I’d like to put on my technology analyst hat for a few minutes and look at what our daily lives will be like in ten years. This isn’t science fiction. What I used to do for a living was to look at current trends and the state of current technology including technology in the labs and extrapolate. It’s not as scientific as analyzing cancer vaccines, but it is far from being science fiction or witchcraft.
Do you remember the household technology names ten years ago? Microsoft and Dell were riding high. Apple was gaining minor market share in the business world but starting to make serious inroads in the consumer space. A decade later we see Dell going private and trying hard to be relevant. The company is playing Hamlet and debating whether it’s a hardware company or a services company, a sure sign that it’s in serious trouble. Microsoft has lots of cash, but people aren’t embracing Windows 8. It still has such a greedy attitude towards licensing that its products are severely overpriced.
Apple has become a giant, but that often happens before a decline. The seeds of its own destruction have already been sown. Remember all the college kids who wore white ear buds, happy to be identified with such cool products? Today, many of them have already migrating to Samsung products. It’s their parents who now think of Apple as “cool.” Don’t get me wrong; I live in an Apple-centric house. Unfortunately, my wife and I are not Apple’s main demographic target. We’re likely to stay with Apple products because of their ease-of-use, but that won’t help the company. It has gone from being led by a visionary to being led by a bean counter. The results will be similar to what happened when John Scully took over Apple several years ago. Paid his bonus based on profits rather than market growth, the ex-Pepsi boss chose to not license Apple products to keep his margins high. He succeeded but lost the PC market for a decade.
A decade from now we’ll live in a ubiquitous high-speed wireless world. Rather than walk around with tablets, we’ll carry a small processor or even wear one. We’ll be able to use virtual reality technology to see a screen the size of our peripheral vision. We’ll type without a keyboard using the same technology.
The video we view will become more like holograms, freed from the physical limitations of a screen. In effect, watching a movie in the home will be like watching the characters perform right in front of you. That might actually have a negative impact on live theater.
The wireless world we will live in will also mean that we’ll carry our own health monitoring equipment with us. Doctors will be able to monitor our vital signs remotely and even step up the controlled doses of medicine we’ll be receiving from pumps embedded in our bodies.
Privacy will be completely gone except for hotels that advertise that they have cones of silence for those who truly want to get away. The stress people feel a decade from now will come from the oppression of their social networks. You won’t even have to tweet where you are because your various circles of friends will be able to zero in on your exact location. Not letting someone into your closest circle will be today’s equivalent of not responding favorably to a request to Friend someone.
Visual recognition technology will be good enough and fast enough for salespeople to be able to point their miniature cameras at someone and have the database in the Cloud respond with contact information. People will chronicle their lives in video clips. Of course, no one need ever be disconnected from the NET. Many people will have wireless connectivity chips implanted so that they can use brain commands to perform basic computing and navigation commands. Sound far-fetched? The technology already is here.
Depending on your perspective, I’m either presenting an idyllic vision or a dystopic vision. If you enjoy sitting down and reading a book in peace, then I can guess your response. Similarly, if you prize slowly developing a relationship with someone and gradually learning about them, then I can guess how you view this future as well. Today, we Google people before agreeing to date them. Imagine what we can learn about people a decade from now. We likely will be able to monitor our acquaintances let alone our friends on a minute by minute basis. We’ll be able to learn what they buy, who their friends are, where they are at any moment, and even where they went on their last date. At that point, finding yourself in a wireless-free zone in the middle of the Brazilian jungle might not seem so very bad.