2025 A Fool’s Odyssey: An Open Letter to My Teenage Girls & A Brave & Hopeless Attempt At Predictions For The Near Future
Late last year while presenting “What the Hell is the Internet Anyway” at the Rotary Club of Bangkok I was approached by Joshua Billington, one of the organizers of PechaKucha Bangkok, and asked whether I wanted to participate as a speaker in one of the evenings they arrange. Although I’d heard of PechaKucha before I’d never actually been to any of there events, so naturally I immediately said yes…
Joshua was particularly taken with the last few slides of my Rotary talk, where I related a few predictions about the future of the Internet, and he suggested I make that the theme of my PechaKucha presentation. Since it seemed like an interesting premise, and I reckoned it would give me an excuse to look up some of the coolest things happening on the bleeding edge of the present, I willingly took on his suggestion and set out to write a letter to my teenage girls.
PechaKucha Presentations – The Magic of 20×20
PechaKucha was created by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture, and the format was first used at an event held in their Tokyo gallery in February, 2003. Klein Dytham architecture still organize and support the global PechaKucha network. Presentations are required to adhere to a strict 20×20 format where you show 20 slides for 20 seconds each. The images advance automatically and you talk along for the total run time of 6:40 minutes. It’s misleadingly simple sounding, and I was blown away by how much work preparing my presentation ended up being. The strict time constraints make this a tough exercise in editing…
Creative Commons – Share and Enjoy!
Below you can see my presentation in a number of formats. As usual I hereby declare this is a Creative Commons work, and you’re welcome to syndicate and build on it as you see fit. All I ask is that you credit the original work by adding a link to this page or the Youtube/Slideshare page where you’re sourcing your material from.
ENJOY! > Youtube
ENJOY! > Slideshare
2025 A Fool’s Odyssey: An Open Letter to My Teenage Girls
1) ….And Also A Brave & Hopeless Attempt At Predictions For The Near Future
As a parent I find myself constantly wondering about the future my daughters will live in. I’m thrilled whenever I imagine the wonders the world holds in store for them, and my best moments are those spent witnessing their joy at new discoveries.
2) “The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained” | Daniel Kahneman – Nobel Laureate
Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman explains that because our brain is so adept at finding causality in our past, we tend to believe the future can be explained and predicted. This is of course terribly misguided, because random chance plays a much greater role in reality than we normally account for.
3) “The Beatles have no future in show business” | Dick Rowe – Decca Records
There are many examples for just how wrong people’s predictions tend to be. My favorite is a story about The Beatles, who were rejected by Decca records in 1962. A studio executive informed their producer they had no future in show business. 5 years later they released Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club band…
4) “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.”| Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Now that we’re clear how badly “prophets” miss, I’ll share my methodology. Firstly I chose to focus on Web Technology because it’s my passion, and I try to stay on top of what’s going on.
Secondly, since I’m not as smart as Asimov, Edison, or any of the other giants who also made hilariously wrong predictions,
5) “Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably smart. Smarter even sometimes than the smartest people in them” | James Surowiecki – Journalist
I further reduced my risk by crowdsourcing. A while ago I posted a plea over Facebook asking people to share which technologies they believed would impact us in the near future. What follows is a summary of the ideas people shared.
6) “We already live in the future. It’s not like we’re waiting for something to happen, it’s just a matter of doing it.”| Bre Pettis – Makerbot CEO
“Every journey begins with a single step” and ours isn’t actually into the future, but rather to the present’s bleeding edge. 3D printers, commercially available starting at 299 Dollars a unit, are gaining traction and already impacting prototyping and manufacturing.
7) “My vision when we started Google 15 years ago was that eventually you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all, the information would just come to you as you needed it. This is the first form factor that can deliver that” | Sergey Brin – Google Co-Founder
We’re soon going to witness a huge increase in the number of gizmos giving us access to the internet. Google Glass, a hands free smartphone-like device, is already out in Beta, and is scheduled for release to the general public later this year.
8) “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.” | Jimmy Wales – Wikipedia Co-Founder
Because we’re fortunate enough to be blessed with access to the Internet, we never realize we’re part of the privileged few. 0ver 66% of the world’s population isn’t as lucky. Thanks to initiatives like Google’s Project Loon and others I have faith ubiquitous internet is only a few years away.
9) “Within 5 to 10 years, most computers will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper.” | Roel Vertegaal – Human Media Lab Director
Flexible screens are finally coming too. Despite the first working prototypes being 40 years old, it’s only now manufacturers are releasing the 1st generation of consumer products to feature curved and bendable screens.
10) “We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.” | Michael Crichton – Author
Debuting in the 90s, but receiving a boost from developments like the screen technologies we just saw, it looks like Virtual Reality is finally ready to take off. Oculus Rift, a commercially available VR headset, has games developers buzzing with excitement this year.
11) “That’s the old way, that’s the old mantra: one machine, one human, one mouse, one screen. Well, that doesn’t really cut it anymore.” | John Underkoffler – Oblong CEO
As real time and other data become available to us at home, outside, and on the go, we’ll have to develop new ways to interact. The mouse, keyboard and touch screen will be supplemented by gesture, eye tracking and voice controls. Today’s prototype interfaces will find mass adoption tomorrow.
12) “When you think of any aspect of life or work, augmented reality is completely going to change how we do it.” | Ori Inbar – AR Pioneer
Reviewing the technologies we’ve encountered so far it seems not far fetched to imagine a future where the use of Reality Augmenting personal Head-Up-Displays is as prevalent as smartphones are today and our physical reality is seamlessly supplemented by new virtual ones.
13) “Suddenly you could see my left hand was talking to my brain again and it was magic” | Dennis Aabo Sørensen – Clinical Study Volunteer
Opportunities to enhance reality aren’t limited to the world around us, but perhaps much more significantly, apply to ourselves as well.
Prosthetic prototypes capable of connecting directly to an amputee’s nervous system are undergoing testing in Switzerland and Italy.
14) “At bottom, robotics is about us. It’s the discipline of emulating our lives, of wondering how we work.” | Rod Grupen – Director of the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics
Robots have been serving in our armies for decades. As technologies become cheaper we’ll see them taking ever increasing roles in our civilian lives too. Google is already staking its claim in that future with massive investments in robotics companies, …
15) “Look Ma! No Hands!” | Everyone
…which should be viewed in context of the company’s deeper commitment to the field, like their self-driving car project, now entering it’s fourth year and recently found to be less accident prone than human driven vehicles.
16) “Big data is at the foundation of all of the megatrends that are happening today, from social to mobile to the cloud to gaming.” | Chris Lynch – Partner at Atlas Venture
Processing location in real time is an example of the Big Data we’re capable of coping with, but since we now create every 2 days as much information as we did from the beginning of time till the end of 2003, new data technologies are highly in demand.
17) “Instead of trying to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to simulates a child’s? If this were subjected to an appropriate course of education, one would obtain the adult brain” | Alan Turing – Computer Science Pioneer
Synthesizing meaningful observations from these gargantuan repositories is a task we’re ill matched to face alone. Artificial intelligences around the globe are following Turing’s advocated education regimens to train for analysis and utilization of the data we’re all ceaselessly creating
18) “We went from mainframes to desktops to laptops to tablets and phones. Everyone who thinks it will stop is wrong, it just keeps going down that curve, driven by Moore’s Law.” | Brian Krzanich – CEO, Intel
The underlying force propelling our accelerating voyage into the future is Moore’s Law, which has seen us doubling the power of data processing at our disposal every two years since 1965. Evolutions such as Fotonic Computing promise this rate of progress won’t be slowing any time soon.
19) “A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.” | Emo Phillips – Comedian
If anything thanks to breakthroughs such as the D-Wave Quantum Computer, which is 35,000 times faster than any computer ever built, it looks like our data processing abilities are set for a massive acceleration.
20) Thank YOU!
Whatever technological wizardry the future holds in store for us, the rate at which we adjust to it will be subject to our human limitations. The one guarantee I can give my girls, is that the same wondrous human faculty promises I’ll also love them ALWAYS.