DAVOS, SWITZERLAND (AP) - Forget the endless debates about the euro or government debts. What does the future hold?
The World Economic Forum at Davos is always a showcase for new research, trends and ideas. And those at the annual gathering of the world’s elite don’t shy away from making predictions, even if they missed foreseeing seminal events like the Great Recession or the Arab Spring revolts.
Here are some predictions from this year’s participants:
WEATHER AND WATER
“It’s not just that New York is going to be underwater 30 years from now,” he said, referring to the devastation caused last fall by Hurricane Sandy.
Oxford University physicist Tim Palmer _ who said as a scientist he preferred probabilities to prediction _ noted there is a 10- to 15-percent chance that the Earth will warm by 6 degrees Celsius within a century, leading to “catastrophic consequences for humanity” ranging from extreme weather to rising seas.
Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said many countries will start running out of water in the coming years.
“Water is the new oil,” he said.
A TECHNOLOGICAL SURGE
Laura Tyson, a business professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said one of the great concerns should be “the employment effects of technology,” with so many jobs being rendered obsolete by scientific or technological advances.
Discussions of such advances were everywhere at Davos.
Sebastian Thrun, a computer science professor at Stanford University and leader of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, said he thinks Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s prediction that within five years driverless cars will be on the streets used by regular people is going to happen.
“It’ll be a while before they’re going to be mainstream, and there’ll be all kinds of interesting questions coming about security, privacy, safety of the system as a whole,” Thrun said. “But if they are available within five years for general consumers, I think within 15 years you ought to be able to buy one of those.”
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