Future, Imperfect…

Some predictions for the coming years

I often joke, due to the nature of the work I do in display R&D and how long it takes for new ideas to reach the market in sufficient numbers to be relevant, that I live fifteen years in the future.  So, in the spirit of living in the year 2031, let me share what I see around me with those of you still living in 2016.

Television as you know it is dead.  No one watches “channels” anymore.  If you like a particular show, you subscribe to that show for a modest fee, unless you are willing to to sit through intolerable number of commercials and onscreen ads.  But the good news is, you can watch anything you want, when you want it, instantly.  Oh, and you won’t need a remote.  You just talk to your TV, or wave your hand to turn up or down the volume.  You can even ask your TV what your friends are watching, so that you can too.

That TV will be really impressive as well.  It will seem more ‘real than real’, with really vivid colors you can’t see today, like asure blue and emerald green, instead of the sickly yellowish green TVs of 2015.  And the dynamic range will be amazing, blacks will be black, not dark grey… and sparkling reflections from objects will be so bright you will want to wear sunglasses at night.  And that pesky digital ‘banding’ artifact of 2015, gone!  Oh and the resolution will be so high, you will think of HDTV as “low res”.

You may not own a car in 2031… I mean, why should you, when a driverless car will be waiting for you as you step out to go to work and all of your groceries are delivered by an automated van.  If you order something special delivery online, it will be there in under an hour, delivered right to your doorstep by a drone.  But if you do have your own car, it will be all electric.  Seriously, with the Carbon Tax on automotive fuel, who could afford an internal combustion engined car?  Most people don’t bother with car ownership anymore, which has meant great business for home remodeling businesses as people convert their garages to living spaces.  Driveways are being torn up to make gardens and patios.  In some suburban neighborhoods, they have even started to tear up the paving to make parks and playgrounds.

The air in most of the world’s cities is finally begining to clear, as more cars and buses are electric.  Most of the new power plants being built are nuclear, using either recycled “spent” fuel or thorium.  Electricity generation is safer and less expensive than ever.

More people are taking college online than on campus, as the cost of going to college became uneconomical.  Fortunately, the Federal Dept. of Education stepped in to create a formal standard degree and examination system that is free for all to use.

Life expenctancy in most of the world continues to climb, especially since malaria and other mosquito borne diseases have been eliminated using genetically modified mosquitos.  The population growth of most of the world is nearing zero, given greater access to low cost birth control and greater economic opportunities.  Obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases are on the decline due to bioengineered microbiome innoculations.  Sadly there is still no cure for migraine or most cancers.

The long range option price of gold, platinum, and palladium have dropped dramatically as the first asteroid prospecting probes have identified rich deposits.  There is already talk of automated ore processing and space based industry.  The space tourism industry is booming, in spite of a spectacular accident.

The Middle East is still a mess.  But the players have changed, again.  Taiwan still fears reunification with China.  China is the most important global power, with growing influence in Africa.  Africa’s economy is booming, but governments are still corrupt and unstable.  Europe has moved further toward becoming one polity, but still has not convinced the U.K. to fully join.

Personal aviation is entering a new golden age, as economic prosperity, electric aircraft, and pilotless navigation allow a new class of user to enjoy the skies.  Traditional piston aircraft enjoy low cost fuel with an exemption from the carbon tax and falling automotive fuel use, but there is talk of taxing new piston aircraft to encourage electric aircraft.

Yes, 2031 doesn’t look all that different from 2015… but here and there, one can see the differences.

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