“Prediction, ” Nobel physicist Niels Bohr once wryly admitted,
“is very difficult. Especially about the future.” After consulting experts, Macleans has assembled a portrait of what may lie ahead, from sure bets and informed speculation to the highly whimsical:
2000 Internet-ready cellphones hit the market offering traffic, investment, news, dining info.
The fall launch of Sony’s PlayStation2 heralds a new generation of Net-connected gaming.
Citizens of poorer countries outnumber those in developed regions by five to one.
2001 Smart appliances that can communicate over the Internet appear in the United States.
2002 Contact lenses based on individual “maps” of corneas promise vision correction better than 20/20.
2003 Wireless devices can handle data speeds that allow streaming audio and video-including games played with others online.The units also contain a global positioning system allowing pop-up Web ads related to the local street
The developing world, led by India, surpasses the developed world in Internet users.
The first optical-disc home video recorder appears.
2004 A record heatwave in the U.S. Midwest overloads power grids; brownouts cause massive e-commerce losses.
2005 Courier companies introduce lick-'n’-stick microcomputers that transmit radio signals to track packages.
A virus dubbed “root canal” infects wireless devices using the Bluetooth system, causing global disruption.
2006 AOLTime Warner Fox Vivendi Alliance Atlantis releases a Casablanca sequel-the first new Humphrey Bogart movie in 50 years. It stars a “synthetic” Bogie.
2007 Chinese surpasses English as the most-used language on the Internet.
Oil prices plummet as fuel-cell vehicles begin to replace cars with internal-combustion engines.
2008 The first civilian “portable 0.R.”-a remotely controlled robotintroduces telesurgery to distant communities and accident sites. “Kitchen rage” attacks erupt on appliances programmed to limit access to snacks and junk food.
2009 Hot Xmas item: a 3-D virtual reality headset-and-gloves outfit that lets users join live online fantasy games—including sex.
Game companies join with Canada's Addiction Research Foundation to establish the first “VR detox centre” to treat videogame addiction.
Barbie comes in models that teach French, German, Japanese and other languages through interactive voicerecognition and content streamed wirelessly from the Internet.
Fertility falls below replacement rate in most of the developing world outside Africa.
2011 Boeing unveils plan for first “near space” commercial airliner to fly at altitudes of 80-plus km.
2012 Walt Disney World introduces VR Vacations: multi-day excursions into total virtual reality with smell-ovision and synthetic touch. Investors in Las Vegas and Atlantic City follow with an X-rated version.
Bathroom cabinet, with heads-up video display in the mirror, updates your medicines, flashes reminders from your dentist and includes a talking database of diseases and cures. A biometric cuff monitors body functions and transmits results to your doctor.
2013 U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves neural implants allowing direct-to-brain connections for medical monitoring and biofeedback.
2014 Hot Xmas item: Varna, a talking, emoting robo-maid from Artificial Intelligence Corp. and Maytag.
2015 Water conflicts lead to war in Middle East; U.S. pressure on Canada to release water to the droughtstricken Midwest becomes intense.
2016 Canada's continentalist Prime Minister negotiates a water-for-citizenship deal with the U.S. President.The two countries merge, though Canada becomes a “distinct society” under the 28th Amendment.
2018 NASDAQ hits 14,000 on bull run for nanotech stocks. Blue-collar jobs now employ less than 10 per cent of U.S.-Canada workforce.
2020 IBM Intel Motorola announces the first nanochip. It is vastly more powerful than conventional processors, but requires all of the world’s software to be rewritten.
Demographers warn that disease, natural disasters and plummeting fertility are halting world population growth.
2021 U.S. population falls for the first time.
2023 Hot Xmas item: the Earth toy. Globe-shaped simulator answers
a child’s every question, illustrated by a 3-D holographic video display.
2025 Biotech researchers unveil first medically useful “nanomachine.” Injected by the thousands into the blood, they scour plaque from arteries.
Citizens of poorer countries outnumber those of developed ones by more than 7 to 1.
2026 War ravages the Indian subcontinent as waves of refugees from Bangladesh, fleeing rising seas and hyperstorms, overwhelm northern India.
2027 Italian researchers unveil first “memory bioport.” A 21-year-old student, her brain hooked to the Net, can now recite the entire canon of Western literature, word-for-word.
International consortium establishes first permanent Moon base.
2028 Scandal rocks Olympics over a report that a winner of 19 gold medals at 2028 Pyongyang Summer Games had genes secretly modified ata lab in 2009.
BioSoft Corp. announces first commercial neurochip based on the design of human brain cells. It employs DNA-like chemical reactions to compute.
AT&TVodaphone Microsoft Rogers launches “virtual teleporting,” in which people can go anywhere-from a real conference room to a real jungle-and interact fully without leaving home. Wealthy clients prefer it to actual travel, which has become very dangerous.
2033 Several U.S. states give gated communities full autonomy in law enforcement, since policing outside has become largely ineffective.
2035 World population peaks at 8 billion and begins to decline.
2040 In research labs of the heavily fortified Cascadian Federation, nanobots, working atom-by-atom, transform a barrel of waste chemicals into a hamburger.
2045 Japanese researchers reveal Cyborg 1: a human-like biological entity equipped with a synthetic brain equivalent to about 1,000 human minds. It also writes haiku.
2060 Automated Industries, a robotically-managed R&D lab housed in a windowless room in Bombay, develops a computer with power equivalent to all the human brains that ever lived.The company refuses to sell it to humans.
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