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:
- Desktop workstations will be disappear, along with:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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:
- Virtual Presence: the ability to interact with anybody instantaneously, in 3D VR environments.
Other changes to expect by 2040:
- Drones will be as ubiquitous as cars.
- Passwords will be obsolete, along with email, Facebook, and Google.
- Shopping centers will vanish, replaced by holographic VR-shopping, automated drone delivery, and nano-scale 3D printers.
- Offices and school buildings will empty out, deemed unnecessary with the rise of “virtual presence”.
- Clubs, gyms, churches, and bars will increase in popularity, satisfying people’s continuing need to connect, exercise and fellowship.