Invention Predictions for the Decade Ahead

By 2030 "You" Will Live Forever

For three decades I've regularly enjoyed warm flour pillows of sublime glazed perfection from Stan’s Donuts before surfing dawn patrol. On December 30th 2019, Stan's served me a cold, heavy, oily, dishonorable lump of sugared dough. The sun did not rise in my heart and three weeks later I’m still crabby about it. But as I look back on the previous decade, the dud donut from Stan’s is a fine analogy. Cold, dishonorable lumps of sugary stuff are reasonable descriptions of many of the products introduced in the 2010's.

Consider this list of the last decade’s "most influential" products from Consumer Reports: Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower, Instant Pot, iPad and Tide Pods. That's the best of the decade??? The first ten years of the millennium saw the roll out of Google Search, the iPhone, text messaging, Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, mainstream GPS, and the launch of Bluetooth - things that define the way we live in 2020, innovations that will surely continue influencing our lives in the decade to come. Is Riced Cauliflower going to define your life ten years from now? I think not. I hope not.

Internet Of Things (IOT) did achieve lift-off in the 2010’s and talking to objects and having them respond is indeed magical. But it’s dark, Big Brother magic. I’m not going to install spyware in my own house just because I’m too lazy to get off of the couch.

However, THIS kind of lift-off and landing really does deserve a round of applause:

Meanwhile, accelerating IOT, digitization of our entire persona, artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition are about to change everything.

My big prediction for the 2020’s is that well before the end of it, digital versions of ourselves will be able to live forever and live pretty much everywhere and anywhere - on screens and also in objects. The implications are staggering, but to keep things light, just Imagine a coffee mug that speaks in your best friend’s voice, with their same attitude and ways of thinking and can carry on real conversations about current events and old memories.

The core elements of such devices exist today. Amazon, Google and Facebook already sort through your choices for music, movies, books, videos and site visits to derive your preferences and serve you ads. When a preferences algorithm is empowered with AI, coupled to your personal profile information, informed by blog comments, stored photos and video/audio clips, it can create a digital version of you that will be able to answer questions, laugh and cry in the same way and for the same reasons that you do… and it will be able to do so in your actual voice. Add facial recognition and the device will greet your family and friends by name when they walk into a room or climb into your self driving car. Heart to heart talks with refrigerators could become a thing.

By the end of this decade, my double macchiato at Starbucks will be waiting on the counter as soon as I walk in the door. I will be able to pick up my order and walk out without talking to anyone, opening my wallet or even waving my hand. Starbucks will know I’m coming because I’ve allowed my location to be tracked; it will know my order by my profile; it will know my identity by my face and it will charge my Venmo account automatically when I pick up the cup because a camera is watching me.

Privacy? What was that? By 2030 no one will remember what it was like to live anonymously. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but that’s how things are going.

Also in the coming decade we’ll see serious action on climate change. I don’t mean more people buying Priuses or installing solar panels. I’m talking about massive multi-national geoengineering projects designed to suck heat trapping gasses out of the atmosphere and block the sun in controlled ways.

A lot of major changes are coming at us fast.

Last week I was back at Stan’s and once again had a perfect pre-dawn patrol donut. At the end of the coming decade, even if a digital-me is set to live forever, I sincerely hope that a Stan's donut before dawn patrol still defines my real-me life.

- Mike Marks

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