1. By 2030, learning a second language will no longer be necessary.
A tiny computer that fits in your ear, and translates what you hear into your own language? It’s not farfetched at all. In fact, all the requisite technology exists today, and all that’s missing is for someone to connect the dots.
NBF – Google is doing a lot with real time voice translation and displays in glasses could provide additional augmented information. Need to clarify how good this will get in a prediction. A gold standard would be as good as UN translators or actually replacing or supplementing UN translators.
2. By 2030, thousands, perhaps millions, of people will have a life expectancy of 150 years.
Aubrey de Grey says: I think we have a 50% chance of achieving medicine capable of getting people to 200 in the decade 2030-2040. Presuming we do indeed do that, the actual achievement of 200 will probably be in the decade 2140-2150 – it will be someone who was about 85-90 at the time that the relevant therapies were developed.
NBF – funding dependent. A lot more money has to go towards true life extension.
3. By 2030, only 2% of the world’s population will live in extreme poverty.
The eradication of extreme poverty will happen in our lifetime. In 1990, 42% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (constant 2000 dollars, PPP). In 2005, that number had fallen to 25%. The UN estimates that by 2020, only 10% of world citizens will live in absolute poverty. My bold estimate is that by 2030, only one in 50 will.
NBF – I don’t think it will happen because all it will take is for 160 million people in various countries to remain in a mostly screwed up place living on less than $1.25. Less than 5% living on less than $1.25 constant 2000 dollars PPP per day.
4. By 2030, the best food will be grown in skyscrapers.
Soil-based agriculture is so passé. Nothing short of an agricultural revolution is underway, spurred on by visionary Dr. Dickson Despommier of Columbia University. His plan is to build 30-story greenhouses in cities around the world, which will allow us to produce more food, for less money, in a healthier way, while freeing up arable land for nature.
NBF – There will be some instances of skyscraper vertical farming, but it will not be more than 1% of all agriculture. It will be the best food in that it will mostly be for high end restaurants to have fresher food and for the luxury grocery stores.
5. By 2030, driverless cars will be commonplace.
I’m sure you’ve dreamed it: Getting into a car, kicking your shoes off and leaning back with a good movie and a cold beer while your self-driven car takes you safely to your destination, without your having to worry about directions or pedestrians. Well, the technology we need to make that car exists.
NBF- need to define commonplace. It exists now on a very small scale at Masdar City and Heathrow airport. It needs to happen and it can happen but how much will it actually happen ? Legal, insurance and other societal issues need to be overcome.
6. By 2030, 18 cities will have more than 20 million inhabitants, and New York City will be the 16th largest city in the world.
I actually think this is a conservative estimate. Although global population is increasing at a staggering pace, the world’s cities have an ever higher growth rate. At present, 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas, but by 2030 that figure is projected at 60%. And 93% of that urban growth will occur in developing countries.
NBF – probably more cities than that, but not particularly interesting
7. By 2030, automated flying drones will transport humans.
Probably a lot sooner, actually. Developing a well functioning delivery drone network will pave the way for confidence in a practical network of drones delivering people. Humans have notoriously poor navigation skills in three-dimensional environments, so unmanned aerial vehicles seem a safer option than those prone to human error.
NBF – will an autopilot on the DARPA flying hummer count ? Then by 2016 in trials and 2020 in some pilot deployments.
8. By 2030, space tourism will be common, and 40,000 humans will be working in orbit.
The Space Island Group, in cooperation with British Airways, is planning to build an international, multi-purpose, commercial space station which, to begin with, will include hotels, research facilities, gourmet restaurants, and sports arenas (for new zero-gravity sports) along with dozens of other uses which can’t be imagined today. SIG is but one of a handful of companies working on similar projects.
NBF – should have the space hotels going by 2014 and more sub-orbital tourism could transition to orbital in a bigger way. 40,000 people in total by 2030 sure. 40,000 people in space all at one time requires a lot of things to go right. Also, the things going right would also mean that the robotics and teleoperation do not boom to reduce the need for actual people to go.
9. By 2030, most film actors will be out of work due to competition from cheap computer animated actors.
Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) technology will enable us to create movies with animated characters so lifelike that they become indistinguishable from humans, rendering actors (in film anyway) obsolete.
NBF – There will be more movies. More Avatar and more regular movies. More demand for movies from China and India and Korea and Brazil. So more work for actors and more CGI.
10. By 2030, China will have 250 cities with more than one million inhabitants.
Today, 90% of people in the UK and 80% of Americans live in cities, while in China only 46% do. The UK has five urban areas with more than one million inhabitants. The US has 37. China has 90. That’s today, and whereas the UK and the US have peaked in terms of urbanization, China is only half-way urbanized. The consultancy firm McKinsey predicts that China will have 220 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants by 2025.
NBF- probably, but not that interesting. China will be at about 80% urbanization.
11. By 2030, a large number of people will have robot lovers.
This is perhaps my boldest prediction.When I ask guys if they’d get a robot girlfriend, most of them intuitively say no. They think robot and they think metal, wires, awkward motions and an empty stare. I’d say no to that too, if those were my associations with the word robot. But what if your robot partner looked, felt, sounded and even talked like a human? Robots that are physically indistinguishable from humans are only 15-20 years away.
Silicone dolls are quite popular in Japan, where they are known as “Dutch Wives” (‘dattchi waifu’). Their name originates from the term, possibly English, for the thick rattan or bamboo bolster, used to aid sleep in humid countries by keeping one’s limbs lifted above sweaty sheets. There is even a business, Doru no Mori in Tokyo, that rents sex dolls and rooms to male customers. In March 2007 the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that there are also rental businesses that bring the dolls to the customer’s home, and that the specialist love-doll magazine Aidroid has a print-run of 10,000 copies per issue.
The middle market and high-end market emerged in the USA around 1995. The market has grown for two main reasons. Firstly, the last twenty years have seen huge improvements over earlier types of sex dolls, and customers come to realize this through using the web. Secondly, the method of retail purchase has also improved, now showing customers what the actual doll, seams, hair, and even orifices look like