Recently, we tweeted a ‘harumph’ for Geekwire’s article on First, we kill all the ‘futurists’. Then the Policy Horizons Canada group put out a fantastic emerging tech futures map. And, in a new study published by Envisioning and Policy Horizons Canada, a blog on Business Insider noted:

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 manufacturing, neurology and cognition, nanotechnology and materials, health, digital and communication technology, and energy.

These Predictions May Not Be So Far Off

Moore’s Law defined that accelerated digital processing advances well beyond what we originally expected. For one thing, the web and “flat worlds” (See “The World Is Flat” by Thomas Friedman) are advancing Metcalfe’s theories from his law of network interconnection. This creates a tipping point for society to rapidly adapt to new technologies on a global scale. In doing so, we move towards one of many possible futures. One where vast amounts of information fill our information systems.

Some of these “futures”  experience delays by political, geopolitical, or epidemic disruptions. That being said, we’re keeping the main premise of First, we kill all the ‘futurists in mind

“…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 in commenting on these articles. Or,  you can call it a great way to help teach awareness of the pace of emerging and disruptive tech.


A Few Findings We Enjoyed

First, the article presented its graphics to show how we love to present tech and how 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 of impact technology has, the focus is on economic impact, geopolitical (energy), and human-computer interaction and societal impacts.

Neuro And AI

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

So, we are of course enthralled and drooling over the neurology and cognition aspects. It is great to see the agreement with our own learnings that we must invoke sentiment (emotion tracking) prior to making predictions (crime prevention).

However, the focus seems to be on facial recognition aspects for emotions. Given there are so many other pantomimes of liars and other emotions. Also, considering composite emotion detection in verbal, setting, background, environment, contemporary context, this does appear a bit aggressive.

Furthermore, there is now an abstraction of emotion through devices (text, twitter, facebook, etc.) that create different faces of a person and emotion. It will take a large amount of data to help integrate the HUMINT concepts that the intelligence agencies have access to on the civilian level.

Final Thoughts

While the good folks in the neuro area nailed some interesting concepts of physical, physiology, and neuro interactions (human-computer interaction), something felt missing. Namely, the concept that computers like Watson went from multiple servers to one server and made open source in five years (From Jeopardy champ to cloud service). What will that capability make 2010 Siri look like in ten years? A novelty? A joke? Microsoft’s Cortana in late 2014 has already progressed from lookup and secretarial duties to executive administrative assistant. What will happen in another 10 years? Furthermore, what will happen when major brain mapping or DARPA’s brain mimic efforts produce its research in that time period? And what will happen when the storage capacity of the web can handle brain storage?

Will we have personalized advisors and 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 reach such a point in ten years is very bold. However, 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 can be found at, and a great way to learn more about the study quickly is at

Please note, this was merely a couple notes on 1/6 of the study. So, go in and explore if you want. See what it is about mapping and data that gets us at Xentity so excited. 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.”