Technology Forecast for the 2020s

Think back ten or twenty years ago to the state of technology in the noughties – another world, right? Is it even possible to fathom a time before Tinder, Instagram, or Uber? It’s hazy and feels like a distant memory of an archaic past.

With Nokia phones the pinnacle of technology back then (remember snake?), it wasn’t possible to voice-activate or control gadgets, and smartphones weren’t even a thing. However, Blackberry’s could send an email – big whoop. There’s been an enormous jump forward in tech possibilities and capabilities, so what could the next decade possibly bring? Predictions include massive acceleration and looking at even more technological expansion and capabilities. What was only sci-fi before will become our reality. We’ve made a list of trend predictions to watch for over the next decade, in what is likely to be the most technologically advanced decade ever, filtering into every aspect of our lives.

Coming Tech Trends

Speaking Gadgets 

With Siri, Alexa, Google Voice, and more voice recognising AI assistants already on the market, it’s likely even more voice-controlled devices will be launched and in areas, we’ve not seen widely used yet. The next generation of voice-activated technology is forecast to understand and respond conversationally to natural human speech patterns, unlike its predecessors. Predictions are it will be so advanced that speaking to it would be like talking to another human and all the conversational complexity that entails. 

Google developed Duplex in 2018, an AI app focused on deciphering everyday language use. The potential with this type of tech is enormous as the app was programmed to have the capability to make appointments, run errands virtually, and make bookings with a verbal command. If an online booking system is unavailable, Duplex could call the restaurant or doctors to make a booking or reservation. People who have spoken to Duplex didn’t realise it was AI and not a person they spoke with, which has vast applications in many areas. This kind of lifestyle technology will be more widely available over the next decade and be widely available to the general population.

Internet Access from Anywhere

Tesla’s Elon Musk is determined to roll out satellites networks to provide 5G service everywhere, in every corner of the planet. It’s rumoured that Space X is prepared to launch 12,000 satellites, with even more to be released in future to accomplish this goal. Predictions for the network uses aside from online access include driverless car control, VR that can be shared between users no matter their location, and drone control for various purposes including surveillance and defence.

Cloud Robotics

Previously, robots have been stationary in places like factories and warehouses to fulfil particular functions, which created limitations. Cloud robotics, however, will create an entirely new and free-moving world for the use and application of robotics. The machines will have an AI brain type system with information encrypted and stored in the cloud which can be altered and downloaded anywhere for any function. These robots will be mobile and will likely appear in all areas of society, including in our homes with transferable information and command centres. Google and Amazon Cloud already have robots used and controlled in this way, and the ambition is that these robots will understand language nuances, and the complexities of the world around them. 

Silicon Valley = Carbon Negative

Silicon Valley tech giants are striving to slow down the climate crisis by becoming carbon negative. Microsoft was the first to announce the plan and intend to be carbon negative by 2030. They plan to take it one step further by extracting all the carbon they’ve emitted since 1975 out of the atmosphere by 2050 by focusing on renewable energy sources and negative emissions technologies that leverage bioenergy, carbon capture, storage (BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC).

Computers Controlled by Brains

A brain-machine interface (BMI) is a device implanted into a brain and programmed to fulfil specific functions aligning with neural signals; essentially, it’s controlling a computer by thought. BMI’s are still currently in the trial phase for general use as electrodes can damage brain tissue and corrode over time. However, specialised versions are used for those with spinal injuries; known as an exoskeleton, these BMI devices help people stand and move.

Machine Emotion Tracking and Regulation 

Feeling detection by emotionally programmed artificial intelligence is already used by well-known marketing firms to read job candidates. This technology analyses expressions and body language to give insight into emotions under the surface. It’s predicted this tech will be in widespread use over the coming decade. 

Smartphone Diagnosis

While there are benefits to seeing a human doctor, smartphone diagnosis will save time and money to treat patients. Apps will evaluate behaviour and health patterns as a preventative measure and offer treatment solutions. There are apps on the market already, such as Mindstrong, which scrutinise users phone scrolling and can diagnose depression.


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