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What to expect with tech: predictions for the 2020s

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As we begin this new decade, Emerge takes a glance into what the future may hold

With the rapid increase of technological advancements in such a short period of time, many of us thought we would be living in a real-world version of The Jetsons by now. Although we may not have the futuristic luxuries that the Jetson family had, we are inching closer to this reality. 

Michael Brown, editor-in-chief of Emerge in 2014, wrote an article about technological predictions for the end of the 2010s. Before looking to the end of this new decade, Emerge wanted to see just how accurate Brown’s predictions were. 

Continue to read below to see how Emerge's 2014 predictions held up

Virtual Reality

– TRUE!

It happened! VR finally became available to consumers. This piece of tech has been readily available thanks to companies such as Google and Sony. We now have the ability to participate in man-made realities from the comfort of our own homes.

Brown believes this tech has evolved from its first purpose of being used for video gaming, and is now being used in larger environments such as the medical field and for other training purposes.

3D printed organs

– FALSE!

The prediction of 3D printed organs has yet to become a reality. Although scientists are working hard to find ways to make this idea both feasible and accessible, it has not made its debut to the public. However, the medical industry used 3D printing to create medical devices for certain conditions and have been successful during the testing phase.

This prediction may become a reality sooner than we think.

Facebook and Twitter

– TRUE!

Although social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were not necessarily developed in the last decade, its uses have definitely evolved over time and remain prevalent throughout.

“Twitter is no longer a link sharing platform. It’s become more of an echo chamber versus the collaborative space it used to be.”

Lab-grown meat

– FALSE!

Lab meat, also known as “smeat,” is essentially meat that is curated in scientific labs. According to Brown’s predictions, by the end of the decade this technological advancement in food would become less costly to create and more readily available to consumers.

This prediction did not quite become reality; however, technology has allowed food scientists to make alternative meat products. Beyond Meat is a technological food advancement that is something to keep an eye on.

“I’m interested in seeing where [Beyond Meat] goes,” says Brown.

Canada Post

– TRUE!

The prediction that Canada Post would have stopped home mail delivery is discretionary. While some cities still receive home mail delivery, others have opted in for the community mailboxes. Although Canada Post is a primary service for delivering online orders, the rise of Amazon has stolen some of its customers. The prediction of having less Canadians using Canada Post to send out letters has come true, especially with the rise in email usage.

One of the bigger technological advancements seen in the past decade was the rise of the smartphones. The emergence of Androids and iPhones changed the technological landscape, as it, according to University of Toronto professor Graeme Hirst, combined the concept of computers, telephones and GPS into one device.

“Smartphone development was the biggest change in technology,” says Hirst. “It’s no longer just a phone. [We] are able to communicate with anyone at any time and have access to information on the internet.”

As the graduating class of 2014 was in the middle of major technological changes, the theme of this particular issue was based around the idea that “this is the decade that changes everything,” says Brown.

“At that point in time [2014], technology was really heading into an unknown area,” he says. “Smartphones were not close to where they are now.”

As we look towards the future, here are some things we’ll keep our eyes on:

Autonomous cars

We’re halfway there! With the rise of companies like Tesla and the development of self-driving vehicles, tech and car companies could develop a fully autonomous car by 2040.

ezgif-automatic car

Changes to how we shop

There may no longer be a need for human-staffed, bricks-and-mortar stores. Amazon is one of the leading companies practicing this idea and has developed the first-ever cashier-less grocery store. This, along with the popularity in online shopping, will change the future of customer service and retail jobs.

shopping-cart

Increased Wi-Fi accessibility

Wi-Fi has become an essential part of everyday life. From work-use to recreation, it’s not surprising that we have it pretty easy when it comes to accessing the Internet. Wi-Fi is now available in almost every public space you go to. With advancements in connectivity and an increased demand for access, Wi-Fi will eventually be available no matter where you are.

Less is more: surveillance

The idea of being watched 24-7 is worrisome, especially with the digital privacy issues we already face. However, less privacy and more surveillance seems to be a reality that could reach the tipping point. Some countries, such as China and the U.K., have already implemented city-wide monitoring and tracking of citizens.

SurveillanceCAM-no-background

The downfall of radio and television

Streaming is the new competition for traditional radio and television networks. These services are on the rise, and there will be a noticeable decline in radio stations being broadcasted. Television programming will be restructured with less original content as streaming services continue to grow.

Although making predictions of what we can hope and expect with technology in the future is exciting, Hirst says, “making predictions about technology is a fool’s game.”

This story was originally published in the print version of Emerge magazine.  

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