Predictions For the Future…Jun 2016 Update

“The future is an ever-moving target shaped by the events of today.  One can never know exactly what the future may hold.  Although its basic forms may be determined, its finer points will always elude us….” — Walter Baltzley 2014

Predicting the future is always a sketchy endeavor…we draw from the events of today and extend them forward into the future.  However, things do not always go according to plan–our predictions are often upended by unseen variables lurking in the shadows of uncertainty.

Previous Predictions:

Back in 2014, I made a number of predictions regarding what would happen over the past two years (2014-2015)–some have come to pass, and others have not.  However, in most cases things did NOT go horribly awry, but some events have moved faster than anticipated and others slower.  This is to be expected.  Here are how my predictions have held up so far:

ENERGY:  75% Accurate

  • In 2014, I predicted that Solar 2.0 would emerge by 2015.  Unfortunately, there have been delays and setbacks.  Although thin, lightweight, and flexible solar panels exist for special applications–like camping–they are not being produced on a mass scale.  However, it is expected that Solar 2.0 should scale to utility levels over the next two years. Finally, I predicted that by 2015 solar would start to be integrated into portable electronics…this only started happening in 2016.
  • I predicted that utility-scale batteries would be introduced, but that they would be expensive and not be marketed on a mass scale.  The Tesla Powerwall has fulfilled this prediction to the letter.
  • Now this is interesting I predicted the emergence of CNG and LNG vehicles, along with much cheaper fuel cells–with the implication that they would make their way into consumer vehicles.  While my prediction did come to pass, the technology is only being applied to COMMERCIAL vehicles and does not appear to be making any headway into the consumer market.
  • My final prediction was that energy prices would rise.  Unfortunately, energy prices both rose AND fell–Oil plummeted below $50 a barrel, while electricity prices continued to climb nation-wide.

INDUSTRY:  75% Accurate

  • In 2014, I predicted that graphene would start to be mass-produced.  Although mass production methods have been invented, they have not yet been deployed on an industrial scale.
  • 3D Printing has indeed expanded into nearly every industry.  Multi-material printers have been developed that can produce finished products.  However, 3D Printing is still not the primary production method for most items.
  • Many new kinds of micro-reactors have been developed, including specialized integrated LAB-ON-A-CHIP reactors.  However, work on a universal system has only recently begun this year.
  • Nearly all my predictions on automation have come to pass.  Automated cars and trucks have been developed and are starting to make their way into the market place.  And intelligent agents are starting to be used more and more–however they have NOT yet started to replace human operators.

COMPUTERS: 90% Accurate

  • In 2014, I predicted that tablets would take the computer market by storm, cannibalizing sales for PC’s and Laptops–and I nailed it!
  • I also accurately predicted that companies would shift away from increasing processor speeds in favor of improving power and heat efficiency.
  • Unfortunately, the introduction of wearable displays was delayed due to ongoing technical issues that were not resolved until this year.  Sony and Microsoft are expected to release their commercial VR Systems for Christmas 2016.  We will have to see whether they obtain any level of popularity.
  • ANDROID is now the most popular operating system!  Take THAT Microsoft!
  • Solid-State Drives (SSDs) have not (yet) overtaken disk-drives, but are making serious strides in that direction.
  • Specs on computers have not changed much 1TB HDD, 1-3 Ghz Processor, 8-16 GB of RAM…however internet speeds have indeed jumped to the levels I predicted.  I currently get 150 Mbps and Google Fiber is boasting 1,000 Mbps–although those speeds have not yet made it to wireless.

MEDICINE: 75% Accurate

  • As predicted Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) have made their way into medicine.  Called BioMEMS, these are expected to revolutionize medicine over the next decade.
  • Unfortunately, creating 3D Printed organs has proven more difficult than expected; researchers have been able to produce functional tissues, but not full organs.
  • The cost and time for genetic screening varies depending on the test being performed. Simple, targeted tests can take less than a day and cost less than a hundred dollars.  However, to fully analyze your entire genome costs $1,000 and takes several days.
  • You still cannot order “Designer Babies”, and laws are being proposed to permanently ban the technology.
  • Gene Replacement Therapy exists, but has only been tested on embryos, and it is expected to be tested on children this year. Testing on adults is taking longer than anticipated.

New Predictions

As we can see, I was not too far off, but this poses a problem: my predictions are cumulative–they build upon one another.  Small mistakes early in the timeline result in larger errors later on.  So what do we do?  We adjust and make a NEW Prediction!  We account for variables we did not notice before and adjust our expectations accordingly.  Hopefully, our predictions become more accurate over time.

My next post will be an updated timeline that accounts for the unexpected events that have already occurred.


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