Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft who left the company in 2020, wrote a note for the end of the year on Thursday filled with reflections on the pandemic and 2021. But Gates also included some predictions for the future, and they could give some clues as to where technology companies looking for the next 2-5 years.
From the outset, it should be noted that Gates has mixed results in predictions. As early as 1987, Gates accurately predicted that the world of the 21st century would be filled with flat-screen displays, but he also believed that we would get rid of credit cards. until 2007. We are still waiting for that.
What does Gates see in his crystal ball over the next few years? Here are five of his predictions, but you can read the full post at his website.
1) The worst covid-19 pandemic will pass in 2022.
First, the good news. Gates believes the worst pandemic will be done sometime in 2022. That doesn’t mean everything will return to normal from 2019, but it will be much better, Gates says.
From a blog post by Gates, points out his:
Due to the Delta variant and the challenge with vaccine adoption, we are not as close to the end of the pandemic as I had hoped so far. I did not foresee that such a highly portable variant would emerge, and I underestimated how difficult it would be to convince people to take the vaccine and continue to use masks.
I in the morning yet we hope the end is finally in sight. It might be silly to make another prediction, but I think the acute phase of the pandemic will come by the end of 2022.
Notably, Gates did not predict how the unvaccinated would fare by the end of 2022. The U.S. reported 123,484 new covid-19 cases and 1,294 deaths on Thursday, with the most severely affected still among the unvaccinated.
2) Meetings will be customary in the metaverse within 2-3 years.
Gates is fully committed to the idea that the metaverse is still in sight, much like Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook. And Gates he thinks it will change the way we conduct meetings.
In the next two or three years, I predict that most virtual meetings will move to 2D network camera images – what I call Hollywood squares model, although I know it probably dates me back – with a metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars. Both Facebook and Microsoft recently presented their visions for this, which gave most people a first look at what it would look like.
The idea is that you will eventually use your avatar to meet people in a virtual space that replicates the feeling of being with them in a real room. To do this, you’ll need something like VR goggles and motion-recording gloves to accurately capture your facial expressions, body language, and voice quality. Most people do not yet have these tools, which will slow down adoption to some extent. (One of the things that allowed video chats to change quickly was the fact that many people already had computers or camera phones.) Microsoft plans to introduce a temporary version next year, which uses your webcam to animate the avatar used in current 2D settings.
The first question you may ask is “why?” What does this accomplish? That’s a great question. And if you have an answer, we’d love to hear it. Because we don’t know either.
3) People will have a robust possibilities of health diagnostics at home.
Return to 1960s, people predicted that in time everyone would have a computer that would be able to perform medical diagnostics at home. And Gates did not give up on that dream.
Right now, when it’s time for the annual checkup, you probably need to go to the office to have your vital values and blood taken out. But what if you have a device at home that your doctor can use to remotely monitor your blood pressure? What if he or she can look at the data collected from your smartwatch to see how you sleep and what your active heart rate is? What if you can test your blood in a suitable place in your neighborhood – perhaps at a local pharmacy – that sends the results directly to your doctor? What if you could continue to see a primary care physician you like even if you move to another state?
These are all realistic possibilities in the future and I am curious to see how they will transform healthcare. In addition to the limitations of technology and privacy, there are regulatory barriers that we need to understand before digital healthcare becomes truly mainstream. Some states still make it difficult for patients to be practically pregnant because of the way licensing currently works.
The chances of your smartwatch becoming a home health monitor seem very likely. But honestly, we’re still waiting for many apps and sensors to make that possible.
4) A blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is likely to be approved.
Gates is extremely optimistic about many medical advances he believes are very close, including a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.
Another area to look out for in 2022 is Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Much progress has recently been made in this area, and there is a decent chance that the first affordable blood test for Alzheimer’s disease will be approved next year. While this will not yet change the game for people who have the disease – which currently has no cure or even a way to slow it down – this test will accelerate progress in the search for a breakthrough in treatment.
5) 2022 will be the year for the “new normal”.”
While Gates said he believes the worst pandemic will end in 2022, at the end of his post he explains that we will all settle into a new version of the normal, even if many remnants of the COVID-19 health crisis continue.
I think 2022 will be the year when many of us finally settle into a new normal after the pandemic. For me, that will mean going to the office a little more because we hope the number of COVID cases will drop. I want to find a new rhythm at home now that all three of my children have moved away and my day is not so structured around finding time to spend time with them. I look forward to spending more time hanging out with people through my blog and other channels. I’d like to keep my COVID-era habit of watching a lot of educational videos on YouTube and subscription services like Wondrium, because these are really great ways to learn about obscure topics. (Now I know more about glassmaking, bird watching, and the history of American Samoa than I ever expected.)
Again, Gates has a poor record of predictions. But it’s hard to blame his optimism for most of the predictions on this list. Everyone a little healthier and a little more normal? Sign us up, please.