Tech breakthroughs may mean 'digital everything' by 2025

Study focuses on 10 innovation predictions, including teleportation and digitally connected continents

Think you're digitally connected today? You haven't seen anything yet.

Forget carrying a smartphone in your pocket. In about 10 years, we're likely to have digitally connected cars, smart homes, and refrigerators and dishwashers that can think for themselves.

On top of that, towns, cities and even continents may be digitally connected and responsive.

That's all according to a new study from the science unit of Thomson Reuters. The New York-based media and information company's report, The World in 2025: 10 Predictions of Innovation, looks at what scientific breakthroughs are likely to make the biggest impact on society over the next decade or so.

"It's human nature to want to know what's coming," wrote the analysts behind the study.

Related: 8 technologies that are on the way out -- and one that we'll never be rid of

After poring over news articles, scientific papers, academic research and commercial research, analysts at Thomas Reuters culled what they believe will be game-changing technologies and science.

For example, breakthroughs in genetics are expected to greatly improve the prevention and treatment of diseases like dementia and Type I diabetes. Solar energy is expected to become the primary source of energy, food shortages should come to an end and cancer treatments will likely have fewer side effects.

In the tech field, one of the expected breakthroughs is that the world will be increasingly digital.

"The digital world as we know it today will seem simple and rudimentary in 2025," the analysts wrote. "Thanks to the prevalence of improved semiconductors, graphene-carbon nanotube capacitors, cell-free networks of service antenna and 5G technology, wireless communications will dominate everything, everywhere... from the most remote farmlands to bustling cities -- we will all be digitally directed."

"Imagine the day when the entire continent of Africa is completely, digitally connected," they added. "That day will happen in 2025."

The phrase "Beam me up, Scotty," made famous in Star Trek, may come to be used in a real-world context at some point in the future. According to Thomas Reuters, actual quantum teleportation will be tested in 2025.

"The frequent request heard on Star Trek will not be such an abstract concept as we move through the 21st Century," the analysts wrote. "We are on the precipice of this field's explosion; it is truly an emerging research front. Early indicators point to a rapid acceleration of research leading to the testing of quantum teleportation in 2025."

The report points to the physics work that has been done at CERN's Large Hadron Collider to find the elusive Higgs boson. Measurement techniques developed to understand the particles generated in the collider use new kinematic techniques -- taking advantage of advances in the branch of classic physics that studies the motion of objects and groups of objects.

But don't get too excited. The study just says that research into teleportation will be taking place in 2025; people won't actually be getting "beamed" from place to place in 10 years. But there still may be cause for optimism: It does say that "significant" investment in and testing of the technology will be well underway by that time.

This article, "Tech Breakthroughs May Mean 'Digital Everything' by 2025," was originally published on Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter, at @sgaudin, and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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