To consider a theoretical future when taking action; an attempt to grasp and plan for coming events, no matter how vague or distant to help anticipate problems or changes. Future-Proofing is often considered a Holy Grail as it is hopeful and driving and yet it's current efforts are unseen.
The dangers of not future proofing:
- The Y2K Bug. Programs that stored their year stamps in two digits (1987 = 87; 1991 = 91) were not future-proofed, meaning that on January 1st, 2000 the two-digit date would have rolled over from 99 to 00, creating the incorrect date of 1900. Software designers didn't foresee them lasting past 1999 and therefore cost future generations millions in expensive software and hardware testing and replacement.
Future proofing in action:
- IPv6 - it allows for so many IP addresses that every electrical device in the world could be given a unique address and there would still be literally billions to spare. This essentially stops any chance of IP addresses running out in the near (or distant) future. Of course IPv6 has not really taken off anywhere yet, so at this point its "future-proofedness" remains rather academic.