The Wave of Technology

As part of my personal development, I regularly attend live webinars. The topic on one of these weekly calls was technology, the speed at how this is advancing and what this means for our future. This topic is so relevant to all of us, I had an obligation to share this on my blog.

There’s no doubt that technology has had a huge impact on society. It has radically changed the way companies do business and affected the way we live our day to day lives. From the advancements in medicine and education, to travel and communication, we are now living longer because of it. But with the speed at which machines are improving and the number of tasks they can do today, what does this mean for humanity and how will this affect us in our working lives?

What is the advantage of a machine over a person?

Compared to humans, machines can work faster, eliminate human error and reduce overhead costs. It is therefore not surprising that Oxford University predicts in the next 20 years, 47% of US jobs will be eliminated by artificial intelligence! The impact technology has on the working population is not something new. During the Industrial Revolution workers were being replaced by machinery and this trend is growing.

Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it

We need to adapt to the changing times. Look at the internet revolution which led to the World Wide Web and e-commerce, this wiped out household names, companies like Kodak and Blockbuster video. The companies that have boomed over the last few years, such as Airbnb and Uber operate mainly via an app.

Today technology is advancing at such a high pace that jobs being replaced are not just in manufacturing and simple tasks such customer service roles, (in China there is already a restaurant where waitresses have been replaced by robots) but computers will be so highly intelligent, they will start competing with the human brain. This means entire professions will be replaced!

To demonstrate this level of intelligence, in 2011 IBM built a super computer called Watson which competed with two of the all time most successful chess players and beat them! This clearly shows it is now possible a machine can think analytically and strategically. This win was monumental. It demonstrated a machine was able to think for itself, use facial recognition, facial expressions and read body language.

Also in recent years, with the introduction of 3D printing. This technology allows highly customised parts and products to be printed on demand, from furniture, clothes, bones and prostheses to auto, airplane and building parts, this will lead to a widespread disruption in all industries.

Advancements are noticeable all around us

Disappearing are the days where there was a person in Toll Booths who greeted you and took your cash, now there is a machine to slot your card. Typewriters are now computers and laptops. I remember in my teens before mobile phones were affordable, many of my friends had pagers. How frustrating would this be today, having to call a number, leave a message and return phone number, and then just waiting at this phone for that person to return your call. I waited many a times in a cold phone box for a call back! And what about the first time you saw a fax machine in action and how mind blowing this was when a document was printed that came from somewhere else! Today these things seem so ancient, but this was only 15-20 years ago. Just look at the speed in the advancement of technology and imagine how we will be communicating in 15-20 years from now!

‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change’ – Charles Darwin

Consider Moore’s Law, an observation that Gordon Moore made back in 1965. He noticed that the number of transistors engineers could cram onto a silicon chip, doubled every 24-months. Therefore the processing power of our computers should double every two years. Assuming microprocessor manufacturers can continue to live up to Moore’s Law, that would mean computers 100 years from now would be 1,125,899,906,842,624 times more powerful than computers today! That’s huge! There are those who argue, Moore’s Law will soon begin to break down. However there are others who believe there is no guarantee it will ever reach a threshold, and computer power is projected to surpass the power of all human brains.

Ride the wave

Already look at how technology is impacting the next generation. To think when I have kids they will never know of fax machines, pagers or even land phones. Today children don’t even have to type anymore – they ask Siri!

High technological innovation drives a new era of global prosperity and rapid change, and having the right skills for the digital economy will improve competitiveness and productivity. Approach this, not from a crisis point of view but from one of opportunity, you don’t need to be a tech nerd but start using technology to your advantage. With sites such as freelancer.com and elance.com, business’s are now looking to the internet for virtual assistants / designers and accountants. You no longer have to physically be present. You could be working for a company or person thousands of miles from you. You could be working from home with your family. You could be travelling the world!

The wave of technology is happening. You can either be pulled under or you can take control and ride it. Use it to your advantage, and make sure you are on the right side of the tech wave.