Sure, robotics, the Internet of Things, data analytics, and other disruptive trends are intimidating, but they will improve our lives.
What will the next decades bring?
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap]T”S NO exaggeration to say we’re on the cusp of scientific and technological advancements that will change how we live.
Renowned futurist Dr. Michio Kaku characterizes this technological shift as moving from the “age of discovery” to the “age of mastery,” a new period in our history where we’ll be able to harness our technologies and control our destinies.
Last May, The McKinsey Global Institute published an informative analysis that examined the economic impact of global technology trends. The study, called “Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy,” identified the technologies that matter most to the global economy, sustainability, and improving the human condition.
[If we don’t control the technology we depend on, someone else will — and we might not like the consequences. Read Technology Automation: Who’s The Boss?]
The McKinsey study, along with Google’s recent acquisitions of artificial intelligence and robotic companies, and my own company Xerox’s special history of innovation (at PARC), inspired me to compile a list of three areas where technological transformation will shape our lives.
The digital age and The Internet of Things
We’ve come a long way from the cumbersome, slow PCs of the 70s to Google Glass and paper-thin mobile devices. We are now at the footstep of quantum computing in the cloud with flexible and wearable electronics. Cisco, which termed the “The Internet of Everything,” predicts that 50 billion devices, including our smartphones, appliances, and office equipment, will be wirelessly connected via a network of sensors to the Internet by 2020.
Along with computing comes artificial intelligence. Human/computer interface will extend our human brain capacities, memories, and capabilities. At a conference last year on how the world will look in 2045, Google futurist Ray Kurzweil said that mankind will “expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold” and that the power of computing doubles, on average, every two years.
McKinsey predicts a $5 to 7 trillion potential economic impact by 2025 from automation of knowledge work by intelligent software systems. We may also have artificially intelligent personal assistants, perhaps even in holographic forms in some sort of augmented reality.
There is already an explosion in data analytics from the mounds of information we produce. New advanced technologies for data mining and predictive analytics will be used in all informatics aspects of our lives as consumers, patients, and employees.
Big data analytics has the potential to improve healthcare by identifying the best pathways in treatments and administration of patient medicines, as well as predicting the spread of the flu. In retail, data analytics can predict when and what consumers are buying. The mathematical applications used in analyzing large data sets can be used to predict societal change at almost every level of human interaction.
Health & medicine
Perhaps health and medicine is the most profound area of technological innovation. Numerous breakthroughs in genomics anti-aging therapies will extend our longevity and quality of life. Recently, Harvard Medical School Researcher of Genetics David Sinclair published findings about a single anti-aging enzyme in the body, known scientifically as SIRT1, that can prevent ailments such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Biologists recently extended the life spans of mice by as much as 70% through rejuvenation experiments.
The medical community will be able to implant devices such as bionic eyes and bionic kidneys or artificially grown and regenerated human organs. The world’s first bionic eye, a retinal implant that helps restore vision to patients blinded by a degenerative eye disease, was recently approved by the FDA and will soon be on the market.
The global artificial vital organs and medical bionics market is expected to reach $32.3 billion in 2018. There are some early stage prototypes of artificial vital organs such as artificial hearts, kidneys, lungs, liver, and pancreas.
Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on Information Week and is featured here with permission from the Author.