When the internet became big, everything changed. Fundamentally everything we did — learning, writing, communicating, finances, business, science — became changed. In many ways, convenience exponentially grew. So, here comes another question: is something similar to this already coming up again on the horizon?
Let’s look at the five main technological advances that are currently in development: machine learning, IoT, blockchain, and quantum computing. By “in development”, I mean some products might already exist, but in the grand scheme of things are very early in their life cycle. For blockchain, there are certainly some interesting use cases but for the most part are limited primarily to logistics and finance. IoT is the oldest of the five, but once again comes with the limitation of being a facilitator of greater technology as opposed to being one itself (It’s even in the name, “Internet of Things”; implying merely an extension of the internet).
This leaves us with two possible factors left: machine learning and quantum computing. With quantum supremacy now a true possibility, it could be that the enhanced speed and characteristics of computing and hardware could give us the ability to conduct things in such a way that we’d never suspect; however, at this point, it’s just too early to tell. After all, the idea that we have reached quantum supremacy in and of itself is still hotly contested. So, that leaves us with machine learning.
Machine learning, which could also become artificial intelligence in the relatively near future, is in my opinion the advance that shows the most promise in becoming its own revolution. Not only has it sped up the process behind many operations such as translation and drug discovery, but it has also lead to the development of new technologies such as self-driving cars and facial recognition. In addition to this, it has the ability to touch virtually every single aspect of life; much the same way the internet did. While there’s certainly many out there who will espouse the idea of “machine learning” without actually putting it to meaningful use, there are certainly grand possibilities on the horizon.
But this also hits at a bigger issue, which is the speed of technological growth. There have been four major technological revolutions in the history of mankind: the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, the scientific revolution, and the internet revolution. As these revolutions have occurred, they have become closer and closer in frequency. Still, it’s only been about 50 years since the invention of the internet. Is it really far enough to say that we’ve already hit at another? And, if the answer to that is yes, could it be that we’re speeding up to a point that we can no longer control? Could it be that our constant quest for convenience and efficiency will be what leads to our downfall?
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