In the Year 2020…

By  |  Monday, December 15, 2008 at 11:51 am

richterUs longtime Conan O’Brien fans know that one of the signature skits of his late night show was “In the Year 2000,” which made predictions — however ridiculous — of what life would be like in the future. Well, Pew Internet and American Life project did something similar, but they took a serious look at life in the year 2020.

In order to come up with their predictions, Pew surveyed Internet leaders, activists, and analysts to see what they thought the net would be like a little over a decade from now. One of the most notable findings is that a general consensus believe that the mobile phone will become the primary access point to the Internet.

Voice recognition and touch screen interfaces will also become more prevalent in use of the Internet, and efforts to improve the Internet would continue. Rather than a full “reboot” of the Internet, where it is rebuilt from scratch, future enhancements would build on the current architecture.

More connectivity mean the lines between work and play as well as the real and virtual world would further disappear. This is bad news for Internet critics who say the ‘Net is destroying inter-personal communication, because it appears as if that will only get worse.

Sick of the ongoing piracy battles? Better get some earplugs. Pew says respondents expect the copyright fight to continue as pirators continue to attempt to circumvent the restrictions placed on digital content.

What are my predictions for the Internet in the year 2020? I don’t know, but I’m much more progressive than what Pew has listed here. I fully expect the Internet to be much more immersive. Everything we own will be connected, from our clothing that will know when we are sick and will call for help on its own, to our cars that will use the Internet to avoid traffic, to our lives themselves which could nearly be lived 100 percent digitally if we so desire. Matrix anyone?

All the things I have listed above aren’t far fetched. In fact, every single one of them are in development to some extent. While we won’t be plugging in like Neo, It will be pretty god darn close. It’s unbelievable how fast technology is moving these days.

I’m interested what you think will happen. What do you see in the Year 2020?

(Pew’s full study can be found here.)



2 Comments For This Post

  1. Gregg Says:

    I think we’ll be well on our way to the tech singularity (

  2. KeithF Says:

    I read a brilliant article a long time ago about how these predictions come about and how every era gets the forecasts totally wrong because they continue to extrapolate the progress that has most recently been made.

    In the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, great strides had been made in transportation, from popularizing autos to the rise of commercial air travel, to NASA and so on. Therefore the sci fi of the day was about ever faster transport. Space travel. Warp speed. Etc.

    Now in the 70’s-2000’s, we are riding a wave of progress in computing, so the sci fi is more focused around computing and robotics, but a lot of it is actually on Earth–Neuromancer, Snow Crash, the Matrix, Terminator, etc.

    So when will that play out and a new area of progress come to the forefront? And which area will it be? Perhaps anti-aging, cure for cancer, gene therapy, eugenics of child selection, regeneration of limbs, regeneration of dinasaurs, whatever. All of these are currently under development also, and whichever breaks through will again make today’s predictions of the future seem quaint and naive.

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