An interesting article (in spanish) about how great minds of the time thought things will be in 2011 80 years ago finishes with an open question which is the title of this post: And you … Do you dare to predict what will happen in 2091?
I can’t resist to try, and here is why. The future is a sea of posibilities, and our mind is developed precisely to predict it. We are machines that are always classifying, archiving information and making relations between the data. Using this knowledge we can find out things about the world. Childs are bad understanding the speed of moving things, and that’s one of the reasons you should be careful letting a child cross the street. The other of course is that childs don’t understand that they need to focus on the important task of crossing the street, and even if they do, they don’t know what data should they be looking for and how to mine that data. With time and experience, we grow, and we can predict this kind of events much better and it also stops being something important.
Such a thing happens all the time. We learn something, and it becomes trivial, and suddently it’s boring stuff. But it’s much more difficult to learn anything if you didn’t experience it. That’s why learning history is so important. And even if you know history, you’ll probably not internalize it. Errors of the past will come over and over again by new people. And trial and error is often a very convenient and powerful way of learning with computers that everyone uses, but it’s not much so covenient in other matters.
Bottom line is, it’s very interesting to see how the predictions of these prominent people of the past failed. Sometimes reality surpassed their predictions, some others it came short. For example, Doctor Mayopredicted correctly that most infectius ailments would be minimized and controlled and most deaths would be due to heart issues, cancer, etc. He predicted 70 years of life expectancy in USA, and it’s now 77. However, these greats minds of the past predicted poverty will have ended, and that we would have an equitative wealth distribution, and it’s clear that it’s not the case.
When doing a prediction for the distant future, it’s difficult not fall into wishful thinking. Things changes faster than ever, and currently technology is indistinguishable from magic. Because of that, and that my field of expertise is that one related to Computers, that’s where I will make (most) predictions for: I have a better insight on it. However that will be more difficult for me, because as you know 80 in computers might be comparable to 5 centuries in other fields.
My predictions for 2091:
Privacy will be at the same time a very important legislated issue, and futile. Governments and private companies will have found unimaginable ways of cooperating for invading citiziens’ privacy, and still most people will think/find that it is for the good of them and cooperate with this task every single day at all hours. There will be some countries like Iceland that will have put a limit to this, but people will still be so dependent on technology that it won’t matter that much.
Most people won’t call themselves cyborgs, but they will be: they’ll have some kind of alien tecnology in their bodies to gather information and communicate, or perhaps they might wear fancy stylish hats that read their minds. Silent people walking on the street will be able to talk with each other using this technology.
Computers will have changed a lot, but then again not that much. We will still be using very similar devices as some that we use today: screens and keyboards – or at least computer programers will. Non-trivial software will still be created in a written computer language. Of course, trivial will have a different meaning in the future.
Cars will still be a very important means of transport. But they will be electric cars, in most cases public taxis in big important cities, and no person will drive them, they will drive themselves and thus roads will be much more secure than today.
Genetic advances will still be happening and feel like the field has just started to emerge. It will be like it was computer intelligence for us: it will feel like it never quite started, but it did indeed. We the people born before year ~2030 will be old and very ugy in the eyes of the new youth generation that will all be tall, in good health, beautiful and have perfect bodies. Life expectancy will have reached 100 years, so I might still be alive but I’ll probably have forgotten this post.