Our lives are changing fast, and that change is only accelerating. In 50 years who knows what the world will look like, but it’s sure fun to take a few guesses! Just like some of us might not know about the Betamax, here are some things that our grandkids might scratch their heads at.
1. BluRay Players
As the speed of the Internet becomes faster and more people go completely wireless, eventually the need to own desktop boxes that play our media will disappear. We still might own our media, but it will be stored on our local computers or, even more likely, in the cloud.
2. Postage Stamps
I saw a tweet the other day that wondered if the only remaining purpose of the USPS was to deliver spam mail. Indeed it seems the only people not using email in place of old school “snail mail” are those who didn’t grow up with it. Your grandkids will be asking “you paid by putting a sticker on a piece of paper?”
3. Hardbound Textbooks
Transferring information by printing to heavy, costly books that require entirely new purchases for updates and revisions is going the way of the Dodo bird. Much like traditional software is only updated occasionally but web-based software can be updated constantly with no action by the user, students’ sources of information will go digital. We’ll wonder why we ever walked around with 50 pounds on our backs when we could have just put it all on a tablet.
Here’s hoping laser eye surgery becomes as cheap, reliable, and ubiquitous as glasses are today. Maybe they won’t be completely eliminated, but might stick around a fashion piece. Much like a surprise look at pocket watch in a vest can impress your friends, perhaps glasses will be the retro accessory of the future.
Keys are such a part of our life we hesitate to question their existence. But in a world where we have our phones 24/7, there’s little reason to believe they won’t also eventually incorporate our keys. Perhaps via a wireless protocol similar to Bluetooth?
6. Credit/Debit Cards
This also goes under “things that should be part of your phone.” Once smartphones saturate the market and a ubiquitous transaction standard is developed and adopted, these will be one more thing to leave at home and use as your phone.
7. Desktop Computers
Steve Jobs made famous the computer/truck analogy, saying that just like trucks are a small but still-used part of the car market, desktop computers will diminish in number as well. That’s probably true for the next 20 years, but what about in 50? By then I have a hard time believing we’ll still need to buy powerful, local boxes to use at home or at the office. Companies like V3 Systems are already pioneering products that push us in that direction: using cheap front end hardware for user input (display/mouse/keyboard), and a powerful cloud computing platform to run the actual computer (including everything: CPU, RAM, storage, etc.)
8. Four Year Degrees
As employers become more comfortable with employees who have marketable skills but lack official college degrees, the need for acquiring said degrees will decrease. This is already prevalent in industries like computer development and design. When students can learn valuable skills in 2 years or even less, the cost of their education decreases dramatically, accelerating the transition into a skill-based world.
9. University Campuses
Information now flows through a network of connections and not through a hierarchy. And as more education goes online and becomes available from our computers, the less students will need to meet in a centralized location. Perhaps there will still be value to learn from working in person with other people, but our grandchildren will think it’s weird that we all got together in a room for 50 minutes at a time to listen to some old man or woman talk.
10. The Microsoft Surface
Really? You think Surface will be good enough to outlast the iPad as the tablet that took us into the future? Microsoft just wants to make a buck. Apple is trying to change the world.