We're a little bit late on this item. Some of you may already have seen it. But just in case...
The 2005 BT Technology Timeline
This an annual compilation, edited by Ian Neild & Ian Pearson of British Telecom (BT). Invariably, it arouses many comments, some skeptical or critical, some supportive, and a few dismissive. But as the Ians say:
[We] are not involved in all of the research described in the timeline. We also do not necessarily approve or condone what we are predicting will happen. We are just saying they are possible, and listing some obvious implications. . .
In the next 60 years we will see nanotechnology and biotechnology making impacts on our life that might seem like magic to us but will be quite normal to our children's children. The world is speeding up as each generation learns from their kids, and through knowledge sharing via the Internet, so who knows what the next 60 years will bring? Our timeline can only cover a small sample of what is coming.
So what is coming, according to their timeline?
Let's look at just a few of the hundreds of predictions [PDF] they have compiled:
2006-2010: AI chatbots indistinguishable from people by 95% of population
2006-2010: Emotion detection used in businesses to select front line staff
2008-2012: Insect-like robots used in warfare
2008-2012: Intelligent materials with in-built sensors, storage and effectors
2008-2012: Terahertz video cameras become social nuisance due to privacy invasion
2011-2015: Insect-like robots used for crop pollination
2011-2015: Commercial magma power stations
2011-2015: Academic learning is argued to be unnecessary in the age of smart machines
2011-2015: Electronic stimulation of brain sensations as recreational substitute for drugs
2011-2015: Materials exhibiting superconductivity at room temperature
2013-2017: Hotel in orbit
2013-2017: Terrorist use of GM to pollute crops and damage economy
2013-2017: Manufacture of long diamond fibres
2013-2017: Bacterial supercomputer
2016-2020: Human knowledge exceeded by machine knowledge
2016-2020: Fully auto-piloted cars
2020s: 3D home printers
2020s: Nanobots in toothpaste attack plaque
2020s: Smart yogurt, colony of smart bacteria linked together, IQ = human [!]
2020s: Digital image overlays enhance relationships
2020s: Global voting on some issues
2020s: Full direct brain link
2020s: Network based telepathy
2020s: Creation of The Matrix
2020s: More robots than people in developed countries
2020s: Android gladiators
2020s: Gated cities for civilised people
2030s: Space solar power stations
2030s: Use of solar wind deflectors to set fire to cities
2030s: Regular manned missions to Mars
2030s: Use of human hibernation in space travel
2030s: Space elevator based on carbon nanotube cable
2040s: Use of nuclear fusion as power source
2040s: Self sustaining Mars colony
2040s: Asteroid diversion used as weapon
It's easy, of course, for any of us to pick items that we think will happen sooner than they predict, or later, or not at all. Overall, however, it's an impressive accomplishment, although their omission of nanofactory development and implications is a major weakness.
Some of their entries are a little silly or nonsensical, such as:
2016-2020: AI Member of parliament
2020s: AI Entity gains PhD
2020s: AI Entity awarded Nobel Prize
2020s: AI entities given vote
An AI smart enough to earn a PhD or win a Nobel Prize should be able to rapidly improve its own programming and reach an exponential rate of intelligence growth in a relatively short time. When that happens, then all the other predictions are likely to go out the window.
Also, does it make sense that an AI is elected to parliament before AIs are given the vote?