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The following are extracts from the mirai nenpyo (future timeline) database prepared by the team led by Masataka Yoshikawa, research director of the Institute of Life and Living at Hakuhodo Inc., Japan’s second-largest advertising agency. By collecting vast amounts of published information spanning many fields concerning the future, the team aims to objectively assess the data in an effort to, as Yoshikawa puts it, “Try to grasp the direction it points to and get a bird’s-eye view of trends into the future.”

If you are curious to glimpse into some parts of the data these professional analysts collected, read on . . .

IT and Telecoms

2007: A teleconferencing system displaying life-size images of people in different locations will hit the market, making them feel like they are all in the same room.

2010: The Japanese telecoms ministry develops a computer system that automatically detects factual errors and groundless rumors on the Internet.

2015: All villages worldwide are connected to the Internet.

2025: Phones fitted with real-time interpreting systems go on the market.

2043: Print newspapers disappear from the United States.

Technology

2010: A U.S.-Japan joint project creates a 32-nanometer (that’s 32 billionths of a meter in size) semiconductor.

2010: A U.S. hotel chain opens a hotel in space.

2025: Robots that can save drowning people become popular.

2030: The cost of solar-energy generation falls to equal that generated by nuclear power.

2050: Humanoid soccer players are developed.

Medicine

2009: The World Health Organization beefs up the production capabilities of vaccines against avian flu to cover a third of the world’s population.

2010: The number of AIDS patients in China reaches 10 million; everyone in the developing world gets access to AIDS treatment; and the number of AIDS-related orphans in sub-Saharan Africa tops 18 million.

2020: The first cloned human being is born.

2030: Carcinogens in the environment are identified, making it possible to prevent cancer.

2100: One billion people die from smoking-related diseases in the 21st century.

Population

2020: Forty percent of Japan’s population is aged 60 or over.

2050: The world population [which was around 3 billion in 1960] tops 9.1 billion.

2050: Some 21.7 percent of the world’s population are aged 60 or over.

2100: Japan’s population is halved from the present number, to 64 million.

Environment

2050: About 1 million of today’s species of terrestrial animals and plants become extinct due to global warming.

2100: Temperatures in Japan rise by 2 to 3 degrees on average, and average temperatures in Tokyo rise to the level of current temperatures in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Kyushu.

2100: The wild raccoon population surges in the Kanto region, causing headaches for municipal governments.

2100: Sea level rises by about 50 cm due to global warming.

Others

2016: China leaves Japan behind in terms of GDP.

2020: As the number of single men in Japan continues to rise, 24 percent in their 40s remain unmarried.

2025: China becomes the world’s largest economy, topping that of the U.S.

2025: Single-person households account for 35 percent of all households in Japan.

2075: More than 4 billion people worldwide are affected by water shortages.

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