When we hear the phrase Trends in Technology, some of us begin thinking about technologies that should be coming of age soon. Some of us think “What now!?!” perhaps because technology inspires fear or even annoyance in us. And some small proportion of us think “I already know what the current trends are because I’m a technology creator.” But more to the current point: We hope and expect that the trends we hear about will somehow relate to some of the things we care about. Why do each of us care about different technologies? Simply because not all of us use or even experience technology in the same ways. This may seem like a funny way to introduce an article about technology trends… but you, frankly, get nothing out of this article unless I speak to your notion about which technologies are important.
The Best Answers Require a Key
What is the best way for us to explain “current trends in technology” such that the answer is relevant for most of the people in a given audience? We would have to know a few things about the persons in our audience, yes? The following list would make a good start. Imagine that I’m asking you about these things.
- To which generation do you belong? Greatest? Silent? Boomer? X? Millennial? Z??
- What amounts and types of education have you absorbed?
- Which industries have you experienced throughout your work life?
- Roles and responsibilities: What have they been?
- Number of years of experience with each role and in each industry?
- Types of challenges you’ve encountered?
- What were the sizes of the companies you worked for?
- And, finally… What are your Strengths and Passions?
Armed with this information we can answer the question “What are the current trends in technology that you actually care about?” and the answers will be fairly accurate. That means that the list above serves as a sort of Rosetta Stone. When I speak to audiences about any subject, I like to understand what constitutes the key or Rosetta Stone for that audience.
Two Important Questions in Technology
- “Which technologies are trending now?” or “Which newer technologies are useful to us now”?
- “What’s going to happen next?”
Let’s reverse the order of these questions and focus on the future of technology first.
The Future of Technology
What’s going to happen in the future of technology and why? You can probably answer this question as well as I can: Just start dreaming. If you’re leaving it up to me to answer this question, I choose the following sample sequence:
- Search Technologies: Wireless and Invisible. When: Within a few years.
- Transhumanism. The advances in invisible search technology, or invisible “anything”, are called, collectively transhumanism. When: It’s already started. I’ll have much more to say about this subject in the future.
- DNA-Based Transformations. This is really just an additional form of transhumanism but one which guarantees that our “basic” privacy violation discussions of today will be dwarfed by the dramatic ethical debates of that era. When: It’s already started. Our bodies already modify our own DNA under certain circumstances. And genetic scientists have already been successful at introducing spliced genes (our own DNA, modified) to cause “local” improvements to congenital problems.
What is the value of looking forward in this way? Any news that suspends our sense of “who we are right now” can be a useful disruption. It helps us focus on what’s most important. When speaking to audiences about technologies that are available today I find it a great tool to help them think forward about technologies that will transform their companies and/or industries. But which technologies are valuable for us to discuss now?
Back to Current Trends in Technology
Here are three trends in technology that appeal to me right now.
- Engineering Happiness: The Hitachi Business Microscope. Yes, it’s possible to find out what makes us happy while we’re working, and develop reinforcements to help guarantee our happiness, while also helping to improve our productivity at work. More on this topic soon.
- “True” Crowdsourcing: Real-Time Language Translator. You speak to me in Japanese and I hear you in English. NTT DoCoMo is one of the most innovative companies on the planet. Again, more on this topic soon.
- Technologies to make us faster, better and smarter in our businesses today. This isn’t a trend so much as it is a tidal wave. It’s also the subject of my next article on trends in technology, so stay tuned.