Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Year’s Prediction Roundup 2011

The beginning of a new year always brings with it a flood of predictions appearing in various media outlets. This year was no exception.

IBM announced its annual list of Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives in the Next Five years. This year’s list included 3-D telepresence, transistors that will improve the storage capacity of batteries by a factor of 10, the sensor-smart grid, predictive analytics for personalized commutes, and temperature efficient data-storage centers. (IBM is in the process of developing products along all these lines, of course.)

The site Ilookforwardto.com ran a list of 10 diseases that will find cures 2020, including Alzheimer’s.

Journalist and tech-watcher Galen Gruman, writing for InfoWorld, added a list of technology predictions for the next decade. Among his forecasts: iPhones and tablet PC sales will surpass laptop sales by 2014. By 2020, says Gruman, “miniaturization and image-projection technologies, coupled with previous 3D gesture technologies, allow mobile devices to be wearable components that combine wirelessly with each other and other nearby devices to provide a less obtrusive mobile computing environment.”

The dawn of 2011 also saw a number of stories taking a more reflective approach to the perennial look ahead.

The New York Times ran a series in its Opinion section under the topic heading: “Why Do We Need Predictions?” Contributing authors included inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Stacy Schiff, and Harvard psychologist David Ropeik, the later of which predicted a “bright future for futurism.”

Chris Morris, writing for the Web site Bankrate.com, put together a list of five banking predictions that missed the mark, which included the demise of the credit card.

ABC World News ran a year-end report on predictions made by top thinkers back 1931 and sought out World Future Society president Tim Mack for comment. They were “people who were in business, people who were prominent because of one expertise and they were asked to suddenly assume an expertise in an area they hadn't thought much about,” Mack said on behalf of his forecasting predecessors, whose rather fanciful forecasts included such things as an air-car hangar in every home.

Mack was also featured on a Voice of America broadcast that aired internationally, where he shared some recent forecasts from THE FUTURIST magazine.


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