It's been 15 years since the euro came into circulation and to mark the occasion Horizon is looking at what the future could have in store for finance. We talk to one economist who says the way to avoid another crisis is to keep banks small and boring, and we explore the effect of alternative local currencies on supporting small businesses. We also delve into some of the technology that could enable us to move to a cashless society, and we look at the growth of the so-called sharing economy, in which people share access to resources.
From eliminating checkout queues to potentially cutting counterfeiting and even terrorist financing, the rise of cash-free payment systems might not only change the way most of us pay but even pave the way to a cashless society.
People who use car-sharing services could soon be able to roam with different providers when travelling, much in the same way as people do with their mobile phone networks, thanks to a new piece of software which its inventor says will also help make car sharing economically viable in smaller cities and rural areas.
We need to return to a diverse, small-scale banking system in order to reduce the risk of another financial crisis, according to Professor Eckhard Hein from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany, who was involved in the EU-funded FESSUD project examining the causes and consequences of the 2008 - 2009 financial and economic crisis.
Robots won’t replace doctors any day soon, but they can already help medical professionals do amazing things. This month, Horizon looks at how robots will someday perform remote physical and ultrasound examinations so doctors can make a diagnosis from a distance, and medical avatars for elderly people that help them stay fit and safe. Plus, we see how computer games could make young people lead healthier lifestyles and how to give self-help apps more scientific merit.
How will we have enough food to feed another 2 billion people by the middle of this century without destroying our planet? Agriculture is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change. This month, we hear from scientists designing disease-resistant crops using gene editing, packing more calcium into finger millet, and resurrecting ancient crop varieties to offset the sector’s environmental impact. Plus, we hear from Dr Manoj Dora about so-called lean agriculture, which is looking to make agriculture more sustainable by eliminating waste from the production process.
Using off-the-shelf technology and innovative economics, lightweight helium balloons have started carrying remote-controlled laboratories to the edge of space and back, offering the business case for new types of science missions.
Floating research laboratories are reaching the fringes of space.
Automated and connected devices can save lives.
EU firms should be brought within ‘innovation ecosystems’ to develop breakthrough technology, according to Prof. Luke Georghiou.