What May Happen

Technology and progress excites me a lot. Whether it’s figuring out how to store 360 degree videos in a more efficient manner or that we’re seriously investing in going to space to rip apart rocks, the future is exciting.

Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out what excites me about technology and why other pieces of technology are uninteresting. Some seemingly mundane (in comparison to space mining) startups draw my attention, yet some of the more successful startups are the least interesting. I think my excitement about a company, and their product, can be determined by a simple litmus test: is this product a part of the future?

The future is not easily defined, nor is it easily guessed. However, we can all take broad guesses as to what we want to happen. For example, back in 1900, the Ladies’ Home Journal published an article titled ‘What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years‘ by John Elfreth Watkins who made a series of predictions about the year 2000. These predictions ranged from photographs being telegraphed across wide distances, to mosquitos being exterminated. Obviously some of his predictions were wrong, but he demonstrated great talent at divining the unknown. However what’s more interesting is that his predictions have a few themes: food & agriculture, communication, transportation and health. These were all challenging problems in the 1900s. If we look at the problems that we’re facing today, we can make some leaps and imagine potential solutions. Here are a few of my predictions with a few off-the-top-of-my-head references to some related sci-fi.

What may happen in 100 years

 

1. We will be able to rapidly diagnose diseases from home. We’ll have the necessary tools and knowledge to reliably self-diagnose many of the diseases diagnosed at the doctor’s office today.

Today’s Stepping Stones: Symax (Urine Analysis)23andMe (DNA Analysis), Smart Watches & Fitness Trackers etc. built on HealthKit like platforms.

In Fiction: Big Hero 6 (Baymax)Star Trek (Tricorders, Virtual Doctors)

2. We will immerse ourselves completely into virtual worlds for both work and pleasure. Technology will permit us to become and feel anything and everything we want.

Today’s Stepping Stones: Oculus, Vive, Gear VRLeap MotionExtreme Reality

In Fiction: Ready Player One, Snow CrashGhost in the Shell, Sword Art Online

3. Administrative and manufacturing jobs will go away. Losing jobs sounds scary on paper, but these kinds of revolutions ultimately leads to a higher quality of life on average.

Today’s Stepping Stones: ROSSRethink RoboticsHire PeterCortanaWatson

In Fiction: Ghost in the ShellPsycho Pass, Her

4. We’ll have more than a thousand humans in space. Up until now, we’ve had less than 1000 humans in space at any given time. We’ll have that many in space or on another planet at the same time.

Today’s Stepping Stones: SpaceXBlue Origin, Planetary Resources

In Fiction: FireflySeveneves, InterstellarThe Martian, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.

5. Driving will be as antiquated as horseback riding is today. We will either consolidate on quality, always available, forms of public transportation or all have on-demand autonomous vehicles.

Today’s Stepping Stones: Google’s Self Driving Cars, Tesla’s Autopilot, Uber, Lyft

In Fiction: Cars in iRobot, Total Recall

6. We will consciously build our cities upwards to occupy less space on the planet. We will all decide to grow upwards instead of outwards.

Today’s Stepping Stones: Vertical Farming, Sharing Economy

In Fiction: The JetsonsThe Fifth Element

7. The energy we consume, globally, will be renewable and environmentally sustainable. We have two options. Find a new planet to live on, or invest in the long-term durability of the one we’re on.

Today’s Stepping Stones: Oolu Solar, Tesla Powerwall, Wendelstein 7-X

In Fiction: StargateStar TrekSeveneves