Friday, 20 June 2008


Social Technologies predicts 12 Areas for Technology Innovation through 2025.
  1. Personalized medicine
  2. Distributed energy
  3. Pervasive computing
  4. Nanomaterials
  5. Biomarkers for health
  6. Biofuels
  7. Advanced manufacturing
  8. Universal water
  9. Carbon management
  10. Engineered agriculture
  11. Security and tracking
  12. Advanced transportation
The rules of prognostication are simple. Be specific, outlandish, and keep quiet about the ones that fall through. Social Technologies doesn't meet the bill. It's a terrible list. They aren't prognosticating so much as advertising. Here's my take on their 12 areas of innovation:
  1. Nearly all cancers will be treated with retroviruses.
  2. In China and India, energy will be generated locally, leapfrogging those nations past the United States and other Western nations beleaguered by increasingly desperate corporations and the inertia of distribution infrastructure.
  3. In 2025, pervasive computing and the semantic web will be on the list of predicted tech innovations for 2050. The next computing revolution is that thousands of African children who have received One Laptop Per Child will earn One Dollar Per Day acting as the back-end to your Roomba.
  4. Nanomaterials will be ubiquitous and cheap, but will turn out to be useful mostly for advertising.
  5. Socialist countries will have to face the troubling fascist aspect of genetic determinism in their free healthcare plans.
  6. After trillions of dollars have been wasted in developing biofuels, we will decide that trains were a good idea after all.
  7. While some corporations spend billions trying to develop a homogenous system to allow customers arbitrary degrees of customization on their products, smarter corporations spend billions developing the enabling technologies they can sell to artisans for use in creating such products. The de-industrial revolution begins in your mom's craft room.
  8. A salt shortage makes desalinization affordable.
  9. Carbon management becomes a big business. On this one, the panel is right on. Of course, managing carbon doesn't actually do anything except redistribute wealth.
  10. Kitchen counter genetic engineering to produce crop diversity becomes commonplace. Corporations that attempt to patent genes are laughed out of court. Intellectual property law follows an attribution model, and end-profits trickle up to the originator.
  11. Everyone, everywhere, has cameras. They're always on and always recording, and no one cares anymore. Criminals subvert the nanomaterials so useful for advertising to disguise themselves as their own Second Life avatar.
  12. The Netherlands outlaws cars. Most large cities outlaw cars in the downtown core (excepting electric cabs and emergency vehicles). Everyone in the city rides a bike, and fashion follows suit: flared legs and skirts are out, and to my general annoyance, capri pants become popular for both genders.
Yogi Berra has it right: prediction is very hard, especially about the future.

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