My top ten predictions for the next decade

Not long ago, social speculators talked about how the younger generation grew up with computers, the Internet, and cell phones; that they have fully integrated this technology into their lives. I would maintain that today, it’s even more than that. We’re past the time when people integrate technology into their lives. Today, people are integrating themselves into the technology. For many in the millennial generation, their very identity has crossed over to the digital realm.

Years ago, you could tell just about everything about a person by spending some time with them. Their identity was contained within their being, and was anchored around the home, job, or school. Identity was clear, and rooted into a fixed location. Today, those roots are spread throughout the collective Internet. A good portion of a millennial’s personality is stationed out in that digital world.

The modern human doesn’t have an offline and an online personality. They have one personality that is partially stored in their physical being, and partially stored in the digital world. They are an early type of cyborg. The continuation, and acceleration, of this trend is my first prediction for the coming decade.

#1 Ten years from now, the post-millennial generation will have their personality so dispersed that it won’t be possible to know them exclusively offline. Their digital footprint will be as much an aspect of who they are as is their appearance, their voice, and their physical actions.

#2 Many people won’t even notice that #1 has happened. In the same sense that a blind person can’t see another person’s appearance, most people from prior generations simply won’t have the sensory ability to see this additional aspect of the post-millennial’s persona. The future is here and we didn’t notice.

#3 As with personality, described above, most of a person’s physical being will no longer be fixed to what we see as being “normal human.” Artificial limbs, and many internal organs, will be easily reproducible with 3D bio-mechanical personal-manufacturing.

#4 With the bio-prototyping will come body hacking. Third and fourth arms, exoskeletons, and similar modifications will be commonplace. Prosthesis, to replace missing original extremities, will have feeling and dexterity nearly as good as the original, and will come with custom fittings.

#5 The generation gap between these post-millennials and past generations will be more a canyon than a gap. It will be as though they have sight and sound, but we only have sound.

The “machine” isn’t taking over. It’s evolving us to become it

#6 Artificial humans won’t be sentient and thinking, but they will be designed such that most of them could easily pass the Turing test. They won’t be human, but if the designers want them to look it, many people won’t be able to identify them as non-human without a close examination.

#7 Tele-presence will be a big part of this too. People will be able use artificial sense and presence to essentially, be anywhere. These tele-presence bots may look conventionally human, mechanical, electronic, or not be visible at all. Spooky

#8 Uber, Air BnB, and companies like them will skyrocket for the next five years. After that, they’ll start a long slide down as the need to travel declines. With personas dispersed and intermingled online, travel will be much less of a thing. People won’t “be someplace.” They’ll be anywhere and everywhere. If they want to “physically” go someplace, instead of traveling and renting a car, they will be able to rent an artificial body wherever they want to be.

#9 Space travel will be commonplace, but not in the way we’ve traditionally thought of. With tele-presence and immersive virtual reality display devices, the experience will be almost as real as actually being out there.

#10 You can’t complain about it. We’re the people that made all this possible.

Duane Benson

The Top Ten Generic Things

I’m in a bit of a ranting mood right now. That just happens sometimes. Usually it’s on a specific subject, but today, I seem to have mini-rants about a whole bunch of  things. Well, maybe ten things. So here they are, not necessarily in any particular order, ten generic things that bug me:

#4:    Not listening to customers enough. It’s nice when a company has a good idea and wants to build it, but if they don’t get outside of their own heads for a bit, we consumers end up with UI’s that don’t make any sense, features that we’ll never use or products never tested under real-world conditions (see #4).

#4:    Test cycles that are too short. “Beta test the world” or “Ship it and fix it later” may get something to market sooner, but at what cost. So many companies seem to think that since “they” do that on the web, everyone should go ahead and operate that way. But what happens when the not fully tested design has a hardware problem? Where’s your field upgrade then? Or what happens when the product is mission critical? Oops. Too late…

#4:    Listening too much to customers. What??? Yes. That’s what I said. Most customers want way more than they need for way less than you can afford to build. You need to listen to customers a lot and very carefully, but you need to translate for them. You can’t just take raw comments and try to directly put them in as product features.

so_it_has_come_to_this#4:   “Half-gallon” containers that aren’t a half gallon any more. It really annoys me to buy a Half gallon of Ice cream knowing that it’s only 3/8th of a gallon.

#4:    Not considering the whole story. This is where the law of unintended consequences comes in. Okay, we want to reduce our consumption of fossil fuel so we subsidize corn ethanol. Fine except by doing so, we tie a major food staple in developing nations to the volatile price of filling giant SUVs. People go hungry because of it.

#4:    More science and less hype. No one can really tell if global warming is man-caused or not. I’m sure the real data is floating around somewhere, but everyone talking about it has a personal agenda. There’s so much pseudo-science and political ranting thrown about that anything that an interested citizen might use to come to an informed conclusion is obscured by all of the exaggerated and faked material.

#4:   How about some electronics-targeted legislation that actually makes sense from a technical and social perspective. As with things like global warming in #4, there’s too much hype, too much cash-based lobbying and not enough actual understanding going into some of these laws that affect all of us in the electronics industry.

#4:    Allocation. It really annoys me. Related into this is the proliferation of specialized chips. There are a seriously larger number of varieties of every form of chip you might imagine. That’s great for design, You can pick the microcontroller that pretty meets your exact specifications, or just the right buck/boost controller. That’s cool, but I think it also makes forecasting and the allocation of foundry time simply crazy. That can only exacerbate the supply issues that cause parts to go into allocation mode.

#4:   Missed opportunities due to personal-agenda based hype. So many people want to replace fossil fuel so they bend reality and call the electric car the green replacement to gas cars. Then everyone is disappointed that they can’t drive 600 miles with just one or two five-minute fill-up stops. They focus on far too far into the future and make everyone dismiss as hype what is otherwise a perfectly viable technology. Market electrics as a second car. It’s not the main car for trips and the ultimate in convenience. It’s the run to get a gallon of milk car, the back and forth to Jr.College car, the “I’m going to a friend’s house” car. Market electric cars like that and they are 100% viable right now.

I’m not sure which of these things bug me more or less than any other, so they all tie at Number 4.