The Pew Research Center asked a set of professors, businessmen, and readers of "technology-oriented listservs" to imagine the Internet of 2025. (Source in PDF and HTML.)
Some respondents speculated that there would be amplification of known trends: "ambient" networks (sensors, cameras, phones/tracking devices) that are increasingly integrated into work and social life, ongoing disruption of traditional "content" industries, and the continued growth of analytics/surveillance ("tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social realms.") Of course, networks "accurately predict[ing] our interests and weaknesses" implies the loss of personal privacy, first to governments and corporations, but eventually to any interested party or social engineer.
Others predicted decentralization and fragmentation self-forming mesh networks, darknets, and proliferating incompatible national/corporate algorithms. Your freedom would be circumscribed by the ideology of your network's owner.
I put the question to you, O People of Soylent. What futures do you foresee? What trends or pathologies does the Pew report minimize or neglect? How can or should *we* influence the Internet's direction in the next decade?
What will the typical office environment look like in the future? I think it's safe to assume the typical office space is going to look like what many corporations today have started to institute: totally open work areas with no cubicles or offices (except for the executives). Everyone will sit at big, open tables in a large, open room, so everyone can see what's on your computer monitor. Wearing headphones will be disallowed, as this hinders collaboration. Bosses will come around every couple of minutes and ask you how you're doing, even if you're in the middle of trying to debug an intricate code problem. Your personal stuff will be kept in a small, roll-around "locker" that you'll move to your new workstation each day, as no one has an assigned seat, and it's first-come-first-served. Intel is pioneering this approach today.
On top of this, there will be cameras all over to check on people. There will be cameras at the bathroom entrances, to see how much time you spend there. Facial recognition software will be used to automate this, and employees who take too many bathroom breaks will be reprimanded or terminated on the spot. Companies like Extron Electronics [extron.com] are leading the field this way, with HR constantly monitoring employees' bathroom trips, and also making sure they clock in promptly by 8AM and leave no later than 5PM, with a 1-hour mandated lunch. Don't believe me? Check the reviews on Glassdoor [glassdoor.com].
So if you're the kind of person who values privacy and needs quiet to concentrate, don't bother getting into software development, or really any office job in the near future.
What will the typical office environment look like in the future?