(ORDO NEWS) — In the next few years, will we see drones on the streets, tourists in space, and a 3D bioprinter in every hospital? In a column for Forbes, Pavel Cherkashin, Founder and Managing Partner of Mindrock Capital, discusses how the technologies of the future will allow a person to go beyond close reality.
No long-term forecast for the development of specific technologies will be accurate, as evidenced by the annual Gartner Hype Cycle and other analytical reports. We have been waiting for drones, smart cities, quantum computers and tourist flights into space for a long time. They are actively developing, but they still have not entered life as analysts predicted. And this year has shown that even the most accurate forecasts can be subject to unexpected changes by unaccounted for factors.
This doesn’t mean that these new technologies will never arrive, though. These things take years to develop, especially if they are as complex as smart cities. It was only a few decades ago everything was paper-based and took a lot longer to process. Now, there are shipping platforms like Shipcarte available to improve logistics, online payment methods that allow transactions from anywhere in the world, augmented reality is being implemented in more places than ever, the list goes on.
Now it is important to focus not on predicting whether or not we will see drones on the streets, tourists in space, and a 3D bioprinter in every hospital, but on why a person is placed at the center of technological development.
Only now technologies have begun to ripen to tackle increasing the efficiency not of conventional machines, but of a person. According to the UN, over the past five years, the human potential index has increased by an average of 0.6% per year, and this is very small. Suddenly it became obvious that it is almost impossible to maintain GDP growth with such a growth in population and levels of education and medicine, even if there is good growth in technology and sufficient capital in the market.
In addition, questions have accumulated related to how a person will live: they relate not only to medicine and education, but also to ecology, food production for an increasing population, space exploration for the future needs of mankind, protecting privacy, data and any significant social changes. …
People are afraid of violation of freedoms, manipulation and lack of demand due to the fact that technology will oust a person, as well as deliberately restricting access to goods. But real innovation allows you to go beyond the narrow reality, although in this process mistakes and difficulties occur. How does this happen?
The development of technology has been aimed at increasing availability. Any conspiracy theories that, for example, advanced medicine will only be available to the rich are fantasy. If the cost of technology can be reduced, it will be reduced. If it is possible to enter a new sales market, they will.
The manufacturer Luminar has become a billion-dollar company by creating lidars for drones, which are ten times cheaper and see better. As a result, all top automakers began to cooperate with the company. Thanks to it, it became possible to accelerate development and bring closer the mass adoption of drones, which promise to be safer for humans.
Another example from medicine. Already, 3D printing has reduced the cost of transplants dozens of times: the cost of a kidney for a transplant in the United States is $ 330,000, and for a bioprinter – $ 10,000, while the cost of the printer is also gradually decreasing, and the quality is increasing. Of course, companies like RAFI GmbH & Co. KG – Top-100 Employer are still creating innovative ideas to make 3D printing systems more accessible to more businesses. As we can see, the medical industry is beginning to benefit from these devices, but so many other businesses could also benefit from digitization and Industry 4.0.
In medicine, we would like to have significant progress, but in this industry there are certain difficulties with collecting data for analysis, legal and ethical obstacles. The fusion of man and technology and instant repair of breakdowns will not yet occur as in the novel “Neuromancer”, but the idea of full-fledged artificial organs and personalized medicine controlled by artificial intelligence is delightful and gives hope. Moreover, the reduction in prices makes it possible to develop entire industries, such as medicine or commercial space exploration.
Available technologies already invented will penetrate more and more and thus find new applications and become available to more and more people. Even cheap Internet is not as widespread in the world as it would seem to be by 2021 (but we believe that Starlink will fix this) – let alone the regulation of relations between the state and business using artificial intelligence (as the FiscalNote project is already doing in many countries of the world) and other truly new technologies.
Virgin Galactic sold the first tickets for suborbital flights for $ 250,000 15 years ago, when neither the flights themselves, nor such prices for them were unthinkable, but the company promises to send tourists into space next year. Obviously, with the development of technology and mass interest, not only will the price of such flights be reduced, but real space tourism will also become possible.
The Internet and technology generally provide more equal opportunities than anything that has come before in business and learning. You can be unclaimed in your own village and work with leading companies all over the world, you can have significant physical limitations and nevertheless be engaged in entrepreneurship and raise investments for your cool idea of a guitar for the disabled, you can earn a lot of money while still in school, creating in-demand content on TikTok or YouTube and you can learn almost anything for free.
There are many more opportunities. People want to learn and adapt to new reality. In the first months of the pandemic, the EdTech industry shot up in a way that no one expected back in 2019: the number of users of the online learning platform Udemy grew by 425%, Coursera – by 520%. Each technology means new industries (only in space dozens of new industries and directions await us) and application (which is only the potential of artificial intelligence, which already has dozens of applications).
Technology is already giving us jobs and opportunities for intellectual development. The number of information workers, that is, everyone who earns by mental activity, is growing rapidly in the world and a year ago it reached a billion people, while in 2012 there were four times less of them, and this is thanks to automation, robotization and the introduction of artificial intelligence.
As an investor, I am definitely betting on artificial intelligence and its further spread to various sectors of the economy. In the near future, he will make even more visible strides in healthcare and biomedical research, security, entertainment, business and people relations with the state, education, manufacturing and logistics of distribution of goods, ecology, content moderation and the fight against fakes.
In addition, artificial intelligence is able to transform a person: to give him new knowledge where the human brain is no longer able to analyze information and identify connections between data and events, including about the brain itself and the human body. It will also spur intellectual development: people will be involved in truly complex intellectual activity and decision-making, working with much more complex systems and data. In such a complex activity, specialists of different profiles will interact, and artificial intelligence will help to predict the impact of various events and solve problems.
Limitation of freedoms
Technologies have not yet reached the point of manipulating human will and are unlikely to reach it in the near future, no matter how frightening futurists and the documentary “Social Dilemma” may frighten us. If we consider manipulation, say, the distribution of certain content on social networks or the use of artificial intelligence to keep the user in the application, then the problem can be solved by removing the application or turning on critical thinking.
Companies that collect data are also increasingly asked for more transparency about what data they collect, how they store it, use it, and how the algorithms work. Consider the Facebook story. Laws that protect data and guarantee the right to be forgotten (that is, the complete removal of information about a person from a resource), such as the European GDPR, are likely to be refined, and more and more countries will adopt them, and this should be demanded by people.
Of course, no one wants total surveillance, as in China, even under the plausible pretext of increasing security. The social scoring system also raises questions. Nor do we want technologies that can affect people’s freedoms to fall into the wrong hands. There are negative examples, but this does not mean that they cannot be adjusted in the future. History knew the tightening of screws, the flourishing of freedoms, and the work on mistakes.
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