Gizmodo decided to take a look into the future, asking several technology historians what common technology of today they think will be obsolete in 50 years. Being academics, they didn't give straight-forward answers, saying it's too simplistic to see a technology as being replaced and becoming obsolete. But here's the gist of their answers:
As the march of progress moves on, technology that's once considered modern and cutting edge becomes obsolete.
- "High tech devices will not automatically make their low-tech equivalents obsolete. We may even see obsolescence in reverse, as we rediscover the unmatched performance of supposedly obsolete low-tech devices, such as bicycles, and adopt innovations that defy the super-high-tech, high-consumption visions, such as dockless scooters."
- "As technologies not predicated on the efficient channeling of wealth upward, I predict that mass transit systems will soon lose whatever purchase they still have on American policy makers, planners and engineers -- perhaps as privately owned driverless cars gain their purchase on those imaginations."
- "We might . . . ask what kinds of ‘technology’ might we want to be rid of in the next 50 years. Many would say any machine burning or using coal. To which others would add any machine using fossil fuels, and perhaps therefore most internal combustion engines."
- "Two information and communication technologies that might be in for a change are television and radio. . . . Historical precedent suggests that video and audio content will not become obsolete. But whether it will be delivered through podcast, streaming, or on-demand, how it will be paid for, who will view or listen to it, and when -- all these questions remain open."
- "The obvious story of the last 15 years has been the smartphone eating every other kind of consumer electronic device. So in all likelihood cameras, games consoles, traditional laptops, etc. will not be around for much longer. Within 50 years, however, I expect the smartphone itself to have been replaced by something else. . . . My nomination, though, is the neck tie. It’s been around for a lot longer than most consumer technologies, but I haven’t worn one in 10 years and casual dress is increasingly accepted."