The future according to Metaculus

metaculus.com is a forecasting website, where anyone can have a go at making “quantitative predictions of future events”. Some of the questions on the site ask when a particular event will take, and I thought it might be neat to combine a bunch of these into a single timeline. So below are the median user predictions, as of April 7 2021, for many of the date-based questions on Metaculus. Maybe this is a useful way to help people think about what the future may hold; or maybe it will simply be an interesting record of how wrong (a certain set of) people in 2021 were.

To be clear, the median predictions below remove a huge amount of nuance from Metaculus. Not only do different people often have very different predictions (and the median may not be a common response at all), but individuals actually choose a probability distribution across time rather than just a single date. You can follow the links to see the full range of predictions for each question.

That said, covering a whole range of topics, here is a possible timeline using selected median predictions on Metaculus:

2021 Battery costs will fall to $100 per kilowatt hour
2022 (June) Amazon will deliver some products by drone (in one of the 20 largest US cities)
and (November) Level 3 (“eyes off”) autonomous vehicles will be commercially available (Metaculus-improved weighting)
2023 Queen Elizabeth II will cease to be Queen of the United Kingdom
and Battery costs will fall to $75 per kilowatt hour
2024 Level 4 (“mind off”) autonomous vehicles will be commercially available
and India will launch at least one astronaut into space
2025 A supermarket will sell a product made of ≥20% clean meat, for less than $3 (2019 prices) per 100g
2026 A robot will exist that is able to completely assemble a generic Lego set
and Self-driving taxis will be available to Metaculus users
2027 A vaccine for HIV will be administered to 10 million people
and Electric cars will constitute over 5% of the US passenger car fleet
and China will have collected 1 billion unique genomes from its population
2028 The mean 5-year relative survival rate of all cancers for both sexes in the US will exceed 75% (up from 69% for diagnoses in 2007-13)
and The odds of 5-year survival in the US for any two of six hard-to-treat cancers will have doubled relative to 2013
and Vladimir Putin will cease to hold the office of President of Russia
and The next commercial flight will break the sound barrier
2029 2+ supermarkets will sell products made of ≥20% clean fish (in at least 25 US states, for less than $25 per 100g)

2030 Level 5 (“steering wheel optional”) autonomous vehicles will be commercially available
and Autonomous flying vehicles will be commercially available
2031 The next human being will walk on the Moon (Metaculus-improved weighting. Predictions closed in 2020)
2032 The WHO will certify the worldwide eradication of polio
and Half of all new automobiles sold in the US will be fully autonomous (Metaculus-improved weighting)
2033 The milk of cows whose DNA is intentionally altered to be hornless will be for sale in the US
and Life expectancy at birth for both sexes will reach 60 years in all countries (NB it’s currently lower in 7 countries)
2034 The first human baby will be born from stem cell-derived gametes
2035
2036 The first human(s) will land successfully on Mars (with SpaceX being the top prediction)
and The US FDA will grant regulatory approval allowing a device developed by Neuralink to be implanted into the brains of consumers
and North Korea will have a McDonald’s
2037
2038 The first artificial general intelligence will be developed and demonstrated
2039 The global adult literacy rate will reach or exceed 95%

2040
2041 There will be a war between (at least two) ‘great powers’ (the top 10 nations by military spending)
and There will be a mile-high building
and Direct air capture will cost less than $50 (2020 prices) per metric ton of carbon dioxide removed
2042 The average global temperature will be at least 2˚C above the 1880 value for the first time
2043
2044 An entirely extracorporeal human pregnancy will conclude successfully
and The first manned spacecraft will touch the surface of any planet, dwarf planet, or moon other than Earth, Earth’s moon, or Mars
2045
2046 India will be designated a high income country by the World Bank (NB “India in 2016 was about 50% below the threshold”)
and The 10,000th human will reach space (up from 568 by 2020)
2047
2048 The main tomb chamber of the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang will be opened
2049

2050 The world population will be 9.68bn (this is a fixed-date question)
and A new technology designed primarily for transmitting visual information will outsell existing technologies with screens
2051
2052 Life expectancy at birth for both sexes will reach at least 100 years in any country (cf. recent 89 in Monaco & 85 in Japan)
and A mammoth will be born and live for at least a year without major life support
2053
2054 The Economist will rank Russia as a Democracy in its Democracy Index
2055 The first human(s) will go to (within 1 million km of) Venus

//
2058 The Economist will rank North Korea as a Democracy in its Democracy Index
2067 A spacecraft will overtake Voyager-1 in distance from the Sun (Metaculus-improved weighting. Predictions closed in 2018)
2069 The Economist will rank China as a Democracy in its Democracy Index
2072 The first whole human brain will be successfully emulated
2073 The first human will be born on another world
2080 Gross World Product will exceed $1 quadrillion in 2010 USD (compared to $84.8 trillion in 2019)
2100 The average global temperature will be 2.86˚C higher than in 1880 (this is a fixed-date question)
2128 ≥1% of humanity’s Gross ‘World’ Product (GWP) will be produced off-Earth
2147 Life expectancy will continuously increase by at least 1 year per year over a 5-year period
2179 Technosignatures of non-human origin will be detected for the first time

Personally, I’m excited to potentially see many of these things in my lifetime. If you think any of these are too optimistic or pessimistic, just follow the links and you can make your own predictions.

PS I’m sure the creation of this timeline could be automated using the Metaculus API, if anyone has the skills and time.

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