1. Development of viable habitation above and below surface (ocean levels rising and all that)
2. Citizen stewardship (see a piece of trash, pick it up, again above or below. ph to high or low, report it). You know, there really isn't any good reason why we do not have tri-corders analyzing the environment and updating in near-real-time in our phones. Sure, position data and privacy, etc. but given the option to turn on and off that information to assist scientists world wide to asses and maintain the worlds ecosystem, is a small thing to ask if the mechanisms are easy to use. As for ocean living and travel, most conscientious (and law abiding) sailors want to be tracked anyway for safety reasons.
3. Why they stopped developing MHD thrusters is beyond me. Low impact, albeit low thruster impulse, drive system minimizes audio noise from ships and rovs. The gliders have a good bead on noise suppression (no motors). Ships also are starting to pad there engine rooms, but not well enough.
4. With minimal noise we have better potential for unobtrusive animal observation. Have observe a seal day with a group of OpenROVers.
5. Eco-tours in a sub. I think there are a few places that actually provide this, maybe 2 world wide?
6. Community wide scientific involvement. Say buy a ticket for a research expedition. With minimal training, not only can citizens help out, they learn and become even more positively affective to ocean exploration. And, hay, the citizen scientists bring there own ROV...why that helps with the cost of expeditions and increasing the amount of data collected.
7. There are tons of projects that are not picked up due to budget, time, man-power that can be "leased" to a team of citizen stewards, who are probably already out there exploring. Use that resource. It's clear that government and private funding can't sustain such endeavors. Crowd-sourcing and the like are the ways in which to accomplish this.
8. Commercialization of the oceans. We've started the commercialization of space.(though I am an avid armchair astronaut, I do not see the immediate viability nor sustainability of this. Yes, we need to expand our living space...but...) Once companies realize the economic benefits of ocean exploration and colonization, there will be a large drive to get people to move there. Space is sexy, sure, high adventure and all that, but to be honest, I'd rather live on the sea floor than on mars. though the ocean is hostile, mars has a little up on it.
Not very coherent, I apologize but perhaps a few good points somewhere.
I guess my vision really isn't anything novel, I just see the human race becoming more aware and responsible for the ocean eco-system when we live in it. It's easier to see our impact when we can look out of a window and see the trash we dump, etc. We will be better off doing so.
I see underwater installations for mining, manufacturing, habitation, vacation, exploration, medicine, training for space exploration, a ten year old with an OpenROV working on their school project studying benthic life, a father of three, wave energy farmer, using his homebuilt ROV to determine plankton health while repairing an oxygen pump. Dolphins interacting with AUVs, developing a viable alphabet for human/cetacean communication. Swarm robotics interacting and repairing various underwater structures and assessing vent life. Private pilots licenses for mimi-subs.
As for the next decade: A rash of start-ups, all going for the same thing. Human expansion into the alien deep.