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.