Ten Predictions for 2030

March 7, 2011, 5:24 PM UTC

I spent this weekend with my two sons in Ft. Myers, Florida as part of our annual pilgrimage to the Red Sox spring training camp. While not chasing after foul balls (thanks, Youk!) and autographs, we spent some time talking about what the future might look like. We ended up making a provocative list of what we called “10, 2030” — 10 predictions for the year 2030.

For context, my sons are 8 and 11. Looking back 19 years ago (1992), I realize that I had my first cell phone, dial up access to bulletin boards, a love affair with email and was doing consulting for AT&T on Apple’s first mobile computing device, the Newton. In short, nearly 20 years ago, the fingerprints of the future were evident in the present. Similarly, my sons are seeing fingerprints of the future in what they see, read and hear about today. Trying to focus on the right things to extrapolate from, and having some fun with it, provided us with great entertainment.

So here are their top 10 predictions for the year 2030:

  1. Two out of three of my children, as a reflection of the entire U.S. car market, will own an electric car (they are convinced oil will be a thing of the past, although according to the International Energy Association and The Economist, oil demand in the U.S. will shrink only modestly in the next 20 years)
  2. School classrooms will be converted into all digital environments where individual student desks will be converted into desk/tablet computers with a touch screen per child linked to SmartBoards and the Internet with a host of available applications.
  3. Advanced techniques in genomics will results in a cure for both cancer and ALS (others I’m sure, but those are the diseases my sons were most focused on due to our family history)
  4. Super-fast, high speed trains will finally be installed on the Northeast Corridor, allowing Boston to NY travel to take 2 hours and NY-DC a mere 1.5 hours. My sons seem to think magnetic technology is the state of the art. I’m not sure where they got this factoid, but it sounded good to me.
  5. Commercial travel to the moon will be possible and relatively common for super-rich thrill-seekers. Sort of like private jet travel today.
  6. Voice-controlled, self-driving cars will be prevalent. Perhaps not even brought to you by Google.
  7. No one will carry wallets any more — all wallet functionality (payment, coupons, identity) will be embedded in your mobile device
  8. No wires anywhere — wireless power/electricity, wireless Internet, high bandwidth data will result in the taking down of telephone polls in large parts of the country. A corollary to this one is that my sons don’t think hardly any homes will have landline, wire telephones any more.
  9. Hover boards will be sold commercially — still high-end devices, but useful for urban transportation as an alternative to bicycles. This one struck me as a stretch, but they’re quite convinced of it, and they haven’t even seen this hilarious AliG clip.
  10. A woman will be elected president of the United States. I pointed out to them that there would only be four elections (not counting 2012 – sorry Sarah Palin) between now and 2030 for an American female head of state to be elected, but they were bullish on this one as well.

Here were a few that we discussed but were ultimately rejected as plausible, but not likely by 2030:

  1. Humans landing on Mars
  2. Hover cars (i.e., cars that floated above roads at high speeds)
  3. Cars that converted into airplanes
  4. Home robots that do household chores — dishes, laundry, changing diapers
  5. Life discovered on another planet
  6. Electronic ink on flexible, paper-thin screens that mimic a book — but, like a Kindle, download wirelessly and electronic

At one point, I mentioned to my sons that I might blog about their predictions because I thought they represented an interesting window into the future. My oldest got concerned and objected, “But Dad, what if we want to invent some of this stuff and people steal our ideas?”

Jeffrey Bussgang is general partner at venture capital firm Flybridge Capital Partners. Follow him on Twitter.

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