- Shutterstock/ GaudiLab
From driverless cars to robotic workers, the future is going to be here before you know it.
Many emerging technologies you hear about today will reach a tipping point by 2025, according to a report from The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software & Society.
The council surveyed more than 800 executives and experts from the technology sector to share their respective timelines for when technologies would become mainstream.
From the survey results, the council identified 21 defining moments, all of which they predict will occur by 2030.
Here’s a look at the technological shifts you can expect during the next 14 years.
90% of the population will have unlimited and free data storage by 2018.
Deleting files to make room for files is going to become a thing of the past. In less than three years, about 90% of people will have unlimited and free data storage that will ultimately be ad-supported, according to the report.
We are already seeing some companies offer cheap or completely free service. For example, Google Photos already offers unlimited storage for photos and Amazon will let you store an unlimited amount of whatever you want for just $60 a year.
A big reason companies can do this is because hard drive cost per gigabyte continues to fall. This has spurred more data to be created than ever before. According to the report, it’s estimated about 90% of all data has been created in just the last two years.
Still, there are signs this may not be the case. Microsoft recently killed its plan that offered unlimited storage on its cloud service OneDrive.
The first robotic pharmacist will arrive in the US 2021.
- United States Navy
Robots already have a big presence in the manufacturing industry, but as they become more advanced we will see them enter new service-oriented jobs.
In fact, respondents predict that by 2021, we will even have the first robot pharmacist in the US.
1 trillion sensors will be connected to the internet by 2022.
As the cost of sensors continues to decline and computing power increases, all kinds of devices will increasingly become connected to the internet. From the clothes you wear to the ground you walk on, everything will come online.
According to the report, it’s predicted 1 trillion sensors will be connected as early as 2022. “Every (physical) product could be connected to ubiquitous communication infrastructure, and sensors everywhere will allow people to fully perceive their environment.”
10% of the world’s population will be wearing clothes connected to the internet by 2022.
Cars, appliances, and other everyday objects are increasingly becoming more connected to the internet. And not too long from now, even the clothes on our back will get a connection.
By 2022, experts predict that 10% of people will be wearing clothing with embedded chips that connects them to the internet.
This isn’t really too surprising seeing as a number of accessories – including watches and rings- are already becoming connected.
The first 3D-printed car will be in production by 2022.
- Local Motors
3D printers are increasingly becoming more powerful and capable of printing complex objects from all kinds of materials. Many car companies are already using 3D printing to create prototypes and to more efficiently create specific parts of a vehicle.
Most recently, Audi showed off a miniature vehicle it created using its metal printers. And the automotive startup Local Motors is aiming to begin production on a full-size car using 3D printing in the next few years. The company has already created several prototypes, and plans to sell a production model (shown above).
The first implantable mobile phone will become commercially available in 2025.
- Dangerous Things
Being attached to your smartphone may take on a whole new meaning by 2023.
About 80% of respondents predict that in seven years, the first implantable mobile phone will become commercially available. The device will potentially be able to track a person’s health more accurately, while also allowing them to communicate thoughts via brainwaves or signal instead of verbally, according to the report.
Implantable health devices, like pacemakers and cochlear implants, have already become more mainstream. And it’s likely we’ll see more widespread adoption of implantable technologies emerge before 2025.
The first government will replace its census with big-data technologies by 2023.
- Flickr/Escola Santa Anna
As collecting, managing, and understanding data becomes easier, governments may move away from old methods of collecting information and begin to rely more on big data technologies to automate programs.
According to the report, this is going to happen sooner than later. More than 80% of respondents estimate that the first government will replace the census with big-data systems by 2023.
Some countries, including Canada, have already began experimenting with pulling back on traditional census methods; however, no country has completely replaced the system yet.
10% of reading glasses will be connected to the internet by 2023.
Interacting with the world around you will become a lot different when connected glasses become more common.
86% of survey respondents predict connected eyewear will become common by 2023. The technology will allow wearers to have direct access to internet applications optimized for an enhanced or augmented reality experience. Eye-tracking technology will also let them to control the interface hands-free.
Google, of course, already introduced similar technology with Google Glass and is currently working on connected contact lenses.
80% of people on earth will have a digital presence online by 2023.
- Reuters/Dado Ruvic
More people will gain a digital identity as internet connectivity becomes more prevalent.
Respondents estimate that by 2023, more than 80% of the global population will have a digital presence. According to the report “digital life is becoming inextricably linked with a person’s physical life,” and will only continue to grow in importance.
Companies like Facebook and Google are pushing this effort ahead with various projects to connect remote parts of the world to the internet.
A government will collect taxes for the first time via blockchain 2023.
Digital currencies, like Bitcoin, use a mechanism called the blockchain to perform transactions. The blockchain is essentially ashared public ledger that everyone can inspect and no single person controls. Those using the system keep it up to date to continuously keep track of transactions.
The blockchain technology, though, holds promise beyond Bitcoin. Some have proposed using the technology for public databases, like titles to land or other goods. According to recent article from the Economist, the NASDAQ is even about to start using the technology to record trading in securities of private companies.
Blockchain technology is expected to reach its tipping point in the next few years, and by 2023, it’s predicted that the first government will collect taxes using the technology.
90% of the global population will have a supercomputer in their pocket by 2023.
- Flickr/Ken Walton
Around the world people are increasingly using their smartphones more than PCs, and in developing nations people are becoming connected to the internet for the first time via their mobile phone. As smartphones gain computing power and the price continues to fall, the speed of adoption will only accelerate.
The number of global smartphone subscribers is estimated to breach 50% penetration by 2017, and by 2023, about 90% of the population will be connected via smartphone.
Access to the internet will become a basic right by 2024.
- Thomson Reuters
According to the survey, 79% of respondents predict that by 2024, most of the world will have regular internet access.
Tech giants like Google and Facebook are currently coming up with creative solutions to connect the remaining 4 billion people who don’t have access to the internet. Facebook’s Internet.org is using drones to beam internet down to Earth from satellites and Google’s Project Loon is using giant balloons that float in the atmosphere to connect remote parts of the world.
The first transplant of a 3D-printed liver will occur by 2024.
- Courtesy of Shapeways
3D printers are already increasingly used in the healthcare industry to create human parts, like bone replacements and organ implants. Doctors have already used 3D printing to create part of a patient’s rib cage and other bone implants.
But bioprinting, which combines bioengineering with 3D printing, will also enable researchers and others in the healthcare industry to grow usable artificial organs.
By 2024, more than 50% of internet traffic to homes will be from appliances and devices.
As more sensors are deployed and more products become connected to the internet, we will see a big shift in internet traffic.
Currently, most of the internet traffic in home is for personal consumption, whether it be for communication or entertainment. But by 2024, about half of the internet in the home will be used for home automation purposes.
5% of consumer products will be 3D printed.
- Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images
3D printing, also know as additive manufacturing, has already made a lot of inroads with designers and in the manufacturing industry.
But as the printers become less expensive, more powerful, and easier to use, consumers will also increasingly adopt the technology. This will enable them to print things at home on demand.
30% of corporate audits will be performed by artificial intelligence by 2025.
- World Economic Forum
AI will increasingly replace a range of jobs performed by people today, including white collar jobs. Because artificial intelligence is so effective when it comes to matching patterns and automating processes, it’s well suited to perform many tasks in large organizations, according to the report.
According to recent research from the McKinsey Global Institute, about 45% of activities people are paid to perform can be automated by adapting current technologies. This represents about $2 trillion in annual wages in the US.
But it’s not only low-income, low-skill workers that will be at risk. According to the McKinsey research,”even the highest-paid occupations in the economy, such as financial managers, physicians, and senior executives, including CEOs, have a significant amount of activity that can be automated.”
By 2025, AI used in white-collar jobs is expected to reach a tipping point and about 30% of corporate audits will be performed by AI.
Globally, more trips will be made using car-sharing programs than privately-owned cars by 2025.
- Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Stringer/Getty Images
The sharing economy has taken off in a big way over the last few years thanks to online marketplaces and mobile apps. But perhaps the best example of the sharing economy in action is in the transportation sector.
Services like Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar have changed how people think about transportation and car ownership. It’s also forced auto manufacturers to rethink their business models.
By 2025, 67% of respondents predict that the sharing economy will have grown to the point that more rides taken globally are actually via a car-sharing service, and not by a privately-owned car.
Driverless cars will account for 10% of all cars in the US by 2026.
Autonomous cars have the potential to dramatically increase safety, decrease emissions, and change models of transportation.
Tech companies like Google and Uber, as well as traditional automakers like Toyota, General Motors, and Volkswagen, are all currently working on self-driving cars. But respondents predict that it will be 2026 before the 10% of all cars are driverless in the US.
The first AI machine will join a corporate board of directors 2026.
- Shutterstock/ GaudiLab
Artificial intelligence will increasingly play a more important role in the business world as a decision making tool.
Because AI can learn from previous situations, it can provide insight and automate complex decision process based on data and past experiences. This means that robots won’t just replace low-wage, low-income jobs. As AI and robotics evolve, we will see more white-collar jobs also begin to be replaced.
According to the survey, the technology will get so advanced that the first AI machine will become part of a corporate board of directors by 2026.
The first city with more than 50,000 people and no traffic lights will come into existence by 2026.
Infrastructure will also become more connected in the future, giving way to more smart cities. Everything from the sidewalk and streets to the traffic lights and buildings will be connected to the internet.
Smart cities, like a smart home, will be automated capable of managing their “energy, material flows, logistics and traffic,” according to the report.
The evolution of connected infrastructure will bring about the first city with a population of 50,000 people and no traffic lights by 2026, according to the report.
By 2027, 10% of global gross domestic product will be stored using blockchain technology.
- Bogdan Cristel/Reuters
As blockchain technology takes off, more money will be stored using the technology.
According to the report, the total worth of Bitcoin in the blockchain is around $20 billion, or about 0.025% of global GDP of around $80 trillion. By 2027, about 10% of the global GDP will be stored using blockchain.