Friday, 28 June 2013

The Next Big Thing

You might not have noticed it yet, but the leaves on the grapevine are rustling, and there is a whispering breeze in your ear. This, my friends, is the sound of the winds of change: gathering, growing, building momentum. There is a storm brewing, friends, and the game: It is afoot!

So many people: working quietly, diligently, are spear-heading that change, and so few of us realize that it is even happening, let alone comprehend the profound; monumental; world-changing implications of the technological tidal-wave that is coming our way.

Automotive industry dollars are funding this work; the dream of safer roads, of self-driving cars is driving it forwards, but this dream on four wheels is merely the tip of the iceberg: the gateway drug that leads us to an intoxicating, and perhaps slightly scary future.

What are self-driving cars but mass produced autonomous robots? Autonomous vehicles and robots will be to my daughter's generation what computers and the internet were to mine; except this change will be bigger and far more wide-reaching, as the machines step off the desktop and climb out of the server-room, and march onto the streets; as our mobile phones and tablets sprout wheels and wings and legs and arms -- as our algorithms and neural networks and distributed systems stop passively sucking in click-stream data and twitter sentiment scores, and start actively participating in a world that they can see, hear and touch.

The physical world that my parents inhabited is not so very different from the physical world that I inherited, but the world that I pass on to my daughters will change so quickly, so rapidly, that I cannot begin to imagine what it will look like when they are my age, and working away on shaping a future for their children.

What a singularly monumental change is afoot! What a wonderful, exhilarating time to be alive! And how exciting to be a part of it!

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