Some people believe The Notorious B.I.G. predicted the 9/11 terror attacks in his song ‘Juicy’. Others have accepted that an octopus can see into the future in order to tell the world which team will win a particular sporting match.
But one man has made far more accurate predictions about the way the future would pan out: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
His 1999 book, titled Business @ the Speed of Thought, looked at where technology was heading, way ahead of the pace of development.
Five years before Facebook or any other social media site was created, the philanthropist predicted: “Private websites for your friends and family will be common, allowing you to chat and plan for events… 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.”
I bet when Gates made this hypothesis, he couldn’t have imagined how massive sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Reddit would become, and the influence it has on everyday life.
He also had a keen eye as to how advertising would evolve, with the help of the Internet: “Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences… Television broadcasts will include links to relevant websites and content that complement what you are watching.”
Gates also predicted we would see the arrival of “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.”
Before spam emails were anywhere near as big a deal, Gates could see companies using analytics and trackable data to send people deals and promotional offers. He also saw automated price comparison sites being a huge player in the online sales market.
But the billionaire could also see how the world was finally going to be blessed with smartphones: “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.”
In 1999, we were only just getting used to those indestructible Nokia phones. While games like Snake kept many of us preoccupied, Bill could see the potential of mobile technology.
Maybe we should start asking him who he thinks will win the next FIFA World Cup and see if his powers of prediction extend beyond technology.