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The Future and Where We're Going

By Joe Jones - Meet the Team

2019 - the future technologyWhat can happen in the next year?  What new trends will quickly become the new norm?  Back in the early 20th Century, in just a few short years, people went from travelling over land by horse or train to driving cars with internal combustion engines, and soon, the skies were filled with powered aircraft.  History also saw the decline of world empires and the seeds sown for a world at war.  In just a few short years, vaccinations, antibiotics, and the complete restructuring of nations followed suit.

Today, we haven't seen such drastic changes. The vision of futurians of the 1950s anticipated that mankind would already have colonies on the moon and other planets. It was conjectured that we would have flying cars and live in a relative Utopia with technology leading the way.  We might not have flying cars - at least none that are commercially available - but the majority of people living in North America carry tiny computers with them everywhere they go. Most of these have several times the computing power of what sent mankind to walk on the moon - just to play a Taylor Swift song as your ring tone.

Strange to think that not long ago, families had the choice between colour and black and white televisions. Today, 8K High Definition bring undeniably crisp and clear resolution to television sets which can nearly cover the entire wall of some homes.  So, what’s next for us?

With the way technology is advancing, we could be looking at Hyperloops that take people across the continent in an hour or so.  3D printers are already being used to fabricate artificial limbs, custom made for amputees. Even your dentist can make a custom crown with a 3D printer in about an hour, while you wait! 

But what about our daily lives?  What sort of changes are already in the foretelling, possibly beginning in the year 2019?  Here are just a few ways to consider what the near future will be like. In some ways, however, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 Everything can be brought to your door

In the 1976 movie, Logan's Run (we don’t recommend watching) showed a glimpse into the future through the eyes of people who dreamed up the fantastic for the silver screen.  The idea that dating could be as simple as dialing up someone's number and they would be transported directly to your house for a casual fling seemed outrageous; that is until dating apps pretty well did just that. Today, a large percentage of dating is initiated via dating sites or apps. The benefits and the hazards of these casual "hook ups" have yet to be determined, but this has made the Sexual Revolution of the last century look tame in comparison.  

Speaking of having things delivered to your door, services copying the models of companies such as Uber and Lyft, mean that people are willing to hire themselves out for private services that bring take-out food to your door from restaurants that normally don't deliver. Services such as Skip the Dishes provide delivery services to anyone or anywhere if you are willing to pay a little bit extra. Just for the luxury of never having to leave your home. Even large supermarkets such as Loblaws affiliates use a store supported service where online lists are used to select groceries, then are pulled by store employees, and either bagged up or ready to pick up, or are delivered straight to your door.

Cottage Industries

In the past, hiring a professional shopper was usually something only the rich could afford, but these sorts of cottage industries--from ride services to shopping and delivery--are really just considered ways to make extra money.  Services vary from basic grab and go, to curated shopping experiences which end the time and hassle of going to the store yourself. The good news is that it will help someone willing to perform these services make some money in the process!

Being your own foodie

Services such as HelloFresh and Chefs Plate delivery will allow curated ingredients and easy to follow recipes to be delivered to the home. But more and more are cropping up every day!  Unlike simply ordering a pizza or other takeout food, cooking will be considered less of a chore and more of an entertainment/family experience. Entire meals are delivered straight to your home, ready for you to do a little prep work and cook yourself. 

Oddly enough, this isn't much different than delivery services of yesteryear, when butchers, icehouses, and grocers would make deliveries to their customer. The invention of the supermarket made those services all but extinct; but with the internet, being able to custom-fit the needs of the customer to their convenience has brought it back in a big way.

The prospects are exciting for foodies, since they will not only have the availability of ingredients at their disposal, but also a dearth of recipes they might have never known existed!

Automation is Everywhere

In the mid 20th Century, automats were places where customers only had to put a few coins in a slot and open a drawer to find a meal, sides, or a drink waiting for them.  There were no waitresses or cashiers to interact with.  Only the cold, impersonal automat and its futuristic food which appeared almost by magic.

Today, self-service checkout lines are commonplace in most grocery stores, but what if you could go into a store and not have to interact with anyone?  The Amazon Go store for example, utilizes a vast array of security cameras, artificial intelligence, and anthropometric facial/body recognition software to monitor your activities as you shop. 

The Honour System...Sort of

By using cameras and AI, even microchip tracking devices aren't needed. With the use of high definition cameras and anthropometric software which can identify and track customers as well as items they leave the store with, a final bill for anything "purchased" is charged to the shopper's credit card automatically through a special app on the shopper's smartphone. Even more interesting, items that were simply picked up and returned to the shelf are considered items of interest and information about these are also applied to the shopper's browser in the form of ads and sales notifications for potential future purchases. 

Streaming Will Become the Norm

The fall of the brick and mortar video rental store is already fading into the horizon, with a standard of home entertainment that lasted nearly 40 years ending with it.  Even now, BluRay and DVDs alongside cable television are quickly becoming relics of the last decade, as streaming services are putting them to pasture. Although it’s unlikely that electronic media will ever replace books made of paper (people just tend to hold onto a fondness for them), digital services are already making yesterday’s video media outmoded. Just as a time came when the last vinyl records faded from the shelves of stores (until nostalgia and a love for the medium brought them back), there will come a time when DVDs and BluRays no longer appear on shelves.  This will be interesting indeed, since people will be required to subscribe to a streaming service and independence from the internet will no longer be an option.

New Options in Technology 

The giants of software have driven and controlled the market for almost as long as there have been computers available to the public. Microsoft created the gold standard when it came to their Office suite of software, however open source programs soon came to provide nearly identical services free of charge and easily available for download off the internet.  In some ways, open source browsers such as Firefox, were superior to what Microsoft was producing and soon came into their own as well.  The next giants of the software industry, such as Adobe and various Apple products might soon feel the sting of free enterprise themselves. Holding onto monopolies for programs that either don't play well with others (Apple is notorious for Apple systems only working with Apple programs) and strict licensing requirements (we're looking at you, Adobe), open source competition might just be around the corner for these giants. 

The End of the Me Generation

Whereas the 1980s were remembered for the line from the movie "Wall Street" in which the mentor stock executive says, "Greed is good," the tail end of the twenty-teens will begin to show a decline in general narcissism. This generation is a "Me Generation," where "Selfies" and the compulsive need to exhibit all of their exploits on a semi-public platform are the norm. But this will soon begin to wave off. Already, social media outlets such as Facebook have come under fire, being blamed for anything from inciting depression in users, to using algorithms to gerrymander content in order to influence voting. Oversight as to the harmful effects of social media will eventually become a national concern, and a correlation between bullying, criminal behaviour, and depression will be attributed to social media.    

The addictiveness of social media will start to be recognized as well as some of its more harmful effects. A movement will begin that incites a kind of Prohibition against constantly being connected to our electronic devices. Especially the long-term effects on children. As a result, people will begin to take time to disconnect from their devices and spend more time with each other again.

We might not have flying cars, but we do have a world that is becoming more connected, for better or worse, every day. With consideration and measured response, maybe 2019 will see us all on the brink of a new kind of world.

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