One could forgive anyone making predictions for the decade ahead to find themselves hurtling down a Helter-Skelter of Doomsday prophecies. What with the prospect of WW3 being provoked via a series of tweets and missile strikes, climate disaster hanging over the planet like a giant anvil supported by a rickety crane, and the proliferation of fake news making people question what their own names are, these feel like precarious times.
However, a beacon of hope glows amidst the fog of uncertainty – technology. We are at a point in history now where technological developments, which have thus far remained in labs or have only been released as basic iterations, will soon be unshackled and over the next decade could radically change the way we live our lives.
In this piece, we are going to look at five tech innovations that may well be commonplace by 2030…
- The emergence of personal flight
Ask almost anyone to describe their vision of a futuristic civilisation and it will contain flying cars. Who knows why, but folk are just desperate for a switch in their Vauxhall Vectra that sees the wheels fold inwards, jets emerge from the rear bumper and their saloons head upwards to an A-road in the sky. Let’s manage expectations now; this will not be the case in 2030, but people will be flying.
In 2019, two important milestones were reached. French inventor, Franky Zapata, traversed the Channel on a “flyboard” of his own design and a former Royal Marine, Richard Browning, used a “jet suit” – also of his own invention, to negotiate the notoriously difficult assault course at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon.
Though each transportation device is currently way too dangerous and cumbersome in their respective formats to be released to the general public, they’re here, they work, and both will only become more user-friendly and commercially viable as the decade progresses.
More immediately, over in the Middle East, the Dubai police force have already begun training on “hoverbikes” which they hope will allow first responders to arrive at hard-to-reach incidents in record time. Thrillingly, they are expected to be in active service at some point this year.
- AI will be everywhere
It won’t be doing all the jobs though, nor will it be harvesting our organs as part of some co-ordinated attack on humanity. Hopefully. AI will, however, assume a more augmented role, filling in the gaps where humans are too slow, as we fill in the gaps where AI lacks the intuition and empathy of the human brain.
The early part of the decade will see AI deployed in areas which depend on large, messy data sets and binary code. This is likely to include analysing and interpreting the stock market, video gaming, and even sports analysis. Basically, any environment which is structured and predictable will become more and more reliant on AI.
However, it is the latter part of the decade where things will get really interesting. By 2030, AI could well have reached levels of sophistication sufficient enough for it to be trusted with matters of human life and wellbeing such as driving cars, flying planes, managing personal finances and diagnosing illnesses.
- Our every move and word could be monitored
Already, the average Briton is captured on CCTV between 70 and 100 times per day, depending on the nature of their work and where they live.
By 2030, we could be looking back at those figures as representing halcyon days of freedom and anonymity. The British state and corporate Britain may well decide to deploy widespread enhanced monitoring technologies such as encryption backdoors and facial recognition as well as behavioural tech such as predictive analytics and automated decision making.
Add into the mix the sheer volume of personal data we upload, from financial information to which football team we support, and in ten years we could be a population that is watched, listened to, recorded and tracked in a way that is without precedence. Of course, much will hinge on an ECHR ruling to be delivered later this year.
In September 2018, the ECHR ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes breached the European Convention on Human Rights lacking as they were in adequate safeguards. The landmark judgment marked the Court’s first ruling on UK mass surveillance since the Edward Snowden revelations.
However, campaign groups contended that the judgment did not go far enough in declaring that mass surveillance practices are unlawful, and the case was duly elevated to the Grand Chamber. A definitive judgment on the compatibility of mass communications surveillance with the European Convention on Human Rights can be expected soon and with it, the extent to which we will be being monitored by 2030.
- Social media will clean up its act
Social media is one of those innovations you have to believe started out with good intentions of bringing the world together. Though it is still a force for good in how it allows people to connect and strengthen bonds which might otherwise have wilted away, it has also become an unruly beast.
Exacerbated by the politically divisive times we occupy; Facebook and Twitter especially have become bearpits of trolls and bots hell-bent on causing as much confusion and offence as possible. Even those we should be able to trust let us down. The Conservative Party rebranding its official Twitter page as an independent fact-checker during pre-election TV debates marking a particularly low point.
All this hostility and misdirection can’t and won’t be tolerated for long. It might take the emergence of new platforms promising bot and troll-free environments, but the current major platforms will need to respond eventually. Perhaps with the use of AI, a clean up operation will be executed and those accounts levelling abuse from behind pictures of cartoon frogs and bulldogs will see their days numbered.
- Life expectancy could be dramatically extended
The secret to everlasting life has been a human obsession since time immemorial and one which has evaded even the greatest minds. It’s a secret that could soon be unlocked.
Experts in biotech are currently researching ways in which we might genetically modify DNA strands in such a way as to drastically slow down, maybe even halt, the aging process. However, even this might be viewed as little more than a sticking plaster in the decades to come.
Perhaps the most world-altering advancement technology will arguably ever make could have its foundations established by 2030; creating exact replicas of an individual’s brain so that it can be uploaded to a computer that is housed in a physical avatar of the user’s choosing. It would mean that, even though the body may die, the mind continues to operate as normal for as long as the IT that supports it continues to work.
It’s important to point out that though a rudimentary understanding of how this would work may be with us by 2030, as a viable option for everlasting life, you can expect to wait at least another 30 years.