Back to the future
We recently had ‘Back to the Future Day’ or BTTF day – 21st October 2015 – which caused a lot of excitement in the twittersphere and news feeds at the time. Analysis of the Marty McFly/Doc Brown future as predicted back in 1989 (although the film was set in 1985) and the real thing are quite interesting.
A sample of recent news stories shows us very clearly that the future is already here. Nostalgia for simpler, quieter times can’t undo what’s already been done, nor it seems, can it halt the rise of the machines.
Remote control planes have become a key part of the modern army’s arsenal and they are moving into personal and commercial environments. Whether it is delivery of weapons or books (Amazon), spying on neighbours or military targets why not keep your expensive wetware (that’s us) away from inconvenience and danger?
Almost weekly there is some new story about loss of Customer data, exploitation of electronic banking, and mischievous computer hacking. Cyber security is the fastest rising sector in IT, even BAE (British Aerospace) is moving from hardware to software through its Applied Intelligence business.
It feels like we are on the cusp of something big, with more and more electric and hybrid cars on the roads and Google testing driverless vehicles on Californian highways…but no portable fusion engines yet!
Robots are now beginning to encroach on professional and traditional middle-class jobs such as teaching, medicine & law…not undone by the mechanization and automation of previous revolutions, but by the ability to process information & simplify complex decision-making. Also, mirroring society in general we are becoming more willing to interact with non-humans, including Japanese robot nurses and on-line learning, especially if the trade-off is cost, consistency and convenience.
There is less loom-breaking militancy than a head-shaking acceptance.
(By the way, while we are talking about BTTF, the ‘must have’ Christmas present in 2015 – who says so –Hoverboards are vertically-challenged Segways, not hover-boards!)
Predicting the future can be a mug’s game (even for me) but that doesn’t stop otherwise sensible scientists, commentators & politicians looking ahead, possibly based on nothing more than some hunches and analysis of trends, that is, extrapolating from the known into the unknown using current data. When does that ever work outside the lab!
Futurists – yes there are such people – are more structured and disciplined in their chosen fields, be it economics, technology, geopolitics or preparing organizations for change.
Last but not least Science fiction writers & filmmakers, although ostensibly producing an entertainment, can provide an oracle and a creative perspective on what could happen, particularly visions of a utopian or dystopian futures encourage thought and dialogue. Also, in terms of techie wish-fulfillment famously, a lot of Star Trek gadgets and technologies have turned into reality. Was that good science, dumb luck, or a more subtle cause-and-effect, in the sense that imagining something can help make it happen?
Putting the experts aside, we are all amateur seers, trying to predict the future; we all make plans, develop strategies, or try to forecast what we, our family, Customers, colleagues (project teams), and competitors could and should be doing in the future – we hope.
More importantly we are all time-travelers, we can both predict and influence the future by doing what we do, and that includes nurturing & educating our children, and sending messages into the future by writing, creating & inventing.
Boiling the frog
Why bother? Surely the future will happen anyway, one day at a time, irrespective of our ability to stop or control it? True, the big technology & social shifts, so-called ‘mega changes’, will happen, but we as individuals can influence the smaller incremental changes that affect our lives. Like the metaphorical frog – or more accurately an ostrich with its head in the sand – an unwillingness or inability to look ahead, make plans, and if necessary react to threats and altered circumstances could be disastrous.
(*Postscript: apparently biologists have discounted the C19th scientists and claim that the frog will actually jump out when the water gets too hot)
Ignoring all the above, I will now predict the coming year and the future:
(1) Change will happen
(2) There will be lots of new technology; phones will get smarter (although Users may get proportionately dumber)
(3) There will be more homeworkers and digital nomads but people will continue to live, breathe, meet and work in the real world as well
(4) There will be more eMoney and more cyber crime and social media will start getting more antisocial (‘Dislike’)
(5) Edutainment consoles, computing devices and mobile platforms will continue to merge. More of it will be in the cloud (heck, what do I know!)
(6) There will be some weather, and it will be changeable – see (1)
(7) There will be intelligent machines, interstellar travel, space colonisation, teleportation and hoverboards, probably
(8) I will continue to write and blog; you think I can stop now that I’ve started!
(9) The IT Elementary School will be introducing lots of new features, and with your help the community will flourish.
(Ed. none of the above are true or an accurate reflection of things that haven’t happened yet!)
(10) Beware judgment day in 2017, Arnie may not be around to save the day again!
On that happy note, all that’s left is for me to wish you a peaceful holiday season and a fabulous 2016!
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.