Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No more honey

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 25 years

Here's a bit of a random prediction for you. No more honey -- at least not in commercial quantities anymore.

Why not? Apparently bee populations are in severe decline.

Nobody is quite sure why at this stage, so there's still hope that we'll figure it out in time to reverse the problem.

Pesticides appear to be a likely cause, but use and availability have continued to rise, especially in North America.

It's a good thing honey can be stored a long time. Time to start building up a stockpile! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

International borders open up

Probability: 30%

Timeline: 50 years

This is more of a wish than a prediction.

It seems that all countries -- even the ones you'd traditionally consider to be "poor" -- are cracking down on immigration.

It is becoming increasing difficult to live and work in a country other than the one you happened to be born in.

People's movement is restricted by governments, and increasingly, corporations -- as working for a local company is often a requirement for residency.

Unfortunately, nationalism seems to be on the increase, and I don't foresee this happening in my lifetime.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BCI goes mainstream

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 15 years

I was originally going to title this "We control computers with our mind" but then I remembered that functional BCI (brain computer interface) has been around for decades!

What I predict, is that it will become an actual viable alternative to other input methods, like touchscreens, keyboards, and mice.

The major bottleneck to effectively using communication and computing tools right now is the inefficiency of our input and output devices.

Once we can have more direct control and communication with computers -- and each other -- I think it will open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Robots will turn on us

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 50 years

Yes, I know, this has been a common theme in science fiction for decades now, but unlike the cheery future presented in The Jetsons, the Terminator scenario seems to be getting closer every day.

We have all sorts of unmanned probes and robotics, and computing power increases exponentially every 18 months.

How long until we can build something with the computing power of the human brain? If things continue as they have been, we could be looking at this happening as early as 2025 -- fifteen years from now. You can read why in this very detailed article.

So we'll have the computing power. But why would we program it to be able to make its own decisions? Doesn't that sound dangerous?

We already have lots of software that make certain decisions much faster (and often better) than humans. Think about airplane autopilots. They take inputs from the real world, evaluate them, and translate them back to outputs on the real world again.

Even still, why would a mechanical intelligence turn on us? There are a few ideas here.

At current, this outcome seems more likely than not, unless some other disaster sets back technological progress significantly.

Friday, June 4, 2010

War rages on

Probability: 90%

Timeline: Forever

If there has been one constant since the beginning of civilization, it is war.

In good times and bad, people always seem to manage to find things to fight about.

We kill each other for beliefs, revenge, food, water, oil, diamonds -- you name it.

I believe the number one threat to human existence has been and will continue to be -- human existence.