4 zany futuristic ideas that could come true

The death of investment banks! Robotic probes of the brain! Big changes are coming to the way we bank, educate our kids, eat, and treat diseases.

Schools learn from businesses

A more market-minded approach is coming to a K-12 classroom near you.

It may start with teachers, who will move up the educational equivalent of a corporate ladder. Forget tenure; educators would instead build to "master teacher" level. (The idea already exists in many New York schools, where they're called "mentor teachers.") "It's not just meant to prune lousy teachers, but also to make them more effective," says Bruce Fuller, a professor at UC Berkeley's graduate school of education.

Testing will become more centralized -- and potentially more important, state assessment exams will give way to national ones, and skills-based testing could fast-track careers. "Credentials based on rigorous certification exams will be more valuable in the job market than a college degree," adds Sal Khan of the education nonprofit Khan Academy.

And corporations, frustrated by the skills gap of high school grads, may open schools of their own. Wal-Mart High, anyone?

--Daniel Roberts

@FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 10 2012: 5:43 AM ET
Join the Conversation
The office of tomorrow

Imagine a technology wonderland filled with 3-D printers, hologram tables, and office windows that turn into media screens. The best part? It's your office, circa 2022.

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.