A story at BBC News today discusses Futurology, the art of predicting the future. Back in 1972 Geoffrey Hoyle, son of Fred Hoyle (astronomer and sometimes sci-fi writer, co-author of A for Andromeda), made a number of future predictions including shell-suits, “vision phones” and online grocery shopping.
So here are my predictions for fifty years from now, which I’m sure will look ridiculous by then:
1. The Internet will become a geographical component of the real world. Whether we’re using contact lens heads-up displays or retina implants, or whether we have a connection that dives straight into our occipital lobe, we will be able to see and hear (and perhaps touch, smell and taste) the Internet everywhere we go. Geotagging and wireless communication will become so prevalent that physical items as well as locations and people will have a mirror that co-exists between the Internet and the real world. The two will become indistinguishable, and we won’t hesitate to blink a hyperlink above someone’s head to check their Facebook wall, or stare at clothes in a shop window until we see a selection of different colours.
2. Wires won’t exist. You will line up your gadgets next to each other and wait for the blinking LEDs to tell you they’re talking to each other. Batteries will even use inductive charging.
3. Satellite TV, radio (digital as well as analogue), terrestrial TV (including Freeview),CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray, memory sticks, hard-drives will all be gone. Why launch satellites into space when you get all the TV you want through a wireless connection to your home or your heads-up? Why have physical media when you can e-send anything to anyone anywhere from right in front of you to the other side of the world? Solid-state will replace spinning platters.
4. We still won’t have a manned mission to Mars, because it’s too expensive and if the radiation doesn’t get you on the way there you’ll just end up as a big crater when you land. But we might have Centre Parcs on the Moon.
6. And with private spaceflight running amok, spacejunk will become the new environmental disaster and space terrorism will become the new de rigueur. “But darling…flying planes into buildings is so turn-of-the-century!”
7. And talking of disasters, environmental or otherwise, we will still be choking the planet with greenhouse gasses. Because we may have run out of oil by then, but we will still be burning man-made fuels and hydrogen, and it turns out water vapour isn’t so good after all. However, we may have found interesting ways of fixing global warming.
8. Phone numbers will no longer exist. Wired phones will be replaced with wireless communications and as we’re constantly connected, the concept of ‘making a call’ will be replaced with a drip-drip-drip of instantly messaged text, voice and video. It will be fab! Telephone numbers will be replaced with a ‘for life’ contact numbering-naming system. Perhaps each of us will have an IPv6 address? Or will it be IPv8 or IPv16 by then?