NOTE: Originally published on January 8th, 2020. Little did the writer know what was about to hit the fan. :) I’ve also since then learned that memory metals are pretty vital in some areas, but rarely seen by the average consumer.
I was very fond of information-heavy pictured books that resembled Wikipedia articles when I was young. (This happened around the change of the millenium, btw.) Through those I learned about dinosaurs, volcanoes, inner workings of the earth, our solar system, world records, and about the future. There was this one book I remember talking about life in the 2020's that had the same predictions I've read in my grandparents' old "Seura" magazines from the 1950's – flying cars, buildings without windows, moon bases and all that. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure if memory metals are a thing now or ever have been.
Sprinkled in that sea of nonsense were mentions of electric cars, video calls, nanotechnology and societal change. All of these are now true or on the verge of becoming mainstream. I'm pretty proud of us, the human race, that the most sane predictions came true instead of windowless buildings. I imagine living or working in a windowless building would feel kinda grim, although I have to admit – The NSA office building in New York looks pretty cool:
Brutalism is underrated.
We still don't have near-limitless clean energy with nuclear fusion, we still don't have nanobots that kill cancer, and we still don't have bases on other planets, but these are all things that people have not given up on. I see this as the most important part. Battling with the same problems we had 10 years ago, while some fixed or relieved, there are individuals, companies and movements which keep trying.
There are many things we can't even imagine predicting. Social media's pervasiveness has me dumbfounded. The cultural change in the last 10 years has been astounding – I bet not a lot of us could've predicted middle aged people taking group selfies in a restaurant. The internet is now written with a small letter, since it's so ubiquitous that not a whole lot of people even realize when or when they're not using it. Also, the world wide web has been removed from URL's, and almost has been deprecated as a word, since nowadays we call that thing the internet, too.
Machine learning is used in many, many, many places, and you don't really see it unless you know it's there. It really is usually implemented in a way that feels like magic to the end-user.
Quantum computers have seen breakthroughs during this decade and are just starting to live up to their promise. Who knows what they'll be capable of during the next ten years?
Everyone can use a quantum computer already on the web! That's cool.
I will leave any predictions for the new roaring 20's out of this, but I'd like to see people more in control of their personal technology and data, and societies that keep people safe. I've been fortunate enough to find like-minded people working towards these goals in Marshall AI and Equilibrium. Huge thanks for the last few years and can't wait to see what we can achieve together in the coming years.
Network effects are unfortunately hard to fight against. Aiming to reduce the power of "the Big Five" tech companies, we have P2P technologies that have gone through a renaissance since Bitcoin became a thing, and it's not just in cryptocurrencies but all kinds of technologies that put the user in charge. Hopefully the hurdles in using them will be greatly reduced.
Keep looking up.
Amidst all these promising developments and unlimited optimism, one must not forget the reality we live in and what we are as humans. There will always be crime. People are always going to disagree on things, and be disrespecting of others. We are in the middle of a climate crisis, which is going to increasingly affect the ever growing population of earth. So there's that. But, instead of getting all moody and blue, I'd like to invite you to think of these as constants that you need to take into account when trying to create something better.