Emerging Technologies With Near Term Impact

Given the overwhelming number of science and technology building blocks available and emerging, keeping pace is a monumental task. Harder still is identifying those that have near-term impact. A recent article by Kevin Dickinson identifies ten emerging technologies projected to impact us in the short term – many of which were accelerated by COVID-19. Here is a quick look at the list.

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As We Accelerate In The Short Term – Horizons Move Closer

While COVID-19 is an acknowledged accelerant, we are accelerating towards a known destination. Remote learning and working should have evolved sooner; the digital foundation should have been a priority earlier; eCommerce should have exploded by now; and last-mile delivery is only just beginning. Although we may arrive at this destination sooner, acceleration now draws scenarios that are further out closer. Those that may have been reluctant to order online overcame their fears. The elderly on zoom calls is now a thing. With broader societal adoption comes an ability to more aggressively pursue innovative ideas that may have been further out. When combined with learning that comes from broader adoption, acceleration becomes a virtuous cycle.

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Virtual Reality Converges With Fitness

A scenario I explored when looking into the Future of Sports was improving our fitness in virtual ways. As our bodies are immersed into games or eSports, athleticism matters. Where the view of gaming in the past was a teenager or young adult wasting away in front of a screen, virtual reality is turning that view on its head. In this recent Article, author Clint Carter describes the serious workouts he enjoyed virtually. In essence, your body is the games controller, and your fitness level plays a major role in how you do. Here is a description of one of those games from the article:

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Materials Play A Big Role In The Next Phase Of Human Development

When looking at possible futures, one domain seems to intersect with them all. Whether we are discussing the environment, food, mobility, or energy, one common denominator is materials science. Wikipedia Defines it as an interdisciplinary field focused on the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. Materials science incorporates elements of physics, chemistry, and engineering. The Wikipedia page reflects on why it intersects with so much:

Many of the most pressing scientific problems humans currently face are due to the limits of available materials and how they are used. Thus, breakthroughs in materials science are likely to affect the future of technology significantly.”

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Companion Robots: An Example Of The Accelerating Power Of COVID-19

Hanson Robotics wants to help those craving company during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those not familiar with Sophia, it is a human-like robot from Hanson Robotics. For those not familiar, check out the video below. Sophia appears between the 2:10 and 5:30 marks of the 8-minute segment. In discussing the roll of companion robots, CEO David Hanson told Reuters that “Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like, that can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.” His company, Hanson Robotics, plans to roll out thousands of these robots in 2021. They aim to roll out four models — including Sophia — in the first half of 2021.

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Dancing Robots – How Do You React?

By now, many of you may have seen this video of dancing robots. Yet another remarkable accomplishment delivered to us by Boston Dynamics. The reaction to this video has been varied. Many view it with fascination, while others fear. Those reactions reflect the broader response to possible emerging futures. This recent Article views dancing robots as a really big problem, going as far as calling them unethical. This One sees them as fun and games – until they murder us. Yet Another sees them as eerie, yet marvels at the accomplishment. Finally, this Look at the video calls it unsettling. What about you? What is your immediate reaction when viewing this video? Take the poll below and select your initial reaction.

Edge Computing And The Need To Sense And Respond

Back in 2013, I wrote about the critical need to Sense and Respond in a climate of uncertainty, interdependency, complexity, and velocity. In that post, I said this:

As our world experiences continued Acceleration and the amount of data flowing through company ecosystems expands, the need to sense stimuli and enable a real time response intensifies. Fortunately, rapid advancements in the price and performance of technology make realizing this sense and respond paradigm achievable and economical for a wide range of use cases – but this is arguably one of the most difficult components of transformation road maps.

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Virtual and Augmented Reality Likely To Accelerate

In early 2019, I described the Three Focus Themes for the year. They were Acceleration, Convergence, and Possibilities. Little did I know that one of those themes would factor so prominently in 2020. In a recent Presentation, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas – a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm – describes 2020 as the year where forces already in play experience a great acceleration. One of those forces is mixed reality.

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The Rise Of Digital Currency

I just finished another great book: Beyond Blockchain: The Death of the Dollar and the Rise of Digital Currency. The Rise of Digital CurrencyI just added it to my Book Library and highly recommend the read. Author Erik Townsend has a great blend of financial and software expertise, making him uniquely qualified to talk on the topic. He explores a wide range of topics from the basics of money to global scale digital currencies.

Although launched in early 2019, the book is very timely given the current geopolitical environment. Mr. Townsend does a great job of describing various aspects of our financial system, thereby building a foundation of knowledge that makes the discussion of digital currency more impactful. Although a big proponent of cryptocurrencies and the values and motivations of the original inventors, he is a pragmatist and practical thinker – which I found very refreshing.

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Holograms: Coming to a Concert Near You

As the dialog about massive change this decade amplifies, questions about societal implications come into focus. Of specific interest is the way society is likely to react to some of this change. In a recent Poll, I asked if people would be interested in interacting virtually with a lost loved one. Forty-seven percent of the respondents said no. These simple questions give us visibility to how we are likely to embrace or reject aspects of change in this decade.

Here is another question to consider – but first, take a look at this video:

Now the question – please take the quick poll.

Can you Reunite with a Lost Loved One?

In a recent book titled A World without Work, author Daniel Susskind described two fields of computing: computational creativity and affective computing. According to wikipedia, computational creativity is a multidisciplinary endeavour that is located at the intersection of the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and the arts. The goal of computational creativity is to model, simulate or replicate creativity using a computer. This field of computing explores whether Creativity is the Sole Domain of Humans.

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Computing on the Edge

Multiple changes to our compute paradigm are required to realize the disruptive and humanitarian advances promised by rapid innovation; whether it is the continued advancement of Moore’s law through new methods, or a complete replacement of the compute platform (e.g. Quantum Computing). One of those near-term changes is set to hit wireless networking, and 2020 could be the turning point. As described in this Article, A trio of new technologies is set to redefine wireless networking. Edge ComputingThat, in turn, could change the way enterprises think about building applications, managing data, distributing computing resources and deploying robots and factory floor machinery.

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Moore’s Law

A recent article regarding Moore’s Law explores the winding down of a phenomenon that has impacted the world considerably since Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, predicted that the number of components that could fit on a microchip would double every year. The article states that Moore’s Law has begun to reach its natural end, as efficiently manufacturing smaller transistors gets more difficult. Author Tom Hoggins projects that by the mid-2020s, the law will have plateaued completely as production costs increase and transistors reach their physical  limits.

The pictures I try to paint of our emerging future rely upon the continued expansion of our compute power and its synergistic relationship with energy. An example of a Virtuous Cycle in action, as advances in one area drive compelling reasons for advancement in the other. Realizing innovations’ potential to advance the human development envisioned by my Innovation Wheel relies on continued advancement in both areas. As the author states, Moore’s Law has in some ways eliminated the need for creativity in both design and manufacturing. As it comes to an end, a new era of creativity is likely to bridge the gap between the wind-down and a new computing paradigm such as quantum computing.

We already see creativity in advancements such as neural network processors that support the processing needs of AI solutions. The author strikes a positive tone, as he sees new approaches emerging to both software and processor architecture. The opportunity for innovators and investors is very large.

Marriage, Alternative Living, Biometrics, and the Rise of Nationalism

The visual below depicts aspects of our emerging future (Explained Here). I update it periodically to reflect impactful areas that affect the science and technology foundation, the future scenarios they spawn, and the wide array of societal factors that interact with both.

Our Emerging Future

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Mind-reading AI can see what you’re thinking and Draw a Picture

The brain is clearly one of the next great frontiers. In this World Economic Forum Article on reading minds, we get a glimpse into the exponential progression of brain science. The author cites research published by AI experts in China, the US and Japan showing that computers can replicate what people are thinking by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines that measure brain activity – linked to deep neural networks that replicate human brain functions.

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Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Renewable Energy and More

The airwaves are filled with talk of exponential technologies like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Renewable Energy and more. In addition, societal factors that influence or are influenced by technology are getting more attention. So what’s the buzz?

Blockchain

An article on Blockchain uses eight visuals to describe The Future of Blockchain and provides a Financial Services adoption timeline. The adoption scenario predicts that Blockchain will move past the Innovators phase in 2016 and reach 13.5 percent of early adopters within financial services. The tipping point is then expected to happen in 2018, as the early majority begins to see benefits realized by early adopters, and new models emerge. The growth phase lasts until 2025 when Blockchain goes main stream within financial services. This visual from the article captures the adoption cycle.

Blockchain Adoption Timeline

A separate piece by Mckinsey focuses on Blockchain in Insurance. A key take away from this report is that Blockchain is yet another example of an ecosystem growing beyond traditional industry.

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Internet of Things: Economic Benefit and Challenges Lie Ahead

On June 15th, I participated in an Internet of Things Webcast with CA Technologies. A replay of the event can be found here.  The abstract for the session read as follows.


In just a few short years, we’ve moved from being a web-economy to an application economy. One of the underlying reasons are thousands of new Internet of Things (IoT) applications, from manufacturing sensors to medical devices, automobiles to homes. Industry experts predict IoT has the potential for an economic benefit of up to $6.2 trillion by 2025. Are you ready to address the fast-approaching era of hyper-connectivity and voluminous data with your business networks? Do you have a strategy to turn your IoT into sustainable growth opportunities? Do you have the visibility to ensure your network can support these new applications and the flood of data that comes with them?

Join Frank Diana, Futurist and Digital Transformer with Tata Consultancy Services, to learn the new meaning of having an IoT-connected business in the future. He will be joined by Bernard Clairmont, Presales Consultant with CA Technologies, to explain the importance of having a sophisticated network performance management and diagnostic solution to be ready for the future of connectedness.


Like so many emerging innovation accelerators, the Internet of Things will be massively transformative. The time to act is now.

3D Printing

In my continued look at disruptive scenarios, the focus shifts to 3D printing. Growth in this key innovation is expected to accelerate to $10.8 billion by 2021 according to Goldman Sachs. The economic implications are significant: Research by McKinsey Global Institute suggests a possible impact of $550 billion per year by 2025. Some believe that 3D printing will play a crucial role in launching a third industrial revolution at a personalized level.

emerging-future

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