Mick Jagger will record an album of Cole Porter songs. Night and day, you are the one. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. I get no kick from champagne, mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all.
There's a cure for Aids but still nothing for the common cold. Sport will be streamed to us in three dimensions, so we'll watch games played by holograms on a tabletop, or on the floor of our living rooms. Cold fusion – safe nuclear energy, because it's not derived from exploding atoms – will be a thing.
Predictions are fun and that doesn't diminish, much, when they turn out to be wrong. I know this because I predicted all those things 25 years ago, in a novel I wrote that I set around about now. I was as certain as anyone can ever be I'd be right about Aids and the common cold. I thought the hologram thing was cool and I'm surprised it hasn't happened.
Cold fusion seemed a reasonable bet too: not long before, a couple of physicists revealed they'd discovered how to do it. That turned out to be a spectacular hoax, but they were taken so seriously it seemed only a matter of time.
As for Jagger singing Cole Porter, that was another dead cert. In 1994 his rock career was obviously over, so what next? Janis Joplin had made the Gershwins' Summertime famous all over again, 15 long years earlier, and wasn't the world desperate for another rock god to dive into the musical theatre well?
Because, hey, anything goes. Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose, anything goes. Beep you, Cole Porter. And beep you too, Mick Jagger.
Also, in that 1994 book, I thought Panmure would have lots of apartment blocks and there would still be buses. Turns out I knew more about urban planning than I did about physics or music.
Now it's the end of the decade, the start of another. What's this one going to be like? I had a whole new bunch of predictions in the Herald recently, about what Auckland might be like in 30 years' time. Mass transit networks, seawalls, and obviously no port for containers and cars. Many more tall buildings, lively and welcoming at street level, and lot of space for walking.
Scooters will have bigger wheels so they don't tip their riders over the handlebars; personal flying machines will be common but banned in the inner city. There will still be bicycles. Like books, they're technology that endures.
Oh, and the city will be called Tāmaki Makaurau and the country Aotearoa.
I said it was 2050 because of the speed at which political wheels turn and financing happens and things get built. Same as it ever was, they'll all conspire to keep progress on a very slow track.
But the world I invented wasn't really 2050. Mostly, I was looking only 10 years ahead, at things we already know about.
The conundrum is that the city's own planning says it will take 30 years to build all those things, but by the time 2050 arrives the world won't be anything like it is now. Will we even have cities?
Who has the courage to look ahead 30 years? As a society we don't: our capacity to embrace change lags way behind the actual rate of change.
The days when a glimpse of stocking stopped being shocking – the Roaring Twenties – were a hundred years ago. After the horrors of World War I, that decade was the true start of the 20th century: peace and prosperity, assured on January 10, 1920 by the formation of the League of Nations, the world's first intergovernmental organisation. Such optimism, such fun, as the world filled up with movies, motorcars and wild, wild music.
It's easy now to assume they were living in a jazzed-up, flapper-frenzied champagne fog, oblivious to reality, because when stock markets crashed in 1929, the Great Depression set in and the fascist dragon reared its head, the whole world discovered what things were really like.
In the 20s, though, they didn't know about that. For those with a bit of money, the good life was real.
Will the 2020s end up like the 1920s? We learned from the global financial crisis of 2008 that the world has neither the will nor the capacity to rein in capitalism, so stand by. The next round of financial misery will happen and it will be accompanied, as always, by blithe assurances that nothing can be done and we still live in the best of all possible worlds.
AS FOR 2050, what will things be like then? Blade Runner 2049 has already told us. That was a documentary from the future, wasn't it? We don't believe scary monsters live in the woods any more, but we know they're waiting for us in the decades to come.
We don't need movies to tell us, either. We already know the combination of medicine and money will allow the worst people in the world to live forever. We know some of them are already using illegal data harvesting and our willing ownership of "smart" personal devices to mess with us very badly. Our political choices and what we buy are their obvious targets; even more insidious will be the messaging about how to treat people regarded as "other".
The future. I know a man who's been to a robot factory in China and now he wonders if they replaced him with a robot while he was there. I looked at him closely when he told me this and the flesh around his eyes seemed a little tired, which I thought was a reassuring sign it was really him. But the idea itself – is that something only a malfunctioning chip could come up with?
It's terrifying. Climate change is bad enough: we're on track to a 3 or 4 degree (or more) warmer world by 2050 that will not undermine the fabulous lives of the few, but will make things very tough for many more and be terrible for most.
But robots! By the time they unleash self-improving robots on us it will all be over, won't it?
Or will it? The purpose of telling the future is not to prophesy doom. Not any more. I'm aware I may not be in a majority here but I think it's to find reasons for hope.
Hey, look, we'll have all this cool stuff! Well yes, but there's more to it than that.
The terrible things are not inevitable. The long history of the world is full of tales of how the sky didn't fall. Individual bravery stopped the horror. Collective action made the world a better place. We have built democracies, not because they're great at getting things done, but because they're better than anything else we know at giving us meaningful lives and keeping us safe.
Now we need to protect them, and we can. Make them more effective, and we can do that too. Maybe the movie 2040, not Blade Runner, is a better guide. Tales of things happening already that will make the world better. Look it up, it's brilliant. Arrange screenings for everybody.
Greta Thunberg, obviously a voice of her generation, there's another reason for hope. It's easy to go Greta blah blah, millennials blah blah, but she's not a millennial. They are the generation who woke up to the danger of climate change. Greta Thunberg belongs to the one after that, the generation that says: hang on, you people have known about this for how long and still you do almost nothing?
They are the truly angry ones and they have every right to be. My generation, we should be down on our knees giving thanks that no one has started blowing shit up. Sorry Cole Porter.
The world in the next 10 years? It's about the one big question. Will we find answers to the climate crisis that serve the interests of all, and not just of those with the money to live in a bubble on Mars, or the Moon, or somewhere in the Southern Alps?
The scientists have told us as clearly as they possibly can that we do not have any longer. Change our behaviour this decade or we face runaway global warming.
The phase we're in now is that activists have engaged: not to pull things down but to insist we fix what's broken, in our democracies, our economies, our values. It will become a vast movement in a decade of tremendous opportunity. Seriously. It's our call.
You may have noticed I don't have a prescription. Just starting with hope, that's me. And faith in the power of collective action. This will be a decade of change, and despite some evidence to the contrary around the world right now, the best leaders will rise.
Am I any good at predictions? Maybe one day cold fusion will be a thing. In theory, you do it with hydrogen atoms, which are quite plentiful in the sea. I honestly don't know if that would be good or not.
Maybe, after all, Mick Jagger will sing It's Too Darn Hot. That's a Cole Porter song. Although I'm not so sure about it now. I like the way those old rockers just keep on rocking. Back in the day, nobody predicted that. It's another marker of hope.