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Posted: January 02, 2014

The futurist: 33 dramatic predictions for 2030

Here are the first eight

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 percent 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 more than 50 percent structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs. 

More than 50 percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies will have disappeared, more than 50 percent 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.

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.

The Power of Prediction

If I make the prediction that “By 2030 more than 90 percent 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 percent, 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.

33 Dramatic Predictions

  1. By 2030 over 80 percent of all doctor visits will have been replaced by automated exams. Details here.
  2. By 2030 over 90 percent of all restaurants will use some form of a 3D food printer in their meal preparations.Details here.
  3. By 2030 over 10 percent of all global financial transactions will be conducted through Bitcoin or Bitcoin-like crypto currencies.
  4. By 2030 we will seen a growing number of highways designated as driverless-vehicle only. Details here.
  5. By 2030, a Chinese company will become the first to enter the space tourism industry by establishing regular flights to their space hotel.
  6. 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.
  7. By 2030 over 20 percent of all new construction will be “printed” buildings. Details here.
  8. By 2030 over 2 billion jobs will have disappeared, freeing up talent for many new fledgling industries. Details here

Tomorrow: The other 25 dramatic predictions.

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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