The Best Predictions of 2011
Drawing from a variety of sources throughout the past year, the editors of THE FUTURIST take a look at some of the best predictions for the world’s future.
What makes a prediction a good one? Like any announcement that must compete for attention in the public sphere, the predictions that gather the most notice are the strangest or the boldest, or that paint a picture of a future state that challenge expectations.
Today, we still largely cling to this somewhat misguided notion of prediction as a remarkable statement. But the nature of prediction is changing as rapidly as our world. The scope of the predictable universe is expanding, thanks to new tools for acquiring and measuring data. The number of people with a platform to share a prediction — a statement about what will happen to the world — has grown and will continue to grow as rapidly as the Internet.
With that it mind, we present to you our list of the best predictions we read in 2011. They are surprising, often conflicting, and rise from a diverse pool. We evaluated each one in terms of what made it a good prediction, what could get in the way of its coming to pass, and what it all means.
While we tried to nail the experts down to specific dates, many made interesting forecasts that could not be tied down to a specific point “In the Future.”
This collection provides, we believe, a fascinating portrait of our present as we attempt to communicate with our ever-shifting future. —Patrick Tucker, deputy editor, THE FUTURIST
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Without the ocean Earth would be a pretty inhospitable place even though we lie within our Sun's Goldilocks Zone. Those of you who live by the ocean can probably figure out why that is the case. You see the ocean is a temperature moderator and a heat transport mechanism that evens out the climate across the planet.
The horror of 298 lives snuffed out by a missile is reverberating around the planet this week after last Thursday's downing of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777. How could missile technology meant to shoot down warplanes get used to destroy a civilian aircraft?
I remain skeptical about the economics of industrial technologies for carbon capture. Almost every project started has been heavily subsidized by government. But for the operators without government subsidy there seems to be no return on investment. First of all, all existing industrial carbon capture technologies are expensive to implement.
On a recent driving trip, my wife and I became immersed in the audio version of one of Tom Clancy’s last novels, titled “Threat Vector.” Without giving away too much of the plot, a Chinese super-geek villain has hatched a plan to hack into our most secure networks and blackmail people with their darkest secrets to subversively cause chaos and disruption for the American government.
If you work for the post office these days then you already have an inkling of what the 21st century will do to many jobs. Texting, email, and mobile connectivity have forever altered the way we communicate. How many of us still write letters on paper and mail them?
Some of you who know me personally know that in my formative years I started studying geophysics in university before a physical accident laid me up for more than a year and I in an epiphany changed my major to Islamic Studies and Medieval History. So I was both a science and history nerd all at the same time. Well nothing has changed.
The government in South Korea is organizing its manufacturing sector along with academics and ministries to tackle and develop 3D printing as an economic opportunity. Rather than rely on the hits and misses of free enterprise, the South Korean leadership is directing all interested players within the country to come up with a roadmap that will lead to innovation in manufacturing and the creation of new jobs.
Edward Cornish has served as the World Future Society’s lead visionary, founder, first President (1966-2004), and Editor of THE FUTURIST magazine (1967-2010). Since stepping away from daily editorial management, he has remained on the WFS Board and has been our Futurist in Residence, contributing book reviews and essays on “Futurists and Their Ideas.” And he’s come to the office faithfully every day.