The IT Swami predicts the Twenty-Teens

If Ray Kurzweil can build a world-wide following and a cushy job in the Googleplex based on a 50/50 hit rate and missing some of the biggest developments of the decade, I reckon the IT Swami should be in the running for a gig somewhere. Tweet this Here are his predictions for the coming years.

The IT SwamiHaving made a fortune selling bullet-deflecting amulets with "peace pyramid crystals" online to Americans, the IT Swami has retired to a commune in Coromandel, sharing a yurt with the twin daughters of his business partner who made the amulets out of smashed wine bottles and garden twine.

I found them bottling "holistic qi therapy massage oil" from a 44-gallon drum labelled "Castrol Hypuron 15W-40". The Swami was wearing a goat-skin loin cloth and the girls even less. Smoke rose from a camp-fire, twenty incense sticks, and a hookah. The sound of 500 "psychic energy healing wind-chimes" they'd cut from collapsed Chinese-made metal garden pergolas had a hypnotic effect.

I asked the IT Swami to give us some prognostication for the end of the decade, 2020. Over the tranquil bubbling of the nearby stream and the even nearer bong, he told me his predictions [Hopefully he is more accurate than other psychics. Here's a little puzzle for you: why does any psychic need to work?]

First he looked at corporate IT:

  1. Corporate IT systems will come to be understood as a different issue to personal and social computing: change will be slow and careful after a backlash driven by numerous highly publicised disasters due to too-rapid change and too-open systems. As the economy stays low and businesses enter survival mode, risk management will re-gain respect.
  2. Security will move from the perimeter to the data. Access control and audit will be integral to database engines.
  3. BYOD will eventually be a given, taken for granted, but only once organisations have had time to accommodate it.
  4. IT will not disappear. IT will become a strategic and integral servant of the business like finance, HR and marketing. The focus will be on IT service aggregation, integration and supplier management (please don't call any of that "governance"). IT are the stewards of information and the aggregators of technology to use it.
  5. By the end of the decade, IT will no more build its own systems than marketing would make its own t-shirts or HR do its own psychometric testing.
  6. Service design becomes a business function (at last).
  7. Governance of IT will become mainstream, business as usual. We'll no more notice that IT is governed than that the finances of the organisation are governed. This requires little change from IT and lots of change from the Board of Directors and other governors of organisations who have - on average - failed IT in the past.
  8. A Chinese IT or business framework will displace ITIL and COBIT by decade's end.

Then he looked at computing in society...

  1. Computing interfaces will be everywhere: in desks, tables, seat-backs, dashboards, the wall next to toilets, projected onto surfaces or perhaps into the air, as well as carried around as head-up or retinal-scan displays, roll-up screens, phones, and tablets. Keyboards will be on any convenient surface and people everywhere will be waving their hands in the air. (Retinal displays, head-up displays, and projecting onto surfaces won't displace screens. The screens will always be ahead in picture quality, moving into 3D etc).
  2. Few people will carry smart devices: they will be replaced by personal cloud-based virtual machines which you configure and install apps on. All you need is a browser.
  3. Consumer electronic devices - TVs, players, game machines, phones... - will mostly vanish except for gadget freaks, replaced by generic browser interfaces and web-based services. This will finally get rid of the four remote controls on the coffee table.
  4. Almost all personal data and systems will reside in the cloud, and individuals will broadcast their identity in order to interact with the world, except for a few paranoid privacy freaks.
  5. People will carry tokens to digitally identify themselves or have them implanted under the skin (indistinguishable from the hundred other bits of metal in and through their skin). Authentication will be supplemented by bio-metrics. Moving from one device to another will carry your current session with you. (Except in the American bible-belt where tokens will be declared the mark of the beast. Right-wing militias will use token detectors to track down and kill those wearing them).
  6. The majority of parents - i.e. the Asian ones - will track their children.
  7. The fusion of the virtual and physical worlds will explode, with location-aware and object-aware devices and apps proliferating, and the physical world responding via the internet-of-things. Not only will the internet augment the functionality of and information about the physical world, but virtual reality will merge with physical reality, especially in meetings, commerce, games, sims, and sex.
    Your kids might get outdoors again as they hunt each other down suburban streets with their smart-phones. (Only the lower classes. The middle and upper classes won't let even teenagers outdoors - parental hysteria will reach new heights).
  8. Cash won't die out but credit cards will.
  9. European privacy laws will collapse under their own cumbersome absurdity. Concern about privacy will be seen as quaint, then disturbed, and eventually downright flat-earthish. Multiple car video cameras will be a mandatory part of the mandatory black box. Every encounter with another person will be automatically filmed from somewhere on your body. The only privacy taboos will be inside toilet cubicles and possibly bedrooms. Nose picking will become socially acceptable. The Westboro Baptist Church will defend privacy to the end (except for fags).
  10. Asia, especially China, will dominate the personal computing industry. Americans will cling to expensive iCandy but the rest of the world will use Android devices. Firms like Huawei and HTC will make top-end equipment that is more expensive and aspirational than an iPhone. Apple stocks will plunge.
  11. Moore's Law will continue. Computing power will be immense. We'll burn it all on ever-more-complex operating systems and super-advanced graphics.
  12. Computer generated graphics will become indistinguishable from reality. Filming in real locations will still be cost-competitive for many scenes, but you won't be able to tell. Expect actors whose public presence is entirely virtual and whose real-world identity is secret: the ultimate solution to paparazzi. Perfect generation of speech will be the final challenge which should fall by decade's end.
  13. Computers will still fail the Turing Test: you'll be able to tell, if you are smart, after a while. In simple online contexts, many of the public won't have a clue and will happily chat away with machines: look for more virtual beings in support, commerce, and sex.
  14. Computers will be no closer to spontaneous intelligence: humans will still be the origin of all cleverness, creativity and innovation. Computers will remain a tool, and "downloading" the brain will be still a fantasy.
  15. People will give up on social media as a way to accumulate knowledge and go back to more stable repositories such as edited websites and books. [England's Law: all social media forums/channels/communities degenerate into babble].
  16. Someone will make a fortune with an app to print picture books and autobiographies on acid-free paper as the only reliable way to leave a long-term informational and picture legacy.
  17. Internet services will appear from all over the world built initially on local user populations, including Egypt, Nigeria, Russia, Brazil, UK, India, Vietnam, and most of all China. The California strangle-hold on startups will be broken.
  18. English will remain the language of the internet. Chinese websites will start to publish in English as they come to dominate outside their borders as well as within. China is already the world's largest English-speaking population and will soon have more English speakers than the rest of the world put together.

Then the IT Swami ate some porridge and honey, and unexpectedly started predicting beyond IT...

  1. Manufacturing will move to the Middle-East, Eastern Europe and finally Africa, as the West, China and India outsource to lower cost nations.
  2. Outsourced services will be provided from all over the world, including returning to the West (My virtual assistant on Elance is American. She is cost-competitive with Indians and Filipinos, and more reliable).
  3. In the West, somebody will crack the problem of how to provide knowledge systems for staff with the attention span of a 2-year-old and the temper of a three-year-old. The few people who can still be mature, who can stick to a project for weeks or even months, and who can think about something in any sort of depth will become priceless.
  4. Asians won't have these problems with "millennial" staff.
  5. Korea and/or Japan will lead world culture in the mid to late Twenty-Teens as the UK did in the 1960s, especially once China crushes the North Korean regime and re-unites the peninsula.
  6. Copyright will vanish in the face of Kim Dotcom's Mega service, Chinese consumers, and international law reform once USA's influence is lost in the UN following the USA's economic collapse in 2015.
  7. Electric, hybrid and hydrogen cars, wind power, domestic solar power, and corn-ethanol will finally be seen to be politically-correct lunacy. Nuclear power will once again dominate. Solar power will go large-scale in areas such as the US southwest, Spain, Tibet, North Africa, and Australia. Nuclear fusion will still be "ten years away". Most cars will still be petrol powered.
  8. Medicine will be close to slowing or even reversing aging, for those wealthy enough.
  9. After North America's economic collapse, its agricultural sector will see a renaissance once it stops making corn for cars and becomes an exporter of food to Asia.
  10. Global warming will become a mainstream issue after the US and Australian dustbowl disasters, but nothing significant will be done, overwhelmed by the rise of the Asian and then African middle classes. In the Twenty-twenties, technological solutions to warming will be deployed, probably by injecting silver bromide into the troposphere. China will do it in the face of protests from the US and Europe who will no longer have the military capacity to stop them.
  11. China will be the world's biggest economy by decade end. It will have the world's biggest fast rail network (already does), the most skyscrapers (almost already does), the biggest army (already does), the first digital currency, and the biggest military/industrial complex. The Chinese will land men on the moon and launch a space station. The Chinese navy will have more aircraft carriers than the USA's (China will build more and the USA will be forced by economic collapse to decommission some). Chinese cities and waterways will clean up in the face of a strong domestic ecological movement, corruption will fall, and democracy will rise... slowly. The West's best and brightest will go to Asia to work.
  12. As Chinese imperialism rises, people will look back fondly to when the USA ruled the world. The US will attempt a stand-off over trade issues but their economy will be too weak.
  13. The Yen will become the currency of choice after it is revalued to parity with the Euro.
  14. The Islamic nations will still be talking about a federation when not killing each other. The Chinese will take over from the USA in thumping them whenever they get too threatening or unstable.
  15. India will fall into greater disarray, dragged down by corruption, unequal wealth distribution, disorganisation, regional rivalries and religious dissent. India will fall further behind China and in the late twenty-teens India will resort to war on their common border to try to distract an angry population and restore face. It will end in a nuclear stand-off in which India will do something rash. In the resulting ...er... fallout, the Indian federation will collapse or be broken up by Chinese military force. Hopefully New Zealand is far enough away from the Himalayan jet-streams.
  16. I got depressed at this point and wandered off to assuage a rabid hunger and to play in the creek with a bunch of hippy girls from the commune. It was more fun than moving to Mountain View anyway.

    [Update:
    The IT Swami missed Big Data. I asked him. he says nobody outside of IT will remember or care what Big Data is in 2020.

    After a lunch of wild mushroom risotto he added another prediction for 2020: the Real American Revolution when the oppressed and imprisoned underclass take up all their guns and slay the privileged. "Probability 3/10. " he said. Sounds like he is fishing for a job at Gartner not Google.
    ]

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