While at times the evolution of technological innovation may seem chaotic with no clear purpose, goal or objective — many new technologies seem to come out of nowhere — there is an unseen hand at play. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations foretells of this somewhat mystical phenomenon whereby markets have their own agency, filling in market gaps as if a transcendental being was overseeing our economy. What Smith and many others who followed him neglected to notice, whether intentionally or not, is that real people with keen awareness of present conditions coupled with future need are these mysterious beings. In other words, we have discovered this unseen hand, and it’s us!
I’ll use applications that just about everyone is aware of to demonstrate who all of this works. It’s a bit of an oversimplification but appropriate for this demonstration.
- Microsoft Word released as a standalone application
- Microsoft Excel released as a standalone application
- Microsoft PowerPoint released as a standalone application
Then Microsoft Office released comprising all three with true integration that made interfacing with all three rather easy. In other words, innovations begin as separate entities but eventually and naturally consolidate into one integrated application.
I mention this because we are witnessing the same sort of stovepipe development and consolidation happening right now. However, this phenomenon is no longer constrained to applications but rather more vague concepts such as content and speed.
On the content side, artificial intelligence (AI) is the driving force. Note that there is real category confusion about AI that is to be expected. Legacy labels such as neural networks and machine learning are becoming meaningless because each overlap and can rightly be called AI, which depicts a consolidation of applications in real-time. Now couple that with what AI needs to allow for greater capabilities, ones that science fiction describes, and there we have it. Speed. And this increased speed, actually 20to 50 times faster than its predecessor, is coming through 5g wireless.
Long story short, if you want to see the future of tech innovation, keep your eyes on AI and 5G. Throw in the peripheral technologies of the Internet of Things (IoT), and the picture becomes clear.