The Government Technology conference is in Ottawa this week and it’s interesting to see what the hot topics are. This year, the biggest issues are centered around apps, BYOD, cybersecurity and general mobility. It got me thinking about what technologies will disappear in the coming years, and which will be increasingly important. What will governments be concerned about 50 years from now? As a discussion point, here are 5 technologies that are disappearing and 5 that are going to become ubiquitous.
1. Physical media (5 years): cloud based storage is going to make all physical media completely obsolete. We’re basically there already but the fact that HMV is still in business says we still have 5 years to go.
2. Reactive medical care (10 years): the increase in wearable technologies is going to allow us to transition to preventative care, rather than reactive.
3. Physical currency (20 years): the black market as well as developing nations are going to keep physical currency in circulation for at least 20 years but technology adoption will eventually see it disappear.
4. Personal privacy (20 years): currently, it’s very difficult to live a life off the grid, but in 20 years, personal privacy will be completely eradicated. Both the pressures of having a digital presence as well as surveillance technologies will make personal privacy a thing of the past.
5. Smartphones (15 years): it’s going to take some time for the developing world to catch up, but in 15 years, you can expect North America to be beyond smartphones. We’re going to look back on the fact that we used to dial a number or touch a screen and laugh.
1. Information economy: this one is obvious and just watch Mark Zuckerberg discuss it at the beginning of his video for Internet.org.
2. Free education: Khan Academy is doing an excellent job in this respect. For those who can’t afford a great education, or one isn’t available in their country, free, digital education will liberate them.
3. Cryptocurrency: government taxation and complex legal systems are forcing the hand of cryptocurrencies. Your government believes its job is to be your babysitter and stop you from buying marijuana, so why not just buy it online with an untraceable currency?
4. Robots: the demographics in certain countries such as Japan are becoming such that ubiquitous robotics are going to be essential. An aging population and a lack of a labour industry will require robots to literally do the heavy lifting.
5. Cybernetics: we’re getting close to the ability to integrate machines and humans. Prosthetics are so advanced that even the US miliatary is able to send some of its disabled veterans back into the field because they’re not inhibited by the lack of limbs. Soon, we’ll see more complicated body functions replaced with synthetic parts.
Here’s my totally out there prediction: in 50 years, we’ll see the first direct human and cloud computing integration. If you’re a Star Trek TNG fan, you might remember the episode where Lieutenant Barclay integrated his brain with the ship’s computer. That’s the kind of technology that should be possible to some extent in 50 years.
Ray Kurzweil discussed this in his book called The Singularity Is Near and will hopefully work with Google to bring the concept to fruition. Imagine the power of Google Cloud Computing in the year 2060, built into the human brain in a cybernetics program. This is the kind of technology which will likely turn the human race into Type III species on the Kardashev scale.