January 5th, 2013

Really?

January 2023

Last night, after being profoundly irritated by the End of History Illusion, I decided to attempt a visualization of me/my life 10 years from now, specifically, in January 2023. That was one of the best ideas I've ever had. I _love_ attempts to predict things, and I'm generally pretty critical of predictions: the world of the future is generally speaking a continuation of the world of today, the trick is to identify something as it is starting to take off, predict that it will take off, and then sit back and bask in the glow. People violate this when they fail to take into consideration crucial features of reality (e.g. zero lower bound, but hey, why bring macro into it, right?), and when they overestimate the speed at which a trend can develop (Nissan was guilty of this with the Leaf), or underestimate the support which a trend needs to develop (ditto).

Here is an example of me being critical of a prediction: in the very early 1990s, a friend of mine, L., was all excited about ebooks and predicted we'd all be reading them and not pbooks in a Very Short Time (like, ten years seemed like a lot to him). After ascertaining that he hadn't actually read any ebooks on the screens then current, and that of the people at the table who had we all agreed it was more than a bit tiring on the eyes, I said no way no how and we wrote the bet down and let's just say I didn't lose.

My husband found out about e-ink, and knew about how Amazon did things and bought me a kindle for Xmas 2007 and I haven't precisely looked back since, altho adoption has occurred both more quickly and more slowly than various punditry had expected. eBooks are way cool, as my friend L. had correctly identified, and even then we had the storage to make it a viable thing -- but it took until screen tech resolved some real problems before it could become a real thing.

Predicting what I will like or own or whatever in 2023 requires knowing what the universe of choices contains. So, if I buy a TV between now and 2023, current technology trends (and our financial situation) suggest that it will have 3D technology. I can predict with some confidence that at least one TV in our house in 2023 will be a 3D TV -- altho I'd hesitate to commit to it being an LCD, LED or other screen technology. I know how I feel about Getting Rid of TVs, so I can state with some confidence that there will be at least one TV in my life in 2023, assuming I'm not dead.

I might need to replace the fridge before 2023. If I do, I'm sure I'll be looking for something that fits into that slot in the kitchen (even my imagined re-do of the kitchen doesn't involve moving the fridge), so it'll be one of the attached-to-the-wall, shallower kinds. I have a french door now, and while we have some issues with the door closing properly, I think I'd buy another. But perhaps I'd buy something with a greener refrigerant. Do I think that CO2 refrigerants will be available in fridges sold in the residential market? I don't know. I know some supermarkets have it, but R. points out that it requires high pressures and that has some implications for manufacture and transport that would involve significant societal changes (a revolution in packaging and/or moving manufacturing of the high-pressure parts to the United States). That's a lot to get through, so I bet I won't have a CO2 fridge in 2023 -- but I'll probably be reading about it being on the horizon and maybe I'll delay a purchase until they become available.

TurboTax is developing a web application and mobile services. I find that appealing, because it reduces my last dependence on the desktop. R. is more cautious, but I bet in 10 years, that's where we'll be doing our taxes -- unless, as R. notes, we break down and hire someone. If the tax code is simplified, that could become a factor in the decision making (it would make me trust preparers more -- but it would also make it less onerous to do our own taxes). Will the IRS start preparing our taxes for us, communicate that to us electronically, and then we amend if we want to add to it? I understand it works that way in some countries. That would be cool -- but it's a lot to happen in 10 years. But maybe we'll be talking about it in 2023.

In 2023, with a 15 year old and an 18 year old, we'll have dismantled the wooden playset in the dining room. It'll be a dining room again -- unless it's an office/study room.

I'm a younger child. In 2023, my parents will be old. One of them might be dead or in a care setting. Decisions about selling the home I grew up in will be made by my elder sisters. I'll be studiously not participating in any of it.

New Mexico is building a spaceport for Virgin Galactic. Texas is trying to woo SpaceX -- but SpaceX is currently still in Florida and eying California. Blue Origin has its own thing going, very much in keeping with its control-y founder. It seems easy to believe that there will be a commercial spaceport somewhere in the United States in 2023, which is a fancy way of saying, lots of concrete, some tunnels and one launch a month, mostly of rockets but possibly of a VTOL craft. Oh, and probably some environmental activism concerned about the atmospheric impact of the launches.

If the behavior of everyone I know is any indication at all, we will not have a land line in 2023 -- at least not for the phone. I'm sure we'll still have fiber to the house.

Train service in my town will improve over the next ten years: it'll be faster, and there will be more of them running. I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that the van service the town started will have grown into something larger than now, possibly with a few fixed routes (it's currently a call-ahead-for-a-ride service, but not limited to the elderly/disabled).

Commercial buildings with no solar on the roof (when there's a reasonable exposure), windy areas with no turbines will start looking odd instead of solar and wind turbines standing out as new and unusual. New commercial and multi-family construction will routinely at least consider building waste-heat-reclamation-from-waste-water systems, but I'm not convinced we'll see it at the single family home level (maybe when there's a whole development of single family homes built). I gotta believe we're going to see more and more hot-water-on-demand installed.

Worm bins won't seem weird, and they may not even be trendy any more. They'll just be another thing for people who do them to compare notes on where to get the best worms or how to deal with a bunch of worms that freak out and exit the bin en masse, etc.

My town will have at least one large new day care facility. There has been a push to build one since shortly before the bust. I don't think the community can forestall it for another decade.

Population projections for my town produced regionally and at the state level are already demonstrably wrong (we're off the top end of the bracket). I'm going to say 25K +/- 2500. R. says we could narrow it down more. I don't think it's important to do so. We agree that there will be net more restaurants; we're not convinced there will be net additional retail.

And then there's a whole bunch of predictions about what I will be doing with my money and what I'll be paying attention to, what my various younger relations will be doing with respect to their education/career and so forth, that I won't share, even anonymized, here.

This is a fun game! I invite you to play, too.

ETA: I don't think it's possible to know enough about the universe of available books and/or music to reliably pick my preferences 10 years from now. However, judging purely based on commonalities across the past 4 decades, I'll tend to prefer music which has a relatively strong melody, and I'll have two categories of preferred books. One will be non-fiction, and the other will be fiction. The fiction will belong to a genre -- altho I cannot predict what genre that will be -- and will contain some amount of humor, some amount of relationship development and some amount of solve-a-puzzle-problem-difficulty-together. I'm tempted to predict that I will continue to prefer narrative non-fiction, but I've gone long stretches avoiding it, so I'll just stick to "some category of non-fiction" and wait to see what happens.

I'll still be eating pb&j (altho there's always a chance I'll switch to almond butter instead of peanut butter, and of course you have to understand the "j" includes marmalade, at least in my world) virtually every day. I'll still prefer salads, greens and mushrooms to virtually all other vegetables. Beyond that, I hesitate to predict: I've become accidentally vegan for periods of time when I wasn't paying close attention, and I'm a person who really likes bacon.