We are seeing a “possibility explosion” from exponential science and technology developments. Not only that, we are seeing the potential of the combinational impact of technologies that are being developed in tandem, e.g. artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
What we know about these technologies is that they will drive dramatic and rapid change; in society, across industries, business, leisure, government, healthcare, and education.
The boundaries between magic and science are blurring.
There are some radical developments taking place, many of which we will see come to fruition during our working lives including mapping and uploading the human brain, and cognitive, genetic, physical and electronic enhancement of the human body. These radical developments – particularly when put together with AI – could create challenging ethical dilemmas should machines gain self-awareness and even emotional intelligence.
We don’t have to look very far into the past to see the transformative impact of combinational technology development. Although the pace of change is accelerating, transformation in ICT has been ongoing for some years, so we have an evolutionary model we can look to. Think of the computer; from room-sized machines in air conditioned rooms, to the desktop, the laptop, and the tablet.
Now consider the parallel development of the telephone, from the desktop to the “luggable” mobile, mobile with apps, and the smartphone. Just think for a second how transformative smartphones alone have been, how they have become part of the fabric of our daily life, and how we take for granted the ability to access information, communicate and be entertained on the move.
The following examples demonstrate the exponential possibilities that are on the horizon in the aftermath of the most recent technological bursts of progress.
- Brain–computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device. A BCI is often directed at researching, mapping, assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions, but their application could also extend to “mind control” of objects and devices.
- Wearables and Implants or near body devices are coming into play. Many are currently being used for health and sports performance monitoring but increasingly we see wearable technology for other uses; Google’s Glasses and the Apple watch being just two examples. Soon, we will see device recharge technology built into his clothing fabrics, conductive fibres woven into fabric that provide processing capacity for wearable devices, and GPS tracking devices fitted into shoes.
We are already used to some implants: heart pace-makers, cochlear implants, and ocular implants for example. But a new range of implants will help to enhance other body functions into the future including memory for our electronic devices. Some of these technologies are being patented now.