As preparation for my SIBOS Long Now Innotribe sessions next week I've been talking to lots of geeks, thought leaders, bloggers and innovators about what comes next. This is by no means an extensive list, but here are a few of the disruptive innovations that are coming our way in the next couple of decades or perhaps sooner.
The end of content, the rise of data
As we have to deal with more and more content, data and stuff coming our way, we're going to have to treat all content as data and start to manage, curate and aggregate the stream. There's a bunch of interesting initiatives at the moment that are starting to have a shot at this like Flipboard (which I love), My6sense, and Google's Priority inbox. But one thing we know is that we will increasingly need help to manage the massive amount of data we're receiving. Ultimately, I'm going with the concept of an agent avatar that acts as your proxy in collecting, filtering, and prioritizing your data. Your agent would also be contextualizing content and recommending actions or strategies based on context, behavior, location, etc.
The network of things
Your fridge, kettle, oven, air conditioner talking to the internet? Why? The network of things and the man-machine interface is more about integrating 'things' more seamlessly into our lives than having a fridge you can surf the web on. The fact is that if you look at our TV today, it actually makes more sense for your TV to get content from the web, than from cable or the airwaves. It makes more sense for your radio to do the same. This is because increasingly the 'data' will be tailored to our needs, wants, habits, etc. So our car, our home, our devices will interact with us more efficiently due to this connectivity. For example, your car's nav system will know where you have to drive because of the appointment you just made on your iPhone 7...
Use of cloud
Ok, so we are hearing lots about 'cloud' computing these days, but the cloud will be about the computer disappearing. The fact is that a laptop or desktop computer, as they become increasingly mobile, will morph into something else. It won't also be necessary to have supercomputer-like power built into your handheld device, because by accessing the cloud you'll have access to supercomputing power without needing it in the device. A good initial example of this is dragon dictate who have an iPhone app that uses the cloud to process your speech to text, rather than loading all that goodness on the device locally.
We're seeing a lot of thought being put into design today. Apple is a great example of an organization who gets the need for great design. More than that though, we're thinking about designed intelligence, behavioral economics, usability, ethonographics, and more. The next 25 years will be about simplicity and great design. Complexity is not valued in world that tends towards greater complexity.
Augmented reality, geolocation, no more log-in, no more check-in, just connected - these will continue to be the driving force of mobility in the short-term. Right now we are probably seeing the beginning of the next 'dot com' bubble if you like. But this time it is the intersection of mobile devices, social media, augmented or enhanced reality, geolocation services, and the web of things. The mobile device is at the center of all of this activity - because whatever we end up with, we'll be doing it on the move.
Energy production and storage
We need better batteries, faster charging, less impact to environment, domestic closed-loop systems - essentially we are looking for cheaper, more abundant energy, with a much lower impact to the world around us. Battery technology needs to dramatically improve, maybe through the use of fuel-cell technology or similar. But we need more power, scotty!
Nanotech and manufacturing
Nanotech and materials science will bring us lighter, stronger, intelligent materials. We'll find new uses for exotic materials. We'll build devices, buildings and environments that we could only imagine. We might even go mining landfill for all the precious metals that are still down there.
Disintermediation or changes in government and big business
As cash disappears the state will move to tax or collect off the transaction, rather than your income. But as we become more networked, interactive, and collaborative, it will be impossible for government to manage the 'spin.' So what happens? Doesn't government shrink? Does government really become by the people for the people? Good questions. In the networked world, big is not necessarily better. Fast is the key measure of success, not size.
Personal genomes or bio-Mapping will be a feature of the next decade. Instead of going to the doctor to get a broad based solution, we'll start to understand how the unique immune system of an individual reacts, their biochemistry, their genetic tendencies and markers - this will be a future where (those who can afford it) get tailored, personalized medical attention right down to the drugs we receive over the counter.
Also check out Ray Kurzweil in his TED talk on the 'singularity universe.'