The general topic was “putting the science back in science fiction.”
We each had five minutes to articulate how technologies might
affect us in the year 2050. The rest of the session was dedicated to Q&A. I presented a newly crafted hand-drawn
PowerPoint deck entitled “Macro Trends
and What They Mean for 2050.”
In summary, I made these observations about the future:
1. Big advances are generally not the result of any single technology but rather the result of combinations of technologies.
2. Good news: The world continues to become less dangerous. Today, we live longer than any time in the history of man – and this trend will continue. More here: The World is Not a More Dangerous Place.
2050 Prediction: Your doctor is 102 and this is not weird.
3.0 Fewer people can create much more, much faster … and more easily.
3.1. The bad news is faster death: Today, it takes less than 50 people and less than $100,000 to manufacture – and infest humans with – the reanimated 1918 Spanish Influenza virus. Some estimates place the death toll of such an event at 160 million people. That is an awful lot of death for relatively little cost and effort. More here: More Death Cheaper in Future.
3.2. The good news is faster wealth: On the other side of the coin, wealth can now be created faster than ever. For example, Marc Zuckerberg of FaceBook went from zero to over a billion in net worth in under three years. More here: Ludicrous Speed Billionaires.
2050 Prediction: Your 14-year-old neighbor makes $10B from their bedroom.
4.1. Surveillance societies are not only inevitable, irreversible … but
more importantly they are irresistible! You love location-based services on your phone and you will love RFID chips in your sunglasses so
you can find them if you lose them. More here: Six
Ticks till Midnight: One Plausible Journey from Here to a Total Surveillance
4.2. Sensors become ubiquitous … not due to governments … rather this is caused by commercial enterprises as they compete for consumers who are eager to adopt any and all technologies that help them optimize their lives. More here: Ubiquitous Sensors? You Have Seen Nothing Yet.
4.3 Ubiquitous sensors result in countless piles of data. But to make real sense of this data it must be commingled. As such, these piles of data will have a tendency to converge into one pile of data. More here: More Data is Better, Proceed with Caution.
5. When disparate information is stitched together context emerges – much in the same way individual puzzle pieces are difficult to make sense of in isolation. Point being, the more puzzle pieces that can be associated, the greater the overall picture emerges. This stitched-together data will be stored in a pre-assembled form, in very large databases, ready for use. But unlike today, the enormous power of such “information in context” will not be in the hands of a few privileged (e.g., multi-billion dollar organizations) … in the future, such capabilities will live in the “network cloud” and be available to the masses. With such, the future will not be like Tom Cruise in the movie “Minority Report” where he stands in front large screens and searches for data using his hands to navigate. Nope, that would be old school.
2050 Prediction: Collective intelligence will locate what you need to know … and tell you!
To bring this prediction to life I presented the following example: The collective intelligence system in the network
cloud will know the precise geo-coordinates of where you are physically
standing right now. As well, imagine if
it is also amassing data related to the current activities of migratory
birds. While at one moment these two
data sets may have no nexus … the moment a sensor presents some wind speed data
to the collective intelligence system … this new data point being the puzzle
piece that connects your location data and the birds’ migratory data. The cloud then will immediately push
real-time relevant insight to you, the consumer. In this case, you are told to “jump to the
right one foot.” Seconds later, to the your
delight, a bird poop falls from the sky … splats on the ground … exactly where you
6. When collective intelligence serves you and your doctor … you are going
to love it. But when it serves the
police looking at you … you are going to hate it.
7. And that is the truth about the future … it’s going to be love/hate.
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