Whenever I sit down to plan for the future, I typically end up making a few vague plans before drifting off into wondering what new gizmos, exciting innovations and completely life altering bits of technology which will be refined or invented in the coming decades. I'm not talking exclusively about the future of the telephone.
In just my short life time, I have seen incredible revolutions in what technology is capable of. As we move forward into the future, there can be no doubt that innovations of similar or even greater importance will come into our everyday lives.
My musings on what the future might bring inspired me to make this short 5 year forecast of the kind of changes and new devices we might be seeing come 2020.
In 2015 it is already commonplace to daily interact with various forms of robots. While many of these systems are so primitive that we can hardly recognise them as robotics (like stoplights or ATM's) their presence and ubiquity is undeniable.
We have already become accustomed to interacting with machines to handle a variety of tasks once done by humans – automatic checkout machines at grocery stores, the movie rental dispenser, and so forth. By 2020, we are sure to have relegated many other relatively simple tasks off to automated systems.
Examples of this which are already developed and likely to gain prominence by 2020 are already plentiful. Automated coffee making robots are likely to have begun to supplant barista's by 2020, and super markets will likely have their aisles trolled by helper robots with screens, scanners, and information to help shoppers.
Developments in robotics designed to assist the disabled or elderly are also likely to have taken more of a foothold by 2020. These can range from simple robotics which assist with basic tasks or medical procedures, to fully fledged humanoid robots designed to accomplish a wide variety of household tasks.
Though it might seem far fetched, examples of such robots are already surprisingly functional, such as Honda's Asimo, a robot already capable of walking independently bipedally, grasping objects with its hands, and performing simple tasks such as serving drinks.
Better Broadband Worldwide
If there is one thing I truly hope we will get right by 2020, it is mass proliferation of high quality broadband internet.
Hopefully, any area with adequate infrastructure will have access to super high speed internet, throwing wide open the doors of communication, education, and the myriad of possibilities of the internet.
Even those areas without access to hardwired super-speed fibre optic connections will hopefully have some form of internet access.
While it may not be achieved by 2020, projects such as Google Loon are aiming to bring internet to literally the entire world by utilising a network of high-altitude balloons to broadcast wireless internet anywhere and everywhere.
Beyond My Wildest Dreams!
Despite the huge wealth of science fiction and predictions of the future of technology throughout the ages, many of the most incredible and revolutionary inventions went essentially unpredicted, smashing through expectations and the status quo to bring about new eras in technology.
It is entirely possible the venture from 2015 to 2020 will yield such unforeseen upheavals in the course of technology, and we will all be presently surprised.