April 13, 2010 / 2:41 PM / in 7 years

Peek into the future offers glimpse into the past

<p>People visit the 300-metre long exhibition train &ldquo;Expedition Zukunft&rdquo; (expedition future) in Berlin's main railway station April 23, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Commuting to work will be short and cheap 10 years from now, computers will be ubiquitous but unnoticed and smart refrigerators will help consumers eat healthier foods.

But the future envisioned by Forbes.com could also mean higher unemployment with more people losing jobs to off-shoring and automation technology and an end to school as we know it.

“The lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges,” according to the website.

Forbes.com predicts Americans will become more resourceful and resilient about transportation and 75 percent of the world will live in cities. Instead of driving oversized vehicles, electric cars will be more the norm for short trips and diesel vehicles will be the preferred option for longer journeys.

“We will be walking to work more and we will be using our bicycles and we will be walking to and from school, sometimes uphill, in the snow, just like our parents did,” said Nicole Perlroth, an editor at Forbes.

“A lot of this is reverting back to how things were 50 years ago,” she added in an interview.

A MORE COST-CONSCIOUS WAY OF LIFE

Staff at Forbes, who did a similar look into the future 10 years ago with mixed results, contacted professional futurologists to get their take on what 2020 will be like.

“We reached out to some of these high profile designers/professional futurists who had done research in these various areas,” Perlroth explained.

They envision that in many areas in the next decade people will revert back to a more realistic, cost-conscious way of life.

Technology and computers will still be a major part of daily life but will vanish into “our collective consciousness,” according to Forbes.

Healthy food choices will be made with the help of intelligent appliances and a universal color and number ranking system based on nutritional value.

“All of us agree that there needs to some sort of universal system for grading our nutrition. And there needs to be some sort of clear methodology and incentive to eat better because it is not sustainable what we are doing now. The eat whatever you want, hit the gym for an hour, pop a vitamin pill mentality is just not working for the United States,” said Perlroth.

Large houses, or McMansions, could also be on the way out as homebuyers stop evaluating houses on their size, appearance and cost per square footage and instead consider the monthly costs of living there, including heating, air conditioning, maintenance and commuting.

“We are going to take better care of ourselves and the planet despite our best efforts not to,” said Perlroth.

Forbes.com suggests that people are realizing the true costs on ourselves and the planet of living in large homes, driving big cars and eating whatever we want.

“Now that this has entered our collective consciousness we are going to start factoring in those costs in our future decisions making,” she added.

Regardless of which predictions may come true in the next decade Perlroth believes this way of thinking is certainly going to be a big theme in 2020.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Paul Casciato

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