“What will the world look like in 2035?”I found myself wondering while watching Back to the Future Part II with my one year old son. Many of inventions and predictions in the film have not come to be, but the world has changed dramatically since 1985. Given the pace of technological change, seeing the movie with my young son made me wonder, what will his world look like?
It is amazing to think that in 1902 the head of the US Patent Office, Charles Holland Duell, said he needed to shut down the Patent Office because “everything that can be invented has been invented.” He was so wrong and he has missed some cataclysmic shifts that have changed mankind forever.
These shifts continue to take place and my son’s world will likely look very different than ours by the time he and I are able to waltz into a bar together for a cold one.
For starters, son, you will never learn to drive a car unless you want to try out for the Indy 500 with Mario Andretti the fifth.
We did away with humans driving cars because frankly we were terrible at it. We got into lots of accidents, we negatively impacted GDP by 4% just because we couldn’t keep in our lane or because we needed to send a text to someone (I will explain what a text is another time).
Oh, and when we were driving, the driver actually had to pay attention unlike now where I can do work or play cards. Wow. That was a waste of time sitting behind the wheel. It was somewhat fun to drive, but we are better off today with self-driving cars. Easier, more productive and definitely safer.
When we get that beer, I will need to go to my vault to show you the cash bills with which we used to pay for things. I know what you are thinking. Why would you use paper money? Well that was the world we lived in. If you wanted a beer, you would take out what was known as a wallet, which contained your plastic drivers license, plastic credit cards that you would hand to a person at a cash register to pay for something. Grandpa use to walk around with $100 bills (Benjamins as we called them because Benjamin Franklin’s picture was on the front) wrapped in a rubber band. Stupid right? Now it is so easy to just debit and credit for stuff with your e-wallet or Bitcoin. No wallets, no change, no losing it or getting mugged. Just wink and your payment is made. Now, I wonder how much I can get for a crisp $100 Benjamin on eBay. Can you use your brain chip to see and I will split the bitcoins we get with you?
So you know the small device I showed you called a Blackberry that I used in 2008? You asked what the keys with the alphabet did and I told you that is how we communicated with each other. We would type on these things called keyboards on our phones, laptops and computers. I have to tell you that I am glad that we no longer have to use keyboards as I was a really slow typist. Now, it is so easy to just speak and have the sentences piece themselves together based upon your past conversations, your experience and the context of your discussion. It sure does make it much easier and faster.
You know how I told you that Uncle Kevin was a doctor and actually examined patients and had to diagnose people based upon his education, experience and his research on the Internet? And many times he was wrong in his diagnosis?
Well, all doctors were like that. We are so much better off today with huge databases which can diagnose, prevent and treat us based upon data gathered from 10 billion people over the last 20 years. Big data became a big deal in 2014, but no one had any idea of how it would impact us. Now it so easy to be diagnosed for that benign growth on your foot with your phone, gene sequencing and tele-medicine.
The most amazing thing I reflect on is what we needed to do to create a computer program, which in essence created all the amazing things you and I have seen change in our lifetimes. It used to be that you needed to learn to code in a specific computer language- languages such as Basic, Fortran, Pascal, C+, Java, Ruby on Rails. It was a mess and you had to pay people lots of money to code your project. You have it so easy with the self-programming tools you have today where all you do is describe the functionality and it is built in real time. It is pretty amazing how far we have come.
Talking about how far we have come with programming computers, the way we use computers has changed dramatically also. I use to have this thing called a desktop computer. Unlike now where we all have embedded chips, these devices use to connect to something called the Domain Name System (DNS). This is all ancient history and now we have a direct almost telepathic view into what we want and how we want it. It used to be that you were bombarded with advertising. When I was running a company called PulsePoint in 2015, we thrived by trying to show the right ad to the right person at the right time. I remembered, the average American used to see up to 3,500 ads a day. Today, we have a very distinct opt-in and ad selection process, where you only see ads that matter specifically to you. This is a sea change and it all started with this concept that people wanted content that was relevant to them and if a brand produced that content then they were more likely to buy the product or service. This wasn’t always the case, but it sure is now, and we are all the better for it.
The world has changed so much over the last two decades in the way we communicate and interact with the world around us due to the large advancements in technology. However, the one thing that technology hasn’t, and won’t change, is that you still need to know how to shoot a jump shot in basketball, so let’s head outside and let me show you how to do it.
About The Author:
A renowned industry veteran, Sloan Gaon has executive management expertise in global digital marketing, content and e-commerce. He currently serves as the CEO of marketing technology company PulsePoint (www.pulsepoint.com). Previously, he was CEO of Dotmenu (acquired by GrubHub), and held management positions at Adknowledge, MIVA/Findwhat and RegistryPro.