Fortune published a special insert "How the World Will Work: People, trends, and ideas that are shaping the next 75 years". I had made a clipping of this article and was re-visting it today. Here are some of the interesting forecasts / predictions:
- Babies are often tweaked by their parents through gene therapies –either to eliminate problems (e.g., Down syndrome, alcoholism) or to implant desired attributes (intelligence, pole-vaulting skill).
- Toilet. The seat of modern health. It measures body fat and temperature, analyzes urine and feces, and automatically confers with your health providers to spot problems early. [same concept shown in the 2005 movie "The Island"]
- In 2040 oil consumption begins to fall in absolute terms, and by 2060 oil is a boutique fuel.
- Other than a handful of new nuclear plants, large-scale power projects are rare. Instead, micro-turbines fueled by a variety of sources provide on-the-spot power. One big beneficiary: Africa. No longer reliant on corrupt politicians to extend the grid, many communities finally have reliable power. And the civic organizations that made it happen gain force. These two trends bring new spirit to the continent.
- Global warming brings more and worse weather disasters; a melting polar ice cap raises sea levels. The low, flat, sparsely populated islands of Micronesia are swamped. Their people are resettled. Population centers that are uncomfortably close to sea level, such as Venice, lower Manhattan, and Egypt's Nile delta, struggle to cope.
- In 2059, with falling birth rates and increased intermarriage and immigration, Italy becomes the first European country to have a nonwhite majority. By 2075 all the traditional large centers of white skin–the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Oceania–have followed suit.
- Today's toddlers will have to figure out how to cope with the social problems caused by China's urban-rural inequality and the huge disparity between the number of men and women (caused by two generations of parents who favored the birth of boys over girls). Another challenge: how to close the gap with India, which in 2068 overtakes China as the world's largest economy.
- David Laibson, Economist. The emerging discipline of neuro-economics says that economic decisions are the product of interactions between different brain parts that evolved at different times and for different reasons. Armed with this insight, scholars like Harvard's Laibson are beginning to reconstruct economics from the prefrontal cortex up. That might take us to a far better understanding of why consumers buy, why investors buy and sell–and how everything from 401(k) plans to marketing strategies to tax policies should be put together.