This is the top 12 of the most important future developments that will transform our society (in no particular order):
Of course, we have been talking for decades about many of these technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
Why should this time be any different?
It seems that this time is indeed different. Take AI for example. The cards are now much better for AI than twenty years ago, because computers have finally become powerful enough, large datasets are now available for AI to learn from (like the huge amount of "labeled" information that can be found on the Internet) and important breakthroughs have occurred in the field of machine learning (like evolutionary algorithms and convoluted neural networks).
Idem for robotics, virtual reality and biotechnology.
Many of these technologies will also reinforce each other and have a synergistic effect. Stronger AI, for example, can enable breakthroughs in biotechnological research, improve self-driving cars, and make robots smarter and more versatile.
These technologies are evolving at a very fast pace. Take 3D printing. It’s a promising technology, but has some major drawbacks, like the long time it takes to print something layer by layer, and the fact that the layers make the surface of the printed object irregular (not smooth). But a new form of 3D printing, called "digital light synthesis", addresses these problems in one fell swoop because it prints without layers, using light that hardens plastics.
The same for biotechnology. Gene technology has been available for more than 30 years but has been very expensive, time-consuming and inaccurate. In 2012 the revolutionary gene editing technology CRISPR/Cas-9 came into the spotlight which addressed all of these problems. While this gene-modification technology is considered as a huge breakthrough, better successors are now available, which are even more accurate and efficient.
In short, the evolution of these (re)evolutions accelerates exponentially.
The world 50 years from now will be a totally different world.