The Not So Distant Future

Action Card spoke recently at a technology summit in Kearney Nebraska.  The event centered around the importance of broadband in rural communities and featured some dynamic thought leaders and organizations.  One of the keynote speakers, “Futurist” Jack Uldrich, gave the most entertaining and thought-provoking presentation on key innovations that were already making their way to  market.  If you have time, I highly recommend you check out his talk.  Uldrich focused specifically on nano-technology.  It is hard to contextualize the significance of some of these technological advances without slipping into a stupefied state of awe and hyperbole.  The innovation, coupled with the shear speed in which it’s coming to us has in my opinion put global business and our daily lifestyle on the precipice of change that we have not yet begun to comprehend.  I wanted to catalogue a few specific advances that I consider game changers.

Last week Amazon’s terminally excitable Jeff Bezos blew a few minds when he announced on a 60 minutes segment that Amazon had the capability to ship product to their Amazon Prime customers via unmanned drone within 30 minutes.  If you haven’t heard about this, check out it here.  Bezos claims to be 2 years away from this with his biggest challenge being regulatory.  The FAA likes to be in the know on who and what is flying where and I don’t know that they have considered packages shipping through their air space but not in a traditional and regulated aircraft.

But check out some of the innovation that is already emerging.  These are not George Jetson ideas about someday, they are here.  If you geek out on this like we do, do some digging on any of the below innovations.

  • Web-based Video Conferencing; allows for everything from virtual medical consultation including play-by-play surgery to virtual grocery shopping from British tube (subway) stations.
  • 3D Printing Technology
  • Robotic Technology; driverless, self-driven cars.  Google has successfully tested these cars for over two years.  The New Yorker did a piece on this in November.  Robots are way better drivers than we are.  This could put a huge dent in the 10 million auto accidents that occur in the US ever year, 9.5 million of which are driver-error related.
  • Sensor Technology or “The Internet of Things;” sensors can help track health issues via the web and predict potential health problems as well as monitor the structural integrity of our roads and bridges.  Farmers can already check and monitor the moisture level in hay based on sensor technology to determine when it makes good feed.
  • Gene Sequencing Technology; transforming health and pharm industries as well as agriculture.  Will likely spur an ethical discussion as it becomes increasingly more affordable.
  • Algorhythmic technology; tools like Siri on the iPhone that currently answer questions from us will become 1000 times more advanced to the point where Siri will be telling us things we need to know before we thought to ask based on their knowledge of our habits.

These are just a few rapidly emerging technologies that will fundamentally change how we live our lives and we are already there.  We certainly have the opportunity to enhance the quality of our lives but it remains to be seen if these advances will make us happier.  This reminds me of the now famous Louis CK bit on the correlation between technological advancement and our collective dissatisfaction with life..