The World Future Society's official magazine, The Futurist, has released its annual top 10 list of forecasts for the coming year and beyond (they typically make their prognostications within a ten-year window). This year's crop features a diverse mixture of items related to business, economics, demography, energy, the environment, and health and medicine. And if they're right, get ready for energy-producing cars, an increasingly jobless economy, and a much smarter internet.
Here's the list:
1. Neuroscientists may soon be able to predict what you'll do before you do it.
2. Future cars will become producers of power rather than merely consumers.
3. An aquaponic recycling system in every kitchen?
4. The economy may become increasingly jobless, but there will be plenty of work
5. The next space age will launch after 2020, driven by competition and "adventure capitalists."
6. The "cloud" will become more intelligent, not just a place to store data.
7. Corporate reputations will be even more important to maintain, due to the transparency that will come with augmented reality.
8. Robots will become gentler caregivers in the next 10 years.
9. We'll harness noise vibrations and other "junk" energy from the environment to power our gadgets.
10. A handheld "breathalyzer" will offer early detection of infections microbes and even chemical attacks.
Among their more interesting predictions is the suggestion that the "cloud" is becoming more intelligent. "Cloud intelligence will evolve into becoming an active resource in our daily lives," writes Chris Carbone and Kristin Nauth, what they believe will provide ongoing analysis and contextual advice. They speculate that virtual agents may someday be able to design a family's weekly menu based on everyone's health profiles, fitness goals, and taste preferences.
Indeed, others have predicted that the cloud will increasingly be used as a kind of external brain (not that it isn't already). The Internet, it would seem, will become more ‘intelligent' through its own ongoing evolution and the symbiotic interplay between human agents.
As for their first prediction — neuroscientists will be able to predict what we'll do before we do it — that seems a bit of a stretch. In their description they limit the implications to such things as advanced thought-controlled prosthetic devices, but they may also be suggesting that our intentions will someday be assessed prior to our actions. That kind of capacity is still a far ways off — and may never be possible.
Other predictions that stand out include a renewed space age in the 2020s (it certainly appears that way), and smart devices (like breathalyzers) to detect pathogens in our environment.
Check out the entire article and read their full descriptions.
Top image: nikkytok/shutterstock.com.