Thoughts

Technology that I’m excited about

Sorry about the later-than-usual post, I’ve been trying to get into the habit of writing one article per day; and today, well it just got away from me. But, better late than never!

A couple of days ago Y-Combinator released an update to their well known ‘Requests for Startups‘, which is well worth a read (after you’ve finished this article)!

I’m not going to jump into their update here, but it got me thinking… what tech am I most excited about in the short term. The longer term stuff starts to get a bit far from what we can comprehend now, so that’s why I’m focusing on the tangible here and now. And I should note, I’m going to try my utmost to steer away from the cliché stuff.

The quantifiable self

I’m not actually sure if this is the technical term given to what I’m about to write about, so let me know if it has a buzzword that I don’t know.

What I mean by ‘the quantifiable self’ is metrics and data as it pertains to our health. So many diseases, cancers, etc. can be so much less life changing if they’re caught early enough. I know that I don’t go to the doctors as much as I should, and I know for sure I don’t get my blood checked regularly enough to be well placed to catch something.

Thankfully, we’re starting to see a few startups focus on this niche, and over time as more capital is pushed toward it, the costs should reduce, the market grow and it become pretty common for everyone to be getting monthly blood checks, or whatever the check is that highlights stuff early.

Stepping back from the more serious disease prevention, something as simple as weight trackers, health trackers and food trackers. Imagine being able to hold up your phone, and on a augmented reality screen see the food identified and the calories highlighted. Or better yet, just snap a photo of the food, and it gets sent off into some massive big data platform that can identify the meal, and automatically log and categorise it for us.

All-in-all, I think we’re starting to become data hungry, and data hungry as it directly relates to our health. Hopefully we’ll continue to see the interest grow through insurance, venture funds and university incubators.

A solution to advertising which means our every move isn’t tracked

Perhaps it’s selfish of me to include this here. I recently deleted my Facebook account, not because of my photos etc. being open to my network of friends, but primarily because Facebook’s very business model depends upon packaging my data up and selling it to some ad network. And it goes even deeper. Fingerprinting is the thing that really bugs me, because there’s no escape. Whether you’re on Facebook or not, I think I read a statistic like 90% of all websites have Facebook code on them, which means Facebook is literally following you around the web.

I digress. Back to my point. I’d like to see some startup or foundation setup that not only keeps the huge tech companies in check, but one that keeps the ad exchanges in check. Yes, I may be ‘anonymised’, but I’d rather person 3939081u88 (who is really me) didn’t have every single thing recorded.

Thankfully I don’t think I’m alone. I think there is a desire, from speaking to my peers, for privacy. And when the big tech companies overreach, someone does typically keep them in check. Rather ironically, it’s usually the government.

</rant>

True virtual reality

Let’s set aside the motion sickness thing, and hope that VR gets a handle on it.

What I’m about to talk about may already exist, so hit me up in the comments or on Twitter if it does. I can’t wait for the day when my parents can put on a VR headset, me be across the other side of the world with a 360 degree camera and start streaming HD to them. Letting them be right there with me, experiencing the sights beside me.

And this is only the start, once creators start focusing on this (and the actual hardware becomes more mainstream), the number of adventures we are going to be able to go on, from our living room.. it will be crazy. I know most of this stuff exists right now, but I think it still has a little further to go.

Automation and AI’ing of boring & dangerous jobs

Quite a hot topic at the moment, and only last week we saw Flippy (the burger flipping robot). I’m excited for robots or AI to take boring or dangerous jobs. I’m excited for us, as humans, to get more time back as a result of all this. More time to spend with our families. More time for leisure. More time to escape from stress, and experience the world around us. Just imagine how much this technology is going to progress over the next decade, it’s going to be crazy exciting.

Autonomous cars

I’m not going to jump into this one in a huge amount of detail, apart from the fact that so many deaths will be prevented. We’ll also get a lot more time back and see whole cities redeveloped as a result. City centres will be more green, there’ll be less carbon dioxide, the list goes on…

Replacements to beef

PETA do a pretty good job of explaining the negative impacts of beef on the environment:

When land is used to raise animals instead of crops, precious water and soil are lost, trees are cut down to make land for grazing or factory-farm sheds, and untreated animal waste pollutes rivers and streams. In fact, it has such a devastating effect on all aspects of our environment that the Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth.

In fact, it has such a devastating effect on all aspects of our environment that the Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth. (Number one is fossil-fuel vehicles.) And according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute, a staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. No wonder, when you consider facts like these:

* Cows must consume 16 pounds of vegetation in order to convert them into 1 pound of flesh. Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all water used in the U.S. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.

* Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles. Of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S., more than one-third are devoted to raising animals for food.

And it continues… so it goes without say that I’m excited for companies like Beyond Meat, and of course for the wider population to start to explore sustainable alternatives to a meat based diet.