(Editor’s note: The predictions in these “Headlines from the Future” are offered in the spirit of fun and are not intended to be taken literally. Each merely reflects a broader trend that readers can expect to see, experience or read about in the coming year. For a more realistic perspective on each trend, click on the embedded links. Enjoy!)
The Longevity Gaps Grows: For the third consecutive year, life expectancy is the US has gone down as deaths related to suicide, opioid abuse, and obesity continue to increase. Hidden in the figures is the reality that life expectancy for wealthier, white Americans is rapidly increasing as they eat healthier, exercise longer, and avail themselves of the best medical technology. In some political circles, the “longevity gap” is joining “income inequality” as a hot button issue.
Refining “Dog Years”: News that scientists in Chinese successfully edited the gene of a child shocked the world in 2018. Little noticed was that work on editing the genes of “man’s best friend” continued apace. As a result, the pets of the uber-wealthy are living longer. As the technology continues to improve and it moves into the mainstream, animal ethicists are concerned that more pets will be abandoned because they will outlive their owners. To raise awareness of the issue, PETA is demanding that the definition of a “dog year” be lowered from seven years to three years.
Fake Gets Real: 2018 saw DeBeers begin producing synthetic diamonds and North America’s largest meat companies aggressively invest in artificial meat. More surprising is that a growing number of young people actually prefer the “fake” products over the traditional ones because they are more aligned ethically and environmentally with their values.
Lettuce Begin Picking Our Own Food; Following on the heels of the massive romaine lettuce-e coli outbreak, a number of retailers are moving into urban agriculture and are growing their own fresh produce in store. The goal, by the end of the year, is to let consumers select and pick their own produce.
These Chips Are Good for Your Waistline: Around the world increasing numbers of people are voluntarily micro-chipping themselves. One of the most common uses of these chips is to monitor–and limit–the amount of salty chips consumed.
Amazon Will Take Your Shit: In early 2018, Kohler announced it was partnering with Amazon to create a “smart” toilet–one that allowed the owner to flush it via Alexa. Widely mocked at the time as a frivolous luxury, the companies are now partnering to create a smarter toilet that will monitor a user’s urine and stool samples to diagnose disease and illness in a fast, convenient, affordable and accurate manner.
New Technology Really Sucks–And the Public Loves It: The wildfires, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events of the past year have convinced more people of the reality–and the severity–of global climate change. One positive outcome of these natural disasters is that technologies designed to suck carbon dioxide out the environment are moving into the mainstream.
Breaking Up (with Robots) is Hard to Do: From farm fields to restaurants to warehouses, robots are becoming common. This means that more humans are working side-by-side with robots. One unexpected outcome is that human resource professionals are now taking seriously the idea that some workers are growing emotionally attached to these robots, and when they go on vacation or leave the company these individuals are experiencing either “separation anxiety” or a real sense of loss because of the bond they formed with their “cobot” companions.
Digital Nomads Tax Government: As advances in cloud computing, the Internet of Things, 5G, and artificial intelligence continue to grow, the number of jobs that can be performed anywhere has also grown. One implication is that workers can now do a number of jobs from anywhere in the world. Not surprisingly, these workers are flocking to low tax havens. This has left many traditional government feeling “taxed” as they look for new resources of revenue to fill the void left by these digital nomads.
Recharge on the Fly, Literally: One downside of the growing number of electric vehicles is that when run out of power on busy freeways and roads it is not always easy to get them recharged. One innovative solution being explored is using drones to zap the automobiles back to life.
Interested in how some of Jack’s past “predictions” fared? Checkout these posts: