Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates wrote a book in 1999, "Business @ the Speed of Thought," in which he made 15 predictions about the future.
Markus Kirjonen, a business student at Aalto University, listed in a blog the 15 predictions Gates made that have a resemblance to technology that is out today.
Here are the forecasts:
In the book, Gates predicted: “Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.”
This has already come true, since consumers can now go on sites like Google and Amazon to see prices of products. Platforms like Orbitz and Trivago also allow users to check out prices for flights and hotels.
Gates predicted: “People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”
Those “small devices” are now smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, which allow users to check the weather, news, stock prices and book appointments.
Paying Bills And Communicating with Doctors Online
Gates also predicted that people “will pay their bills, take care of their finances, and communicate with their doctors over the Internet.”
This is now true, since people can pay their bills online, check their bank accounts through apps and can communicate with doctors through web portals, or book appointments with the ZocDoc app.
Gates predicted: “‘Personal companions’ will be developed. They will connect and sync all your devices in a smart way, whether they are at home or in the office, and allow them to exchange data. The device will check your email or notifications, and present the information that you need. When you go to the store, you can tell it what recipes you want to prepare, and it will generate a list of ingredients that you need to pick up. It will inform all the devices that you use of your purchases and schedule, allowing them to automatically adjust to what you’re doing.”
This might have sounded freaky in 1999, but now people are using virtual assistants to help them with their everyday likes. Assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant alert people about events on their calendar, orders items online for them and reminds them about their groceries.
Monitoring Your Home While You’re Gone
Gates predicted: “Constant video feeds of your house will become common, which inform you when somebody visits while you are not home.”
People can now monitor their homes with cameras, like those made by Nest, which allows them to see activity in their residence while they’re out of the house. Cameras connect to smartphone apps and can alert users when someone comes in the house.
Social Media Platforms
Gates also predicted “Private websites for your friends and family will be common, allowing you to chat and plan for events.”
This is what we now call social media -- and they really are common. There are many platforms out there today, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr.
Targeted Promotions and Purchasing Trends
Gates said in 1999 the future would have “Software that knows when you’ve booked a trip and uses that information to suggest activities at the local destination. It suggests activities, discounts, offers, and cheaper prices for all the things that you want to take part in.” He also predicted: “Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences.”
This is now seen with targeted ads, like Google ads or Facebook ads. Sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia can suggest nearby activities if you booked a flight to the Bahamas, or suggest other deals, like hotels or vacation rentals.
Discussing Sports Live Online
Gates predicted: “While watching a sports competition on television, services will allow you to discuss what is going on live, and enter contest where you vote on who you think will win.”
This prediction already came true with the use of social media while watching a game, like the Super Bowl. Everyone rushes on Twitter to talk about the latest detail, and sometimes, if you don’t have a TV, you might end up relying on those updates. Online polls and bets can also allow people to live in the moment while watching a game.
Links On TV
Gates predicted: “Television broadcast will include links to relevant websites and content that complement what you are watching.”
Almost all commercials we see now have a link to the company’s website displayed on TV, or hashtags in which people can get more involved with the product it is advertising.
Gates predicted: “Residents of cities and countries will be able to have Internet-based discussions concerning issues that affect them, such as local politics, city planning or safety.”
This is true now with online discussion boards or Facebook groups.
Gates also predicted: “Online communities will not be influenced by your location, but rather, your interest.”
This is seen on social media, like with Facebook groups or Tumblr blogs. On YouTube, people worldwide subscribe to bloggers they mostly identify with, whether they talk about skateboarding, makeup, cooking or another topic.
Gates predicted: “Project managers looking to put a team together will be able to go online, describe the project, and receive recommendations for available people who would fit their requirements.”
This is true with applications companies use to recruit others online for projects.
Finding Jobs And Recruiting Online
Gates predicted: “Similarly, people looking for work will be able to find employment opportunities online by declaring their interest, needs, and specialized skills.”
He also predicted: “Companies will be able to bid on jobs, whether they are looking for a construction project, a movie production, or an advertising campaign. This will be efficient for both big companies that want to outsource work that they don’t usually face, businesses looking for new clients, and corporations that don’t have a go-to provider for the said service.”
This is true with platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster.com, which allow people to upload their resumes for job recruiters. There are also sites that companies can connect with freelancers for projects.