The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Article on a conference envisioning the world in 50 years…

Future Road sign.pngThere was an interesting article from Fortune titled: This is what the world will look like in 2045 that looks at some very specific ways that our life experience may be changing. Much of the article focused on extending lifespans… and some of the efforts underway to understand the brain and model its functionality. One of the items mentioned is the depth of a paradigm shift an accurate brain map will cause, something on the order of the implications of the human genome.


“Leading to an avalanche of new technologies and economic opportunities.”


Another area covered is the advances likely in nano-technology and 3D printing. Anyone who reads this blog has likely heard more than enough from me about that.


The article also had a perspective on the unequal access to technology that is likely to develop:

“The technocracy will be the new aristocracy, Martin said. Those with access to the best technology, rather than those with the most material stuff (the two very well might go hand-in-hand, but not necessarily), will be the new one percent.”


I found this a fairly pessimistic perspective. It is always true for the very latest technology, but it is the adoption by the middle class and moving down into the populous where the real impact takes place. For example, mobile phones have been around for quite a while but the impact has multiplied as adoption increased.


At one point in the article it states that 50% of the Fortune 500 will not exist 50 years from now.

Based the past 50 years, the prediction of turnover is not a big stretch, both because the criteria for the list shifts as well as the companies themselves. For example it took 4 years for a 30% turnover of the Fortune 500 in 1998.


Or as the article phrased it:

”That might seem a prediction anyone could make, but the reference to the world's most recognized listing of successful corporations is not an accident. It's not that we're in for a century of corporate collapse, but that old models (and in some cases, old industries) simply aren't going to be relevant in a world where avalanching technological developments are changing society, consumers, and fundamental economics at an increasingly dizzying speed.”


In any case, reading the article should cause people to think about their organizations, their strategic impact and the effects on strategic plans.

Derived behavior data and disease prevention

Global information.pngRecently there was a story in the MIT Technology Review on how derived data is being used to track the spread of disease. I put a post out a while back about a similar approach to traffic monitoring that took place in California.


In the case of using the information for disease monitoring, they were able to combine the information gathered about cell phone location and the travel patterns of the individuals and


“found that people making calls or sending text messages originating at the Kericho tower were making 16 times more trips away from the area than the regional average. What’s more, they were three times more likely to visit a region northeast of Lake Victoria that records from the health ministry identified as a malaria hot spot.”


It seems clear that information derived about behavior should definitely influence how the malaria problem is attacked.


Businesses can use similar techniques (with the consent of their employees) to identify opportunities for improvement in processes and the use of automation..

Advances in improved handling of lost packets for mobile

telecom.pngMIT Technology Review had a report on a technique being applied to improve wireless bandwidth by 10 times — not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to perform error correction instead of resending dropped packets.


“Several companies have licensed the underlying technology in recent months, but the details are subject to nondisclosure agreements, says Muriel Medard, a professor at MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics and a leader in the effort. Elements of the technology were developed by researchers at MIT, the University of Porto in Portugal, Harvard University, Caltech, and Technical University of Munich. The licensing is being done through an MIT/Caltech startup called Code-On Technologies.”


The issue of constrained mobile bandwidth is huge and growing. Dropped packets cause delays, and then to compound the issue traditional techniques generate new network traffic to replace those lost packets.

If the technology works across wireless implementations and domains, it could help forestall a spectrum crunch. Cisco Systems says that by 2016, mobile data traffic will grow 18-fold. Bell Labs goes farther, predicting 30x mobile traffic growth over 5 years (2010-2015).


Businesses depend on reliable mobile data capabilities so these advances are important to IT organizations. The BYOD movement will place even more strain on the mobile space, but is probably considered as part of the predicted growth. It does make me wonder if available mobile bandwidth will become part of the work migration movement, since bandwidth is turning into the measure of distance – a good example of a Megatrend.

Anniversary of the first transatlantic voice line

global telecom.GIFToday, marks the anniversary of TAT-1 the first undersea voice cable between Europe and the North America back 56 years ago. Now undersea cables like this are relatively common place and handle significantly more calls.


There was almost 100 years between the first transatlantic telegraph cable and the first voice cable. That shows how much technology has changed. It makes me wonder what telecommunications will be like 100 years from now.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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