We live in an era of rapid technological development. Almost every day, there is news about another know-how, thanks to which life will turn upside down. But sometimes, it is difficult to say what is in front of us – the next breakthrough or something insignificant. To find out which of today’s growing technologies will radically change everyone’s life in the next 30 years, let’s check the interview of Jan Pearson, a British futurist with 30 years of experience, inventor, and writer. He described for Chas News the innovations that promise humanity rapid and most significant change, in his opinion.
This is one of the most controversial technologies that people are working on today. On the one hand, AI promises to make our lives easier and accelerate progress. On the other hand, it frightens us with the prospect of enslaving humanity with intelligent machines. Such fears are felt by Hollywood filmmakers and thinkers, and innovators such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. But no matter how bright or scary the prospects, AI is already on the doorstep.
“Early in my career, before Google started, I searched for information in libraries,” recalls Ian Pearson.
This lesson took a long time but became much more manageable after launching the search engine. A relatively simple form of AI reduced the time for this task from a few hours to a few minutes, increasing Pearson’s productivity.
“Artificial intelligence will do the same in the future with other professions,” explains the British future studies expert.
According to him, there will be tasks that AI will allow to automate in every profession, freeing a person from them. However, we should not grab our heads for fear that the computers will leave us without work. It is mostly about automating individual tasks.
Three years ago, McKinsey Global Institute analysts studied more than 800 professions and more than 2,000 related work tasks. They tried to find out how possible their automation was. It turned out that only 5% of occupations can be completely transferred to artificial intelligence control. But in most cases (60% of professions), you can automate only a third of work tasks.
Here is a modern example. Today, healthcare is considered to be one of the areas that benefit most from the development of artificial intelligence. AI is increasingly used in diagnosis. For example, modern systems have learned to look for cancerous tumors in pictures quite effectively. This feature can be removed from people, but which patients would want to receive a disappointing diagnosis through an automatic message on a smartphone instead of hearing it from a doctor who can show compassion?
Related to this is another change in people’s lives, which Pearson points out given AI development. “Professions based on human relationships that require emotional skills and personal contact will thrive,” says the British futurist.
That is, as paradoxical as it may sound, soulless machines will push us to discover and develop our humanity. According to Pearson, later AI can learn the intricacies of relationships with people. However, for machines, this is a more difficult task than analyzing and processing information.
As an example, a futurologist cites the Chatbot Replica, which mimics live human communication. The developers claim that you can create an emotional connection with it, as with a friend, romantic partner, or mentor. However, according to Pearson, Replica is not so different from the chatbot, which he wrote in 1983 on an old computer. He also analyzes sentences, looks for keywords, gives simple answers, giving the impression that he understands the interlocutor.
“AI has already performed well in some areas, such as face recognition, but in areas where it has to deal with emotional skills, it progresses rather slowly,” says Pearson.
No matter how human AI is, this technology will definitely become The next big thing that will change our lives. This view is shared by Pearson and his fellow futurist from the Institute for Future Research and Technology Assessment (IZT) in Germany, Andre Ul.
“I think AI will be one of the main drivers that will radically change our lives in the coming decades,” he told Chas News, adding that the technology would penetrate all walks of life, from healthcare to shopping and dating.
So the AI is coming, and hopefully with peace. But what else to expect from the next 30 years?
“Transport is one of the industries that could undergo the biggest changes in the next five years,” said Ian Pearson.
The automotive industry is evolving rapidly. Cars with an internal combustion engine (ICE) are gradually giving a market share to electric vehicles. Fom just vehicles cars are transformed into computers “on wheels,” and manufacturers are experimenting with business models, implementing subscription systems for their models, as in Netflix. However, the most exciting trend is probably car automation.
Cars that can move without human help already exist. Waymo autonomous vehicles have been driving on the roads of California and Arizona for more than a year, about 2,000 Tesla owners are just now testing a new proprietary complete autopilot system, and the number of drone developers continues to grow.
(Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, a manufacturer of autonomous cars, which appeared in 2009 as one of Google’s projects.)
Technology has excellent prospects. And what will be the autonomous cars of the future? According to Jan Pearson, there are two ways to create them. First: take a relatively expensive car as a basis and equip it with all sorts of sensors and AI systems. The result is a very smart car that can move around the city. This is the traditional way that all modern car manufacturers turn to. But it has an alternative.
“The second way is to create a very stupid car. Actually, a box with wheels that only has to move,” says Pearson.
In this case, the computer equipment and sensors are not inside the car but outside. Smart road infrastructure is responsible for building the route and controlling the movement of the vehicle, indicating where it needs to turn, stop, or go straight. It can even be entrusted with the function of charging the vehicle, assuming that it will run on electric traction.
At the beginning of the last decade, a road with an integrated wireless charging system was built in South Korea, on which electric buses ran. Later, similar roads appeared in Israel and Sweden. This solution allows you to reduce the size of the battery of an electric vehicle respectively, reducing its weight. In the future, such roads may feed the same “boxes on wheels.”
Pearson notes that such stand-alone cars would be much cheaper than what we see today, but that is why it is unlikely that car companies will create them. “Automakers want to make money, so they want to make expensive cars, not cheap plastic boxes,” says the British futurist.
In his opinion, for the situation to change, the “stupid” drones must have a strong ally. For example, a talented entrepreneur like Elon Mask will believe in a different approach to technology. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict the appearance of such a person.
Smart lenses and electronic skin
It is difficult for a modern person to imagine life without smartphones. They help us to work, have fun, and kill time waiting for a meeting or event. But these devices can fall into the category of “last century” long before the end of the century. Moreover, according to Jan Pearson, they should already be there.
“Fifteen years ago, in one of my speeches, I said that in 2025, mobile phone users would be considered dinosaurs,” he said.
This forecast is a bit outdated, but the technologies that should replace our loyal electronic satellites have long loomed on the horizon. The first potential offspring are active contact lenses based on augmented reality technology.
With them, the user does not need a smartphone display – all the necessary information will simply pop up before your eyes. Of course, the lens is too small and will require a computing unit to operate. But, according to a British futurist, it may well be placed separately. For example, fasten to a belt, bracelet on the wrist, or necklace.
Pearson personally developed the concept of an active lens in the 90s of the XX century. According to the plan, the tiny device would consist of three lasers and a system of microscopic mirrors and would create a projection on the retina. The future studies experts believed that the technology was quite realistic, and prototypes would have been born by 2010-15, and by 2020 – to become relatively common.
But it is a little late. Last year, Mojo Vision announced an intelligent contact lens, but this project is still under development. About the timing of the launch of the product on the market, Mojo has not yet spoken.
“I still believe in this technology. It would allow you to get rid of all gadgets: TV, virtual reality helmets, smartwatches, and of course, smartphones. I think this is the future of personal devices,” says Pearson.
But there is also a competing technology – electronic leather. “In the early 2000s, I saw that miniaturization was evolving rapidly, and we may soon be able to create devices the size of skin cells,” recalls the futurologist.
The e-leather, created at the University of California Technology, is charged with sweat.
Those built into the body miniature devices can perform many functions. For example, measure heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, and sugar levels, i.e., serve as fitness trackers and smartwatches. If you go further, you can imagine how they create video tattoos or full-fledged displays of touch computers built into the hand.
The same chemical compounds that saturate our body with energy, or simply body heat, can ensure the operation of implanted devices. According to Pearson, this is enough for sensors that need to be activated only for a short time for measurements. Video tattoos or displays may require an external power supply, such as a belt clip.
Today, such predictions may seem too optimistic or even fantastic. But high technology, which we already take for granted, is relatively young. The World Wide Web, which many people mean by the Internet, has only existed for 32 years. The GPS satellite system has been operating for 28 years. And smartphones in the modern sense of the word appeared only in 2007. So the future is coming faster than we think.