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Devin Ben-Hur

> So many supposed 'great thinkers' missed it.

Off the top of my head, I can recall numerous fictional or technological predictions of things that look a lot like our modern ubiquitous Intrawebs. Ted Nelson, Vannevar Bush, Doug Englebart, Douglas Adams, John Brunner, Vernor Vinge, H.G Wells...

Working in Silicon Valley in the late 1980's, most of us kinda assumed the net would become popular and ubiquitous within a decade or so.

What "great thinkers" are you following? There was tons of prediction. This stuff didn't get invented because we were all waiting for some flash of insight from a great man.

GK

Devin,

Welcome. They may have predicted an 'Intraweb', but did not come up with details like the timing of it or the utility. Extremely few people in the mid-1980s had an accurate prediction of what the nature and scope of this network would be by 1999.

That is no better than someone today saying we will mine asteroids for minerals. When? What details? Do the economics work out?

I knew of Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, and a few others. You mentioned a few other names, but as a percentage of the population, that is still literally not even close to 1 in a million. Many more people predicted aviation and the Moon landing than did the Internet. HG Wells had many visions of the future that were mutually exclusive, like the Time Machine, War of the Worlds, etc. so it is unclear what he actually thought was a serious prediction and what was just made for fiction.

Discussion of the Internet was conspicuously absent from the topmost business publications of the 80s, the mainstream science fiction, etc.

I hope your access to a brilliant circle benefited you. So, tell me, what predictions do you have for 2011-2020 that are a 'sure thing'?

Devin Ben-Hur

GK, just how specific does a prediction need to be to pass your test?

From where I sat, the Net didn't come out of nowhere and take over. It marched with inexorable and exponential growth from the small domain of acedemia and research into broader and broader utility and recognition.

Yes, the business world got a little surprised and then hysterical, but from the technologists' world it all seemed like a logical progression.

As to what's next... I'm laying my biggest bets for the next 10-15 years on alternative energy and computational biology. Longer term, weather mitigation engineering may become a pressing concern and I'm keeping a close eye on emerging private space capabilities.

GK

Devin,

I think timing, and some estimation of magnitude are a minimum.

For example, I think video games will give rise to a new form of entertainment that will reduce the time spent on television to half of what it is today by 2012. I think 100 Mbps for $40/month will be available to US households by 2010. I think the US will still be the only superpower in 2030. Check out those articles here.

Merely saying 'I think VR will be a reality in the future' or 'I think alternative energy will reduce oil imports from the Middle East' is not enough.

From where I sat, the Net didn't come out of nowhere and take over. It marched with inexorable and exponential growth from the small domain of acedemia and research into broader and broader utility and recognition.
Yes, look at the exponential curve of the chart in the article, and the knee of the curve in 1995-97. Before that, those working in the industry knew about certain technologies and their rate of advancement, but even they didn't know that buying into Cisco or Yahoo in 1996 would have yielded high returns.

Hence, the comprehensive prediction is hard to make, even if individual components are easy.

I say the biggest thing of all is nanotechnology, which in turn is what leads to booms in energy, materials, computational biology, and even increasing capabilities in astronomy.

aion kinah

As to what's next... I'm laying my biggest bets for the next 10-15 years on alternative energy and computational biology. Longer term, weather mitigation engineering may become a pressing concern and I'm keeping a close eye on emerging private space capabilities.

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