To some, it felt like 2019 was a rough, difficult-to-stomach year. After all, just some of the predictions of the cyborg-filled, nuclear-powered flying car future haven’t quite come true, - yet. And, the world seems on the brink of various disasters and crises. Having said that, we have plenty of new technology just around the corner promising to redefine the human experience, and seeing as I’m a movie buff, it turns out I might be more prepared than I thought.
Here are my top tips for stuff to watch out for in the next decade, based on what I know from the Sci-fi movies of the 80s. Sorry.
Transport: We’re about to ditch our old petrol-powered motors and call up a GoogleCab to take us wherever we want to go. It might be a welcome change given our recent disappointing rail service in Norfolk - see also, Dom Davis' article in this very issue of this magazine. Firstly, make sure you turn off the radio when you hop in. In just a few years, if Demolition Man is anything to go by, "The Youth" of the 20s will all be listening to radio jingles as entertainment and you really can’t listen to the Ocean Finance jingle every time you get into a cab without going insane. Turn that crap off. It’s also worth carrying with you some sort of heavy implement, like a cricket bat or block of wood, just in case… After all, when the GoogleCab tries to kidnap you on behalf of a nefarious government, when it starts driving you out into the Fens, you’ll want to knock off the head of the robot driver, just like in Total Recall.
Paper has its uses
UI design: Make sure you start carrying plenty of plain white paper and sticky tape. Let me explain why. Pretty much every sci-fi film ever made, where things are depicted as super high-tech, includes a whole bunch of transparent glass screens with UI on them. This is obviously, literally, the worst material to build computer screens on because not only is it awful to try and focus on your UI, and not get distracted at things below/behind said screen (like what? Your trousers? A table surface?), but it also means the privacy of what you’re working on is basically null. Stick the paper to the back of those screens and voila! Security up, usability improved, and no distractions.
AI: Since we’ve invited talking databases, robotic vacuums and internet-enabled heating and lighting into our homes, we’re ready for the next step - a fully integrated home AI network complete with robotic servants and personalised security. Remember that when setting up your home’s security system, it's wise to avoid over used passwords - such as ‘password’, ‘Joshua’, or ‘zero zero zero, destruct zero’. You don’t want any old starship captain being able to open and shut your curtains at will, do you? And if you’re adding new Alexa Skills in the next few years, remember that as AI gets more intelligent it’s also becoming more dangerous. Build the Three Laws into your next Teddy Bears’ Picnic app, you don’t want it getting all stabby and murdery on you.
Vincent went through a lot to become an astronaut in Gattaca, but to be honest, most of us just aren’t going to have those sorts of resources available. Or a disabled-but-genetically-superior pal willing to put their life on hold to help you. At any rate, having paid to give our DNA away, we’re likely to all have various clones running around by the end of the 20s anyway.
Perhaps you can buy a couple for yourself and build your own company of duplicates to help you with your project management and QA. I’d also recommend learning some ‘soft-skills' that are often spoken about by management types. Think about putting some time into negotiation, team collaboration, and extreme conflict resolution. Sure, learning about HTTP2 and GraphQL are probably useful things to know about but they’re not going to be so useful when the inevitable war comes (whether that’s aliens from asteroid Apophis in 2029, or from Trump’s ‘Space Force’ going all murderdeathkill in 2024).
Welcome to Norfolk
Brush up on those driving skills too. When the planet completely dries out from our relentless ambition to kill it through pollutants and emissions, Norfolk will be the first place for Mad-Max-esque car battles - just look at all that flat, endless countryside. You and your tattooed cannibal buddies will be the rulers of the Norfolk Dust Broads.
Good luck out there!
This article was originally published in the nor(DEV): Magazine 2020, grab your copy below:
February 2020 Conference Edition
Featuring; Interviews with the Ladies Hacking Society of Norwich. Articles on Train Wreck, Ramblings on Micro services, Tom's Top Tips for 2020, & What is design?Download PDF