How Bill Gates predicted the future in 1999

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates knew a lot about 2017, back in 1999.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates knew a lot about 2017, back in 1999. Photo credit: AAP

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made scarily accurate predictions about the future in 1999, foreseeing many of the technological advancements that are now part of our everyday lives.

A blogger dug up Mr Gates' book Business @ the Speed of Thought, published 18 years ago, to see how his theories about how the internet would stack up today.

In 1999, 150 million people around the world used the internet - while today the figure is close to three billion.

Here are some of the predictions Mr Gates made about how the internet would affect our lives:

The rise of the cell phone: In 1999 Mr Gates predicted that in the future people would carry small electronic devices with them at all times. The devices would allow them to contact others, keep up with the news, and do business from wherever they were. This prediction came eight years before the launch of the iPhone in 2007, which would revolutionise people's ability to use the internet from anywhere.

Social media: Mr Gates predicted that private websites for friends and family would be common, allowing people to chat and plan events. In 2004 Facebook came to life, followed by Twitter two years later, and Instagram in 2011, all of which continue to dominate with billions of users. Bebo launched in 2005 and saw its popularity dive until it was shut down in 2013, while MySpace launched in 2003, and is surprisingly still used by millions of people.

Tailored online advertising: In the future devices would have 'smart advertising', Mr Gates predicted, that could allow companies to target users based on their purchasing trends and display tailored advertisements to meet their preferences. In 2017, targeted marketing is all over Facebook and Google, with data collected from purchases and online activity being used to sell products back to people.

Online recruiting: Mr Gates said that in the future people would be able to look for jobs on the internet based on their interests, needs and skills. LinkedIn is a central part of the job market in 2017, the site has over 500 million users who use the site for recruitment and job seeking, as well as to build their CVs and networks. Anyone looking for work is likely to be looking on the internet, whether on LinkedIn or Seek or in New Zealand, TradeMe.

See the full list of the predictions that came true, compiled by blogger Markus Kirjonen here