Today we begin both a new year, and a new decade. The third decade of the 21st century. I am looking forward to it because one, I guess at 25 years of age, it is sort of an important period in the life of any human. And two, because tech is awesome. And since I am always fascinated by tech, it is important, and fun, to look into the future and imagine it before it arrives.
Just before sitting down to type this, I was imagining people living in the 1920s. What would they think of the 2020s? What would they think of us, the people who’ve just started this new decade? Would they even have the mindset to imagine the tech we would be interacting with? How wrong or how right would they be about this future?
And then I tried to imagine the 2120s. And I realised how vain it would be to even try. Things would be so different then. Perhaps the people living in the 1920s felt the same way. Or perhaps they didn’t since things changed more slowly then than they do now.
Anyway, in keeping up with the tradition of writing an article about what to expect in a new year, I decided not to write just about the year 2020, but the whole decade. Whatever you read here is presented in a simple manner. I won’t go deep. I’ll leave you to read more on each topic when you have the time. So here are the things I believe will shape this new decade:
|Artificial Intelligence||Data Science, Jobs, Transport|
|The internet of things||5G, New Operating Systems, MicroKernels, Voice instead of touch|
|Batteries||Long lasting, fast charging|
|Bio Engineering||Gene editing, Nanotechnology, and much more|
|Reality||Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality|
|Online Trends||Social Media, Privacy, Shopping, Gaming|
|Money||Cashless world, Mobile Money, currencies|
|Inter-planetary Beings||Mars travel, Moon Tourism|
Whether or not you’re of the opinion that since the beginning of the new century technological innovation has declined and that most of the recent innovations have focused on communication and digital advancements instead of improving human life, and the physical world, you must agree that in the 2020s, most of the things we are looking forward to will revolve around around making a better world, and bettering human life. And AI will play a huge role in this.
I keep mentioning AI as this huge thing, but I still feel most of the people I interact with don’t see the big fuss about it. Funny, most are people with a smartphone.
In the 2020s, AI will truly come to life. We will see it in everything we do. Actually, if you look at that list above, everything mentioned greatly revolves around AI.
In the next 10 years, our lives will most probably completely revolve around AI. From how we travel, to what we eat, how we get treated, how we reproduce, and to how we define who we are.
In the first part of the decade, data science will be a very lucrative job. This generation of data scientists will play a very huge role on the machine learning models that will be created for the training that’s needed. They’ll be one of the most sought after people as they will be the key to the AI race that’s underway.
Future of work:
Jobs will also change greatly. Repetitive tasks will be easily replaced with advanced systems, and we will interact a lot with simple to complex machines in our daily lives. I fear that this will greatly affect many lives of minimum wage workers, thereby increasing the levels of extreme poverty, and increasing the economic inequality which has been on the rise all through this century. I fear AI stands to benefit the rich more than the poor. I hope this won’t be the case.
This is also the decade where self-driving cars will really take off. We’ve seen great advancement by Tesla with their electric cars, and with Google’s WAYMO project. This is the decade when more and more manufacturers will show the world what they’ve been working on, and by the end of the decade these vehicles, plus other crazier alternatives will be accessible to most of the world.
I am looking forward to see how Africa takes up electric vehicles. I am looking forward to their uptake in Kenya. Who will build the first charging network? What will be the legislation around them? These questions will hopefully all have been answered by 2030.
Internet of Things:
5G has received a lot of hype in 2019. This is the decade when this technology will actually be clearly defined. Currently, it’s a mess even though it packs a lot of promise. Yet, it is the key to the future of literally everything. Everything we imagine in the future is built around inter-connectivity, and high speed internet, through 5G or even a faster standard, is that link.
New Operating Systems:
We’ve lived in a decade defined by a couple of Operating Systems. As at now, two of major OSs define the lives we live; that is Android or iOS. These two may remain very important OSs in the coming years, but they most probably won’t remain the same as they are now.
In this new decade we will see the rise of microkernel based OSs. We are moving to a future where everything in the home will be connected to the internet in some way. 5G is important for that, and the new IPV6 will be instrumental in ensuring all these devices have IP addresses. But these devices will need a simple system for them to be able to connect to the internet, and communicate with other devices. Android and iOS as they are currently built are “too big” to run on these small devices, and that’s where microkernels come in.
Voice over touch:
With all these new devices, the idea of mobile phones will change. One will be connected through very many different tech gadgets. And the method of interacting with devices will surely shift from touch to voice. We will talk more with our devices, than we will touch them. Companies will need to do a lot in machine learning to ensure our different accents work.
Security and Privacy:
With the inter-connectivity of many different home gadgets, the focus on security and privacy will be even more than it has been in the past few years. Governments will need to write new regulations on privacy to keep companies in check as they stand to collect so much more data from the different gadgets. The same governments will also have so many more avenues to spy on people. People will need to be very cautious of their devices, and their lives as they will be more vulnerable than ever before.
We have had nothing significant happen with batteries for a long while now. The inventions of the past are what we still rely on today for most of our battery powered tech. But this will completely change in the new decade.
It might now seem crazy, but by the end of the decade it’ll be crazy to imagine a battery lasting a few hours, or a few days. It’ll also be crazy to imagine that there was a point in time when we’d take long hours charging our phones, or our cars.
We will have our phone batteries last long, and the charging will also be super fast. More cities will be reliant on battery power, and all cars being sold will be fully electric. This will be the decade of renewable energy as man will be trying to resolve climate change.
I believe, and with all the recent efforts we’ve seen from different people, and different ventures, we will actually reverse climate change this decade.
This is the decade the conversation on gene-editing will really take shape. We are on the brink of a different era of human beings. With gene editing, people will be able to do very incredible things. Weird, but incredible. This is the decade we will ask ourselves very complex questions about life. Where should we draw the line? What can we do, and what shouldn’t we do? What power should we have on our offspring? But most importantly, the question that will most probably define this decade is what exactly we are.
Hopefully, this is the decade we cure most of the illnesses that have plagued mankind for the last few decades. Hopefully AI will help a lot on this.
This sounds like a vain point. But think of it this way: most of the kids in Kenya currently below 12 don’t think of money the same way we do – as pieces of paper, or coins. They think of money as some digital thing you interact with through a mobile phone, or through cards. They also don’t think of TV they way we thought of it growing up. They have access to multiple things we never imagined growing up, and they can’t imagine a different world, because that’s what they’ve grown up interacting with. The same will be the case by the 2030s.
This decade will change how we interact with the world. There will be Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality technologies in schools, in smart glasses, in music concerts, in home entertainment systems, and much more.
- The kids who will grow up in this decade will think of the world very differently.
- We will in the new decade game differently, socialize differently, and shop differently. I am looking forward to seeing how social media will change in the new decade. Will we by the end of the decade be able to mix our realities with the people we are interacting with through social media? Will we be able to interact with the items we are buying online, before making our orders?
- And what of money? How will we define money by the end of the decade? Will mobile money change? Will we have bio-chips for money? Will the world still be defined by different strong and weak currencies? Or by virtual cryptos?
By the end of the decade, we may be a completely different world – in our thinking, our lives, our interaction, and our being. SpaceX will have done trips to Mars. By then there will be new companies in the new Space Race. Moon tourism will be a thing for the extremely rich. We will probably be exploiting resources on other bodies in space.
This is an important decade in the existence of man. I am glad to be alive in these times.
What are you looking forward to in the new decade?