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Technology and Innovation

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A World Without Toilet Paper?

Common items — from business cards to gasoline — could become obsolete in the next half-century

In the next half-century many fixtures of everyday life will go the way of the gramophone, labeled "quaint" and relegated to museums — if not the trash. In 50 years, what do futurists predict will make Americans wax nostalgic?

See also: Old-time foods evoke nostalgia — who wants chicken a la king and fried rice?

50 things that will disappear in the next decade

— Corbis

Cursive

Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio have officially dropped handwriting as an educational requirement, with many states currently considering doing the same. One day extra instruction may be required for students who wish to read historical documents in their original drafts.

Desktops

Already, some tech companies have desktop-free offices. Employees work on laptops, saving to a "cloud" — a virtual server for data storage accessed through the Internet. Soon, all the computing power we need will fit onto our phones.

Drivers

Google's robotic car has a near-perfect record on thousands of miles of California highways; Nevada will be the first state to issue permits for self-driving autos. The best part? Robots don't drink, text or fall asleep at the wheel.

Glove box road maps

No need for these when map apps offer directions, traffic info, drive-time estimates and an arrow to the nearest Starbucks.

Home phones

As these 20th-century icons gather dust, people will drop their land-line plans and opt for cell-only. Eventually, we'll be talking on minicomputers the size of cellphones, and basic telephones will go the way of the dodo.

Language barriers

Portable translation software will let us shoot the breeze with anyone, with both parties speaking their native languages.

Passwords

Instead of your having to remember (and regularly update) a combination of letters and numbers, your device will remember you. Facial biometric software will enable you to simply look at your cellphone or tablet — and unlock it.

Physical media

Goodbye CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, thumb drives, video game discs — and their players. Electronic entertainment will be bought and played directly from the Internet.

Next: Postage stamps are not forever. »

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related video

While we're on a nostalgia kick, when was the last time you were at a drive-in movie? Here's a story to bring you back to those carefree days from AARP's My Generation. And you'll find out that these cultural relics are not all disappearing. Watch.

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