In an interview on the “Behind the Tech” podcast, science fiction author Charles Stross describes how he projects the near future:
I tried to do some rigorous extrapolation and came up with a couple of rules of thumb. The first is if you’re looking 10 years into the future, 70 percent of that world is here today. About half the cars on the street, they’re already there. They’re going to be there in 10 years time…. They’re going to be a bit more decrepit, but they’re out there.
Buildings: the average house in the UK is 75 years old. I know American dwellings tend to be a lot younger, but [in] 10 years time, there’s not going to be much turnover. There will be a few new office buildings, a few new developments, but most of what we see is there.
The people? Everybody’s going to be 10 years older. The people at the top of the age range will, well, they won’t be visible any more. The kids, they’re going to be teenagers. But it’s the same stuff: 70 percent of it is there today…. Actually it’s about 80 percent that’s there today.
You then get about another 15 percent that is pretty much predictable, it’s on roadmaps….[By 2006] it was fairly obvious that [cell phones] would be connected devices and that they would be very smart pocket computers….
There’s always, though, an element of a couple of percent which is, “who ordered that?” — stuff that comes out of left field completely and is completely unpredicted…. The idea that everybody would be carrying a decent-quality camera around with them at all times, a video camera that could upload to the internet, that was not something most people were prepared to grapple with….
As Frederik Pohl once said, “anyone can predict the automobile, the difficult bit is predicting the traffic jam.”