ReadWrite celebrates its 10th anniversary on Saturday, April 20, 2013. For the occasion, we’re running a series of articles looking back—and looking forward.
On Saturday, this website turns 10 years old. The changes its writers and editors have witnessed and chronicled have come fast and furious—the creation of Facebook, YouTube and the iPhone; the seemingly inexorable rise of Google and Apple; and the growth, everywhere, of connectivity.
At ReadWrite, we continue to grapple with the deeper implications of technological change. We make annual predictions about the future of technology, many of which have proven prescient and timely. But now, at the verge of ReadWrite’s second decade, it makes sense to look even farther forward and imagine what ReadWrite will cover in 2023. Expect to hear a lot about these trends from us in the years to come.
Something To Anticipate
Think of anticipatory systems as really smart artificial intelligence. Computers won’t wait for explicit inputs, like search queries; instead, they will draw on internal and external data—your entire history of interactions—to supply context and predict what you’ll need. Google Now, the intelligent assistant function on Android, and Apple’s Siri provide glimmerings of such functionality today.
A decade from now, anticipatory systems won’t just predict your next move; they’ll smartly feed data back into the system to improve themselves. There will no longer be a concept of a check-in, for example; some future version of a Foursquare-like app will simply know where you are and for what purpose, and they’ll log that and share that appropriately across your social graph, which they will likewise adaptively update as your social connections shift and change.
Kill Your Gadget
We won’t own smartphones, tablets, or smart watches. There will be a surfeit of screens at our disposal that roll up into a watchband form or roll out and stiffen to form a screen. Or ring-sized computers will project an image on any available surface. This will have an impact on architecture: White walls will be everywhere, with colors or patterns seen as either an indulgence or a countercultural statement.
Moore’s Law, the dictum that processors improve continuously will every generation, will continue to thrum. But instead of using these improvements to process bits faster, we’ll harness them to lower power consumption and extend battery life. Meanwhile, innovations like radio-wave battery charging will mean we’ll never have to plug things in again.
Park The Car
Self-driving cars will peak in 2020, when they will start being seen as an inefficient use of resources. Why, for example, do they still have a driver’s seat and a steering wheel when no one even remembers how to activate manual driving mode? Post-car vehicles will link themselves into trains on dedicated lanes—or even tracks.
A Nation Of (Unemployed) Programmers
All those efforts to teach people how to code will succeed past their creators’ wild dreams, to the point that it will be hard to find work as a professional coder. Meanwhile, new programming languages will have added so many layers of abstraction that the act of coding will resemble a formal mode of speech—or just a drag-and-drop process that’s not much more complicated than downloading an app.
We’ll be generating and processing unfathomable amounts of data in 10 years. The so-called “cloud” comes to ground in the form of data centers, where all these bits are stored and shuffled. The challenge is finding spots with lots of land and cheap electricity or other means of cooling servers. The answer: the sea.
Google started using ocean water to cool its data centers in 2011. A dozen years later, this will be commonplace—and we’ll start putting data centers not just next to the water, but under it.
There will be changes born out of current trends that seem obvious. There will also be surprises along the way. One thing, though, I believe will be true of ReadWrite in 2023 as it is now—we will find our way through the change with each other’s help, through an interplay and exchange of ideas.
Tell me yours.