The Northern Illinois University (NIU) Board of Trustees unanimously voted Dec. 7 to extend the…
DeKalb, Ill. — Autopilot automobiles, wearable devices, services such as Uber and Lyft. Technological advances in the 2010s made headlines, and some made their way into our everyday lives.
So what should we expect from the roaring 2020s?
We put that question to NIU Professor David Gunkel, a communication technology expert and author of ‘Robot Rights’ and ‘How to Survive a Robot Invasion.’ Gunkel pointed to four areas where technology is poised to make an impact on the coming decade.
Robots – “By the mid-2020s, robots of one kind or another will be everywhere and doing virtually everything,” Gunkel says. “This ‘robot invasion’ will not transpire as we have imagined it in our science fiction, with a marauding army of evil-minded androids either descending from the heavens or rising up in revolt against their human masters. It will look less like ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Terminator’ or ‘Westworld’ and more like the Fall of Rome, as machines of various configurations and capabilities come to take up influential positions in our world through a slow but steady incursion.”
Artificial Intelligence – “Innovations in Artificial Intelligence, especially with deep-learning algorithms, have made great strides in the previous decade. The 2020s will see AI in everything, from our handheld mobile devices to self-driving vehicles. These will be very capable but highly specialized AIs. We are creating a world full of idiot savants that will control every aspect of our lives. This might actually be more interesting, and possibly more terrifying, than superintelligence.”
Things that Talk – “In 2018, Amazon put Alexa in the toilet, when they teamed up with Kohler at the Consumer Electronics Show. Manufactures of these digital voice assistants, which also include the likes of Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby, are currently involved in ‘an arms race’ to dominate the voice-activated, screenless Internet of the future. By mid-decade, everything will be talking to us, which will dramatically change how we think about social interaction. But they will also be listening to what we say and sharing all this personal data with their parent corporations.”
The Empires Strike Back – “This past year has seen unprecedented investment in AI ethics and governance. The 2020s will see amplification of this effort as stakeholders in Europe, China and North America compete to dominate the AI policy and governance market. Europe might be the odds-on favorite, since it was first to exit the starting block, but China and the U.S. are not far behind. The technology of AI might be global in scope and controlled by borderless multinationals. But tech policy and governance is still a matter of nation states, and the 2020s will see increasing involvement as the empires strike back.”
Media Contact: Tom Parisi
Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 areas of study while serving a diverse and international student body.