I understand the competition for headlines. The Corona virus (still), insurrections, vigilantes, California fires, indictments, school shootings, trains, war, energy costs, threats to members of Congress (from members of Congress) and pathological liars are exquisite clickbait – and clickbait makes money. Or it may be that we just don’t understand technology, that AI, blockchain and the Internet-of-Things are too confusing, and talking about confusing things is uncomfortable. But technology will impact every aspect of our personal and professional lives in ten years – just ask ChatGPT.
25 Predictions/10 Years
Here are just a few predictions that are safe bets:
- In ten years there will be self-driving cars and trucks everywhere. Few of us will actually own cars, especially those who live in crowded urban or suburban areas. By 2033, automobile accidents will have declined dramatically. The whole notion of “insurance” will be redefined.
- Pizzas will appear at your door – without any human participation.
- Dead entertainers will tour the country; “concerts” will be physical and virtual.
- No one will prepare a tax return.
- No one will stand in line to vote.
- No one will go anywhere to buy anything.
- Healthcare will be “universal,” not because the powers-that-be ordained it (because they won’t), but because smart-phones (and implanted devices) will monitor everyone’s health and telemedicine is what everyone just does – with real or especially digital doctors.
- Many of us will only travel virtually. If you can’t go to the Louvre and stare at the Mona Lisa (for your allotted few minutes), you will “see” it for as long as you like with floating data about every aspect of its creation. Same for all of the destinations we’ve been conditioned to desire.
- Commuting – and traffic wars – will be optional. More than half of us will work from home.
- Climate change will be more obvious than it is today – far more obvious since global restraints on fossil fuel will have failed by 2033. At the same time, green energy technology will explode in developed countries.
- Students will learn from wherever, whenever. Learning will be immersed, experiential and remote – and be personalized to what we already know, our learning styles, our progress and immediate and longer-term requirements.
- Higher education will change fundamentally and more than any other educational level. “Campuses” will be where undergraduate “students” socialize, though socialization will occur from video immersion as often as it does through fraternities and sororities. Graduate students will network virtually; elite schools will maintain “in-person” education and networking.
- Training will be virtual.
- Assault weapons will be illegal, though some will still be produced with 3D manufacturing.
- Sensors (everywhere) will know what we need and want, and execute fulfilling transactions automatically.
- It’s impossible to forget a birthday or anniversary – or wonder what gifts to buy.
- Our homes and offices will be very smart and get smarter by watching us do everything we do – all the time.
- We’ll browse digital catalogs from headsets (and eventually contact lenses) as small and as fashionable as the sunglasses everyone wants. Heads-up displays will be everywhere.
- In spite of what banks tells us today, “money” will be gone by 2033. All transactions will be digital. Cash is long gone; alternative currencies are alive and well. Not just cryptocurrency, but exchanges where digital commodities – like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – will compete with traditional and alternative currencies.
- 3D manufacturing will power tiny home factories where we produce a lot of what we need around the house.
- Unless “information” is regulated, misinformation and disinformation will wreak social, economic and political havoc on even the most stable governments. Social media platforms will generate deep fakes and other threats at unimaginable paces. Bot wars will be out of control.
- How about immersion into old, current and future sporting events? I’ve always wanted to call the right play when it’s 4th and goal at the Super Bowl. Haven’t you? Or sink a long putt on 18 to win the Masters. Or kick the winning goal in a World Cup. Full immersion will forever change the way we watch – and experience – sports.
- Online sports gambling will be highly regulated. Maybe. It depends on how much damage it does to families.
- Media with be two-tiered: some will be “free” of advertising and other diversions and some will be surrounded by nothing but advertising. Those with money will be free; those without will suffer – same as today.
- Many of us will be “chipped” by 2033. We’ll be able to buy things, access currency, enter our homes and start our cars without keys, cards or smart-phones. Small chips will reside between our thumbs and index fingers. We won’t even know they’re there.
This is only a small sample of the changes coming to our personal and professional lives.
The drivers of all this change are already out of the barn. By 2033, 7G will connect everything. Artificial intelligence will enable just about everything from recognizing fruit and vegetables ready for picking by robotic arms to self-driving cars that know how avoid people crossing streets. Computer vision, image recognition, natural language understanding and algorithms – all sorts of algorithms – will power 2033. The Internet-of-Things – IOT – will add billions of devices to the world’s networks. 3D modeling and manufacturing will construct cars, houses and boats. Augmented and virtual reality will transform entertainment, commerce and learning. Robots will perform dangerous tasks, pick fruit, flip hamburgers, check us into hotels, provide child care and comfort the lonely. By 2033, many of us will be fully immersed in shared spaces that merge our physical and virtual existence. Imagine the impact on gaming, entertainment, commerce, marketing, communication and relationships. The metaverse – which may actually exist in 2033 (!) – is where all the changes come together – for better or worse. The distinction between real and virtual will blur.
Good, Bad & Ugly
These changes are mostly “good.” They free us from trivia, annoyances and boredom – the stuff of modern life. If technology can help us stay healthier and enable a more convenient and safer future, we shouldn’t fear it.
But it’s not all good. As more and more of our lives go digital, the threats to security, privacy, misinformation and manipulation grow. Cyberwarfare will be continuous and lethal. Cybersecurity will continue to be a huge business.
People will lose their jobs, and while the number of new jobs created by digital will grow, there will be an education and training gap in how we prepare for those jobs – despite all the educational technology that will be floating around. Like it or not, some kind of government policy response will be required. Eventually, and with the right investments, the gap will close. Digital will also be re-defined – in some quarters – as weaponry. New arms races will explode. The very nature of communication and relationships will change. Basic human emotions will exist in the physical and the faux virtual worlds complicating already distorted human interaction.
What a Story!
Digital has everything: excitement, danger, opportunity, suspense and a cast of award-winning characters. But unlike a movie that affects – maybe – the people who see it, this story affects everyone. So why doesn’t it attract more attention? Clickbait aside, the kind of change digital will deliver is worthy of some serious headlines – and conversation. When machines are already reading our MRIs and diagnosing our cancers, how in the world can we avoid discussions about how our lives will change, how business will be transformed, and what it even means to be human?
Buckle-up. Time Flies.