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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Desktop PC gaming will be all but dead, with the majority of triple-A games coming out for multi-media consoles or mobile devices.
- Gaming that involves exercise will be the primary way that the majority of people get their exercise.
- Location-aware games will be common.
- 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.
- 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.
- Recognition of people and text in images (and video) will be nearly perfect, at least in reasonable lighting conditions.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gay marriage will be legal in most states.
- Marijuana use will be legal in California and a few other states.
- We won’t have elected a woman president. (My wife came up with this one, but I agree with her.)
- The problems of illegal immigration will not be solved.
- The problems of providing health-care to everyone that needs it will not be solved.
- Privacy in an age of always-on location-aware devices will be a huge topic of debate.
- Silicon Valley will remain the world’s premier startup region.
- 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.
- Carbon emissions will be at approximately their peak in 2020.
- Oil production will also be peaking around 2020.
- Most other countries will be ahead of the US in terms of switching to renewable energy.
- 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:
- We will not have flying cars, jet-packs, or most of the other things promised by Sci-Fi in the 50s.
- There will not be peace in the middle east.
- Africa will still be the poorest continent.
- Brain-computer interfaces will still not work very well. No one will be uploading themselves into a computer.
- We won’t have a human equivalent AI.
- We won’t know how to reliably unfreeze people.
- World War Three won’t have happened.