Keith’s Prediction Page

Lots of people try to predict the future. Science-fiction authors generally come up with better predictions than those who try to predict the future as an academic exercise. Perhaps this points to a failure of academic imagination. Well, even though I’m (at least part-time) an academic, and I don’t write science fiction, maybe I read enough science fiction to make some half-assed predictions. I've just put this page up, but thought I'd put up some older ones -- especially the first . . .

1980: Within 25 years, I predict that:

Personal computers will be small enough that the size of the devices will be limited, not by the computing hardware, but by the human interface. Though there will be many kinds of computers, the most popular will consist, from the user’s viewpoint, in a small keyboard with a screen, hinged at the back.

OK, so I start with one of my old predictions that’s a success. Hey, it’s like the street musician who puts some change in his or her instrument case to make it more likely for passers-by to throw in some money.

1990: Within 25-30 years, I predict that:

Nanotechnology (miniature machinery, at a cellular and maybe even molecular scale) will cause a revolution in society even more profound than the present "computer revolution." The revolution will last about 20 years. As a result, whole national governments will collapse, the world economic system will collapse and be rebuilt.

1995: Within 25 years, I predict that:

Mastoid implants will be a preferred I/O mode for computers – you can subvocalize and the computer understands by voice recognition and responds by voice to you. A heads-up display in a pair of glasses is available for display but doesn’t need to be used unless it’s needed to display graphic information.

1995: Within 25 years, I predict that:

The concept of "randomness" will be revised, in philosophical and scientific terms. People will talk about the "randomness revolution" in the same terms that they now speak of the "chaos revolution"; others will argue that the randomness revolution is only a working-out of investigations in chaotic dynamics. This new understanding of "randomness" will have major implications for philosophy, religion, and theoretical physics.

1996: Within 15 years, I predict that:

Global information technology interconnectivity (e.g., the Internet) plus cheap computers will result in true global freedom of the press. And a new category of Internet maven, the Internet Editor, will allow a few influential people to recommend "content" to the masses. After some bumps, this system will work out well , will become interconnected, and those Editors will become major celebrities, and will eventually become powerful decision-makers. Totalitarian regimes will have to provide their citizens Internet access or fall behind and collapse. And Internet censorship will become more effective, but ultimately will fail completely.

1997:  This year, I predict that:

Psychics everywhere will pick up the psychic ether-waves of the tabloid-critical event of Princess Diana's death, and will predict not only the event, but the exact date, time, place, other people involved, and even the color of the car. (Sorry, just kidding!   Can't take this prediction business too seriously, after all.)

1998: Within 25 years, I predict that:

A true, comprehensive ("global" or "catholic" in the appropriate senses of these words) theory of cognition and consciousness will arise. This will change cognitive science into true "normal" science in the terms of T.S. Kuhn ("The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"). [Note how carefully I avoided the overused words "paradigm shift."] This will also move into the territory of psychology, which will eventually be relegated to the status of a descriptive discipline that is no longer seen as true "science."

1998: Within 25 years, I predict that:

The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics will be found wanting, and except for a few holdouts, we’ll all be saying "how did we ever believe that ____?" The Everett "many-worlds" interpretation will be resurrected, expanded and modified slightly, and will become the dominant theory. Chaotic dynamics will have a large input into this, and we will, instead of talking about "world lines," will be talking about "a continuously-branching dimensionally-expanding manifold, with characteristics analogous to a Feigenbaum doubling-chart and a toroidal chaotic attractor, which is continuously ‘pruned’ by a physical process similar to Darwinian natural selection, and has some ‘slop’ in it that allows for smudging of realities within limits." This new interpretation will create a crisis in theology, philosophy and physics, though the physicists will take it in stride and wonder why the philosophers and religious leaders are making such a fuss. The new quantum interpretation will provide a potential explanation for certain phenomena heretofore considered "paranormal." The working out this will cause major controversy, but eventually will result in new technologies that seem like magic.

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