Wednesday, 07 March 2018 15:51

Cisco crystal-balls the next three decades in tech

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2050 is only three upgrade cycles away, observed Cisco senior vice-president and general manager for applications Rowan Trollope in his keynote presentation at Cisco Live 2018 in Melbourne, so it's time to think about what's ahead.

Drawing on a range of sources, he suggested some possible highlights of the next three decades.

2020s

"For businesses, drones are a huge transformational opportunity," and the first driverless air taxis are tipped to arrive in Dubai in 2022.

Smartphones could disappear by the middle of the decade, supplanted by augmented reality technology being developed by Magic Leap. "It's a brand new science they've created" that can deliver a much better user interface than a piece of glass. "It's going to affect every single industry in profound ways,"and it is going to need "a completely new network" to support it.

And forget about keyboards and speech-to-text: "text by thinking" may arrive around 2028, based on technology that's already being developed for accessibility reasons.

2030s

Substantially new job titles are likely to be here by 2030. "Things are going to get a lot less familiar" with the arrival of jobs such as body part maker, waste data handler, and climate change repair specialist - so what new jobs are going to appear in your industry?

By 2034, 1Tbps connectivity to homes will be commonplace, and possibly even to individual people. That would provide a new wave of opportunities for businesses, including augmented reality at scale and perhaps even an equivalent of Star Trek's holodeck.

Thanks to technology currently being developed in Queensland involving ultrasonic stimulation of the brain, a cure for Alzheimer's disease may be found by 2036.

2040s

By 2040, the average home may have processing power equivalent to one billion brains on tap. "2040 is where things really take off," Trollope suggested. "It's hard to [imagine] what we might do with all that computing power."

2045 is when Google head futurist Ray Kurtzweil expects to see The Singularity, the point at which AIs become more intelligent than humans. That may or may not eventuate, but Trollope observed that "AI is going to be a transformative force in most industries for many years to come.

2050s

Elon Musk is aiming for a permanent base on Mars by 2050, and has already sent his car ahead so it will be waiting for him, joked Trollope.

Back on Earth, the population is expected to be 9.7 billion, or twice the current carrying capacity of the planet. That means we will need to use resources more efficiently and sustainably, and that will require technology that doesn't exist today.

So Cisco is thinking about the role it plays in the world. "[It's] a little scary, but a great opportunity," he said.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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