Can speculation about the future of technology serve as a measuring stick for what we create today? That’s the idea behind Envisioning Technology's massive infographic (PDF), which maps the future of emerging technologies on a loose timeline between now and 2040.
On it you’ll find predictions about everything from artificial intelligence and robotics to geoengineering and energy. Mouse over the entries for blurbs describing them and links to more information; you won’t find much more than a Wikipedia page explanation, but that’s plenty helpful for the uninitiated.
In 30 years, it will also be a great reference for where we thought we might end up. Did we really get interplanetary Internet in 2026? Did the Mars mission happen in 2034, or much earlier? The history of technology isn’t one so much of continued progress, but of sudden, unexpected advances. Which means that the predictions here will most likely be replaced by a reality we can’t even begin to fathom today. But it’s still an inspiring vision of the future (even if you’re scared about the robot swarms in 2031).
You can download a PDF for free, or--should you want to track our progress toward artificial photosynthesis and space-based solar power by X-ing out accomplishments on your wall--purchase a poster version here.