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Donald Trump will win re-election in 2020 just in time for a “global crash,” Aussie property prices still have much further to fall, and Facebook will be dead within a decade.
Chillingly, within the next three years, a popular world leader will be assassinated using autonomous drone technology, sparking an international outcry.
Those are just some of the predictions of futurist Dr Richard Hames — who correctly foresaw 9/11 and the GFC, two of the biggest world events of the past two decades — but they’re not his craziest.
“My craziest prediction is that within the decade we’re going to see almost a revolutionary change in how we think about politics, social enterprise and the economy,” Dr Hames said, citing climate change and the widening gap between rich and poor as key catalysts.
“Governments will seriously consider how they can put a cap on personal wealth, thus challenging the capitalist framework. We will shift our thinking away from growth at all costs to how humanity thrives without growth and even negative growth. Economists will say that’s impossible, but it isn’t if you look at more things than just the economy.”
Dr Hames believes Nordic countries will be the first to make this shift, and “as always Australia will lag by up to a decade”.
“We need to change our thinking so we burst through the threshold,” he said.
“We’re in a gridlock at the moment, unable to solve the problems.”
The Australian-born author and consultant, who describes himself an “anticipatory futurist”, has delved into hundreds of topics ranging from the future of conflict and work to taxation, business and society, food security, international terrorism, smart cities, financial services, health care, science and alternative energy.
To promote his tour of the country, Dr Hames has come out with a number of headline-grabbing pronouncements — including that a second financial crisis is just around the corner.
“Since the global financial crisis none of the structural dynamics have changed, in fact I think they’re getting worse,” Dr Hames said.
“There is going to be a global crash by the end of next year.”
On President Trump’s 2020 prospects, he argues that “a lot of his base is actually falling away but in a number of ways the economy is going better in the US than anyone expected”.
“The Democrats are in disarray, that’s a big part of it,” he said.
“They’re fighting each other. I’m saying with almost 100 per cent certainty that he’s going to get back in.”
House prices in Sydney and Melbourne, meanwhile, could “still fall by around 15-18 per cent over the next two to three years”, Dr Hames argues. He says the latest moves by the prudential regulator to ease lending standards is “just a blip.”
“None of the structural dynamics are changing,” he said.
“The most important thing for getting into the housing market is not affordability of a mortgage, the most difficult thing is attainability, it takes longer and they have to save more for a deposit.”
In terms of investors, Dr Hames says the large flows of “mostly Chinese money that were propping up house prices is drying up”.
“Home ownership has continued to fall since the GFC, and you’re seeing local investors pulling out of rental properties because of low rental yields,” he said.
“It’s all not good. It’s precipitating worse conditions than before the last crash.”
And on the drone assassination, Dr Hames says he is “surprised it hasn’t happened already” — last year, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro was nearly taken out by two explosive-laden drones.
“The reality of what’s happening in organizations like DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the US, they’ve been developing drone swarm technology,” he said.
“There is now the technology to really monitor almost anyone in the world at any time, especially if you’re carrying a mobile phone, and deliver a toxic poison to anyone at all.”
With AI-connected drones now able to fly autonomously and select their own targets, “you’ve just got a world waiting for such an event to happen”.
“I think we’re going to see that very soon, especially given the antagonism between some world leaders and the difficulties between Israel and Palestine and now Iran and the US,” Dr Hames said.
“The Middle East is just ripe for such an event.”
DR HAMES’ 10 ‘WILDCARD’ PREDICTIONS
• “Cryptocurrencies will not go away. There will be a shift away from utility tokens towards sovereign tokens. But tokenised ‘Dapps’ will be the next big wave to disrupt the monopolies of centralized platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon.”
• “At this stage Donald Trump will probably win the 2020 election and continue in his current manner of tough talk in the form of bluff and counter-bluff.”
• “The new conservative leadership in the UK is seeking a radical neoliberal paradise and will do everything they can to achieve Brexit this Autumn. If they fail the government may well be forced into another referendum on Europe in 2020. If that happens a clear majority of voters could opt to stay in the EU.”
• “A US war with Iran hinges on two factors. Whether John Bolton is ruthless enough to organize a false flag attack on US assets, and whether pressure from Netanyahu persuades Trump to turn Iran into a failed state at war with itself along ethnic and sectarian lines so that it no longer poses a threat to Israel.”
• “Before 2022 there will be an international outcry involving the use of autonomous drone technology to assassinate a popular world leader.”
• “By 2023 Facebook will be renamed Instagram. By 2028 we will not remember either. Facebook will become powerless to stop its own descent.”
• “The long-term future of urban transport is hydrogen fuel cells and not electric vehicles. By 2030, 80 per cent of public transport in Australian cities could be hydrogen-fueled.”
• “By 2025 Australian politicians will realize that carbon emissions are not the main issue of concern for us. Here it is the water cycle and the destruction of the soil that are equally, if not more, important. Fresh water scarcity will be the defining Australian crisis of the 21st century.”
• “By 2035 it will be possible to make almost everything we need from CO2, H2O, sunlight, PV electrolysers, and genetically engineered microbes.”
• “The first country to build commercially viable molten salt uranium and/or thorium fission reactors will be rewarded with a gigantic global engineering company.”