Let’s face it.
The technology industry will shape the future of this country and world more so than any other industry.
Technology will change the way wars are fought.
Technology will change where people live (on Earth or elsewhere).
Technology will change how people work (or maybe decide if people work at all).
Technology will change how people learn.
Technology will change transportation.
Technology will change the way transactions take place.
In fact, there isn’t an industry on the planet that will not be affected by the changes in the technology industry.
But there’s nothing earth shattering in those predictions.
We all know that.
But what exactly will these changes be and when will they happen?
That’s a bit harder to predict.
In fact, specifics around the future of technology have always proved challenging.
We’re still waiting on our flying car and real hoverboard.
But what we can do is look at the technologies that are emerging now and predict ways they will shape our world.
First, we can look at delivery.
Ten years ago, if you wanted to do any kind of online/Internet activity, your computer or your laptop was your only avenue.
Then came along the iPhone, which changed how we interacted with online information.
Today, there’s a good chance you’re reading this on your phone and may not even own a personal computer.
We expect that to change even more.
We’ve seen technologies like smart watches and glasses struggle to get off the ground, but we don’t see those going away anytime soon.
In fact, we see much more emersion with the growing popularity of the Internet of Things.
With IoT, you won’t need to check your phone to get information. Information will come to you.
You’ll be able to access the Internet from just about anywhere and anything: your car, your refrigerator or even a small device implanted in your cerebral cortex.
Second, let’s look at what’s powering these changes.
That would be Artificial Intelligence.
Let’s back up from the Science image you have of iRobot right now.
When we say “Artificial Intelligence,” we’re talking about Natural Language Process, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and things like that.
Basically, it’s a system’s ability to make sense out of very large sets of data and then use what it learned from that data.
Think about a litigator in a courtroom.
The US has a system based on caselaw. So a lawyer sitting in a courtroom has to be extremely familiar with a lot of different cases.
During witness testimony, the opposing council may try to pull something that a previous case already decided (perhaps introducing a type of evidence).
If the lawyer is not familiar with the case, the lawyer can’t object and therefore misses a a chance to increase their chance at winning the trial.
Now imagine if that lawyer had a little chip in his ear that was connected to a system that had already processed every single bit of caselaw in US history and listened to everything that was said in the courtroom.
That system could relay an objection to the lawyer and they would never miss an objection or other ruling involving caselaw.
In a lot of way, artificial intelligence is the backbone of another sector of technology that will drive change: Automation.
Automation is just what it sounds like. It’s using technology to replace manual work.
Whether that’s data entry, driving a vehicle, performing surgery or anything else, for that matter.
Finally, the last bit of technology that is really gathering steam right now is virtual reality.
In its infancy, VR is accelerating in entertainment and training.
The entertainment aspect should be obvious. Video games and other screen-based media have an obvious benefit here.
Training as well.
VR, combined with AI, can give humans real world training scenarios for everything from combat to surgery.
Technology will be able to replicate these scenarios as well as adapt to the trainee all without the risk of injury or mishap.
So, AI, VR and Automation are starting to take off today.
What does that mean for five years from now? How about 50 years from now?
In five years, we’ll be looking at a total immersion in technology.
If you notice a common theme to all three of these technologies, as described so far, its that they all will be embedded in people’s lives to make their lives better.
Society will resemble a cyborg. Still human, but greatly assisted and dependent upon technology.
However, traditions and regulations will keep technology from reaching its full potential that quickly.
Meaning, in our example about an IoT device assisting a litigator.
That technology will exist in five years – much less.
In fact, we will have the technology to be able to completely replace a litigator in court and have humans represented by humanoid robots.
Our government and traditions will not have evolved enough for that to be legal or accepted.
However, as we say, technology and innovation always win, so traditions, laws and regulations will eventually give way to both.
That’s why in 50 years, we’re predicting a nearly autonomous society run purely on technology.
Humans will largely be obsolete, but also have such a low cost of living because of technology, that they’ll largely be able to retire whenever they want.
And thanks to virtual reality and a connected society, they’ll never need or want to leave their homes.
Then, of course, there will be a section of society that completely swears off technology and “cuts the chord” so to speak.
These will be the tree people (assuming there are trees left).
So that’s our semi-tongue-in-cheek prediction for 2068 – a world, created by technology, that is split between people who never leave their homes and tree people who shun all technology.