The current generation has been surrounded by technology from a very early age. Many of the companies who are developing disruptive innovations were started before they were even born. Google was founded almost 20 years ago and Amazon almost 25 years ago. Apple which created the platform for putting a personal computer in everyone’s pocket was founded 40+ years ago. However, innovation is not limited to technology companies. In fact, every company is focused on how to infuse technology and disruption into their business practices and operations. As a result, we will begin to see step changes as it relates to reimagining how things have always been done. Once the dust settles, your child’s financial transactions may be different from your own and they may use modes of travel that were once considered science fiction. Below, we have outlined 5 mega technology trends that we believe will have the biggest impact on your kids.
In the earliest days, trade/commerce was facilitated by exchanging goods of similar value. This progressed to a standards based payment system (gold) and evolved into a financial system managed by central banks. Central banks are the foundation of the modern day financial system and are tasked with regulating the money supply along with managing inflation and deflation. When e-commerce was invented, the existing modern day system was transferred to facilitate the exchange of goods via the internet. Paypal was one of the first companies to take advantage by developing an intermediate digital solution that had one foot in the modern day financial system and the other foot in the emerging digital world. Recently, there has been a movement to align the method of exchange with the underlying philosophical concepts of the internet (free, open, and distributed exchange of information). While we are still early days in this development, the emerging solution is cryptocurrency. So what exactly is cryptocurrency
? In short, cryptocurrency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units and verify the transfer of funds. Cryptocurrencies operate independently of any central bank. In short, cryptocurrencies empower users with the ability to send money directly safely and securely to another person without going through a traditional intermediary (Bank, Paypal, credit card company, Western Union). The way this works is that cryptocurrencies are based on blockchains. Blockchains are a series of recorded transactions that are similar to a global spreadsheet or accounting ledger. Each blockchain is distributed; this means that it is stored on computers around the world that are run by volunteers. However, the transactions are not secret. In fact, they are publicly available on the network. Not only are they publicly available but each new transaction must be verified by the previous blockchain. In addition, because they are heavily encrypted; it makes it very difficult to hack blockchains which is why they are considered more secure and safe than existing databases that reside within institutions. If someone wanted to steal a cryptocurrency they would have to rewrite in real time the entire ledger while the global community is watching. Given the large and growing trend towards conducting commerce online, you can imagine that a digital currency that enables peer-to-peer transactions is going to play a huge role in how your kids transact.
While there are some organizations that are focused on keeping your personal information secure
, your website safe
, or your personal computer free from hackers
; there is a continuously moving target when it comes to cybersecurity. From Stuxnet
(world’s first digital weapon designed to disrupt the development of Iran’s nuclear weapon capabilities) to Operation Get Rich
(stole 170 million credit card numbers from major retailers) and the Sony Playstation hack
(rendered the gaming platform inoperable), there is a constant threat by those who seek to hack into protected systems by identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities. As more and more activities are conducted online and key data moves to the cloud
, the protection of the submission and transmission of this information from harm will continue to grow in importance. One might imagine a point in the future where we all are assigned a team of virtual digital bodyguards who work 24/7 to protect not our personal and professional information but that of the companies we work for.
Artificial Intelligence Assistants
, and Amazon
have recently introduced voice powered artificial intelligence assistants. Apple’s Siri
which was integrated into iPhones was also an early forebearer of this trend. Mark Zuckerberg also created his own artificial intelligence system
, Jarvis, for his home. While much of the initial technical challenge was around getting these devices to be efficient at understanding human language, learning about each users preferences and intent and finally aggregating that information to become a truly valuable assistant; that has not yet entirely panned out. However, one can imagine that the closer these systems get to replicating the functionality of KITT on Knight Rider
(especially integration into Apple Watch or similar device), the higher the consumer interest and adoption will be.
Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
Major technology companies including Facebook, Google and Samsung have recently introduced virtual reality headsets. Developers are also racing to build applications to leverage this new computing platform. The possibilities for virtual reality might include education
, and sporting events
. However, there have already been inroads with augmented reality. Think about the 1st down marker you see when you watch an NFL game that is layered onto your viewing screen using technology. Most people couldn’t imagine watching a game without that helpful visual cue. Even more recently, the popularity of Pokemon Go
as the most successful launch in mobile history showed that consumers are looking forward to improving their experience with mobile games. As the hardware and software along with the underlying advances in computational processing which makes it all possible continue to evolve, we will continue to see user adoption and ultimately the killer app
that takes the concept mainstream.
For several generations, the independence afforded by driving was extremely desirable to young people. Over the last several years, there have been less and less kids who look forward to getting their driver’s license. Vehicle ownership for young people is on the decline
. From a technology company development standpoint, Uber, Google and major automobile manufacturers such as GM and Ford are creating the hardware and software platforms to completely eliminate the need for vehicles to be controlled by humans. In addition, there is also a concerted effort develop autonomous flying vehicles (drones). Applications of drone technology range from pizza delivery
to package delivery
and even aerial photography
. While there will be benefits from a safety & environmental standpoint, this innovation will also completely disrupt a huge portion of service industry professionals (taxi, bus and truck drivers) who depend on human powered vehicle transport for employment. Notwithstanding this dislocation, it is entirely possible within the next 10-20 years that only autonomous vehicles will be licensed for commercial and passenger transport within urban areas
. In this future, the cost for vehicle maintenance, parking and insurance will all be initially borne by the companies who manage the transportation infrastructure and rides will be subleased to users on a single, weekly, monthly basis by passengers.
While we are still early days in terms of both the development and the adoption of these mega technology trends for kids, there is no doubt that as they continue to evolve the resulting impact on the lives on the next generation will be profound. The question is: who will develop, launch and manage the algorithms to power these innovative new platforms as they scale globally?