New Technologies: What Do The 2020s Hold for Us?
Winston Churchill said ” The farther you look in the past, the further you will see in the future”. The analysis of the evolution of computing since the 1980s is rich in lessons. Like Lego bricks, each decade has served as a springboard to build the ultra-connected world we know today. Let us analyze how the arrival of computers, then the web, has transformed our uses and prepared the world that awaits us in the coming years.
1980s: the decade of the PC
Until the 1970s, computers were mainly reserved for companies and insiders. Still too technical and too expensive, the microcomputer had not yet really found its place with the general public.
In the early 1980s, driven by the Apple Macintosh, the interfaces were simplified and made more user-friendly. The personal computer (PC) market is emerging and making IT accessible to as many people as possible. The leaders are then called IBM, Thomson, Apple or Commodore, whose “Commodore 64” model remains to this day the best-selling personal computer of all time.
This democratization of personal computers opens a real Pandora’s box for another sector, that of video games. Amstrad and Atari become iconic brands, and teenagers from the 1980s challenged each other in arcades around Pac Man or Space Invader. Through video games, the computer became less intimidating, more playful. An essential step so that PCs can then invade homes.
1990s: the decade of the web
Improved technologies allow players to offer much more powerful gaming consoles. Powerful and innovative, the Nintendo NES or the Sega Megadrive are doing well and sounding the death knell for pioneers like Atari.
Launched in August 1995, the Windows 95 operating system will mark an important turning point in the history of computing. Its user-friendly interface, in the form of navigation windows, allows it to equip almost 7 computers out of 10 in the world two years after its release. This is the end of blue terminals and home screens filled with lines of code. The door is wide open for the next revolution.
Born in the late 1980s, the “world wide web” (WWW) really took off towards the end of the decade. The first services (Netscape, Mozaic, Altavista, etc.) allow users to chat by email, but above all to surf cyberspace. Expressions that have become very obsolete today.
The decade of the 1990s will be marked by modems and AOL packages offering 50 hours of connection per month on the web. The web is still in its infancy, but its ecosystem is igniting. Yahoo! and Amazon become global brands, many start-ups are born (nicknamed “dot com”), including a little thumb named Google.
But a new revolution is still missing to bring the WWW to a new dimension once and for all. It will arrive during the following decade, coming from Cupertino.
2000s: the smartphone decade
The 2000s began on a happy note: the “bug of the year 2000” aroused more fear than harm, the world of new information and communication technologies (NICT) can continue its race forward.
The first bug will not arrive on January 1, 2000, but three months later. The frenzy that accompanied the growth of businesses in the new economy generated a financial bubble. It broke out on March 13, 2000. In two years, the Nasdaq index lost the equivalent of 80% of its value, causing many businesses to fall. The party seems over, make way for headaches…
The peculiarity of many revolutions is that no one sees them coming. It was in 2007 that a major event arrived, which would shake up the world of new technologies and the daily lives of billions of people.
On January 9, at MacWorld in San Francisco, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. The IT industry and the web rocked forever that day. No more keyboards and mice. From now on, everyone can have access to the Internet at any time thanks to a small terminal that fits in a pocket.
Under these conditions, it is impossible to curb Internet users with 50-hour packages per month. In order to meet demand, operators like France Telecom or Free are launching bundles allowing unlimited connection.
The arrival of smartphones ushers in the era of the “e”. E-commerce, e-tickets, e-book … many products and services are becoming electronic and dematerialized. Some would argue that this technology arrives a few years too late, and that it could have saved many companies from bankruptcy caused by the financial bubble. That’s right, but it also opened the door to new innovative players like Hi5 or My Space, precursors of the next revolution to come.
2010s: the social decade
Smartphones are rapidly gaining market share. Formerly limited to the most tech-savvy audience, the internet now reaches all social categories and all generations. Users are becoming more and more numerous, and are connecting longer and longer.
The first platforms to fully benefit from it are social networks. Launched a year after My Space, in 2004, Facebook crossed the milestone of the first billion users in 2012. If some pioneering companies have disappeared, YouTube, Twitter or Linkedin are becoming essential services in our daily lives. Combining the power of the Internet and the user-friendliness of these new uses, these sites allow strangers to gather communities of several thousand or millions of Internet users in a few months. Influence marketing as we know it today was born.
This new social dimension also opens a new era, that of “co”. Co-location, co-working, focused on sharing, it demonstrates that digital technologies have not moved people away, but have brought them together.
Brands have understood this underlying trend, by joining forces with these new influencers on platforms like Instagram to create content or product lines. A principle of co-creation, completely in step with the times.
The second half of the 2010 decade is more technological. It gives pride of place to connected objects, artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data. Three sectors that could hold the keys to the next revolution.
2020, the AI decade?
It is perilous and difficult to predict which sectors or which technologies will mark the decade of 2020, but the analysis of the past can give us some tracks.
The first user-friendly computers appeared in the 1980s and the associated video games provided the breeding ground for the arrival of the Internet in homes. Smartphones then placed the web at the heart of our daily lives and enabled the development of social networks and connected objects. The next revolution should therefore follow this slow process.
Will 2020 be the decade of virtual or augmented reality? Will the blockchain profoundly upset the economy? Will a new technology appear? Whatever the next revolution, it will certainly revolve around artificial intelligence.
With more than 4 billion Internet users, the world today produces as much data in two days as it did throughout the 20th century. This considerable mass of information, Big Data, is fed by our online uses but also by our connected objects (watches, voice assistants, etc.). These data feed artificial intelligence, which then makes it possible to offer immersive and personalized experiences.
Artificial intelligence holds the keys to our near future. Without it, no connected car, machine learning or intelligent systems. It is the key to almost all of the technological developments that will matter to our future in the coming years, whether they already exist or are still to come.
So, 2020 will be the era of AI or not? Everything will depend on the ability of men to use this data wisely, with intelligence and for the good of all.