The Web will eventually “disappear” in the same way that electricity, roads and transportation have disappeared, only attracting attention when they fail or need repair. By 2030, just 15 years from today, the Web will enable the complete integration of our personal and professional lives.
It’s important to understand this trajectory because of how disruptive total integration will be. The impact goes way, way beyond individual disruptive changes that applications like Uber have had: imagine 1,000 Ubers connected to a thousand more. Imagine when Uber talks to your grocery store and restocks your shelves before you call the next black car. So plans to increase your use of the Web – regardless of whether it’s for business or personal reasons – are misguided if they’re focused on just “moving to the cloud,” upgrading your enterprise applications or downloading the latest version of MS Office.
Everyone needs to see the big digital picture – and plan accordingly.
The first 25 years of the Web demonstrated that connectivity and problem-solving can be cost-effectively linked. It’s now possible to communicate, shop and learn on the Web. We can find answers, relationships and games on the Web, and for those who desire a different experience, we can immerse ourselves into virtual worlds.
Web 40.0 will enable the seamless integration of our personal and professional lives through networked sensors and automated reasoning. This convergence will enable personal and professional integration and completely redefine the way we think about work, family, relationships, problem-solving and pleasure.
So here’s what we should assume. As you go down the list think about how your personal life and the lives of your suppliers, customers and clients will change.
Feel free to push back: you know where to find me:
1. We will no longer access Web addresses; we will seek activities and solutions. The whole manual “www” world will disappear, replaced by“what do you want to do?” – the answer to which will usually already be known to smart digital assistants. Personal and professional planning, management and scheduling will be coordinated: “what do you want to do?” will be replaced by “you cannot do that now … you should do this instead … which has already been arranged.”
2. Expensive physical plant (offices, campuses) will be replaced by work-at-home, work-wherever/whenever-you want and bring-your-own-digital models that indiscriminately cross personal and professional boundaries. Consultants will work from their homes, Starbucks, or from the beach, not in office buildings. Universities will abandon most physical campuses and completely exit the housing business. Dedicated physical space across most industries will disappear as quickly as bookstores and video rental stores disappeared in the 1990s.
3. Transportation infrastructure will simultaneously improve and shrink as digital communication improves and grows. Physical traveling for purely professional purposes will nearly disappear: why fight airports when you can fight virtually anywhere, anytime? Personal travel will also shrink as digital immersion into London, Shanghai and Positano improves.
4. Entertainment will be unscheduled, personal, continuous and mobile. The idea of driving miles to “movie complexes” to watch the latest release of some new content is already strange to Generations Y and Z. All one has to do to validate “traveling content” is watch how those under 25 years of age access all kinds of content – which will be available anytime, anyplace and on any device.
5. Digital learning will transform educational delivery. While everyone – especially Boomers and Millennials – assumed that “sages on stages” would never die, they will. The proliferation of online undergraduate and graduate programs confirms the death of in-class, synchronous professors. Pricing pressure will completely change the educational business; online advertising will drive more revenue than tuition and the sale of undergraduate and graduate certificates and degrees. Most if not all PhD dissertation defenses, like lots of surgery, will be virtual and remote.
6. Personal and “desktop” computers will completely disappear. All single-purpose stationary machines – like fax machines and copiers – will completely disappear. Intelligent, networked tablets, watches, smart phones and wearables will integrate and become increasingly unnoticeable as they disappear into Web 40.0, the most important utility of the 21st century. Today’s discussions about “the Internet of Things” (IOT) and the “Internet of Everything” (IOE) represent the official launch of human/ digital/personal/professional integration.
7. Web-enabled, intelligent wearables will be pervasive, integrate various technologies and enable a variety of personal and professional activities. Digital technology will become customizable and fashionable. It will be commonplace to “build” our own devices in 2040 (and well before) and select sizes, shapes and colors.
8. “Natural” interface technology will enable integration and efficiency. Voice interaction supplemented by smart gesture control will change the way we interact with wearable and other digital devices. Biometric interfaces will proliferate – and not just for authentication. It’s essential that digital interaction resemble organic interaction. Commands like “Ctrl-Alt-Del” and similarly bizarre 20th century commands will be as familiar as Eddie Haskel is to Generations X, Y and Z. (See what I mean? You have no idea who Eddie Haskel is, do you?)
9. Money will disappear. The world will be cashless and the Web will manage billions of transactions a second. The Web will become the world’s financial clearinghouse. This change will be massive, since the best we could do in the first 25 years of the Web was use credit cards, with a few twists, to “pay online.” We can expect new currencies and new transfer platforms to fundamentally change the way local, national and global financial transactions occur. Bitcoin and Ripple suggest how this might all work.
10. Everyone will be talking – and watching – all the time. What we call “social media” today will become a continuous conversation among friends, family, customers and clients: everyone’s – and everyone’s digital assistants – are engaged in 2040. Restaurants, consumer products and services are continuously scrutinized. Elections occur on the Web. News happens in real-time. Everything happens on the Web. “Cams” are everywhere.
Dependency will increase as the Web plays a larger role in our lives. What’s the equivalent of a home generator when the Web crashes and we’ve forgotten where we to go next, or about the video call for which we’re already late? When our all-knowing assistants disappear, what do you do? The Web depends on other utilities to function. If the electric or communications grids fail, the Web fails. If the batteries on your mobile devices fail, you’re disconnected from your intelligent entourage. If terrorists or hackers intentionally attack the Internet infrastructure, the Web crashes. Risk modelers are uncomfortable with multiple points of failure. But that’s exactly what the connected world will have. Redundancy will therefore become a continuous best practice. There are risks in Web 40.0.
So after looking at the 10 outcomes described above, are you ready?
This article was written by Steve Andriole from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.