IEEE forecast survey

In the last issue of IEEE Spectrum, there are results from and IFTF/IEEE survey about what developments IEEE Fellows expect in science and technology in the next 10 to 50 years. It's called "Bursting Tech Bubbles Before They Balloon" and was written by Marina Gorbis and David Pescovitz & IEEE Fellows Survey. Some excerpts I found pertinent below. First they start bursting tech bubbles:

As our population ages and needs more care, there will be fewer young people to provide it. But don’t expect to fill the personnel gap with humanoid robotic nurses (...) Forget about being chauffeured to work by your car; the Fellows doubt that autonomous, self-driving cars will be in full commercial production anytime soon. And though they say Moore’s Law will someday finally yield to the laws of physics, slowing the increase in computer performance, the IEEE Fellows don’t expect to get around the problem by using quantum weirdness to perform calculations at fabulous speeds. Seventy-eight percent of respondents doubt that a commercial quantum computer will reach the market in the next 50 years. (...) no space elevators in most of their forecasts

Then they give some more theoretical issues about foresight:

“We tend to overestimate the impact of a technology in the short run and underestimate it in the long run,” observed former IFTF president Roy Amara (...) A few were uncomfortable making forecasts, arguing that science and technology are unpredictable. At IFTF, we wholeheartedly agree. Trying to predict specific events and timing is best left to astrologers. Instead, our researchers in Palo Alto, Calif., look for signals—events, developments, projects, investments, and expert opinions, like those provided by this survey—that, taken together, give indications of key trends. Observed as a complex ecology, these signals reveal where these developments may be taking us. (...) “While technology may permit many of the forecasted accomplishments to occur, human beings may well resist their implementation,” writes electrical and computer engineering professor Andrew Szeto of San Diego State University in his survey comments.

As Yogi Berra reportedly said, “The hardest thing to predict is the future.” And as we’ve said, our survey does not try to predict the sci-tech future but merely to uncover key directions. So although we may not be able to say that in 2015 a space elevator will be shuttling goods and people into orbit or that in 2020 we’ll all have robot servants, we can foresee that in the next several decades we will be building our infrastructure in a new way: we will have unlimited computing resources, live in a sensory-rich computing environment, and reengineer ourselves and the biological world around us. Understanding these larger trends helps organizations think about adapting to the future, and thus shaping it.

Why do I blog this? I like this idea of bursting bubbles and there are some good insights to gain from it. Besides, the article gives interesting ideas and signs about possible avenues.