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Looking forward to the future

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

A friend recently sent me an article about changes we might experience in the foreseeable future. I have taken the most impressive and realistic of the 40 or so predictions I believe might be possible.

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85 per cent of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. Who would have thought of that ever happening?

It has been predicted that what happened to Kodak and Polaroid will happen to a lot of industries in the next five to 10 years.

Did you think in 1998 three years later you would never take pictures on film again? With today’s smart phones, who even uses a camera?

The basic auto repair shops will disappear. A car engine has over 1,000 individual parts. An electrical motor has 200. Electric cars may eventually be sold with lifetime guarantees and may be repaired only by dealers. Supposedly it will take only an hour to remove and replace an electric motor.

Gas pumps will go away. Street corners will have meters that dispense electricity. Companies will install electrical recharging stations. In fact, they’ve already started in Oshawa at the back of the Best Western on Bloor Street and perhaps in many other places as well.

Smart major auto manufacturers have already designated money to start building new plants that build only electric cars. Goodbye GM.

The coal and gas industry will go away. The Middle East is in trouble and so are the tar sands unless people realistically look at future needs.

Software has disrupted and will continue to disrupt most traditional industries over the next five to 10 years.

Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Ask any taxi driver if they saw that coming.

Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. Ask Wyndham or Marriott Hotels if they saw that coming.

Most traditional car companies will no doubt become bankrupt. They will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.

Look at what Volvo is doing right now; no more internal combustion engines in their vehicles starting this year with the 2020 models, using all electric or hybrid only, with the intent of phasing out hybrid models. Look at all the companies offering all electric vehicles – that was unheard of only a few years ago.

It is predicted electric cars will become mainstream about 2030. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. Of course, hopefully cities will have much cleaner air as well.

Facebook now has pattern recognition software which can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, will computers become more intelligent than humans?

Solar power has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact, and it’s just getting ramped up. Fossil energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that simply cannot continue – technology will take care of that strategy.

The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There are companies which have already built a medical device called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek which works with your phone. It takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breathe into it.  It then analyses 54 biomarkers to identify nearly any disease. There are dozens of phone apps out there right now for health.

And too think, I’m still having trouble using all the features of my iPhone, but I can still access your emails at