ETA 2012 opened with inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil discussing creativity in an era of accelerating technologies. How do these changes impact our business plans and our brands? What will the terrain look like when external technologies meet internal biologies?
Communication technologies have always guided the rise of human civilization, and continue to speed up. While the printing press took 400 years to reach a mass audience, the telephone took 50; the cell-phone took seven. Social networks took only three.
Why the acceleration? The answer lies in the exponential growth of information technology. These technologies are democratizing and pave the way for radical change. Kurzweil himself predicted that the Soviet Union would crumble at the hands of emerging networks that ran on email, teletype lines and fax machines.
Exponential computing transcends the thick and thin of world events in a trajectory curve, from one paradigm to another. The overall effect is predictable. So when brands create new projects, they must ensure they will work for the world of the future, not just for the world of now.
How do we look towards that world? Remember information technology builds on itself. We use the computers of today to build the computers of tomorrow. Smart phones are a million times cheaper and seven times more powerful than what computers used to be. In 25 years, they will be a billion times more powerful and 100,000 times smaller.
Manufacturing is the next revolution. Soon we will email attachments to each other’s 3D printers (today an acoustic guitar, tomorrow clothing and food). Every time price performance and capability reach new levels, new opportunities exist.
Health and medicine have also become information technologies subject to the law of exponential return. Such technologies will be 1,000 times more powerful in ten years and 1,000,000 times more powerful in twenty. By placing nano-engineered devices to work inside our bodies, we will be able to turn genes off, reprogram cells and use software to target genetic triggers of disease.
Today’s devices are powerful, but they function merely as gateways to the Cloud. We rely upon them as extensions of our brains—but soon they will interact directly with our biological neurons. Implants will provide us dynamic access to what we need, greatly expanding the size of our brains and extending our reach.
We’ll be putting our brains on the Cloud. We don’t need more information; we need intelligent assistance to bring us information we need. The Cloud will answer our questions before we even ask. The Cloud will become a part of who we are.