Oh God, The Future has QUESTIONS.

I'm often asked by journalist for answers to questions about the future.

The call for help, reminds me of a scene from the movie "Oh, God!" starring George Burns in 1977.

In the scene, no one believes that "Jerry Landers", aka John Denver can talk to God.

So "Jerry Landers" is put on trial and given a bunch of questions that only "God" can answer. 

It's hysterical to contemplate a test for the future, must less a "God", but as a child that scene informed my reality about how people value the firm footing of hope and "knowledge" over embracing the groundlessness of the present moment.

How will we communicate online in 2025? We currently use screens, keyboards and touchscreens; voice controlled applications (Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Echo etc) are increasingly common. How will this change in the next decade?

Talking to computers will be something that will be very commonplace but the emerging field of behavioral algorithms will take shape in the world.

Behavioral algorithms will take our perceived behavior by cameras, microphones, location, and biology and allow computers to offer new interfaces and feedback routines based on a hyper contextual awareness.

Communications by 2025 will be focused on behavioral based skills and social systems. Skill based systems will review our "quantified self" or day to day, observed behavior and start to "assist" us by offering "habits" or "environments" to support our conveniences. Our behavioral based social systems will function by alerting our friends, family and peers of changes in our behavior. Much like a social media status update alerts them in 2016 of our current "status". Software will function by knowing how we "feel" not when/where we are.

What role will the following technologies play in 2025: gesture control, brain control (brain computer interface (BCI)), virtual and augmented reality? What else?

Alternative interface will rule 2025, so much so that calling them “alternative” will be like calling Facebook “social media”.

The idea of using a keyboard and screen will be seen as old fashion as using a "smart phone". Just as "Flip phones" seem silly in comparison to smart phones today in 2016.

This is critical to understand because of how we currently review the accuracy of information by making a "choice" in it when we select it.

With alternative interfaces the idea of "choice" or "selecting" an answer, route or even emotion will be preselected for us.

Remember for every interface there is a feedback loop. So you can't have a new interface without a new feedback mechanism. For instance, apple watch is a new interface, using gestures for an interface but also haptic as a feedback mechanism.

More importantly with apple watch to think about is the feature "digital touch" technology.

The idea of sending someone taps or a heart beat is how the social aspects of alternative user interface and feedback loop will look and be common by 2025.

Specifically:

  1. Gesture control- Gesture control will be more common in specific areas of work / automation. Home based / personal based gestures will be more focused on types of "touch". A heavy touch, slip, tilt of a finger.
  2. Brain control (brain computer interface (BCI)- This will be a type of interface but more than likely it will be a tool for observation. To inform games or entertainment. BFI won't be needed until the early 2030's because of advancements in camera and sound technology on our equipment around us. By 2035 BCI will be critical in understanding nuanced pleasure states to inform more complex population and high end goods and services.
  3. Virtual / augmented / mix/ hybrid reality- Alternate realities as an interface will change entertainment, education and some skilled professions more than they will be common enhancements to the traditional user interface. The idea of people enhancing reality outside of these areas by 2025 is not common. By 2045, hybrid reality though will be common and most of what we experience from our organic senses will augmented in some physical and cognitive level full time, including sleep.
  4. What else -
  • Temporal - Systems using annual or historical context will be ubiquitous by 2025. The concept of time as an interface will change how we schedule events and relive our memories. The massive amount of behavior data we will collect in the next 10 years will create a "Truman Show" meets the Star Trek holodeck for shopping and travel.
  • Geolocation - Increasing emphasis on using location as a "filter" or interface will be staggering by 2025. Historical location combined with behavior will give consumers an instant trip down memory lane.
  • Activity - Hitting a staggering wave of adoption by 2020, activity based user interface will be almost ubiquitous by 2025. Software will understand "I'm driving", "I'm walking". By creating an adaptive alternative interface for those types of skills or offering alternative experience. You can see the early adoption of this in software that understands you're running and offers a playlist for you.
  • Behavioral - Software that uses the context of behavior will be seamlessly integrated into our lives. The easiest way to look at "behavior" as an interface would be Microsoft's "Clippy" from the 90's. Clippy would ask "It looks like you're typing a letter want some help?" By monitoring your computer behavior (taking many photos, listening to sad music) computers will be able to offer different feedback and interface options.
  • Biological - This interface is about the sensors we keep on and in our bodies. Digestible and temporary sensors we use in our day to day life will offer up ways to interact with us based on our health and vitality. This revolution will change the face of computing and humanity forever, as we merge into a single information unit from the dark history of “big data” and we move into the new day of “big knowledge”.
  • Environmental - The last of the alternative interfaces and feedback routines is environmental. Just like behavior the rise in sensors will create a network of hyper proximal information that can be used, controlled or changed based on the needs of the person. Today you can see the integration between Jawbone's up3 band and Nest's thermostat as an early example of this new and frightening phenomena of environment as an interface.
This period of time in 2025 will be the last year we have where everything in our lives is not controlled, influenced or enhanced by code. By 2035 "existence as a platform" will be common and everything will be influenced by code.

Where will their impact be most felt? Among everyday consumers, or within sectors like medicine, and other industry?

 

Like all advancements the impact is being felt now in research labs and with the military. The actually realization of these technologies always is most observable with the consumers. We are addicted to convenience and 2025 will be no different. Anything that makes shopping or "saving" time will be effected first.

If you want to understand technology, study money.

How evident are these technologies today? Where (medicine, science, Google Glass etc)? What will it take to make them mass market / common?

Higher end technologies like "digestible" computing you can see today in medical research. Mass market adoption starts when the ease of use is greater than the convenience the technology creates. For example, email is not as "easy" to use as texting. The interface for email has become heavy. So the lower tech is more popular. Using location as an interface was made easy so a map, GPS coordinates make services like "uber" easy to understand. Mass market adoption is as simple as creating a digital "hit" of a new drug to make life simple and combining it with a piece of information to create a new "consumer element"

How will these technologies alter the gadgetry itself (the hardware and UI)? What will happen to mobile phones, for instance?

2025 will be the end of "mobile phones" as we understand them. The hardware makers, but more importantly the attention platforms, TV, Web publishing will have moved into our lives, into our homes and cars. The internet as we understood it ended sometime in 2012. By 2025 the internet will be us and we will be the internet. Our homes will be environments connected to an "awareness" of our needs. Like all future predictions, this technology will be spread unevenly. Many folks will live in average houses but have very intelligent cars.

We won't upgrade our phones each year, we will by “extensions” to our phone experiences. New cars with better integration to our lives. New TV's with more understanding of our families.

Will 2025 simply be a stepping stone to something else – the next technological shift? What will that be?

Just as 1995 defined a new era in the interface with Windows 95. 2005 defined an era of connected 'social' computing. 2015 defined an era of 'smart' objects. 2025 will transform the last of non-programmable parts of our lives into code. Children born in 2025 will have the option to never understand where the "information" comes from. We are the last humans of a race of people that understood it's origins from the vantage point where you could apply your own bias.

We are at the dawn of the machine age and the sunset of the organic age.