- After the advent of iPhones and other innovations in the new millennium, the 2010s started with promise of technological progress.
- Some predictions, like increased tech surveillance and a few companies dominating the internet, have proven true.
- Others, like the promise of AR, autonomous vehicles, and AI, have made progress, but not changed the world as radically as many predicted that they would.
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Making predictions about tech is a tough game – remember, plenty of people predicted that the iPhone would be a massive failure.
So, it’s not exactly surprising that tech innovations didn’t go where everyone thought they would over the decade. Some moves in tech that had the biggest effects on daily life, like a few big tech companies dominating the internet and ad revenue, and the rise of digital surveillance, were widely predicted.
Of course, not every event of the 2010s was so clear. Most of these predictions that didn’t work out are about scale and adoption, rather than predictions of technology that failed to manifest at all. Here are 5 that didn’t happen, at least not yet.
1. Wearables went mainstream, but AR glasses like Google Glass and Snap Spectacles aren’t as big a deal as tech companies thought they’d be.
In 2009, futurist Ross Dawson predicted that in the coming decade we could see “augmented humans” with AR glasses or contacts allowing us to control machines. Instead, Google Glass and Snap Spectacles both made Business Insider’s list of “Worst Tech of the Decade.”
Something about the tech just didn’t resonate with people, beyond the few superfans who tried them. Shortly after Google Glass was released, Google even had to warn wearers not to be “creepy or rude (aka, a ‘Glasshole’).” The company ended consumer sales of Glass in 2015.
2. Augmented reality, in general, isn’t as advanced as experts predicted 10 years ago. Breakouts like Pokémon Go were big hits, but other consumer products haven’t gone far.
Futurist Gerd Leonhard predicted that tablets would usher in an era of augmented reality’s dominance, which would be a “huge boon” to content production. AR has allowed for fun Snapchat effects and games like Pokemon Go, but it hasn’t changed daily life in the way that people thought it would – at least not yet.
3. Self-driving cars have gotten more advanced, but they’re not about to take over the roads anytime soon.
Autonomous vehicle technology from companies like Tesla has definitely improved, and reports of drivers falling asleep at the wheel have mostly been without injuries as the cars were able to compensate. But Tesla still says that autopilot mode requires “active driver supervision,” and a Tesla in autopilot mode earlier this month crashed into a police car, proving that the system is far from perfect. Self-driving tech from Alphabet and Uber have also yet to see a wide launch, and largely remain in the testing phase.
4. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin were supposed to be the future, but they haven’t been widely adopted, and Facebook’s Libra currency has caused headaches for the company.
The last decade has seen plenty of highs and lows for cryptocurrencies. Investing in bitcoin early could have made you very wealthy by now, but many analysts see it as a bubble or niche financial product.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have been hacked, sometimes leading to investors losing their holdings. Some early investors have made millions, others trying to get in on the craze have seen their investments fall to a fraction of their value as crypto prices fluctuate wildly.
Facebook is working on the launch of its Libra cryptocurrency, and CEOMark Zuckerberg testified on the subject before the House Financial Services Committee in October. Lawmakers have been critical of the project, and many major backers including PayPal and Visa have dropped out.
5. Some scientists and researchers predicted that artificial intelligence would help us avoid human shortcomings, like bias, but while the technology shows promise, it’s far from perfect.
Incorporating AI into sectors like policing was predicted to to help us avoid prejudice, but even as AI plays an increasingly important role in daily tasks, bias among AI exists. In fact, researchers keep finding evidence that AI is far from perfect and can introduce similar biases as those held by people. From an AI algorithm that kept black patients from getting the same quality of medical care as white patients, to hiring algorithms that learned to prefer male candidates, it’s clearly early days for the technology.