Posey's Tips & Tricks
What Computing Will Look Like in 2030: Top 5 Tech Predictions for the Next Decade
For better or worse, the next 10 years will bring more intelligent devices to more areas of our daily lives. From the proliferation of AI to what that means for user privacy, here are Brien's tech predictions for 2020 and beyond.
I have a long-standing tradition of using the last column of each year as an opportunity to give you my tech predictions for the coming year. Those predictions have never been something that I take super seriously; while I do try to make semi-accurate predictions, I also try to have some fun with it.
It is in that spirit of fun that I decided to throw my annual tech predictions piece out the window (at least for this year). Rather than telling you what I expect to see happen in the coming year, I want to instead make some predictions for the coming decade.
1. AI Becomes the Default
My first prediction is that within the next 10 years, we will see artificial intelligence (AI) used absolutely everywhere. This is already starting to happen. Few people would deny that AI is becoming a mainstream technology. Even so, we are at the point right now where various tech vendors use the inclusion of AI in their products as a selling point.
My guess is that by the end of the next decade (probably much sooner), AI will become so pervasive that nobody will even mention it anymore. It will simply be assumed that every product includes an AI engine.
2. Smartphones Get Even Smarter
Another prediction is that device intelligence will change the way that smartphones interact with devices. Right now, smartphones are the brains behind a lot of the tech products that we use every day. I think this trend will continue, but I also think that the ways in which smartphones interact with the world around them will evolve to become a bit simpler.
Right now, for example, apps are required for nearly everything that you want to do with your smartphone. As AI becomes more pervasive in tech devices and the devices themselves become smarter, they will be able to more easily interact with smartphones -- perhaps without the aid of a dedicated app.
I'm not quite sure what this will ultimately look like, but I could see smartphone vendors begin to embed RFID chips in phones. This would allow smart devices to recognize when a known smartphone is nearby. An RFID-enabled smartphone might, for instance, be able to open a smart lock or set the driver preferences in your car without the aid of an app.
While some of this type of functionality already exists, I am envisioning a world in which the AI-enabled devices in your home use your smartphone as a means to recognize you, and then use that recognition as a basis for learning your routines, preferences and behaviors so that the devices can respond accordingly.
3. Social Media Gets More Civil
Another tech prediction is that within the next 10 years, social media will be radically different from what it is today.
I tend to think of social media as one of those things that started out as a good idea, then went completely off the rails somewhere along the way. My guess is that the social media companies are going to have to come up with ways to crack down on online trolls and mob attacks if they are to remain relevant. Maybe AI can help with this problem, too.
4. Privacy Becomes Paramount
I also think that within the next few years (maybe even sooner), we are going to see a major backlash among consumers who are tired of their tech products constantly spying on them.
If that happens, then I think that a new generation of tech startups are probably going to follow the DuckDuckGo model and use a guarantee of privacy as a marketing tool.
5. PC Storage Evolves
Additionally, I suspect that the PCs that we will be using 10 years from now are going to be significantly different from those of today.
One of the biggest differences is that I think that most PCs in 2030 will not be equipped with a hard disk. My guess is that RAM prices will drop so significantly that it will finally become practical to use battery-backed RAM as an alternative to conventional storage, at least for the operating system and system files.
Data that requires a higher degree of protection against loss will likely be stored in the cloud. Today, price and bandwidth are barriers to cloud storage adoption. However, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if cloud storage is provided at a flat rate in 2030 and 10 gigabit connectivity to the cloud becomes the norm.
Taking the Long View
It's difficult to predict with any certainty what the future holds. Regardless, I think that by 2030 the world will be a very different place. Consider that 10 years ago in 2009, there were no iPads or smart speakers. Uber hadn't been created yet, nor augmented reality devices such as the Microsoft HoloLens.
When you consider just how different things were just 10 years ago, it makes you realize that things will almost certainly be vastly different in 2030 from what they are today.
Brien Posey is a 20-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.