Thursday, September 2, 2010

No more cheap oil

Probability: 95%

Timeline: 25 years

The age of cheap oil is slowly coming to an end.

People are slowly starting to wake up to this fact, but unfortunately there are a lot of organizations that depend on it and really don't want this era to end.

Short-term thinkers want to plunder and use up the last little bit we have, at the same rate that we have been for decades.

More progressive leaders realize that we need to use the remaining oil we have to develop new sustainable technologies, so that we can continue to enjoy improving (or at least consistent) quality of life.

Hopefully we won't be stupid enough to squander the last bits of fossil fuels.

Even squirrels are smart enough to put away a few nuts for the winter.

Are we as smart as our furry little friends?

Let's hope so.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Google becomes Microsoft

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 5 years

Google has been one of my favorite companies for a long time, but lately they seem to be losing their edge.

Google Apps started out as an amazing new business platform, hosted "in the cloud" with many features that couldn't be done with traditional office applications (ie. Microsoft Office).

Lately, however, the Apps team(s) seem to be trying to copy Microsoft's features one by one.

They're trying to duplicate VBScript (Apps Script) and Visual Basic (GWT). They're trying to match Office feature by feature.

This is the same path that Microsoft used with WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. It did eventually lead to their dominance (because they owned the operating system) but Word and Excel aren't really much more innovative than their ancestors.

I don't think this is a great strategy, because the web/browser environment lends itself to something that could be much better and much more powerful.

I'm guessing they have long lists of companies that claim they will switch "as soon as they have features A, B, and C" but they might be missing the point.

To avoid this fate, they really need to clean house, and refocus on a large scale.

Otherwise, we will have to wait for "Company X" to emerge and start challenging the new "corporatized" Google...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Biotech and Nanotech will flop

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 25 years

I'm not sure why, but I think both of these technologies will fail to deliver to the degree of their hype. At least not in the next quarter century.

No doubt that they've already produced some interesting advancements, but I think future developments in these fields will be slow and fairly boring.

These fields in 2010 remind  me of space technology of the 1960s.

Sure, we got some pretty neat stuff out of the race to the space, but certainly no flying cars, or subdivisions on the moon.

I don't think either of these technologies will produce the miracles that some suggest.

Hopefully some eager scientists will prove me wrong!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

People will get bored of Apple gadgets

Probability: 90%

Timeline: 5 years

Apple products are beautifully designed, with highly functional user interfaces.

But I'm not sure they really deserve the amount of attention they get.

It seems to me that the marketing has a lot more to do with their popularity than the products themselves.

Sure, every gadget Apple releases these days is a "must have" from day 1, but will they stand the test of time?

I've used iPods, iPhones and even an iPad here and there. I thought they were nice to use, but wasn't really "blown away" by them.

I suspect in 5 years there will be other companies with shiny new fad products capturing people's attention and money.

Apple's stuff will be old, clunky, and gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Obesity gets even worse

Probability: 95%

Timeline: Now for the next decade

This is already a massive problem, and there are lots of campaigns to reduce obesity, but the problem just keeps getting worse.

If you don't believe me, just have a look at this scary data from "ground zero" of the epidemic, the United States:

Here are some predictions from better-educated sources than myself:

Notice that the correlation between extra weight and many diseases has been established for decades now.

Obesity is spreading around the world like a plague.

No wonder. With cheap, fatty, salty, sugary food being shoved in our faces from all angles, it is getting more and more difficult to eat properly.

The only way to stop this trend is to change the economics. Instead of promoting junk food, we need to make healthy food cheaper, and unhealthy food more expensive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No more bananas

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 25 years

I love bananas. They are the perfect food.

Sweet and delicious, they have natural packaging and a visual ripeness indicator.

I'm eating as many bananas as I can get my hands on, because they're cheap and plentiful.

The problem is that I don't think they will be for much longer.

I suspect that a combination of political problems, environmental pressures, and transportation cost increases will make these treats more difficult to obtain in the future.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sea level rise has big effects

Probability: 90%

Timeline: 25 years

This one seems to be a no-brainer. Just quickly reading the Wikipedia entry about sea level rise show this to be very likely.

The real questions to consider at this point are:

  1. How fast will it happen?
  2. What areas will be impacted the most?
Certainly low-lying island nations are most at risk. In fact, large parts of Tuvalu have already been evacuated and the entire country may eventually have to be abandoned!

How well can coastal populations deal with a 1-meter rise in sea levels by the end of the century? We'll have to see.