Thumbs up on the future

The World Future Society prepares an annual “round-up” of forecasts at the start of each year. Here are some items from “Outlook 1999” (but the predictions go well beyond the year!)
To emphasize opportunity, I’ve picked some positive points from the various categories. Do these apply to Northwestern Ontario, and to you?
•Business and the economy
The population of affluent consumers aged 55+ is expanding rapidly. Products and services will be profitable that focus on healthy living, and are personalized and “hassle free.”
•Crime and justice
Certain types of forgers may soon be out of business. A new tamper-proof paper is being developed that reveals chemical and pressure changes on important documents and money.
•Environment and resources
More seafood will be produced without the sea–aquaculture is accelerating around the world.
“Breathing walls” can prevent and cure “sick-building syndrome.” The experimental structures are composed of rocks, plants, fish, and micro-organisms that inhale dirty and exhale clean air.
Research on extending life spans may add up to 40 years of life with good health. That will change retirement practices, as well as overall lifestyles and social services.
The amount of free time North Americans have is increasing. This is in spite of the common belief that people are more overworked than their parents were.
Up to 40 percent of the extra free time goes unnoticed to watching TV.
Currently overlooked developments that may have future impacts include electronic-memory devices for seniors, brain-control techniques, meat grown from plants, underground steam irrigation, and computers that read aloud.
“Digital story tellers” will be in big demand for creating virtual-reality games, and other digital media for education and entertainment.
•World affairs
Armies are shrinking worldwide. Total forces have dropped 20 percent between 1988 and 1995–that’s 23 million people!
Nothing positive here in “Outlook 1999” but we all need to know. The reasons for worry about the “millennium bug” are the ubiquity and interconnectivity of computers.
No system can completely protect itself against failures. The opportunity is to do the best we can–and prevent panic reactions that cause chaos.
•Far-out future
By the year 3000, humans probably will have developed technologies to improve their natural abilities greatly (e.g. enhancing intelligence). “However, humans will still act human,” according to the forecasters.
I sure hope that’s good!

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