Have you ever thought about how quickly technology is advancing? 10 years ago, no one was using a smart phone. 15 years ago, it was completely reasonable to say you don’t have internet in your home. It’s an exponential growth, which means the speed technology continues to innovate is only going to get faster.

According to a CNN article from last week, technology could kill more than five million jobs by the year 2020. But what kind of technology could we possibly have within just four more years? Let’s take a look:

By Rebke Klokke (Partij van de Arbeid) (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvdanl/16293865630/)

Virtual Reality

Ever heard of the Oculus Rift? It’s a new gaming device with a huge backing behind it. It’s even been bought by Facebook to ensure completion. The Oculus Rift is leaps and bounds ahead of any virtual reality technology we’ve ever created thus far. Just put on the helmet and you will be placed into a virtual world with surround sound and a fully developed world.

This tech isn’t just going to be for gaming though. It is already in development for movies, tutorials, virtual tours and porn. In fact, CES 2016 allowed people to experience VR porn firsthand.

See: Oculus Rift | CES 2016


By Michael Shick (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Autonomous Cars

Google appears to be partnering with automakers to get their self-driving cars on the market by 2020. We don’t know a whole lot about them right now, but we know that they are very small and contain no front dashboard or steering wheel. A test drive was done early in 2015, but the car was limited to 25 mph for safety. 2020 might actually be a conservative estimate for autonomous cars though, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk saying that Tesla could be rolling them out in the next few years, plus a rumor that Apple will be entering the competition with a 2019 ship date. That makes me wonder, what does this mean for car insurance?

Read more here.


Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Drone Delivery

Ever heard of Amazon Prime Air? It’s been rumored and talked about in small bursts over the past 18 months, but now it seems like it’s finally becoming a reality. The drones will be able to carry packages up to five pounds and delivery is guaranteed within 30 minutes. We don’t know anything about costs for shipping yet and you have to be living fairly close to an Amazon fulfillment center. The goal is that the drones will be able to make deliveries more than 10 miles away, but there’s no set number yet.

Read more here.


Solar Panel in Afghanistan. Major Paul Greenberg/U.S.M.C. Photo from popsci.com


This one isn’t exactly new tech, but the U.S. military said back in 2010 they aimed to reduce their use of fossil fuels by 50% by the year 2020 in exchange for renewable energy resources. This is a big step towards the future that we are heading for and it means a lot of effort is going to be placed into developing alternate means for energy that are less harmful to the environment.

Read more here.


By meharris (English Wiki) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ultra-Thin, Flexible OLED Screens

Ever wanted a touch screen computer in your window glass? Or your mirror? Or even right on the wall? With increasing development in OLED screen technology, we’re going to be seeing computers pop up in some peculiar locations. Right now, these screens are roughly as thick as a sheet of vellum and very flexible. They are expected to replace TVs by 2020, with the rest coming sooner than you might think. This is also the same technology that we are starting to see already in smart glasses.

Read more here.


Daniel Ruch. Photo by Corey Inscoe.

Google Maps

You know that crazy street view feature on Google Maps that lets you stare at yours and your friends’ houses? Well now Google is advancing this feature to actually let you go inside of commercial buildings to see what they look like. And the real crazy part? It’s already begun in Charlotte. Google has completed the process for Luna’s Kitchen, Amelie’s French Bakery, Knight Theatre and McGlohon Theatre. Expect more to come!

Reader more and see it in action here.


So, as we can see, the world is changing. Yes, five million jobs will likely be lost to redundancy and automation by the year 2020. People now need much more specialized skill sets to find the jobs they want.  It’s not all doom and gloom though. The World Economic Forum says that 65% of kids in primary school today will be working a job that does not yet exist. These massive advances in technology will create new issues, new problems to fix. We’re not yet near the age where technology can repair or innovate itself, and the human mind will continue to be a necessity in our ever diversifying workforce. It also opens more room for the world of arts and liberal sciences to grow. With less and less of a need for human interaction in the process of mass production, people can turn their attention to humanity and the world at large—social issues, politics, film, literature and everything else that molds who we are today and in the future to come.

John Lineberger is the Lifestyle Editor of Niner Times. He is an English major/ Film Studies minor in his senior year at UNC Charlotte. He is an aspiring YA writer and would like to work at a publishing house or magazine in the future. He spends most of his time reading, writing or watching Netflix, but also enjoys travel and learning new things about birds. You can contact him at Lifestyle@ninertimes.com