A Pessimist's Guide to the World in 2015. Skirmishes in the South China Sea lead to full-scale naval confrontation. Israel bombs Iran, setting off an escalation of violence across the Middle East. Nigeria crumbles as oil prices fall and radicals gain strength. Bloomberg News asked foreign policy analysts, military experts, economists and investors to identify the possible worst-case scenarios, based on current global conflicts, that concern them most heading into 2015. [Bleah interface; interesting content.]
In its December 5, 1994 issue, Time Magazine picked 50 people who would be leaders in the future. They decided to revisit what happened to each person on the 20th anniversary of their predictions.
I finally gave in and started reading Game of Thrones. When I got to the end of the first chapter, I texted a bunch of my nerd friends like, "Why do people think this is surprising? It is like super-obviously signposted!" From there, it turned into a project where I try to predict what will happen in Game of Thrones. Predicting Game of Thrones, a blog by Eyebrows McGee, with an accompanying predictions log. NOTE: this is full of spoilers for the first two books, and the first half of Book III (Storm of Swords) will be online soon. Plus any number of theories could come true in the later books. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
"Last week I saw two visions for the future. The first is Her...and the other was this Infinity Augmented Reality concept video which had me in fits of laughter because it was so… well, just watch it for yourself. I liked seeing both. However accurate or ridiculous (and how can we truly know until the future is here?), the act of inventing is what sparks the realities of tomorrow." - Julie Zhuo imagines The Future.
Every psychic animal dreams of claiming the throne vacated by the late Paul the Octopus. Super Bowl XLVIII crushed many of those dreams. Especially disappointing was the fall of Buffett the Manatee who, from his tank at Sarasota, Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, had correctly called the last six Super Bowls.
During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
"After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth [is] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works." A view of the Internet's future from February 26, 1995 at 7:00 PM
The awkwardly titled  book, "FutureConsumer.com: The webolution of shopping to 2010," touches on everything from music downloads to grocery delivery, with a big emphasis on lists. And it's Feather's list for the 50 largest online retailers of 2010 which now stands as a fascinating time capsule of the first dot-com bubble. Naturally, Webvan makes the Top 5.
"These discussions are thoughtful and measured, but the premise that frames them all is shaky; Lessig doesn't offer much proof that a Soviet-style loss of privacy and freedom is on its way. … Unlike actual law, Internet software has no capacity to punish. It doesn't affect people who aren't online (and only a tiny minority of the world population is). And if you don't like the Internet's system, you can always flip off the modem." — David Pogue is the creator of the ''Missing Manual'' series, which will include guides to Mac OS 9, Outlook Express and Windows 2000.
The Timeline of the Far Future is a Wikipedia article which serves as a gateway to a ton of fascinating scientific topics on the far edge of human understanding: ~50,000 years from now the Earth will enter a new Glacial period; ~100,000 years from now the Earth will likely have experienced a supervolcanic eruption; ~10,000,000 years from now the East African Rift divides the continent of Africa in to two land masses; ~20,000,000,000 years from now the Universe effectively dies due to The Big Rip.
Why You Won’t Be the Person You Expect to Be (NYT): "When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same... They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.”" (via exp.lore) [more inside]
How Polling Firm PPP Won The Election With Its Hilarious And Infuriating Questions: "Public Policy Polling, the firm that correctly predicted all 50 states in the presidential election, is known for asking some weird, quirky and, sometimes, controversial questions in its polls... Here are some of the firm's best questions of the election cycle." [more inside]
The Futurist Magazine along with The World Future Society predicts the future with a list of the top trends and forecasts for 2013 and beyond.
Peter Turchin is a Professor of Mathematics, and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. For the last nine years, he's been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator–prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and using them to model human history -- a pattern identification process he calls Cliodynamics. The goal of cliodynamics (or cliometrics) is to turn history into a predictive, analytic science. By analysing some of the broad social forces that shape transformative events in US society: historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence, he has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way, and should peak around 2020. [more inside]
Sneaking Into Pantone HQ: "While the Pantone meetings are traditionally secret, I was invited to the Summer 2013 meeting on the condition that I not reveal the colorists’ identities." (An older, brief interview on Pantone forecasts.) For Summer 2013: forecast overview - palette descriptions - palette colors. (via good.is: ...the Ethics of Color Forecasting)
On April 24 2002, Ron Paul made an address to the House on his predictions on the results of US domestic and foreign policies, ending with "I have no timetable for these predictions, but just in case, keep them around and look at them in five to ten years. Let's hope and pray I am wrong on all counts. If so, I will be very pleased." Spoiler: he is probably not pleased.
We rifled through a bevy of 2012 predictions to bring you the mother of all roundups, every line gleaned from somewhere else.
Garth Turner, former Member of Parliament and current entertaining, curmudgeonly, and well-informed Greater Fool blogger about Canadian real estate -- and the world economy generally -- gives his predictions for 2012. The main one, IMO, is the one that he talks about relentlessly in his postings: "Most people won't get it."
On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
“We try and illustrate a “universe-next-door” where the new product is the only novelty. Where there is still tea, and the traffic is still miserable.”
Future Drama is a tumblr devoted to that particular kind of futurism - corporate prediction demos of how their products will change the world - See The Mother Of All Demos from 1968 introducing the mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing - Apple in 1987 - Philco-Ford The Future Now!
Pick a year to find out when the world should have ended/is ending/will end.
On June 23, 1911, The Miami Metropolis published predictions about the year 2011 from Thomas Edison, including his visions of transmuting metals, a world of light-weight steel products, and writings printed on leaves of nickel that would be "so light to hold that the reader can enjoy a small library in a single volume." In Edison's future of today, five authors and an editor/publisher envision the world of publishing in the year 2021. Spoiler: nickel is not mentioned once. [more inside]
A lawfirm perusing the New York Times archives has examined how physician W. J. Mayo, famed industrialist Henry Ford, anatomist and anthropologist Arthur Keith, physicist and Nobel laureate Arthur Compton, chemist Willis R. Whitney, physicist and Nobel laureate Robert Millikan, physicist and chemist Michael Pupin, and sociologist William F. Ogburn foresaw the year 2011 from the year 1931, with commentary. [more inside]
Kaggle hosts competitions to glean information from massive data sets, a la the Netflix Prize. Competitors can enter free, while companies with vast stores of impenetrable data pay Kaggle to outsource their difficulties to the world population of freelance data-miners. Kaggle contestants have already developed dozens of chess rating systems which outperform the Elo rating currently in use, and identified genetic markers in HIV associated with a rise in viral load. Right now, you can compete to forecast tourism statistics or predict unknown edges in a social network. Teachers who want to pit their students against each other can host a Kaggle contest free of charge.
12 Events that Will Change Everything is an interactive article from Scientific American that offers rich information on potential major discoveries or cataclysms that could change the world, as well as their chances of happening. The list is a surprisingly sane look at future discontinuities as these sorts of lists go: it includes human cloning, artificial life, asteroid collisions, ice caps melting, and room temperature superconductors. For less sanity, see fifty or so ways the world could end at Exit Mundi.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have released their latest models/scenarios ("based on several simplifying assumptions") of the BP spill's impact on coastlines [more inside]
In 20 Years ... Upload a photo of yourself and the site produces a predictive illustration of what you'll look like in 20 or 30 years. And as an added bonus, you can toggle whether you're a drug addict or not. [more inside]
Prophetic Pictures from Menominie, Wisconsin. In 1905, high school senior Albert Hansen took photogaphs of his graduating classmates at Menominie HS. Not as they were -- but as they believed, or hoped, or feared they would be in the decades to come. Dorothy M. Jesse was going to be a mathematician, and Fred Quilling a pharmacist. Alice M. Tilleson would be a prominent socialite, whose "eccentric ideas with reference to danger, force her to cling to that old fashioned vehicle, the automobile, instead of the new wheel-less aerial motor car." William C. Klatt, a future physician, would operate on disembodied heads. And Hansen himself was destined for the hobo's life. The Wisconsin Historical Society has the whole collection available online, together with the text from the yearbook and the truth, as best the Society could learn, of how the graduates' actual future compared with prophecy. (Spoiler: Fred Quilling really did become a pharmacist.) Just one of the many remarkable collections at Wisconsin Historical Images.
"Back when I was a boy, I bought a children's book at my town's library book sale called "2010: Living in the Future" by Geoffrey Hoyle. Written in 1972, it had been withdrawn from the library's collection by the mid-80s, when I picked it up. I've somehow managed to hang onto it for 25 years and now, suddenly, here we are: 2010. I'm reproducing this long out-of-print book here to see how we're doing. Are we really living in the future?"
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
Peak Oil, 1925. In 2000, 20% of new buildings will be solar equipped. By the late 1990s, 90% of the world's energy will be nuclear-generated. These and other erroneous projections are being collected as part of the Forecast Project on the website Inventing Green: The Lost History of Alternative Energy in America.
He predicted a losing season for the White Sox in 2007 and foresaw that the Tampa Bay Rays would be the best team in the American League in 2008, although he wrongly predicted that the Rays would win the World Series. He also predicted Obama's 6-point victory over McCain. Now the stats guru Nate Silver is picking the Oscar winners and predicting an upset win for Taraji P. Henson in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Every year the Strategy Team at Saxo Bank, a Danish virtual bank, publishes a list of ten black swan class market events. Some of the more dramatic possibilities Saxo advance for 2009: crude trading down to $25 a barrel causing severe social unrest in Iran, the S&P 500 falling to 500, Chinese GDP approaching zero and several member states dropping the Euro. The complete 2009 list is here and for completeness their 2008 [ .pdf ] , 2007 [ .pdf ] and 2006 lists [ .pdf ] are also available. [more inside]
On Dec 14, the often-linked Clay Shirky (most recently) ended his guestblogging stint at boingboing with a question for the commenters: What's going to happen in the next five years or so that will catch most of the rest of us by surprise, but not you? [more inside]
In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges, will have to learn to say "No we can't", Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees, we will judge our commitment to sustainability, scientists should research the causes of religion, we will all be potential online paparazzi, English will have more words than any other language (but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops, Iran will continue its nuclear quest while diplomacy lies in shambles, the sea floor is the new frontier, we should rethink aging, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project -- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it -- though it has some unfinished business to attend to, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom.
The Economist: The World in 2009. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2009. [more inside]
In 1963, General Dynamics Astronautics asked politicians, scientists, and military commanders to speculate on the potential state of the world in 2063, recording all these speculations in a book, and sealing it in a time capsule that was lost during the demolition of the General Dynamics Astronautics building. Thankfully, the entirety of the book is available as a download thanks to the fine folks at Paleo-Future. Found Via.
40 Years in the Future - Another "what will life look like in the future" article. This one from Mechanix Illustrated, 1968. (via Boing Boing)
The Cabinet Office in the UK has published "Future Strategic Challenges for Britain" [full pdf, summary pdf, website], a 180-page document which summarises current futures thinking in the UK Government, with a horizon of about 20 years. It includes predictions on big issues such as democratic participation, foreign affairs, climate change, family life and public services.
The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair (1939). The Original Futurama. Featuring Elektro, the Smoking Robot.
In 2008, China will fail to ride the Olympics wave and improve its worldwide image, the US will vote mainly on health (barring a terrorist attack or a recession), usher in a period of pragmatic caution and toast to it over a nice Merlot, the culture wars will go global, Israel may decide that it must act alone against Iran, African gangs will prosper, UK politics will be re-established as a spectator sport, we will finally quit oil - and want yet more of it, the potato will make a comeback, an island will be moved for the sake of the Euro, we will rush to give for free what others charge for, U will HAV CASH, robots will explore the seas of Earth, which is round, by the way, pigs will fly, and we will like totally love it (don't we?).
The Economist: The World in 2008. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2008. [more inside]
Why science fiction is hard. Inspired by reports of a creative new, Rube-Goldberg spamming technique in World of Warcraft, MetaFilter's own Charlie Stross imagines trying to explain gold farming to someone from 1977. (Previously: 1, 2, 3)
Paleo-Future: A look into the future that never was. More recent predictions include the future according to AT&T, Apple's Knowledge Navigator and Bill Gates on the Future of Police Work.
In the year 1900, Ladies Home Journal writer John Elfreth Watkins Jr wrote an article entitled What May Happen In The Next 100 Years". This is apparently what the most learned, conservative men of the "greatest institutions of science and learning" had to say about the coming hundred years.
In 2007 there will be lots of anniversaries, the web will keep killing the television star, the popcorn will taste familiar, humankind will come closer still to achieving immortality, and text messaging will conquer Africa. And although the spread of democracy is stalling (don't worry however - the Swedes still win (pdf)), it's still down to George Bush.
The Economist: The World in 2007.
The Economist: The World in 2007.
Much of the “jobs of the future” rhetoric surrounding the eagerness to end shop class and get every warm body into college, thence into a cubicle, implicitly assumes that we are heading to a “post-industrial” economy in which everyone will deal only in abstractions. Yet trafficking in abstractions is not the same as thinking...
Can you prove it didn't happen? Best known for his work on Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Amazing Criswell had quite a career outside of his rare appearances in film. The spit-curled, stentorian psychic had a penchant for bizarre predictions, was the source for music by Mae West, and inspired some damned interesting writing.
Look...look into the LCD Ball. Divine the great spirits of tech and gaze into 2006. The new year is only a few days away, how hard is it to guess into next week?
Everybody's an expert, but does expertise promote better predictions?
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