Oh what the heck, since everybody else is doing it, here are my predictions for 2020:
- Essentially all cell phones will have built-in video cameras, GPS, and have voice controls.
- At least one country will nationalize music in some way, e.g. paying the music companies a per capita fee for their citizens every year. Some countries will strike copyright laws for music. Most just won’t bother enforcing copyright laws for music.
- Improved search + improved geo-location of social media streams will mean that it will be far easier to get information about your micro-neighbourhood. Think Google Trends or Google Flu or Twitter Trends, but for the five mile radius of where you are right now. (And, because of #1, you can get video.)
- Know where newspapers are right now, on the brink of death? That’s where TV will be in 2020 — squeezed between on-demand entertainment and crowd-generated news.
- The cancer five-year survival rate cure rate will be 90% for most cancers, and 40% for the most difficult ones (bone, brain, pancreas, and liver). Treatment will, unfortunately, still majorly suck for most patients.
- Mapping will extend to reconstruction of scenes based on user photos (like what Microsoft demonstrated at TED) in a big way. By 2020, 100% of San Francisco’s publicly accessible spaces (yes, including alleys) will be mapped, and about 35% of interior spaces. People at first will be quite upset that the world can “see into” their living room, but they will end up getting used to it.
- Marriage for same-sex couples will be recognized by the U.S. government.
- Know where newspapers were five years ago, sort of moseying down the path of death? That’s where universities will be in 2020. They will face pressure as superb educational content will become a commodity. Third-party organizations will jump into the mix to provide tutoring and certification, leaving non-research universities with little to offer aside from post-teen socialization and sports.
- 30% of the world electricity energy production will be solar in 2020. (It’s going to be one hell of a race between climate change and solar energy production, but I think solar energy will win. All the climate-change deniers will say, “See! Toldja so!”
- Data format description languages will overthrow XML. mean that data will get passed around in compact formats instead of in XML. (Yes, the DFDL might be in XML, but the data wouldn’t be.)
Okay, I admit it, #10 might just be wishful thinking.
Update: At the time I wrote this, I had not read up on the Google Nexus One phone, which I now find out has voice commands for just about everything. I guess prediction #1 about voice was under-optimistic!