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Predictions for the Next Century of History

Updated on July 13, 2017
Thomas Swan profile image

Dr. Thomas Swan studied cognition and culture at Queen's University Belfast. He enjoys exploring the interplay between politics and culture.

Predicting the future is easy for some.
Predicting the future is easy for some. | Source

A Timeline for Future Events

From Nostradamus to George Orwell, history is replete with prophets, oracles, and fanciful science fiction authors. Each shared a fervor for fathoming the future, and a desire to dispel the doubt that punctuates it. Ultimately, the prescience of these augurs mattered far less than the distribution of their optimism. Humankind's need to know is indiscriminate, injudicious, and indefatigable.

The next century will be a journey of unprecedented tribulation, revolution, and innovation. Three `ages' chronicle our passage though time, divided as they are by significant turning points in human history.

The Age of Stagnation

2017 - The US becomes more antagonistic towards Iran. A war breaks out between Iran and the Islamic State. America covertly supplies the Islamic State through Arab intermediaries, while Russia supplies the Iranians. The crisis in Gaza takes a back seat in the media, allowing Israel to capture more territory while their enemies destroy themselves.

2018 - There is a colossal earthquake in San Francisco measuring close to 8.0 on the Richter Scale. A lack of recent large earthquakes is blamed for causing a buildup of tension in the crust. Comparisons are made with the Great 1906 quake.

2019 - A fatal accident involving hundreds of driverless cars results in them being banned in several countries. Development of the technology is halted. Industry experts say a signal blackout caused the machines to crash, but warn that banning them was a gross overreaction. Conspiracy theorists publish data suggesting the accident was the result of sabotage.

2020 - As the conflict in the Middle East grinds to a stalemate, animosity between the US and Russia reaches breaking point. Russia organizes a bloc of anti-American countries, and a second Cold War begins. Both countries begin a process of rearmament and posturing. With history repeating itself, protests erupt around the world. The protesters believe world leaders are manufacturing conflict to justify the need for authoritarian governments.

2021 - A virulent form of flu kills millions of people in the developing world. Cases appear in developed nations, with the media calling it "horse flu" for its similarity to a virus found in the animals. Tentative suggestions of biological warfare are made by government agencies on social media. After the story is picked up by mainstream outlets, the public are bombarded with news about Russian bio-weapons. Moscow remarks that they're suffering just as much as Western nations.

2022 - European and American governments attempt to pass a law in which all internet access is monitored and policed. They cite the need for "vigilance in an increasingly unstable world". Governments remind the public of recent political scandals and the need for transparency. The resultant protests turn violent, causing politicians to delay passing the new law.

2023 - After repeated attempts to detect dark matter fail, scientists concede that it probably doesn't exist. The particle physics profession is blamed for their eagerness to frame every physics problem in terms of missing particles. Other theories gain prominence, such as the idea that the law of gravity operates differently over extremely large distances.

2024 - A coordinated terrorist attack hits London, Paris, and Washington. The British government releases `intelligence' claiming the plot was organized by Russian immigrants in internet chat rooms. Western nations approve web monitoring laws with overwhelming political support. Thousands of Russians are deported, and foreigners from all nations become the focus of increased suspicion.

War and terrorism will continue throughout the 1st half of the next century.
War and terrorism will continue throughout the 1st half of the next century. | Source

2025 - Church attendance increases substantially. The phenomenon is investigated by psychologists who confirm that anxiety, uncertainty, and fear cause people to seek comfort in religion or other illusory sources of order and control. Atheists promote this discovery, causing millions to accept that their theistic and afterlife beliefs are `wishful thinking'. As a deconversion movement gains momentum, people begin to suspect that politicians utilize anxiety and fear in the same way to bolster support for governments.

2026 - Obesity reaches record levels in developed nations. Some countries resort to banning hamburgers and other fatty foods. A "hamburger black market" opens up and overweight people become the subject of increased suspicion and disdain.

2027 - Virgin Galactic makes its first commercial orbital spaceflight. However, it ends in disaster as veteran entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is killed. The broken craft is left orbiting the Earth for several months with a frozen Branson floating inside.

2028 - One of the fault lines in the Second Cold War ignites as India and Pakistan trade blows. America and Russia sell weapons to the two sides, securing huge profits for their arms industries.

2029 - Geneticists discover that DNA includes a huge amount of obsolete information. By reactivating parts of the code, ancient adaptations can be bought forth. One geneticist famously uses the technique to create a bird with reptilian scales.

2030 - Global warming hits the news again as several small islands disappear in the Pacific. Melting ice is blamed, but scientists later confirm the disappearance was caused by volcanic activity. Republican extremists use the event to push their view that global warming isn't happening. Meanwhile, a rise in the US Senate electricity bill is blamed by political commentators on `excessive use of air conditioning'.

2031 - As the Second Cold War rumbles on, a huge international protest movement forms. Several million people line the streets in cities around the world. A section of the Washington protest storms the White House, taking the President hostage. In an attempt to divide the protesters, some of the mainstream media report that the hostage-takers are backed by Russian money. The BBC, Fox News, and other establishment media have their studios ransacked by protesters, temporarily ending their ability to broadcast. Social media ensures that the hostage-takers remain popular in subsequent weeks. Many social media outlets experience "technical difficulties" which are blamed on increased traffic to the sites. Special forces are sent into the White House. The President is rescued and all his captors are killed. Before they die, the hostage-takers release a video claiming they never intended to harm the President. They become martyrs in many people's eyes.

2032 - After elections that are almost won by anti-war independents, the US and Russia agree a temporary truce to deescalate the Second Cold War. Both governments take the opportunity to suppress dissent in their countries. With the world economy in recession, it becomes easy to turn people against one-another. Protesters are blamed for the economic downturn because they are anti-capitalist.

2033 - With the economy in recession, attempts to develop renewable energies are suspended because they are "too costly". Oil company profits quickly recover.

2034 - Engineers develop a robot that can clean houses, putting thousands of immigrants out of work. Many are forced to leave, causing right-wing politicians to applaud the development. However, the technology is introduced into numerous other jobs, such as shopkeeping, trash collection, and even agriculture. To the dismay of right-wingers, this causes a glut in the number of people applying for welfare.

Robot laborers will force millions of people into unemployment.
Robot laborers will force millions of people into unemployment. | Source

2035 - The first manned spaceflight to Mars departs for the red planet. Six months later, the craft lands on the surface and deploys portable laboratories and accommodation. Transmissions from the research team enthrall the world and trigger a surge in the number of children wanting to become astronauts.

2036 - The Mars broadcasts result in liberal, progressive governments coming to power around the world.

2037 - Robot workers are introduced to the teaching profession. They are programmed with lesson plans and a disciplinary system that involves recording problem behavior and sending it directly to parents' computers.

2038 - Africa descends into a continental war between Muslim and Christian nations. The increasingly atheist Western world takes the unusual position of not interfering, though they sell arms to the Christians. Middle Eastern nations support the Muslims.

2039 - A terrorist attack in America is blamed on Muslim fundamentalists. America and Europe send stealth drones to Africa with sleep-wave warheads to incapacitate groups of Muslim fighters. The sleeping Muslims are subsequently slaughtered by Christian fighters. Western governments protest but continue the strikes.

2040 - Right-wing governments return to power in the West. Troops are deployed to North Africa to fight the Muslims. The war ends quicker than expected when retreating North African Muslims agree to secular style democracies in which all religions are represented equally.

2041 - Right-wing groups succeed in having robot teachers and nurses banned. They cite the need for a more `human interaction' and make use of complaints from some parents. However, approval ratings for the mechanical workers remain high.

2042 - Oil supplies are running low, putting a huge strain on energy prices. A decade of stifling the renewable energy sector has added to the problem. With what seems like perfect timing, the first commercial fusion reactor comes online. The technology is hailed as revolutionary, but the prospect of a ten year trial period is labelled `excessive' by progressives.

2043 - America begins posturing with China over its dominance in the Pacific and its apparent antagonism towards Australia. The media becomes awash with news about Chinese weapon deployment and spies. However, the public's reaction in Western nations is unexpectedly pacifistic. The general consensus is "we've seen it all before". A movement emerges in Britain for the establishment of a new political system...

The Age of Wonder

2044 - For the first time, a Direct Democracy comes into force in Britain. The public are issued with electronic devices that allow them to vote each morning on the day's issues. Politicians are completely removed from the decision making process. Their only job is to determine the questions being asked and to enact the public will. The list of questions is supplemented by popular public petitions.

2045 - The success of the British government in reforming public services results in similar movements appearing around the world. Elections are called early in some nations to fast-track the new system of governance.

2046 - Bans on robot workers and driverless cars are lifted in many nations, and fusion technology is passed as fit for widespread use. Unemployment skyrockets, but the cost of buying energy and food is drastically reduced. The capitalist system begins to falter without the economic slavery of the working classes. Many commentators suggest that this is why new technologies were held back for so many years by the rich and powerful.

2047 - As unemployment becomes a major problem, emergency welfare deals are put in place to fund the poor. Many rich people flee to countries where they can still exploit manned labor.

2048 - Money is abolished for public use in many Western nations. It is replaced by resource entitlements. Individuals submit their requirements to the state, which are approved or amended based on a sensible allocation of resources. Energy is freely dispensed, and food is delivered to doors by robot labor. Mortgaged and rented houses become fully owned, with rich people being compensated for their losses with more luxurious properties.

2049 - Unemployment surpasses 70%. Outside of entertainment and sport, the only jobs not occupied by robot workers are creative, academic, or highly skilled professions. Despite this, many leave these jobs because there is no incentive to remain. Governments are instructed to increase entitlements to those in work and those acquiring an education.

2050 - The virtual reality profession grows at an unprecedented rate as people seek new ways to spend their free time. Science degrees become equally popular.

2051 - Voters agree to a proportional reduction in their resource allocation in order to support a manned space mission to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The mission will make stops at colonies on the Moon and Mars to swap supplies with fuel for the journey. It will be powered by fusion rockets, cutting the journey time in half.

2052 - A scientist presents the first cyborg. It is constructed from machine parts, but the brain encased in the head is that of a previously paralyzed woman who volunteered for the procedure. In addition to being stronger than the average human, the cyborg is expected to live for as long as her brain remains in steady health.

2053 - The cyborg unveiling leads to a flood of people wanting to undergo the same procedure. Some are completely healthy, but are attracted by the perks of having a durable new body.

2055 - After a decade of increasing drug-use, people take the unusual step of voting to legalize all drugs. The caveat is that drugs are only dispensed to existing users in state-operated clinics. The move forces drug dealers out of business, bringing reductions in crime, the rate of new users, and the resources needed to tackle the problem.

2057 - A virtual reality system is devised that is indistinguishable from the real world. It requires a person to put on a sensory suit that covers the entire body. Sights, sounds, smells and touch are all perfectly replicated, though taste is understandably difficult. People are given the opportunity to create their own programs and scenarios with computer generated characters. They can even interact with real people via avatars.

Virtual reality reaches new dimensions in the next century.
Virtual reality reaches new dimensions in the next century. | Source

2060 - The mission to Jupiter and Saturn's moons gets underway. In just under a year, it arrives at Jupiter and puts a research team on Europa. Later, the mission puts teams on Saturn's moons, Enceladus and Titan.

2062 - A malicious computer virus infects a number of cyborgs, causing them to behave independently of their host brains. The cyborgs go on a rampage, punching holes through buildings and beating up robot workers. This continues until the cyborg's metal parts are bent and buckled beyond repair. In some cases, the host brain dies as a result of damage to life support systems.

2065 - The first signs of life are detected in the solar system. A type of microbial pollen is found in the watery plumes of Enceladus. However, the microbes all appear to be in a state of perennial hibernation.

2067 - Ten years after the inception of virtual reality, and addiction to the technology has become an inevitable problem. The most applied for item in every resource entitlement is the machine's sexual attachment.

2070 - The same dormant microbial pollen is discovered on Jupiter's moon, Europa, baffling scientists. They begin to suspect that the pollen didn't evolve naturally on the moons.

2072 - An atmospheric net is invented that can harvest enough solar energy to power the world several times over. Fusion power stations are gradually phased out. It is remarked that the new technology should have been invented several decades earlier, but it was held back by powerful individuals affiliated with oil companies.

2073 - The microbial pollen is found to have a signature in its molecular structure that could only have been put there by an intelligent being of some kind. Scientists suggest that life on Earth evolved from this same pollen, and that Earth's ancestral environment is what activated its properties. Tests confirm that the pollen becomes active under ancient Earth-like conditions. The hunt for intelligent life in the Milky Way takes on a new vigor.

2076 - A disease appears among people addicted to virtual reality. It's called phase calibration syndrome (PCS), or just `the phase' to most people. Essentially, the body's biological systems become so disconnected from reality that they begin to speed up or slow down, causing their abrupt and often fatal failure. Time restrictions are imposed to prevent the condition developing, though the restrictions are less severe for cyborgs. This prompts more people to exchange their healthy bodies for mechanical ones.

2078 - Studies are finding that cyborgs are living well into their hundreds with few signs of degradation, though brain diseases are on the rise.

2081 - With the advent of new propulsion engines that rely on forming a `gravity trench' to pull a vessel through space, a mission to our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is proposed. The journey will take a decade, but millions of people volunteer.

2083 - For the first time in history, the birth-rate drops below the death-rate. Despite the longevity of cyborgs, virtual reality has seen a profound reduction in the number of people starting families. Increasingly realistic artificial intelligences are blamed for providing too many people with `perfect mates'. The ability to physically and mentally customize these artificial life partners is especially appealing.

The Age of Serenity

2086 - Scientists discover a way to halt the aging process by infecting people with a genetic virus that stimulates telomerase production and repairs damaged DNA. Many are worried that using the virus may also stop the evolutionary process by deleting useful mutations.

2088 - Uptake of the `immortality serum' in people over 21 years old is almost universal. Those still clinging to religious ideas voice their concern that heaven will be unreachable for most of the population. However, many religious people take the serum anyway. It's suggested that real immortality appeals more than one requiring faith.

2090 - Contrary to expectations, Earth's population has become more concerned with survival than ever before. The streets are populated almost exclusively by robots. They zoom from building to building, delivering food and performing maintenance. The human population is hidden away in their homes, fearful of walking in front of a bus or falling down a storm drain. No-one wants to lose out on several million years of existence.

2093 - The mission to Proxima Centauri departs on schedule. Constructed in orbit, it is the largest ship ever built. Hundreds of deathless humans make the journey with hydroponics and recycling equipment to last them indefinitely. Though the search for intelligent life is likely to continue for many centuries, reaching our nearest star is seen as the first milestone.

2096 - As Earth's population begins to increase once more, people begin leaving for colonies on the Moon, Mars, and the rocky moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Construction begins on more "Great Ships" to take adventurers to other stars.

2100 - The new century is celebrated in style. Onlookers watch as robot laborers initiate the launch of fireworks from the solar net. Earth's atmosphere is covered with an array of color. The spectacle is visible from Titan.

2103 - Missions are launched to the Sirius star system and Gliese 581. It's hoped the Gliese mission will establish a colony on one of the extrasolar planets that orbit the star. Despite recent improvements to propulsion technology, the Gliese mission will take several decades to reach its goal.

We'll begin our quest to colonize exoplanets in the next century.
We'll begin our quest to colonize exoplanets in the next century. | Source

2104 - Spare human bodies become all the craze. These brainless clones are grown with an interface that allows for the implantation of a host brain. The bodies find many uses, such as sexual gratification, switching genders, or simply looking more beautiful. Acquiring clones of other people is strictly prohibited, though a black market emerges, and impersonation becomes a popular crime.

2107 - Billions watch as the first transmission from Proxima Centauri is received. The red dwarf star shines darker than our Sun, and its alien light fascinates the watching public. After the crew agrees to keep exploring, the craft is sent to other stars in the local neighborhood.

2111 - A breakthrough in propulsion technology results in small ships being sent to intercept and upgrade the engines of the Proxima Centauri, Gliese 581, and Sirius missions.

2113 - Scientists discover how to download a human mind onto a computer. Though few people volunteer for the procedure, the idea of complete mechanization is attractive to an extreme group of cyborgs called `mechanoids'.

2115 - Mechanoids discover they can upgrade their memory and processing systems. This allows them to acquire huge quantities of information with little effort. They become the most intelligent beings in the solar system, prompting many humans to follow in their footsteps. With such vast intellects at its disposal, the human race advances at an astonishing pace towards a complete mastery of space and time.

How many of these predictions will come true?

See results

This timeline of predictions for the next century has in no way been pillaged from the diary of a notorious time traveler. Nevertheless, if any of these visions for the future do not come to pass, you may complain until however many hearts you have are content by using the comments box below.

© 2014 Thomas Swan

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    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 2 years ago from Spain

      Really interesting article. Personally I think that the line between science fiction and science will be completely blurred in the next few years, and technology will move on even faster than we expect or could ever imagine.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
      Author

      Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Healthyannie, I'm glad you found it interesting. I was definitely going for `realistic' science fiction, so I agree with you about lines getting blurred in the near future. Our rate of scientific and technological development has been accelerating for some time. Even twenty years from now, the world could look very different. I worry that those in power may try to prevent it. The closer we come to absolute luxury, the further we go from social inequality.

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 2 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Fascinating article Thomas. An entirely plausible, but scary vision of the next 100 years. I, for one would stubbornly resist any kind of genetic engineering and I certainly wouldn't want a robot companion.

      I've often contemplated writing a hub like yours, but mine would be far more dystopian in nature.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 2 years ago from Canada

      Wow. Shades of 1984 and Asimov. Some of these things are so entirely possible, it is scary. Even in our lifetimes, who could have imagined some of the things we now use everyday. Well done!

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 2 years ago from Jaipur

      Funny, very very funny and I rated the same with an up!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      I wrote a series of short stories about Gliese 581 that took place on a Eartlike moon of one of the extrasolar planets of that system. So it's interesting to find it here. I think I would speed up the timetable a little. In the coming century I think technology will proceed at a frighteningly exponentIal pace and things we can't even conceive of will be developed.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      Hi Thomas, interesting future world you predict! Regarding the cold war, it looks that your predictions are accelerating.

      Perhaps even more fascinating that we nearly at the same time published Hubs about time - you about the near future and me about the history. Good luck. Voted up.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 2 years ago

      Very imaginative but I doubt we make it to 2115 unless we dial things back. I think the Polar shift drops the electric grid and just about everything falls apart. Most likely its Armageddon but lets say its not and life just travels on. Oil runs out as the World grows more polluted and continues to warm then what?

    • Thomas Swan profile image
      Author

      Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks JKenny. Yea, it's a fun idea to work with for sure. I've been thinking a lot lately about what the next century's major events will be. I think robot labor, free energy, and political reform will be the big ones with anti-aging coming a bit later. A lot can be done with a future that is dystopian, but there have been so many films and books on the subject that I wanted to do something a bit different.

      Kaili, I'm flattered by the comparison! I'm a big fan of Asimov and Orwell. Exactly, centuries ago people died in the same world they were born in. Now people are dying in a world they couldn't have imagined in their childhood. Next we'll be experiencing those sorts of changes within a time-frame of decades.

      Thanks JYOTI. I did try to stick some humor in, though less than I'd planned. :)

    • Thomas Swan profile image
      Author

      Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for commenting Mel. It's interesting you think the pace should be quicker. I was worried about the pace being too fast already. I take my warning from the 60's and 70's when their visions for the future were a little too optimistic! Yea, Gliese 581 will probably be our first exoplanet stop. I see you did your research too! Based on its distance, it would take us several decades to get there. Even at light-speed it would take over 20 years. I picked Sirius for the other mission because it's a binary system containing our nearest white dwarf and nearest `blue'-type star, so a likely candidate for exploration.

      Thanks Buildreps! I'm not really against Russia, but I get the impression that Putin is becoming a bit senile in this old age, and things could come to a head soon. I don't think Hillary's run as President will help matters either. She's a warmonger in liberal clothing (voted for Iraq war, fought hard to enter a war with Iran, voted for military intervention in Libya, etc etc). Of course, Russia is no worse than America when it comes to generating conflict and interfering in the world.

      Cheers Sanxuary. I think the polar shift hypothesis is still up for debate. I'm not convinced yet, but it could happen. If it does, I think we'll see the first signs long before it happens. The process will be probably be gradual, taking thousands/millions of years, but I could be wrong. I think it will be impossible to hold back technology that will replace fossil fuels, but the rich and powerful will hold it back long enough to cause some problems... problems that will fill their pockets no doubt.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 2 years ago

      It is very unreported but a 10 percent drop in the magnetic field has occurred in the last two years. Magnetic North is in Siberia now. If the field weakens the poles would be affected first. You would get multiple fields drifting across the planet. The South Pacific anomaly has been going on for a while and that region has seen intense drought and Earthquakes. Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and a whole world of troubles there. Its not when because its happening its really how long will it take and what climate will we have if it flipped.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Wow that was a very interesting read, especially as a visionary fiction author. For me I still stand by my own quote: What we can imagine we can make real. I will share this post on my social network and bookmark it. Voted up!

    • Thomas Swan profile image
      Author

      Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you for your comments Sanxuary and Nadine May.

      Sanxuary, I've looked at the polar shift hypothesis and it's very interesting. NASA agrees that the field is getting weaker, but they also say that: "Earth's present-day magnetic field is, in fact, much stronger than normal. The dipole moment, a measure of the intensity of the magnetic field, is now 8 x 1022 amps x m2. That's twice the million-year average of 4 x 1022 amps x m2."

      So it appears to just be decreasing away from a peak. They agree that if it switches, we could get poles drifting all over the place, with multiple poles appearing. This would still happen over the course of thousands of years though. Animal life would have time to adapt, and we'd still be protected from radiation. They don't say much about weather conditions. I'm not sure anyone really knows for sure.

      Nadine, thank you very much for liking and sharing. I can agree with that quote. It's just a matter of how long it takes and how much effort we put in to make it happen!

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Thomas, this has been a great read, thank you.

      You have omitted to mention invasion (surreptitious) of Australia, in particular the beautiful and bountiful island of Tasmania, by the Chinese nation. Much of the native vegetation will have been taken over by Ginseng growers and Mung People will be growing vegetables to feed the Asian nations..... only the high-ups, mind you; those who can afford such luxuries.

      Little of the produce will be shipped to the United States, which has such a huge debt with China and is unable to repay.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
      Author

      Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks jonny. You might be right. As long as the Chinese are paying for what they consume, I suppose it's alright. Though, it's a big problem that food is being shipped around the world in this way. Surely, everyone should be able to grow the food they need locally. The problem could get worse in years to come... it's such a waste of resources, but, just like the oil industry, it keeps some people rich while the planet suffers.

    • profile image

      Stargrrl 2 years ago

      You have quite an imagination there!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Wow I have come across your post again and I must bookmark this hub of yours and come back in a few years, just to see how close you have come. My thoughts on your predictions are that most situations, events, or inventions will happen a lot sooner, probably within the next ten years.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
      Author

      Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comments Stargrrl and Nadine.

      It will be interesting to see how much of this comes true. Hillary is looking likely to run, progress with Iran is going well (currently), ISIS are still going strong, and the Republicans look set to deploy a young male challenger. Could be a while before I get something wrong!

      I don't think the rate at which things transpire will be quicker than this. In the 60's people were talking about flying cars, robots, and trips to Mars happening long before now.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Interesting insights, Thomas. We'll see about 2016's predictions later this year. Voted up!

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