33 Dramatic Predictions for 2030

33 Dramatic Predictions for 2030

Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history.

By 2030 the average person in the U.S. will have 4.5 packages a week delivered with flying drones. They will travel 40% of the time in a driverless car, use a 3D printer to print hyper-individualized meals, and will spend most of their leisure time on an activity that hasn’t been invented yet.

The world will have seen over 2 billion jobs disappear, with most coming back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs.

Over 50% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will have disappeared, over 50% of traditional colleges will have collapsed, and India will have overtaken China as the most populous country in the world.

Most people will have stopped taking pills in favor of a new device that causes the body to manufacture it’s own cures.

Space colonies, personal privacy, and flying cars will all be hot topics of discussion, but not a reality yet.

Most of today’s top causes, including climate change, gay liberation, and abortion, will all be relegated to little more than footnotes in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia itself will have lost the encyclopedia wars to an upstart company all because Jimmy Wales was taken hostage and beheaded by warring factions in the Middle East over a controversial entry belittling micro religions.

Our ability to predict the future is an inexact science. The most accurate predictions generally come from well-informed industry insiders about very near term events.

Much like predicting the weather, the farther we move into the future, the less accurate our predictions become.

So why do we make them?

In the segments below, I’ll make a series of 33 provocative predictions about 2030, and how different life will be just 17 years in the future.

I will also explain why predictions are important, even when they are wrong.

“Our greatest motivations in life
come from NOT knowing the future.”

 

Why Understanding the Future is Important

Ignorance is a valuable part of the future. If we knew the future we would have little reason to vote in an election, host a surprise party, or start something new.

Once a future is known, we quickly lose interest in trying to influence it. For this reason, our greatest motivations in life come from NOT knowing the future.

So why, as a futurist, do I spend so much time thinking about the future?

Very simply, since no one has a totally clear vision of what lies ahead, we are all left with degrees of accuracy. Anyone with a higher degree of accuracy, even by only a few percentage points, can achieve a significant competitive advantage.

"Humanity will change more in the
next 20 years than in all of human history."

 

The Power of Prediction

If I make the prediction that “By 2030 over 90% of all crimes will be solved through video and other forms of surveillance,” a forecast like that causes several things to happen.

First, you have to decide if you agree that a certain percent of crimes will be solved that way. If so, it forces you to think about how fast the surveillance industry is growing, how invasive this might be, and whether privacy concerns might start to shift current trends in the other direction.

More importantly, it forces you to consider the bigger picture, and whether this is a desirable future. If it reaches 90%, how many police, judges, and lawyers will be out of a job as a result of this? Will this create a fairer justice system, a safer society, or a far scarier place to live?

Please keep this in mind as we step through the following predictions.

"Risk factors will increase exponentially!"

 

33 Dramatic Predictions

  1. By 2030 over 80% of all doctor visits will have been replaced by automated exams. Details here.
  2. By 2030 over 90% of all restaurants will use some form of a 3D food printer in their meal preparations. Details here.
  3. By 2030 over 10% of all global financial transactions will be conducted through Bitcoin or Bitcoin-like crypto currencies.
  4. By 2030 we will seen a growing number of highways designated as driverless-vehicle only. Details here.
  5. By 2030, a Chinese company will become the first to enter the space tourism industry by establishing regular flights to their space hotel.
  6. By 2030, the world’s largest Internet company will be in the education business, and it will be a company we have not heard of yet.
  7. By 2030 over 20% of all new construction will be “printed” buildings. Details here.
  8. By 2030 over 2 billion jobs will have disappeared, freeing up talent for many new fledgling industries. Details here.
  9. By 2030 a new protest group will have emerged that holds anti-cloning rallies, demonstrating against the creation of “soul-less humans.”
  10. By 2030 we will see the first city to harvest 100% of its water supply from the atmosphere. Details here.
  11. By 2030 world religions will make a resurgence, with communities of faith growing by nearly 50% over what they are today.
  12. By 2030 over 50% of all traditional colleges will collapse, paving the way for an entire new education industry to emerge. Details here.
  13. By 2030 we will see a surge of Micro Colleges spring to life, each requiring less than 6 months of training and apprenticeship to switch professions. Details here.
  14. By 2030 scientists will have perfected an active cross-species communication system, enabling some species to talk to each other as well as humans.
  15. By 2030 we will see the first hurricane stopped by human intervention.
  16. By 2030 we will see wireless power used to light up invisible light bulbs in the middle of a room.
  17. By 2030 we will see the first demonstration of a technology to control gravity, reducing the pull of gravity on an object by as much as 50%.
  18. By 2030 democracy will be viewed as inferior form of government.
  19. By 2030 traditional police forces will be largely automated out of existence with less than 50% of current staffing levels on active duty.
  20. By 2030 over 90% of all libraries will offer premium services as part of their business model. Details here.
  21. By 2030 forest fires will have been reduced to less than 5% of the number today with the use of infrared drone monitoring systems. Details here.
  22. By 2030 over 30% of all cities in the U.S. will operate their electric utilities as micro grids.
  23. By 2030 we will have seen a number of global elections with the intent of creating a new global mandate, forcing world leaders to take notice. Details here.
  24. By 2030 traditional pharmaceuticals will be replaced by hyper-individualized medicines that are manufactured at the time they are ordered. Details here.
  25. By 2030 we will have seen the revival of the first mated pair of an extinct species. Details here.
  26. By 2030 swarms of micro flying drones - swarmbots – will be demonstrated to assemble themselves as a type of personal clothing, serving as a reconfigurable fashion statement. Details here.
  27. By 2030 marijuana will be legalized in all 50 states in the U.S. and half of all foreign countries. Details here.
  28. By 2030 cable television will no longer exist.
  29. By 2030 a small number of companies will begin calculating their labor costs with something called “synaptical currency.” Details here.
  30. By 2030 it will be common to use next generation search engines to search the physical world. Details here.
  31. By 2030 basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in over 20% of all jobs. Details here.
  32. By 2030 we will have seen multiple attempts to send a probe to the center of the earth. Details here.
  33. By 2030 a form of tube transportation, inspired by Hyperloop and ET3, will be well on its way to becoming the world’s largest infrastructure project. Details here.

 "Our children's children, who haven't
even been born yet, are counting on you!"

 

Final Thoughts

Reading through the prediction above you will likely have experiences a number of thoughts ranging from agreement, to amusement, to confusion, to total disagreement.

As with most predictions, some will be correct and others not. But the true value in this list will come from giving serious consideration to each of them and deriving your own conclusions.

If you were expecting me to aggressively defend all these predictions, then this column will certainly disappoint you. It has been a lifetime journey for me to formulate my thoughts about the future, but there are far too many variables to build a defensible case for any of them.

That said, I would love to hear your thoughts. What’s missing, too aggressive, or simply misguided? Sometimes my crystal ball is far too fuzzy, so I’d love to hear what ideas come to mind.

 

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

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34 Responses

  1. I will always enjoy you and your thoughts.
    At 82, I’m planning on age 100. So I’m looking ahead only 18 more years :)

  2. Hi,
    Well, I understand full well, the difficulty of looking ahead, through the mists of time (I presume future time can be as, or more misty, than the past), but I commend you on trying.
    I whole-heartedly agree about Education, Democracy, and Marijuana (other drugs also, probably).
    Also, your generalised predictions are probably not far off the mark, after all, few are more qualified than you.
    Your more specific predictions will probably prove to be false alarms, but who knows?
    Great job, by the way.

  3. Allen Johnson

    Fascinating to project current trajectories to prognosticate. Some questions arise, which I would be interested in your thoughts, and these involve (1)the source of energy to fuel this new era; (2) How will land, water, air will be allocated to keep us fed and safe from pollution; (3)Will the age-old yearnings and longings of humankind be better satisfied, or less so, and why?
    Thank you!

  4. Jon Burnham

    I wonder about this one: “By 2030 world religions will make a resurgence, with communities of faith growing by nearly 50% over what they are today.” With Christian denominations in the US declining at a rapid pace for the past 40 years, are you thinking here of a continued resurgence of religions in Africa and Latin America? I wonder what you envision for the future of religion in the USA?

  5. FuturistSpeaker

    Joe,

    I can only hope to be as optimistic as you when I’m 82. You’ve always been one of my greatest inspirations.

    Thomas Frey

  6. Christina

    Hallo Thomas,

    Very interesting article. Did the writing and gathering of the information take a long time?

    I do not know anybody that can predict the future exactly. We will all have to wait and see. It has been only 14.7 billion years to date. Slow evolution? Some scientists are trying to speed it up.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  7. Richard

    I particularly like number 33, tube transportation.

    Mainly because I disagree with my government building HS2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_2) which is due to be completed 2 years after your predictions.

    And I think it ties in very well with number 18, about Democracy. Which is in my mind already a dated form of government. Mainly because of the short sighted nature of elected governments, that and of course its lack of democracy 😉

  8. Pertti

    Interesting.
    But, I see these two things don’t fit in the same picture:

    “By 2030 traditional pharmaceuticals will be replaced by hyper-individualized medicines that are manufactured at the time they are ordered.” and
    “By 2030 marijuana will be legalized in all 50 states in the U.S. and half of all foreign countries.”

    If we by 2030 have hyper-individualized medicines, we most likely also have hyper-individualized drugs, which are way less harmful as marihuana and any other drug commonly used today. (On the other hand, perhaps our life in 2030 is so interesting that we won’t need any drugs to escape from reality…).

  9. FuturistSpeaker

    Pertti,

    I’m glad you picked up on that. My sense is that we will be developing devices that will cause our bodies to manufacture their own drugs internally. These devices can be used to produce curative medicines to cure things like headaches, the flu, and diabetes. But they will also be used to create recreation drugs and hallucinogenics for parties and other festive occasions. Naturally this will cause lots of controversy and Big Pharma will go out of the way to destroy it.

    While the legalization of marijuana seems like a subset of the first issue, it only overlaps partially. It will open the door for entire new industries.

    Thomas Frey

  10. FuturistSpeaker

    Hi Christina,

    Yes, I actually started writing this article 14.7 billion years ago. So I would be really bummed if you didn’t like it. :-)

    Thomas Frey

  11. FuturistSpeaker

    Jon,

    This is the one prediction that I have the least evidence to point to, but I’ve been conducting a number of experiments in the background, an am getting a far different read on this than most people.

    As an example, on a LinkedIn writer’s group I posed the question, “Which requires more faith, science or religion?” The responses have been coming in for over a month now and the “science-has-better-answers” arguments all start to break down the deeper you get into the topic. Science doesn’t offer hope, religion does.

    Yes, there have been plenty of bad actors on the world stage of religion that the media loves to pick up on, but that doesn’t mean we should condemn all religions.

    Religion has always gone through ups and down cycles and all of the loose signals I’m seeing shows it’s due for a resurgence.

    Thomas Frey

  12. FuturistSpeaker

    Richard,

    For those in the U.S. government who have been traveling the world, extolling the virtues of democracy, the recent performances by our own government are more than a little embarrassing.

    In the U.S. we have a 2 step democracy. Step 1 – Pull out your gun. Step 2 – Shoot yourself in the foot.

    ET3 has a brilliant campaign on Indigogo to raise enough money to put the CA rail line on the November ballot. Details here – http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/legalize-transport-innovation-making-the-legal-framework-for-the-revolution. I hope they raise the money so the voter can see what they’re getting into.

    Thomas Frey

  13. Gavin

    “31.By 2030 basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in over 20% of all jobs.”

    I agree that this is important now and for the foreseeable future, but I hope AI will be able to do this far better, faster and easier than people. I am no expert on coding, but from what I have heard programs are getting bigger with a lot of potential for improvement within the code.

    Could AI in the future not write trillions of lines of code and do it better, faster and bigger?

  14. 1…80% is too aggressive
    2…way to high, humans on on a kick to eat natural
    3… bit coin will dies and spread to hundreds of children, eventually one or two will succeed
    4…agree
    5….why not
    6….interesting
    7….interesting
    8….too aggressive the future always comes too slow to those who think about it.
    9…..sure
    10…cool
    11….doubt it
    12…disagree
    13….i could see the rebirth of apprenticeships but not at the death of colleges
    14….yeah, and my dog still wont stay
    15….agree
    16….sign me up!
    17….no way
    18….if you are referring to representative democracy then yes.
    19…i still wont like cops
    20….agree
    21…..promising…cool!
    22….ok
    23….interesting: global community > nation
    24….at least in this direction
    25….cool!
    26….you stayed up too late with this one.
    27….Toasty!
    28….disagree
    29….beats me…my next click
    30….sure
    31….not aggressive enough
    32….sure
    33….correct

  15. Richard

    Thomas,

    My take on democracy (in the UK at least)is;

    I vote once every 4 or so years

    I then give up my vote to someone, who I and the majority of people didnt vote for( we have a first pass the post system) wanders down to Westminster to make decisions for us.

    Then because he wants promotion within his party, he votes along party lines, rather than what we might want.

    Then we end up with people in key roles such as Education, Defence or Running the Economy that have no experience in the field.

    Who then decide they want a really expensive trainset :-)

  16. Gavin

    I agree Richard democracy is a joke, but can you think of a much superior system?

    I would like to let those with different ideologies go off and do their own thing, they don’t like being around people with different feelings to themselves. Like likes like, I know I do. I would much prefer to be around people who feel and talk like me than be around people who would be quite happy to have me dead.

  17. Richard

    Hi Gavin

    Democracy is the way forward. But I mean democracy not a system where I surrender my vote once ever 4 years. Technology has surpassed the situation where I need an MP to take the long trek to London to stand in proxy for me.

    This is an interesting concept http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy

    I would also like a much smaller government, with professionals running things like Defense, Health, The Economy

    However there are some decisions I am not qualified to make for example. Should the UK leave the EU, how can the average Joe on the street know the answer to this.

    The other option that can work is a benevolant dictator, one that takes all responsibility but has complete control, no compromises (look at Obamacare). The problem with this system is getting rid of him/her :-)

  18. Gavin

    Thanks for your answer Richard.

    Like you say about the average Joe most people are not engaged in the political process. They don’t have the time or are just dumbed down, politics isn’t an important subject in most UK schools.

    I still think people who disagree too much with each other need to live apart. We have two main political parties, when one party gets in power half the country is unhappy. Maybe the world needs splitting up more to keep people satisfied.

  19. Lucius Severus Pertinax

    Somewhere in there there is probably going to be a Third World War….

  20. FuturistSpeaker

    James,

    Glad you took time to consider each of the points. Just a couple notes:

    1.) It’s always difficult to consider the likely growth of something that hasn’t been invented yet. Under optimal conditions, 80% is indeed possible. But there are many ways this can go sideways.
    2.) My sense is that the natural food kick, along with our hyper-individualized diets, is what will drive the demand for 3D food printers.
    8.) Jobs are disappearing at a very fast clip already, and this will speed up. I’ve had some show me their calculations and telling me I’m being conservative.
    13.) Colleges have built some of the clunkiest bureaucracies on the planet. They’ve spent decades building good will, alumnae groups and other forms of inertia. But when it comes to their ability to change, most score somewhere between an F and F-. I would love for all of them to survive, but that doesn’t even seem to be a remote possibility from my vantage point.
    31.) You’re probably right. The demand for coding skills is off the charts, so I may be low on this one.

    Thanks for weighing in.

    Thomas Frey

  21. FuturistSpeaker

    Lucius,

    Yes, World War III is a possibility, but if it happens, it’d look vastly different than the previous two. But overall, the world is becoming a safer place. You wouldn’t guess that from the news, but indicators show a trend towards fewer wars and conflicts. I would prefer we continue in that direction, but human nature hasn’t changed, and there will always be some level of conflict.

    Thomas Frey

  22. PK

    Interesting list, some I’d agree with, others I hadn’t consider but may be possible, but… you’re predicting we may very well be able to not only stop a hurricane in its tracks, but also manipulate gravity?

    I’m wondering what leads you to these conclusions. Even if speeding up our discoveries when it comes to what makes the universe tick, to say we’ll be able to not only define gravity but change it, that’s a leap. I don’t think the confirmation of the higgs boson is such a big step in that direction. But maybe you have other considerations you hadn’t mentioned yet?

    If we could pull that off, I believe it would change society quite drastically. As would the ability to stop mother nature’s most imposing forms.

  23. FuturistSpeaker

    PK,

    Thanks for your comments/questions. There are currently 17 patents that have been issued that deal with technologies for controlling hurricanes. One even has Bill Gates listed as a co-inventor. And there are far more patents dealing with the topic of controlling gravity.

    Neither of these have a mappable trend line for painting a convincing argument, and neither has an existing defenders group that makes huge amounts of money by maintaining the status quo. Yes, insurance companies make money from natural disasters, but they also lose money and would be in favor of making them more controllable.

    But the way I look at it, both are ripe for some sort of breakthrough.

    Thomas Frey

  24. PK

    Wait… patents for controlling gravity?? What are these claims? Physicists don’t know for sure what gravity is, how can we then base estimates on wishful thinking?

    I’m not saying great, unexpected breakthroughs aren’t inevitable in the coming two decades. But this prediction in particular just seems like guessing. Unless my daily reading of new scientific breakthroughs missed something big.

  25. FuturistSpeaker

    PK,

    Yes, there are patents for controlling gravity. I’m not saying any of them work, but they do exist. Here’s one example for a “Cosmic gravitional energy antigravity flying saucer”
    https://www.google.com/patents/CN1850542A?cl=en&dq=antigravity&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IrC9UoLQD-jm2gXa84H4Ag&ved=0CE8Q6AEwAzgK

    Yes, I imagine you’re chomping at the bit to invest in this company. :-)

    Thomas Frey

  26. PK

    “Apr 16, 2008 C02 Deemed withdrawal of patent application after publication”

    This just looks like pseudoscience. It’s fun to predict things that have no practical basis in current collective knowledge, but when you mix the fun in with the serious it’s tough to take any of it too seriously.

  27. 7 of 11

    Sure, and pigs might fly. OK they really might fly even if they were not once extinct. Thought provoking. Lots of cause and effect. Legal marijuana equals fewer cops, shorter attention spans (micro-colleges) and general unemployment. Personally I think 2-D food will be better for an obese planet, probably Doritoes for the stoners zipping around safely in their driverless cars and looking for C-stores that will take bit-coins. Whoops, gotta wipe that micro-drone off my windshield…………

  28. Phillip

    “Space colonies, personal privacy, and flying cars will all be hot topics of discussion, but not a reality yet.”

    Oh, I see what you did there! Very nice Mr. Frey, very nice…

  29. Daniel McGrath

    In 15 years…

    I expect to see a bio-digital implant. Human body used as battery to power an internet connection.
    In 50 years you will be able to download skill sets and databases into you brain to access.

    In 15 years you’ll see savage inequalities between the Elite white remnants in Europe and America and the lumpenprole African and South Asian populations they lord it over.

  30. What about massive migration of populations from Africa to Europe? What about the finish of oil? What about Moslems all set to dominate the world, if only through numbers? What about world warming? 2030 is not a long time.

  31. S.A.Alagarsamy

    Dear sir
    I forecast land cost will be one acre +100000000 plus . There will be tough fight among communities. those who have got wells and borewells with sweet water will be billionaiires.
    S.A.Alagarsamy
    aged 74
    India

  32. Ash

    Im 13 and writing an essay on what changes I would like to see in the world in 2030. Any ideas???

  33. Leah

    Some of these numbers are staggering, but at the rate that the world is changing (think 10 years ago – the Internet has revolutionized the planet) I do think they are quite accurate. While jobs are decreasing, I also believe that a huge amount of new jobs that do not exist yet will also be increasing, specifically in the technology field.
    I think you forgot to mention the devastating effects that global warming is going to have on the environment in 2030. At the rate that pollution is being dumped into the atmosphere and the environment by China, India, and the US, I predict horrible effects on our environment and living conditions.
    Interesting article! :)

  34. Isaac

    If you could control gravity, you could bend time… and I reallllly doubt were near that.

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