Information Age Education Blog
Viewing “Now” from Past Forecasts
For a number of years the IAE-pedia has published links and brief descriptions of forecasts for the future. What the Future Is Bringing Us has had nearly 75,000 hits and currently covers the years 2007 to 2015. The same section of the IAE-pedia also includes a number of links to other “historical” IAE documents.
The complete list of 10 forecasts in 2007 was:
- Petascale Computers
- The World in 2030
- Faster Chips Are Leaving Programmers in Their Dust
- 3-D Printers
- Supercomputer on a Chip
- Increased Disk Storage
- The Futurist Magazine Predictions
- IBM Predictions
- Wall Street Journal Predictions
- Better Batteries
I enjoyed scanning these year 2007 forecasts to see how accurate they proved to be. At the time the forecasts were written, they were an indication that we had progressed to the point where the topic was beginning to be important. At that time it was feasible to forecast significant changes that lie ahead.
Just for the fun of it, let’s look at one of the entries from 2007. Consider the topic of 3-D printers. My recent Google search of 3D Printer returned over 60 million results. But, back in 2007, this technology was just becoming useful.
Here is a quote from a document currently available on the Web titled, History of 3D printing: The free beginner’s guide. Quoting from this document:
In real terms, however, the origins of 3D printing can be traced back to 1986, when the first patent was issued for stereolithography apparatus (SLA). This patent belonged to one Charles (Chuck) Hull, who first invented his SLA machine in 1983. Hull went on to co-found 3D Systems Corporation — one of the largest and most prolific organizations operating in the 3D printing sector today. 3D Systems’ first commercial RP system, the SLA-1, was introduced in 1987 and following rigorous testing the first of these system was sold in 1988. [Bold added for emphasis.]
Now, 3D printers are coming into precollege education and the home market. Notice the 1983 patent was more than 30 years ago! It takes some technological inventions many years to mature to a level of being commercially viable.
The 2013 IAE-pedia page, What the Future is Bringing Us, contains 27 entries. Among these, I found the entry titled Predictions of 2030 to be particularly interesting. Quoting from http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us_%282013%29:
Frey, T. (12/23/2013). 33 Dramatic Predictions for 2030. The Futurist. Retrieved 4/11/2015 from http://www.wfs.org/blogs/thomas-frey/33-dramatic-predictions-for-2030.
Quoting from the Frey article:
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.
Suppose that these forecasts prove to be reasonably accurate. Think about the educational implications and the challenge of preparing today’s precollege students for that future!
What You Can Do
Here are two suggestions.
- Read some of the past forecasts, and think about how well they forecast current and near future times. You can chuckle about the ones that proved quite wrong, and marvel about the insights illustrated in those that have proven to be reasonably accurate.
- If you are teaching subject areas in which people make and publish forecasts, have your students create a bulletin board and/or website on Today’s Student Insights into Future Forecasts. Each item might consist of recent information available from the media followed by a student’s insights into how the topic being discussed might affect students’ futures. For example, consider the third of the four paragraphs quoted above from Thomas Frey. Many people are now writing about the changing job market. Also see my recent IAE Blog entry, Robots Are Here and Lots More Are Coming.
Suggested Readings from IAE
Moursund, D. (2015). Possible futures of precollege education. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. This short book is available free on the Web. Microsoft Word: http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/266-technology-and-problem-solving-in-prek-12-education.html. PDF: http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/267-technology-and-problem-solving-in-prek-12-education-1.html.
Moursund, D. (4/10/2015). Poverty and testing: Two major educational problems. IAE Blog. Retrieved 4/12/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/poverty-and-testing-two-major-educational-problems.html.
Moursund, D. (3/5/2015). Education for the coming singularity. IAE Blog. Retrieved 4/12/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/education-for-the-coming-technological-singularity.html.
Moursund, D. (February, 2015). Education for students' futures. Part 17: Folk computing and folk mathing. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 2/12/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2015-154.html.
Moursund, D. (2/13/20q5). Robots are here and lots more are coming. IAE Blog. Retrieved 4/12/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/robots-are-here-and-lots-more-are-coming.html.