Nothing is certain in the future, especially the abolition of taxes

Friday, 8 February, 2013

Facebook will be toppled as the world’s largest social network by around 2015, the Arctic will be ice-free during the summer months by 2016, and commercial flights will be pilot-less from about 2027. Yep, I guess things like this are likely to come to pass, if not at these exact times, then at some point.

But what of the prediction that, in the US at least, taxes will have been abolished by the end of this century? Could it be that some of us will be living a life with just one certainty by then? Seems hard to imagine somehow.

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2013 may be the year that neuroscience second guesses us

Tuesday, 13 November, 2012

As the year draws toward an end we’re probably going to start hearing more about what is expected to happen in the new year, and beyond, in the way of things like scientific and medical breakthroughs, and new technologies.

Enter THE FUTURIST magazine, and their thoughts on what lies ahead, including the prospect that neuroscientists may soon be able to figure out what we’re about to do ahead of time:

The intention to do something, such as grasp a cup, produces blood flow to specific areas of the brain, so studying blood-flow patterns through neuroimaging could give researchers a better idea of what people have in mind. One potential application is improved prosthetic devices that respond to signals from the brain more like actual limbs do, according to researchers at the University of Western Ontario.

And nothing to do with extra-sensory perception, or ESP either, which I think people have stopped talking about now anyway.

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What does the future hold? Your guess is as good as science fiction

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012

A timeline of future events consisting of predictions made mainly by science fiction writers.

While some predictions of science fiction have come to pass, if we were to compile a calendar of future events based on speculative fiction (taking in works from both science fiction and fantasy genres), we would run some hazards – not least the natural reluctance of authors to affix specific dates to their imaginings. Think, for instance, of the novels set in the not-too-distant (Man Plus) or far, far future (Ender’s Game), or perhaps a dystopic future (Farhenheit 451, Anthem) such as, oh, after some apocalyptic event (The Last Man, Oryx and Crake), not to mention those that follow alternate time (Foundation series) and world systems (Anathem) entirely. By leaving their dates murky, writers allow their predictions the possibility of eventually coming true.

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When I look to the future I see much discomfort of the present

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012

It’d be true to say any efforts to predict future events will likely leave us feeling more embarrassed than anything else, but Michael Kinsley, writing for Bloomberg, asks what of the present, such as the gay marriage debate, will give us cause to cringe in twenty years time?

And the opponents of gay marriage are right. Once that initial wall is breached, a lot of this suddenly seems to make perfect sense. Where they’re wrong is to think that this is a good argument against same-sex marriage. Every big societal change carries more change in its wake. And every change is a revolution in perceptions. From the present, you look back 20 years and think, “Why did we find the idea of same-sex marriage so weird?”

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A blast from the past, how writers in 1987 saw the world in 2012

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012

L. Ron Hubbard, in addition to founding the Church of Scientology, was also an accomplished pulp fiction writer. In 1983 he established “The Writers of the Future Contest”, and in 1987 asked contest participants to envisage life in 2012.

Trying to predict what will happen tomorrow is challenge enough to say nothing of a quarter of a century hence, so much of what was offered is a tad off the mark, but then there’s 2012 as foreseen by the late Jack Williamson:

If we had a time-phone, now in 1987, we would beg you to forgive us. We have burdened you with impossible debts, wasted and polluted the planet that should have been your rich heritage, left you instead a dreadful legacy of ignorance, want, and war. Yet, in spite of that, we have a proud faith in you. Faith that you have saved yourselves, that you are giving birth to no more children than you can love and nurture, that you have cleansed and healed your injured planet, ended hunger, conquered crime, learned to live in peace. Looking toward a better future for you than we can see for ourselves, we trust that you will use your computers and all your new electronic media to inform and liberate, not to dominate and oppress, trust that you will employ the arts of genetic engineering to advance the human species and make your children better than yourselves. We know that you will be inventing new sciences that would dazzle us, opening brave new frontiers, climbing on toward the stars.

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Anyone feel like speculating on Oscar futures?

Monday, 27 February, 2012

Never Too Early Movie Predictions rates the chances of films, many of which are even to be made, let alone released, winning Academy Awards in 2013 and beyond. Bets are even on for the 2017 Oscars.

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I think someone invented a time machine but didn’t tell anyone

Friday, 20 January, 2012

112 years ago a US civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins foresaw the advent of a number of technologies including mobile phones and, in a way, foreshadowed the internet when he predicted photos would be shared electronically, or by telegraph… an impressive call considering telephone technology was then in its infancy.

Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later…. photographs will reproduce all of nature’s colours.

Not to be out-done by Watkins, readers of the BBC News Magazine had a shot at predicting what the world will be like in one hundred years time, and foresee synthetic telepathy, a single global currency (whether it’s a good idea or not), and the ability to control the weather, among other things.

Futurologists Ian Pearson and Patrick Tucker assessed their crystal gazing, and thought a number of their ideas may not be all that far off the mark.

There is already some weather control technology for mediating tornadoes, making it rain and so on, and thanks to climate change concerns, a huge amount of knowledge is being gleaned on how weather works. We will probably have technology to be able to control weather when we need to. It won’t necessarily be cheap enough to use routinely and is more likely to be used to avoid severe damage in key areas.

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I’ve seen the future it was all written in search engine results

Tuesday, 26 April, 2011

Can we predict the future by analysing search engine results… the XKCD crew have given it a shot. At least the outlook is rosy for newspapers in the medium term, they remain with us until 2078.

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2011 forecasts have the potential to damage your personal wealth

Monday, 3 January, 2011

And now for the bad news, at least as far as the Australian economy is concerned, Copenhagen based Saxo Bank, has among its “ten outrageous predictions for 2011”, forecast that the Australian dollar will plunge in value, and that the local property bubble will also “finally” burst.

As the Asian feel-good factor vanishes, developing countries will use their spare dollars to acquire US government bonds, pushing the 30-year treasury yield down to 3%. Australia will be caught in the Chinese backdraft and the Aussie dollar will fall 25% against sterling; and the property bubble in Australia will finally burst.

The question is though, are they on the money or not? For instance, Saxo also predicts that Mark Zuckerberg will sell Facebook to Apple. I’m not sure about that one… after all, the water under the Golden Gate is freezing cold.

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A blast from the past, predictions for 2011 that were made in 1931

Wednesday, 22 December, 2010

Henry Ford on what the world might be like in 2011, when in 1931, he was invited along with other prominent industrialists, scientists, doctors, and Nobel laureates of the day, by “The New York Times”, then celebrating its 80th anniversary, to offer visions of the year 2011:

To make an eighty-year forecast may be an interesting exercise, first of the imagination and then of our sense of humility, but its principal interest will probably be for the people eighty years on, who will measure our estimates against the accomplished fact. No doubt the seeds of 1931 were planted and possibly germinating in 1851, but did anyone forecast the harvest? And likewise the seeds of 2011 are with us now, but who discerns them?

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