The results yield a fascinating mix of consensus about the future development of technology and argument about the likely social, political, and economic impact of that development. The nature of this amalgam is captured in several forms.
First, there is considerable expectation that a global, low-cost network will be thriving in 2020 and will be available to most people around the world at low cost and with great potential to improve the lives of many who are now distant from the grid. At the same time, there is notable argument about whether businesses and governments will work and play well with each other and with their citizens/consumers.
Second, despite the growing capacity of technology to assume more and more of the work done by humans, most respondents said they think people will remain in charge of machines. Some fear, though, that technological progress will eventually lead to machines and processes that move beyond human control, in part because human oversight of some technology functions is waning. Others said they worried that the leaders who exercise control of the technology might use this power inappropriately.
Third, many respondents agreed with the notion that those who are connected online will spend more time immersing themselves in more sophisticated, compelling, networked, and synthetic worlds by 2020. This was my favorite revelation in this piece of research, not because it seemed counterconventional, but because it made perfect sense and I had not given it any thought before my coauthor Janna Anderson convinced me to ask the question. After we ventured into this area of inquiry, we also began to pay attention to the growing amount of research devoted to serious gaming and the increasing real-world applications of gaming “magic” in classrooms and training endeavors.