It’s the start of new decade by most peoples figuring. What will the 20’s bring? Besides way too many references to 100 years ago and the roaring twenties. Here are my personal predictions for 2030 on a few tech trends.
Social Media (Facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat are the “big four” today) will no doubt continue to stir a moral panic in the zeitgeist. I think the overall impact has been positive on society, and I think we’ll continue to see the results thru increased cohesion and lifelong bonding amongst friends. Sure there will be political muck racking and arguments, just as there have been around kitchen tables for generations.
I really like the idea of VR, in the late ‘teens there have been baseball games broadcast in VR, and lots of games and experiments. Sadly I think it will go the way of the 3-D TV, still around, and certain niches will support it, but I don’t think we’ll see any kind of large market penetration of VR equipemnt.
We all remember the “glassholes” comments about google’s failed AR glassed of the mid 2010s. (And yes I know they live in on in certain professional fields, again a small niche), but I think the idea is solid. All of the bigger players are putting in big money (Microsoft’s Hololens, Apple reportedly has an AR team, and iOS already has AR features built in). My prediction is that by 2030 you’ll see AR glasses with roughly the same penetration as you see Apple Watches today.
The 2010s saw the smart phone go from a black rectangle to a slightly different form factor black rectangle. While the power and photo quality are markedly better, there was really no change in basic design. I predict in 2030 most people will still be using a black rectangle, maybe one that folds, and really just maybe one with a transparent screen that rolls out. Or maybe they will all just be a small USB fob sized box sending data to our AR glasses.
Computer “power” stays linear, but maybe a little better
Moore’s law predicted the doubling of transitors on computer chips every 2 years. It held true thru the mid-2000s, but it was always more about economics than technogy. The 2010s saw linear vs exponential gains in computing power on your average consumer chips (There were big gains in electrical (wattage) requirements for the better). I predict that we will continue to see small linear gains the next 10 years; however, there are some reasons to hope. The current Trump technology tariffs and bans have forced the Chinese chip makers to up there game, they aren’t in the same realm as Intel and AMD just yet, but they have big money behind them and more motivation to innovate. AMD is finally challenging Intel again with it’s Threadripper and other big chips. A good 3-way competition could really drive some much needed CPU innovation.
Machine Learning/ Artificial Intelligence/ Self-driving cars
AI has been a buzzword the last few years, but the raw computing power has fallen behind. There is also a disconnect between “can identify a person in a picture” and a fully autonomous being like “Data” from Star Trek. I think we’ll continue to see advances in the previous, complete with the bizarreness that sometimes comes from it. My prediction is we are 75-150 years away from a true thinking machine, one that can learn, reproduce, and be creative.
Self Driving Cars: 10 years ago I would have said we’d have real self driving cars by now. There is an official scale of these things (quick overview at the SAE ) level 0 is a 1965 Buick, dumb in every way. Going up to level 5 which is the fully self driving car in all conditions. This is the one you can get in drunk, you can summon from across town, then send to take your kids to school without you. Level 4 is a self driving car that still requires a conscious ( non-drunk) person in order to take over in emergencies, but otherwise is mostly self driving. Level 2 and 3 is sort of what we have today with Tesla’s Autopilot and others that require you to interact with the car every so often (about every 30 seconds). I think getting to level 5 will be a lot harder than people think, and we will still be in level 2-4 available for retail purchase in 2030.
Today 8k TVs are becoming more common, you can buy one 85 inches at the local electronics store here in Naha for around US$8000. 4K OLEDs are around $1,500 (We use an LG 4K OLED at RetroFuture’s underground command bunker). 1080p is soooo last year and 3D TV’s are impossible to find. My prediction is that in 2030 the “average” home TV will continue in the 45-65” range, and will be 8k OLED driven, with LCD panels phasing out as OLED becomes cheaper. Boomers and over invested tech bloggers will continue to insist that 480p is enough for anyone.
At the turn of 2020 the United States is embroiled in an impeachment, the left think it’s the apocalypse, the right think the messiah has come to save them from Obama. Most of this is driven by the media the various sides consume. Similar to the post Nixon period, I think we will see some back and forth the next 10 years. Perhaps a 1-term Trump, a democrat, and then a 2-term republican. As the Boomers finally age out, we may see less group think from the Fox News and MSNBC crowds. Although online platforms don’t promise any more diversity.
The Internet and Smartphones in developing countries
In 2019 and early 2020 we visited Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Particularly in Cambodia the smartphone revolution has come to the masses. We visited some houses in villages without permanent electricity (They ran a diesel generator for the village during the day, off at night ) who had massive USB power banks to keep their phones up. Kids who 10 years ago would have never seen anything but jungle were watching videos from around the world. Sure the majority of people use this for entertainment, but for those so motivated the education potential in enormous. Just as radio and telephone spurred tremendous technological achievement in the 1920s, I think the smartphone and ubiquitous internet will spur greatness in the 2020s. Collaboration with others around the world is now achievable by a poor kid who works on the street, I don’t think this can help but raise the quality of life for many.