The Future of Tech Is Nowhere Near as Far as You Think?

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A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog called The Future of Tech Is Nowhere Near as Far as You Think.

I love this blog — it’s a gold mine for the latest technology news and predictions.

Check out the post on what’s next in IoT:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be huge. According to Gartner, by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices — or “things” — on the Internet. That’s a 30-fold increase in just 10 years. And this growth will have massive implications for the future of business, industry, and society as a whole.

Most people think the future of tech is far away: true, in one sense. But in another sense, it’s already here. To see this, you need to look at the broad sweep of history, not just current events.

The future of tech is closer than we think. In fact, most predictions about the future are wrong because they miss trends that have already started and are right under our noses.

For example, what if I told you that within 12 months a company would develop a pill to help you lose weight? It would be a miracle pill that could cause fat to burn off your body every time you ate food (without any effort on your part).

Would you believe me? I doubt it.

But what if I told you that a few years ago scientists discovered an enzyme that literally turns food into energy instead of fat? And then, after studying the enzyme for two years, they found out how to make a pill out of it?

Would you believe me then? Probably not – because the idea sounds so ridiculous on its face. Fat burner pills are scams! No one has ever developed a magic pill like that before! You’d be skeptical – and rightfully so.

But here’s the thing: The company Exenatide developed

I love to read blog posts about future tech predictions. I’ve read dozens of them over the years. The most recent one I read was a prediction that “nanotechnology will be used to heal our organs from inside our bodies” by 2030.

That’s pretty cool.

But you know what’s even cooler?

We already have nanotech that can heal our organs from inside our bodies. It’s called chemotherapy for cancer. And it’s been around for decades.

This is a classic example of the problem with talking about the future: we often see it as further away than it actually is. It makes sense – we want to talk about things that are amazing and life-changing, not just slightly better versions of what we already have.

But when you’re reading these predictions, keep in mind that this stuff is already here. In fact, most of the coolest stuff you’ll read about on blogs was invented decades ago, but just hasn’t advanced far enough to be useful to us yet (ie: self-driving cars).

I’m a big proponent of the idea that technology doesn’t change as quickly as we think it does. But when I look at the technology I use in my daily life, I sometimes wonder if I’m wrong.

The other day my wife and I were watching The Matrix on Netflix. It’s a movie I’ve seen a dozen times, and it still holds up. It’s also very much a movie of its time. The idea that once you’re plugged into the Matrix you can learn kung fu in seconds is not something anyone would propose today, unless it was an April Fool’s joke, like Google’s Gmail Paper service on April 1, 2007. When it comes to technology, though, The Matrix is all about “the future.” And while it doesn’t seem like we have flying cars or robots yet, when I look around me I see some things that the film predicted pretty accurately:

* We have giant flat-screen TVs that take up most of our wall space.

* We can access virtually every piece of music ever recorded with a device smaller than a deck of cards.

* We can order anything we want from Amazon and have it delivered in 24 hours or less (if we’re willing to pay for same-day delivery).

If you want to know what the future of technology will be, look at what people are doing with it now. This is the approach I take in my new book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

I’ve been writing about technology for many years and have a habit of asking people I meet – CEOs, business leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, hackers – how they’re using tech. I’m often surprised by their answers. For example:

A CEO who’s using virtual reality to help her employees understand how customers experience her company’s products and services

A 15-year-old app developer who’s using social media to create an alternative reality game that’s become a hit with millions of players

A digital artist who’s turning 3D printing into a new kind of art form

A lawyer who’s using Twitter bots to automate parts of his job

It is also common for people to tell me about things they’re experimenting with or considering – ideas that aren’t yet part of their daily routine but could be in the near future. Here are a few examples:

A startup founder who wants to use bitcoin-like digital currency to keep track of time spent on projects (instead of invoices)

An entrepreneur

It’s easy to forget that a world that seemed like science fiction even 20 years ago is now ubiquitous. Consider the following:

1) In 1999, you could buy a computer with less than 1GB of RAM for $500

2) In 1999, you could buy a computer with 8MB of RAM for $300

3) In 1999, you could buy an iPod for $399. It had 5GB of storage.

4) In 1999, you could buy a cell phone for $200. It had 0GB of storage and could not connect to the Internet.

5) In 1999, you could buy an MP3 player for $150. It had 32MB of storage and required custom software to download music from your PC

6) In 1999, you could buy a 128MB USB thumb drive for $250 (or 1GB for $900).

7) In 1999, the average American adult spent over 6 hours per day watching TV but less than 1 hour per day on the Internet (broadband wasn’t available yet).

8) In 1999, the average American home was connected to the Internet by dial-up at 56Kbps. The fastest consumer broadband in the US was 512Kbps and cost over $100/month. The

We are not going to be “living in the future” any time soon.

The future is too far away.

Think about it: I was born in 1989. It’s 2016 now. That’s 27 years. If we were living in the future, a significant chunk of our lives would have been lived in the future. But we haven’t lived a significant chunk of our lives in the future, have we? Most of us have lived our entire lives in the past.

Now, there may be people reading this who were born after 1989, and who are therefore literally living their lives at least partially in the future. But those people will, by definition, grow up to be adults who can recall having lived a significant portion of their lives in the past.

So no one is living their entire life in the future. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all spend some time there! Let’s say that if you manage to spend 5% or more of your life “in the future,” then you’ll get to feel what it’s like to live your life “in the future.”

Here’s how long it takes to spend 5% of your life “in the future”: