If not now, when?

By: Matt K.

It seems to be almost universally agreed upon that we as a people are approaching some sort of a crossroad. Whether it be political/societal, technological, economic or “other”, there are game changers being developed and proposed. The theme of this opinion piece is, when? I’m breaking these various products/ides into three time buckets; my lifetime, my kids lifetime or later/never.

Self Driving Cars: My Lifetime

  • Save for a setback in Arizona earlier this year (which resulted in the death of a pedestrian), this technology is getting close and the benefit to society (and financial opportunity) is simply too great to hold back. On an almost daily basis, I find myself loathing traffic and wishing for a reasonable alternative to getting from point A to point B (or at least wishing I could catch some Z’s while waiting for the jam to break). Additionally, carrots like “evolved Uber” (picture your car dropping you off at work and then acting as a low cost, self driving taxi cab during the day when you don’t need it) and plummeting car insurance premiums add more incentive. I would be surprised if within 10 years the majority of cars on the road aren’t automatous.

Highly Cognitive AI: My kids lifetime

  • While it has come very far over the past decade, our AI (both physical robots and software based) is still largely task oriented. Deep learning is running up against a wall until we can break through and create “true” AI which more closely follows the patterns and behavior of the human brain. From what I’ve read, we are far away on both technological and moral fronts. Personally, I am extremely torn on this one.

Crowdsourcing Legislation: My kids lifetime

  • I’m hard pressed to find someone who is truly satisfied with the job our Congress is doing. Additionally, we are still operating a very antiquated system with some “unnatural” evolutions (like full time politicians). Today, businesses frequently pose questions (usually by upper management) to their employees via various crowdsourcing programs, compile the results, encourage “popular” ideas to merge and evolve and then put the final “winners” out for an up/down vote. Would such a model not in theory be much superior to our current method of developing and implementing legislation? While the technology exists today, the rules and operating protocols for such a system would take decades to agree upon. Not something I expect to see, but a massive overhaul in our legislative system over the next century is something I wholly expect to happen.

A civil war or some level of secession from our Union: Later/Never:

  • This isn’t conjecture; California is trying to put a resolution on the docket which would result in their secession from the Union. While it sure seems that we are moving in starkly different directions, I truly don’t believe the vast majority of our population is very far from center. We are too deeply rooted in the basic ideals of America, and I don’t believe that will change over the generations.

A major adjustment to our Economic System: My Lifetime

  • Our National debt, the increasing impact of automation and issues like healthcare are going to need to be reconciled in my lifetime. At present, we are in some sort of ineffective limbo between two financial models (“Democratic Socialism light” and Capitalism), and the negative numbers are climbing. The current administration seems intent on growing our way to prosperity while not taking a hard line on spending (at least not yet). The sheer fact that we will need to massively overhaul social security and Medicare/Medicate (or risk insolvency) in the next 20-30 years will demand a fundamental change in the system which has more or less remained unchanged for the last 60 years.

 

One thought on “If not now, when?

  1. Good framework for the article based on human lifespan timelines. Lots of other interesting technology topics to explore next month including AR/VR, gene sequencing, alternative energy sources, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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