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A person transported from the year 1990 to today would likely find our world bizarre, and hard to reconcile. Technological developments over the past few decades have transformed the way we do business, purchase goods and services, and consume entertainment. Even the way we communicate, and stay in touch with friends, and loved ones is nearly unrecognizable.
How will our world look several decades from now? Will it be as unrecognizable to our present-day selves as today is to that time traveler from 1990? All signs would point to yes. Here are three areas in which technology is evolving, and is poised to dramatically change the way we live.
The Power of Machine Learning
The concept of machine learning may not seem particularly revolutionary at first glance–An algorithm evaluates outcomes in search of the best practices for some task. But the ability of the algorithm to sort massive amounts of data, far beyond human capacity, makes machine learning a game changer. In fact, we’re already seeing machine learning-aided systems make real-world impact.
By all projections, we’re only scratching the surface of the developments in technology machine learning can facilitate. One especially promising field is that of automated, self-driving cars. While pessimists believe that a mature self-driving car algorithm is still a decade or more away, optimists point to machine learning as the key to unlocking self-driving car technology in the next few years.
Automobile makers like Tesla are already using their current model vehicles to gather immense quantities of data about driving conditions that may be able to produce a self-driving algorithm that will grow in quality almost exponentially.
The Proliferation of Mobile Digital Devices
The first digital age can be framed as bringing the world to the internet. The popularization of personal computers, and the rise in popularity of the world wide web opened up a new world for us, both in our private lives and professional. The next digital transformation will bring the internet to the world.
While today most of us have access to the internet through our smartphones, and digital devices, this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to proliferating mobile digital devices with access to the internet. The concept of the smart home envisions a living space in which all major appliances and devices have their own connections to the internet, allowing for remote, digital control, over all facets of the home.
The realm of commerce will be impacted just as strongly, as mobile digital devices are beginning to create a new landscape of logistical control, with inventory, and supply chain management improved tremendously.
More and more, we’re going to live in a world where the things we interact with are interconnected via the internet, affording the ability to digitally interact like never before
Blockchain and Decentralized Systems
This last entry is slightly more speculative than the first two, insofar as the real-world impact of blockchain, and similar systems has been less than the previous two. However, the concept of a decentralized network that nevertheless is able to guarantee security, and accuracy has immense potential to change our world.
The dominant paradigm for any kind of transaction-based system in our entire history has been the same–We require an authority to act as middleman, gatekeeper, and verifier. The only way we can feel at all confident when it comes to transacting with other people, businesses, or related entities is to trust in a centralized authority to guarantee the system is working.
Blockchain creates a new paradigm, in which a pre-programmed algorithm allows the group of members of a network to guarantee transactions collectively. Instead of needing to rely on a central figure, the collective come to a consensus that can’t be destroyed, or tricked by any one malicious actor.
This creates a ‘trustless’ system, in which the members of a system don’t need to rely on the honesty and competence of a single organization or person. Nor do they need to worry about an attack or breach at that centralized organization making all transactions vulnerable.
If nothing else, the increasing scope of cyber attacks on businesses in the past few years testifies toward the need for a better system for dealing with data on a large scale. This is only one of the ways that blockchain, and similar decentralized systems have the potential to transform the digital landscape.