Things that will look ridiculous in 20 years

anni 80Some things are so funny in retrospect: people think

“Did we really dress LIKE THAT?”

“Did people really wear their hair THAT WAY?”

Yet, at the time most of us would not notice this gentleman here, like we do not notice the myriad hipsters who infest our city centres.

I don’t think my own head was ever that funny, even though I must confess that not so long ago I toyed with a japanese-style ponytail and hippie curly hair, a double sin for someone who was then hitting fifty.GFC 2006 a

So today I started thinking of other things that will sound inconceivable twenty years from now; I am sure the list should be much longer, so contributions are welcome.

  1. Using devices other than our own. BYOD started as an exception, but I think our children will not accept someone telling them which computer or smartphone to use – sure, your employer may negotiate a corporate contract for all its employees, but we’d never allow them to tell us which shoes to wear, or which pen to use, would we?
  2. Non-personal email addresses. We already consider our social media profiles as part of our Digital Self, so why not email? The predicament of having to take your contacts from one mailbox to another when you leave a job is totally unnecessary.
  3. Company email. Is there anything more absurd than having a company manage email when there are so many organisations who do this as their core business?
  4. Owning cars in cities. I saw this trend start in London 5 years ago, now it’s spreading faster than thought possible. The math is simple: the average urban dweller drives 15,000km/year and keeps the car for 6/7 years. This use case is now CHEAPER on short-term rentals than on owned cars, and plunging fast.
  5. Operating a mobile device through anything but voice. Language recognition is here and makes so much sense for small devices.
  6. Metered wireless broadband. Wireless broadband will go truly unlimited, much earlier than 20 years from now.
  7. Human-driven cars on highways. I think for highways it’s really a no-brainer, and would save thousands of lives, as well as make high-traffic arteries much faster. Urban driving will stay human for much longer, albeit perhaps coupled with a vehicle-enforced maximum speed and alertness control.
  8. Augmented vs. Virtual. In twenty years I think we will ridicule those who today think these are synonymous: “augmented” will explode, while “virtual” will be forever a niche.

There is a few other trends however which I resisted putting in the list, because I think it will take longer than twenty years:

  1. Endothermic cars. Although electric is the way to go for urban areas, they will be not for extra-urban travel until the charging infrastructure and battery technology will have made big strides, and I don’t know anyone who solely uses their car for urban travel.
  2. Using a PC. Definitely a generational thing, but I do not see keyboards and big screens being replaced anytime soon.
  3. Paper books. I am a staunch supporter of ebooks, but even I admit they are still so much worse than their paper counterparts; the technology has been around for years, but it has not been embraced by publishers and no new players have come forward to wipe them away.
  4. Humanlike AI. Simply NOT happening, ever.

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