September 26, 2017

How Will Emerging Technologies Impact My Future?

Technology Leadership

The future of technology is unfolding before our eyes. The human race does not know exactly what changes to expect or when the drastic transition will become noticeable, but emerging technology experts have conducted extensive research and have formulated predictions on how these inevitable changes will effect how businesses operate, how humans work and communicate, and how every day life as we know it takes place.

UAT’s Graduate Program offers a course in Emerging Technologies (MSC686) taught by Professor Natasha Vita-More, an expert in the field, as well as a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Her background gives her the credibility and a wealth of knowledge to educate, inspire, question and lead class discussions on how new and emerging technologies will change the way that humans currently utilize and interact with technology moving into the future. Technology is a tool with endless benefits, but it also can disrupt the existing flow of the real world, sometimes making the adoption of a new device or concept problematic without a cohesive plan for the transition.

Natasha Vita-More

Professor Natasha Vita-More

This course overviews major themes in emerging technologies. Students are encouraged to relate the topic back to their original degree family whether that be cyber security, game art and animation, business technology or even journalism, bringing their field of expertise to the table for discussion as a group.

Referring to the first topic discussed in MSC686 on Misunderstood and Misinterpreted Technology, subject matter expert Dr. Alan Toffler was quoted saying, “Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate,” meaning that as new technologies are developed, a disconnect is formed in the infrastructure where in many new devices are not compatible with previous technology. (MSC686, 2017).

An industry seeing much activity in the research phase, but also one that is considered controversial is nanotechnology. The majority of humans are not mentally prepared for the changes that society could potentially incur from acceptance of biomedical nanotechnology as a practice. Experts like Drexler and Merkle share the belief that uses of nanotechnology will benefit human survival (MSC686, 2017). In researching the topic, it was interesting to find that many uses of nanotechnology are currently on the market and being used in items that people may not know contain nanotechnology capabilities, indirectly becoming more familiar and accepting overtime.

PureOlogy Hydrate Sheer Shampoo

PureOlogy Hydrate Sheer Shampoo with Nanotechnology – $65.50 at Ulta Beauty

“Companies using nanotech in their skin products as of 2005 include: Mary Kay and Clinique from Lauder; Neutrogena, from Johnson & Johnson; Avon; and the Estee Lauder brand” (Nanowerk, 2017). Items like cosmetics and sunscreen utilize skin regenerative and anti-aging benefits without outright advertising the use of nanotechnology to consumers.

As previously mentioned that emerging technologies can be viewed as controversial, expert Dr. Gregory Stock alludes that politicians are divided about the future of mixing technology with biology. “Our increasing ability to alter our biology and open up the processes of life is now fueling a new cultural war” (Stock, 2002). Leaders in bioethics are largely against genetic engineering, but American politicians should listen to the community’s needs and make the most educated decision for each case. Biotechnology and genetic engineering can help people with diseases, birth defects, as well as people who were involved in accidents and who are suffering from effects of the aging process, but there are groups in opposition, hindering progress. “As scientists rapidly improve their ability to identify and manipulate genes, people will want to protect their future children from diseases, help them live longer, and even influence their looks and their abilities. Government and religions should not try to ban these developments” (Stock, 2002).

Dr. Gregory Stock, Life Science Entrepreneur and Visionary | Photo: (Big Speak, 2017).

When changes of this magnitude occur there are sure to be growing pains, but people do not want to be inconvenienced. Technology mogul Elon Musk iterates this sentiment in the quote “I’m not really a fan of disruption; I’m just a fan of things being better” (Musk, 2017). In order to progress as an educated society, we require innovation. New technologies advance human abilities, but changes can have a domino effect bringing about disruptions in many forms that can hinder the immediate progress of moving forward.

An example of a new technology that disrupted the journalism industry was the invention of the camera phone with access to wireless internet which changed the traditional elements of journalism, as well as the public’s instant demand for knowledge. Because of the introduction of new technology, many news rooms closed or faced the risk of a closure. Citizen journalism became more prevalent as everyday citizens had access to capture the news and disseminate to an audience without taking extra steps to verify information like a trained reporter. It is important to keep in mind that advances in technology that disrupt current processes can affect many other industries and aspects of that technology. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Systems processes analysis are needed to understand who is being affected by this change.

Citizen Journalism on the rise | Photo: (Khan, 2015).

Citizen Journalism on the rise | Photo: (Khan, 2015).

As technology becomes more and more intertwined in our daily lives, it’s important to keep in mind the more information that is shared, less privacy exists. Just as citizen reporters share stories that they encounter, social media platforms encourage sharing your birthdate, hometown, likes and dislikes, making it difficult to know how much sharing is too much. Daniel Newman said, “In other words, when companies like Facebook create applications that we use in our everyday lives, for free, the real price is in what we sacrifice for the right to use the application for free, our data” (Newman, 2017). A data breach is a real and constant threat for entities like banks, hospitals and credit card companies which makes the idea that our data is out there, very scary. As progression breeds efficiency, humans have written, programmed, coded and developed systems to automate processes to make our daily lives easier. Automation creates convenience, but in many ways can negatively affect one’s privacy of shared personal data. It is important to think before you post because once specific content is shared with Google and on the Internet, it is no longer private.

Not only controversial concerns of disruption and privacy send experts on the hunt for reliable solutions in technology, but scientists are also highly interested in the human brain and its incredible capabilities. In order to learn more about the brain, scientists have tried a method called brain mapping. “Scientists have produced a 3D atlas of the brain with 50 times the resolution of previous such maps. The atlas required slicing a brain into thousands of thin sections and digitally stitching them back together with the help of supercomputers. Able to show details as small as 20 micrometers, roughly the size of many human cells, it is a major step forward in understanding the brain’s three-dimensional anatomy” (Humphries, n.d.).

Brain Mapping: A section of the human brain map as small as 20 micrometers. | Photo: (Humphries, n.d.)

Brain Mapping: A section of the human brain map as small as 20 micrometers. | Photo: (Humphries, n.d.)

The brain is the powerhouse for human life, but it is susceptible to disease, the aging process, and irreversible brain damage, all which can lead to death. What if there were alternatives that could repair damage and extend life? Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that “When you talk to a human in 2035, you’ll be talking to someone that’s a combination of biological and non-biological intelligence.” Moving forward, as technology uncovers more solutions to our mortal problems, it’s predicted by Kurzweil that humans will begin to utilize a combination of biological and non-biological intelligence and that is not something to fear.

Emerging technologies can be influenced by an ebb and flow of resources, either in scarse or abundant quantities helping or hurting the production process. Dr. Wayne Dryer said, “Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into,” (Dryer, 2017). Abundance can be acquired in investments, big data, communication, transportation, and many other areas. Scarcity has been seen as problematic in areas of energy, healthcare and education which can affect costs and opportunities. It’s important to monitor specific areas to avoid negatively impacting society.

We know that Emerging Technologies, by definition of the name, will continuously evolve. There will always be new discoveries, innovations and transitions from old operating procedures to more advanced methods that people need to know about. Releasing information out to the general public is crucial in today’s world. As a digital media maven, blogging is an outlet that has the ability to reach millions of people giving them access to important information. A blog is a powerful and effective way to elaborate on research, explain findings and disseminate that news to reach a large audience to help inform them.

References:

Big Speak. (2017) Dr. Gregory Stock headshot. https://www.bigspeak.com/speakers/gregory-stock

Drexler, E. (1987) The Path Ahead. https://www.foresight.org/Updates/Background0.html

Dryer, W. (2017) Discussion in class. MSC686.

Humphries, C. (n.d.) Brain Mapping. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/526501/brain-mapping/

Khan, S. (Mar 30, 2015) Move over citizen journalism: here comes a much smarter future. https://medium.com/@stephenkhan/move-over-citizen-journalism-here-comes-smart-journalism-ace72f97a389

Kurzweil, R. (n.d.) Discussion in class. MSC686.

Merkle, R. (MSC686) Nanotechnology is an idea that most people simply didn’t believe. http://www.merkle.com/

Musk, E. (May 24, 2017) Elon Musk quote. MSC686.

Nanowerk. (2017) Nanotechnology in Cosmetics. http://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-in-cosmetics.php

Newman, D. (n.d.) Quote from Class. MSC686.

Stock, G. (June 1, 2002) The Clone Wars. http://ethics.sandiego.edu/presentations/AppliedEthics/Stock-Fukuyama/Stock-Fukuyama_debate.pdf

 

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