- We asked about two new kinds of technology improvements in this survey and got the same positive response to them. The first was that mobile phones (or the device they “grow up” to be) would be the primary means of connection for most people by 2020. The only challenge we received on that assertion was from those who argued—probably rightly—that the current upgrades in cell phones have already produced a world where mobile connectivity is becoming common.
- The second new thrust we queried related to user interfaces. Some believe that 2020 user interfaces will offer advanced talk, touch, and typing options, and some respondents added that they think advances in understanding brain functions will facilitate a thought-based technology interface.
• Challenges to privacy will multiply: In the world of ubiquitous computing and always-available connectivity, people's digital footprints will become bigger, and that will make their identities more difficult to monitor and manage. Indeed, a sense of fatalism pervades many experts' answers. They feel privacy will be sacrificed and probably replaced by different expectations and norms. Technology analyst and consultant Jerry Michalski foresees the day when “the old ‘never trust anyone over 30’ will turn into ‘never trust anyone who doesn't have embarrassing stuff online.’”
- One reasonably plausible scenario was penned by communications scholar danah boyd: “We are going to see a lot of chaos around privacy in the next 13 years, yet I don't think that we will have equilibrium by then. Realistically, the only comfort we will reach will be over embarrassing material. I think that we'll be far less embarrassed by our pasts once everyone's are out there in some form or another. My prediction is that we will find ways of using content to talk at different levels, just as writers have in the past and just as Chinese activists do now. Much of the ‘private’ content will be produced in a way that is publicly palatable and can be read at multiple levels by those who are closer to the individual.”