Monday, February 1, 2010

Five Years Into the Future

Some years ago I made a number of predictions about the future among family, friends and colleagues which have come true. To me and many others, these predictions made perfect sense. In fact, to any informed person they did not seem like predictions at all, but were simply self evident "weather forecasts" based on trend observations. What about the coming five years?

I'd like to share a few observations that I almost take for granted, but that may, to some people, be startling statements sounding almost like "prophecies".

I wonder what you're thinking when you consider my thoughts about some of the exciting things the future might bring us..?

Five Years Ago
Let's first take a quick look back in time...

For instance, only five years ago I pictured my entire family with online cell phones and instantly shared calendar updates. To me it was self evident. When I shared the vision of this, not many people believed it would come so soon, let alone comprehend why this would be so significant or even necessary. I said it would make sense and improve the quality of my family's life and interaction. Today it's a reality and my peers take it for granted. Interesting phenomenon!

Like the above example, I could share a number of many other predictions I made at the time, but my purpose is not to prove that I was right back then. Rather, let's repeat the exercise of making predictions. Why don't we share some thoughts about the future? The future, as we believe it will be five years from today!

Here are some of the things I believe about the future. (Are you prepared to share some of your beliefs, too..? ;-)

Five Years Into the Future
I'd like to take the web as my stepping stone, as it seems to be an interesting starting point for some of the really BIG and significant changes we'll be witnessing in the years ahead. Here's a quick list of spontaneous examples of what I think we might see:

Individual Privacy Challenged
From today and at least five years ahead in time I believe "an educated person" without one or more maintained online profiles will be rare (exept for "the oldest generation"). Sharing of personal data will increase dramatically. Serious mistakes will be exploited. People will learn and awareness will grow. Security will become an increasingly important isssue. Schools will integrate the social web both as a teaching and collaboration tool, combined with an ongoing warning to be careful.

Growing Collective Genius of the Masses
More and more people will be online around the clock. Human interaction will become increasingly transparent. Enormous amounts of free content will not only increase, it will explode. And to such proportions that it will affect every aspect of our lives (socially / emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally). We will continuously be surprised about what can be found online and how it can be used.

Innovation Speed
Lifestyle changing innovations will appear more frequently by how the world makes information and content available to us in smart and adaptive ways. An educated person becomes more and more someone not only with knowledge, but mostly wisdom to find and apply what's in the cloud. (i.e. One that knows how to find and utilize helpful online information in daily living and good decision making.)

More Conflict
This will in turn feed existing challenges, such as an increased gap between rich and poor countries, as well as rich and poor people domestically. On the other hand, it will also enlighten the people and put an end to grand scale manipulation and "tyrannies will fall". E.g. a) big companies with malfunctioning hierarchic structures and b) corrupt nations with controlling and dishonest leadership, to name a few examples.

Growing Entertainment Industry
The media will become highly interactive. Realistic scenario testing will prevent potential disasters and make possible enormous and ever bigger, more sophisticated and risky projects. More and more people will have to deal with virtual reality, where effective people use technology to improve the quality of life and ineffective people become victims of addiction and the loss of a social life.

These are just a few examples of what I believe we'll see more of...

Unconscious Living
...and can you see how this is just the beginning of a lengthy list of fascinating thoughts and ideas about the future? Why not carefully reflect back on history and forward on the future? I believe it makes living in the present much more interesting and rewarding.

Like I said, if you're looking out for some of the basic trends in society you'll probably consider most of these so-called "predictions" I've just made to be pretty self evident. However, and this is my point; surprisingly many people are living in "isolation" or unconsciously, as it were, by how they seldom reflect on neither history nor the future. They're not up to date... To them, these trends and events gradually appear, but they are stripped of opportunity and value by the way that it reaches them just a little bit too late... (i.e. futuristically) and with little appreciation for how things now can be done so much better (i.e. historically).

Last but not least, if you share your thoughts about the future the majority of people around you may regularly either consider you a "prophet" or a lunatic.

Your Turn to Share
Help me learn from the past, live in the present and look to the future, folks. Share with us your insight and opinions of what's coming around the next bend..!

p.s. It'll be interesting to revisit this blogpost in 2015 ;-)


  1. "Growing Collective Genius of the Masses" ... ? It seems to me like the masses are getting more stupid and fatter by the minute. Might be the pessimist in me talking, but I admire your enthusiasm Vidar, - I`ve always have.

    No matter how one look at it; we live in exciting times.

  2. 'Dad, what time is the future?' my six year old son asked. I told him that when he'd finished his dinner and kids-TV rolled around he would be in the future. Wide eyed with wonder he yelled 'We're gonna be in the future!' to his visiting buddy. Five years from now he'll be eleven. He will most likely select between several alternate realities, and not make any great distinctions between virtual and phsyical ones. He will take on different roles depending on context, and through this get a much more mature level of training in social skills than our own generation did. His education will consist of traditional means of learning combined with virtual reality school trips to the stone age and Leonardo Da Vinci's workshop. His social network will be carried by a backbone of electronic interfaces that update seamlessly. We as parents will dedicate time and effort to guiding him through a myriad of choices presented by the new types of media. He will have access to and knowledge of topics and concepts that were previously considered suitable for grown ups. Trying to build fences and walls to shield him will be destructive, and we as parents will be challenged to change our view of what is appropriate and try to enlighten him, guide him, and use our knowledge to help him find his own ground to stand on. It will probably not be easy, and come at a cost. But I love the fact that my kids will grow up in some of the most exciting times yet.

  3. A thought provoking post, as always.

    I must say though, I do not share your optimism for the future.

    In five years I'll be 28 years old, my son will be 7.

    I envision rather than choosing the reality one lives in, most people will live in the adopted enhanced reality, constantly connected to the internet, with instant updates to real-time informational changes. Walking through a new city with sunglasses showing points of interest and landmarks.

    Companies will continue to adopt social networking as a form of advertising and reaching new markets.

    The tablet computer will almost totally replace the laptop in almost any non-business setting, and will become the standard method of teaching children as young as pre-school age, especially considering my 2 year old son can already operate my iPhone. In addition, print newspapers will become obsolete, being sent to only the elderly or wealthy who can afford the high price it will cost to send them.

    Within 5 years we will see the start of telecommunications companies censoring internet content, under the legal excuse they own the lines which connect the world. Legal battles will ensue, with telecommunications companies eventually losing, and retaliating by beginning the process of creating more powerful and capable connections, which they in turn have complete authoritative control over.

  4. Very interesting. I agree with many of the developments you have predicted. Let me share some of my own concerning fields I am currently engaged in:

    We have already seen the inadequasies of the "traditionally" structured teaching. I believe the schools and education systems that will be leading in the future will focus less on reproduction of knowledge and more on creativity and originality. Tests and exams as we know them today will disappear, and they will be replaced with projects simulating real problem-solving assignments and more fully integrating a continually changing market with the educational institutions. The lines between academic institutions and private companies will blur and those who do not follow this trend will be left behind.

    Projections show that by 2050 about half of the world will be speaking English. However, increased globalization will necessitate translation engines and more translators/interpreters to meet the growing demand for understanding and overcoming the challenges caused not only because of the different languages being spoken, but also because of the field-specific vocabulary. With more and more specialized fields, the demand for people who can understand a little bit of everything and explain it simply will increase.

  5. I am old enough to say that I have allready "lived" the future. Beeing 67 I have vitnessed more changes than any other generations before me. The speed of changes in the last 10-15 yars is so dramatic, that it is close to chaos. What do I mean by chaos? Chaos uccurs when the volume of info far exeeds the capasity to comprehend it or even the abillity to harvest it for a proper purpose.
    As humans we are very individually specific persons, thus we will in this chaos pick up different trends as our "specific truth". The biggest challenge will be to ballance this individual "truths" to eachother.
    On one hand it will give us a fantastic possibility to form our own "true lives", but it will aslo give some crazy people a unique chance to manipulate us into groups of different belives of what is "right or wrong", thus creating grounds for more disputes and serious fights / wars.
    That was the negative side.
    The positive side is:
    1. Education.
    We will slowly realize that we are not in "school" for learning, but for remembering what we allready know. I am sure that the idea that we have a pre-life to our actual life will grow among us. The experiences we made in our pre-life will be more accessable to us as we realize that this is reality. This will not come as a religious trend, but as an acceptanse of forgotten knowledge. We will find proofs in hidden scriptures and in historical sites that are still not opened.There will be a trend of better understanding among those peoples that accept this knowledge, because they will slowly understand that we are all here for eachother, and not for fighting eachother with dogmas. Teaching and learning will be based on an increasing level of cooperation between individuals as it is only as a "mass" that we can survive and prosper. We will slowly understand that individual decissions will have an impact on others - either we like it or not. We can allready now see that there are connections between us that is of non physical form - the power of thaughts will be understood better and this power will gradually be refined to the better for mankind.
    More and more people will understand and accept that there is more to it than just this earthly life. This developement will also take place outside the religious foras in mutch larger scale than today, as it will become a general knowledge rather than a belive-based knowledge.
    General developement:
    According to the above ideas, the world will be devided in to two general groups:
    1. people that does not care, whatever happens
    2. people that find satisfaction in learning more, together with other people, to elevate as "peoples" of shared knowledge.
    The distance between these two groups will increase, thus create the biggest potential for new wars and disputes.

    Solution: Better education for all children in secure and openminded schools.

    I am determined to stay in there for the next 5 years to evaluate this statements. Exiting.
    Stein Wildar