I recently asked more than a dozen tech leaders, visionaries, and insiders that very question. From both expected and less-familiar technologies, this is what they told me:
Artificial intelligence is the future.
This was cited first and foremost by nearly everyone I spoke to. The success of driverless cars hinges entirely upon it, as does our ability to make sense of the unfathomable amounts of data we now collect (and will increasingly collect) from a growing networking of "sensing" things.
Overcoming energy concerns.
"Smart cities will be transformational," predicts Brian Lakamp, CEO of Totem Power. "Without sustainable backup power, however, better municipal services are only as good as the grid and could fail when we need them most."
"An increasing number of industries are following the lead of Uber and Airbnb in adopting the sharing economy," says Manuel Grenacher of Coresystems. "As companies continue to source outside talent and capital, including the manufacturing sector, crowdsourcing will experience exponential growth."
"The sheer volume of data produced by medical devices provides clinicians and healthcare providers the ability to better prevent health-related issues, treat ongoing illnesses, and improve the overall quality of care," says Sam Abadir of Aspire Ventures. "But humans can't keep pace with the ever-growing streams of data, so AI and machine learning will play a huge role in drawing insights from these massive pools of data."
Moving further away from centralized computing.
"Edge analytics, by which I mean connected devices in the field doing onboard analysis before sending information back to a server, is a rising trend," says Dr. Yair Poleg of Ayyeka. "This is going to overcome a lot of the potential problems involving data overload and battery performance."
Mixed reality makes its move.
By 2027, augmented and virtual reality will have reduced (if not replaced) our dependency on five inch screens that we currently carry, many predict. After all, what's the point of bringing physical objects with us if they could be projected or overlaid in mid air or on a flat surface (such as a virtual keyboard)?
If you're good at something, never do it for free.
In the future, more companies will start selling their lessons learned and insights gained from the internal data they collect to outside companies. "Instead of looking at data gathering as an operating expense, it will become a natural course for companies to sell or trade their data," predicts Ajay Khanna of Reltio.
Crime continues to shift online.
"Security as a whole will continue to plague the tech world," predicts Elliot Schrock of Thryv. "It will be easier than ever for anyone to create a tech powered business, and unfortunately, much of that tech will be insufficiently secured. Add that to the dearth of cyber security professionals, and you have a recipe for disaster." To offset some of this, several experts cited blockchain as a promising and hacker-repellant transactional tool.
Retraining displaced workers.
If artificial intelligence becomes as good as many hope it does, how will our society adapt? For example, how might the transportation industry, several million truckers, and the dependent economies on those truckers ultimately transition and survive such a radical change? Will that cost be worth the expected reduction in auto mortalities, lower costs of goods and services, and increase amount of free-time? If so, how might those affected contribute in new ways to society? All heavy question for the future.
Human coworkers will still reign supreme.
In 10 years, however, most predict our future is secure. "I'm not a huge believer in consumer AI assistants," quips Mike Melanin, founder of Statsbot. "Expectations are too high and capabilities are still too low for everyday life. I almost lost my mind after failing to turn off my Alexa alarm this morning!"
Whatever eventually happens, it will likely happen sooner than we expect. "It's all coming incredibly quickly," concludes Lakamp. "Hold onto your seats!"