Think back 10 years. What was the world like?
Sitting here in the closing month of 2016, it's hard to remember exactly what life was like in December 2006, but let me remind you of a few details--the first iPhone had yet to come out, social media was still far from a mass phenomenon (I remember initially being baffled by Twitter in 2007), and Airbnb was but a twinkle in the eyes of its founders. Less than 20 percent of the world was online, and the only place to see a self-driving car was a sci-fi movie.
What's my point? Technological change is maddeningly difficult to keep track of, even in hindsight, and huge changes can happen far faster than we expect. And what's true of the past is probably truer of the future.
If you can barely remember what life was like in 2006, what chance do you have of predicting what will be possible--even normal--in a decade's time? It's highly likely that we'll see way more and different change than we expect now.
What the experts predict about tech
But while many amateur guesses at the future of tech tend to be pretty useless, there are a whole lot of experts whose job it is to foresee when a given innovation is likely to hit the mainstream. These are the folks best armed to tell you what your life will be like in a decade, and the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software & Society recently surveyed more than 800 of them. (Hat tip to Business Insider for the pointer.)
What technological leaps did these 818 technology experts and executives foresee being made by 2025? The complete report on their predictions makes for fascinating reading, but here in brief are 15 mind-blowing tech changes many of those surveyed expect to see go mainstream within the next 10 years (along with the percentage of respondents who foresaw each shift occurring within that time frame):
- 10 percent of people wearing clothes connected to the internet (91.2 percent)
- The first robotic pharmacist in the U.S. (86.5 percent)
- 10 percent of reading glasses connected to the internet (85.5 percent)
- The first 3-D-printed car in production (84.1 percent)
- The first government to replace its census with big-data sources (82.9 percent)
- The first implantable mobile phone available commercially (81.7 percent)
- Five percent of consumer products printed in 3-D (81.1 percent)
- Driverless cars equaling 10 percent of all cars on U.S. roads (78.2 percent)
- The first transplant of a 3-D-printed liver (76.4 percent)
- 30 percent of corporate audits performed by A.I. (75.4 percent)
- Tax collected for the first time by a government via blockchain (73.1 percent)
- More than 50 percent of internet traffic to homes for appliances and devices (69.9 percent)
- Globally, more trips via car sharing than private cars (67.2 percent)
- The first city with more than 50,000 people and no traffic lights (63.7 percent)
- The first A.I. machine on a corporate board of directors (45.2 percent)
What opportunities and challenges do these tech changes bring? The full report offers plenty of opinions on these questions.