The twenty-teens

Around this time of year for the past few years I have written a blog post listing what I expected to occur during the coming year. Since this new year marks the start of a new decade, I thought I would start a new tradition and write a post on my expectations for the coming decade. 2020 is a long way away, so I’m sure most of this will miss the mark. Hopefully at least 48 year old me will be amused by what 38 year old me had to say.

Please note that just because something is on this list does not mean that it’s something I want to happen, only that it’s something I think will happen. Anything that’s missing from this list is probably just something I didn’t think of.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any or all of these.  Please comment below.

General Technology Trends:

  1. Moore’s Law will continue to operate for the entire decade. That means a given form-factor of computing device will be approximately 100x the power of the same form-factor today.
  2. Mobile computing will dominate. Everyone who owns a laptop or desktop today will have a mobile device that is about 10x the power of their current computer.  We may still call these “phones”, but placing voice calls will only be one tiny part of what they do. This device will replace most users’ desktop and laptop computers.
  3. Digital Distribution will be king. Only a tiny fraction of the media that’s currently consumed digitally (TV, movies, music, and software) will be purchased on a hunk of plastic. Both the subscription model (aka Rhapsody or cable television) or the purchase model (aka iTunes or DVDs) will have at least 20% market share, but one of those two models will be gradually taking over. Advertising supported media will be just as big of a deal as it now, but the user will have much more control over how they consume that media (think Hulu rather than broadcast television.) Books are on the same trajectory, but in 2020 the majority of books will still be sold on dead trees.
  4. Speach recognition will gain a lot of ground as the primary way we enter text into a computer. Offices are one place where this trend won’t have advanced very far mostly because of the noise involved.

Game Industry Trends:

  1. Total revenues from video games of all kinds (including mobile and social games) will exceed revenue from movies and television (independantly, not added together.) Games will finally learn to exploit merchandising and secondary markets as vigorously as movies do.
  2. In 2020 no one will be selling a dedicated gaming console. All computing devices in production in ten years will be about consuming other kinds of media just as much as they are about playing games.
  3. Desktop PC gaming will be all but dead, with the majority of triple-A games coming out for multi-media consoles or mobile devices.
  4. Gaming that involves exercise will be the primary way that the majority of people get their exercise.
  5. Location-aware games will be common.

Augmented reality:

  1. A growing minority of people in the developed world will wear heads up displays almost all the time. These displays will be capable of information overlays, but will mostly be about contextual information that is not overlaid on the world. These products will be on the verge of hitting the mainstream, but won’t quite be mainstream yet.
  2. Development of these displays will be by small companies (perhaps companies that are around now) but those companies will be acquired by massive consumer electronics multinationals before wearable displays hit the mainstream.
  3. Recognition of people and text in images (and video) will be nearly perfect, at least in reasonable lighting conditions.
  4. Gestural interfaces will be commonplace. Many hard-core computer users will be sad at how clumsy they are compared to keyboard and mouse.

The fate of specific companies:

  1. Google will be huge and influential. Their influence will likely peak in the 2010s, but it will difficult to see that from the ground. Google will have had some sort of anti-monopoly action taken against them.
  2. Microsoft will fail to transition to the new mobile-centric world and will be in decline. They will still be a very powerful multi-billion-dollar company, but will not own the end-user to nearly the extent they do now.
  3. A company that exists today will be the dominant social network.  that could be Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, but it probably won’t be MySpace.
  4. Apple will be huge and influential. They won’t ever be as dominant as Microsoft was in the 90s, but they will be very successful. Steve Jobs will still be running the company.

US Politics:

  1. Gay marriage will be legal in most states.
  2. Marijuana use will be legal in California and a few other states.
  3. We won’t have elected a woman president. (My wife came up with this one, but I agree with her.)
  4. The problems of illegal immigration will not be solved.
  5. The problems of providing health-care to everyone that needs it will not be solved.
  6. Privacy in an age of always-on location-aware devices will be a huge topic of debate.
  7. Silicon Valley will remain the world’s premier startup region.
  8. The US will still have troops in both Iraq and Afganistan. These will be like the troops we still have in Germany and South Korea, and will not be in combat often, if ever.

International Politics:

  1. Carbon emissions will be at approximately their peak in 2020.
  2. Oil production will also be peaking around 2020.
  3. Most other countries will be ahead of the US in terms of switching to renewable energy.
  4. Most of the rest of the world will have consumer-friendly privacy regulations in place. Those countries will scratch their heads at the debate raging in the US.

Things that will not happen:

  1. We will not have flying cars, jet-packs, or most of the other things promised by Sci-Fi in the 50s.
  2. There will not be peace in the middle east.
  3. Africa will still be the poorest continent.
  4. Brain-computer interfaces will still not work very well. No one will be uploading themselves into a computer.
  5. We won’t have a human equivalent AI.
  6. We won’t know how to reliably unfreeze people.
  7. World War Three won’t have happened.


8 Responses to “The twenty-teens”

  1. Jeep Barnett said on :

    Allow me to add some music predictions:

    1. Using improvements in media display systems (3D TVs, VR, spherical projection, or whatever) and possibly interactive inputs (future consoles)… big record publishers will find a way to package a home version of the concert stage event. And a step beyond packaged recordings… live pay-per-view media of this form. Combining this with a narrower demographic of big heavily sponsored artists/acts they’ll thrive as their own industry alongside point #2…

    2. Artists with semi-large followings will embrace private digital distribution for the win. By working with lesser known artists of their liking and genre, they’ll form several pocket sub-cultures with dedicated followers (similar to the previous underground Hip-Hop movement) with their own fashion trends, etc.

    3. A generation of gamer musicians inspired by Guitar Hero and licensed tracks from the previous generation bring back the sounds of classic rock with the additions of modern tech. Using the extreme patience they’ve learned from grinding RPGs, they become new masters of their instruments.

    4. An experimental new type of music will be spawn from a device that can roughly translate neural thoughts of sounds into an audio stream.

    5. Enya, Joe Satriani, and ?uestlove briefly form a super group and create the greatest song of all time.

  2. Dave Mark wrote on :

    Hey Joe… thought you would get a kick out of this OpEd in the Wall Street Journal today: “Technology Predictions Are Mostly Bunk”

    I like this list of the worst technology predictions:

    “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys,” Sir William Preece, chief engineer at the British Post Office, 1878.

    “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” H.M. Warner, Warner Bros., 1927.

    “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

    “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night,” Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

    “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most,” IBM executives to the eventual founders of Xerox, 1959.

    “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” Ken Olsen, founder of mainframe-producer Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

    “No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer—640K ought to be enough for anybody,” Bill Gates, Microsoft, 1981.

    “Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput,” Sir Alan Sugar, British entrepreneur, 2005.

  3. Jenn wrote on :

    I can’t believe I’m disagreeing with you on a gaming prediction, but:

    4. Gaming that involves exercise will be the primary way that the majority of people get their exercise.

    I disagree. I think game-based exercise will replace the exercise video market, but too many people prefer to exercise outdoors or in team/group activities for it to be dominant in the next ten years. Do not underestimate the fanaticism of runners.

  4. Joe replied on :

    I guess I was thinking of “exercise” as what people do in a gym (whether that gym is at a club they joined as part of some new years resolution or a treadmill at home.) It’s that kind of exercise that I think will become videogameized. Nothing much is going to change with team sports or running.

  5. Chip commented on :

    Came here looking for info about AR, but am now distracted.

    I agree with most of this, especially that mobile devices will replace laptops as laptops have largely replaced desktop machines. After being the early leader in mobile, Apple will once again fail to hold a market, as it failed with desktop PCs. MS, on the other hand, will transition nicely to mobile devices and be a leading player in the market, especially among corporations. The dominant mobile OS, however, will be android. Like DOS in the 80s, it is the only current OS, as far as I know, not tied to hardware. Being backed by Google also helps, as they and MS will both be Gorillas by 2020.

    Most people will still not be using speech recognition technology to enter text or data, but the use of the technology in specialized areas will continue to grow. I worked at Dragon Systems developing ASR technologies from 1992 until they folded on the last day of 2001. In 1992, they believed ASR would be the usual input method in 2000. In 2000, they pushed that back 2010. But the plain fact is that ASR is considerably more usable in domains where the vocabulary is restricted. Speech recognition technology is just not that accurate in the general speech domain.

    Jeez, this is fun.

    Globalization will continue.

    The Euro will replace the Dollar as the reserve currency. (And this only 75 years after the bankers at the Reichsbank had to get their daily bread from the Allied Armies.)

    The EU will be the main source of consumer protection from overly-restrictive software patent and copyright laws, and under-restrictive privacy laws, in the US. Forced to adhere to EU standards to participate in the larger EU markets, US corporations will adapt those standards here.

    On the other hand, US internet and mobile networks, will fall significantly further behind European and Asian networks. The US will never be the main source of mobile development. Its share of RIA development will decline significantly. Google overseas will be much larger than Google domestic.

    Regulating privacy, when everyone carries location-aware devices, will be a source of great debate here. In the end, a sensational stalking crime will force laws that restrict access to gps location on personal devices.

    The EU will have a true military force that does not include the UK. NATO will be replaced by a treaty between the US, the EU and the UK.

    The US will be out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Korea and Germany. Marijuana will be legal nationally, and a major source of federal tax revenue. The US Navy will be smaller. The US military presence worldwide will likewise be reduced. The US will spend 25%, not the current 45%, of the total worldwide military budget. This, and not major cuts in domestic social programs, will be the choice for getting the national debt in hand. (Reducing spending overseas will prove more palatable than reductions at home.)

    Gay marriage will be legal in New England, NY, California and perhaps a few more states on the west coast and in the upper Midwest, but not in the majority of states. Lindsay Graham (R – SC) will be the only openly gay US Senator. (Actually, isn’t he that already?)

    This is too much fun, so I will quit here, but thanks for the suggestion.

    Chip Moore

  6. Joey1058 thought on :

    About the only thing I see differently is the concept of the “home console”. Eventually, ISP’s will come to the realization that everything connected in the home will need a hub. Today’s television box will be replaced by an ISP provided home server. Only then will the mish-mash of game consoles, network attached storage, TV boxes, audio systems, and wireless routers fall by the wayside.

  7. Wasim thought on :

    I disagree with head mounted displays, they will not hit main stream. However, projective AR will surely hit masses through nano/pico projectors embedded in mobile devices, or head mounted.

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