An extensive study of Google searches has revealed that users in countries that have a higher GDP are more likely to search for information about the future than the past.
In 2010, a team from University College London (UCL) analysed more than 45 billion search queries worldwide and calculated the ratio of the volume of searches for the coming year (2011) to the volume of searches for the previous year (2009) – what they call the 'future orientation index'.
They then compared this to the per capita GDP of the 45 countries represented by the searches and found a strong relationship between greater wealth and more future-oriented searching.
Helen Susannah Moat, research associate in UCL's Department of Mathematics, said: 'The internet is becoming ever more deeply interwoven into the fabric of global society.'
UCL visiting researcher Tobias Preis added: 'These findings may reflect international differences in attention to the future and the past, where a focus on the future supports economic success.'
Google gave us its own vision of the future this week with its augmented reality Google Goggles, which would provide wearers with real-time updates.