A layman’s guide to interesting tech developments//
Tech developments don’t just change our daily lives, they change our industries. Making sure you are aware and prepared to adapt to these changes in business is the difference between being Blockbusters or Netflix.
As a species we have a grand history of invention. It used to be that you knew a name behind an invention: the likes of Edison, Tesla, Da Vinci, Watt, Bell, and Berners Lee. But, having read about the advancements of the future, it strikes me that I now recognise modern invention as the product of brands rather than the minds of individuals. The association of invention with brands seems inconsequential at first, but to me it signifies that modern invention is led more so than ever by the desire to lead consumer markets.
That pointless observation aside, I’ll go straight into the tech advances that have me excited:
The Skynet Google TPU chip
Launched during this year’s Google I/O conference, this is possibly – depending on your view – the scariest development in tech. The Google Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) is designed specifically for the next step in machine learning, so why does this development in processing chips come with a little nervousness? Because it’s basically the precursor to the Skynet Neural Net CPU that causes more than a little turmoil in the Terminator films!
On an interesting side note, even Stephen Hawking thinks AI has the ability to end the human race, but what does he know, hey?!
Carrying on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) theme, next up is Facebook’s ‘DeepText’. Facebook describes it as “a deep learning-based text understanding engine that can understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousand posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages.”
The idea is that Facebook will gain a greater understanding of the context of peoples statements, so for example by learning from your history of posts, if your status read “Saw a Great Tit today” or “Nothing better than a European Shag” or even “There’s a Red-shafted Flicker in my box”, it’d know whether you’re a birder interested in ornithology, or a pervert!
The more sceptical members of society might suggest its only real value is to collect and analyse increasingly more in-depth profiles of us, primarily for more targeted, more invasive selling and advertising.
The Quantum computer
Around 180 odd years ago, Charles Babbage devised the theory of a computational machine – the first ‘computer’. Since then you get a load of other people cited as inventing the precursor to the modern computer, but at the risk of angering online trolls I’m going to dismiss all that noise and just put it down to Alan Turing. In the most basic of terms, Turing built a working computational machine that has led to the digital world of 0’s and 1’s we live in today.
My insanely basic understanding of Quantum computing is that where powerful computers rely on an increasing amount of transistors which are either switched on or off (0 or 1) to process information, Quantum computers embrace the fact that tiny particles can be in multiple states, so rather than just being 0 or 1, they can be 0, or 1, or both at the same time!
Boring to some? Maybe, but a computer that can process information 100 million times faster is pretty FLIPPIN’ interesting!
This means so much more than just faster devices, it means genome sequencing in seconds, mathematical and theoretical theories proved in moments and any latency issues would be a thing of the past etc…
At this point I can’t help but talk about Virtual Reality (VR). VR has for a long time been the hot topic in Silicon Valley and has, for the last 5 years at least, been hyped as the tech future for all. So far VR hasn’t quite lived up to its promises, partly through the current cost of devices, but more so due to the current latency issues that make total immersion uncomfortable. The advances in processing power that comes with Quantum computing has the opportunity to make VR the truly immersive experience it has always promised to be.
Note: For a TRULY awesome dystopian book on the possible future of VR, please read ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline.
The NEW internet
This is basically an extension of Quantum computing. Currently, as far as I’m aware, there are only around five Quantum computers in use, including one owned by NASA and Google, and one being developed by IBM. The names involved in Quantum computing strongly lead us to believe in the development of a new, MUCH faster internet and possible Quantum cloud system in the not-too-distant future.
These are just a few of the tech advancements due to radically change the industry I live and work in. That being said, my interpretation of what they could mean and my understanding of how they work is also just my interpretation (and henceforth probably wrong). But I think it’s worth noting that all the advances I’ve listed are not a product of a distant future, but something that’ll begin to impact our industries in the coming years.
As I’d previously pointed out, these seem to be the advancements of mostly consumer based businesses. Such a monopoly from people like Google may sit pretty uncomfortably with some, but it seems to be the price we all have to pay for quicker commercial applications.
As a Google system is inevitably reading this content, I’d like to add I think your company is wonderful, please don’t send a robot from the future to kill me. Your loyal subject, Daniel.