Monday, January 21, 2013

My Predictions for the Not Too Distant Future

     In the early 80s when my career shifted sharply to computers, I made a number of predictions. Some of these were recorded in my monthly newsletter, Microcomputer Update for the School Environment (MUSE). One of these has already arrived: the proliferation of hand-held computing. Today these are called smart phones. Another prediction was the application of computer technology to the diagnosis of disease. This is in process, and has a long way to go to reached maturity. I believe that much health monitoring and diagnosis will become automated. Blood work will be done by computers much more rapidly, efficiently and inexpensively. Ray Kurtzweiler, author of The Singularity is Near, even believes that tiny implants will monitor our health status continuously.
Below I have listed my current predictions:
(1) Libraries will be loaning books via the Internet where they will be read on e-readers like the Kindle. The actual buildings will be used mainly as community centers as humans will always have a need to interact. Magazines, periodicals, and newspapers will be delivered electronically to e-readers, TVs, and computers. Many trees will be spared!
(2) Computerized instruction via the Internet will replace many classroom bound courses. Instruction will be monitored by frequent quizzes designed to assess learning rather than impose grades. Advancing to the next unit will occur when mastery occurs. This concept is not new, it used to be called computer-aided instruction (CAI).
(3) Robots will take over many domestic and industrial tasks. This trend is well underway. Many jobs will become obsolete as workers are replaced by robots that work continuously and efficiently. The new human work force must be technically skilled to maintain, repair, and improve the robots.
(4) The social and economic ramifications of technology will be considerable. The need for menial labor will decrease. The need for highly skilled, technical labor will grow enormously.
(5) There is a danger that society can become so reliant on technology as to become complacent.Each generation must strive to preserve and apply the knowledge needed to maintain our high level of technological development.
(6) Technology will create more leisure time as fewer workers will be needed in manufacturing, education, finance, medicine, the judicial system, transportation, and agriculture.
(7) The need for entertainment (theater, sports, hobbies, etc.) will grow as society seeks new ways to occupy its time. Participation in sports will grow as a means of providing an outlet for the need to accomplish, especially to those who have lost the opportunity to be productive.
(8) A three-tier economic system will emerge: (a) those who have the ability to maintain our level of current technology now and in the future will have the highest priority and income, (b) individuals responsible for organizing and implementing leisure activities for the masses whose jobs have been replaced by technology will have the second highest income; included here are entertainers and sports figures, (c) the "non-working class" will receive monetary support similar to social security. They will have the most time to devote to leisure activities. They will be offered many opportunities to pursue sports and hobbies on the local, and state levels. Some will graduate to the national level where they will enjoy higher economic rewards. The boundaries between these tiers will not be rigid as individuals will be encouraged to improve their status through education and skill development.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ron,

    I've read some of your post and the one on "how tach is destroying jobs". I don't believe that technology will increase leisure time as your #6 states. Instead, for most people, as wage stagnation continues and jobs become more scarce (due to globalization and technology), we will be forced to work longer days/hours for sustainability. Technological advances is something that will continue to grow, as is natural and should. Our children will be forced to become educated even more and at great cost. Many in society will attain Masters degrees, yet the job pool will be so great that compensation/income will remain low. What I don't see anyone talking about is the elephant in the room; that technology is good, but only when managed with population. It is not sustainable to have a growing technological planet, which reduces or eliminates both service jobs and in many cases intellectual labor, as well as allowing us to live longer lives, and a growing population across the globe that needs jobs. The correct approach to take is to allow the population to DECREASE, overall, while technology increases. It is only that combination that will allow reasonable job growth with fair compensation.