How futurists from the past predicted life in 2020 – 9News

Futurists, academics and technologists have always wondered what life will be like in the years ahead.

Making bold predictions can be a risky move, leaving one looking more fool than oracle especially when the crystal ball gazing is done from several decades away.

We've put together seven predictions for life in 2020, from as far back as the 1960s and as recent as 2017.

In 1984 it turned out Apple founder Steve Jobs was already envisioning how a Siri-like AI companion would be assisting us in our day-to-day lives, in 2020. "The next stage is going to be computers as 'agents,'" he said in a 1984 interview with Newsweek's Access Magazine. "In other words, it will be as if there's a little person inside that box who starts to anticipate what you want. Rather than help you, it will start to guide you through large amounts of information. It will almost be like you have a little friend inside that box." Jobs was bang on the money, as underlined by the advancing digital butler-type tech rolled out by Google, Apple and Amazon.

In 2017 John McAfee, the controversial computer antivirus mogul, predicted that by the end of 2020 the price of a single Bitcoin would reach $1 million. The current Bitcoin price is hovering just over AUD $10,000, so the world's most popular cyptocurrency has a lot of work to do over the next 365 days. McAfee has promised to eat a body part if his bold prediction does not happen.

The average human living 100 years

Thirty years ago, futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted the average life expectancy for humans would be 100. While Kurzweil may have missed the mark with that call, turns out he foresaw the rise of wearable tech and how that kind of data could potentially help us live healthier lives. "Computerised health monitors built into watches, jewellery, and clothing which diagnose both acute and chronic health conditions are widely used. In addition to diagnosis, these monitors provide a range of remedial recommendations and interventions," he wrote in The Age of Spiritual Machines.

In 1968, with the world under the foreboding shadow of a perilous Cold War, a Stamford professor predicted nuclear power would rise to become the dominant force in US energy by the year 2020. Professor Charles Scarlott also believed any advances in renewable energy would be negligible and not figure large in the US energy mix. Turns out his estimations were wildly off-target. According to US government figures, nuclear electric power makes up about 9 per cent of total US energy production. Fossil fuels still dominate, with 79 per cent, and renewables coming in on 12 per cent.

In 2009 Microsoft released a promotional video, laying out its vision for life in 2020 (watch above). Microsoft doesn't proposes anything too radical. A lot of the featured technology hinted at was already in early stage development when the film was made. There is a lot of glass screen computing, touch screen tech and augmented reality too. A man slides apart his mobile phone into a series of cards, which isn't something we can do yet, but Samsung did give us with a foldable phone last year.

In a 1968 paper, a political science professor at world-renowned MIT predicted humans would become a cohesive band of happy and loving people, thanks to better communication, translation of language and a deeper understanding of what makes us tick emotionally and psychologically. "By the year 2018 nationalism should be a waning force in the world," Ithiel de Sola Pool wrote. While we are more connected than ever before, and supposedly know more about ourselves and the human condition than at any other time in history, global nationalism has never been more fierce since the end of WWII.

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How futurists from the past predicted life in 2020 - 9News

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