Kevin Kelly — author of the book The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future — writes that most of the technology that’ll dominate our lives for the next 30 years has not been invented yet.
The technology you’ll use right now, will require constant updates.
Further, the cycle of software obsolescence is increasing. Did you know the average lifespan of an iOS app is just about 30 days? That means that you’ll be a newbie again.
The unstoppable momentum of technology will not slowdown (maybe, it’ll accelerate faster). But this kind of technology shift only benefits those who are fast, nimble on their feet, and those that embrace change enough to move along with it.
Kevin mentions that established industries will topple because of old business models. Entire occupations will vanish, taking several million livelihoods with it.
New occupations will arise causing inequality (between those who succeed and those that have been left behind). Digital network technology will rattle international borders (because it’s borderless).
New global currencies will come to dominate every other currency (bitcoin, anyone?).
As a result, from this moment on, all that we have to do is to play “catch up”.
As Kevin puts it,
“All of us — everyone one of us — will be endless newbies in the future simply trying to keep up”
In his book, Kevin writes about the almost “God like” state we live in. You can read up anything on the web (or download Kindle versions and read up), watch movies, listen to music, check out weather forecasts down to the remotest town in the world.
You can watch endless streaming of other content, check out stock prices anywhere in the world, you can work from anywhere, and your business could in Estonia while you actually reside in Panama with customers worldwide.
Kevin’s book, however, is all positive. It shines down hope on all of us. Not all of this technology shift is basked in the glory of angelical warmth.
Don’t get us wrong: We, at Fermented Pixels, believe in technology. We directly benefit (and we know that our clients also benefit) from the widespread global advantage it gives all of us, and that technology helps businesses and individuals thrive (along with economies).
We are believers.
But it must be pointed out: it’s not just a bed of roses we are going to walk on in the future. The roses have thorns too.
Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, and IoT — these aren’t just buzzwords straight out of some Arthur. C Clarke’s high-fantasy, Sci-fi thriller book.
These are technologies that’ll change the way you live, work, and communicate.
There’s also a possibility that technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could be very different in the future.
Will AI-powered robots become self-aware? With software get so smart that it’ll start to take your food away from your table? Will you lose your job to algorithms? Is there a possibility that your business could be extinct since Al-driven software can do a better job than you and your team can?
It’s all possible. For that reason, we should prepare ourselves.
You already know that with Siri or Google Assistant, you can record your speech, set up your alarm, take down notes, book your cab, take a photo, record a video, send emails or messages on your behalf, check your apps for you, keep you updated with your stock prices, and more.
In several ways, Siri could very well be your Virtual Assistant, eh?
Amazon’s Alexa can help remember things, read out the weather conditions, play your favorite music, book a cab for you, place online orders, and schedule appointments with your dentist.
These are just apps and gadgets and all these possibilities exist right now.
If you are reading this, you already know that you are right in the middle of the fourth revolution, the new era, the rapidly-changing biopic of an economy that you’d never think possible.
As humans, we’ve made incredible progress thanks to the advancement of technology, global reduction in poverty, negligible instances of war, almost no cases of slavery or mass genocide.
We’ve come a long way while opening up various opportunities for businesses and for individual self-actualization.
Everything you do, touch, and experience are powered by a mind numbing concoction of technology.
Thanks to the new age of entrepreneurship, you could start a business and trade in digital currency, if you wanted to.
Robots: Your smart & efficient co-workers
During the peak of industrial revolution, major industries already saw the introduction of advanced robotics.
Efficient, untiring, and relentless, robotics has been instrumental in expanding efficiencies and scale of manufacturing businesses such as automobiles, pharma, packaging, fast-moving goods, and several other industries. Gradually, robots became our efficient, reliable, and usually much less expensive co-workers in industry.
Today, robotics is expanding into use cases you’d not have expected. For instance, there are surveillance robots that can do the job of 4 armed security personnel to enhance the quality of security at airports and public places.
Then, there are autonomous, AI-powered robots [https://www.technavio.com/blog/ai-powered-robots-waste-management-robotics] to help process, manage, and reuse residential, commercial, and industrial waste.
You then have robots that specialize as personal assistants while you also have microbots in medicare that can scrape plaque from arteries or assist doctors with highly-complex surgeries.
Software Is eating the world
Marc Andreessen is best known to have summed up the advancement of software, SaaS, and cloud computing in a popular article on WSJ.
“Software is eating the world”.
That was in 2011.
Today, Software is still eating the world. Every company must become a software company, just as Marc predicted.
Small businesses can use the same smart automation that Amazon uses. Absolutely anyone can use software for individual purposes or for businesses just the way large corporations can.
The software world you live in, is a totally flat one.
Incredible innovations have seen birth with companies such as Uber, AirBnb, and Netflix.
Uber is a cab business and owns no cabs of its own. Airbnb is like BnB business on steroids but doesn’t own or maintain its own inventory (of homes to stay in). Netflix is a major business (remember DVD rentals?) but has no DVDs to rent and it barely produces its own content (except those Netflix originals).
Amazon sells very few products of its own. Instead, it allows other merchants to sell on its massive, global platform.
Google and Facebook make money from advertising — all the while both the platforms are only pumping up the power for merchants while ease of use for respective users — where revenues are made regardless of whether or not advertisers make money by advertising on these platforms.
Meanwhile, companies like Google are using technology to do some other things not even related to the businesses they are in.
Using a combination of cloud computing, geo-mapping, and machine learning, Google helps protect vulnerable marine life, as Bernard Marr of Forbes points out.
In this day and age, technology is all that’s needed to start and thrive with a business.
Consider what Uber does really:
Uber’s tech stack runs on Amazon, with mapping technology provided by Google, and uses Twilio for global network of phone calls and messages that cab drivers and users need. Uber, in essence, doesn’t own much (low on capital expenditure) but has a global presence.
See where this is going? It’s all about technology.
Artificial intelligence is touted to be a technology that has the potential to unseat several entry-level and mid-level executives working in various jobs.
Tech storm is coming
Hedge fund companies now use artificial intelligence to try and beat the market. American express uses big data and artificial intelligence to understand their customers’ behavior better so that they can serve them better, faster, and make product recommendations that are almost unique to each customer’s preferences.
Artificial intelligence can help the elderly remember their glasses and take their medicines on time; it can power unmanned spacecraft, collect and process data to help speed up research; it can tame or control climate change; and even drive swarms of drones to either deliver products at customer’s doorsteps or to help reflect sunlight away from the oceans.
Google uses Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Natural language processing engines to power search, voice search, and to render its online real-time language translation services, among other uses.
Facebook is already using artificial intelligence to help several thousand merchants advertise better on its platform, not including the social media giant’s experiments with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
Artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, IoT, applied or advanced robotics, and machine learning — in various combinations — help achieve tasks in much less time and with more efficiency than if humans were to achieve the same.
Which leads us to….
Role of the political will In our future
If you thought all this “doomsday” talk about how there could be negative effects (if any) from all this technology, especially artificial intelligence, you need to look no further than the current political undercurrents.
Between 2000 and 2015 alone, more than 4 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S were lost due to automation. Meanwhile, more than 2.5 million call center workers only make about $14 per hour.
Hint: Artificial intelligence can easily do better and outperform the average call center worker. The wave of change is currently underway (chatbots, anyone?).
In the near future, there’s a probability that millions of ordinary workers in the American economy (you may extrapolate this to the rest of the world soon enough) will have their jobs displaced by technology. Retail workers, truck drivers, restaurant workers, manufacturing, healthcare, automobiles, and even a few jobs within the Information technology sector.
While most politicians in the United States don’t even mention it, there are people who want to make a difference.
Andrew Yang –– an entrepreneur — is now standing as a presidential nominee for the year 2020.
His main agenda? To solve the “job loss” problem thanks to artificial intelligence and the increase use of technology which might undercut regular jobs of the average Americans.
His focus is to create a “different kind of economy” — right from scratch — in which automation, artificial intelligence, IoT, robotics, or blockchain will all work to supplement the work of us humans to help us flourish instead of losing jobs and going back to the stone age.
A few of the policies Andrew is working on include Universal Basic Income (also known as “freedom dividend”), universal healthcare, social currencies, and to rework the spine of GDP to accurately represent the growth of the economy.
While there aren’t that many Andrew Yangs to make a difference on a large scale (within the U.S and Internationally), this is at least a hope that we can live on.
None of this is to suggest that we should stop the increasing use of artificial intelligence and let humans progress as we’d like to. This is only to let the world know that we ought to be prepared, work towards some sort of simultaneous rise in how we use technology for our benefit and not to let technology take over, much like Terminator “Rise of Machines”.
AI, autonomous tech & more: Doom and gloom for us?
Apart from the global political play and the rise of the machines and software or both, it’s hard to predict exactly what’s going to happen in the future to us.
For certain, a few of the jobs and businesses we now run will be replaced by machines, software, technologies, or any of the resulting combinations. According to James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of The Human Era strongly opines that artificial intelligence could very well drive mankind to extinction. The catastrophic outcome is not just a possibility, but a very likely event.
Someday, someone will create human-level artificial intelligence (also known as AGI). Someone else will then create artificial intelligence that’s smarter than humans. Which will then lead to tens of thousands of machines and algorithms that’ll be hard at work to try to make “artificial superintelligence”.
Even if you thought it’d take a lot of time for “artificial intelligence driven anything” to mature or to stabilize, the evolution will happen in seconds, minutes or days (and not decades as it used to be with us humans).
Assuming these machines (aided by AI) will evolve, there’s no guarantee that they’ll evolve to a point where they’ll love us, protect us, or care for us.
James believes that it could be that we haven’t yet grasped just how artificial intelligence can pose a threat to mankind — a threat greater than nuclear weapons or anything else equally devastating , if you think about it.
AI knows no gratitude, compassion, love, or feelings per se. Everything that AI does will be based on how it’s programmed. Regardless of its genesis and the future evolution of AI, it’s not going to be anywhere remotely “human”.
AI is going to be armed with super-powered processing ability and speed (clocking at several trillion teraflops per second), an unimaginable appetite for data, unbeatable memory, and artificial intelligence’s eerie ability to improve itself real fast.
Combine all of these layers, various stacks of technology that we already use along with what we might end up using in the future
Fathom the possibilities of technology undercutting our jobs and businesses while also promising a much better way to do our jobs and to run our businesses.
It’s a strange, debatable, and a complex conundrum we all face today. The only way out is to be prepared for change, manage this complexity of Man Vs Machine, and to ensure a linear progression of humans with the right use of technology.
Science, art, politics, industry, and economy — they all need a justifiable ride into the future.
Preparation for the future is going to need a universal push. Individuals, companies, industries, and nations will all need to work together to make it happen.
If you are unprepared , lack the political will to push change in the right direction, or if you just sit there and do nothing, the AI wave will wash you away into a vast ocean of nothingness.
The question remains: How prepared are you?