Move over Nostradamus, Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt: "Futurist" Watts Wacker and Utah business executive Jim Taylor have taken the prediction game to the next level.
In their book "The 500 Year Delta: What Happens AFTER What Comes Next" - intended primarily as a guidebook for business - Wacker and Taylor make a bold stab at predicting the future over four periods of time.Sometime during the next 500 days, they contend, a company not currently in your field will introduce a new product in your category and it will be better than yours. There will be a "major" stock market crash and you will have to make a decision for or against euthanasia for an aging family member.
Think that's scary? It gets better. Sometime in the next 500 weeks (9.6 years) they predict that the underground cell-tissue market will have replaced drugs as the world's dominant criminal conspiracy, a holy war will break out between Muslims and Christians, and there will be a bio-accident that will jeopardize the future of the world.
In 500 months (41.6 years), they contend that anyone who lives to age 50 will have an 80-20 chance of living to be 100 but there will be "term limits" on life based on your ability to pay for your care. Nonbiological pets will be commonplace and "life-form hatcheries" will be an emerging global industry.
In 500 years, the average life span will be 800 years, the first person to be married 100 times will be identified, capital punishment will consist of artificially aging the criminal and "de-mat-ter-ing" ("Beam me up, Scotty!") will be possible. But since the brain is so delicate you may not return the same person you were when you left.
Wacker is founder of First-Matter, a business consulting firm in Westport, Conn., and the futurist at think tank SRI International. Taylor is executive vice president at computer peripherals company Iomega in Roy. Howard Means, senior editor of the Washingtonian, of Washington, D.C., also helped in the writing.
The book was published in hardback last year but a paperback version by publisher HarperCollins came out this month. It's priced at $14.
Like Toffler's "Future Shock" and Naisbitt's "Megatrends," the book attempts to take current trends and extrapolate from them where the global society is headed.
Wacker and Taylor contend that the world is shifting from the 500-year-old "Age of Reason" into a new "Age of Possibility" in which reason-based logic succumbs to chaos theory, producer-controlled consumer markets collapse and the social, political and economic organizations now taken for granted all splinter.
We now stand, the authors believe, at what Wall Street calls the "Triple Witching Hour," a point in history "as significant, disruptive and exhilarating" as the birth of Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the collapse of feudalism, and the rise of the Renaissance.
Prognostications from `The 500 Year Delta'
Here are some prognostications from Watts Wacker and Jim Taylor in their book "The 500 Year Delta: What Happens AFTER What Comes Next?"
The Next 500 Days:
- Your company's most important employee will quit and go to work for your biggest competitor.
- You will have a joint venture with that competitor.
- You will be sued for being right.
- A revolutionary PC chip will enter the market.
- Global terrorism will make boarding an airplane a life-threatening decision.
The Next 500 Weeks:
- The capacity of major universities to distribute learning online will have driven as many as a third of all four-year colleges and universities out of business. Yale will be bankrupt and Harvard will have branches on each continent.
- Multinational corporations will have their own embassies.
- Five million Americans will be over 100 years old and 30 percent of the labor force will work in caring for the elderly.
- A third of the global population will be teenagers. Canada will no longer exist as an independent nation.
- Consciousness will be downloadable thanks to research to restore memory to victims of Alzheimer's disease, strokes and head trauma.
The Next 500 Months:
- Reproduction will be taxed, and each person limited to the ownership of one child.
- National parks will be restricted primarily to children and the elderly, and visits will be allocated on a time-share basis. The right to visit the rarest parks around the world will be sold at auction.
- Fusion power will be online.
- A colony will mine rare metals on the moon.
- Many people will be walking around with cyber-components in their bodies.
- Ethicists will debate whether cloned humans should be allowed to keep their memories from their past lives.
- Cloned pre-human hominids will be displayed in zoos.
The Next 500 Years:
- There will be fewer people alive than there are today and the world's population will be concentrated within 200 miles of the equator.
- The average age of first marriage will be 75 and the right to have children will be auctioned as a tax source.
- There will be no money standard and even minor crimes of violence will result in permanent separation from society. Disease will be the greatest terrorist threat.