I got this idea that it would be fun to make a couple of wild predictions and later to go back and see how far I was off. So here is the list,
The next big thing is going to be Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI). Data transfer speed will increase exponentially. Materials will get less invasive. Price will drop exponentially. Of course, at first there will be roadblocks, but once first great leap is reached — reading at 2x, memories download, skills upload — private and government capital will pour in. First trials will quickly finish in early 2020s. The race will be at full speed in 2027
Outer space is unbelievably rich in commodities. Yet, keeping human-friendly conditions out there would be even more expensive. All operations, especially in deep space, will be fully unmanned. Software will support whole life-cycle — reaching remote places, extracting materials, building facilities, transporting them back, conducting scientific experiments. Technology is almost ready. Mars and asteroids are pretty far to reach, but moon is very close. First economically meaningful Moon base will operate by 2028.
Social networks will be controlled by governments. Mandates will be imposed on what you search and how you talk. Access to mass spread of information or social organization will be tightly controlled by governments. USA will likely to protect individual privacy at least in some form, meanwhile places like China will require complete transparency to government even in private matters. On the bright side, similarly to what Instagram did to unlock ephemeral social value, new kinds of apps will emerge. Instagram itself will be replaced by its successor or transformed beyond recognition. Emphasis will be on real physical connection and local communities and businesses. In the end of the decade, VR and BCI will be the new place for social interaction. Hopefully, email will still be around in 2030.
People will continue to travel a lot and keep learning from different places. This may not make public to act coherently, but will influence its choices, such as what accounts for good health care or not, what is good security or not, what is good transport or not. In shadows, public will evolve — one by one, individuals will get smarter and with that, their aggregate, public, will get smarter too. Large waves of migration could happen. Institutions will get stronger too. Starting at big-tech, wave of growth mindset will spread to every big organization, the ones who adopt it will prosper. Many governments and nations will go through self-reflection as well, hopefully leading to better life for everybody. Developed economies of US, Japan, China, Korea will grow primarily driven by dominant position in certain niche of high tech sector.
It is hard to envision what it would be, but it is possible that new kind of computing stack, from assembly up to the high level abstractions, would emerge, which is not based on Turing state machine. It will be faster and more robust for distributed computations that heavily use network. Lowest level software stack will be powered by a system only remotely resembling assembly.
At the end of 2040s, AGI is achieved, but singularity does not happen. There will be emergence of fully digital cognition that is similar to humans, but its exploding self-improvement will not happen for quite a while due some fundamental physical or mathematical challenges we can not fathom today. It is also possible that this already happened in late 2010s, but we were not aware of it. You will talk to new digital species over your computer in 2038.
In most exotic form, BCI, VR, AGI, industrial automation and space programs — all merge together into one symbiotic platform. But then, maybe, none of this will really happen. Time will tell.