Can a Futurist REALLY predict the future? Here's loads of predictions I made over last 20+ years.

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My new global trends book is out now: The Future of Almost Everything. But it takes at least 20 years to evaluate how good a trends analyst was / is – so what about forecasts made by me in previous books, about what to expect over the following decade or two or three?  How did those forecasts measure up? I had to answer that question for myself by re-reading what I wrote in the past about the future, before writing my latest book. Read FREE SAMPLE of The Truth about Almost Everything.

So you can judge for yourself, here are loads of predictions I made in the past - and the book in which they were made plus date.  Every one of these is already a reality or looks like it soon could be, as of August 2015....And yes I got some things wrong - not many fortunately.  I am going to publish the entire text of Futurewise 1998 edition on this website for a complete picture - but of course on this site already are hundreds of posts and videos going back in some cases over 20 years.

Here's one I got wrong:  I thought video streaming would take off - but with more use of live video using smartphones that we have actually seen.  Most personal video streaming is of course things like YouTube clips.  

Most forecasting errors in my experience are not over WHAT is going to happen as the trend is usually fairly obvious, but by WHEN with questions about real impact.  So here goes:  how did I see the future of banking, global economy, mobile, smartphones, Internet of Things, Big Data and so on...?

Banking

Banking as it is in 1998 will never survive and will fall in profitability.  1998 - Futurewise

Retail banking will be eaten away by food retailers, insurance companies etc.  1998 - Futurewise

Banking will face huge consolidation with mergers and acquisitions.  1998 - Futurewise

Retail banking will be hardly recognizable by 2010, almost invisible on the High Street compared to 1998, apart from ubiquitous cash machines. 1998 - Futurewise

Banking anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Instant account access, automatic updates of home accounting records, instant decisions on loans and mortgages. 1998 - Futurewise

An online investing boom will severely disrupt traditional stock brokering, and costs of trading will fall dramatically. 1998 - Futurewise

Cash will continue to be very widely used well beyond 2020, despite dramatic growth in e-payments, but increasingly associated with tax avoidance.  1998 - Futurewise

Digital world and mobile

Despite growth in video conferencing and virtual working, business travel will continue to grow significantly.  – 1998 Futurewise 

Expect global calls for a flat rate, regardless of distance. 1998 - Futurewise 

Most households will use several phone numbers by 2005. 1998 - Futurewise 

The number of actual phone numbers will be meaningless by 2010 as multiplexing allows hundreds of different calls down the same cables.  1998 - Futurewise 

It will be common for people to be have over 10 social media conversations at once, whether SMS, video or other types, just like my daughter in 1997.  1998 - Futurewise 

HD multichannel, interactive TV, and online video streaming will alter social behavior and family relationships.  1998 - Futurewise 

Every telephone will have a screen.  1998 - Futurewise 

Mobiles will be used in increasingly imaginative ways, beyond voice and data, with cameras and colour screens.  1998 - Futurewise 

Devices will allow you to walk down the street seeing a ghostly image of a road map in front of you.  1998 - Futurewise 

Mobile telephony will become free. 1998 - Futurewise 

Most post-millennialists will abandon landlines for mobiles in most circumstances by 2005.  1998 - Futurewise 

Office switchboards will use any landline or mobile as extensions. 1998 - Futurewise 

Breakup of telcom monopolies in most emerging nations. 1998 - Futurewise 

Benchmarking of product features will be popular but will lead to convergence and eventually competition on price alone.  1998 - Futurewise 

Rapid growth of biometrics, moving from fingerprints to iris recognition.  1998 - Futurewise 

Internet addiction will become a significant problem, for a minority of web users.  1998 - Futurewise 

Rapidly growing concerns about web censorship – with people demanding total freedom and others wanting to protect children and wider society from propagation of evil.   1998 - Futurewise

All large corporations will invest heavily in intranets – their private version of the web, because a key competitive advantage will be knowledge management.  1998 - Futurewise 

All cathode ray tube screens replaced by flat screens by 2005.

Call-centres will replace many face-to-face retail sales, and will be highly regulated, becoming a new career path. 1998 - Futurewise

Widespread adoption of voice recognition to select options when phoning companies. 1998 - Futurewise

Rapid growth of cross-selling in call centres. 1998 - Futurewise

Speech recognition will improve dramatically, with instant conversion into text in many languages. 1998 - Futurewise 

It will become quite common to control machines or devices by thinking alone. 1998 - Futurewise

Expect vast growth in global viral attacks on computers and networks. 1998 - Futurewise

Widespread tagging of humans for security purposes by 2010.   1998 - Future wise

Internet of Things and Smart Homes

All new homes in developed nations will be intelligent by 2010,  Smart homes will boast 15-20% energy savings.    1998 - Futurewise

Every device with a power socket will be online. Washing machine will call engineer. Garage doors will open automatically, alarm will be turned off, lights will go on, coffee machine will begin to pour a coffee and so on. 1998 - Futurewise

Power generation in many homes from solar cells and wind in rural areas  1998 – Futurewise

Big Data impact on marketing and retail

Web adverts will be influenced by your personal interests and recent page views.   Each TV viewer will start to see adverts customized for them personally. 1998 – Futurewise

Companies will develop an uncanny ability to tell exactly what you want before you realize you need.  Shift from mass advertising to accurate targeting with information.  1998 – Futurewise

Expect complete multimedia performances to pour out of supermarket trolleys, triggered by products you have bought in the past.  1998 – Futurewise

Web will wipe out intermediaries such as travel agents and real estate agents.  Estate agents will have to reinvent themselves as specialist advisors.  1998 – Futurewise

In future the only direct contact many retailers will have with their customers will be a home delivery service.  1998 – Futurewise

Nations, regions and cities will rush to become digital societies, with huge investment, not in roads or water supplies, but in bandwidth.  1998 – Futurewise

Market research will become an (even more) unreliable guide to how customers will behave in future, as consumer changes continue to accelerate in an increasingly online world.  1998 – Futurewise

Virtual reality will dominate theme parks and amusement arcades by 2010.  1998 – Futurewise

TV / video and radio / music

Web will become like TV with hundreds of thousands of amateur video providers, all attracting a lot of advertising revenue. 1998 – Futurewise: birth of YouTube was 2005.

We will see tens of thousands of web radio stations run by amateurs streaming music by 2010. 1998 – Futurewise: birth of Spotify was in 2006.

Live TV shows will be heavily influenced by instant audience feedback on whether – say – a joke caused offence. 1998 - Futurewise


Net TV will provide over 300,000 episodes of programmes, available after a delay of less than 20 seconds and all in HDD quality.  1998 - Futurewise

Books, film, printed media

Despite the digital revolution, paperless offices will be slow to arrive with growth in paper usage for next two decades and beyond – 1998 – Futurewise

Books will still be sold and read as physical items, with huge globalmarket over the next 25 years, despite rapid rise in e-alternatives. 1998 – Futurewise

TV news companies will recruit tens of thousands of amateur video makers, with mobile devices, whose images will appear in almost every bulletin.  1998 Futurewise 

Almost all cameras will be digital by 2010 as film rapidly dies off. 1998 - Futurewise 

Most feature films will be shot using digital cameras by 2005.  1998 - Futurewise 

Dominance of new movie-making by computer generated graphics.  1998 - Futurewise 

Retail and e-commerce

Basic shopping will be done online and the rest will become a recreational activity – so shopping centres will have to learn from theme parks to reinvent themselves as a leisure experience.  1998 - Futurewise

Loss of millions of small retailers by 2005 as huge chains expand market share, These global chains will increase own brand sales from 15% to 30% by 2010.  However many corner shops will survive because of convenience, parking restrictions and so on. We will see a big reversal of the trend to build more out of town superstores, with rapid growth of smaller outlets of the same chains.  1998 - Futurewise

Millions of people will buy and sell from each other directly at cut throat prices for new and second-hand goods, by posting information online, with instant matching of buyers and sellers, creating virtual “street markets”.  1998 – Futurewise

Europe and global economy

Major economic disruptions will occur affecting many nations from a series of very low probability but very high impact events, with combined impact.  1998 - Futurewise 

Expect increasingly complicated financial instruments to be developed, which will add to risks of economic instability. 1998 – Futurewise

The next global economic shock is likely to be triggered by events relating to complex financial products (derivatives) and hedge funds, overwhelming markets and governments  - 2003 Futurewise

Speed of change will be a fundamental and rapidly growing global risk, with sudden collapse of economies in different nations, related to loss of market confidence.  1998 – Futurewise

Massive future economic tensions in Eurozone in next two decades, which may threaten the Euro project. 1998 – Futurewise

Expect more rioting on the streets as workers untie to vent their anger and frustration at leaders, global institutions and wealthy ethnic minorities. 1998 – Futurewise

Interest rate targeting set at 2% will turn out to be too low because no room to manage the deflationary economic shocks that we are going to see, without risk of tipping over into deflation.  Expect central banks to begin relaxing such low targets – 2003 Futurewise 2nd edition

Expect large institutions to make and lose huge fortunes taking bets against weak economies. 1998 – Futurewise

We will see more governments overwhelmed by massive attacks on their currency and national economy by market speculators, linked to economic instability.  1998 – Futurewise

Expect huge steps to improve global short term and medium term economic stability, following major economic shocks, with the IMF taking the lead. 1998 – Futurewise

Basic commodity prices will continue to fluctuate wildly for the indefinite future. 1998 – Futurewise

Expect a growing backlash against globalization, blamed by workers in many nations for lack of jobs and economic decline.  1998 – Futurewise

Expect growing anger and resentment against market speculators, blamed for price instabilities of commodities and currencies, and for destabilizing entire nations by over-trading complex financial products, which very few people fully understand.  1998 – Futurewise

More governments will take refuge in larger trading blocs, with more grouped, linked of fused economies by 2020, particularly in Asia, but it will not be entirely effective as speculators also grow rapidly in global power.  ASEAN will become stronger as part of this process. 1998 – Futurewise

Outsourcing of manufacturing and service jobs to China and India will go into reverse, as inflation in Asia wipes out the economic argument for doing so, and as companies look to become more agile and reduce risk. 2003 - Futurewise

Many people will be surprised at how rapidly China overtakes the US as the world’s largest economy.  Futurewise 1998

Health

AIDS will become a global pandemic which will require massive community mobilization over more than 20 years. Prevention programmes will prove effective, but a vaccine will be almost impossible to make, and certainly will not be developed before 2003.  1987 – Truth about AIDS

Life expectancy will go on increasing rapidly with official forecasts revised every 12 months, over the next two decades and beyond, each of which will create added pressures on pension fund solvency. 1998 - Futurewise

Viruses will be used to treat or prevent diseases such as cancer or cystic fibrosis.  Viruses will be used to infect cancer cells and teach them to manufacture  chemotherapy agents to poison cancer cells directly – 1993 Genetic Revolution

We will repair damaged tissue using a person’s own cells, grown in the laboratory. – 1993 Genetic Revolution

GM foods – new crops and improved animals - will be important and widely grown. – 1993 Genetic Revolution

Genetically engineered animal and human cells will be used to manufacture next-generation pharma products including new types of vaccines. – 1993 Genetic Revolution

Huge numbers of human genes will be linked to patterns of disease, enabling very accurate predictions to be made about future medical problems in an individual. – 1993 Genetic Revolution

Monoclonal antibodies will become a very important treatment in future for cancer and other conditions. – 1993 Genetic Revolution

Technology to create human cloned embryos in the laboratory for research purposes will become routine. 1993 – Genetic Revolution

Huge growth in telemedicine – doctor consultations by video.   1998 – Futurewise

Dramatic advances in medical imaging and diagnostics, and computer assisted diagnosis, 1998 – Futurewise

Surgeons will be measured by how many their operations kill. 1998 – Futurewise

New generation of slimming drugs. 1998 – Futurewise

Huge improvements in treatment for diseases like cancer and heart disease. 1998 – Futurewise

Rationing of health care will create many moral dilemmas. 1998 – Futurewise

We will see many new virus threats emerge around the world by 2020, of which several will trigger global containment efforts.  1998 – Futurewise=

Pensions crisis

Pensions crisis will hit Germany and Italy, while France will be shaken by riots and demonstrations on the streets when governments try to increase retirement age.  1998 – Futurewise

In 20 years time, many older people will carry on working to 75, or 85, or until they drop, with virtually no pension. 1998 – Futurewise

Calls to legalise euthanasis will grow far stronger, with many high profile cases where doctors or family have taken the law into their own hands. 1998 – Futurewise

Personal pension plans and investment funds will be growth markets for those approaching retirement, with increasing questions about charges and performance of actively managed funds.  1998 – Futurewise

Future of Europe

Eurozone will not be sustainable without huge pain. Economic conditions that enable some countries to swim will cause other economies to drown.    1998 - Futurewise

Tribalism will be the downfall of Europe and will feed terrorism.  1998 - Futurewise

Many former Eastern Bloc nations will not stabilize economically until beyond 2008, and even then there will still be a huge gap compared to Western Europe. 1998 - Futurewise

It will take until beyond 2018 for new democratic traditions to take root in former Soviet bloc nations.  Economic crisis in these nations may lead to riots, civil disobedience, internal military action or worse.  Expect the EU to try to reduce these risks by early inclusion into an enlarged community.   1998 - Futurewise

Enlarging the EU from15 to 25 nations will change it forever, adding to paralysis in decision-making. 1998 - Futurewise

People tribes will sometimes be very hostile to the emerging mega-state.   1998 - Futurewise

One of the final destructions of the United States of Europe will be high unemployment caused by rapidly changing economic conditions and labour force immobility.   1998 - Futurewise

However Europe will benefit in the short term from instability elsewhere. 1998 – Futurewise

Future of the UK

UK will continue to disintegrate in the final death pangs of the English imperialistic dream.  Scots will look to Europe as a way of staying together in a broader alliance, rather than close rule from London.  1998 - Futurewise

The English will become increasingly resentful of rulings imposed by the EU.  1998 - Futurewise

As Scotland asserts its own right to govern itself, the English will become more strident about being English. 1998 - Futurewise

UK home ownership will prove a good long term investment, despite market collapse and many pundits claiming the end of the sector as a sound investment.  Web posts 2007-2008 on globalchange.com and YouTube.

London will remain very popular and powerful

London will continue to be one of the most popular cities in the world for the next 30 years, and will continue to be dominated by financial service despite aggressive global competition.   1998 - Futurewise

The City will keep top position or near top in cross-border lending, and will fight to remain the largest global centre for Forex.  1998 - Futurewise

Cities will be popular places to live

Hundreds of millions will migrate to large cities:  city life will be increasingly popular, despite forecasts by some that cities will decay and die as wealthy people move out to escape crime, congestion, pollution and chaos. 1998 - Futurewise

Politics, tribalism, new patterns of war and rapid rise of new terrorist groups

Political whirlwinds will affect whole continents. 1998 – Futurewise

Rise of new, sinister radical people movements, which are totally convinced of their moral cause and use tribalism, social networking and terrorism – these groups will seize great powers. 1998 – Futurewise

Terrorist groups will multiply rapidly in the third millennium, taking advantage  of new technologies to frighten, sabotage and attack for the sake of a cause.   1998 – Futurewise

Security forces will use ever more sophisticated tools for surveillance, violating privacy of hundreds of millions.  1998 – Futurewise

Traditional left-right political divides will be swept away in many nations by polarized debates over things like sustainability, or the application of Islamic laws, or whether a nation should be in or out of the Eurozone.  1998 - Futurewise 

Ever present video cameras will make large-scale traditional wars harder to fight, because horrors will be seen very clearly.  1998 – Futurewise

World military spending will fall and then rise – with investment in drones, cruise missiles etc but experience show that wars are won by house to house fighting not by remote control smart weapons.  1998 – Futurewise

Sustainability and single issues

Left-right politics will give way to single issue politics eg should we be in or out of the Eurozone, or become independent from the UK, or spend more on carbon taxes.  1998 - Futurewise

The environment will be the number 1 dominant single issue for decades to come.  1998 - Futurewise

Expect carbon rations to be formally agreed, traded in a global market.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see huge growth in wind farms and solar energy production.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see large desert arrays for solar power, and new ways to transmit energy for thousands of miles with very low power loss.  1998 - Futurewise

Energy generation will happen everywhere.  1998 - Futurewise

Trade-environment disputes will grow. 1998 - Futurewise

Expect water wars: international tensions over water supplies.  1998 - Futurewise

Recycling will become a highly specialize multi-billion dollar industry.  Car breakers yards will become total recovery areas.  1998 - Futurewise

Rubbish will be burned to generate power.  1998 - Futurewise


Education

We will see Virtual Universities where all lectures are provided online.  1998 - Futurewise

More single sex schools as governments try to encourage boys to do better.  1998 - Futurewise

Auto industry

Cars will drive themselves safely using multiple sensors.  All new cars will be fully networked.  Cars will link together electronically down highways in road trains.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see a glut of cheap cars and a big squeeze on US and EU car manufacturers.  1998 - Futurewise

Asia and megacities, and emerging markets


Asia will contain half the world population by 2025. When 380 million will live in megacities.  1998 - Futurewise

Gap between rich and power will widen rapidly over next 20-30 years in most parts of the world, and will be major cause of unrest.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see huge migration from poor to wealthy nations with profound impact in ethnic mix in many towns and cities.  1998 - Futurewise

Global corporations will adapt products and management styles in profound ways to penetrate emerging markets more effectively.  1998 - Futurewise

Marriage and children

Marriage will become less fashionable but the dominant household pattern for middle aged people will still be having children and bringing them up together.  1998 - Futurewise

A new generation of teenagers will emerge in the early Third Millennium, the M Generation: more conservative than in the past – less sex, less drunkenness, less drugs, more study, more concerned about issues like environment.  They will still follow traditional romantic dreams… of one day finding a wonderful partner for a very long term relationship.  1998 - Futurewise

Drugs and smoking

Mexico will be destabilized by illegal drugs industry.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see widespread drug testing – at work and in prisons, greater investment in drug rehab.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see progressive criminalisation of smoking with ever stricter regulations on tobacco, and a bitter fight in some nations over decriminalization of cannabis.  1998 - Futurewise

We will see hundreds of new designer drugs that fall outside government legal powers, of which some will enhance memory and intelligence, becoming widely abused by students.  1998 - Futurewise

Feminisation

Feminisation of workplace and wider society with men in retreat, labeled as testosterone addicts, dangerous, ill-behaved variants of human species prone to violence and sexual predatory acts. 1998 – Futurewise

Virtual companies, super-corporations, outsourcing and partnerships

We will see more virtual companies – with fewer employees than you would expect for such a size, using partners and collaborations.  1998 – Futurewise

Many of the largest manufacturers will move to decentralize and outsource or subcontract many operations.  1998 – Futurewise

Many outsourced jobs will begin to return home as emerging markets become more developed and expensive.  2003 – Futurewise 2nd edition

Super-corporations will become rivals to state power in many nations.  1998 – Futurewise

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