“Mom, I am putting a return request for the dress I got yesterday,” said the 15-year-old daughter of Ms. Meena.
“But why, you said it’s fitting nicely and you seemed to like it!”
“Ya, I thought so. But my Instapeeps are saying it’s a thumbs-down on me. So, I am returning”
Analyze this short conversation of this teenager with her mom and you will realize how we are dependent on technology today.
In the 1960s when the internet was first, as a prototype, used by ARPANET, little did human beings realise that coupled by the high processing power of micro-electronics, the internet will one day define the way we spend our day, take decisions and form opinions.
Today we are experiencing ubiquitous internet and unbelievable processing power and we do not even realise how we are dependent on them from all walks of life.
Here I will be analysing five distinct Technology driven trends that are dictating our present and future behaviors.
1 High Speed Connectivity
Innovation requires an eco-system to flourish. The start of the millennium saw the transition of second generation (2G) wireless network to third generation (3G). 3G enabled the use of smartphones which was otherwise did not see enough growth. 3G essentially converted the voice centric world into a world of multimedia. But it was only capable of providing good connectivity to stationary recipients.
4G with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology made movie streaming possible while on the go. Though it was launched in 2008, 4G saw the peak of its usage around 2015. People started preferring video streaming, music streaming applications over illegally downloading from torrent websites.
Now as we enter the 5G era we are going to see even faster internet. It is difficult for a kid born in the 2010s to believe that once we were okay to wait for a min to download a photo of 500Kb size.
But what has this high-speed internet made us?
It connected us to anyone, anywhere. We can see the virtual self of our near and dear one, miles apart as clearly as we would see them in real life. But the ubiquitous connectivity has made us impatient.
How many times have you banged your ENTER key if a webpage took more than two seconds to load?
High Speed connectivity not only impacted us directly but has provided the right ecosystem for other technologies to flourish which I will be discussing in the next few trends.
2 Information - Anywhere, Anytime
With the internet being ubiquitous and speed so high with no interruption, we have started assuming information as our birthright.
How much time do you spend on an English dictionary today to search the right meaning and spelling of a word?
But do you remember, we all used to have one Oxford Pocket Dictionary once upon a time?! Google is like that wise friend of ours who comes to our rescue at any point in time.
The information that we are looking for also changed as the ecosystem started improving. Human beings used to look for static information with 3G internet. Static information is those that are available in the World Wide Web and is constant whenever accessed.
But over years, as networking innovations happened, we have started looking for dynamic information like what is the current traffic condition on the MG Road or is there an offer going on right now in Levi’s store.
What impact is it having on our behavior?
It has made us share our wish, our desires, our worry to Google, and similar online platforms. The information that is available on the World Wide Web can satisfy all our doubts and queries but what we end up doing is leave our digital footprints unguarded.
Is it worrisome? No, and a Yes!
3 Predictive And Prescriptive Analytics
Now that we have shared a lot about ourselves, our wishes, desires, etc. what happens next?
To explain what happens next, let me draw a parallel. You are an entrepreneur who is creating a product for your customer.
How will you design the product?
You will want to understand what your user likes, what are his/her pain points etc. The more you know about your customer the better you can design a highly desirable product for him/ her. The aim is to make your customer fall in love with your product.
Now, if you have one customer, it is relatively easy for you to know as much as possible about him/her. But if you have a million or a billion customers, all very different from each other, how will you manage to create the most loved product for each of them? It is tough but you will still want to achieve this.
This is where technology comes.
A man tries to map the liking and disliking of his 10 customers and designs an algorithm. Then he applies the algorithm on 10 other customers and sees a success rate of 70%. Now he is looking to scale the process and he creates a machine. He teaches the machine the algorithm that he made and shares the final objective – which is to get all the customers to love a product. This machine now starts its own learning process and perfects itself till a time comes when the success rate for a million customers is close to 99%. This technology is what we popularly know as Machine Learning.
What’s happening with advances in Machine Learning?
Artificial Intelligence is understanding the open digital footprints that we have created all over the World Wide Web and is then generating algorithms to perfectly predict our future actions.
Not only so, but it is also able to prescribe the products or services suitable for you – and surprisingly it seems just the perfect choice!
4 AI-Human Collaboration
By this time, you may be cursing technological advancements and thinking that it is a bane to humanity. But this is a highly debatable topic.
We call something a boon when it is a tool – something that helps us to be more productive. But when the same thing starts compelling us to make decisions or take actions which otherwise, we would not have done, we consider it as a bane.
With technological advancements, there are many instances where humans have become more productive, more accurate, and precise. Unmanned or remotely manned vehicles now patrol risky borders, go to mining sites that are unstable. IBM’s Watson helps doctors by providing key knowledge from 15 million pages of the medical repository.
Currently, in the world there are approximately a billion people who use a voice assisted system to order food, call a cab, book an appointment, set a reminder or listens to his/ her favorite song. A lot of elderly people globally use an AI system to ask for help from their caregivers.
5 Reactive To Proactive
The last tech trend that we predominantly see and is going to see more in the coming days is the change in time of action. Human beings are naturally reactive. Only the wisest men are known to anticipate what may go wrong and take action based on that.
Technology has now democratized wisdom. You need not have to be an expert to be proactive. The traditional healthcare system which was highly sick focussed is eventually moving towards being more proactive. Insurance companies are also depending a lot on data analytics to decide who should get insurance – moving from being post-actors to pre-actors.
So, we may very well see a Minority Report happening in real life.
Technology will advance and it may very well reach Singularity. The question is, how we, Homosapiens, are going to react to these advancements?
Will the Creators use the Creation as a Tool or will the Creation dominate the Future? Only time will answer this billion-dollar question!