In my time, I’ve seen a variety technologies evolve from infancy to leaving lasting impacts that have profoundly changed our lives. Color televisions, transistor radios, DVRs, cell phones, computers, software — all moved at some point from “gee whiz” to “how did I even live without it?” And all have played roles in shaping what we have become as a society.
In my role, I regularly get a chance to meet with member companies filled with innovators already working on the technologies that will have a hand in determining not only who we will be in the short term but in the years to come.
One field that immediately comes to mind is the Internet of Things. In case that’s a new term to you, it is the field in which everyday objects use network connectivity to send and receive data. A refrigerator that tells you when it needs a refill is an example. What’s next? That’s already being worked on at Intel in Chandler, where the global giant’s Internet of Things Group is based.
Many of our other members already are playing a part as well. That’s one reason we recently held the inaugural meeting of the Council’s Internet of Things Committee. They came together to share what they know and to hear what others are doing. We had representatives from companies such as Verizon and Insight, as well as Aspen Technologies, Zed Ventures, MultiWare, Bolste and Impress Labs. And since the Council is about making connections, a few actually came looking for new partners for their projects. You might someday be using something that got its start at a meeting.
Also shaping the future — literally — is the field of additive manufacturing. You might know it as 3D printing. More specifically, this is the process of adding layer upon layer of material to make a product. Whether it’s a replacement part for airplane or a human, additive manufacturing is already proving its usefulness. Member companies such as Honeywell, Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies and Titan Industries are exploring the potential of this new field.
Self-driving cars are getting closer to reality for us. Google already has been testing vehicles on the streets of Chandler and Ahwatukee, so it likely won’t be long before you leave the driving to your car.
If you think about it, self-driving vehicles really are extensions of robotics. We have a whole generation that grew up competing in robotic competitions such as First Robotics, which has been supported by Microchip.
Robotics, in turn, has been the entry point for artificial intelligence. Where is this headed? Consider the words of futurist Ray Kurzweil, author of the book The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology:
“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.”
So if you’ve been impressed at progress so far in just your lifetime, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
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