Apple TV. Roku. Chromecast. And every other tech player out there trying to build
a better OS for the TV. One of them is going to crack the interface design and
finally link up our online content and big screens in a seamless way. Maybe we’ve
been looking at the problem in the wrong way. Maybe we don’t need a better
Apple TV or a superior Chromecast or a less kludgy dongle. The right solution
isn’t a better linkage between your computer and your screen. It’s a better linkage
between any computer at any time and your screen. If our big screens are to be
as useful as they can be to us, they need to become processor agnostic. Otherwise
our screen agnosticism may give way to a clear preference to the one in our hand
over the one on the wall. Airtame gets this. Airtame is a startup making a wireless
dongle for your laptop that works in any ecosystem. It doesn’t matter where
your media is stored; as long as you have a screen, you can stream. It’s backend
processor agnostic. And we like that.
to Active Wearables
Who you calling passive? Our Fuelbands and Fitbits of the world are actively synching
with our mobile devices, helping us produce better insights about our daily lives. That
seems awfully active, but in reality the wearable itself is a passive device strapped
to our wrists, our face or other areas of our body passively recording our activity.
That’s no longer the only game in town. We’re about to see a movement into active
wearables—wearables that act on our bodies. They’ll send pulses through our system,
act as an extended neural network, train our muscles, or coach our movement.
FUTURE g a z i n g
The story of 3D printing is not about rapid prototyping and on-the-fly product change.
It’s about disintermediating the entire manufacturing model and supply chain. As 3D
printing or autonomous weaving or any of the other closely-related robotic production
techniques become significantly cheaper and better, they enable consumers to make
their own stuff, whatever that stuff may be. What’s the role of a consumer goods
manufacturer in that world? Does that brand become a seller of information, blueprints,
and brand experience—content, in other words? Maybe manufacturing doesn’t make
it into the home for any number of reasons. But does it then become widely distributed
and as local as the mall? If you want a pair of new shoes, you scan your feet and
customize your shoes. Then they get loomed, printed locally, and sent your way (in
a self-driving car, perhaps), thus reversing centuries of industrial centralization and
even some of the effects of globalization.
Folks are worried about data privacy. We wonder what Facebook or Twitter or Google
is going to do with all the information they have on us. The truth is, we’re worried about
the wrong things. Those concerns—even the more nervous-making concerns about the
data from wearable tech or smart homes—are going to seem quaint once we have to
grapple with dirt cheap genetic sequencing. It took years and cost millions to sequence
the first human genome. At the close of last year, it could be done for a grand. That cost
will continue to go down until it’s just pennies. At that point, DNA sequencing is a mass
commodity. Any DNA you leave behind from your hands, your mouth, your hair, even
your exhalations can be sampled to find out who you really are. Our personal blueprint
will become public. When genes are that easy to read, they’ll be just as easy to write.
As genetic and epigenetic medicine evolves, we’ll have to decide where the line between
treatment and eugenics falls. So go ahead an opt in on that app. Save your energy for
the big decisions to come.
Wait, You Mean the
Singularity Really is Near?
All that seems impossible Buck Rogers—absurdly far in the future. That would be
correct were technological advancements proceeding at a nice linear pace. That’s
the speed we all anticipate says Rob Nail of Singularity University, but technology
proceeds at an exponential growth. It may look like a new technology is just creeping
along only to explode overnight. That’s what seems to have happened with 3D printing,
but in fact, the technology is decades old. It’s been plummeting in cost and growing
in sophistication ever since then; it’s just taken this long to get to the cusp of mass
awareness. Now that exponential growth curve will take it to places we can only
imagine. That’s not the only technology at that point right now, Nail asserts. Mobility,
sensors, and artificial intelligence are all at about T-soon on their countdowns, and
when they all converge, we’re in for a hell of a disruption.
Wait, You Mean the Singularity Really is Near? cont.
We’ll be able to age at home longer and more securely given that personal sensor
nets will monitor not just our vitals but also our habits. Paired with sophisticated
computing, they’ll be able to tell something’s wrong long before we know it, thereby
keeping our elders living independently deeper into old age. Healthcare can evolve to
shift the cognitive burden of medicine onto an AI and away from the doctor, who is then
freed up to provide insight, intuition, and relationship.
As IBM’s Watson (client) has already shown, AIs will be able to out-process us, and
if the exponential growth in computing continues (and it shows no signs of slowing),
they’ll be able to do it soon. According to Nail, twenty-five years on, a $1000 laptop
will have the computing power of all the human minds on earth. They won’t replace
us, though, or nanny us into a dystopian, WALL-E future. Nail believes they’ll sit
alongside us; we will be enhanced and empowered by AI. Human plus machine
will always be superior to machine alone. It’s a fantastic version of the future…
and one worth being terrified of.