A look back in time - 2011 - The Future of Technology

Taking a look back to our past predictions in 2011 of some of the current technology we might be seeing today

Design News

Back in 2011 a video to describe the Internet of Things was posted on YouTube by Ericsson.  You can see it here.  It aims to describe the Internet of Things in a more trendy way, as The Social Web of Things.

Essentially the video outlines a well trodden but preposterous path that technology companies use to show us in a clunky way what the future will be like.  We have seen several of these before (remember the “internet enabled fridge” that would order your groceries for you when you run out?) and this version integrates the “home” as a social networking friend, looking after your wellbeing and making decisions for you.

This excellent blog outlines some of the reasons why this video is a little creepy, and I do not want to repeat the points made.  More than anything, the video demonstrates, par excellence, exactly why this will NOT be the future of communications, and why all of the wonderful possibilities offered haven’t been as successful as they could have been – This is a case of technologists looking to apply their technology to human behaviour, and not being led by real needs and desires.

I am at a loss to understand how a global multi-billion dollar company created a video that showed how Kubricks 2001- A Space Odyssey vision of HAL has somehow been  taken as a good thing . The idea of a ‘jealous’ smart home trying to drown out the telephone call of a girlfriend is not a dream I nor anyone I know have. Innovators need to understand more about people to balance their technical knowledge, as commercial success is not driven by technology alone, but by how it can enhance our lives. Technology is an enabler, not a solution.

This is true in almost all aspects of life.  Technological advances in cars have made us faster, more responsive, safer and more comfortable drivers.  But we are still the drivers, not passengers to a machine.  Email, social networking and mobile phones enable us to communicate more effectively, but few, if any of us, would let machines write messages for us.

The vision in the video is one that will not become reality.  Not because the technology is not available, but because it does not respect what makes us human: the ability to make decisions for ourselves.  Technology is best considered as our servant, not our master. As time has gone on our assumptions have proved correct, although technology has progressed it has not developed to the scenario of our ovens making important life decisions for us…

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