These days, when you look at people’s impressions of the future, whether in movies or in books, the common theme is a dystopia or a post-apocalyptic world. It’s either a future where oppression is the norm, or a future where humans do not exist or are a marginalized species. Personally, a future without the very competitive cyber security system is a future I want no part of. However, unlike most people, I am an optimist and as such am opposed to taking a bleak view of the future. We are at a stage in human evolution where we have moved beyond the physical sphere to the virtual sphere. This virtual sphere is also known as the world of technology. Technology has made so much possible and is advancing so exponentially that the possibilities are almost limitless. In a world of dystopian novels and end-of-the-world movies, here are 5 pieces of tech that will shape our future.
1. Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality or AR as its commonly known, is present in many facets of our lives. Whether it was the success of Pokemon Go or its application in Snapchat, AR is everywhere. Augmented reality is an amalgamation of the physical and virtual worlds. While most of its application seen so far has been in game development, the possibilities are on a larger scale. AR is considered more useful than VR because it adds virtual layers of information to our world. It can be used to train surgeons, airplane technicians and engineers. It can be used to create interactive systems that respond to real world stimuli. At the risk of repeating myself, the possibilities are endless.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence or AI was once considered the turf of science-fiction novels and movies. However, as computing power has grown exponentially over the years, it has given us the ability to start creating AI. Artificial Intelligence has almost unlimited applications. At its core, an AI is a completely autonomous computer that can process impossibly large amounts of data. And not only does it process the data, it learns from it in real time. Stephen Hawking famously warned of an AI so powerful that it can end up eliminating the human race. These Terminator style AI do not exist right now and maybe never will. But there are experts working on areas that stop the AI from learning how to place itself outside human control. Practical applications have shown that AI can learn quickly from data, as evidenced in tests in some popular games. An AI defeated a human Grand Master at the board game Go. Another AI defeated one of the top human players of the popular strategy game Dota 2. While this may seem sinister, it simply signifies that AI can, in fact, learn to do human tasks quickly and autonomously.
Blockchain shot into the limelight with the cryptocurrency bubble in 2017. While cryptocurrency has since experienced a deflation, the applications of bockchain remain. Blockchain’s most prominent prospect is its ability to provide a completely secure digital transaction. Many more applications are becoming fast apparent in developing countries in Africa and Eastern Europe. Development teams are working closely with government regulatory bodies to explore new applications of blockchain to tackle specific issues. The inclusion of government personnel is to ensure that the applications are ethical and objective based. For example, following the recent disaster in Puerto Rico that left the entire infrastructure upended, blockchain is moving in. Experts aim to create what they call a crypto society. A society in which all financial transactions are secure and safe from natural or manmade disasters, through blockchain.
4. Voice Assistants
We have come a long way from when Siri, Cortana and OK Google were novelties. The applications of voice assistants in our daily lives can be seen at a glance. Amazon’s Alexa is a perfect example of the use of voice assistants. It is voice activated and can do a plethora of tasks from ordering you pizza to calling emergency services. It can even set timers on and control lights and heating in your home. Alexa is a breakthrough step, showing that voice assistants have many more applications in real life than were originally thought.
5. The Internet of Things
The idea of Internet of Things has been around for a while but only gained serious traction in 2019. This is when smart home devices and appliances began appearing, with the ability to connect to mobile devices. Of course, the use of technical support services is not limited to regulating your house’s heating or switching lights on and off. The ultimate idea is to integrate the internet into all aspects of our daily lives seamlessly. The idea of the “smart” home is one where each device is connected to the internet and interacts in real-time to your specific instructions. Effectively, all the mundane tasks of your daily routine will be accomplished digitally. This tech is still in its infancy but the applications appear endless.