Anyone born after 2010--meaning, those who are only starting out in elementary school and too young to open an account on Facebook--are in for a wild ride.
Digital assistants like Amazon Alexa, the Google Home bot, and Microsoft Cortana will create a new digital utopia (or possibly a dystopia) by 2028, right around the time these youngsters are finishing high school and starting college.
A few signs point to a digital future that is not at all similar to what we're experiencing now, and those of us who remember life before the Internet might feel totally out of place in a post-smartphone world (yes, it is coming).
It's incredibly likely that anyone eight and under right now won't bother ever signing up for an email account, might not bother with texting, and won't become Apple fanatics. Artificial intelligence will finally advance to the point where typing on a small screen will seem strangely old-school, and no one will ever bother with apps or even a phone.
Here's how it will all work.
For starters, AI is not just a fad leftover from last year. Machine learning is here to stay, and it will change how we work and how we exist as humans.
An AI will do quite a bit of the work for us, including managing our schedules for us, registering for new services, listening to us dictate messages and documents, organizing our lives, chirping in about the weather, and driving us to work in a robotic car. A digital assistant will be as comfortable, well-known, and depended upon as a phone and the Internet are today. Of course, digital assistants rely on the Internet, but to Generation Alpha, it will all blend together. They will talk to the car, and their connected home, and the refrigerator. They won't mindlessly surf the web, because the web will seem a little archaic in 2028.
How will they learn new information? By asking bots. Better yet--the bot will feed them information. Screens will be everywhere--which might be overwhelming to some of us but not to them. Saying "I want to find out more about my trip to Austria" will be the new way to surf, and you won't need to bother with a phone for that because an AI will be embedded into all of our other devices, our televisions, our cars, and at our desk at work.
One thing that is really appealing about this new digital future of bots is that we might actually pay attention to each other again. In a meeting, if a group of Alpha Generation workers gather together, knowing a bot that recognizes their voice is always around in the room (or on an earpiece for private conversations--or shudder to think as a chip implant), why look at a phone? Why send an email or text? It will seem quaint to them. All of the information you might ever want to know by looking at a phone will be fed to us by a digital assistant when we need it--or handled by a bot without any intervention.
In this scenario, texting and email will become totally unnecessary. The bot will communicate for us with other people and with other bots. "Set a meeting for later today with the team" will work instantly, no need to check a calendar or send anyone an email. All of this digital communication will mirror how we communicate with each other when we are in the same room. And, at that point, it will become even more personal and streamlined. Especially when the AI does most of the work. In fact, an AI will know you want to set that meeting based on issues you are facing or a downward spiral in sales. "John, should we get the team together to talk?" will be commonplace and normal.
Why so much emphasis on voice? And will Amazon and Google rule the world? I doubt it. Other companies--startups that have not even been invented yet--will fill the void.
Voice is the best interface because it's the one that comes naturally to us, and it doesn't require that we pick up anything, or register for an account, or enable security. Our voice is the best interface ever created. Generation Alpha will finally figure that out.