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Think back with me, Fool, 15 years, to when The Motley Fool was born.

In 1993, Boris Yeltsin shelled the Russian Parliament, and Pablo Escobar was gunned down in Medellin. Closer to home, al-Qaida made its first assault on the World Trade Center, FBI agents stormed Waco, and Rodney King asked why we can't all just get along.

In business news, IBM reported a $5 billion loss for fiscal 1992 -- at the time, the biggest loss ever. IBM dominated the world of personal computing, hand-in-hand with software tsar Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and chip king Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which had just invented the Pentium chip.

Be honest
Who could have predicted that IBM would exit the PC industry? That Apple -- then a niche maker of friendly, but overpriced and underpowered Macs -- would evolve into a contender? Or that a firm with a silly name, that didn't exist and wouldn't exist for five more years, would threaten Microsoft's software supremacy?

I sure never saw it coming, and I blame it on the fog.

A few years back, financial guru John Mauldin published a collection of short analytical pieces by a few of his best friends called Just One Thing. In it, hedge fund honcho Andy Kessler likened investing to searching for "signposts in the fog."

The future, as Kessler describes it, is wrapped in a thick blanket of mist. Through it, we're incapable of seeing Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) creation, much less its ability to challenge Microsoft. At best, we see vague silhouettes of what might happen. Investing for the long term becomes an exercise in glimpsing signposts, and guessing where they might point.

That's what I'm going to do today.

Forecast: Mostly foggy, with a chance of sun
Over the past few years, investors first stared in disbelief at the shocking rise in the price of oil, then bought into the story... only to see oil fall off a cliff over the summer. Most market pundits, latching onto the recent past as their guide to the future, expect oil to revive, soar back to $150 a barrel, then $200, then beyond.

Not me. To the contrary, I see oil falling in price, declining to the point where ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) becomes less a reviled oil baron, and more a piteous purveyor of a raw material that's sort of useful for making plastics and petroleum jelly.

Why? Because that's the way the signposts are pointing (as I see 'em).

Signpost No. 1: It's hanging on your gas station
Americans -- the world's foremost petro-consumers -- have been shocked back into reality as the cost of filling up the tank more than doubled in the space of a few short years. As the saying goes: "The cure to high prices ... is high prices." I see $4-a-gallon gas as a tipping point in U.S. energy policy, one that will cure us of our addiction to oil, and spur real and accelerating investment in both energy efficiency (Chevy Volt, I'm talking to you) and cheap-to-free sources of energy. What ExxonMobil is to the energy sector today, I believe First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) will become tomorrow.

With the supply side of the energy issue covered, we move next to demand, and the two key demands for gasoline in the U.S.: moving people, and moving goods.

Signpost No. 2: Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto
You may hate spending money on gas, but do you really hate spending time on your commute? Then here's some good news: The daily schlep to work will become largely a thing of the past. As high fuel costs spur an increase in telecommuting, our economy will evolve ever more into a services-based economy.

Manufacturing? Manual labor? We still need it, but firms both large and small, from Toyota to iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT), are hard at work creating ever more robust robots to take the drudgery out of drudge work. And unless and until Congress approves the ERRA (Equal Rights for Robots Act), these workers will remain on the shop floor after the workday is done. (Psych! A robot's workday never ends.) Less commuting means less fuel use, lower demand for oil, and lower prices for same.

Signpost No. 3: Star Trek tech
Similarly with the shipment of goods. Firms of all shapes and sizes spend enormous sums today, shipping goods from place to place. But why ship stuff when you can build it in place? Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) has the solution, in the form of a "Dimension" line of minifactories that can build what you need, where you need it -- shipping and handling not included.

So to answer your question: Yes, Mr. King, we can all get along. And in 15 years' time, we'll be getting along on a lot less oil than we need today. Invest accordingly.

Microsoft and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Stratasys, iRobot, and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of iRobot. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.