Robotic moon bases, chips implanted in our brains, self-driving cars, and high-speed rail linking London to Beijing. According to a dazzling number of technology predictions that single out the year 2020, it's going to be to be one hell of a year. Here, we take a look at some of the wonders it holds in store.
Click to launch the photo gallery
2020, of course, is just a convenient target date for roughly-ten-years-off predictions. "It's not any more particularly interesting, in my opinion, than 2019 or 2021," says Mike Liebhold, a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future, and an all-around technology expert with a resume that includes stints with Intel, Apple, and even Netscape. "There's a continuum of technological development, and that's just an easy date for an editor or a writer to get a handle on.
After spending decades helping various top-tier tech companies develop and deploy their cutting edge technologies around the world, Liebhold now helps clients take a long view of their businesses so they can make better decisions in the short term. He and his colleagues at the Institute for the Future don't help clients read tea leaves (predictions are for soothsayers and crystal ball gazers) but they do help them read what he calls the signals -- those things you can see in the world today that allow you to make reasonable forecasts about what the future holds.
"We help people think systematically about the future," Liebhold says. "We don't give them answers, we give them foresight."
In other words, the year 2020 (and 2019, and 2021) is Liebhold's business. And he forecasts a pretty interesting world a decade from now. For instance, given the current forward momentum of mobile technology and the ever-present forces of economies of scale, Liebhold says it's conceivable that most of the world's population will be able to afford a Web-enabled smartphone or tablet device by 2020, offering everyone on the planet geo-location services and access to global information and communication (the forces working against this, he notes, are political rather than technological).
Facial recognition and other biometrics will be commonplace, he says. High-performance data visualizations that currently require supercomputing power will become commonplace as well, driving technological and scientific innovation at even faster rates. We'll see wider distribution of things like AI and immersive media experiences like viewpoint-independent 3-D. We'll finally have some decent augmented reality glasses.
And what won't happen? We won't be uploading the human mind to a machine by 2020, a la Ray Kurzweil. We won't be cruising the streets in self-driving vehicles, and while robots may be rolling around on the moon, we won't be mining minerals from extraterrestrial sources.
So what will the world look like in 2020? With Liebhold riding shotgun, we took a quick spin through 2020 to see what the future might hold. Click through the gallery to see some of the bolder 2020 forecasts we've seen--and why some of them don't stand a chance.
Really? In 9 years?
I'd take these looks ahead more seriously if just one time they failed to include a flying car.
RE: Fying cars "No. The air traffic control for something like that is incredible,” Liebhold says, returning to his argument about self-driving automobiles."
Sorry WTFA was a type-oh: Read the Article is what I meant to type. Apologies
So, why can't a neural implant control activation of AR functionality in glasses/contact lenses? Simple on/off switch..nothing complicated (since that apparently IS possible). This would effectively simulate pretty sophisticated mind/silicon integration.
iGlasses for real
Isn't it funny how at the beginning of the article the author quasi-promises these tech advances but when you read each individual article in the slide show the Popsci Probability says all but like two of them are pretty much not going to happen by 2020, lol... Way to trick people into reading your half ass article popsci FAIL! :-P
@Ultra-Humanite, I hear you on that one. I'd take these predictions more seriously if even a quarter of them came to be true. Just think back to all the marvelous things we were suppose to be doing by the year 2000.
But they are hardly guilty of doing anything our government hasn't done when it comes to NASA. If you took every one of their "promises" to heart we should have half the solar system populated by now.
Don't take life to seriously! You'll never get out of it alive.
OK I can see augmented reality(we're there, but not as good as it will be), the flexible OLED screens(there all ready), the processor chips(almost there), and the translator(almost there as well) and maybe the Blue Brain thingy becoming a reality by 2020; the rest though - not likely.
What you will see. :)
Airships! Lots of Airships! Airships will come back in a huge way. With the new tech and hybrid designs these are primed to make a come back like never before. The many uses these machines have is just awesome compared to most flying vehicles.
SSMD (solid state memory devices) will replace what we use now. In fact just as the floppy died, so will the spinning disk storage.
We will have no need for huge desktop computers. Our smartphones will be all we need and we'll take them with us where ever we go. If we wish to cruise the web on a bigger screen we can just drop out smart phone into a docking station of a display or plug it in via USB. They will also come with a projector built in but it'll eat battery life much faster without an external source. Oh and your smartphone will have terabytes of storage, so you can have a huge libraries of music, movies and info right at your fingertips. Smartphones become our personal computers of the future. :)
BTW the Internet and TV finally integrate completely. TV as you know it will almost cease to exist.
Movie theaters die - well for the most part(some stay operational - but by 2020 theaters are pretty much dead). So instead of going to a movie in a theater you'll just watch it opening night on your display wall at home. Purchase viewing it by simply pushing a button.
Solar Cells and Fuel Cells are much more efficient than ever before and 50% of all US homes are off the grid by 2020.
this is all really exciting. cant wait. i hope at least half comes true.
I can see why your name is AirshipGirl. Airships are a nice way to get around. They're quiet, relatively fast depending on what type it is, and have a surprising amount of lift capability. The only problem with them is that you can't go somewhere in a hurry with them. I also like your other concepts, especially the one with the push-button movie viewing. I don't exactly think the military has any use for airships anymore though, since they're too vulnerable to enemy fire.
9 years seems nearby as a number. But let me put it into perspective: my toddler-age nephew will be a teenager in 9 years. 9 years ago (2002), Kelly Clarkson first won American Idol, the Odyssey first found ice on Mars, and Ice Age 1 first came out. A lot--and I mean a LOT--of time passes in 9 years.
-IMP ;) :)
Also, your average home PC cost about $2000 US, in 2001. The first 3d MMORPG was just 2 years old(EverQuest and had 400k subscribers(World of Warcraft released in 2004 and today has over 14 million subscribers). CRT's were our computer screens(average size 15 inches), today it is LCD's and average size is 24 inches.
Airships are more than just a cool way to get around. They can do things other vehicles cannot. For instance, you know the problem Japan has getting supplies to people in northern Japan after the earthquake --- that will not have been an issue had they had airships. Airships need no roads, no landing strips. They can go places and carry more cargo(if they are the right size) than any current vehicle. They could have delivered medical, food, water, temporary housing, first responders, clothing, within hours after the quake. They could also serve as flying communication platforms. One of the things after the quake that occurred was the telephone lines and cell towers quit working because the phone lines were knocked out and cell towers need power. With an airship you can fly it to where you need it and it can stay on sight for weeks at a time if necessary and provide communication services for cell phones and whatever else is needed.
They can also haul more cargo on less fuel a greater distance than any cargo ship or aircraft. Yes they maybe slower, but who needs speed when you are just hauling cargo? Those big cargo ships do what 30 knots. Imagine an airship 800ft long, capable of carrying the same load of cargo across the pacific from China to North Amereica for a 10th of the price or less and do it faster than that cargo ship ever could and do it safer.
Airships can offer new means of carrying people as well. Instead of hopping an expensive jet plane, just catch a ride on a airship. Think about this. A well designed modern airship could feasibly reach speeds upwards of 120 mph - maybe a little more. To cross the US from coast to coast at 120mph, lets say from LA to New York(which is 2,462 miles by air) would take approximately 20 hrs. Less than a day. Sure it might take longer than a passenger jet, but imagine doing it in comfort. Your own sleeper birth, like a train. A dining hall. A lounge with viewing ports. A movie theater. All the comforts one could imagine. No more being stuck in a flying sardine can with little comfort and crappy food! It would cost less as well, probably a third of what you would pay now. I have flown many times and I can tell you, if I had a choice of sitting in comfortable sleeping birth(like the ones on a train or a cruise ship) or a airline seat, I'll take that sleeper birth any time - even if it takes a little more time to get there.
Those are just a couple of ways we can benefit from the use of airships.
Airships are old tech, but with new designs and building materials, airships will once again prove their worth and change the way the world operates.
i love airships, besides, your hot!
ummm ok. well i disagree with most of this article. we were supposed to have a ton of great stuff in 2000 too. yeah some stuff will die out but not all of it will. obviously things will change but not that drastically.
if you have nothing good to say that will benefit the convo... say nothing.
yeah a lot of your ideas are cool, and they will probably happen, but not any time soon. that would be too soon and too much. it would take years to design and perfect things like that.
Wow, no way dude that is pretty amazing isnt it?
You may want to read the article "Airships Rise (Again)".
These aren't as difficult to design as you think.
The basic designs have already existed for years.
We're not talking space shuttles here.
The newest ones are probably close to perfected, and I am positive test flights have already been underway.
We have been designing this stuff for many years already, these are not new ideas, by far.
" Last summer , the U.S. military awarded Northrop Grumman a $517-million contract for a Long Endurance Multi Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)."
" Northrop says the LEMV will be ready for action next year."
" The military plans to deploy the LEMV without anyone on board. Autonomous sky trains, made up of a series of ships tied together, are a possibility (although current flight regulations require a pilot to steer ships through commercial airspace)."
"The ship's four diesel engines cost $15,000 to fuel on a three-week mission-one tenth the consumption of a helicopter and one quarter that of an airplane used on similar missions."
Actually the day of the airhsip is coming. It is just around the corner - literally.
Here is a video of a prototype hybrid airship. When the US Army saw this airship, they awarded the company DARPA funds to continue their research. They also put on order an airship that will be deployed later this year in Afghanistan to be deployed as a communication and surveillance platform that will be on station for up to a month at a time and have a crew of 7 onboard. www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu2glpmRXIs
This same company is also planning on building a luxury liner version that will carry people in comfort across the Atlantic from New York to the UK and Europe.
Yes, i know they aren't hard to build. They're just a modern version of the Hindenburg.
They may have a chance in the world for a little while but they aren't very good in a storm, they don't have the same power in the engine as a plane, there isn't as much space as it seems. Most of the size is for buoyancy and there is little space inside. So if they make it into the world, we won't resort to them fully. Also they travel so slow, what about if the military needs supplies pronto? They wouldn't get there very fast and the military would be screwed.
Popular Science wrote a article back in or near February 23, 2007 about Plasma Burners
I really don't think that by 2020 we will see anything like what Clay Dillow wrote in the vision of 2020.. The problem is that almost all the US cities will not take any bold steps to modernize their city due to the lack of knowledge and their ignorance and the unwilling to try a new technology..
My point in case is about the City Of Grand Forks, North Dakota who's landfill was almost filled up.. Now everyone knows that landfills is not the smartest way to rid of trash no matter how the landfill is built..
The City of Grand Forks has spent over a Million Dollars to do studies on their new Landfill, and when they finish digging the Landfill site and get it open for use the cost will be well over the study cost.. Ignorance is this city's bliss..
The City Of Grand Forks had modern technology at their fingertips and failed to modernize the way the city deals with the tons of trash each day.. What the city should have put their interests in is the use of Plasma Burners which could burn 2,000 tons of trash each day and provide the byproducts for a wide use in many applications.. The bonus byproduct is the use of the hot gases to operate and generate electricity for the city to use in anyway they choose including selling the electric to the power grid..
The cities in the United States can learn from Grand Forks mistakes and their uneducated ways on using technology that already existed today..
Clay Dillow's vision of 2020 could have been a reality if only technologies of today are being used in today's cities
The flying cars are cool and why did they take so long? They didn't have a FORD, GM, MB, or BMW badge on them why are my friends back in Detroit not smart enough still? because I swear the Volt is less range or capable than our GM EV1.
NASA Promised us the flying car by 2012, I hope they are safe because if they break down you land on somethings or someones and can't pull over to a cloud for AAA to help.
I remember when we thought flying cars were going to be THE thing by the year 2000. And still today we hope for them. Nah, we have other things to do before that. Maybe by 2070. I do want some of those thin screens though. Put a huge one on the wall for movies and EVE Online! Then when guests come i can conveniently "cloak" it! Or turn it into a cool wall painting. Assuming it doesn't cost an arm, leg and a whole year's salary to get it.
We walked, then rode horses, then steam powered trains and boats, then internal combustion engines, then we sent man to the moon with rockets. We still walk and ride horses (some do anyway). A man once said, "The future is not only stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think". Yogi Berra once said, "Predictions are hard, especially when they are about the future".
Do not kid yourself into thinking it is impossible to predict the future, it is done all the time and usually with great accuracy. Do you think large corporations spend years developing products that won't sell or are redundant by the time they come to market. There are at least a couple hundred people out there who make a very good living predicting the future, Ray Kurzweil is just one, but he actually invents things that do, in fact, change the future. He primarily works on pattern recognition, which is the basis of all intelligence, how this thingy relates to this other thingy.
I spend hours every week trying to keep up on what is going on in robotics, artificial intelligence research and developement, bio-med, computer science and technology in general. I can't keep up and neither can you, there is simply far too much going on for anyone to keep up. Oh, we think we know what's going on, but it is self delusion. The people who are creating the future are no better at it than you or I either because they are necessarily focused on their particular endeavor to the exclusion of other developements. That's why they go to TED, or the Singularity summits, or other such events once or twice a year. Craig Venter's team actually created life from scratch last year! Really, they just cooked some up.
Airships will make a comback, they will fill a niche. By the way, it's almost impossible to shoot one down, they are not large "balloons" that will burst. They operate on maybe two or three pounds of air pressure, so if you shoot a hole in one nobody will probably even notice. There is a real working flying car, Google it. There is a real working "jet pack" too. There are so many robots out there they can't be counted and they will be taking your job soon, probably by 2020 or not long thereafter. IBM's Watson got a job with Wellpoint to improve wellness outcomes and will no doubt do better at it than Dr.'s do now, that's the point, and when it does, and does it cheaper, who do you think the insurance companies are gonna want to pay?
If you love children, tell them to study cooking, visual arts, poetry, music, social sciences, story telling, comedy, acting... you get the point? S^&* that robots won't be able to do for at least until they are middle aged.