Posey's Tips & Tricks

Revisiting My Tech Predictions for 2020

To be fair, who could have predicted any of this?

For quite a few years now, I've been dedicating one my final columns of the year to lay out my tech industry predictions for the upcoming year. I also usually write a corresponding column revisiting my tech predictions from the previous year. This is that post.

Even though I write these technology predictions purely for fun, I confess that I was somewhat dreading writing this column. I initially couldn't remember what predictions I had made for 2020, but I was pretty sure that I got every single one of them wrong. After all, 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year and things have happened that almost nobody could have predicted.

As I looked back at my columns from the last year, however, I gleefully discovered that I did not write a "Technology Predictions for 2020" piece. Instead, I made some technology predictions for the upcoming decade, starting with 2020. While it would be unrealistic to expect a decade's worth or predictions to come true in a single year (especially such an unusual year), I thought it might still be fun to take a look back at what I had said, especially in light of everything that has happened this year.

1. 'AI Becomes the Default': Not Yet
My first prediction was that within the next 10 years, we would see artificial intelligence (AI) used absolutely everywhere. The idea was that AI and machine learning were starting to become so pervasive that it would eventually be included in nearly every product. I predicted that AI would eventually reach the point that nobody even mentions it anymore, because everyone would simply assume that a given product is AI-enabled.

At the time that I wrote that prediction, I thought of it as being similar to the evolution of television. At one time, it was common to see advertisements for color television. However, every TV manufactured in the last several decades has been a color TV, so nobody even mentions color anymore; it is simply a given. That's what I think will eventually happen with machine learning.

Obviously, we aren't there yet. Even with 2020 being such an unusual year, however, machine learning and AI continue to gain traction. In some ways, the pandemic has even accelerated the development of such technologies. A few months ago, for example, I spoke to someone who worked for a big-box retailer whose company was using AI-based facial recognition in some stores as a tool to identify shoplifters. While he did not come right out and say it, this person strongly hinted that a new machine learning technology was being developed that would be able to identify past offenders, even if they were wearing a mask.

2. 'Social Media Gets More Civil': Nope
Another tech prediction I made was that within the next 10 years, social media would look radically different from what it is was in 2019. When I made that prediction, I was envisioning a more civilized online environment free from trolls and mob attacks. I think it's safe to say that this has not happened yet.

3. 'Privacy Becomes Paramount': No...But Things Are Changing
Yet another prediction that I made was that we would soon see a major backlash among consumers who are tired of their tech products constantly spying on them, and that we would see a new generation of tech products that place a heavy emphasis on personal privacy.

Again, this hasn't happened yet. In some ways, however, this prediction and the earlier one about the social networks are starting to merge. There have been some new startup social networks created over the last year that are supposedly being marketed toward people who are fed up with the major social media players. (Keep in mind that this isn't something that I have looked into at all, so I have no idea whether these startups are worth using or not.)

4. 'PC Storage Evolves': Not Yet
Finally, I predicted that by 2030, most PCs would not have hard drives, and that battery-backed RAM would take the place of the hard disk. Again, this is something that has not come true in any way, shape or form.

I do still think it's possible that this prediction will eventually come true. After all, many of the newer PC motherboards support the use of Optane memory, which is essentially non-volatile storage that far outperforms SATA SSDs.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 19-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.

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