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Goodbye 2014, hello 2034!

How times and predictions have changed! 20 years ago Tim Berners-Lee gave us the commercial version on Arpanet with the worldwide web. Our file storage was a portable zip drive that looked like a brick and could store a whole 1MB of data. Netscape was the Internet browser of choice. And computer geeks were playing ‘Doom’.

In the film Back to The Future II, when Marty McFly travels to 2015 a hover board was used – well that’s one of the predictions that came true! But how do some of silicon valley’s business leaders predict what is going to happen in the next 20 years?

Silicon Valley came to the UK (@svc2uk) and I was part of the audience in Cambridge. The speakers were

  • Margaret Gould Stewart, Director Product Design, Facebook @mags
  • Craig Neville-Manning, Engineering Director, Google @craignm
  • Catherine Mohr, Managing Director, Intuitive Surgical
  • David Hornik, General Partner, August Capital @davidhornik


  • 3D printing
  • Augmented reality
  • Nano-tech and robots
  • Reliable electricity – generating power locally with renewable energy, getting power wirelessly (without cooking the cat!)
  • Pervasive communications – no dropped signals
  • Upgraded logistics – balloons, drones etc i.e. Google Learn project to launch balloons into atmosphere to cover entire earth with internet connections
  • Disruptive technologies influencing medicine – diagnostics i.e. nano-bots to detect cancer cells; intervention – infrared removal of cancer cells, a ‘spare part’ business for organs etc. The move from big interventions to smaller timely interventions
  • Future of commerce – products on demand that people want that can be delivered within 2 hours right through to a manufacturing device in the home


  • Diversity – a range of people contributing into the design and build – include those that are interested not just capable
  • Empathy – know who you are crafting your products for
  • Humanity – understand what we ‘should’ be building. Technologies are simply tools – it’s people who transform things (like ‘paint’ isn’t revolutionary right?!)
  • Humanities – we should encourage everyone to have an appreciation of humanities as much as encouraging people to get more involved with technology. Robin Williams in the Dead Poets Society said “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.” We have to invest in science but we equally have to invest in history, fine art, music, and philosophy to understand what is right and what is wrong and therefore what is actually going to matter.
  • Design – has a great influence on what succeeds
  • Reconnecting – technology has provided access, people have been connected – next we should focus on reconnecting people with people instead of screens. Our biggest innovations will come from experiencing the world.


“Use humanity so we like what we get when we get there”