- Doomsday equation (1960): Heinz von Foerster extrapolated historical population data to predict an infinite human population for 2026.
- Future Shock (1970) by Alvin Toffler considered change moving too fast for humans to cope.
- Engines of Creation (1986) by K. Eric Drexler which involves molecular nanotechnology changing the world, and introduces the grey goo scenario.
- The End of History and the Last Man (1992, by Francis Fukuyama) heralded the arrival of the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” Its thesis has since been disavowed by its author.
- The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington, published in Foreign Affairs, Volume 72, Number 3, Summer 1993 and later expanded into a book, states “the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
- The Coming Technological Singularity (1993, by Vernor Vinge) – a prediction of imminent acceleration of progress caused by increasing speed of computers and developments in AI.
- An Illustrated Speculative Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change (1993-2008, by J.R. Mooneyham)
- Ray Kurzweil is concerned with the idea of the singularity and many more optimistic technological and transhumanist predictions.
- “Why the future doesn’t need us” (April 2000) – an essay warning about the dangers of robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology to humanity. The essay has achieved wide exposure because of Bill Joy‘s prominence.
- Arthur C. Clarke:
No one can see into the future. What I try to do is outline possible “futures” – although totally expected inventions or events can render predictions absurd after only a few years. The classic example is the statement, made in the late 1940s, by the then chairman of IBM that the world market for computers was five. I have more than that in my own office.
Perhaps I am in no position to criticize: in 1971 I predicted the first Mars Landing in 1994; now we’ll be lucky if we make it by 2010. On the other hand, I thought I was being wildly optimistic in 1951 by suggesting a mission to the moon in 1978. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin beat me by almost a decade.
Still, I take pride in the fact that communications satellites are placed exactly where I suggested in 1945, and the name “Clarke Orbit” is often used (if only because it’s easier to say than “geostationary orbit”).
Some of the event listed here, particularly the space missions, are already scheduled. I believe all the other events could happen, although several, I hope, will not. Check me for accuracy – on December 31, 2000.— Visions of the World to Come (November 2001, by Arthur C. Clarke) – Clarke presents a speculative timeline of the 21st century.
- Tomorrow Now: Imagining the Next 50 Years by Bruce Sterling in 2002. A popular science approach on futurology, reflecting technology, politics and culture of the next 50 years.
- Our Final Hour by Martin Rees in 2003. The book presents the notion that the Earth and human survival are in far greater danger from the potential effects of modern technology than is commonly realised. Hence the 21st century may be a critical moment in history when humanity’s fate is decided. Rees gained controversy, and notoriety, by estimating that the probability of extinction before 2100 AD is around 50%. This is based on the possibility of malign or accidental release of destructive technology and gained some attention as he is a well-regarded astronomer.
- Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs in 2004. As it implies the book warns of a pessimistic future, in this case caused by a decay in science, community, and education.