George Friedman: 'The Next 100 Years'

Forecasting is a fancy word for trying to predict the future, and it is, to put it mildly, an inexact science. But George Friedman, a political scientist who in 1996 launched the intelligence-gathering company Strategic Forecasting, has gotten pretty good at it. His one- and 10-year geopolitical and economic forecasts have become hot commodities at the Pentagon and on Wall Street. For his latest book, Friedman wanted to see how far into the future he could predict. So he decided to try the entire 21st century. Hence, "The Next 100 Years."

THE IDEA: Ignore the doomsayers, Friedman argues: the age of American power has only just begun. In the next century, the U.S. will fight (and win) a second Cold War with a re-emergent Russia; enjoy a midcentury age of opulence; and become the world's largest energy producer through a space-based system of solar panels.

THE EVIDENCE: With birthrates down across the industrialized world, a 300-year population boom is ending. Going forward, power will reside with the nations that are able to attract immigrants—such as the U.S. Computers are also key: because programming codes are primarily in English, English-based economies will have a clear advantage.

THE CONCLUSION: Expect the unexpected. In 1918, Friedman notes, it would've been absurd to suggest Europe would be at war again in 20 years. Similarly, predictions of America's demise suggest we're headed for the opposite.