Technology forecasting is a completely unpredictable endeavour. No one wants to be a false prophet with a prediction so immediate that it can be easily proven incorrect in short order, but long-term predictions can be even harder. And yet even though people know predictions can be a waste of time, they still want to know: What’s next? Wishy-washy tech timelines only makes prognostication more difficult, as entrepreneurs and researchers stumble around in the dense fog of developing prototypes, performing clinical trials, courting investors, and other time-consuming steps required for marketable innovation. It’s easy to hit a wall at any point in the process, causing delays or even the termination of a project.
In the year 1820, a person could expect to live less than 35 years, 94% of the global population lived in extreme poverty, and less that 20% of the population was literate. Today, human life expectancy is over 70 years, less that 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty, and over 80% of people are literate. These improvements are due mainly to advances in technology, beginning in the industrial age and continuing today in the information age.
A very good friend of mine is a global technologist, I brought together in January a very collective group of distinguished individuals for a dinner, I named the dinner ‘the great minds dinner’ This was a great opportunity to stimulate the subject of what technology is working in the world, what is technology is emerging, what technology is not working in the world and more importantly what needs to change in order to accommodate all the prototypes of technology that appear to stay in the lab or on the shelf.
It is clear currently that thought leaders and so-called world futurists on the subject of technology can dish out some exciting and downright scary visions for the future of machines and science that either enhance or replace activities and products near and dear to us.
Being beamed from one location to another by teleportation was supposed to be right around the corner/in our lifetime/just decades away, but it hasn’t become possible yet. Inventions like the VCR that were once high tech — and now aren’t — proved challenging for some: The VCR became obsolete before many of us learned how to program one. And who knew that working with atoms and molecules would become the future of technology? The futurists, of course.
Forecasting the future of technology is for dreamers who hope to innovate better tools — and for the mainstream people who hope to benefit from the new and improved. Many inventions are born in the lab and never make it into the consumer market, while others evolve beyond the pace of putting good regulations on their use.
There are many exciting new technologies that will continue to transform the world and improve human welfare.
Here is a very interesting infographic researched by the National Academy of Sciences from their Smart Things Living Report
(click to expand in new tab):
The world around us is changing. In labs and living rooms around the world, people are creating new technologies and finding new applications for existing and emerging technologies. The products and services available to everyone thus expand exponentially every year. In the next five years, then, you can expect massive growth in what we can do.
Beyond 2018: Dr Michio Kaku on the Future in the Next 5-10-20 Years.
Irrespective of all the possible forecasting in long range planning, I personally believe there are 3 imminent areas in particular will provide important developments in the next 5 years.
1. Augmented Reality Will Explode
Technology mavens have talked for years about virtual reality and the applications available. Augmented reality is related, but allows us to lay the virtual world over the real world. Games like Pokemon Go provide examples of how this works; you use technology to “see” virtual creatures and items in real spaces.
Beyond fun and games, this technology provides a wealth of planning potential. You can drive your car, and arrows will appear on your road, guiding you to the right path. You can create visual representations of organizing tasks, building endeavors, and almost anything else that you want to see before you start working. Manuals will virtually overlay real items to be joined together – everyone will actually be able to construct an Ikea bed. The technology is here; ways to use it are just beginning to emerge.
2. Mobile Apps Will Decline
At the same time, the ubiquitous world of mobile apps will begin to slip back. The ways in which we connect to the world often require us to work through a smartphone or tablet. The mobile app ties us to devices; you have no doubt seen rooms full of people who never make eye contact, only staring at small screens. The cost of developing sophisticated apps and the marketing efforts needed to place your App on the most expensive “real estate” in the world, does not always give a return on investment.
3. The Internet of Things Will Grow Exponentially
Availability and affordability of connected devices grow each year. We connect massive data networks to our homes, vehicles, and personal health monitors already. The ability to connect more devices, appliances, and objects to these networks means companies will know more about those they serve than ever before. Almost any device with electronic components can be configured for the IoT, and in the next five years, more will.
It should be abundantly clear now why analysis of the tech trends shaping the future might seem like science fiction. But researchers from UC-Berkeley to MIT are pulling the present sometimes step by step, sometimes by leaps and bounds into the future.
The next few decades will feel this disruption, often in startling ways. Indeed, while the technical hurdles to advancing these technologies are fascinating, we see people writing about that the ethical and social dimensions of the changes they bring are the most interesting and troubling.
You can clearly see how the allied sciences and complementary developments of these trends will reshape our world, our lives, and our work. Millions will find that the skills they bring to the table simply can’t compete with smart automation. Legions of
drivers, for instance, will soon find themselves unemployable.
And as AI continues to develop in tandem with robotics, the IoT, and big data, even the engineers and scientists who now design these systems will find themselves competing with their creations.
All of these developments I have touched on in this blog will require you to examine closely not only what is possible, but how privacy laws, intellectual property issues and the corporate ecosystems interact with those possibilities. Nevertheless, I am confident that within the lives of your grandchildren, now incurable illnesses will fall to bio, nano, and neurotech. And sure that ignorance will slowly become things children learn about rather than experience first-hand.
Finally, the technology I have discussed really are the shaping things to come, the technologies that will define life for decades.
Are you ready for the future? Ready to embrace the changes that are coming?
As Albert Einstein once said:
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”