More computers than human brains, more sensors than eyes

Recently, I was involved in a conversation where we discussed which technologies are the most urgent to develop or reinvent ; working at the intersection of social innovation, studying human behavior and technology, we talked through the given challenges of aging population, environmental degradation, sanitation and climate change. Concurrently, we discussed how technological advancements in artificial intelligence, surveillance capitalism and virtual reality promises to be utterly transformational. We tried to explore different cultural and social differences that are prominent, and it all feels like we are going through the technological equivalent of the Cambrian explosion. Here are some of the highlights and different perspectives, of analogies and anecdotes we discussed and then read more about to have better statistics. Debate and confusion is intended and encouraged.

Inventors and entrepreneurs churn out new ideas, products, and technologies by the minute-but just a handful catch on and even fewer prove truly transformational that disrupts the status quo by changing one or more of the following: the concept of the product, the way it is made, how it sold, who uses it, or how people use it. Each wave of disruption is accompanied by the illusion that technology can liberate us from our problems, small or large; which reminds me of the architect Cedric Price and his provocation, “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” Perhaps, a force that tends to do both, creates problems and generates solutions.

In developed countries, basic services like water, sewage, electricity, roads are seldom taken for granted, but an awful lot of people might be living without them. At the same time due to a lack of investment in sanitation in developing countries, kids get sick and die when there’s, not enough clean water to wash with and there’s no safe disposal of sewage. In India, the bottom 20 percent of the households by income, three times as many have a cell phone than a toilet. The gap continues to widen, the investment in telecommunication has soared, and while those in basic sanitation dwindle. Shocking as that statistics by the United Nations could be, a combination of social, cultural, and economic factors are at play, depriving millions of Indians access to better sanitation. The tragic irony brings to the fore the sanitation challenges in a developing country. Borrowed Western sanitation ideas, power- and resource-intensive as they are, simply cannot be replicated in India, says Sunita Nadhamuni, CEO of Bangalore-based non-profit Arghyam, which works extensively in water and sanitation. Outrageous as that may seem, building toilets and other basic infrastructure appears to be one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of India’s economic advancement.

It’s no surprise that technological change has come to pervade the economies and cultures of the world, or that it alters the rules of the same. As both the cellphone and waterless toilet illustrates, technology has the potential to improve the quality of life of billions of people. When it comes to consumer applications of new technology, however, the most consequential aspect is not what technology can accomplish but how it interacts with demographics and society, creating unexpected patterns and outcomes, sometimes a boon and sometimes a bane.

By 2030 is it projected that technological change will usher in a new reality in which there will be billions of computers, sensors, and robotic arms in factories, hospitals, schools, homes, vehicles, and all types of infrastructure. Moreover, for the first time, there will be more computers than human brains, more sensors than eyes, and more robotic arms than human labor in manufacturing.

The Australian economist and political scientist, Joseph Schumpeter, came up with the most felicitous metaphors of all time-creative destruction…To describe the essence of what we’ve been exploring. He argued that the market economy tends to incorporate new technology and their cascading impacts which then displace older, inefficient ones, are both its corrosive aspect and its strength. The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumer's goods, new methods of products, and transportation. The new markets, the new form of industrial organization that capitalists enterprise creates. The process of industrial mutation incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, destroying the old one, creating a new one. He concluded that “ this process of creative destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”

We are always analyzing current trends to predict the possibilities of the future. At the heart of Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction is the inherent property of capitalism to destroy old ways of production and introduce new ways. These new ways of production need new skills, new learning techniques, and humans that can adapt to an ever-changing world. Creative destruction theory treats economics as an organic and dynamic process. Equilibrium is no longer the end goal of market processes. Instead, many fluctuating dynamics are constantly reshaped or replaced by innovation and competition.

Reference : Mauro F. Guillen, 2030, how today's biggest trends will collide and reshape the future of everything

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