Becka is an amateur software developer from Georgia. He's interested in blockchain and AI.
One can hardly ever underestimate the effect and influence technology has on our lives. In every single area of our activity, be it work, leisure, fitness, or connection with friends and family members, the digital world has already penetrated them quite deeply.
To make but one example, take a look at finances and our relationship with money. For the longest period of the civilized world, people bought and sold things for an exchange of the actual money - metal coins predominantly because the banknotes were put into mass production no earlier than the 11th century in China.
But as the internet penetrated the financial world, it also led to changing the structure of money. While it was still issued by the governments and dependent on their monetary policy, it was no longer locked in the cashed form. Online retail, e-wallets, and other digital financial means became dominant in the field, changing the game forever. And that’s even before the cryptocurrencies were introduced.
So, not to go too deep into the world of finances, the bottom line is this: technologies have changed our lives to the extent we couldn’t have imagined. And as we plunge headlong in the next decade of the 2020s, this trend will see a massive acceleration, producing some of the craziest and most revolutionary products/services in various industries.
So, here are the top eight pieces of technology that will emerge and dominate in the next decade:
The era of electric vehicles is already here and what better way to prove it than bringing up Tesla with its luxurious electric cars like Model S and Model X or an unassuming Model 3. These cars have brought some of the biggest benefits to the automotive industry like low energy consumption, faster speeds, and driverless regimes.
The last one is probably the most anticipated piece of tech by car enthusiasts, and that’s what we’ll be seeing in the next decade. Car manufacturers are already working on developing autopilot mechanisms, brandishing them, and releasing into the wild automotive world.
The biggest challenge this technology faces right now is the recognition sensors. Tesla’s autopilot mode usually works if the roads have well-discernable signs and lanes. However, if the signs are indistinguishable, which is usually the case for the country roads, the autopilot will not function properly.
So, manufacturers are trying to improve on-board sensors and polish their sign-recognition mechanisms. And, with the help of another great invention of the new decade - 5G, the driverless cars will become even more effective. Such cars will be able to communicate with each other, determine their position on the road, and avoid any collisions.
Since we mentioned 5G in the previous paragraph, let’s talk about it in more detail. The connection speeds and bandwidth are some of the most crucial indicators of the internet. Without sufficient speeds and quality, a lot of companies will literally lose billions of dollars in revenue.
So, it goes without saying how a 5G network with its lightning-fast connection will improve the effectiveness of such companies. And not just theirs - everyone will benefit from 5G. While 4G was capable of reaching 300Mbps in a theoretical environment (with the actual speed of around 60Mbps), 5G can go well beyond 1Gbps. Yes, that’s right: more than 1Gpbs!
With such incredible speeds, businesses and individuals can achieve so many things. Driverless cars, for example, will be able to communicate with other cars in real-time, determining their position without a second of delay. Apart from that, such inventions as the Internet of Things (IoT) will greatly benefit from faster connections. If you’ve heard about smart homes, smart cities, and other “smart things”, 5G is the way for them to go.
Now, while 5G was already rolled out in some cities in 2019, the network was still very crude and confined. One had to drive hundreds, even thousands, of miles to merely test this technology. In 2020 and later on, we’ll undoubtedly see 5G routers, antennas, and receivers improve drastically, making the network accessible for wider masses. And the companies/individuals who jump at the opportunity first will yield the biggest results.
Another cool consumer tech that will see a massive boost in the next decade is a combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). In the previous decade, there have been various AR/VR projects flying around the industry, promising to change the future of tech. However, as exciting as they were, the idea of mass production and consumption was still quite unrealistic. One reason was that the actual headsets were chunky and uncomfortable, difficult to use in real life.
The next decade will probably bring some clarity to this technology. Since the connection speeds are on the rise (again, 5G), and the AR/VR headsets are becoming more and more compact, we’ll probably going to see them trickle down to the wider masses. And they can have a significant influence on entertainment, education, and other industries.
In 2019, the world saw one of the first mainstream folding phones released by Samsung. Sure, the technology wasn’t entirely new, with the phones like Huawei Mate X already pioneering the folding mechanism, but the consumer market didn’t exactly know anything about it.
So, Samsung Galaxy Fold can be considered a breaking point in this particular sector. But even that phone has some issues: the initial release had serious screen problems, the build itself is quite chunky and uncomfortable, etc.
In the next decade, this trend line in smartphones will see a massive boost. The new models are already planned for 2020 such as Microsoft Surface Neo and Duo. Plus, at the end of 2019, Motorola also paid homage to its legendary Razr with the new folding Razr phone. So, we’re on the verge of the new folding smartphone lineage.
Have you seen those videos where one person’s face is completely replaced with another to the point where it’s almost impossible to distinguish the difference? Yes, I’m talking about Deepfakes. This new line of video manipulation has seen a massive rise in popularity in 2019.
Deepfake technology depends on machine learning and CGI. First, the video and a person in it are analyzed by the software, mapping everything in it. Then, the software puts a new face on top of the existing one, aligning all the expressions and mimics. The result is this generic video where reality and manipulation become indistinguishable.
As the tech moves forward, producing such content becomes easier. And it poses serious threats to the information industry. Imagine watching a Deepfaked video where Donald Trump announces the nuclear attack on North Korea. Sure, the officials will not be that easily tricked, but the public will immediately panic on such news, causing unprecedented damage to the society.
So, not everything about technological development is all sunshine and rainbows. And in the next decade, we have to address this issue, not allowing it to enter the mass information industry.
Earth is our home; it’s where we’re born, raised, nourished, and ultimately buried. And all the above-mentioned tech inventions revolve around our lives on earth. However, as Cooper from my favorite movie Interstellar puts it, “Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.”
In recent years, space exploration programs have become more and more popular. While NASA has been around for more than half a century now, private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX have started their own space exploration projects, aiming towards some of the most outlandish goals.
One such goal is the development of commercial space travel. SpaceX is trying to cut back as many expenses as possible, using reusable rocket ships that can go up in the space and back to earth safely. This can be one of the most revolutionary entries in the transportation industry, allowing people to cover the distance from one end of the world to another in just minutes.
Not only that, Musk believes he’ll be able to send people to Mars, to colonize it first, and then establish commercial trips to it. Even in today’s standards, this goal sounds very over-the-top. However, the chances of its success might increase drastically over the next decade.
The story of our creation has begun pestering us right after the dawn of consciousness in our heads. We have created stories about gods and other celestial forces who out us here on earth; we have also used some scientific methods to deduce that we’re a product of the evolutionary process starting from the simplest creatures of water.
The question of “how human life came to be” is one of the underlying issues of genetic modification. The scientists who are engaged in this branch of science are ultimately trying to create a sustainable life on their own, without the interference of any godly or natural force.
In 2019, one headline regarding this topic included a Chiese scientist He Jiankui who was sentenced to jail due to his experimentation with the human embryo. The scientist managed, for the first time in human history, to alter the genes of the embryo, resulting in twin girls.
This example shows that there are scientists who go beyond moral deliberations and straight to business. And the next decade will probably show more results in this field since scientists of today have a much clearer path towards where their experimentations should go.
Watch any popular sci-fi movie and one thing that jumps out right away is the flying cars. People with their aerial machines scattering the skyscraper-steeped streets has long been the main theme of such movies. And the future might actually bring them into reality.
Some major industry players like Boeing and Uber are already planning to create their own taxis that will transport people through air traffic. According to their plans, cities like New York, Singapore, Los Angeles, and many others will soon see flying taxis with Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) abilities. In Singapore, a presentation of the Volocopter drew a pretty compelling picture of such reality.
Now, there are many skeptics criticizing these projects, claiming that the issues that aren’t as pressing on the ground will instantly become more life-threatening once in the air. For example, Neil DeGrasse Tyson argues that once such flying car breaks down, it’ll not stay stationary levitating in the air; it’ll go directly downwards with the free-fall speed, threatening the lives those in the passengers’ seats, as well as those on the street.
So, this goes to show that technology has many obstacles to overcome. But the enthusiasts believe that this decade will ultimately be a starting point for flying cars.