Ok, let's brainstorm a minute. I need focus.
So what kinds of computer-related things do I think actually have the potential to change my world in the next three decades? (I.e. in the span of time before the entirety of my skill set is made completely obsolete and my ability to keep up completely surpassed.)
I don't think it's any kind of NLP, frankly. I've heard some pretty amazing speech recognition stuff (we have one at work for recognizing people's names that's very useful) but even if that gets rolled into some kind of useful interface, it's not really going to change the way we live. Except for eliminating some jobs.
Any kind of text processing... blah. I doubt anything is going to happen in the next three decades besides current technology getting faster and better, and all that means is that there'll be a slightly reduced need for analysts and translators. I understand the lay of the land here, and this field isn't ripe for a breakthrough. The only thing it's ripe for is stewing in its own juices for another century.
There are two things I can think of that I'm pretty sure can change my life in the mid-term future.
1. Ubiquitous networking and portable devices. Get everything bluetooth-enabled (or, Allah willing, some other protocol that isn't as brain-dead and committee-designed). Your PDA+cellphone, your house, your car, your computer. Your fridge, your oven and your lightswitch. Now all these guys know where you are and know what you're doing. And they're connected to every other device in the fucking world. Holy shit. Think of the things you could do.
2. New ways of networking. This is less formulated than the first one, but. Look how much old people's lives have changed over the past ten years because of the web. Or in the past three years because of AIM. There's opportunity for much much more out there. I'm not sure what, but wikis, blogs, p2p... these are all new communication modalities that have sprung up essentially in the last two or three years. There's got to be more, and better. I don't know what, but I'm betting that centralized distribution (print news, the RIAA, etc.) ain't it.