Tag Archives: predictions

Technology Review lists 2007’s 10 most exciting technologies

Poster_of_Alexander_Crystal_Seer Every year, Technology Review lists the 10 technologies the magazine’s editors “find most exciting—and most likely to alter industries, fields of research, and even the way we live.” (Via Kurzweil AI.)

Here’s 2007’s Top-10 list:

  1. Peering into Video’s Future – With the Internet being swamped by digital video, peer-to-peer networks may be the answer.
  2. Nanocharging Solar – Cheap photovoltaics through quantum-dot solar power.
  3. Invisible Revolution – The magic of metamaterials.
  4. Personalized Medical Monitors – Computer-automated diagnostics for individuals.
  5. Single-Cell Analysis – Analyzing differences between individual cells could make for better medical tests and treatments.
  6. A New Focus for Light – New optical antennas that focus light could bring us DVDs that hold hundreds of movies.
  7. Neuron Control – A genetically engineered switch lets scientists turn selected parts of the brain on and off–which could lead to new treatments for depression and other disorders.
  8. Nanohealing – Stopping bleeding, aiding recovery from brain injury–nanofibers hold life-saving promise.
  9. Digital Imaging, Reimagined – “Compressive sensing” could help make the capture of digital images more efficient.
  10. Augmented Reality – Digital information, superimposed on the real world. (And you thought people listening to iPods all the time were annoying… )

(Image: Wikimedia Commons.)


Emergent technology for 2008

Cars like the Tesla Roadster will be run on electric batteriesGlen Hiemstra of Futurist.com has a video on his home page called ‘Outlook 2008′ in which he discusses his five big stories for the coming year, plus a wild card. He talks about oil prices, the economy and the political changes (or non changes with the presidential elections so close to the end of the year) of 2008. Two more technological comments caught my eye.

He mentioned both Solar and Nano technologies as big movers in the coming year. In particular he highlighted NanoSolar, whose thin-film solar cells have just started reaching commercial grade at potentially cheaper prices than coal. The other company on his watch list was Altairnano, which uses ceramic nanomaterials to create long-living batteries that should see the market in a number of forms in 2008, including in electric cars such as the pictured Tesla Roadster.

His most interesting comment was in the ‘population’ section, talking about young entrepreneurs:

“The leading edge of the digital native generation is now 18-25 or so. The first generation to grow up in the personal computing and internet age is now at work. The venture capital world increasingly focuses on this generation, the very young creatives, for the breakthrough ideas. Thus 2008 marks a change-over to the next generation for innovation leadership.”

It will be interesting to see if these predictions come true. Other turn of the year predictions include a pessimistic James Kunstler and an optimistic 50-year prediction by Climate Progress.

[via Futurist.com, image by Jurvetson]

Bruce Sterling’s annual State of the World, 2008

Every year at The WELL, legendary author Bruce Sterling discusses his thoughts on the year just gone and the year to come. This year he talked with members of the WELL plus Jon Lebkowsky, who writes interesting articles himself for Worldchanging and Webblogsky. Among the highlights mentioned in the ‘State of The World, 2008’ talk are Pakistan, getting closer to a worldwide consensus, Sterling’s opinions of Europe (where he now lives) and the future of nation-states versus cities:

Well, there’s nothing inherent about nations as an organizing principle. Nations could go away. Global government, that’s never existed. It’s a sci-fi idea. It’s kinda hard to imagine *cities* going away, though, short of a massive population crash. All the major cities in the Balkans are still there, even though the “nations” they conjure up have changed their flags, passports and currencies five or six times. New York has a future. Chicago has a future. San Francisco is dynamic. Any place called a ‘creative class city” is very attractive’

Bruce Sterling has always been a fascinating writer and futurist and this is a thought-provoking discussion on the future of our world. Another great writer, Kim Stanley Robinson, also had a great interview recently on BLDGBLOG which is worth checking out too. As one of the commentators says,

“One of the things I’ve long admired about (Bruce Sterling) is his rejection of apocaphilia (ed- the love of thinking about the world ending) — not in the sense of being a cyberpollyanna sunshine thinker, but in recognizing that options exist and choices matter, even in the bleakest of landscapes.”

I think that’s an important point to make and one that I’m attempting to take on with my posts here at Futurismic. It’s essential to be aware of possible dangers to our world but we need to think about them constructively, not wallow in the prospect of something out of John Joseph Adams’ ‘Wastelands’ anthology. When I and others talk of the potential pitfalls of peak resources or climate change it’s not to glorify the threat but because the solutions are exciting.


Top 87 Bad Predictions About the Future

Two_women_operating_ENIAC Just what it says: here are 87 predictions about the future (and the original list at Wikipedia this list appears to be based on) that turned out, as the future became the present (and then, inexorably, the past) to be Just Plain Wrong. (Via John C. Wright.)


The section on computers gives you a taste:

  • «Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.» – Popular Mechanics, March 1949.
  • «There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.» – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.
  • «I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.» – The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.
  • «But what… is it good for?» – IBM executive Robert Lloyd, speaking in 1968 microprocessor, the heart of today’s computers.

UPDATE: Added link to Wikipedia list of failed predictions, which the 2spare.com list appears to be based on.

(U.S. Army Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags]predictions, futurism, computers[/tags]