There is a lot that could be said about the 2010’s. Above all else, though, this decade has shown the way technology has become so inter-woven in our society that it is near impossible to separate the two.
From the social media apps we frequent, to how we work or pay for food or communicate with one another, technology has made our lives far more convenient. Ten years ago, did anyone think that you could walk into a store, grab anything you want, tuck it in your bag, then leave without having to stop to pay, and do it completely ethically and legally? (Well, okay, Amazon might have, considering they did just that with Amazon Go in 2018.)
Here are a few examples of the way technology has advanced in the past decade, and what will continue to have a lasting effect in the future:
Sure, some of the most popular social media platforms developed in the 2000’s, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, but it wasn’t until the 2010’s that these platforms became a widely popular, integral part of most people’s day-to-day life.
Nowadays, many find it hard to resist the temptation to check the roster of apps on their phone hour after hour, until more time has slipped past than intended. While a definitive time killer, social media’s influence goes beyond something to do in idle moments. Social media platforms have become one of society’s main areas of communication-- even providing a hefty income for those lucky few who understand an app’s algorithm well enough.
People can become ‘influencers’ on Instagram and pull in their entire revenue on using Instagram as a marketing and advertising tool. Snapchat has created a new way that younger generations communicate, relying on quick photos or videos with captions that disappear once the recipient has seen it. Meanwhile, Twitter has become a hub for to-date information from news outlets and from everyday people witness to major events. Even in places of injustice, including the Hong Kong protests in 2019, social media has allowed people to rally together and have their voices be heard.
And there is no stopping the influence of social media. For better or for worse, we are going to be stuck answering silly quizzes about what anime character we are and sharing videos of cute cats. Because, well, internet.
Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
Arguably the most important technological advance of the 2010’s is the progression of artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI is pervasive, powering everything from the algorithms running your social media timelines, to the photos you take on your phone, and the home assistants you use such as Alexa or Siri. What gives AI its power is machine learning-- and with that, deep learning .
Essentially, machine learning gives an AI a large input of data, which the AI then teaches itself how to understand the data for whatever the program is set to look for, such as human faces or what characteristics make something a cat. A subset of machine learning, deep learning is where a program is trained to learn unsupervised by data. This method of learning is similar to the way a human brain learns, which helps create artificial intelligence that is capable of thinking more like a human. This has led to some amazing breakthroughs, such as faster and more accurate translations, image reading and verification of important documents, and even self-driving cars. (Along with those Amazon Go stores I mentioned earlier.)
Looking forward, artificial intelligence will only continue to advance and play a crucial role in our lives with faster and more automated technology. And… well… *insert joke about the imminent end of mankind here*
Back when Netflix introduced video streaming in 2007, there was no way they could have predicted the impact it would have on the entertainment industry. It is no secret that streaming has become a growing market, with global streaming valued at $39.6 Billion USD in 2018. With so many competitors in the market, such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple, Amazon, and now even Disney, there is no stopping the popularity of video streaming.
Streaming has changed the way people consume television, with binge-watching becoming normalized thanks to having a series’ entire work available to watch on demand. Less people are using traditional forms of viewing television, with almost 3 million people cutting cable in 2018. Meanwhile, streaming services have began creating content exclusively for their platforms to draw people to their platforms. Who knows, somebody might get the smart idea to combine different streaming services together and sell that for one singular price… but don’t call it cable.
In the next coming decade, streaming will most likely become the norm, with cable becoming a thing of the past. The concept of streaming is already has a hand in other industries as well, such as Spotify and Pandora, and even more recently in gaming with Google’s Stadia. Netflix and chilling won’t end anytime soon, that’s for sure.
Ever since the 50’s, virtual reality has tried to make a name for itself. There have been attempts at creating VR since then, such as the Nintendo Virtual Boy in the 90’s, but most have fallen off the radar completely. VR never had the chance to take off until the 2010’s because the technology required to create a smooth, seamless 3D world required wasn’t readily available yet.
With the release of the Oculus Rift in 2012, VR skyrocketed in popularity in gaming communities. Those able to afford the expensive technology were privy to a completely different gaming experience. As the decade progressed, the demand increased as did the market, with other headsets such as the HTC Vive and PlayStation’s VR making VR more accessible. Now, your phone can be used as a 3D headset for as little as $40!
While it has become a cornerstone of the video game industry, VR is starting to have a place in other fields. It is being used for medical imaging, a tool for artists to create in a 3D space, and a tool for exposure therapy for veterans with PTSD.
The question that remains-- as it always does-- is what will be of the future. Nobody is sure, but when people are writing these compilations again ten years from now, there is one thing for certain: the speed at which we have progressed was insurmountable at the start of the decade. Whatever the future brings, human ingenuity will always bring about the unexpected.