Science fiction versus our reality in 2069
By Chibo Tang
It’s the year 2015. People are wearing size-adjustable clothes, teens are zipping around on hoverboards alongside flying cars, and families are gathering around rehydrated pizza for dinner. In the 80s, this scene was our view of the future.
In the last decade, self-lacing shoes, biometric devices, drones, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) goggles, new forms of protein, and semi-autonomous vehicles have become a reality, leading us to realize: the future has arrived.
While we may still be a ways away from uploading our consciousness to the cloud and using digital simulations to determine couples’ compatibility, we are inching toward living among life-like robots. Using the contemporary tech landscape as a prelude, what does future-living look like in 2019?
In a decade, our cities probably won’t look like what science fiction (sci-fi) makes the future out to be. But much like in Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, virtual gaming will find its boundaries blurred with real life. Sandbox VR is already pioneering immersive gaming experiences, where players can interact with each other in both cooperative and one-on-one modes.
As AR/VR technology becomes more accessible, we can expect entertainment and information to be distributed in more interactive formats. Our boundless thirst for content also points to the likelihood that the future of work will include new occupations within AR/VR–similar to today’s professional YouTubers and live streamers. The content will be customized to the interests and preferences of each individual user.
Let’s fast forward another 15 years to 2044. Cities are busy and roads are filled with self-driving cars. They aren’t flying through the air just yet, but are moving along in an orderly fashion. The development of autonomous driving technology has long been underway, but moves to restructure regulations and infrastructural frameworks took a significant amount of time before self-driving cars became the norm throughout the world. Companies like Uber have had to keep up with the changes, shifting their business models away from a driver-centric platform. Advancements in mobility and logistics once made the gig economy model attractive to many, but the hype was short-lived since many of these tasks have now become automated.
In 2069, 50 years from now, the health and medtech sectors are booming, especially relating to elderly care. Stem cell therapy, genetic diagnostics, and effective cancer treatments are now fairly standard. Life expectancy has drastically increased, and the workforce has taken a different shape as a result.
While humans are no longer required in most manual labor jobs, they are still needed in research and development (R&D), creative, sales, and customer service roles, where the human touch has become a premium experience considering how digitized everything else has become.
While it is impossible to predict the future entirely accurately, technology has entered an advanced enough stage to offer a less ambiguous indication of what the next 50 years will bring us. It may not be the future we see in movies, where space travel is highly accessible and integrated into our lives, but we do stand on the brink of technological breakthroughs and social changes that should give us hope.
About the Author
Chibo has been investing in early-stage companies in the technology and media sectors in China for over a decade and manages the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, for which Gobi is the General Partner. He has led investments in numerous companies including Airwallex, Welab, Urban Revivo, DayDayCook, Aqumon, and Sandbox VR. He was recognized as ‘Venture Capitalist of the Year’ in Hong Kong in 2017, and as a ‘Global Top 25 Rising Star’ by the Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Forum in 2019.