A large increase in the capability of computers to augment our intelligence and productivity is coming but the societal impact will be dwarfed by the increasing democratization of the capability of many more people to have meaningful opportunities to tackle the big problems.
Intelligence and Productivity Enhancement with Computers
1. Besides the basic connection, there is getting the computer and power situation so you can always have the connection on and active. This is more than just having an iphone with you all the time and available to be turned on. There is work on a wearable super-workstation (12 gflops) with headmounted display. First few units will be available in 2009n. They are just assembling and refining some mostly off the shelf pieces.
2. Then there is communication speed to the overall net.
In item 2,3,4 on my review of computers, robotics and communication, I talk about expected wireless speed rollouts as well as expected capabilities of advanced smart phones based on actual goals stated by the mobile phone companies.
42mbps next year (starting in Asia), 100-250mbps soon and on to 1gbps.
Plus local 5 meters or less 5 gbps
3. The interface and software capabilities will probably contineue to lag hardware and communication speed.
4. Darpa has funded synthetic telepathy – send a text message by thinking about it. Let the computer here your inner voice.
There has also been advances with robotic arms and directly hooking up brains to control them.
There are cheap brain computer interfaces being sold as add-ons for computer games. emotiv (in the company).
Stuff in item 4 is cool but I am not sure how much they really help productivity.
Hearing my inner voice versus voice recognition of my spoken voice versus traditional texting? There is not that much difference in terms of numbers of useful messages that are sent.
I think a bigger factor are falling costs and increasing capabilities of robots, rapid prototyping/manufacturing, lab on a chips and web X.0 and the rising number of angel investors/VCs and independently affluent.
It is increasing affordable for more people and small groups to meaningfully innovate and build major high tech businesses that can advance science and technology.
Note: recent financial situation could slow the trends slightly.
prior article had projected future wealth with current trends indicating about 15,000 billionaires in 2027. This will continue the trend of more flexible funding of new ideas.
In 20 years, expect about 70 million millionaires worldwide. About 20 million in the US. There will be 6000 to 26000 billionaires in 20 years (10% or 17% growth rate). (30-40 years on an inflation adjusted basis).
In China you see this with an upper and lower middle class arising in waves. There is a still smaller wave of really affluent (rich) people.
Mass affluence and the spreading of knowledge of large scale business plans and understanding of what it takes to successfully scale a business is a shift to many people being able to do what they want and create and build and drive large projects.
What in the past would take the backing of a king or queen or later some key wealthy families like the Medici becomes the Elon Musks, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Craig Ventner, Vinod Khosla, Bigelow, etc… of today.
Or the backer of the Carnary Foundation, Don Listwin, with $30-100 million making a solid run at creating widespread and effective early detection of all cancers by 2015. An achievement that would be on par and probably in some ways superior to the effort of Bill Gates to try to eradicate Malaria.
Over 100,000 people/households with $30 million in assets not including primary residence
About 1 million with $5-30 million in assets.
About 10 million millionaires (1-5 million)
This is like the beginning of the shift from hunter gathers to farmers.
The shift from workers/day jobbers to investor builders.
Suddenly the time and resources and understanding are available to build and convert ideas to effective action. People do not have to keep hunting for work and spending most their days on the day job hunt, they can grow and try to create a scalable new thing/service/technology.
I think the shortage has not been in lacking the intelligence to come up with good ideas it has been the lack of the ability to convert ideas into solutions to more major problems and challenges.
Having competition of many good and well funded ideas to solve each of the problems and challenges of society will enable a great shift to more problems being defeated and the truly best solutions arising from the crucible of real competition to solve things. This would be ultimately be heading towards a solution singularity, where problems get solved nearly as soon as they are identified.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.