Every couple of years, I offer some predictions in a traditional manner, for the future. I laid out a major thesis for some significant themes in my 2020 predictions for 2030 and in my book, Exponential.
Here are my major themes for 2022 and the years beyond. I say the years beyond because one year is just an ugly length of time. Too short for any real trends to play out and too long to respond to the feverish oscillations of the Exponential Age.
To best understand these themes, I do recommend you also listen to the two podcast specials which will be available here. The first is my retrospective of the year. The second is my discussion about this essay.
I know you are probably drowning in predictions and forecasts, so I’ll keep mine brief and high level. These themes will frame much of what I’ll discuss this year. If you want a really deep dive into a wide range of forecasts, EV reader Marshall Kirkpatrick has put together a 100 page summary (!!) of various other trend reports.
The year of futuristic technologies
Two futuristic technologies, quantum computing and nuclear fusion will become more present in our consciousness during 2022. We will see progress marked not merely by technical milestones being achieved but by capital flowing into companies in the sector.
While increased investments can sometimes be signs of a frothy, exuberant investing climate, it can also be the market acting quite rationally, and judging that the technologies are reducing their known and unknown unknowns. That they are eliminating scientific and technical risk. It explains the sharp uptick in funding in both these technologies.
It’s also possible that it’ll be harder than it looks to get these technologies to work. As the teams work through the practicalities of making these technologies come to life, perhaps they will find roadblocks with the basic science, the engineering that makes it happen or the reality of plugging these things into our existing industries.
A working quantum computer of some useful scale will find a huge queue of willing customers. A working fusion reactor, one capable of consistently generating more energy than is put in to start and maintain the reaction, will be on Christmas lists everywhere.
To go deeper on the near future of quantum computing, and nuclear fusion, listen to our recent podcasts:
- How Quantum Computing Will Change Everything, with Chad Rigetti
- Nuclear Fusion’s Time is (Finally) Coming, with Nick Hawker
The continued rise of Web3
There is no more controversial and divisive topic in tech than Web3. However, this year I expect we’ll reach another turning point in adoption and innovation. I’m chronicling my rationale for why crypto is rather here to stay in a series of essays.
But there is a growing chorus of signals to demonstrate its resilience, user uptake, developer interest and more:
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