Monday, December 28, 2015

Technology in review: six advances that will remake our world

To the average person, it may seem that the biggest technology advances of 2015 were the larger smartphone screens and small app updates. But a lot more happened than that. A broad range of technologies reached a tipping point, from cool science projects or objects of convenience for the rich, to inventions that will transform humanity. We haven’t seen anything of this magnitude since the invention of the printing press in the 1400s. ...

Here is one to motivate your reading of the entire article. It's in the Washington Post by Vivek Wadhwa (a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University).

Doctors in our pockets

All of this has been made possible by advances in computing and networks. In a progression called Moore’s Law, computers continually get faster, cheaper, and smaller, doubling in speed every 18 months. Our $100 smartphones are more powerful than the supercomputers of the 1970s—which cost millions of dollars. With faster computers, it becomes possible to design more powerful sensors and artificial-intelligence (A.I.) systems. With better sensors, we can develop sophisticated medical devices, drone-based delivery systems, and smart cities; and, with A.I., we can develop self-driving cars, voice-recognition systems, and digital doctors. Yes, I am talking about applications that can diagnose our medical condition and prescribe remedies.

In 2015, smartphone-connected medical devices came into the mainstream. Most notably, Apple released a watch that, using a heart-rate sensor and accelerometer, can keep track of vital signs, activity, and lifestyles. Through its free Research Kit app, Apple provided the ability to monitor, on a global scale, the use of medicines and their efficacy. Microsoft, IBM, Samsung, and Google too, as well as a host of startups, are developing sensors and A.I.-based tools to do the work of doctors. These technologies are expensive and geared for the developed world; but companies in China, India, and Africa are working on inexpensive versions. The sensors that these devices use, and the computing and storage that A.I. systems need cost very little. Previous generations of medical advances were for the rich; now all can benefit.

Now check out the other five advances including drones (instead of roads) and renewable energy (affordable for all).

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