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Foresight is 2020: My Predictions For the Coming Year

Level 17

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The year is winding down, and—while it’s not something I do every year—I thought I’d take a moment to look ahead and make a few educated guesses about what the coming months have in store for us nerds, geeks, techies, and web-heads (OK, the last category is for people from the Spider-verse, but I’m still keeping them in the mix.)

As with any forward-looking set of statements, decisions made based on this information may range from “wow, lucky break” to “are you out of your damn mind?” And, while I could make many predictions about the national (regardless of which nation you live in) and/or global landscape as it relates to economy, politics, entertainment, cuisine, alpaca farming, etc., I’m going to keep my predictions to tech.

Prediction 1: The Ever-Falling Price of Compute

This one is a no-brainer, honestly. The cost of compute workloads is going to drop in 2020. This is due to the increased efficiencies of hardware and the rising demand for computer resources—especially in the cloud.

I can also make this prediction because it’s basically been true for the last 30 years.

With that said, it’s worth noting—according to some sources (https://www.quantumrun.com/future-timeline/2020/future-timeline-subpost-technology)—the following milestones/benchmarks will be reached:

  • (Moore’s Law) Calculations per second, per $1,000, will reach 10^13 (equivalent to one mouse brain)
  • Average number of connected devices, per person, is 6.5
  • Global number of internet-connected devices reaches 50,050,000,000
  • Predicted global mobile web traffic equals 24 exabytes
  • Global internet traffic grows to 188 exabytes

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  • Share of global car sales taken by autonomous vehicles will be about 5%
  • World sales of electric vehicles will reach 6,600,000

In addition, in 2017, Elon Musk posited it would take 100 square miles of solar panels total to provide all the electricity used in the U.S. on an average day. https://www.inverse.com/article/34239-how-many-solar-panels-to-power-the-usa. In 2018, freeenergy.com took another swipe at it and figured the number slightly higher—21,500 sq. miles. But that’s still 0.5% of the total available land in the U.S. and amounts to (if you put it all in one place, which you would not) a single square of solar panels 145 miles on each side. https://www.freeingenergy.com/how-much-solar-would-it-take-to-power-the-u-s/.

What I’m getting at is that the impending climate crisis and the improving state of large-storage batteries and renewable energy sources may push the use of environmentally friendly transportation options even further than expected. If nothing else, these data points will provide background to continue to educate everyone across the globe about ways to make economically AND ecologically healthy energy choices.

*Ra’s Al Ghul to Bruce Wayne, “Batman Begins”

Prediction 4: Say “Blockchain” One. More. Time.

Here’s a non-prediction prediction: People (mostly vendors and dudes desperate to impress the laydeez) are going to keep throwing buzzwords around, making life miserable for the rest of us.

HOWEVER, eventually enough of us diligent IT folks nail down the definition so the hype cycle quiets down. In 2020, I think at least a few buzzwords will get a little less buzz-y.

One of those is “AI” (artificial intelligence). IT professionals and even business leaders are finally coming to grips with how this ISN’T (androids like Data; moderately complex algorithms; or low-paid offshore workers doing a lot of work without credit) and will be more clearly be able to understand when true AI is both relevant and necessary.

Closely related, machine learning (the “ML” in the near-ubiquitous “AI/ML” buzzword combo) will also reach a state of clarity, and businesses wanting to leverage sophisticated automation and behavioral responses in their products will avoid being caught up (and swindled) by vendors hawking cybernetic snake oil.

Finally, the term 5G is going to get nailed down and stop being seen as “Better because it’s got one more G than what I have today.” This is more out of necessity than anything else, because carriers are building out their 5G infrastructure and selling it, and the best cure for buzzword hype are vendor contracts clearly limiting what they’re legally obligated to provide.

Prediction 5: Data As A Service

While this effort was well under way in 2019 from the major cloud vendors, I believe 2020 is when businesses will, en masse, take up the challenge of building both data collection and data use features into their systems. From the early identification of trends and fads; to flagging public health patterns; to data-based supply chain decisions—the name of the game is to use massive data sets to analyze complex financial behaviors and allow businesses to react more accurately and effectively.

Again, this isn’t so much the invention of something new as it is the adoption of a capability providers like AWS and Azure have made available in various forms since 2018 and putting it to actual use.

Prediction N: We’re So Screwed

Security? Privacy? Protection of personal information? Everything I described above—plus the countless other predictions which will come out to be true in the coming year—is going to come at the cost of your information. Not only that, but the primary motivator in each of those innovations and trends is profit, not privacy. Expect a healthy helping of hacks, breaches, and data dumps in 2020.

Just like last year.

11 Comments

Isn't it amazing how few historians there are in the Tech industry?  We're doomed to repeat the failures of others when we don't study and learn from their mistakes.

Level 15

Thanks for the write up a great way to wrap up the decade

Level 12

I'm not sure if you did it intentionally or not, but I find your point #5 and 'N' to be closely related. As data sprawl happens, there are more and more opportunities for exposures, especially when IT orgs are ever looking to become more efficient (aka less people to do more things).

MVP
MVP

Thanks for the write up

MVP
MVP

Agreed, this industry is great about coming up with acronyms and then later defining them. The terms we use are often made up with one intention and then morph over the years to become what they eventually mean. Another good reason not to jump on the latest thing when it first arrives. I've seen too many victims that have to have the shiny new only to find that it changes over time into something that they didn't want or doesn't suit their actual need.

Level 13

Thanks for another very thoughtful post adatole​.  I think you nailed it.

Level 8

Great post adatole​! I think you're right on the money!

Level 14

Great write up  adatole !  You are spot on with what lies waiting out there for us!

Level 13

Thanks for the article

Level 13

"Expect a healthy helping of hacks, breaches, and data dumps in 2020.".................Yikes! And I agree.  When I stop to think about how drastically things have changed just in the past couple of decades, I wonder where will will be another couple of decades from now.  Thanks adatole​!  Always a pleasure reading your thoughts. 

Level 12

thanks for the post

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.