I’ve said that being a futurist is like being a meteorologist; you are usually correct but at the wrong time. I think it’s futurist’s bane always to be right – but too early. As humans, we can look at the clues around us, and with some vision, put together a relatively reasonable scenario of where things will go. We see things like Amazon Go, the Beta Store, or Wheelys and think that one day, we will all shop in stores without workers. As we walk into the store, the store will detect who we are, and it will watch us pick up items in the store and put them into our cart, bag, or basket, and then automatically charge us for the items as we walk out. We see this happening in a few places, and it’s not hard to predict that it will be more widespread. Or autonomous cars – we see it happening and being tested in several areas; several states have changed their laws to help facilitate using autonomous vehicles. We go to conferences like CES and see not only autonomous vehicles but also autonomous flying cars (which look like large drones sized to carry humans). We hear that companies in Dubai and Los Angeles are starting to test them. We hear about Elon Musk’s idea for Hyperloop, a train so fast that it can take us from San Fransisco to LA in an hour, something it takes six hours to drive now. We also hear about great recent strides in AI, powering virtual assistants, computer vision, and machine learning, creating human facsimiles who may even be able to think like us one day. The exciting thing is that all of this is possible – some of it is also possible today. It’s not the technology holding us back – many of these technologies exist and can be combined to build all these innovations. So why aren’t they here today?
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