You will be a different person by the time you reach the end of this article

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 15th, 2014

Whatever happened to that young child you were not so many years ago?

As a baby, life was all about eating, sleeping, and dry diapers. Even though you are learning new things quickly, not much else really mattered.

By the time you enter grade school, you have learned to walk, talk, feed yourself, and have fun with your friends. Mom and dad were very important and playtime is a central part of every day.

Entering high school you’ve grown much taller, in most cases, doubling your height from when you were two. Your eyes and facial features have many similarities and look familiar, but you are now very different. You are fascinated by music, television, and any time you spot a passing smile by someone of the opposite sex, it become heart-stoppingly important.

Relationships matter. Every new day has you seeking a different set of experiences. You take pride in whatever you were good at, and become enamored with things you enjoy.

Every personal relationship brings with it a different set of involvements. Your first kiss sets the stage for your second, and your first intimate moments become cemented into the very fabric of your being.

As you enter your 30s and 40s, your skillsets change dramatically. With age comes perspective, big problems become little ones, and over time, even the little ones faded away. In so many ways, you can now see the bigger picture.

In your 60s and 70s you begin to feel time is running out. One moment of urgency gets replaced by the next, but urgency also comes with a new outlook. Your greatest memories become like gardens of eternal beauty, a place where you graciously linger whenever they show up.

It is in this progression that we begin to realize that the future has changed us every step of the way. Even though there are continuations to our personality and genetic structure, we are constantly changing. One cell gets replaced by another until we bear little resemblance to that person we were so many years ago.

And yes, you are now a different person than you were, even a few seconds ago when you first started reading this column. So why does this matter? 

Here are 18 reason why the person you were still matters, and another 18 reasons why it doesn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disrupting Healthcare – When Devices Replace Medicine

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 9th, 2014

Doctors today are constantly selling.

No, it didn’t start out that way, but a system has evolved that richly rewards members of the physician’s food chain if sales continue.

These sales include the selling of tests, pills, therapy, referrals, or simply selling the patient on their competency as a doctor.

Over the coming years, much of the selling will be replaced by data. Expert opinions get replaced by hard cold facts. Yes, this will unfold over time and the transition period will involve a multitude of probabilistic approaches that will eventually lead to a more factual-based decision-making process.

While many in the medical profession view this as taking away much of the doctor’s power and authority, it may be just the opposite. Big data is not the doctor’s enemy, but rather a hugely valuable important tool, perhaps the most important of all time.

Consider the following scenario.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, patients walking into the doctor’s office will first receive a full-body scan, creating a complete data model built around several thousand data points. Any area that gives even the slightest hint of troublesome activity will warrant closer inspection.

For any number of conditions, rather than prescribing medicine as a treatment, doctors will prescribe a device. Devices will have a wide range of purposes ranging from ingestible cams and monitors, to wearable super data-collectors, to body function amplifiers, to pulse correctors, to early warning indicators.

During the transition period it will be a combination of drugs and devices, but eventually most medicinal treatments will be replaced with devices designed around coaxing the body into repairing itself. 

Over time, doctors will transition from being the experts on human biology and medicine to being the experts on biological data and biological devices.

Here’s why understanding this transition period is so important. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Computing’s Next Big Transformation – Semantic Intelligence

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 3rd, 2014

I had great difficulty completing this column. This is partly due to the complex nature of the technology and partly because its implications may indeed be so far reaching that I’ll sound over-reaching in describing it.

Several companies may find what I’m describing to be rather disturbing. It’ll be disturbing because this technology is on the verge of undermining most, if not all, of their product development plans.

For two nights this week I was immersed in understanding the foundational shifts about to occur inside the software development industry, and this work is all taking place inside a tiny company called Mindaptiv located in Innovation Pavilion in the Denver Tech Center, a hub of startup activity in Colorado.

With a core team of true believers on staff that filled the presentation room, the company’s CEO, Ken Granville, and chief technology visionary, Jake Kolb, took our team from the DaVinci Institute through a series of demonstrations and discussions to grasp the potential of what they are on the verge of unleashing.

Working from inside his secluded geek lab in Boston, Jake started this journey in 2011 by asking the basic question, “What if software didn’t have to be written?” 

As most developers know, scripting a thousand lines of new code can be a very painful process. So what if a computer could simply recognize objects and you could just tell this JARVIS-like machine what you wanted it to do with them?

Over the past three years, that’s exactly what Jake and Ken have been building, a kind of “Ironman Room” of spatially capable objects that can be directed both verbally and through gestures with symphony-like precision. Even though they’re only partially there, it’s the kind of technology that would make Tony Stark proud.

Rest assured, I only know a few of the tricks this duo has up their sleeves, but we’re all about to become part of something much bigger than some new gadget we can all carry around in our pockets. No, this one is a game changer on steroids, and here’s why. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Should Robots Have Their Own Bank Accounts?

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 22nd, 2014

Typical house-bot shopping on a budget

The year is 2027 and Winston, a newly born house-bot charged with doing a number of domestic chores including cleaning, meal prep, laundry, and building maintenance, has been programmed to not only perform the work, but also restock supplies once they reach a certain level.

Owners have wide latitude in the amount of autonomy they can grant their bots when it comes to decision-making, and spending authority is always the one given most attention. Much like a young child making decisions on their own for the first time, owners are typically reticent to grant too much authority until all of the systems are proven to be reliable.

The recent news story about a similar bot in Portugal, that glitched-out in an endless loop and ordered over $20,000 in cleaning supplies in less than a minute, was still fresh in everybody’s mind.

Yes, safeguards were quickly put into place to prevent anything like the Portugal incident from ever happening again, but the hangover effect of bad news has a way of lingering for a while in the background.

Typically, after the first 200-300 text messages from a bot, seeking spending approval on everything from $3.45 toothpaste to $12.93 laundry detergent, the owners typically relinquish their item-by-item purchase scrutiny in favor of the peace of mind that comes from being less bothered. 

But on this occasion, the store that the bot normally buys from has discontinued the brand of pasta it was requesting. When this happens, after searching for other likely suppliers that happen to be too far away, the bot sends over a list of possible replacement options, along with product ads and marketing descriptions.

Since most domestic products like this come with a list of personal preference attributes like smell, taste, and texture, it’s not possible for a bot to make a personal preference decision based on what the owner truly likes. Ideally samples are sent for owners to conduct a personal experience test, but pasta is not an item easily sampled. So this one required an additional text message.

As a way of safeguarding decisions like these, most owners have chosen to open separate bank accounts for each of their bots as an additional measure to limit potential losses. Winston, the house-bot has his own account, just like Trimly, the yard bot, and Sped, the deliver drone.

Here’s why most homeowners will opt for this approach in the future and why today’s banks are ill-prepared for this kind of activity.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Seven Reasons Why the Value of Human Life is Increasing Exponentially

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 14th, 2014

What’s the value of a human life?

For some of you this is a very disconcerting question because it attempts to put a dollar value on a person, something we value in far different ways.

But that is exactly what governments and businesses find themselves doing on a daily basis. Every time an insurance company calculates their premiums, militaries plan their budget, or juries calculate an award in a product liability case, the value of human life is a central part of their decisions.

In fact, the value of people is a subconscious calculation that we all make on a daily basis. Each of the following statements will indicate a value judgment happening in the back of our mind:

  • If I take this training my salary will go up.
  • When the mayor died, his estate was worth millions.
  • As a single mother raising 7 children, she left a tremendous legacy.

Much like adding an adjustment for inflation, cost of living increase, or adding a premium for brand name anything, we are constantly readjusting our sense of life’s value in our mind.

To some, the difference in value between a homeless person in Indonesia and the President of the United States may be well over $1 trillion. To others, they should be considered equal.

Seven global shifts are currently underway causing the underlying value of human life to move up the exponential growth curve, and along with it, a massive reassessment of corporate decision-making is about to begin. 

Here is why this will become such a huge factor over the coming years.

Read the rest of this entry »

192 Future Uses for Flying Drones

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 2nd, 2014

The thought occurred to me that mounting a video projector to a flying drone could give it unusual capabilities. 

My first idea was to use it for special effects at a concert or major indoor event. But a device like this could also be used for spot advertising – creating momentary images on the sidewalk or parking lot; subliminal advertising – suggesting a variety of products or services inside graphic images; emergency rescue – displaying a series of arrows to help someone lost in a forest; or image masking – to disguise someone’s body and facial features to prevent them from being monitored. 

This line of thinking started me down several dozen new paths almost instantly.

Drones can be low flying, high flying, tiny or huge, silent or noisy, super-visible or totally invisible, your best friend or your worst enemy.

We can add lights, sound, cameras, microphones, sensors, robotic arms, wave cancellation technology, or wave enhancement technology.

Simply adding a robotic display will enable us to fly in and have a private video conversation with someone on the other side of the world.

Flying drones can also roll along the ground, stick to the side of a building, float in a river, dive under water, jump onto a building, climb a tree, or attach themselves like parasites to the sides of trains, ships, and airplanes.

One moment they can be hovering in front of you and the next they can fly off at the speed of sound, disappearing into the clouds.

Combining all these capabilities, attributes, and special features into one single device will open up a world of possibilities unlike anything before in all history.

Join me as we step into the magical world ahead being unleashed with this amazing new technology – flying drones.

Read the rest of this entry »

Establishing the Central Bank of Bitcoin

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on August 17th, 2014

The year is 2024. It seemed like a piece of nostalgia to open a new bank account and get a free toaster, but this wasn’t any ordinary toaster, and it certainly wasn’t any ordinary bank. The new Internet of Things Toaster was one of the coolest gadgets of all times, and the Global Bank of Bitcoin was a charter member of Bitcoin’s new Central Bank based in Luxembourg.

Having launched as a Kickstarter project in 2022, raising millions in the process, this kitchen appliance elevated “toast” to the level of a new communal food with a designer flair. Old-fashioned bread could have 3D-printed toasted-inlays ranging from jams and spreads, to vitamins and dietary additives, to sweeteners and energy laces.

But what people found most magical was its ability to have animated hi-res images print-toasted onto the surface and brought to life through the use of edible electro-jellies. This next-gen food-tech had given rise to a myriad of party games, where “players” told stories about the animated scenes and “toasted” the other participants by eating the face of their favorite protagonist, one bite at a time, until both the story and the food were totally consumed.

For this new crypto-bank, it was the perfect crypto-gadget to draw attention to their crypto-currency. Similar to traditional banks, accountholders could apply for home mortgages, car loans, and establish retirement accounts. But unlike today’s highly monitored, highly regulated banking world, the Central Bank of Bitcoin’s charter was to be more of an anti-central bank, serving as a pass-through shell without taking ownership of the currency, but rigorously guarding the anonymity of the accounts and transactions, as well as the integrity of the networks, at the same time, adding a systems layer to promote wider scale adoption.

Even the super-libertarian backers of cryptocurrencies had begun to realize the limitations of operating without a support structure, and in its absence a myriad of proprietary technologies, destructive thinking, and bad actors had begun rearing their ugly heads.

While the original purpose of Bitcoin was to build a counterculture currency and transaction network free from the intrusion and prying eyes of big government, its role has begun to evolve into more of a checks-and-balance system to offset abuses by the worlds existing banking system.

Here’s why creating a Central Bank for Bitcoin may be the next logical step. 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Future Library – A Liquid Network for Ideas

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on August 12th, 2014

At a recent conference on the “Future of Libraries” put together by the American Library Association at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, I proposed a rather unusual mission for libraries, that of becoming “liquid networks” for our ideas.

Unlike our not-so-distant-past, the world’s most important information is no longer solely in books.

Whenever a great idea forms in our head, we look for a place to put it. Is it something useful, that we can turn into a product, add to a document, tell to our friends, include in a presentation, or attach with magnets to the front of our refrigerator? 

Ideas, much like parasites, need a host. If we don’t manage to gaff them before we slip into our next stream of consciousness, they will be forever lost. Without a host, these squirming little idea-fish will have a very limited shelf life.

If we manage to cluster enough of them together, they have a bit more staying power, but they still need to somehow reach critical mass before they become noteworthy. 

In the past we had very few options. We could jot them down in a notebook, mention them to friends, or make a few drawings or sketches. But even then, most ideas died of isolation. We had very few “places” to appropriately store these pockets of ingenuity. 

Today our options have grown exponentially and good ideas can now go from zero to Facebook entry in 0.9 seconds. They can be fashioned into tweets, infographics, photos, podcasts, PowerPoints, LinkedIn discussions, Quora forums, YouTube videos, submitted to blogs, or turned into interactive charticles.

We literally have thousands of placeholders for our momentary flashes of brilliance. Much like planting seeds into the freshness of damp soil, these memes have the organic potential to spring to life bursting into a colorful bouquet. 

However, even with our very best ways of posting and hosting ideas today, the reality is that most public and private companies tend to have a rather short life expectancy, and some concepts come with a far longer gestation period. That’s where the more stable storehouses of information at public libraries comes into play. 

Read the rest of this entry »

2050 and the Future of Infrastructure

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on August 4th, 2014

Much of the world around us has been formed around key pieces of infrastructure. Most see this as a testament to who we are as a society, and part of the cultural moorings we need to guide us into the future.

In general, infrastructure represents a long-term societal investment that will move us along the path of building a more efficient, better functioning, society. And usually it does … for a while.

But infrastructure comes in many forms and as we build our elaborate networks of pipes, wires, roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, and waterways, we become very focused on the here and now, with little thought as to whether there might be a better way.

Virtually every piece of infrastructure creates jobs, revenues streams, and investment opportunities, as well as new laws, regulations, and industry standards.

The longer a piece of infrastructure is in place, the greater the resistance there is to replacing it. Much like an aging tree, the root system that feeds it becomes enormous. 

That said, the life-cycle of infrastructure is getting shorter, and teams driving the disruptive technologies are getting far more sophisticated.

Infrastructure projects represent huge paydays for someone, and the disruptors are determined to make it their payday.

Here are ten examples of how our core infrastructure are about to change and what this will mean to the nations and businesses at the heart of this revolution.

Read the rest of this entry »

All Information, Ever Created, is Still in Existence

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on July 28th, 2014

The date is July 14, 1986. Herbert Benson wakes up early, goes down to the kitchen and makes himself a peanut butter sandwich. This is a seemingly trivial incident that happened nearly 30 years ago.

How do we know today that this sandwich-making incident actually happened? Is there any kind of time-space record of it?

Making a nighttime sandwich is a seemingly inconsequential act, but what if Mr. Benson later committed some heinous act like killing a young girl, blowing up a bridge, or shooting the President? In these situations, whatever precedes an extremist act becomes critically important.

Was he alone in the house? Was he making sandwiches for more than one person? Did he add poison to the peanut butter? Why were there sandwich fragments at the crime scene? All of these details are critically important, but will this kind of information ever be accessible?

When we look into space we are actually looking back in time. This is because we are looking at old light traveling towards us at 186,000 miles/second.

We already know that if someone is watching us through a large telescope on the moon, they’re seeing events that happened 1.3 seconds earlier because that’s how long it takes light to get from the earth to the moon.

Similarly, if someone builds a giant telescope on Saturn, they will see things that happened 75-85 minutes earlier, depending on the orbits, because that’s how long it takes light to travel from the earth to Saturn.

Using this as a very crude proof, we already know that information does indeed transcend the here and now, but can we ever access it and reassemble it into a useful form? 

From what we know today, it’s not reasonable to think we could send a probe 20 light-years away from the earth just to see what happened 20 years earlier. But there may be other ways to reconstruct these fragments?

If people in the future somehow gain the ability to view past events, how will that change the way we live our lives? What changes would you make if you knew someone from the future might be watching you?

Read the rest of this entry »