In 2018, we have smart speakers that can convert baking measurements for you, play any song you can think of and tell you the weather. We fly drones for fun. Machine learning and predictive analytics are redefining what it means to work in basically every industry.
With so many amazing, breakthrough technologies at our disposal, do you ever wonder which one has the most impact on our lives now, and which will have the most impact in the future?
To hear what some of the internet’s tech experts have to say about the impact of technology on society, I asked them the following question and have shared their responses below.
Do you agree with them? Or do you think another kind of tech will have the biggest impact on us?
What is the number one technology you see having the most impact on society now and in the future? Why did you choose this tech?
Liron Segev, The Techie Guy
“Voice will have the biggest impact. People want convenience and there is nothing more convenient than being able to usher commands to the tech and let the tech do the hard part. For example, we will be able to say: ‘Hey Google, schedule a meeting with Peter for next week for 2 hours’ and let the AI system work it out. We stare at the fridge and say ‘Alexa, I have these three ingredients, tell me what I can cook?’ And just follow the along. We leave for work and say to the home system ‘Leaving now start cleaning’ and the switches off the a/c and starts the Roomba vacuum cleaner and the dishwasher.
Voice has an impact from a business point of view too. When someone says ‘Send a dozen roses to my girlfriend,’ the company that wins that business is the company that is installed on the voice device. Therefore, the play right now is for businesses to be geared towards a voice only society where no screen/ keyboard will be involved and it’s all about simple convenience.”
Wendy Zamora, editor-in-chief of Malwarebytes Labs
“I’d have to say the number one technology with the widest-ranging impact on society has to be artificial intelligence (and as an offshoot, machine learning). Both are already being implemented in many platforms and devices, from self-driving cars to search results, and the result has been technology that is, quite literally, much smarter than it was even a few years ago. Tech fitted with artificial intelligence can, in many ways, out-process the human mind—though it has yet to match us in critical thinking, creativity, and ingenuity. The emphasis here is on “yet.”
Artificial intelligence and machine learning, while often having dark connotations in the cultural zeitgeist, have actually greatly improved many of the technologies we use today. Autofill, for example, has been refined by leaps and bounds—though it’s still cause for many a hilarious meme. In the coming years, I expect artificial intelligence to smooth out many of its bumps, aiding in analyzing huge volumes of data and enhancing voice recognition capabilities. On the security side, AI will help identify threats never before seen in the wild and protect consumers and businesses from them before they have a chance to deploy. It can also, one day, aid in discovering who is behind a particular cybersecurity attack—a problem those of us in the industry, as well as in law enforcement, have grappled with for decades.
However, as with any technology, AI also has the potential to be abused—and with far-reaching consequences. I’m personally excited to see how it can be used for good in the coming years, but also hope that technology leaders implement it with careful, thoughtful precision, and bake security into its design.”
Ian Barker, www.iandavidbarker.co.uk
AI has the potential to impact on the everyday life of just about anyone. Its effect has been compared to that of a new industrial revolution. It will see some jobs disappear and others created, it may even completely change the way we think about work. It’s exciting, and just a bit scary too.”
Taylor Bragg, Freelance technology Journalist and Marketing Executive for www.paratuspeople.com
“For me, I think the technology that will have a huge societal impact is Artificial Intelligence. AI is rapidly transforming scenes from historic science fiction novels into the reality of our daily lives. From automating time-consuming, day-to-day tasks, to systems that are capable of making a diagnosis of Cancer in medical images more accurately than humans; the applications of AI are rapidly on the rise. The application of this technology is likely to scale across pretty much every industry, impacting every aspect of society, culture and science.
But with the hype of AI comes the speculation- and perhaps fear- of the ability of the technology. While not yet widespread, the power of Artificial Intelligence had sparked huge debate within the media, with plenty of well-known public figures such as Elon Musk raising concerns about such power. And these concerns are notable. Evidence of racial and gender bias has been discovered in certain machine learning algorithms, and privacy concerns raised regarding AI-powered facial recognition technology. Not to mention the fleet of robots with cold, metal hearts and algorithmic veins marching in and stealing our jobs…
But with government regulation and controlled systems in place, it’s clear that AI will have many wonderful applications that will revolutionise many areas of our lives.”
Jim Rossman, The Dallas Morning News
“I think 5G will have a huge impact on our lives in the future. When really high-speed internet can come into our homes and cars and phones without any wires, it’ll really change the way we think about connectivity.
When our cell towers can give us internet access that’s as fast as the wire coming to our homes, people who live in more rural areas will have a greater choice. Dead spots will be a thing of the past. I’m not sure we are going to need to set up WiFi routers in our homes in five or ten years. Everything will just talk to the internet directly.”
Marie-Philippe Gill of Girl Knows Tech, software engineering student and technology blogger
“I’m really excited to see machine learning and computer vision helping others. For example, I recently learned about the Lookout App from Google which uses a phone camera to help the visually impaired navigate the world. There’s also the startup, smartARM, which recently won the 2018 Imagine Cup from Microsoft. They are developing an affordable robotic prosthetic arm that uses computer vision and machine learning to identify and calculate grips for objects being grasped. I chose this tech because I believe that making the world more accessible to people with disabilities help everyone! I am also very passionate about machine learning. ”
James Frew, Freelance technology journalist and staff writer at MakeUseOf
“3D Printing. There was a period of time, as with most emerging technologies, where 3D printing was over-hyped in the media. There were Kickstarter projects and splashy headlines about the future of printing. In reality many consumer 3D printers were disappointing (if they ever materialised) and they became consigned to garage storage. But away from these stories, there has been a quiet transformation. 3D Printing has already begun to make an appreciable difference to people’s lives. Open Bionics, a UK-based startup, creates bionic hands for amputees using 3D scanning and printing services that wouldn’t have been accessible just a few years ago. Researchers at Harvard University have been working towards 3D printing blood vessels, and Jonathan Butcher from Cornell University has been able to create a 3D printed replacement heart valve. This dramatic progress has occurred over a relatively short period of time. As the cost of the technology decreases, and performance improves, we are likely to see some dramatic and impactful developments in the near future.”
Wayne Williams, Managing Editor of BetaNews
“If you’re looking for technology that’s going to have a huge impact on society I think it has to be blockchain. While people mostly associate this with cryptocurrency, its applications stretch way beyond that. Blockchain is essentially a decentralized public ledger, and can be used to improve banking transactions, ensure charitable donations reach where they should be going, protect healthcare records, and much more. Ultimately though, I chose it because we’re going to see the creation of decentralized social networks (Steemit is an early example), decentralized cloud storage, and decentralized internet platforms, all using blockchain.”
Brian Regienczuk, Transforming client-agency relationships as CEO and Founder of Agency Spotter
“If you think of technology over time, I still think the engine and the automobile have had the deepest impact in most people’s day to day lives. The infrastructure created by the engine from airports to highways has shaped cities and our lives, the environmental impacts including the noise they generate. Its impact is woven into the fabric of our society and everything we do.
In some cases, the world will be recovering and evolving from engines for another 50 to 100 years in terms of removing or changing the infrastructure and adapting it as new technologies continue to evolve and replace the old.
In many ways, the Internet has had a similar impact and will continue on far beyond the next 50 to 100 years, though it is evolving as well.
As for the future and newer technologies, I believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to have the biggest impact going forward. Just like engines and the Internet, though, AI can be misused and weaponized. Like any technology, how we prepare for and evolve our society using AI will be key.
AI, along with advances in robotics, agriculture, and other technologies, could help us achieve major societal hurdles like being able to truly feed the world. The question is, will we unite to solve the biggest human challenges or divide and squabble over territorial resources as a means for a few to maintain control over the many.”
Carolyn Nicander Mohr, technology journalist at The Wonder of Tech
“Self-driving cars use technology that exists today, but will grow tremendously in the coming years. Perhaps some day we may not be able to buy a car that can be driven by people. Imagine if our children someday tell their children that cars used to be driven by people and their children find that bit of history hard to believe.
Self-driving cars can make transporting people and goods more efficient and more economical. Imagine not owning a car, but summoning one using an app whenever you need to go somewhere. Just tap a button and a car arrives at your door. You get in and are taken where you need to go.
Self-driving cars can transport children, elderly and those who have disabilities who wouldn’t be able to drive themselves otherwise. Groceries could be delivered by self-driving cars, as well as other goods. We could be more efficient by sleeping or getting things done as we are driven from one place to another.
But self-driving cars could also put many people out of jobs, including taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, and chauffeurs. Would car racing still exist as a sport?
As the self-driving car technology continues to improve, expect the impact of this tech to have an increasingly profound impact on our daily lives.”
“Artificial intelligence will be likely be the one technology that will have the biggest impact on society and that probably doesn’t sound too surprising but the devil will be in the detail of regulation. Plenty of people, namely Elon Musk, have raised concerns around unchecked AI but how policymakers and governments approach AI will be very telling. Unless there is some kind of co-ordinated approach globally, we could end up with a patchwork of laws and situations where AI is more advanced (and beneficial and/or dangerous) than other places. Just look at how the EU has looked at data protection and privacy compared to the US and other jurisdictions for an example of how one set of lawmakers can be wildly different than others. From this vantage point, that may well be the same for AI.”
What technology do you think will impact society most?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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