I’d be surprised if anyone drew a blank upon hearing the name, Bill Gates.
Gates is only the co-founder of Microsoft. So if you’ve ever had the pleasure of using a Microsoft computer or the softwares Microsoft Word or Excel, you have Gates to thank. In fact, you may even be reading this on Internet Explorer, another brain-child of Bill’s. But perhaps, Gates’ biggest achievement is that he was at the forefront of the personal computer revolution – making such technology accessible for all.
Yes, it was Bill Gates who paved the way for all nineties children to wile away their time on internet games and desktop solitaire. And for that, we’re eternally grateful.
Consequently, it goes without saying that Gates is a man of formidable intelligence – but I wasn’t aware that he was also capable of seeing the future. Because that’s exactly what he seemed to have done in 1999 when he published a book which accurately predicted how technology would look today.
Gates, who has upheld the title of America’s richest man for 23 consecutive years, proved himself to be rather prophetic as the predictions he made in his 1999 book, Business at the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy, all ring true in 2017 – 18 years later.
Whilst I’m sure that Gates’ ideas must have sounded farcical to his peers, nearly all have manifested as our reality today. I guess that we are well and truly living in the future…
1. Price Comparison Websites
Booked a flight or wanted to get the best deal on your car insurance? You’ve surely had a browse on price comparison websites such as Go Compare and Money Super Market. And Gates accurately spotted the gap in the market for such websites when he prophesied in 1999,
“Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.”
2. Personal “Assistants”
If you’ve ever watched the movie Her, which details what happens when a man falls in love with his robotic “assistant” (aka Siri), you’ll probably be seeing something similar to what Gates imagined in the nineties (minus the romance). Gates said that technology would evolve to the point that we would have what he called, “personal companions”. He specified that they would be in charge of connecting and syncing technological devices in a “smart” way and that they would “check your emails or notifications, and present the information you need”.
And that’s exactly what Siri and a host of other applications can do for us now. Just take a look at Amazon’s Alexa, the Amazon Echo, as well as Google Now.
3. Online management of finances and health
Gates stated that future technology would allow people to manage their finances and healthcare online: “people will pay their bills, take care of their finances, and communicate with their doctors over the internet.”
And I certainly manage my finances via my bank’s handy app. Whilst online healthcare isn’t something that everyone does just yet, it is starting to come into the mainstream with companies such as Push Doctor and I-GP offering online consultations with licensed doctors.
4. Smart Advertising
If you’ve ever been browsing your favourite shopping website and then go on Facebook, you’ll notice that that shirt you were eyeing up earlier has followed you there. This unique, albeit annoying phenomenon is another advancement that Gates accurately predicted. Advertisers are now able to target us based on our click history, personal interests and spending patterns:
“Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences.”
5. Social Media
Last but most definitely not least, Gates predicted the biggest phenomenon of our era: social media. I mean, what would our lives be if we couldn’t mindlessly document them for everyone to see? The birth of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have forever changed the way we interact with our friends and family outside personal, one-to-one interactions. Here is what Gates said in 1999:
“Private websites for your friends and family will be common, allowing you to chat and plan for events.”
Now I don’t know about you but my mind is officially blown. Either Bill gates is capable of time-travel or he is just a pure and simple genius. Either way, he truly deserves those billions.