Integrated technology will see functionality designed into the fabric of our lives – literally.

Technological advancement comes with upsides and downsides. While we watch for the first signs that robots are taking jobs, we can’t shake the idea that monotonous tasks being performed by robots could make things more interesting for us. But can we anticipate the extent of the true impact of technology? What about these ideas as conversation starters:

·     Synthetic biology will help us to live longer by allowing us to replace diseased organs. Good thing. But what will that do for the accelerating growth in world population? Will it be sustainable?

·     AI taking on the routine jobs humans find boring and unfulfilling? Good thing. Fewer jobs for some people. Not so great.

·     When Ernest Rutherford split the atom, he didn’t have Hiroshima or a US / North Korean on his mind.

History is littered with examples of inventions being used for a different purpose than originally intended. There’s nothing to suggest that this won’t continue.

So, while maybe not as important as splitting the atom, let’s look at a few things we see as being particularly life-changing at the micro level but which are trending as macro today.

The seven-day week

Outside religion, the future of the 5:2 construct is looking a bit dodgy. Observants may choose to worship on a traditional day but their peers may not need to fall in line. Business has no need of a day off even though human resource does – but who’s doing the work when we aren’t there? AI aside, huge numbers of people already work to a different beat than the traditional Monday to Friday model and there’s little to stop this trend until days, weeks and months are just names.

Your phone can’t survive VR

The nearest thing we’ve seen, in common use, to full augmented reality is Pokémon Go and we couldn’t get enough of it. A mixed reality where some people in one location can see a different set of surroundings and behave accordingly. Not only reality but mixed reasons for being there.

Already 61% of people wear glasses. Today, VR headsets are as convenient as a Model T Ford on the M25. Mix Google Glass with cranial headsets and reformatted apps and the world you can live in will be immediately different and hugely more interesting than the regular one. Do you need a phone in this new world? No. But 39% of people will need to wear glasses (or similar) without prescription.

Cash

We cling on to cash like a safety blanket while inherently knowing that the financial system is an illusion. Tokens of value have been a part of our world for so long that it’s a hard one to shake and it’s nice to carry some of our wealth around with us. But cash has its downsides. It’s great for crime and tax avoidance and a bit inconvenient and insecure for large and regular purchases.

Cashless transactions already make it perfectly possible to travel the world with a phone and a passport. Crypto currencies are gaining ground in the finance and investment markets. Nano payments will make it even more possible for those coin-based transactions to be digitised.

Oh, and for the phone part of that scenario, don’t worry. Solutions are already in the wind: fingerprint identity, retina scanning, rings you wear that carry encrypted ID capability…

Wearable technology

Say goodbye to your Apple phone and Fitbit. Wearable technology is wearable because, on the timeline of development, these devices are still pretty rudimentary.

Integrated technology will see functionality designed into the fabric of our lives – literally.

100% fast connectivity will open the market up for technology to sit in every single part of our lives and make it necessary for manufacturers to get clever if they want us to assume their version.

Will wearables survive the new world that’s developing? Yes, but not obviously. Technology becoming ‘invisible’ and this word flags the insidious creep of tech and monitoring.

Your privacy

Just give it up. It’s already gone.

In World War II, intelligence services knew that the people sending messages to each other were identifiable – every Morse code transmission carried clues; the spaces between dots and dashes are unique to the sender and there are many other examples of how clever people in places like Bletchley Park could build a profile of an individual and where they were at the time of sending. This information was massively valued.

Today, we can build a very accurate picture of who we all are, simply from online information – and we give it away.

Just by looking at a social media presence, we can learn so much about you: who you are, where you live, who your family is, what they look like… Scrape a layer deeper and vital data such as medical details, latest family event, exact current location and where you go, preferences about the weather, which bank you use, where you work, who your friends are… it’s all there for everyone (not just anyone) to see.

If you think you will be able to shut this down, think again – or get used to the fact that your augmented (mixed) reality is going to feature ever more precisely targeted advertising and persuading nudges.

Technology is developing without our input or permission. The fact that we tend to accept it passively is nothing new. But the latest (sometimes called the 4th) wave of development is changing the paradigm again. We must recognise so that we can work with it rather than simply reacting to it.

Future thinking. Future proofing. Innovation justified. It’s what we do.

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