sacrificing their distinctive customs. Coercion
     could give way to voluntary interaction; local decision-making could
     replace national and international centralization. Freed from equally
     smothering isolation or forced integration, human creativity and
     individual identity might flower in an era of plenty.

     However, historians in 2020 may be forced to explain a grimmer set of
     unintended consequences of globalization, starting with the plunge of
     the U.S. dollar, followed by the decimation of textile industries in
     developing countries no longer able to compete with China. A round of
     protective legislation restricting world trade could follow. Our
     innate selfishness, seen earlier as the basis for normal, healthy
     economies, could be our undoing as we disregard the consequences of
     our actions on the larger environment. The radiating effects of the
     vanishing rain forests could alter climates, thus drastically reducing
     food production. And astronomical prices for oil products might sap
     demand for industrial goods.

     The mutually reinforcing violence of terrorist groups engaged in
     relentless conflict with militarized, national regimes could make
     munitions the mainstay of industrial production. International
     cooperation in science and the arts might abate as fear of terrorists
     closed off access to the West's universities. And demographic trends
     will make it hard for Europe and the United States to support their
     own aging populations, much less provide poverty relief to keep
     overpopulated, underdeveloped countries from turning into seedbeds of
     intolerance and xenophobia.

     Now may be the time when essential choices are made about these future
     scenarios. In 2020, what will be essential is for historians to
     pinpoint the moment when either train of irreversible change -- one
     optimistic and one pessimistic -- passed the point of no return. They
     will know the outcome; we can only watch and hope.

     Author's e-mail: appleby at history.ucla.edu

     By Joyce Appleby, professor emerita of history at the University of
     California, Los Angeles, and author of "A Restless Past: History and
     the American Public" (Rowman & Littlefield).
     . . . And Nurture A New Generation

     Raising a successful child with just values is the most important
     human activity, and it will be as complex, demanding and fulfilling in
     2020 as it is today. This mystical process cannot be reduced to a
     single essential ingredient, but one crucial factor that determines
     whether a child succeeds or fails is the presence of caring adults.

     I grew up in rural South Carolina in the 1940s and 1950s in a racially
     segregated social order born of the ugly history of slavery.
     Fortunately for me, my parents and other adults never let the unjust
     external barriers become my internal ones. They provided buffers to
     combat a hostile world that told black children we weren't important.
     And they prepared me by precept and example to spend my life
     challenging that world.

     The changes from that time have been remarkable, and by 2020 the world
     will look very different from today. Many of our children will be
     parents, and they will find themselves enmeshed in a popular culture
     shaped by technological, social and economic forces hurtling past us
     before we even realize it. In such conditions, the need to instill in
     their children a set of ironclad core values -- honesty, integrity and
     service -- will become even more important. Adults hold a sacred trust
     to protect children from physical and spiritual poverty, violence and
     greed, and to show them how to care about something beyond themselves.

     Children need adult mentors in their homes, schools and communities
     who struggle to live what they preach. As the writer James Baldwin
     said, our children do not always do what we say, but they almost
     always do what we do. If we lie, children will. If we give nothing to
     the poor, they won't. If we don't vote, they will not fulfill their
     civic responsibilities as adults. If we tell or laugh at racial jokes,
     they will too. If we are violent and tolerate the glorification of
     violence, so will they.

     Our children tend to try to meet our expectations -- good or bad. They
     need adults who expect and help them to succeed. Parents need to teach
     children to respect others and themselves and to respond to people
     because they are good or wise or loving, not merely because they are
     powerful or rich. And adults need to stress nonviolent ways of
     resolving conflict in a violence-saturated world.

     Poor parents will need support to be good parents, meaning jobs with
     decent wages and health coverage in safe communities that offer
     educational opportunities for all. We know that America could harness
     its stupendous financial and intellectual treasure to break the cycle
     of poverty that limits our nation's progress and threatens our
     leadership in the world. Perhaps by 2020 the barriers that cause
     millions of children to fail will at last be cleared away.

     Author's e-mail:

     marian.edelman at childrensdefense.org

     By Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund.
     Quotes: Bare Essentials

     Scientific truth as an absolute value.
     -- Richard Dawkins,
     Oxford professor and author of "The Ancestor's Tale"

     Vigilance against electronic snooping (and not just by governments).
     -- K. Anthony Appiah, Princeton professor and author of "The Ethics of

     Print. If for the past 400 years we'd been getting all of our info
     electronically, and somebody invented a way to put it on paper and
     deliver it to our doorsteps so we could read it in the back yard or
     bath or bus, people would say this new print technology is so
     wonderful it will replace the Internet.
     -- Walter Isaacson, president, Aspen Institute

     The ability to type.
     -- John McWhorter, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute

     As we develop "affective" computers, remembering that simulated
     thinking may be thinking, but simulated feeling is not feeling,
     simulated love is never love.
     -- Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and Self,

     The great privacy of sleep; ambiguous, haunting images that come to us
     in the night; warm beds.
     -- Colm Toibin, author of "The Master"

     The "Oxford Book of English Verse" and sunblock.
     -- Thomas Mallon, novelist and critic

     Sunscreen, strong encryption, noise-canceling earphones.
     -- Edward Tenner, author of "Why Things Bite Back"

     Sunscreen and a dictionary; everything else for a good life will be
     -- Rami G. Khouri, executive editor, the Daily Star, Beirut

     Solar power and backyard vegetable gardens.
     -- Jeanne DuPrau, author of "The City of Ember"

     An organized health system for all, smaller serving portions (with a
     lot less calories and fat) and confiscatory tax levels on SUVs.
     -- Alfred Sommer, dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public

     A long-overdue law that will make the egregious habit of "personal
     blogging" a crime.
     -- Laura Zigman, author of "Animal Husbandry"

     The same thing that has been essential throughout civilization --
     engineering that advances quality of life.
     -- Henry Petroski, Duke professor and author of "Pushing the Limits:
     New Adventures in Engineering"

     An understanding heart.
     -- Julia Alvarez, author of "Finding Miracles"

     -- Bill Joy, co-founder and former chief scientist, Sun Microsystems

     An awareness that globalism begins at home and that the "outside
     world," so-called, is in your front yard, your back yard, your living
     room and perhaps your bedroom.
     -- Pico Iyer, travel writer and author of "Sun After Dark"

     A working knowledge of Mandarin and English, and technologically
     sophisticated children to program household robots.
     -- Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean, Woodrow Wilson School
     of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

     Basic knowledge of the Chinese language and history.
     -- Minxin Pei, director, China Program, the Carnegie Endowment
     for International Peace

     A well-educated nation.
     -- Robert D. Ballard, discoverer of RMS Titanic

     -- Eugenio Arene, executive director, Council of Latino Agencies

     A more effective and expansive United Nations.
     -- J. Bryan Hehir, Harvard professor and former president, Catholic

     Biometric ID cards, replacing passports, driver's licenses, national
     identification papers, proof of entitlement to pensions and state
     benefits and anything else we need ID for.
     -- Mary Dejevsky, chief editorial writer for London's Independent

     Complete genetic screening, which will allow prevention of most of the
     diseases known to man.
     -- Arthur Agatston, creator, South Beach Diet

     Cities remade to be beautiful and walkable.
     -- Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, architect

     Mass transit. Wireless headsets. Gyms will require trainers to have a
     psychology degree, or they'll have a resident psychologist.
     -- Matt Berens, personal trainer

     Krispy Kremes.
      -- Michael J. McKenna, cycling class instructor

     Nineteen years into the war on terror, an essential in all homes,
     offices and cars will be portable and powerful personal electrical
     -- Peggy Noonan, author, political commentator

     Patience. The lines will just keep getting longer.
     -- Dennis Nishi, illustrator

     Fluency in foreign cultures and an affordable cup of coffee.
     -- Amy Gutmann, president, University of Pennsylvania

     1920s vintage clothing for centennial celebrations of the Harlem
     Renaissance and the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
     -- A'Lelia Bundles,  author of "On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times
     of Madam C. J. Walker"

     A sense of humor.
     -- Nigella Lawson, author of "How to Be a Domestic Goddess"

     -- Charles Foehrkolb, MARC train conductor

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