On the 10th anniversary of its founding, Google has recently been asking 10 of its “experts” to give their predictions of what’s going to happen in the next 10 years as the internet evolves. I’m no expert but as a curious partaker in this brave new world, I thought I’d give a shot at coming up with my own list of future predictions –
- Computation moves into the cloud – obvious but important. This is the key to the future which will provoke massive social change. No longer will we be tied to our desks or fortified corporate networks. Work anywhere on any device with the same access to all the same resources.
- Technology is humanised – forget “plug and pray”, it just works. Long promised, rarely delivered. This is when technology is liberated from the geeks into the hands of the masses. Compatibility will be a thing of the past once computers all speak a common set of standard languages.
- Interfaces are revolutionised – keyboards and mice will seem quaint. Touch, eye, voice and possibly even brain controllers will be commonplace. If you think the iPhone is cool you haven’t seen anything yet. Understanding semantic context will make manipulating complex data childs play.
- Connectivity is ubiquitous – the internet is everywhere. Not just on your computer or mobile ~ it will be woven into the very fabric of everyday life as an essential additional layer connecting everything to everyone and visa versa. Blanket high-speed wireless connections will exist across all major cities.
- Personalisation gets personal – whether you are in the real world or the virtual world your social connections, interests and history (etc) will follow you everywhere you go. The flow of information will be automatically targeted and fine-tuned around this. You control who sees what/where/when.
- Language barriers are broken – English is only the 4th most spoken language in the world. Through real-time machine translation you now speak and understand the rest. The volume of information you have at available will drastically increase through this. Small businesses can now operate globally.
- Information overload & dependency – faced with more information than you could possibly imagine people will face new challenges of how to cope. Some will thrive in this new sea of unlimited potential while others will face serious mental collapse. There will be those who choose to disconnect entirely.
- Viruses are no more – with the majority of software provided as a service (SaaS) viruses which plagued Windows users will be a thing of the past. However, new even more dangerous and sophisticated threats will emerge with personal data stored in the cloud a prime target.
- Social homogenisation – spurred on by technology, globalisation takes an ever stronger hold on social norms. It becomes a cognitive and social culture, not a geographic one, which relies heavily on the notion of information and knowledge exchange in a complex web of relationships.
- Man-machine distinction blurs – the line between humans and machines begins to lessen. Old concepts of pre-net existence will seem foreign to our children who will liken the change to the Age of Enlightenment when mankind made a seismic shift in the way we live and ultimately exist.
This won’t all happen in the next 10 years but we are already seeing a steady progression towards it and, unless climate change or a natural disaster wipes us all out, I strongly believe this will be a reality well within our lifetime. What would be on your list?