I feel nostalgia over my early years with the site. Particularly 2011 and 2012, where I'd read the main site and imagine what the 2010s would be like. I was often disappointed that so much of the decade sounded "boring". Yet in retrospect, the 2010s have been a mixture of better than early-2010s!me hoped as well as even less exciting that I feared. Luckily, it failed in the areas where the 2010s also wound up actually being better than I hoped, so it all balances out.
Here's a capture from late 2011
The most notable thing in my mind has to be the rise of deep learning & media synthesis. We're playing with artificial neural networks right now, having our fun.
But bionic eyes are a no-show, as are robotic military insects (probably for the best on that one, because as drones have shown us...). Electronic paper fell by the wayside because smartphones are just so versatile that the market desire for flextronics hasn't taken off (and really, there are plenty of practical problems with it anyway). Nowadays, I'm not quite as excited for e-paper, but back in the early 2010s (especially around 2011 and 2012), that was what I felt was the defining tech of The Future™. When I imagined the world of tomorrow, it was with the likes of this:
So in that regard, I'm sad about there still being so few bionic eyes— except that's a dirty lie, because there are bionic eyes. They even look like what the prediction itself said they would— more like glasses that connect to the ocular nerves. They're just not commercially available since the FDA's never going to let such a technology go through without extensive testing.
As for the exaflop barrier being broken this year, well... It's not lookin' too good.
So what I can ascertain here is that a lot of the "futuristic" predictions were shifted around the decade, usually getting pushed back by several years, mostly due to external factors like funding or practicality rather than any limit to tech. For example, those aforementioned insect spybots: we probably could do that nowadays, and who knows, maybe we are. But we're really pushing drone tech at the moment. Robotic pack mules? Well, that didn't work out because of a variety of reasons, starting with the fact Boston Dynamics' machines were way too loud. And then because Boston Dynamics left DARPA. We could do robotic pack mules nowadays however, what with SpotMini being electric and commercially available. But BigDog could've been available on the battlefield circa 2015 as well— it was ready and prepared, but there were just some practical issues.
The James Webb Space Telescope should've launched in 2018, but was pushed back. There was nothing wrong with the tech there, nor is there anything wrong with our spaceflight capabilities. Just a matter of technical issues and timing.
The old FutureTimeline didn't even mention the beginnings of 5G in the 2010s, and that started late last year!
No, when I say that the 2010s section of the old FutureTimeline bored me, I meant because of the numerous architectural and geopolitical sections. There's nothing wrong with those especially since those are based on actual timelines of major projects. But when I was 16/17 years old and hoping for the future to really be The Future™, seeing that the 2010s is largely rooted more in building infrastructure, sporting events, and anniversaries was disappointing in comparison to the wild tech era of even the 2020s and especially 2030s-onwards. "Man, this decade's gonna be so frustrating!"
And it really was for a while there, up until about 2015 or 2016. I still remember that downer period in the summer of 2014 where the high of going full futurist wore off and I realized that the Singularity wasn't actually about to begin, that driverless cars were still fairly experimental, that humanoid robots were definitely still experimental, that DeepMind wasn't going to plug in a special line of code and create AGI, that VR was still years away, and so on. Instead, I still had to live daily life with these fleeting mentions of high tech. How disappointing!
I'd say things have definitely turned around in the past 2 years, though.