To preface my ramblings to follow, I’m in a love/hate relationship with modern technology. With every year, we become more empowered, yet we become more isolated and social inept. I have faith though. I believe that at the core of every human exists a desire to do good and an ability to achieve greatness. Therefore due to my faith in humanity I have faith in technology. If advanced and used correctly technology can make us better, it can bring us closer. There is a dark side, but we must look to lead ourselves into the light.
So where are we?
We are in the age of evolution. We are rising as humans, we are augmented. Our intelligence is no longer limited to our internal minds or our direct surroundings. We are able to bring in knowledge from social collectives, from endless repositories. This knowledge travels with us, guides us. We don’t think about it, but it exists today. How? We walk around with small gateways into super computers. We walk around with the “smart phone”. These little devices have transformed our capabilities, extended what we can do, and in short made us super human.
What do you mean super human?
If you are thinking that its just a phone, you are sorely mistaken. Whenever I talk to people about transformation, I always cite my move to San Francisco in the early 90s. Bare with me as I take you on a little story down memory lane. As a teenager, I lived in a very different era. The PRE INTERNET era. There was this mystique about California growing up. It came thru magazines, movies, and word of mouth. These mediums were my gateway into the world of skateboarding. I longed for the day that I could explore the world that I could only imagine. My mediums were very limited. My gateway just a mere peep hole. After months of saving up, my only insight into a city that I had never been to was a few archaeic books from a local library and very small map to get me across the United States. YES, that is all I had to go on. I drove night and day across this great land of ours, from the small rural town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina to San Francisco, California. I didn’t know how to get around the city, where to stay, what part of town was good or bad, where to eat, I was basically clueless. I just knew one thing, I wanted to be there, I wanted to experience it. When I arrived I fell into a complete state of shock. I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I had to figure it out on the fly. Luckily for me, when put in a state of survival I can quickly figure things out (which I must say is in stark contrast to my usual dwelling on trying to make the right decisions).
So now jump forward to the present day. A few years ago I revisited my beloved city for business. This time I had my super human capabilities in tow. Before I even got there, I knew how the city had changed. I knew that certain areas I wouldn’t dare step foot in before, now boasted some of the best restaurants. I knew exactly where to stay in relation to where I needed to be. I knew who else would be there while I was there, where they were staying, and was able to arrange places to meet that none of us had ever been to. The kicker is how it augmented my intelligence in real time. My little brain in my pocket gave me voice step by step instructions of how to get where I needed to be. It told me the status and location of my friends. I knew everything that I wanted to know.
The internet has expanded our knowledge. We can research to the nth degree any subject we want to know about. We can have conversations with and meet people from any place on the planet. We can sit on the floor in a small room in central Kazakhstan and work on some of the core technology components to the largest media companies in the world (YES, I’ve done that). It is really amazing how the world has changed in the past decade. We are more informed and we are more connected.
So where are we going?
We’ve augmented our intelligence. We’ve put no limit on our communication and social boundaries. Our non physical nature has been changed forever. The next step… our physical being. I’m not talking about putting computers within us. I’m talking about using computers to watch us, to inform us, to make us better physically. Ever heard of the Fitbit? A heart rate monitor? These are very simple augmentations. We can do better, much better. I think we are about to see just how much better we can go. Wearable technology has become the in thing to go after recently. No one has hit the nail on the head. Everyone is pretty much fumbling the ball. However, everyone knows what it can be. It reminds me of pre smartphone talk. During those years leading up to the iPhone, there was always talk of how mobile was going to change everything. Yet, nothing delivered. It took someone thinking about it from the users perspective, molding it to that concept, and doing it right. That changed everything. We are about to see that happen again.
What in the world am I talking about?
I’ve been doing a lot of research over the past year. On top of just looking things up, I’ve tried out several apps, bought various accessories, and really tried to see what was happening as a whole in the industry. I belive it is somewhat infant, but biometric engineering is probably going to be one of the fastest growing industries in modern times. All the elements you need to really make something revolutionary exist today. They are fragmented or partial, but they exist. Biometeric and motion sensors are probably the most important.
Imagine for a moment if you will, that you could analyze your blood in real time. What if you could check glucose levels, determine oxygen levels and more all without being physically invasive. If you could analyze all these biometric readings you could probaby in turn create a biometeric signature that was tied specifically to a particular person. You could digitially ID them. In addition, more finite motion sensors that were attached to you could determine a variance of you bending over to touch your toes and you bending over to deadlift a few 100 pounds. Now take those readings and tie them into extremely intelligent system. Are you seeing it at all? YES, you could become super human. You could remove questions, you could get intelligent feedback to make yourself better, physically better.
If you could read all these things, you could know in real time how food effected you. Ever known someone’s kid who went nuts if they didn’t eat, but never really knew when they were going to go over that edge? You could be informed in real time. Ever excercised and felt like you weren’t improving? You just didn’t know how far to push. Did I lift enough, did I push hard enough? Ever known anyone that was on medical watch? Remove all the devices, let them go free, let them live, but let them live knowing that if something came up they weren’t alone.
Now also imagine a device that could store all this info or at least retreive all this info and be digitally tied to you. Have you ever gotten hurt and tried to get your digital records to take to another doctor? What if it were all available on your wrist. To that note, what if you got in a car wreck but had your entire medical history with the flick of a scan. How many ID cards do you carry? Drivers license, passport, credit cards, airline ticket, rental car info, hotel info, the list goes on forever. Imagine walking into an airport with nothing in your pockets, scanning your wrist to buy something, scanning your wrist to go thru security, scanning it to check in for a flight.
This future isn’t that far off. It really just takes someone putting all the pieces together. It takes someone doing it right. It takes someone that can get the masses to adopt it. Over the past year, my research has led me to believe that Apple has been thinking about all of these things. My guess it that they may have been thinking about it right. My hope is that they have, my hope is that they create something that can make us better, that can generally improve the physical nature of people’s lives. If they haven’t OR they fall short of my visions, I hope that someone does.
Technology can be full of light or it can be dark. I’m optimistic. I’m a dreamer. Here’s to the light in all of us and all the little things that can help it shine.