Future Map for Neuro Technology and Five Other Areas

We tweeted a ‘harumph’ for Geekwire’s article on First, we kill all the ‘futurists’ . Then the Policy Horizons Canada group puts out a fantastic emerging tech futures map. Futurists be damned if they do or don’t. On the new study published by Envisioning and Policy Horizons Canada, a blog on Business Insider notes:

On Friday, the group published a giant graphic summarizing emerging technologies and showing when they could become scientifically viable, mainstream, and financially feasible. This follows more detailed graphics (pdf files) showing future innovations in agricultural and natural manufacturingneurology and cognitionnanotechnology and materials,healthdigital and communication technology, and energy. 

These predictions may not be so far off.

Moore’s Law is accelerating digital processing well into the hockey stick shift. The web and flat world is kicking in Metcalfe’s law of network interconnection creating a tipping point for rapidly adapting to new tech globally.
So, some of these information related futures will only be delayed by political, geopolitical, or epidemic disruptions at this point. That all said, we’re keeping in mind the main premise of First, we kill all the ‘futurists’ – that it needs to be more than a smart guy presenting ideas ‘ripped from the pages of Google News Alerts. Some of the references did feel a bit like that, but it is a conversation starter to get the mind ‘context switched’ from the day-to-day rat race to what could be. 
Call it our guilty pleasure or call it – regardless of pinpointing “futurist” timelines – a great way to help teach awareness of the pace of emerging and disruptive tech.

A few findings we enjoyed

First the graphics are presented in how we love to present tech – they change business models:

The near future of technology promises change at an ever-increasing pace while rapidly transforming business models, governments and institutions worldwide. In order to help us make sense of our uncertain future, Policy Horizons Canada engaged Michell Zappa of Envisioning Technology to explore key technologies that are likely to have a profound effect on humanity on a global level and generational timeframe.

In the six areas, the focus is on economic impact, geopolitical (energy), and human-computer interaction and societal impacts.

Neuro and AI

Looking at the slices related to information progression, completeness, and how it gets more compelling and knowledgeable is of course our lens. As noted in Why we focus on spatial data science, we are very interested in the path from research to main stream of data to information to knowledge to wisdom. We also continuously discover it is true that our graphics are truly still at the whiteboard.

So, we of course are enthralled and drooling over the neurology and cognition aspects. It is great to see the agreement with our leanings and concepts that we must invoke sentiment (emotion tracking) prior to having prediction (crime prevention). Yet, it looks like the focus is on facial recognition aspects for emotions, but given there are so many other pantomimes of liars and other emotions and not too mention composite emotion detection in verbal, setting, background, environment, contemporary context, this does appear a bit aggressive. Not to mention there is now an abstraction of emotion through devices (txt, twitter, facebook, etc.) that create different faces of a person and emotion. This will take large data to help integrate the HUMINT concepts that the intelligence agencies have access to on the civilian level.

While they nailed some interesting concepts of physical, physiology, and neuro interactions – human-computer interaction, what felt missing in the Neuro area, was the concept that computers like Watson went from multiples of servers to one server and now is open-source in a matter of five years (From Jeopardy champ to cloud service). When will that capability make 2010 Siri look like in ten years – a novelty, a joke? Already Microsoft’s Contana in late 2014 has progressed from lookup and secretarial duties to executive administrative assistant. What will happen in another 10 years? What will happen when major brain mapping or DARPA’s brain mimic efforts produce its research in that time period? What will happen when the storage capacity of the web can handle brain storage?

Will we have personalized sensitive advisor, therapists? Have the slew of updated sci-fi movies on such cognitive devices painted that new picture (i.e. Transcendence (flop or not), Her). To believe we can get the emotion in ten years is very bold, but we will have the power of watson in our tablet or smartphone-like devices in 10 years. What that will bring for intelligence and information will be interesting.

The full publication is at http://www.horizons.gc.ca/eng/content/metascan-3-emerging-technologies-0 and a great way to learn more about the study quickly is at http://envisioning.io/horizons/.

There is so much more. This was a couple notes on 1/6 of the study. But to not spoil your exploration too much more, we’ll just summarize by saying, go in and explore and get your mind on the possible. As an IBM colleague of ours used to put in his email signature:

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill (Brainyquote.com)