Welcome to the “Roaring Twenties” — it seems like a fitting moniker for the new decade, as we’re once again entering the 20’s in a “period of economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge” just as our ancestors did a century ago.
This time around, technology is evolving rapidly, driven by a convergence of trends in IT & computing, energy, transportation & space technologies — but keep in mind that near-term change is limited by the speed that business can develop & deploy new technologies into the marketplace.
Speaking practically, that means over the next decade, the biggest advances in technology will be derivatives of technologies that we’re already familiar with. It’s less about anticipating a revolutionary breakthrough than it is about the social change those technologies will bring with them.
Top Tech Trends For A Changing World
Changing demographic trends combined with massive investment in tech development promises to deliver big advances across industries including computing, energy, transportation, medicine & more. Here some of the top trends you can expect to see:
Your Home Phone Is Dead
As I’ve written before, the days of the twisted-pair, copper-line home phone have just about run out. As the National Center for Health Statistics reported in 2019, only 42% of Americans still have a landline phone — and that number is dropping by 3.6% every year. If the trend holds, the “home phone” will have essentially disappeared in the U.S. within the next decade, replaced by a combination of mobile smartphones & VOIP solutions.
Television Is Dying Too
Back in 2016, The New York Post has wrote about, “Millennials ditching their TV sets at a record rate”, and cited a study showing a 10% drop in viewership in the 18 to 34 age demographic. A year later, Ad Age reported on another study saying, “Almost half of adults 22 to 45 years old are watching absolutely no content on traditional TV platforms”. Both studies agreed on the same core point: younger viewers consume their content through streaming media and the internet — which likely signals the beginning of a slow death for traditional TV.
Electric Cars Drive Themselves
Electric cars are nothing new — but the sheer numbers of them that you’ll be seeing in the next decade will be. In 2019, nearly every major auto manufacturer in the world launched an electric vehicle, and companies like Tesla, Waymo & Drive.ai are deeply involved in the development of true self-driving automobiles. Self-driving trials are already underway in some metro areas, and as this technology develops expect to see it become more common on roadways across the country.
Passenger Drones Take Off
The electric Chinese eHang 184 passenger drone made headlines back at CES 2016 — and for good reason. Traffic congestion has been a problem for decades, and self-flying, electric passenger drones are the best bet for a short-term solution — which is one of the reasons for the 2019 Boeing & Kitty-Hawk reboot into the Wisk flying taxi startup.
Siri Controls Your Home
You didn’t actually think the “smart speaker” fad was about music, did you? There are giant profits to be made in home automation, and the consumer beachhead for this high-tech home invasion is controlled by Siri, Cortana, Alexa & Google Assistant. Home-automation systems are already on sale for all of these platforms — the only limitation is the cost. Expect the smart speakers of today to become the control hubs for your home tomorrow.
Gigabit LTE Threatens Cable, Fiber & Wifi
Boasting lower latency & speeds over 900 megabits per second, 5G LTE cellular will be a major upset in the telecommunications world — with the potential to displace cable-modems, fiber, and even wifi for some customers. This technology is already being deployed by carriers around the globe — and once it’s in place, if cellular companies can sell this to consumers as a last-mile replacement for cable, then you may see the only data connection to your home become cellular.
Fusion Power In The News
MIT claims that we’ll have fusion power by 2030, and MIT has just recently found a way to increase the output of fusion reactions 10x by doping the fuel mixture with Helium3. Don’t expect this to be a reality in the 2020’s, but plan on hearing a lot more about research advances in the news.
Expect An Explosion In Anti-Aging Medicine
Elderly people are 8.5% of today’s population — by 2050 they’ll be 17%. Advances in medicine will be driven by demand from an aging boomer generation. For instance, Dr. David Sinclair is making waves at Harvard Medical School with his research into NAD, while others like Dr. Elizabeth Parrish are working on lengthening Telomeres using a retroviral delivery systems. We’ll also see an increase in specialized test kits providing deeper health insights for this aging population — such as the TeloYears DNA test, which attempts to measure your biological age by analyzing telomere length.
Medical Wearables Will Be Everywhere
The Apple watch is a medical wearable in disguise — and it’s inspired copycat technologies from Samsung, FitBit, and a host of other companies. The same trends driving anti-aging research will push the aging Boomers (and their nervous adult children) towards medical wearables to foster lifestyle independence while still ensuring that help is available in emergencies.
Crytocurrency Is The Next PayPal
It boomed, it busted — and then it grew up. Advances in cryptocurrency and industry initiatives like Facebook’s Libra Association are building public trust in cryptocurrency, and in as these second-generation solutions reach the market we can expect to see used more commonly in mainstream commerce. At the very least, expect to see crypto begin to challenge PayPal in the next decade for online payments — and at most perhaps you’ll even use in in the world world with your debit card.
All of the technologies above are already being developed — many are already commercially available as products. Despite being near-term technologies, they’re also incredibly powerful advances capable of transforming our way of life, which hints at the profound & powerful nature of the decade to come.