7 Things That Will Seem Quaint In The Near Future
Every software dev, writer (incl. me), assistant, clerk, basically everyone in the modern workforce is eagerly awaiting the day that they can chuck their keyboard in the trash and never type another key again. Some say that that day may come in the next 10–12 years.
What we have now is voice recognitition software that can convert speech to text and also computer commands like <delete line>. But even the best of these programs like Dragon NaturallySpeaking have a few problems that prevent it from being widely used:
- Too inaccurate. Too much going back and changing words that weren’t converted properly
- Too slow. Not just because you have to fix its errors, but because it uses a lot of processing power and makes most present-day PCs lag
- Too noisy. It isn’t used in offices because it distracts people
- Too public. Everyone can hear what you’re writing
That’s why the keyboard-killing technology of the future is not going to be voice recognition. There are a number of sci-fi input devices that it won’t be either. Not gesture-based or virtual reality immersion (both too effortful). The sci-fi device that everyone is betting their hopes on is the brain-computer interface so that you can control the computer with your mind.
Just think words to type them—that could be how easy my job could become in the future. Just think to delete them as well. Think to click on the titlebar of the window then think to minimise it. (It is evident that switching between different Vim-like ‘modes’ will be necessary to differentiate between thinking text and thinking commands to operate on different things.) Technology is almost sensitive enough to detect words in thoughts today, but it requires being strapped into a large amount of electrodes in a laboratory. One limitation that I can foresee is that it will be hard to control your thoughts for any extended amount of time. Every ten minutes you may find your inner-most thoughts being typed into a document just as your coworker walks by. Hopefully there will be a way to filter out these thoughts from being inputted.
If your data is in the cloud, then there is no need to preemptively save it to a USB and take it with you. You can just log on and access it when you need. This is why it doesn’t matter that your new laptop only has two USB ports. It follows a trend where CD drives started to dwindle, followed by USB ports.
Cables are a mess. They are a tripping hazard and are annoying as hell. That’s why wireless technology is the solution.
4. Plastic Bags
Disposable shopping bags that take hundreds of years to break down used to be the ultimate symbol of our throw-away consumer culture. But in response, governments have started mandating biodegradable alternatives, and this will be of great benefit to the environment.
5. Credit Cards
Money is already quaint, but now credit cards are also in their senescence. Credit cards are a thin, lightweight and secure way to carry all your money with you, but they can still fill your wallet when you accumulate several. But now, they are becoming one more function that can be performed by smartphones. Apple Pay and Google Wallet are already making credit cards redundant for some people, but the coverage of credit cards, and smartphone support in shops is still sparse, especially in the non-US.
The ‘paperless office’ is the aspiration of many eco-aware workplaces and individuals. It’s the dream of those who constantly struggle with the thought that each sheet of paper is a sheet of tree, and who dislike being overly concerned and pre-occupied with saving paper through condensed formatting and other inconvenient methods. Digital documents are the solution. They can be as many pages as you want them to be and they don’t result in any trees being cut down (they do use a little bit of electricity but we can’t live without energy).
7. Delivery People
Drones are the disruptive technology that very likely will replace thousands of delivery people around the world in a short amount of time very soon. Drones will make ordering online and sending mail even faster and easier by several degrees, but the toll on unemployment figures will be more sobering. Nevertheless, the argument that some technologies should be withheld or highly regulated because they replace jobs is equivalent to saying we should pay people to dig holes and fill them up again just so people have something to do. There are more efficient, economically less intrusive welfare solutions.