Friday, January 01, 2010

My poorly remembered and partially imagined predictions from Jan 1, 2000

Reviewing old predictions is fun. Unfortunately, I didn't bother to write any down, so I'm working from memory here, and of course human memory is very unreliable and selective, so this is rather bogus.

Predictions for the next 10 years, from Jan 1, 2000 (as remembered on Jan 1, 2010):

Prediction: Linux will continue expanding into new spaces and will eventually make Microsoft irrelevant. Windows 2000 is the last release that anyone will care about.

Result: I was over-optimistic about Linux -- the community is unable to produce anything worthwhile on the desktop, most development has moved to the web anyway (making the desktop OS irrelevant), and OSX popularity among developers took away a lot of energy (I develop in Linux, but use OSX to host my web browser and other apps). Linux is a huge success on the server-side though and continues to grow in more "embedded" contexts, such as Android and Chrome OS. Microsoft made itself irrelevant -- they still make a lot of money, but they are no longer changing the world.

Prediction: Wireless data access (such as that provided by Ricochet) will become fast and practically ubiquitous, meaning that the Internet is always with us.

Result: It took longer than I expected, but we're finally starting to get there, and it is awesome.

Prediction: "Computer Aided Reality" will provide a cool visual overlay by using computer vision to identify objects and then fetching info about them from the Internet.

Result: I was very over-optimistic. There are a few basic "augmented reality" apps around, but nothing major. I still think that this will happen, though the display technology is still very uncertain (I haven't even heard about direct retinal projection lately).

Prediction: All data lives "online" and can be accessed from anywhere. Your computer is a stateless cache which can be replaced without any data-loss or need for reconfiguration or reinstallation.

Result: I was over-optimistic. We made some progress with things like Gmail, but computers still store information (configuration at the very least). Chrome OS may be more like what I had in mind, and the iPhone is too if you set aside the fact that it requires manual syncing.

Prediction: The Java VM will get good enough that people will finally stop using C++.

Result: I was over-optimistic. The JVM got somewhat better (though it still has significant GC problems), but Java got worse due to cultural problems. Fortunately, a lot of other interesting languages became popular, including Javascript, and there are a number of fast virtual machines in the works.

Prediction: Google will be a big success, possibly as big as Yahoo. I'm probably over-optimistic because I work there, but the people are smart and ambitious.

Result: I was under-optimistic. Google is bigger than Yahoo ever was, and is getting close to Microsoft (their market cap is 70% of Microsoft's).

Prediction: Humans will be cloned. After the initial outrage, people will stop caring once they see that the result is just a regular baby (like the "test tube babies" before them), not a "soulless monster".

Result: To my knowledge, that hasn't been any successful human cloning, though I wouldn't be surprised if there has and they are just keeping quiet about it.

Prediction: The stock market will crash, and take Silicon Valley (and other bubble-zone) real estate markets down with it.

Result: The market crash came (sort of), but instead of going down, real estate kept going up! Even when it did finally crash, local prices (especially Palo Alto) remained remarkably high.

Prediction: A meteor strike will destroy all life on Earth on November 5, 2007, so I don't need to waste time writing down my predictions for 2010.

Result: I meant 2012, there was an off-by-5 error in my calculation ;)