Will future technologies propel us into a dystopian future, leaving those without the requisite creative and digital skills on the breadline, literally living from hand to mouth in a world of widespread social disorder? Or will technology be the great enabler, delivering on its promise of prosperity for all?
Although none of us can accurately predict the future, what is certain is that the future will look very different to the present. We can already sense this: we’re living in a world in which robotics and artificial intelligence are already part and parcel of many industries. These technologies will almost certainly expand. Just a few years ago many would have scoffed at the idea of self-driving cars, robots stacking shelves and robots delivering room service. But this is already happening.
1. An Information Economy
Useful, standards-based information will be sold, donated and traded on open exchanges.”
According to the Institute for the Future, individuals and institutions will start selling their data – to the highest bidder or “for social gain”. So be prepared to sell information about your interests and purchasing habits to retailers and companies.
2. Networked Ecosystems
Everything that can be connected to the Internet, “from cars to refrigerators to coffee cups” will be connected to the Internet – by 2025 - according to the Institute for the Future. This is the Internet of Things, and it is expected to continue apace into the future. The world will be transformed into one that is “aware, responsive and informed”. Imagine a future in which the glass from which you are drinking reveals the nutritional content of your drink. Or a bed that can ‘learn’ your waking patterns and then communicate the data to your coffee maker to programme it to have a fresh cup of coffee ready for you for when you wake up from your slumber. Can’t wait.
3. Augmented Decision Making
While at work, you will be able to use sophisticated algorithms to help you manage your information and support your decision-making. This is already happening, particularly in fields such as law and medicine where algorithms are used to help workers in these professions manage large piles of information. Automation has already replaced jobs outright and will continue to do so. A 2013 Oxford University report predicted that 45% of all American jobs will be automated within the next twenty years. Gulp.
4. Multi-sensory Communication
In the future, senses other than sight and sound will be used to communicate information, for example, touch, smell and taste. This is the world of augmented reality technology such as Oculus Rift.
5. Privacy-enhancing Tech
There will be a “torrent of innovation” in the area of privacy and data security, to respond to the swathes of “highly sensitive” information being sent and received from the cloud. A world of “privacy enhancing technology products and solutions” will benefit consumers directly.
The future is the Information Generation. It will be a future in which technology is deeply embedded into every aspect of our world: people, places and products – for good and for ill.
Are you excited? Or do you look upon the future with trepidation? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.