Life in five years: 10 predictions for 2020

We’re constantly inundated with predictions for the future; from the food we eat to how we power our homes. But with so many ideas about the world of tomorrow, it’s hard to get a true picture of what the world could be like.

In an attempt to get a clearer idea of life in five years, we’ve gathered together 10 predictions about living in 2020.

Same-day cancer treatment

Five years seems like a very optimistic timeframe for this, but data scientists are suggesting that same-day cancer treatment could be a reality by 2020. This would require a change in the way data is processed and shared to achieve, but even if that happens it’s very unlikely to become a reality this quickly.

Self-driving cars on the road

The projections for automated vehicles vary wildly, but 2020 has been marked as the year BMW’s self-driving vehicles are ferrying humans about. This one is worth taking with a pinch of salt, as there’s a huge number of legal and safety hurdles to overcome, but its nevertheless an exciting possibility.

Big cannabis on the up

With more US states expected to legalise cannabis, the industry is expecting to look particularly verdant come 2020. A recent report suggested US revenues would top $35bn, suggesting a transformation of cannabis’ image in just a short while.


26% renewables worldwide

A quarter of the world’s energy needs are set to be met by renewables in 2020, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Their conclusions are likely to be accurate, as they are based on planned renewable projects worldwide, although it may not be enough to stop the damage done by fossil fuels.

Sensor-enriched soldiers

The soldiers of 2020 will be coated in sensors and equipped with smart glasses and a smart watch, all running from a power supply built into their uniform, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence. But while the concept military kit, which was unveiled last month, is planned for 2020, the organisation does have a track record of delaying projects. The ideas could well be superseded before they’re ever realised.

China free of poverty

China has announced plans to eradicate poverty in the country by 2020. This would be immensely challenging, with 70 million people in the country living below the poverty line, but the country does have a reputation for getting stuff done. Let’s hope this does actually happen.

Four billion internet users

Despite four billion people online being a UN target for 2015, the global organisation doesn’t now expect that number of users to get connected for another five years. Despite a surge in internet use over the last decade, growth is now slowing as would-be users lack the infrastructure required. It’s possible this will be reached sooner, but only with major investment from governments, NGOs and private companies.


Electric cars without range anxiety

According to Elon Musk, the rate of advancement in battery technology is such that cars will be capable of doing 746 miles on a single charge by 2020, making them easily competitive with even the most fuel-efficient of regular vehicles. Whether that is enough to convince people to buy them remains to be seen.

Virtual reality to be a mega industry

The VR industry is projected to be worth $15.89bn by 2020, according to research agency Research and Markets. This is about half of what the current global mobile app industry is currently worth, and the same as what the worldwide air-conditioning industry is valued at. It’s hard to say whether this is a realistic prediction: it could prove to be accurate, but equally VR could fail to produce the goods and leave a lot of people out of pocket.

Curiosity to get a friend on Mars

Curiosity’s follow-up will be launched in 2020, bringing us never-before-collected data about the Red Planet. Among the various instruments that will be included on the new rover is an oxygen-producing system, an improved camera and a range of improved instruments for the detection of minerals and organics.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC