Chart: Revisiting Top Themes from 2012
I recently found in my filing cabinet an “Emerging Themes Report” from Technology Review dating back to 2012 that identified top themes from that year. The discovery allowed for an opportunity to revisit these predictions and see how many themes held up over the last six years. Ideally, the majority of these themes would grow to become ever more important aspects of our lives, demonstrating the staying power and predictability of powerful trends. Alternatively, if many themes were misfires, it could show the limitations of trying to predict the future of technological advancement.
For each theme, I attempted to answer if it is now more significant or impactful than it was in 2012. (Yes, there is some subjectivity here, but for the most part the results were obvious.) Some predictions, like the use of apps, cameras, and social media have become virtually ubiquitous. Others have taken a while longer to accelerate, but are beginning to experience substantial growth, like the Internet of Things and digital payments. But not all themes have hit. The space race hasn’t quite accelerated as some expected (particularly if you exclude billionaire passion projects). ‘Black Holes’ or experiences that avoid technology was a bit idealistic in retrospect as we are spending ever more moments in front of our screens. Overall, according to my scoring, 33 of 41 themes (80%) from that piece are more powerful today than six years ago.