We live in exciting times. The rate of technological progress has always accelerated, but only very recently, in the 21st century, have the advances become tangible within a single generation. The computer and the Internet have transformed the world and now we’re on the doorstep of multiple concurrent interwoven revolutions. Artificial intelligence finally emerged out of its AI winter. The game of Go was finally conquered by a program.
These feats were aided by massive development in hardware, which led to brute computing power as a foundation to software improvements. The Internet of Things is gathering a lot of momentum with many companies coming out with platforms and products that try to integrate and weave the physical and virtual worlds. Speaking of virtual worlds, virtual reality is finally a reality (see what I did there?), with Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift and subsequent big plans for the technology. Similar to AI, virtual reality was a pipe dream for a long time. Twenty-five years ago, when I studied computer science, VRML was the buzzword. It never took off because the hardware was unable to support the technology economically. With today’s much more powerful and cheaper hardware it has become possible.
The robots are getting better and better too. The Boston Dynamics video?of its latest robot that was recently circulated makes one feel empathetic towards a robot that is being harassed by a person pushing it around. Transportation is also on the cusp of a huge change with electric and self-driving cars already here. Don’t forget the Hyperloop. Diverse clean energy solutions are getting better, slowly but surely. This is always complicated to reason about with powerful oil interests stirring the pot, but the trend is clear. Biotechnology is getting a lot of attention and produces miracles on a daily basis. I will not try to make specific predictions, but I believe that in 5 to 10 years all these areas will become mainstream and possibly dominate all incumbents. The social changes will be fascinating to watch as well. Don’t blink!