Forecasting for IEEE


IEEE Spectrum invited me to contribute to their “Survey of the Future”, prognosticating what I expect the future will look like technologically over the next two decades. For the record, here are my predictions:

In 10 years:

Ubiquitous computing: internet of Things + cloud + wearables = SMOG. (“sensory manipulation overload grief”)

In 20 years:

Implantables: digital tatoos; optic-/aural-nerve interfaces; natural language interfaces


Over the next 10-20 years:

  1. Desktop workstations will be disappear, along with:
  2. The “internet” (as we now know it). It will no longer refer to a collection of websites; websites will no longer be monolithic, static “destinations”; the data (images, text, media) currently housed in individual websites will coalesce into an amorphous “Sea” of information (navigated, perhaps, by semi-intelligent virtual-guides). We will access this Sea via:
  3. Wearables: glasses/contacts will provide hi-def 3D VR screens; nano-sized wireless ear-buds will be “tatooed” in the ear canal. We will interact with these interfaces via:
  4. Natural language (i.e., conversational interfaces; including inaudible voice recognition through direct vocal muscle detection). People won’t be talking to “the computer”; they will be conversing directly with the Sea. Early adopters will be experimenting with:
  5. Implantables: digital tattoos and neural implants allowing thought-driven interfaces (primitive at first), and direct-sensory stimulators (“sharable emotions”). All of these innovations will give rise to:
  6. Virtual Presence: the ability to interact with anybody instantaneously, in 3D VR environments.

Other changes to expect by 2040:

  1. Drones will be as ubiquitous as cars.
  2. Passwords will be obsolete, along with email, Facebook, and Google.
  3. Shopping centers will vanish, replaced by holographic VR-shopping, automated drone delivery, and nano-scale 3D printers.
  4. Offices and school buildings will empty out, deemed unnecessary with the rise of “virtual presence”.
  5. Clubs, gyms, churches, and bars will increase in popularity, satisfying people’s continuing need to connect, exercise and fellowship.
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