Futurist Thomas Frey: Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history.
By 2030 the average person in the U.S. will have 4.5 packages a week delivered with flying drones. They will travel 40% of the time in a driverless car, use a 3D printer to print hyper-individualized meals, and will spend most of their leisure time on an activity that hasn’t been invented yet.
The world will have seen over 2 billion jobs disappear, with most coming back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs.
Over 50% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will have disappeared, over 50% of traditional colleges will have collapsed, and India will have overtaken China as the most populous country in the world.
Most people will have stopped taking pills in favor of a new device that causes the body to manufacture it’s own cures.
Space colonies, personal privacy, and flying cars will all be hot topics of discussion, but not a reality yet.
Most of today’s top causes, including climate change, gay liberation, and abortion, will all be relegated to little more than footnotes in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia itself will have lost the encyclopedia wars to an upstart company all because Jimmy Wales was taken hostage and beheaded by warring factions in the Middle East over a controversial entry belittling micro religions.
Our ability to predict the future is an inexact science. The most accurate predictions generally come from well-informed industry insiders about very near term events.
Much like predicting the weather, the farther we move into the future, the less accurate our predictions become.
So why do we make them?
In the segments below, I’ll make a series of 33 provocative predictions about 2030, and how different life will be just 17 years in the future.
I will also explain why predictions are important, even when they are wrong.
“Our greatest motivations in life
come from NOT knowing the future.”
Why Understanding the Future is Important
Ignorance is a valuable part of the future. If we knew the future we would have little reason to vote in an election, host a surprise party, or start something new.
Once a future is known, we quickly lose interest in trying to influence it. For this reason, our greatest motivations in life come from NOT knowing the future.
So why, as a futurist, do I spend so much time thinking about the future?
Very simply, since no one has a totally clear vision of what lies ahead, we are all left with degrees of accuracy. Anyone with a higher degree of accuracy, even by only a few percentage points, can achieve a significant competitive advantage.
“Humanity will change more in the
next 20 years than in all of human history.”
The Power of Prediction
If I make the prediction that “By 2030 over 90% of all crimes will be solved through video and other forms of surveillance,” a forecast like that causes several things to happen.
First, you have to decide if you agree that a certain percent of crimes will be solved that way. If so, it forces you to think about how fast the surveillance industry is growing, how invasive this might be, and whether privacy concerns might start to shift current trends in the other direction.
More importantly, it forces you to consider the bigger picture, and whether this is a desirable future. If it reaches 90%, how many police, judges, and lawyers will be out of a job as a result of this? Will this create a fairer justice system, a safer society, or a far scarier place to live?
Please keep this in mind as we step through the following predictions.
“Risk factors will increase exponentially!”
33 Dramatic Predictions
- By 2030 over 80% of all doctor visits will have been replaced by automated exams. Details here.
- By 2030 over 90% of all restaurants will use some form of a 3D food printer in their meal preparations.Details here.
- By 2030 over 10% of all global financial transactions will be conducted through Bitcoin or Bitcoin-like crypto currencies.
- By 2030 we will seen a growing number of highways designated as driverless-vehicle only. Details here.
- By 2030, a Chinese company will become the first to enter the space tourism industry by establishing regular flights to their space hotel.
- By 2030, the world’s largest Internet company will be in the education business, and it will be a company we have not heard of yet.
- By 2030 over 20% of all new construction will be “printed” buildings. Details here.
- By 2030 over 2 billion jobs will have disappeared, freeing up talent for many new fledgling industries.Details here.
- By 2030 a new protest group will have emerged that holds anti-cloning rallies, demonstrating against the creation of “soul-less humans.”
- By 2030 we will see the first city to harvest 100% of its water supply from the atmosphere. Details here.
- By 2030 world religions will make a resurgence, with communities of faith growing by nearly 50% over what they are today.
- By 2030 over 50% of all traditional colleges will collapse, paving the way for an entire new education industry to emerge. Details here.
- By 2030 we will see a surge of Micro Colleges spring to life, each requiring less than 6 months of training and apprenticeship to switch professions. Details here.
- By 2030 scientists will have perfected an active cross-species communication system, enabling some species to talk to each other as well as humans.
- By 2030 we will see the first hurricane stopped by human intervention.
- By 2030 we will see wireless power used to light up invisible light bulbs in the middle of a room.
- By 2030 we will see the first demonstration of a technology to control gravity, reducing the pull of gravity on an object by as much as 50%.
- By 2030 democracy will be viewed as inferior form of government.
- By 2030 traditional police forces will be largely automated out of existence with less than 50% of current staffing levels on active duty.
- By 2030 over 90% of all libraries will offer premium services as part of their business model. Details here.
- By 2030 forest fires will have been reduced to less than 5% of the number today with the use of infrared drone monitoring systems. Details here.
- By 2030 over 30% of all cities in the U.S. will operate their electric utilities as micro grids.
- By 2030 we will have seen a number of global elections with the intent of creating a new global mandate, forcing world leaders to take notice. Details here.
- By 2030 traditional pharmaceuticals will be replaced by hyper-individualized medicines that are manufactured at the time they are ordered. Details here.
- By 2030 we will have seen the revival of the first mated pair of an extinct species. Details here.
- By 2030 swarms of micro flying drones – swarmbots – will be demonstrated to assemble themselves as a type of personal clothing, serving as a reconfigurable fashion statement. Details here.
- By 2030 marijuana will be legalized in all 50 states in the U.S. and half of all foreign countries. Details here.
- By 2030 cable television will no longer exist.
- By 2030 a small number of companies will begin calculating their labor costs with something called “synaptical currency.” Details here.
- By 2030 it will be common to use next generation search engines to search the physical world. Details here.
- By 2030 basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in over 20% of all jobs.Details here.
- By 2030 we will have seen multiple attempts to send a probe to the center of the earth. Details here.
- By 2030 a form of tube transportation, inspired by Hyperloop and ET3, will be well on its way to becoming the world’s largest infrastructure project. Details here.
”Our children’s children, who haven’t
even been born yet, are counting on you!”
Reading through the prediction above you will likely have experiences a number of thoughts ranging from agreement, to amusement, to confusion, to total disagreement.
As with most predictions, some will be correct and others not. But the true value in this list will come from giving serious consideration to each of them and deriving your own conclusions.
If you were expecting me to aggressively defend all these predictions, then this column will certainly disappoint you. It has been a lifetime journey for me to formulate my thoughts about the future, but there are far too many variables to build a defensible case for any of them.
That said, I would love to hear your thoughts. What’s missing, too aggressive, or simply misguided? Sometimes my crystal ball is far too fuzzy, so I’d love to hear what ideas come to mind.
Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything