The Future – How Soon is Now?

I spend a lot of my time reading up on the latest technological developments and trying to envision what the world will like in the future. Several years ago, I was having a discussion with a gentleman, who I have the utmost respect for, about the limitations of the electromagnetic spectrum and how he thought we would never be able to achieve bandwidths for mobile devices above certain megabits per second. Of course, we have now been able to outdo my learned colleague’s estimations, by far.

A few years later, I had a similar conversation with the same gentleman, who was convinced that we would never have flying cars; a promise he had lived with since he was a child and it never came to fruition. Ironically, a week after our heated debate regarding the subject, Dubai announced that it would roll them out (and they would be self-flying!)  following other global cities who would do the same.

Now, LA joins Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai as cities announced to be working with Uber to pilot its aerial taxi service by 2020. Uber’s Head of Product, Jeff Holden, recently said that Uber has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create a brand-new air traffic control system to manage these low-flying, possibly autonomous, aircraft.

But, flying cars are just one of many new developments that seem to evolve on a daily basis. ‘Beams of Invisibility’ can hide objects using light, Smartphone technology allows you to see around corners, stretchy artificial ‘skin’ gives robots a sense of touch, spray-on touch screens turn any flat surface into a touch pad, 3D Printers can create glass figurines, and Exosuit fabric boosts mobility in people with disabilities. Think that’s a lot? These are only a few examples from a single website: Livescience.

So, while I respect my friend, I wonder when he and others will stop using the past to predict the future.

One thing I’ve learned as a computer scientist is that the future is only limited by what we can imagine. Kurzweil, father of the “Singularity,” has done a good job of explaining that as humans look back over time, things appear to be linear developments, because we can only understand and live in a liner world that changes at steady and predictable rates.

We are almost incapable of embracing a world that changes faster than our expectations. Unlike a game of chess, we don’t have the mental capacity and energy to be able to think three or four exponential growth steps ahead. But digesting this concept is far more important than thinking ahead in a game of chess. If you want a “winning” life strategy, it’s imperative to conceive and then believe what is happening all around you.  

Never before in human history have things changed as quickly and in such a broad and all-encompassing manner. We must do the difficult. We must embrace the exponential. We are crossing new frontiers of human civilization integration, automation, augmentation and documentation,

Want to know how open you are to the concept of radical change? Do a little self-test. Do you believe it’s possible that:

1- Money will be obsolete. There will be no physical representation of value. Everything’s value will be built into its digital representation and goods and services will move around based on a shared economy style bartering system

2- Oil will go the way of the dodo

3- No one will physically ‘go to’ work.

4- The average human will have at least 3 or 4 robotic/AI augmentations surgically implanted.

5- Cancer and other 20th century diseased will be footnotes in the melodically encyclopedia If any of the above seems like science fiction, I suggest you think about how many other current miracles of modern existence took your breath away. If you simply look around, you’ll see the future is now. And it will be markedly different a month from now. If we can embrace an ever-morphing reality, with child-like wonder, we’ll live each day being fascinated by the world we’re living in.

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