The technological megashifts reshaping our world

Science fiction is increasingly science fact and exponential technological changes are rapidly altering our culture, business and society

Gerd Leonhard

ZURICH, Switzerland/ Troy Media/ – Science fiction is increasingly science fact and exponential technological changes are rapidly altering our culture, business and society.

Much of it is extremely promising – indeed, it has the potential to solve our biggest challenges, such as energy, water, diseases and global warming. But we are also facing myriad unintended consequences, such as the likelihood of widespread technological unemployment, a near-total loss of privacy and a dramatic dependency on technology.

The most powerful companies are no longer oil and gas enterprises or banks – they are the big data, big Internet companies and platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu and Tencent. These players are propelled to supremely dominant positions by what I call the megashifts: a dozen or so drivers that are unfolding exponentially and in combination – amplifying each other and reaching unprecedented magnitudes.

Megashifts are much more than paradigm shifts, which usually affect only one sphere of human activity. Megashifts radically reconfigure the age-old relationship between our past, present and future.

Here are some megashifts I expect in the next few years:

Digitization: Everything that can will become digital. Digitization creates abundance, which means lower costs. Yet it also means a scramble for new business models.

Mobilization: Computing is no longer at the desk. It is becoming like air: invisible, omnipresent and utterly indispensable.

Screenification: Everything that used to be physical (or printed) is now available on screens. A true #hellven challenge – is this heaven or hell?

Disintermediation: Technology increasingly makes it feasible to go direct, or indeed via new middlemen such as social media platforms or telecoms and mobile operators (such as Africa’s m-pesa, which is competing directly with banks).

Datafication: Much of what used to happen face-to-face is now being turned into data, e.g. electronic medical records versus talking to the doctor.

Intelligization or cognification: Everything that used to be dumb is now becoming connected and intelligent, such as gas pipelines, farms, cars, shipping containers, traffic lights, etc. Once artificial intelligence learns from this flood of data, we will have a vastly different way of reading, seeing and directing the world.

Automation: The result of smart machines will be widespread technological unemployment. Everything that can be automated will be – including science and engineering. I believe this is actually a huge opportunity rather than a threat, but we are ill-prepared for it.

Virtualization: We no longer rely only on physical things in some room or location, but on an instance in the cloud, e.g. software-defined networking instead of local routers, virtual friends such as Hello Barbie, etc.

Augmentation: Humans can increasingly use technology to augment themselves, i.e. to be omniscient, omnipotent, superhuman.

Anticipation: Software can now anticipate and predict our behaviour, thus changing the way maps, email and online collaboration work.

Robotization: Even many white-collar jobs will soon be done by robots. Robots are leaving their industrial cages and entering our daily lives and homes.

Dehumanization: Taking humans out of the equation by cutting a complex human task to its bare bones and giving it to machines.

Yet the most important megashift might soon be Rehumanization: Finally, are we just about to realize that our customers don’t buy technology, they buy relationships?

Technology is not what we seek, it’s how we seek – and we should embrace technology but not become it.

 

– Gerd Leonhard is a futurist and author of Technology vs. Humanity.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Vehicle found “burnt to a crisp” off of Hwy 5

Update from Clearwater RCMP detachment

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

16 COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health region

One person is in hospital and 34 people are isolating

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

Most Read