Every year The Futurist, the official magazine of the World Future Society, puts together a list of their top 10 predictions for the future. These aren’t necessarily things they expect to see within the next calendar year, but they do envision them coming to fruition within the next decade.
This year’s list includes a nice collection of science-fiction-worthy ideas, including robots, computers getting too smart for their own good, and space travel. There are also more practical concepts, like the economic future, and ideas for clean energy.
Neuroscientists may soon be able to predict what you’ll do before you do it.
- Examining blood-flow patterns in the brain, and mapping quadrants where the idea to act stimulates, could show scientists a person’s intentions before they move. This could lead to new and enhanced prosthetic devices, ones with the capability to read and react to signals from the brain.
Future cars will become producers of power rather than merely consumers.
- One crew of researchers has come up with a plan where parked electric cars could use their fuel cells to “convert biogas or hydrogen into more electricity.” This would help eliminate waste products being pumped into the atmosphere, and the best part is that vehicle owners could possibly make a little extra cash for the energy created.
An aquaponic recycling system in every kitchen?
- Ecological engineers at SUNY have come up with a system for recycling food waste. Many of us live in areas where the yard/food waste is part of our weekly garbage night, but this version would consist of aquariums in the home where excess food would be used “to feed a tank of tilapia or other fish, and then the fish waste would be used for growing vegetables.”
The economy may become increasingly jobless, but there will be plenty of Work.
- While many narrowly specific jobs that have been lost will never return, workers will increase the range of their skill sets. A larger collection of tools means that there are that many more jobs you can perform, and less danger of being so specialized you can only do one thing. Financial advisor James H. Lee says it will be “about finding out what other people need done, and doing it.”
The next space age will launch after 2020, driven by competition and “adventure capitalists.”
- NASA and federally funded space programs may be in dire straights, but there never seems to be a shortage of bored rich people who want to go into space. We’ve seen a boom in privatized space travel already with the recent SpaceX launches, and a number of other folks from the private sector, including Paul Allen and Richard Branson, have an eye on breaking the bonds of Earth’s atmosphere.
The “cloud” will become more intelligent, not just a place to store data.
- This sounds like some Skynet stuff right here. While thousands of consumers are turning to cloud-based systems for data storage, the technology could potentially evolve to be used for more of an active participant in your life, depending on the advances in analytical programs.
Corporate reputations will be even more important to maintain, due to the transparency that will come with augmented reality.
- As more and more information becomes available, as more and more reviews and opinions pop up for public consumption, a company’s standing and status could become increasingly counted and computed. Futurist envisions a scenario where a restaurant’s customer ratings, health code rankings, and other data could be collected and compressed into one super-ranking.
Robots will become gentler caregivers in the next 10 years.
- We’ve all been waiting years for sassy, helpful robot maids like Rosie from The Jetsons. While that may be a few years off, a team of Japanese scientists has been working on increasing the sensitivity of robotic arms so they can help lift and move patients, easing the demands on their human counterparts.
We’ll harness noise vibrations and other “junk” energy from the environment to power our gadgets.
- Between laptops, smart phones, tablets, and more, the number of gizmos we use on a daily basis grows with alarming regularity. Teams at Georgia Tech and University of Buffalo are working on different techniques for gathering otherwise wasted energy, like ambient vibrations, and putting it to good use.
A handheld “breathalyzer” will offer early detection of infections microbes and even chemical attacks.
- Not just to test for drunk drivers anymore, the “Single Breath Disease Diagnostics Breathalyzer” could conceivably be used soon to determine whether you’re sick, riddled with disease, or infectious to others. This device has other practical applications ranging from detecting lung cancer to testing if you’ve been exposed to hazardous chemical compounds.
What do you expect in the near future? I’m still waiting for hover-boards, tinfoil suits, and a terrifying robot uprising.