In Future Shock (1970), Alvin Toffler wrote that technology had accelerated the pace of change so much that people were beginning to lose their moorings. The old, familiar world in which they had grown up was vanishing so quickly that they no longer knew where they stood. The result was a pervasive insecurity that could only get worse as the transformation gained still greater speed. In particular, long-term planning would become increasingly difficult.
At that time, the personal computer, which would prove to be the greatest single force for change since the Industrial Revolution, had yet to be invented. Genetic engineering was barely a fantasy, and nanotechnology was even further in the future. In 1970, clearly, technology still had a lot of accelerating to do, and chances are that it still does.
In order to better understand what's happening, let's look at the product cycle. The useful life of a product goes through four stages:
* Idea (a theoretical breakthrough, such as something that would be considered for a Nobel Prize).
* Invention (a patentable prototype).
* Innovation (the first consumer product).
* Imitation (cheap competitors flooding the discount stores).
Early in the twentieth century, the product cycle was 40 years. By World War II, the cycle had shrunk to 30 years. Today, for most consumer products, it is about six months. In computers and cutting-edge electronics, it is more like six weeks. Bring out a really hot product and it is likely to be reverse-engineered manufactured in China, and available on eBay in two weeks or less.
With this rapid evolution in mind, it is worthwhile to ask what technology has in store for us. The timeline presented here offers some basic information to help with planning for the years ahead. Each of the innovations on this list represents a general kind of change. The timeline deals with emerging opportunities and their potential impacts on our lives, rather than with any particular toys.
About the Timeline for the future
This timeline was first developed by British Telecommunications in 1991. It has been updated every two or three years under the leadership of futurologist Ian Pearson of Futurizon GmbH in Ipswich. Forecasting International's update of the 2005 timeline has been assembled form the work of six contributors. Our panelists were:
* Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center.
2010-2014 2016-2019 2020-2024
Artificial Behavior alarms 25% of TV Machine knowledge
Intelligence based on human celebrities are exceeds human
and Artificial mistake synthetic 2015 knowledge 2020
Life recognition 2010
Software is Electronic
trained, rather life-form given
than written basic rights 2020
Artificial Artificial insects
nervous systems and small animals
for autonomous with artificial
robots 2010 brains 2020
Biotechnology, Retinal implants Artificial heart Artificial liver
Health, and linked to (lab-cultured or 2020
Medicine external video entirely
cameras 2010 synthetic) 2015
Designer babies Some implants Nanobots in
2012 start to be seen toothpaste attack
as status plaque 2020
Artificial Fully functioning
lungs, kidneys artificial eyes
Business and 80% of U. …