15 Current Technologies We'll Still Be Using in 2030

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Back when I was growing up in the 1970s, we fully expected that, by 2012, we’d all be driving flying cars to our condos on the moon where robotic butlers awaited, ready to bring us the cure for cancer from the bathroom first-aid kit. How’s all of that working out? Sure, we now have faster, smaller computers, smartphones that talk back to you, and smart TVs, but in so many areas of technology the pace of change is slower than Windows Vista booting off a floppy disk.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about 15 technologies that will be gone by the time my infant son is old enough to use them. However, barring a zombie apocalypse, there are plenty of mainstays that my son will still be using when he enters college in 2030.


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Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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  • KevH Says:

    I suspect many of these technologies are due a paradigm shift, and when it happens it could happen very quickly. A friend of mine asked me the other day how the internet works with Unix. I thought for a while and then it dawned on me - the internet hadn't been invented when I last did UNIX! And yet now it is ubiquitous, can you imagine sending a physical letter now, and yet not much more than 16 years ago that was the norm. Someone on the TV for a laugh asked viewers to "write in" something that was all the rage 16 years ago - they did not get one letter.
    I think the Clamshell laptop with it's awkward hands off the keyboard to use the mouse configuration is due one of these paradigm shifts, and so is MS Office. I remember when Word Perfect and Lotus 123 was the de-facto standard, and then suddenly it was MS Office almost overnight.
    With USB, I agree with the others here, Wifi is already starting to replace many of the functions traditionally done by USB. However I suspect USB will eventually loose it's "data" element and morph into a pure charging solution. You can already purchase USB cables that are for charging only.
    I couldn't disagree more about cloud - I was hugely anti cloud and I too predicted it's downfall. However the ease of the cloud means that I too now store my music and photo's in the cloud. That's not to say that SSDs will not exist, they will seamlessly integrate with the cloud so you won't know if the data is on board or off board.
    Your reasoning for Laser printers seams very flawed, Betamax was far superior to VHS and yet VHS won the format war! Ink jet won that war a long time ago, Laser won't get a look in, even though it is the superior technology.
    When it comes to the TV, I too can't imagine not watching on my big screen, and yet when I look at my family they mostly consume video on the various iPads we have. Usually the TV is just on tuned to no particular channel. I suspect in the future we may have some sort of projector creating an ambiance like the TV is doing now.
    Physical money is another format that is dead, I rarely carry cash, and it's very expensive for the banks. I can see in the future banks may actually charge you to use physical cash. People don't really care that they can be tracked, after all your mobile is giving off a constant 24hour "I am here" signal.
    Oh and Li-on batteries - that'll make the environmentalists happy - not.

  • Ray Says:

    Even in 2015 i'm not using email anymore mow

  • RO Says:

    Oh, the other predictions I lost sight of:

    PC's: I do see the need for the power, and physical "presence", but my Droid Bionic/Lapdock combo has opened my eyes to those possiblities, and I hope, now that Google managed to kill that while it messed with Motorola (protecting artificial divide between Android and Chromebooks?), that the Ubuntu phone can keep that hybrid/morphing phone/PC concept alive, and extend it (but hoping they don't do a Unity weirdness on it...).

    Local storage - see my thoughts about the THE Master e-paper with more thoughts here: a "cache" we carry around with us in a mobile device, and/or as a separate storage device that maybe fits in a wallet credit card slot, and interfaces with anything (SECURITY will be crucial!), and "syncs" with THE Master (always under our control of course) from anywhere. Guess it will need to be logically segmented to separage legal docs, from investment records/journals/music/videos/ebooks/correspondence/warrnties/jottings/scribbles/grocery lists, etc, but those are just elaborations on that idea.

    LiIon Batteries: Really? I am thinking we are running out of Lithium (or maybe the Chinese are just locking it all down with many other rare earths/metals crucial to electronics) while demand is increasing. We BETTER find something better, and more commonly available.

    Money - IF there is still a centralized currency, it very likely will get embedded NFC/RFID type technology to make it electronically trackable as with credit/debit cards and all the NFC-on-smartphone schemes GooPle, etc are trying to hatch. Maybe "old" currency will become the non-tech Bitcoin gray market currency until it all wears out.

    JPeg for pictures: Really? I can see development of a meta file format with leading tags to describe text/image/sound characteristics all in the single file that follows - sort of like HDMI-PDF. Look out for DMCA patenting restrictions, though, if that is not developed as open source...

    MS Office: I'm with the other open source fans. My wife has been using Open/Libre Office for more than 8 years now for her first grade lesson plans and documents to her teaching collieagues. There is just no reason to spend time/money/effort on maintaining a Windows PC just for that. I have come to hate it more than ever with the Ribbon assault since Office 2007 was imposed on us where I work.

    Now it even likes to disapparate text I cut: mark, ctrl-X, go to new destination, ctrl-v ... NOTHING. Now the drill is: mark, ctrt-C, delete (if I am feeling brave, or at the end if not), go to new destinatiion, ctrl-v, success! It seems from colleagues' accounts at work, I am not the only one seeing this, but not all have it happen - probably some weird configuration change for clipboard processing due to some half-baked MS update that I got "lucky" with ... NOT

    Wow! This has been fun blue-skying!

  • RO Says:

    I think so many of your predictions are ripe for paradigm shifts, some of which are happening now. For starters anything involving physical connections such as USB and audio can be replaced now with various forms of EM transmissions - i.e. wireless charging, blue tooth, NFC, Wifi (that might be one more valid prediction of yours as Wifi, or something similar, acquires more bandwidth, speed, and range - it better have more security, though, and meet more stringent health standards, so those 2 constraints, especially health, could slow down that shift, but probably not stop it).

    Then there is the dedicated TV notion. Have you seen this summer's "Extant" TV series? The ubiquitous use of about any glass surface such as bathroom mirrors and house windows for TV-like displays with the wave of a hand is not far off from being realized ala various smart home schemes under way.

    Another possibility I see is a greatly reduced need for actual printing on paper instead of other materials being "imprinted" by some electronic means. Imagine all your vital legal documents stored on some sort of e-paper: one sheet with all the forms available/ wirelessly copyable (with requisite security) on demand, flexible, stretchable. A master (or THE Master) could be kept in the future version of a safe deposit box, as a verified source for copies to view or keep for someone else's records. More casual use cases may be like super Boogie boards in concept. Holographic projections from our mobile devices can fill a lot of other needs ("Help me, Obiwan Kenobi").

    I will concede keyboards to some extent, but there will be competition from vocal and mental dictation (brain waves are starting to be "read" in various recently reported experiments), but as with wireless transmissions, control and security will be constraints (imagine a library/office full of people - the need for face-to-face interaction is still hardwired into most people - dictating at the same time, or telepathic hackerists, or having stray thoughts mix into your text ("Wow, check that g... [delete]").

    And there have been so many various keyboard designs in the last century or so, I doubt much really new will be devised, but there may be some revivals such as Dvorak variants if people decide to break free of the Qwerty slow-down design (on my todo list if I can rearrange the key caps on my really cool Thinkpad 2 Tablet blue tooth keyboard with optical Trackpoint - finally a way to get rid of those twitchy, space-wasting touchpads without resorting to smudging the screen or reaching for a mouse!).

    Along those lines, I do still prefer a clamshell design for my larger-than-phone mobile computing, but I would not mind something of the sort for the phablet class mobiles since they are big enough to manage an efficient keyboard (especially with an optical Trackpoint ;-} ). Did I mention I hate smudging touch screens? Oh well, I can dream...

    Anyway, that's my first cut at paradigm shifts to imperil your predictions for 16 years hence.

    P.S. This very faint grey font on white background scheme for the comments is abominable! I hope this eye-straining fad goes away on whatever we use for entering and viewing text a LOT sooner than in 16 years!

  • Ruben Huges Says:

    As far as I can tell, there's only one USB plug for the host device - the ubiquitous USB-A plug. It's large enough to mechanically survive thousands of insertions, and cheap enough to be attached to any device. The smaller versions (microUSB) can't reliably survive as many insertions.

    Regardless of this, even if they do change the plug, the signaling will still be there.

    I am, however, surprised that Ethernet didn't make the list - it's been around since the 1970s, and has defeated almost every other networking standard. I can't see it going away in the next 17 years.

  • Peter D Says:

    "USB, a nearly ubiquitous standard" yeah except there are about 15 different shaped plugs. Why not just use the smallest one on everything?

  • Frederik Says:

    @ed: "take evolution of man on earth for example. since 1870 we have done more damage to earth then all of history has before combined."
    Take the evolution of industry: since from 1945 - ~2000, the USA has done more damage to the environment than all of the rest of the world has done before, combined. And it's nothing looking to change.

    I get what you mean and I agree -- time is irrelevant, it's the amount of change that's relevant. I suggest that the world will change more in the next two years than it has done in the previous two decades, when it comes to technology. After all, those two decades (1990ish - 2010ish) amount to a greater cultural and technological change (at least in the Europe) than the two centuries before (1790ish - 1990ish), and those two centuries saw a much greater change of culture and technology than the previous two millennia (< 1790ish).

  • ed Says:

    I disagree with the comment that 1994 is no further away then 2030 and agree with bob.
    chronologically it is roughly the same amount of time sure, but the rate of change between 2013 and 2030 and 2013 and 1994 is drastically different.

    put it this way, if a man can have 10 years extended to his life right now, (ie not age for the next 10 years) how much older would that make him when he dies? 10 years older right??

    Wrong.. and ill tell u why, its based on the same principle.

    technologys rate of change is advancing so quickly that by the time that 10 years is lived out, there will be another improvement, and it will no doubt end up having another advancement within those ten years that enables him to live even longer. - therefore extending the time of his life to further then the original 10 year extension.

    same with travelling between planets.. if we left now for another universe it could take 300 years or so right. but if we wait 250 years and then send people they will arrive before the group that left 300 years earlier as the technology improves.

    what I'm trying to say is that time is increasing not proportionally but on a a power relationship or an inverse scale where the further we move down track, the faster things change and we are just at the start of things beginning to skyrocket.

    take evolution of man on earth for example. since 1870 we have done more damage to earth then all of history has before combined. a "generation gap" used to be the same for a generation - i.e every 10 or so years that the youth would catch on to new technology, music, style fashion, lingo etc.... nowadays the generation gap is speeding up to the point that every year a new generation is born into a completely different world to the children born just a year previously - the different between a child born in 2013 and a child born in 2015 will make a massive difference to their upbringing, music taste, fashion ect..

    and things are only going to speed up 10 fold in the next 15 years. so i disagree, while it seems the norm now, give it 5 years and most of the things on this list will be regarded as out of date, not to say we wont use them, but they will not be standards in the future of our generations.

  • GameIndica Says:

    Querty keyboard? no way! in the near future its all gonna be gesture and voice and eye tracking. kinect already does that better than anything in the future (huh?)

    well, but not sure how long it might take for all these amazing techs to get worldwide though. Your son is not going to university, he will have online courses on youtube. he is not gonna have a degree, he will build up a whole company himself (seriously) and sure personal data storage is gonna be our skin... or biocell. or rf chips under our skin.

    anyway..good read!

  • Reid Says:

    Great piece. I think you are pretty much spot-on. Tech has advanced at such a dizzying pace that we forget about the "good enough" principle. USB vs. Thunderbolt is a great illustration of this; thunderbolt hasn't really caught on because USB was already ubiquitous, and plenty good enough for charging your phone or grabbing a few files off a thumb drive...we just didn't *need* a faster interface and that will probably remain the case. Now, the new thunderbolt which could feasibly allow external GPU's and the like, because it will be fast enough to serve as a true system bus...that could be a game-changer.

  • shane Says:

    While I don't think Microsoft Office is going anywhere, I think it's largely not going anywhere because of... Well, I guess the only explanation I can think of is inadequate exposure of open source software. I use LibreOffice, which a refurbisher installed on my computer since it would have cost him a lot more money to sell the computer with Office on it I guess... One of the first things I headed to do was to install MS Office, so I understand why you put it on the list, but... as I decided to look at LibreOffice, I was immediately (not just as a supporter of open source ideal) decided to just keep and use that, because frankly, it's just as good if not better than the last version of Office I was using. It even has software for mathematics. I believe that as tech companies grow in their absurdity and attempts to restrict software use, open source software will become more popular... and why pay to use software when it is freely available and just as good.

  • Matthew Says:

    Dial Up Internet. Yep, it will still be around because the phone companies refuse to upgrade the 30% of the country that is in rural areas to lines capable of DSL, and satellite and air cards are simply too expensive and restrictive, especially as sites use more and more bandwidth.

  • JoeBlasi Says:

    the college system may be very different in 2030 right now to many people are going and are not learning the skills needed to do jobs.

  • Mico Trajano Says:

    Mirco or Mini USB flash drives would a problem if someone loses it it is hard to find it anymore.. how ever it is a good idea to re fabricate the sizes of USB ...

    Good thinking @RLNTEX

  • RLNTEX Says:

    I agree with most everything except the money issue and the USB problem. I don't believe our government will have the backing to support our current monetary system, we are falling too deep into debt to support the US dollar as we know it. As far as the USB, Beeergod is right. Real estate on PCBs is getting expensive and in order the decrease the size a new standardized plug will need to be sought. Mini or micro USB perhaps

  • James Says:

    Paul, you are an idiot. The USA is not the only country in the world.

  • DroppedBass Says:

    I strongly disagree with the possibility of still using .jpg image files. As you said, .jpg is supported in almost all cameras (and by default they store in .jpg format, to save some space), but they also support .png or other formats (unless you have a really bad low end camera). jpg is starting to die already, unless in places where image quality is much less important than having low bandwidth; nobody who cares about the quality of their images would choose jpg format (What's the idea of taking a 10 or more Megapixel photo if you are going to store it in .jpg with a quality that will look terrible even with very slight zoom?).
    My guess is that in the future .png (that already supports completely transparent quality) will overtake .jpg in the future. The main thing that is stopping .png from being the main format is file storage capacity.

  • Beergod Says:

    The "standard" USB has got to die. As hardware gets smaller and skinnier, there isn't enough real estate for the oversized ports we now use.

    Just like the HDMI has be shrunk and the iPhone has gone to Lighning plug, connectors have to miniturise too. This leads me to think the 3.5mm jack will be gone too.

  • Matt Says:

    the 3.5mm jack? Its a smaller form of the 1/4" TRS jack which has been in use since 1878. and with a small cheap adapter, you can plug the 3.5mm jack into a 1/4" TRS Jack...hows that for longevity. Also, the VGA Plug is ancient

  • Ericolon Says:

    For the jpeg thing, i totally disagree. In the future, it is much likely that we will transition to a much better format- jpeg artifacts are annoying.

  • Tj Says:

    StrYdeR, Your the one that needs to grow up, because he was just stating he was a dumb ass because he is blaming his bankrupt state on a black guy. Both raciest and childish.

  • StrYdeR Says:

    Hey Rick, grow up. I bet you ride the corporate cock and go about life doing things "The letter of the Law" dont ya.

  • Rick Roll Says:

    Paul, you're an idiot. You must live a sad existence since you blame all your problems on Obama. Go walk into traffic please.

  • paul Says:

    HAHAH!!! This country will not exist in 2030 if Obama is reelected. He is the beast!!

  • Paul Says:

    Still using Office?

    Unfortunately, the author forgot the main reasons why Microsoft won the office suite wars and why MS Office may lose its dominance in the future.

    One of them is the fact they made Windows and Office in Windows was much more stable than Wordperfect for Windows and AMI Pro. No doubt because of Microsoft's own intimate knowledge of Windows.

    The second reason, unfortunately, is that up until recently, it was really easy to pirate office suite by giving your friends a copy with your key. I cannot remember how many of my customers in the 90's declined to by Office licenses from me since "their friend gave them a copy".

    Its a sad story, but if you look closely at the pattern of transition among office suites, adding keys, then activations, and re-activations along the way shaped the future of adoption.

    Now that MS keys and activates and verifies and blacklists pirated keys, Google Docs, and Open Office/Libre Office are being re-examined by many.

  • Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    Yes, I am he. The 15 Technologies My Son Won't Use article originated on this site, but we let a number of sites, including Gizmodo, reprint it. Glad you liked it.

  • Michael Vincent Says:

    I think I saw an an article, maybe in Lifehacker or at Gizmodo which talks about the technologies that will be gone in the future. By chance, are they the same writer? I love when he fancily references his son in every step of the way.

  • Brandon Says:

    One can only hope that his son will have an appreciation for "Fish Heads."

    I smiled so hard when I read your passing reference to this song. Well done.

  • einar Says:

    looks like whoever designed the clamshell laptop design needs to send a lawsuit over to Apple for "copying" this idea. It is obvious that Apple has copied the clamshell design. Apple is run by a bunch of asshats.

  • Rob Says:

    I disagree with Kevin. Although 2030 sounds far away, it's really not. 2030 is no further away than 1994, a year in which the vast majority of 2012 technologies already existed. So it stands to reason that most of what we have now will still be with us 18 years from now in one form or another. In fact, the retention rate might even be slightly higher than over the past 18 years, since more mature industries tend to produce fewer dramatic shifts.

  • Kevin Says:

    With all due respect, 2030 is a long ways away in the world of tech. If you would've said 2020, I'd agree with most things on your list. But 2030? No way - I'd say less than half your list makes it. Too many arguments are based on "standards" which die much faster than you acknowledge when the right new thing comes along.

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