Predictions made by Mati Roy in early 2020

post by Mati_Roy (MathieuRoy) · 2020-11-21T03:24:56.020Z · LW · GW · 7 comments

Contents

  Cellular agriculture
    care?
    
    
  Quantum computers
    care?
    
    
  Nuclear fusion
    care?
      Pros
      Cons
    
      Other
    
  Space mining
    care?
    
    
  Self-driving cars
    care?
      Safety
      Cost
      Environment
    
      My predictions
      Pending
      Other
      Past prediction
    
    2020 notes
      R&D
      Distance
      Accidents
      Law
    notes
  Fully artificial kidney
    care?
    
    
  Global population
  Male birth control pill
    
    
  Man mission to Mars
  Deepest hole
  Cryptocurrencies
  Notes without predictions
    editing
      Operationalisation
      Notes
    power
    cars
    resistance
      Operationalisations
      Notes
    recognition
    change
    of bets
    
  Other topics I was interested in predicting
      Technology / politics
      Governance
      Population
      Fintech
      Porn
      Other
None
7 comments

Author: Mati Roy | Created: 2020-01-11 | Updated: 2020-03-01 (Adjusted: 2020-11-07) | Published: 2020-11-07

Quality: Those are notes I took for my present and future selves; they weren’t taken with the purpose of informing others.

Importance: 3/10. I don’t think all those predictions are important / transformational. It’s likely not important for you to read this.

Epistemic status: My credences are already quantified for each prediction. But my predictions are not independent of each other. For example, shorter AI timelines could mean shorter timelines on all those predictions, and vice versa. I might also be miscalibrated on long-term predictions — I don’t have first hand experience with that having only been born recently.

Context: I wrote some predictions in January-Ferbruary 2020 (some with links to PredictionBook and Metaculus with the exact date available on those platforms). I hadn’t published it at the time because there were a bunch of other topics I wanted to make predictions on. They are mostly predictions made on a 10-100 years time horizon.

Value to me: Making this research was much more time consuming than I thought. It was an interesting exercise, and will likely be interesting to check back on those predictions in the future. Here’s how I felt going down this rabbit hole.

Medium: Ideally, I would like a prediction platform where I could post my comments and predictions on public questions, like Metaculus, but with the additional option of having a personal public page automatically aggregating all my predictions and comments, similar to what I did here.

Cellular agriculture

Why care?

50 billion animals are raised and killed in factory farms every year. Most experience extreme levels of suffering over the course of their lives due to intense confinement and the removal of body parts. The meat industry is also one of the largest contributors to climate change, with 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. (source)

A reduced population of farmed animals would also likely reduce the risk of pandemics.

It would also likely allow us to create meat for cheaper.

It might also provide a more robust food supply.

It would also allow us to create healthier meat, with less contaminants.

It would also allow us to create a wider range of food, such as synthesizing new forms of meat.

It might also make it easier to sustain human life on other celestial bodies.

Predictions

85%: Meat and/or dairy products from cellular agriculture will be commercially available by January 1st, 2030. (PredictionBook)

75%: A company with its main activity being cultured meat and/or dairy products will be valued at >= 1bn 2020USD by January 1st, 2030. (PredictionBook)

52%: The U.S. plant-based and cultured-based retail market will be worth more than 9bn 2020USD throughout 2029. (PredictionBook)

Predictions using Elicit: https://elicit.ought.org/builder/nUEGbEPgb (h/t Jungwon)

Notes

2020-01-22: Memphis Meats receives 161 million USD in its Series B fundraising, more than the total investment in cultivated meat companies so far which was of 155 million USD. (source)

“In the next few decades I believe that cell-based meat will become a major part of ourglobal meat supply.” -Richard Branson, investor (source)

There are now at least 43 cultivated meat companies on five continents producing 15 types of meat, plus a handful of B2B companies. BlueNalu, Future Meat Technologies, Finless Foods, Wild Type, and Aleph Farms all raised $10 to 20 million Series As in 2019. Memphis Meats, however, is the first company to raise a Series B round. (source)

The Good Food Institute shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based meat generates an estimated $801M. (source)

The U.S. meat and poultry industry accounts for $1.02 trillion in total economic output or 5.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). (source)

The plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $800 million, with sales up 10 percent in the past year. Plant-based meat now accounts for 2 percent of retail packaged meat sales. (source)

Organization: https://www.cellag.org/work/project-cmf/

Investment trends: https://www.gfi.org/industry

Other predictions: Clean meat series, Alt-meat party

Timeline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_cellular_agriculture

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellular_agriculture

Quantum computers

Why care?

Having a fast, general-purpose quantum simulator could help a lot in designing new drugs, materials, solar cells, high-temperature superconductors, chemical reactions for making fertilizer, etc.

Breaking existing public-key cryptography.

Optimization and machine learning

(source)

Applications: http://www.theory.caltech.edu/~preskill/talks/Preskill-Q2B-2019.pdf

Predictions

I put ~15% probability that noisy intermediate-scale quantum will solve at least one useful problem and/or be economically viable by January 1st, 2030. I’m not sure how to properly operationalize this either. Ex. of applications: certified randomness.

Notes

Quantum supremacy (ie. being able to do something which we can’t do with classical computers) is a spectrum, but we’re currently transitioning to it. (Metaculus)

I’m not sure how to operationalize this; maybe the ratio of energy it takes for a classical computer to solve the same problem as a quantum computer? Here’s another idea: “Will it cost less than $1000 to calculate the private key of a 2048-bit RSA public key in 2030?” (Metaculus).

Richard Haughton says:

Quantum-computing experts are now finding themselves obliged to repeat a constant refrain: it’s not just about the number of qubits. One of the main measures of the power of a quantum circuit is its so-called depth: in effect, how many logical operations (‘gates’) can be implemented in a system of qubits before their coherence decays, at which point errors proliferate and further computation becomes impossible. How the qubits are connected also matters. So the true measure of the power of a quantum circuit is a combination of factors, which IBM researchers have called the “quantum volume

But I couldn’t find any graphs of the maximum quantum volume achieved over time.

It would also be nice to operationalize how much noise a quantum computer has.

John Preskill says:

we might succeed in building large-scale quantum computers after a few decades of very hard work. (source)

[noisy intermediate-scale quantum] might also have other useful applications. But we’re not sure about that. (source)

Scott Aaronson:

given the spectacular progress by Google and others over the last few years, my guess is that we’re at most a decade away from some small, special-purpose quantum computers (with ~50-200 qubits) that could be useful for quantum simulation

a shift from pure academic research to venture capitalists and industrial efforts just within the last 4-5 years [from 2018-06-06] (source)

Note: It could be economically viable, yet not economically benefitial (ex.: if people only buy quantum defenses to secure themselves against quantum attacks).

China’s National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences is a US$10 billion project due to open in 2020. (source). Europe’s Quantum Technology Flagship is a €1 billion euros project that opened in 2016. There are ~7000 researchers publishing ~8,500 articles per year [as of 2014] (source).

Longest quantum entanglement distance: February 2020 record: 50 km; previous record was 1.3 km (source).

Investment trends: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/quantum-computing/

Popularity trends: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/quantum-computing-startup-ecosystem/

Other trends: https://quantumcomputingtech.blogspot.com/2018/02/quantum-computer-investing.html

Other predictions: Metaculus

Timeline: https://timelines.issarice.com/wiki/Timeline_of_Quantum_Computing

More info: https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/

Nuclear fusion

Why care?

Pros

Economic prosperity of having cheap and abundant energy. Energy is a $8.5 trillion energy industry.

It takes roughly 55,000 barrels of oil to heat 10,000 homes for one year. With fusion energy, it would take one liter of deuterium and tritium, extracted from water, to power those 10,000 homes.

That limited residue has a half-life of a few hundred years, not tens of thousands of years, and hence is more manageable than nuclear fission waste.

And whereas those 55,000 barrels of oil would release 23,500 tons of carbon dioxide, fusion produces no emissions and will have a lifecycle carbon intensity lower than solar or wind (as measured in CO2 from all construction, manufacturing and operations per kWh produced). (source)

pro-fusion advocates also say that fusion reactors would be incapable of generating the dangerous runaway chain reactions that lead to a meltdown (source)

Cons

But fusion reactors have other serious problems that also afflict today's fission reactors, including neutron radiation damage and radioactive waste, potential tritium release, the burden on coolant resources, outsize operating costs, and increased risks of nuclear weapons proliferation. (source)

Also see: Pure fusion weapon — Wikipedia

Predictions

When will the fusion energy gain factor of a fusion reactor reach a Q >= 1?75% before 2044

When will a fusion reactor reach ignition?50% before before 2051

When will a nuclear fusion reactor hit an economic breakeven?50% before 2057

Other

Will radical new "low-energy nuclear reaction" technologies prove effective before 2019?

Will General Fusion [meet] its plasma temperature targets by mid-2020?

When will the first 100 Megawatt fusion-based electrical generation facility come into service?

A revival of interest in muon-catalyzed fusion?

Notes

Now [2019], privately funded fusion energy start-ups like TAE Technologies, Commonwealth Fusion Systems and General Fusion [...] are leaving the laboratory and starting to build prototype demonstration plants. (source)

The JET (Joint European Torus) is the world’s largest operational magnetically confined palsma physics experiment. It started its operation in 1983. (source)

ITER is a large international project to build a magnetic confinement plamaphysics experiment 10 timers bigger than the current biggest. The project was officially initiated in 1988. The building costs were over US$14 billion by June 2015, and the construction of the facility is expected to be completed in 2025. Initial plasma experiments are scheduled to begin in 2025, with full deuterium-tritium fusion experiments starting in 2035. Since the 1950, more than 100 fusion reactors have been built. (source)

DEMO, ITER’s successor, is planned to be constructed in 2024-2033, and have a first phase of operation in 2033-2038. After which, it would be expanded and updated, with the second phase of operation starting in 2040. In 2012, the roadmap aimed to have an electricity generation demonstration in 2048. (source)

PROTO, DEMO’s successor, is planned for after 2050. PROTO would act as a prototype power station demonstrating electricity generation on a commercial basis. (source)

From fusion energy gain factor:

The fusion energy gain factor, usually expressed with the symbol Q, is the ratio of fusion power produced in a nuclear fusion reactor to the power required to maintain the plasma in steady state. The condition of Q = 1, when the power being released by the fusion reactions is equal to the required heating power, is referred to as breakeven[.] [...] With typical fuels, self-heating in fusion reactors is not expected to match the external sources until at least Q = 5. If Q increases past this point, increasing self-heating eventually removes the need for external heating. At this point the reaction becomes self-sustaining, a condition called ignition. Ignition corresponds to infinite Q, and is generally regarded as highly desirable for practical reactor designs.

Operating above engineering breakeven, a machine would produce more electricity than it uses and could sell that excess. One that sells enough electricity to cover its operating costs is sometimes known as economic breakeven. Additionally, fusion fuels, especially tritium, are very expensive, so many experiments run on various test gasses like hydrogen or deuterium. A reactor running on these fuels that reaches the conditions for breakeven if tritium was introduced is said to be operating at extrapolated breakeven.

As of 2017, the record for Q is held by the JET tokamak in the UK, at Q = (16 MW)/(24 MW) ≈ 0.67, first attained in 1997. ITER was originally designed to reach ignition, but is currently designed to reach Q = 10, producing 500 MW of fusion power from 50 MW of injected thermal power. The highest record for extrapolated breakeven was posted by the JT-60 device, with Q<sub>ext</sub> = 1.25.

Optimists believe that we are five years away from the first proof-of-concept fusion energy demonstration plant and 15 years from a commercial roll-out at scale.

I mentioned three private start-ups in the beginning of this piece because they all are on viable paths to commercialize fusion in the next five to 15 years. If any of them win, we all win. But they all are underfunded.

TAE Technologies (formerly Tri Alpha Energy) has raised $800 million over the past 20 years and earned notoriety for being backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. TAE has been experimenting on a $100 million reactor and talks about commercializing the technology in five years, for which they are expected to start raising additional capital soon.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems is backed by the Italian oil company Eni and the celebrity billionaires of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. They expect to add fusion power to the grid in 15 years but have raised only $115 million so far. Again, too little.

General Fusion, based in Burnaby, British Columbia, is currently engineering a $350 million demo plant, set to go live in five years. If that demo plant operates well, General Fusion could have its first commercial plant built in 10 years from now. To date, General Fusion has raised funds from the Canadian federal government, Khazanah Nasional (Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund), Cenovus Energy, Braemar Energy, Jeff Bezos and Chrysalix, among others.

[...]

These are three of about 22 private companies in the fusion game, so of course, there’s intense competition for the few investors willing to back these high-risk and capital-intensive but very high-return innovations.

(source)

Google’s US$10-million project aimed to test the cold-fusion claims rigorously in a field that lacked credible scientific data, says Trevithick. (source)

Other projects include: Wendelstein 7-X, HiPER, National Ignition Facility.

The main source of tritium is fission nuclear reactors. (source)

Graph of US investment: https://i.huffpost.com/gen/2470392/original.jpg

Projection for leading fusion projects: https://2oqz471sa19h3vbwa53m33yj-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/fusion-timeline.jpg

Kurzgesagt video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZsaaturR6E

Timeline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_nuclear_fusion

Space mining

Why care?

As of September 2016, there are 711 known asteroids with a value exceeding US$100 trillion.

Although part of the wealth is at current market value, which would drop a lot with a higher offer.

Unlike Earth, which is protected by its magnetic field, the Moon has been bombarded with large quantities of Helium-3 by the solar wind. (source)

This could prove very useful if we develop viable nuclear fusion.

Predictions

When will space mining reach profitability?

50%: Space mining will be profitable before 2090, conditional on no existential catastrophe or win

Notes

On April 24, 2012 a plan was announced by billionaire entrepreneurs to mine asteroids for their resources.

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_mining

Self-driving cars

Why care?

Safety

Nearly 38,000 people died in car crashes in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and most serious crashes are due to human error. (source)

Cost

Autonomous vehicles could add $800 billion [per year] to the US economy, a new report says.

(source)

In 2015, some 15.5 million workers in the U.S. worked in jobs related to driving, according to an August 2017 report from the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration.

Only 3.8 million of those workers operate motor vehicles such as a truck or taxi

The 2017 median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $20.42 per hour, which adds up to $42,480 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is estimated that autonomous cars could eliminate 300,000 driving jobs a year, according to a May 2017 report from Goldman Sachs. But that won’t happen right away; the report estimated that from 2025 to 2030, autonomous cars will be 20 percent of car sales.

Nearly 38,000 people died in car crashes in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and most serious crashes are due to human error.

self-driving cars could contribute to major gains in fuel efficiency, lower transportation costs to the consumer and increase access to rural areas.

(source)

Car owners will be able to put their cars to work as a taxi when they aren’t using it. In fact, most people won’t need to own a car because of that.

Given that fleets of self-driving cars are better coordinated, traffic will also be reduced.

Given that on-demand cars will be as cheap as owning a car, and that these cars will be safe, smaller cars (for 1 or 2 passengers) will make sense.

Environment

This added efficiency will also result in less cars being built and less greenhouse gases per distance.

There’s one small study suggesting adaptive cruise control improves efficiency a little (5 to 7 percent), but there’s little else beyond that. (source)

Predictions

My predictions

50% Level 3 autonomous cars will be commercially available by 2030. (PredictionBook)

50% Level 4 autonomous cars will be commercially available by 2036. (PredictionBook)

50% Level 5 autonomous cars will be commercially available by 2042. (PredictionBook)

50% Level 5 self-driving air vehicles will be available by 2030. (PredictionBook)

Clarification: Needs to be available for commercial use on public roads in at least one city (not just on the highway).

Pending

When will Level 3 self-driving cars be available commercially? (Metaculus)

When will Level 4 self-driving cars be commecially available commercially? (Metaculus)

When will Level 5 self-driving cars be available commercially? (Metaculus)

Other

In what year will half of new cars sold in the US be fully autonomous? (Metaculus)

[2018-04-17] Researchers forecast that by 2025 we’ll see approximately 8 million autonomous or semi-autonomous (L3, L4, L5) vehicles on the road. (source)

Key Volkswagen Exec Admits Full Self-Driving Cars 'May Never Happen’ (source)

Past prediction

In 2020, you’ll be a “permanent backseat driver,” the Guardian predicted in 2015. “10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020,” blared a Business Insider headline from 2016. Those declarations were accompanied by announcements from General Motors, Google’s Waymo, Toyota, and Honda that they’d be making self-driving cars by 2020. Elon Musk forecast that Tesla would do it by 2018 — and then, when that failed, by 2020. (source)

Metrics

Human driving produces one fatal accident in every 100 million miles driven. (source)

A quick primer on the now-industry-standard SAE International rules on how to discuss self-driving abilities: Level 0 is no automation whatsoever. Level 1 is partial assistance with certain aspects of driving, like lane keep assist or adaptive cruise control. Level 2 is a step up to systems that can take control of the vehicle in certain situations, like Tesla's Autopilot or Cadillac's Super Cruise, while still requiring the driver to pay attention.

Get past that and we enter the realm of speculation: Level 3 promises full computer control without supervision under defined conditions during a journey, Level 4 is start-to-finish autonomous tech limited only by virtual safeguards like a geofence, and Level 5 is the total hands-off, go literally anywhere at the push of a button experience where the vehicle might not even have physical controls.

(source; discussion)

February 2020 notes

R&D

Volocopter and RTA Dubai cooperate on eVTOL Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) (source)

Features

You can buy a car that will automatically brake for you when it anticipates a collision, or one that helps keep you in your lane, or even a Tesla Model S (which — disclosure — my partner and I own) whose Autopilot mostly handles highway driving. (source)

Distance

In 2018, Waymo drove 1.2 million miles in California, with 0.09 disengagements every 1,000 miles.

Coming in second is General Motors’ Cruise, with about half a million miles and 0.19 disengagements per 1,000 miles. (Cruise argues that since it tests its cars on San Francisco’s difficult streets, these numbers are even more impressive than they look.)

The company doesn’t release specific figures, but its filings for its IPO last year said that it had driven “millions” of miles.

(source)

Accidents

March 18, 2018, was the first time a self-driving car ran down a pedestrian.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board implicated Tesla’s Autopilot system in another lethal 2018 accident; while the driver had his hands off the wheel, the car steered into a concrete divider and crashed, killing him.

A full investigation hasn’t yet been conducted on three more recent deadly Tesla crashes.

The problem, according to NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt, is that drivers assume Autopilot lets them take their attention off the road, when they shouldn’t.

(source)

Law

the laws surrounding self-driving cars vary enormously by state, with 29 states having passed legislation.

(source)

Investments

2014: $167 million

2017: #3 billion

First 3 quarters of 2018: $4.2 billion

(CB Insights)

Total so far [early 2020]: at least $16 billion (source)

Tesla has been building an autopilot feature since 2014, and both Apple and [Alphabet] are developing their own self-driving car models.

Traditional automotive companies are also investing. Ford recently announced that the automaker plans to spend $4 billion on autonomous vehicles by 2023. General Motors will pour $100 million into self-driving cars, and Toyota launched a $2.8 billion self-driving car company in Tokyo. (source)

Other notes

it is exasperatingly difficult to get a good estimate of how long until self-driving cars happen for real for the typical American, both because no one knows for sure and because companies have incentives to publicize optimistic estimates. The companies boast about their progress but don’t publish their mishaps.

History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_self-driving_cars

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-driving_car

Fully artificial kidney

Why care?

End-stage renal disease, or chronic kidney failure, affects nearly 2 million people worldwide, including more than 570,000 in the United States, and costs the nation almost $40 billion each year for treatment. The most effective treatment is kidney transplantation, but those organs are in short supply; last year, only 16,812 kidneys were available for transplant, leaving 92,000 patients on the waiting list, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network. (source)

Predictions

50% Fully artificial kidneys will be publicly available by 2042. (PredictionBook)

Notes

This idea was researched at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), leading to a prototype model in 2010* and clinical trials beginning in 2017.* (source)

The FDA announced today (April 9) that it had chosen three renal device projects to pilot a new regulatory approval program called Innovation Pathway 2.0, intended to bring breakthrough medical device technologies to patients faster and more efficiently.

The artificial kidney project, which is targeted for clinical trials in 2017, was selected for its transformative potential in treating end stage renal disease and for its potential to benefit from early interactions with the FDA in the approval process.

investors and granting agencies to fund the expected $20 million it will cost

(source)

Related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expanded_access

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_kidney

Global population

8.5 million people in 2030 (source)

50% CI: 8.3-8.7

More info: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth

Male birth control pill

Predictions

50% A male birth control pill will be commercially available in the US or EU by 2045. (PredictionBook)

Other

Still, 10 years to market seems optimistic to him. It's expensive to make an idea into reality, and lengthy, well-designed studies are required to make sure such a contraceptive is safe, effective and reversible.

The promise of a safe and effective oral male contraceptive "has been always on the verge of becoming a reality, but I feel like I've been hearing that for a long time now," said Najari, who was not involved in the new research. "I think it's going to take at least 10 years, if not longer."

(source)

More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_contraceptive#Research

Man mission to Mars

63%: Will Mars have a permanent population of 10,000 before the Moon does?

1%: Will NASA land people on Mars prior to 2030?

Will SpaceX land people on Mars prior to 2030?

Deepest hole

Predictions

50% A hole will be drilled down to Earth's mantle by 2090. (PredictionBook)

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program has been in operation since 2003 [...] The effort is expected to take many, if not dozens, of years, and may require $1 billion.

More info: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian-whats-deepest-hole-ever-dug-180954349/

Cryptocurrencies

24%: Bitcoins thought to belong to Satoshi Nakamoto will be spent by 2075-04-05. (PredictionBook; Metaculus)

Notes without predictions

Gene editing

Operationalisation

At least one other CRISPR baby will be born by January 2030.

Notes

**Timeline: **https://timelines.issarice.com/wiki/Timeline_of_genetic_engineering_in_humans

Geothermal power

In its 2016 power production report, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) found that only 6 to 7 percent of global geothermal power potential has been tapped. However, production is on the rise and the GEA predicts global geothermal energy production will more than double by 2030. (source)

Electric cars

The main battery technology used to be lead-acid, then came alkaline, then nickel-cadmium, and now lithium-ion in many different chemical configurations. In the future, we expect solid-state batteries, and perhaps boxes with nanoscale flywheels, flow batteries, or supercapacitators.

Bloomberg expects 1,000% (a tenfold) growth between now and 2025, reaching 11% market share for BEVs in the total private vehicle (PV) market by then. It then anticipates another 170% growth from 2025 to about 30% in 2030. That is followed by only 80% growth from 2030 to reach a 55% market share in 2040. Why Bloomberg expects the growth curve to flatten when the products get better and cheaper instead of following the normal S-curve is not discussed.

Battery development is on a technology curve. Characteristics of this curve are a ~14% decline in price ($/kWh) and a 6% increase in density (kWh/kg). Combined with power electronics, battery and motor management computers, motors, and gears, a combined decrease of 7% per year is used.

Environmental concerns call for increasingly stricter exhaust standards, making internal combustion engines and exhaust-treating systems more expensive, resulting in an expected 3% yearly increase.

Drug resistance

Operationalisations

Notes

The number of drug-resistant infections will increase (70 percent)

Antibiotics are great when they work, but because we’ve overused them, more and more infections are becoming resistant to them. 2020 will continue that trend.

I’m basing this prediction on two high-level reports released last year: one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the other from the United Nations. The reports presented some pretty terrifying findings: Resistance to second- and third-line antibiotics (often the last lines of defense) is projected to almost double between 2005 and 2030. If we don’t make a radical change now, drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million people a year by 2050 — up from 700,000 a year now.

Note that I’m not predicting the number of deaths from drug-resistant infections will increase relative to 2019. It’s totally possible to make progress on that front. In fact, such deaths have decreased by 18 percent since 2013, in part because more hospital professionals started to heed experts’ warnings. But even if we manage to stabilize or decrease the death toll, the number of drug-resistant infections could still rise — and the trend suggests that’s likely to happen, because we aren’t addressing our overuse of antibiotics with anything like the necessary speed. — SS

(https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/1/13/21055740/trump-reelection-biden-nomination-brexit-2020-predictions)

Facial recognition

Facial recognition will be banned in at least three more cities (70 percent)

In 2019, we saw a growing backlash against facial recognition technology. San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley banned it in California, as did three communities in Massachusetts: Somerville, Brookline, and Northampton. In 2020, I predict we’ll see at least three more cities institute a ban on the controversial tech.

To be clear, I’m talking about a ban that applies to city departments like police; I think outright bans that would also cover businesses, individuals, and federal agencies are way less likely.

I’m partly going off local news about particular cities — Portland is currently deliberating a ban, and the western Massachusetts city of Springfield might be next. Last year saw mounting pushback against facial recognition from AI researchers, groups like the ACLU, low-income tenants in Brooklyn, and many more. Their protests seem to be growing bolder, not quieter.

I should note that according to Pew Research Center survey data, most Americans are now in favor of police using facial recognition. I don’t think a nationwide ban is in the cards for 2020 (sorry, Bernie). But a lot can still happen on the city level, and I think it will. — SS

(source)

Climate change

Global carbon emissions will increase (80 percent) (source)

Average world temperatures will increase relative to 2019 (60 percent) (source)

California has a wildfire among the 10 most destructive in state history (60 percent)

Future of bets

A recent Supreme Court decision has cleared the way to bring an estimated $300 billion in black-market sports betting into the light. (source)

Prediction on prediction platforms on Foretold

Brain-reading

Notable players: Facebook, Microsoft, Neuralink (source), Nissan (source)

Notable early applications: controller for a VR headset; computer navigation for handicapped people

Metrics: words per minute typed; vocabulary it can detects + accuracy

Currently: In 2013, it was possible to identify which single image was being seen from a set of 120. (source
More info: Brain-reading — Wikipedia; Neuralink — WaitButWhy

Other topics I was interested in predicting

Technology / politics

Internet speed

Fuel cells cars

Antimatter production

Space elevators

Heat resistant material

3D printed building (note: Dubai has built the world's largest 3D printed building)

Small nuclear reactor (note: Pentagon awards contracts to design mobile nuclear reactor — skimmed)

Daily imaging of Earth (see: Planet Labs, Inc.)

Military drones

Remote work: Telehealth

Smart cities; private cities (note: Smart City Will Privately- Owned Towns Drive the Development of Smart Cities? — not read)

Holography (Wikipedia)

Vaccine without needles (not read)

Geothermal energy

Energy consumption

Longevity

Advance autocomplete (ex.: drawing)

Taste viewer

Governance

FDA average years to approve drug

Assisted suicide

Population

World population growth

Fertility rate

Life expectancy

Population density

Most populous cities

Genetically modified animals (operationalisation: If DNA alterations continue to require FDA approval by default, how many intentionally genomic DNA altered animals will be determined as safe to eat, by the end of July 2025? ; Metaculus)

Emergency called automatically

Fintech

Real Estate Sales To Take Place Entirely Online In A Seamless Way

Tokenization And Global Liquidity

Physical money doesn’t exist in the US anymore

More money in proptech

Porn

Porn with created from images of people of your choices

Porn generated by AI based on keywords of your choice

Reinforcement learning to generate porn tailored to your preference

Other

Spoken languages,

North Korea and South Korea unification (PredictionBook)

Eco-economic decoupling

Veganism (Metaculus)

7 comments

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comment by AnthonyC · 2020-11-21T14:11:13.807Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most of your predictions seem extremely reasonable, but your comment about car companies, in 2015, predicting they'd make self-driving cars by 2020, makes me question the sanity of anyone writing those announcements. It takes (and has taken for decades, this is the standard assumption for anyone doing automotive R&D or market research on the industry) 3-5 years to bring a car to production from the time you produce the first concept. Also, 2020 models come out in late 2019. So the only way any of those companies should have made that prediction in 2015 would be if they were ready to unveil a concept within the next couple of months, and believed that there would be literally no additional delays caused by technological or regulatory or supply chain challenges in bringing the first self-driving vehicles to market. 

I wonder if asteroid mining advances will finally prod governments into developing defenses against Earth-bound asteroids. "Multiple private and foreign actors can direct big chunks of space rock at you, at will, and you won't find out until after they've done it" is so much more motivating than "Someday an asteroid could spontaneously wipe us all out."

On drug resistance: changes in medical practice about antibiotic use are important and I hope they continue, but I think the bigger shift is going to come from livestock production. Cellular agriculture would be great for that (probably), but in the meantime we're already finally starting to see serious investments in prebiotics, probiotics, vaccines, bacteriophage therapies, and other treatments and feed additives.

Subjectively, this year I've noticed a huge increase in new foods appearing in normal grocery stores - plant based meats being one example. These are often products that have exited for a while but are just now leaving specialty and higher end stores. I've been assuming it's not coincidence that this seemed to happen right in the middle of covid-induced supply chain disruptions (stores want to fill their shelves with something). I think that shaves a few years off my expected timeline for the shift away from conventional livestock.

comment by Mati_Roy (MathieuRoy) · 2020-11-22T03:46:23.060Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That all makes sense to me:)

comment by jmh · 2020-11-21T17:19:51.523Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regarding the CRISPR babies, hasn't that already happened?

https://apnews.com/article/4997bb7aa36c45449b488e19ac83e86d

comment by Mati_Roy (MathieuRoy) · 2020-11-22T03:48:25.814Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The prediction is (emphasis added)

At least one other CRISPR baby will be born by January 2030.

Is the article you linked mentioning a second one? (I doubt because I looked into it after that article was published, and even wrote a wiki page on it)

comment by gwern · 2020-11-22T15:26:35.287Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You missed the third baby announced as part of the trial:

Dr. He, 35, sent the scientific world into an uproar last year when he announced at a conference in Hong Kong that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls. On Monday, China’s state media said his work had resulted in a third genetically edited baby, who had been previously undisclosed...“He violated medical ethics, disrespected life and let three poor children bear the consequences, all for his fame and fortune,” one user wrote. “I think this punishment is too light.”

comment by Mati_Roy (MathieuRoy) · 2020-11-23T21:16:57.759Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

oh, thanks!