The evolution of technology to 2040

The role of digital technology has become absolute in today’s society; organisations, no matter which industry they’re in, need to have an understanding of technology within their business and how it will be utilised to ensure the business grows and stays relevant to the consumer. But which technology to focus on can be completely daunting.

The fact is that digital technology is growing at such a substantial rate, it’s difficult to visualise it over the next 5, 10 or 20 years. Until now that is. The technology strategist Michell Zappa (who heads up the tech strategists Envisioning Technology) has created a visualisation of the next 28 years in technology.

The areas focused on in the work include the Internet, Robotics, Energy, Space and Artificial Intelligence. You can view the image in full by clicking here or on the image below:

If it all looks a little bit daunting, each section on the image links through to a relevant entry on Wikipedia where you can find out more, and some of the best highlights are below:

2017: Smart Toys

By 2017, the area of robotics is expected to move into Smart Toys. Think of these as toys/objects with personalities, that are able to learn through the capabilities of on-board electronics within the object. Smart Toys function by learning algorithms, which means they get smarter the more they are used: an innate feature of the toys.

2019: Virtual Currencies

Given all the hype around virtual currencies, you would expect this to feature in the current state of play for technology, but this doesn’t appear in the graphic until 2019. This could suggest that the technology of virtual currencies is ahead of consumer patterns.

While the technology for virtual currencies exists and is certainly being used to some extent, there is no doubt that it’s in an extremely early form. The virtual currency that we know now may end up being very different from the virtual currency that exists five years from now.

2030: Reputation Economy

This was a concept explored in the novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, where ‘Whuffie’ was the currency making up reputations, which we also understand as social currency. It is the idea that everyone’s reputation will be entirely public and visible to anyone.

The implication of Zappa’s prediction is that by 2030, reputation will be the currency in which we trade. This has huge implications for how we consider the private and public, or more accurately, the personal and professional. While we are interacting online from a personal perspective, this nearly always has implications for the professional self.

Whether it’s having your social profiles subjected to a screening process during a job interview, implications for your current employer or a client’s likelihood to hire you, online reputation is already fast becoming a key social currency. And by 2030, this could have reached a new level, which will require a fundamental shift in society for it to function.

2030: Neuroinformatics

Neuroinformatics is primarily concerned with the analysis of large amounts of data: something that is currently going through exponential growth, considering the amount of information we are currently sharing and distributing through social networks. Neuroinformatics extends this application beyond the societal and into the scientific, where neuroscience will influence information technologies. It is an emerging field that manages the data that’s being shared to help understand the brain and diseases such as dementia.

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