THERE IS no doubt that technological advances are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Such advancements have the potential to create a world we can barely begin to imagine. It is possible that tomorrow’s world will be completely unrecognisable from that of today’s.
Wearable technology such as the Fitbit are common place. GPS technology can track our every move and help us to get where we need to be. Technology has reached a tipping point; robotics to artificial intelligence, biomedicine, 3D printing and other practices have allowed us to cross thresholds and cause significant change. All of which wouldn’t be possible without the acceleration of enabling technologies such as data storage and computing power. Although most of us are unaware of it, it is predicted that we will experience not 100, but 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century if we continue at today’s rate.
In the final quarter of Apple’s 2015 fiscal year, they sold 48.05 million iPhones and 9.88 million iPads. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous, which we seem to accept as innate.
But if we look at the bigger picture, technological advancements have been exponentially increasing over the past few decades, rather than in a linear fashion like in previous years. Many things that society now takes for granted were futuristic nonsense to our parents and grandparents.
Supercomputing performance is an indicator of incredible advancements across computing, and indicates that there’s more to come.
By 2020, supercomputers are likely to be 30 times as powerful as they are today, and the amount of data worldwide is predicted to reach 44 zettabytes (1 zettabyte= 1 sextillion bytes). As robotic capabilities progress, and costs fall, purchases of robots are set to rocket. Robots can be used in the fields of childcare, farming, cleaning and exoskeletons, just to name a few.
But could you imagine owning a robot just 20 years from now?
George Church, a geneticist at Harvard University said “The promise for the future is a world where robots are as common as cars or phones, a world where everybody can have a robot.” Billions of dollars are fed into the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) from companies such as Google and Facebook.
We may be far from it, but the ultimate AI would be a man-made machine with all the qualities of a human: the ability to reason, think, learn and formulate original ideas. It could be that robots will gradually make their way into our daily lives, as opposed to scientific and industrial use only.
It seems that we should prepare for this new world – however, predicting the future can be difficult, impossible even, and not everyone is convinced that technological change will hit humanity quite so fast. Unrealistic expectations may bring disappointment, but only time will tell.