AI, quantum computers, autonomous objects and 5G are much more than new toys for scientists. As innovative forces, they will change and hopefully improve our daily lives.
Sometimes it seems as if the Dutch can be roughly divided into two groups: one half thinks everything used to be better and the other half innovation cannot go fast enough. The guilder against the blockchain, simply put. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. We are on the eve of an era in which our world and our lives will change radically as a result of countless innovations and technological developments. In general, these developments mainly bring benefits - at least that is the point of departure. Yet many innovations are also disadvantageous for large groups of people, or at least they are cause for concern.
Convenience serves people
Many innovations that affect our daily lives are born of an increasing need for convenience. Robotization relieves us of repetitive work and machines, sensors and smart devices help us with daily chores. In the business world, innovation is often done to save operational costs, to open up new markets or to improve the quality of products and services. And even though it sometimes seems to go very fast, we are still on the eve. An unrecognizable world awaits us. Based on four mega trends a view of the future.
Artificial Intelligence brings everything to a higher level
Artificial intelligence, AI for short, is already everywhere around us. We do not always realize that. But if you google, scroll through your timeline on Facebook or LinkedIn, order an Uber, look for a date or view that product suggestion in the webshop, you use AI. Whether it is for shopping, viewing vacancies or dating, AI provides a better match. Also in traffic, for example, you drive between more and more cars that are fully or partially self-driving, such as the Volvo with Pilot Assist, the new E-class from Mercedes, the BMW i3 and of course the Tesla cars. Such cars see earlier than you that a pedestrian wants to cross or that there are a few meters in front of you an accident will occur:
AI also enables companies to make hyper-personal offers. Based on all your customer information, systems know exactly who you are, what your needs are and which service suits you best. AI has for example Amazon already able to predict orders and thus prepare them even before customers went online. Facebook and LinkedIn 'know' you based on your profile and behavior and determine what you see and what you do not see in your timeline. The same search term on Google produces different results for different users, because Google know who's looking. In this way, AI literally shapes the world around you.
Quantum computers for even greater innovations
Computers become faster, smaller and more powerful every year. Where you needed a shed in the eighties, nowadays fits in the palm of your hand: an SD card of a few gigabytes. But the real giant leap in the field of computers has yet to reach us: the quantum computer, a computer 100 million times faster than your current computer.
Quantum mechanics takes place at the smallest level: smaller than the atom. We are then talking about the building blocks of the universe. Traditional physical laws no longer apply at this level. It is a ghost world that we have little control over, but which offers endless possibilities. One of those options is listening to the term superposition. In the quantum world, it is possible that a particle has different, contradictory properties, and it does at the same moment. Translated to a computer, this would mean that such a computer can do multiple calculations at the same time without sacrificing computing capacity.
A second possibility is entanglement. Intertwining is the quantum mechanical phenomenon in which two particles are connected to each other without there being an actual connection. Imagine that if you raise your hand, someone in Japan will do the same. And not by chance, or just once, but always and systematically. Intertwining would eliminate the problem of limited transfer rates (such as internet speed).
As far as technology. What are the expectations? They are high: quantum computers will soon be able to process huge amounts of data and, for example, do groundbreaking scientific research. Such as the development of new medicines, the simulation of enzymes that produce ammonia cheaper fertilizer to produce and develop new wonder materials that can solve our energy problem. And above all, quantum computers will give AI a completely new dimension.
Autonomous objects around us
Robotic vacuum cleaners, curtains that close automatically when it gets dark and fridges that automatically put eggs on your shopping list when you only have three. That shopping list is automatically converted into an order that is delivered when Google knows that you are home. And what Google does not know is the result of that half a word enough, as witnessed by this controversial demonstration of Google Duplex:
Call your Google Assistant that you want to eat Chinese somewhere and the reservation automatically ends up in your diary - you didn't even have to make the call yourself. In the future our house, our devices and even our agenda will function completely autonomously.
AI, high-speed computers and the Internet of Things can only function if devices can communicate super fast. If you thought 4G was fast, then it will 5G change your world. With a network on which you can send data at 10 gigabytes per second, the world does not become small, but microscopic. Imagine that you no longer have to leave the house for an afternoon of shopping, but you can do it all online via virtual reality, including fitting in front of the mirror. Oh, and then not shopping at Hoog Catharijne, but in a virtual form in the heart of Milan, complete with the scent of freshly baked pizzas.
The future is coming
Despite the unlikely promises made by AI, quantum computers, autonomous objects and 5G, there is also cause for concern for many. What about privacy, with autonomy? Do robots take over our work? Do we still have work in the future? And how do we remain in control of autonomous devices if they become 'too smart'?
These are all valid questions that our and future generations must find answers to. Current ideas about work, property and also rights will have to be revised. Because technological innovation is not waiting for anyone. If it is possible, then someone will make it and walk behind someone else who would rather not miss the boat. We can therefore better accept the coming changes and work on a world in which that technology serves our lives and does not determine our lives.