short-term predictions: 2014, 2017, 2022
Kragen Javier Sitaker
kragen at canonical.org
Tue Jun 12 03:39:58 PDT 2012
The release of Meteor in April reminded me about an abandoned project of my own
called Kogluktualuk, which was basically Meteor, but never implemented to any
significant extent. It was kind of obvious that something like Meteor needed to
exist. So I thought I would record some other predictions about things that
haven't happened yet, to see if my foresight is really as good as it seems in
hindsight. After all, it's easy to fool yourself into thinking about only your
correct predictions, forgetting the stupid ones. So this is, like debugging, a
sort of exercise in therapeutically feeling stupid.
Two years from now, most iOS applications will be written in Cordova (formerly
PhoneGap) or a successor, rather than in ObjC. This is both because JS is a much
more productive language than ObjC and in order to target Android as well.
Within 5 years, P2P protocols will resurge in importance. This is despite the
massive move from desktop and laptop computers to handheld computers running
iOS and Android and using cellphone networks. The driver will be better
connectivity and crackdowns on user-generated content on centrally-operated
network services like YouTube and Megaupload.
When automated fabricationbthe scenario where you get your next bicycle by
downloading bicycle blueprints over the network and sending them to a machine
that then produces a bicycle for you without human interventionbhappens, it
will not be by means of 3-D printers, which work by depositing layers of a
small number of materials. Instead, it will take the form of automated assembly
by robots of parts mostly made by other means, such as laser cutting, torch
cutting, CNC machining, and planar printing processes.
More and more communication between people will be mediated by computers.
Within a few years, most of our lives will be recorded and permanently archived
without our knowledge or consent.
Android will continue to grow over the next three years at the expense of iOS.
Apple will release at most one groundbreaking new product (like the Apple ][,
Macintosh, Newton, HyperCard, NeXTStep, iMac, iPad, Lisa, iPhone, iTunes Music
Store, and Macbook Air, in the next ten years.
Nokia will collapse. Their Windows phones will be a failure.
Solar energy will provide nearly as much marketed energy as coal by 2022.
Oil production will not exceed its 2008 peak by more than 30% by 2022.
Traditional oil production has peaked.
Oil prices will exceed their 2008 peak at least once by 2017.
US influence will wane; that is, it will be less significant in 2022 than
China's laissez-faire copyright enforcement will become more widespread by
2017, despite US protests.
Argentina will have another financial crisis by 2017, with a collapse of the
peso, but not as severe as in 2001.
Photovoltaic, rather than solar thermal, will still be the major form of
marketed solar energy until 2022.
In 2022, the rather stupid opinion that Chinese manufacturers are mere copycats
will be much less widespread, held only by the occasional crank rather than, as
today, garden-variety ignorant people.
By 2022, Brazil will be a bigger startup hub than New York, England, Russia,
Australia, or Japan, but not Silicon Valley or China.
The murder rate in Argentina will be higher in 2013, 2014, and 2015 than in
A generic GPU programming language will arise to replace CUDA and enable
competition with NVIDIA by 2020.
Photographic and audio recording evidence will be easy to fake so that human
eyes can't tell the difference by 2017.
Quantum computers will turn out to work, but building ones big enough to
revolutionize anything will take longer than five more years.
Most performance-critical code will scale up to at least 16 cores by 2017,
despite doing it with explicit concurrency, such as threads and locks or
message passing like Erlang and Golang, rather than implicit forms like
transactional memory or APL-like array operations.
Cash payment will still be common throughout the poor countries in 2022.
As computerized communication, planning, and manufacturing take over the
economy, companies will continue to shrink while depending on ever more custom
software. The consequence is that programming will partly displace management
as a core competency of running a business.
China will largely shift to nuclear power generation for electricity by 2022.
By 2017, desktop computers will be something like CRTs a couple of years back:
used in special circumstances (gamers, say) and where money is tight, but not
many places. Instead people will use laptops, phones, cloud applications,
microservers, and rackmount servers. As I explained in "people, places, things.
and ideas" in 1999, I see this development as profoundly prejudicial to
software freedom, but it is, if anything, accelerating.
Computer security will keep getting worse at least until 2017, with
exponentially more software deployed on networks, almost all without the
requisite knowledge to secure or audit it. This will drive OS-level sandboxing
like PNaCl, but that will be only moderately effective, in large part because
free operating systems will not be used much (although Linux is) so users will
not be allowed to make their own computers secure, and absent that, software
vendors don't have the right incentives.
Self-driving cars will be a substantial minority of cars in rich countries by
Assassinations will rise dramatically by 2017 as their cost falls dramatically,
due to the lack of computer security, to the pervasive gathering and
warehousing of previously private information, and to lower-cost killer robots.
Spam and viruses will remain major problems at least until 2017.
No language will replace C as the language of nearly all serious software by
2022. C lost that position around 1992, to a combination of C and C++, and
since then there's been a diversity of languages in use. That will remain true.
Not Scala, not JS, not Python or Ruby, will shut out the other languages like
Mining mineral resources such as copper from existing landfills will employ
tens of thousands of people by 2022, mostly illegally and in very hazardous
Population growth will continue to slow until 2022.
The US GDP in 2022 will not be more than 22% bigger than in 2011, measured in
oil, kilowatt hours, or wheat, or probably measured in gold, at their average
prices over the year. US GDP in 2011 is estimated at US$15.1 billion.
Humans will not go beyond low Earth orbit, for example to geosynchronous orbit,
to the moon, or to other planets, by 2022.
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