Business thinkers still pondering what sort of social, economic and cultural shakeups will define 2010 are officially behind. That's because Fast Company's own contributor, ultra-wonk and professional futurist Richard Watson just released this Trends & Technology Timeline charting the estimated arrival of global innovation through 2050! (For a PDF version, click here.)
As Watson explains on his blog, these incredibly complex musings are modeled off a simple subway map with 16 main arteries representing the path of "everything from society & culture to news & media," as it shuttles inexorably into the outer boroughs of distant time zones. Stops along the way: micro-insurance, calorie taxes, and a single global e-currency to name just a few.
The result is impressive, if complicated. Our future really looks more like a series of mini-advances all hitched and looped together into some sort of giant, sea-change-powering circuit board. Consider it an intimate look at the going-ons at Watson's own think tank, the Global Innovation Network. After all, he's written the book on scenario forecasting and consulted for corporate heavies like Virgin, Toyota, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola.
Will some of these predictions fall flat? Undoubtedly. Will you get more lost using this map than the actual MTA subway map that inspired it? Most definitely. But find a line and you'll find some of this to be wonderfully prescient. The point for company execs is to remember to keep thinking beyond the next quarter. For still short-sighted visionaries, we recommend pre-ordering your own pair of augmented reality contact lenses. They should be available as early as 2025.