What’s in the future?
I always like reading about what the future has in store for us. I’d love to pop back in 1000 years or so – would humans still be roaming the Earth or would we have snuffed ourselves out? I imagine a forlorn landscape of abandoned cities being reclaimed by the jungles and forests. Okay, I probably watch too many dark sci-fi films.
So what are the futurists saying we can expect beyond 2008? I always like to read The Futurist’s predictions and they have just announced their Top 10 forecasts. Here’s a taste:
- By 2025, there will be a million billionaires in the world. Globalisation and technological innovation mean increasing opportunities and prosperity. You only have to look around to see how quickly some people seem to be able to come up with an idea and cash in quick to figure that this prediction is probably a goer. And I wonder how many of the billionaires will be Russian?
- We’ll all be wearing clothes made of smart fabrics and clothes that are wired to sense temperature or change colour. I sure like this one – I can never decide what colour to wear each day, so I usually end up in black of some sort. I’d love to wear a shirt in red and if I didn’t like it one hour later, have it turn itself into green. Wristwatches that hold every piece of data about you and which you can use to pay bills by swiping it at point of sale. Shoes that tell you “watch out for that pothole”. Or clothes that clean themselves.
- I’m not at all surprised by this forecast – a new Cold War hotting up with China or Russia, replacing terrorism as the bogeyman.
- A cashless society. If you read just a little bit about new technologies, you’d know for instance that passports with RFID chips can be read by a mobile scanner nearby and you could be the victim of identity theft. And so with sophisticated scanning technologies – they may provide counterfeiters a golden opportunity for printing fake currency. The world may move to adopting a cashless economy.
- The Earth is on the verge of a significant extinction event. No surprise with this one either I reckon. The 21st Century could see a biodiversity collapse 100 to 1,000 times greater than any previous extinction since the dawn of humanity.
- Water will be what oil was to the 20th Century. I’ve blogged before about my fear that water wars could erupt as this precious commodity becomes scarcer. Recently, I saw a marked car that had Water Conservation Police written on it (might have been Authority but either way it said “Water Conservation”). It was parked outside a house of a chap who loves his garden and waters it regularly. Now, the car may have belonged to a friend or relative. But maybe it was the first signs of a world in which our consumption of water will be very tightly controlled and watched.
- By 2050 the world’s population may be a whole lot more than expected, mainly due to longer-living and healthier people. The UN has increased its forecast from 9.1 billion to 9.2 billion.
- By 2080, the number of Africans threatened by floods will grow 70-fold. The natural flow of water is being disrupted by increasing development and urbanisation in Africa, which may result in flooding. If climate change causes global sea levels to rise by the predicted 38cm by 2080, then 70 million Africans could be affected.
- There will be a stampede to the Arctic. No surprise with this one I think, not when you think about Putin’s recent grab for a large chunk of the Arctic region. The Arctic has glittering resources like copper, zinc, forests, fish etc. I think this will be too much temptation for our greedy world and the pristine Arctic will sadly be exploited.
- And finally…and a bit scary I think – more decisions will be made by “non-human entities“. Well, frankly a lot of people who make decisions in this world could be accused of being “non-human”! But the forecast is talking about robots and intelligent, non-carbon networks that will make financial or even political decisions for us. And the reason for this? Humans’ competency is not keeping pace with advances in technologies well enough to avoid human error.
Well, I think most of these are pretty sensible forecasts. If I had to predict things, I would include the declining power of the USA and the rise and rise of China and Russia. So any future Cold War might not factor in the US. But who knows: once the US kicks out Bush, it could be a whole different ball game. I think too we’ll see portions of society breaking off into smaller communities in an attempt to get away from the chaos of the world. We may see a return to caring more for each other and the environment – focusing less on the individual and more on the collective. A return to a simpler life perhaps.
What are your predictions?