Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The game of predictions -- as it's New Year's Eve

I have always liked to play the game of making predictions on New Year's Eve. Everyone comes up with as many predictions as they like, in whatever category they choose -- whether personal (who'll get married, divorced, have a baby, etc.), work-related (change jobs, get acquired, expand, downsize, etc.), political, global, sports, cultural, etc. All are written down and put in a sealed envelope labeled "PREDICTIONS for 2009" -- and stored in a drawer, ready for the next New Year's Eve, when it is opened and the score is tallied -- how many right and by whom.

We never looked more than a year ahead, and you only ever got the honor of being right.

But I recently discovered a website which combines the challenge of long-range predictions with the option of making specific bets (i.e., predictions with potential rewards) -- from those clever people at the Long Now Foundation (Kevin Kelly, Stewart Brand, etc.).


Here is the first bet made, back in 2002 -- between Mitch Kapor and Ray Kurzweil (who has made a famous prediction with his Singularity -- interesting aside: his Wikipedia page is labeled as one of those currently in dispute).


What does the future hold? Here's a possible map -- from Ross Dawson at Trends in the Living Networks (where he also has links to his previous Trend Blends for 2007 and 2008):

And here's the World Future Society's top ten forecasts for 2009 and beyond:

1. Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030.

2. Bioviolence will become a greater threat as the technology becomes more accessible.

3. The car's days as king of the road will soon be over.

4. Careers, and the college majors for preparing for them, are becoming more specialized.

5. There may not be world law in the foreseeable future, but the world's legal systems will be networked.

6. The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement will -- in the twenty-first century -- be what the space race was in the previous century.

7. Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it's acquired.

8. Urbanization will hit 60% by 2030.

9. The Middle East will become more secular while religious influence in China will grow.

10. Access to electricity will reach 83% of the world by 2030.

Numbers 4 and 7 support the need for developing flexible learners, able to continually renew themselves as experts. And Number 1 means we might be able to resolve those arguments over who said what when ("let's replay the tape from that morning....").

Must go make my own private predictions now...

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