Writing about a topic like this is always relatively tricky, as I am by no means a highly accurate fortune teller. However, I still believe that analysing the current technology trends may allow us to make predictions on what COULD happen over the next 10 years. Technological breakthroughs have the potential to alter these predictions greatly, as modern innovators are constantly breaking the realms of possibility (think Elon Musk for example). May we see a far greater move towards renewable energy? Might we all be flying around in drones soon? How fast might our wifi be?
The answer to all of these questions is going to be heavily debated – but who doesn’t love a discussion? If you do want to challenge any of my points, then feel free to do so in the comments below. Anyways, there are a number of things that I believe will change over the next decade. These involve things such as:
- Artificial intelligence
- Internet of Things
- Augmented/Virtual Reality
- Autonomous Vehicles
- Quantum Computing
- 3D Printing
Artificial Intelligence is one of the main technologies that we will increasingly see the impact of over the next 10 years. Much artificial intelligence is being used on platforms such as Spotify in order to serve you the music that is most tailored to your preferences. Not only this, but we see applications of this in things like chatbots too. The scariest example of this can be seen with Google Duplex (I have linked the video demo here). Through AI, the computer can gradually learn how humans interact and try to replicate this. What I am trying to say is that within the next 10 years, you may call a restaurant or hair salon to book a table or an appointment – and it will sound like you’re talking to a human, yet you are not…
The possibilities of software like this is virtually endless, as it will enable computers to take advantage of the huge amounts of data we have. From this, it will be possible to replicate the way that humans interact with one another. Every day we see these technologies continuing to improve, and this can be seen even now with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. All of which utilise AI. Lastly, Tesla are also using it to allow its cars to ‘learn’, in order to make them better autonomous drivers per say.
Internet of Things
As of now, many of us have smart devices in our homes, that allow us to be remotely notified of an issue, or allow us to turn things on and off remotely (or at set times). The Internet of Things is what will actually connect these smart devices together. Let me explain. Currently you could have a smart smoke alarm for instance, and if this goes off you get notified on your phone. You would then have to try and call the fire department and just hope that they get there in time.
The Internet of Things could change all of that. If everything was connected and the devices could communicate with one another, the chain of events would look very differently. In this scenario, what would happen is that if the smoke detector is set off, then it signals to cut power to that room as well as turning off any gas (such as a stove). Concurrently, it would also automatically alert the fire department. Thus it could improve our safety overall. In essence, this will allow for the automation of a set of tasks that people would have had to do in the past (or give them access to knowledge about things that they may not have been able to access before).
Another example of where this could go is in cars. For example, if you’re a parent and own a car, that your teenager also drives – you could set it up to send you a text message if the car exceeds a certain speed. The sheer power of having interconnectivity among devices creates a large number of uses for this technology, especially over the next 10 years.
Currently, we are in a transitional phase for this technology. VR has been around for quite a while now with the Oculus rift being released back in 2012. However, the technology is still quite expensive 8 years later unfortunately. Over the next 10 years, Virtual Reality headsets will continue to become increasingly immersive and become more affordable for the general public. We will see more games come with VR available (or specifically for VR headsets).
Augmented Reality is slightly different and more available to the public rather immediately through our smartphones. Most of us have the power of a modern smartphone at our disposal constantly, and AR will become a more integrated part of that. We have already seen companies like IKEA testing this out, by allowing you to use AR to see what certain furniture may look like in your room. Apple have also began to use it more in the iPhone, which is evident in the measurement app for example. Since all of these big companies are already trying to implement this more, I believe that the next 10 years will make this a more natural occurrence. The one company that I am waiting to see use more of this is Google in its Maps app. Thus, we could then use the camera on our phone, and the directions would be overlaid on the actual roads. This was also tested a few years ago – so I’m sure it will eventually come.
I already feel like autonomous vehicles are developing so quickly, with Tesla at the forefront. The fact that you can buy a car that comes with the ability to drive itself in a variety of situations is amazing. It can change lanes. It can turn. It drives like a normal car. Through the previously mentioned artificial intelligence, the more that this technology is around, the better it gets. The craziest thing is that this can all be pushed out through software updates. What a world we live in!
Over the next 10 years, cars will likely be able to move safely with no human input whatsoever. The only issue I can see coming is when the majority of vehicles become autonomous, as the vehicles will obviously be taught not to hit people. This could encourage jaywalking, and potentially lead to worse traffic jams. Although, this is just a personal opinion. I am just not completely sure how we would deal with an issue like this, but usually humans are good at sorting problems like this out.
The fifth generation of technology standards for cellular communication, which will have greater bandwidth and thus provide higher download speeds (potentially up to 10 gigabits/second). Unfortunately, despite 5G coming out in 2019, the majority of phones are not 5G enabled. For instance, Apple still hasn’t released a 5G enabled iPhone, and since they have a huge market share, the technology will not be widespread until the largest players produce these phones. Over the course of the next decade, 5G technology will become more prevalent through the production of 5G enabled phones and more phone deals containing 5G at cheaper prices.
This is arguably one of the coolest technologies that I have on this list. This involves the potential to edit our genes, and perhaps remove genes that cause bad diseases. This is mainly being tested with animals currently, as humans have very similar DNA to them. I bet you didn’t know that mice and humans share 85% of their DNA! This also has more widespread potential in the form of allowing crops to withstand different conditions, or to be able to come with insecticide almost ‘built-in’.
This technology also has the potential to remove/edit/add certain genes that cures some of the worst diseases. At present, it is possible that gene-editing could lead to cures for:
- Genetic Blindness
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Blood Disorders
Drones are definitely a large part of the future. Although probably not in some of the ways that you are currently expecting. I think in package delivery, drones are definitely the future. They are able to deliver packages throughout the entirety of the day, and they can deliver them quickly. Amazon are already starting to test this out and eventually they will likely roll out this technology more globally. Although there are a number of issues still that need to be sorted out (as the system isn’t built for drones quite yet). One such issue could arise if the person is not home, as most of the time the drone would leave the package on the porch or in the garden – will we all need secure ‘drone’ postboxes? Who knows…
The other thing that I still don’t really believe in right now, and maybe I will be wrong about this… but I don’t think that drones will be a form of transport for a large number of individuals anytime soon. This is because of the energy that would be required to take that kind of weight off the ground. It would be a waste of energy as cars would be far more efficient. What Elon musk is doing with HyperLoop to solve traffic issues, seems much more logical to me. Unfortunately, I still don’t think we will see flying cars for ages, or perhaps ever, due to the waste of resources.
Now this one still confuses me a lot too. Quantum computers are kind of like supercomputers but on steroids. They use these quantum bits, which are different to the normal bits (1 or 0) that we have in computers as of now. Essentially the issue is that our processors which consist of transistors are reaching the point where they can’t get any smaller. The size of transistors is approaching the size of an atom. Hence, we are reaching physical limitations of technological speeds. Scientists then came up with these quantum bits (Qbits) that can not only be 1 or 0, but can be both at the same time or be anything in between.
This essentially allows far more data to be held in each Qbit, thus leading to far greater processing power. These quantum computers will become more commercial over the decade to come, as right now they are incredibly expensive, and only a few institutions have one. This has potential uses in:
- Drug development
- Traffic optimisation
- Financial modelling
- Solar capture
- Weather forecasting
- and many more!
This is extremely complex, but for the average person like you or I – it basically means EXTREMELY fast computers and potential for far greater technological developments.
We now have the ability to create things using layers. You can make parts for all sorts of different things, as it’s like having a production machine in your room. We have already seen food being 3D printed, houses being 3D printed and unfortunately more negative things like guns being printed. This development has induced the decrease in manufacturing costs, as it requires far less labour to manufacture something.
Something more amazing in this field, is the ability to potentially print things such as body tissues and skin cells. Another additional medical benefit could be in prosthetic sockets, which they have been trying to print in the University of Toronto. Should some of these go through and be successful, we could see massive decreases in medical-related costs.
This could also have the potential to help the environment, as things could be designed remotely and then ‘manufactured’ in your home. This would save on many transportation costs too, and lead to the environment being protected a bit more.
Finally, I mentioned 3D printing houses – and that is truly crazy! It would allow for construction to be completed at a far faster rate, and allow more homes to be produced cheaply and efficiently. The only issue is that this will disrupt the construction industry, thus putting many people out of work. This sounds more like it might be something that happens over the course of 20 years, rather than 10.
The final item on this list that could be an important part of the next 10 years is nanotechnology. This is mainly concerned with building things on the scale of atoms or molecules. Through nanotechnology, it could be possible to implant sensors into our body that monitor things like inflammation. They would monitor our vital signs, and could even positively interfere with organ functions.
We already see some forms of nanotechnology in water repellant coats and in some trainers, and we could see nanotechnology create more self-healing materials. This could be used in aircrafts for example, to prevent small cracks becoming larger ones.
The closest use of nanotechnology that we have been seeing over the past year is in flexible screens, as seen on Samsung Galaxy Fold or the Samsung Z Flip. These will become more common over the next decade, in the form of rollable TVs as one example.
The next 10 years will bring significant amounts of technological change that may even be difficult to comprehend. In my opinion, it will be as significant in technological progress as the last decade. We have the chance of curing previously incurable diseases, printing body tissue and having sensors inside our body. The world continues to advance technologically, and hopefully this will give you a flavour of what you can look forward to. Let me know what you think the world might look like in 10 years in the comments?