Alex’s Predictions for the Next Decade

I’ve always hated the week between Christmas and the start of the New Year, it’s filled with insipid retrospectives “looking back” at the past year. It’s an easy way to fill print space and the airwaves, I say. Why re-live all that again? And this year, it’s WORSE, because it’s the end of a decade! Who cares who Ben Affleck dated or that Madonna left her husband this past decade? Don’t folks deserve a little privacy? I say: why bother them in the first place, but then why dig it up, dust it off, and do it all over again… but I digress.

Instead of re-living the past, I’m going to turn my sights to the future. What things will be be reminiscing about 10 years from now in 2019? So here are my predictions for things that will happen between 2010 and 2019:

1. USPS daily mail delivery will become a quaint memory, like the milkman. UPS and FedEx will merge and will provide a more ingenious array of services.

2. The “grid” will become more contiguous: it won’t matter if it’s Bluetooth, 802.11 or 802.16, it will all work as part of a seamless system. Cellular will begin to look (and act) more like what we now know as in-home wireless. In home-computing will occur on a variety of networked devices and most data will all live in the “cloud”. Google will continue to become the adhesive in a massive database of human achievement and human life.

3. One major broadcast network will bite the dust. (My bet, as much as I hate to write it: NBC.) It might reincarnate as some other kind of service… but I’m not sure (exactly) on what that may be.

4. Cable companies will move away from providing traditional grid-broadcast TV service (because viewership will plummet as “viewers” flock to time-shift device-driven watching, and view on demand), and will instead provide the infrastructure for mini access points that are connected to the larger wireless grid.

5. RFID will (finally) change the way we shop for commodity goods (like groceries). In-store: item-by-item check outs will evaporate, replaced by self-serve kiosks (don’t laugh… who would have thought we’d be checking ourselves in to the airport 10 years ago?) In-home: grocery delivery will catch on among more affluent and urban users, and item inventory will “self replenish”. Shopping will continue to move toward the experiential and theatric end of the spectrum for shoppers of all strata: luxury through laggards.

6. Plastic will become… well different. Plastics as we know them (today) will become obsolete, and politically incorrect. As more comes to light about the dangers of plastic, fewer people will want to use plastic, or even be near plastic. Instead, bio-plastics (made from friendlier source materials) will become edible, and biodegradable. And our plastic money will change too: credit cards will become more integrated, and will be differentiated by “classes” of service akin to a private concierge at the high end, and a financial manager at the low end.

7. Media providers will merge (much like we saw media producers merge in the 2000s). Verizon might “buy out” Time Warner Cable, Boingo might take over Sprint. Who knows, but I’d bet dollars to donuts on this one.

8. Your health data and medical records will be kept online and will update continuously from devices in or near your home (like your scale, your android-powered communication device that tracks how far you’ve walked during the day, the RFID-enabled prescription bottle that notes the last time it was opened.)

9. Air travel will continue to suck. People will get fed up, prices will continue to climb, service will continue to erode and because it will become less politically correct to drive the demand for high-speed train travel will explode. This will happen at the end of the decade, especially after the unbelievable success of the New York-Montreal/Boston-Buffalo network of high-speed rail is launched to public acclaim, and helps to transform the regional Northeast/Southeast economies.

10. Cars will become networked. They will network and communicate with “the grid” and with each other. They’ll keep drivers and passengers safer and more entertained.

What do you think? Post your predictions in the comment section below… and check back in 10 years to see if these were correct.

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