(Editor’s note: These predictions are offered in the spirit of light-hearted 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!)
- Christian Dior Goes 3D: In February, Jennifer Lawrence wows the fashion world when she strolls down the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards ceremony in a stunning orange dress that feels and flows silk but which is manufactured using 3D printers and biodegradable plastic. Customized replicas of the dress will be shipped to adorning fans only 12 hours after the conclusion of the 2016 Oscars.
- Fast and Furious is Literally Over-the-Top with Virtual Reality: Only a year after it was predicted to occur in Back to the Future II—with an advertisement for the fictional movie Jaws 19—an augmented reality ad touting Fast and Furious 9 is displayed in Time Square. The realistic 3-D illusion shows a gigantic 2016 Dodge Challenger appearing to drive off the top of the 25-story Times Square Building.
- Child Psychologists Battle Barbie: Concerned about the effect AI (Artificial Intelligence) enhanced toys are having on young children, the American Association of Child Psychologists calls for a voluntary ban on the new AI-enhanced Barbie and other similar devices until further research can be conducted on the impact the toys are having on the cognitive and behavioral development of children and adolescents.
- Uncle Sam Becomes a Digital Native: To the consternation of many Libertarians, the federal government announces the creation of its first ever cryptocurrency, FedCoin. Designed to prevent fraud as well as facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges, the development will be met with a curious combination of skepticism and optimism among people who follow such advances.
- Amazon Flooded with Robots: Only a year after sponsoring a contest demonstrating the limited effectiveness of robots to pick and sort warehouse items, the giant retailer announces in early fall of 2016 plans to “hire” more than a thousand robots to help the company fulfill orders during the upcoming holiday season. The company also makes a splash by delivering some items with its new fleet of drones.
- Golf Courses Add “Self-Driving” Ranges: While autonomous—or self-driving—vehicles remain a few years away from mainstream adoption, self-driving golf carts begin popping up at scores of golf courses across the country in the spring. Sponsored by leading automotive companies, the autonomous carts are intended to make people more comfortable with self-driving technologies and ease the transition to self-driving automobiles.
- Black Market, Mail Order Dogs: While scientists, geneticists and philosophers continue to debate the appropriateness of using new gene-editing tools and techniques to combat disease, a company in China will begin taking orders from customers wishing to precisely define the genetic characteristics of their next pet. Government officials in China will seek to shut down the company but with fees for the service ranging as high as $50,000 and gene-editing technology being relatively easy to acquire, the black market for customized pets will soar.
- Elroy Jetson Saves the Day—and the Cat: Hoping to demonstrate the power and effectiveness of its new jetpack, firefighters in the Illinois suburb of Arlington Heights simulate the rescue of a cat from a 35-foot high tree. The head of the department said she expects the new jetpack to be used in a real world, life-saving situation by the end of the year.
- Wi-Fi Goes “Bye-Bye” in the Bay: Wishing to stay one-step ahead of the never-ending needs of high-tech hipsters in the San Francisco, Starbucks reveals plans to install Li-Fi—LED enabled wireless power that is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi—in all of its Bay Area stores by the conclusion of 2016.
- Gnome Bombing: What started out as a stunt by drunken college students in the Boston area turns into a full-fledge social media phenomena: Rogue drone operators across the U.S. install the “claw”—a metal-hinged talon-like device—that can be used to illegally lift objects (in this case garden gnomes) from people’s yards and then drop the popular, albeit unattractive, garden decorations from high heights. One anonymous practitioner quipped, “Gnomes have always been a crime against landscape aesthetics. I view us as modern day Robin Hoods. We are taking from those without any taste and restoring what we consider to be a sense of dignity back to our communities.
Interested in seeing how Jack’s predictions have fared in years past? Take a look …