2010 business revisited

The integration of biological systems with microprocessors is already happening with the deaf and visually impaired.

The ‘wet-wiring’ of soldiers linked to locating satellites and strategic military centres will be commonplace within five years. We will be able to communicate directly with other people in sound and vision from anywhere on the planet.

Infinite reality graphics engine prototypes are already being tested in BMW, NASA and Daimler Benz. As a result, video-conferencing will be consigned to history.

By 2007, the entire human genome will be mapped – not just the 100,000 genes but the exact sequence of their constituent parts. We will be able to create designer children. We will be able to slow down and maybe even halt aging.

Cybercities, embracing all these technologies, will become commonplace. Technology will no longer be ‘external’ to us. It will be part of the furniture, the walls, the urban fabric, the clothes we wear and even our bodies.

Intelligent networks will link all facets of our lives. Computers and ‘knowbots’ will take over mundane administrative and work tasks.

Monitoring of citizens through voice and face recognition video systems will be widespread. Singapore will the first of these cybercities and many more will follow.

Technology should improve our ability to process complex information and may contribute, not only to trade and commerce globalisation, but also to greater political, social and cultural integration.

They will continue to revolutionise all manufacturing processes.

However, there is growing evidence that these, and other new technologies, are triggering what has been described as a workplace implosion.

This will result in the destruction of many jobs and the growth of a dual society – of the information rich and the information poor.

Paul James has alluded to the development of the 80/20 society in the near future where the real beneficiaries of the new technologies will be a new breed of rapacious corporate elites and shareholders in the new technology industries.

Just 10 per cent of the world’s population will control 90 per cent of its wealth by 2010.

There will be a growing underclass of poor, economically disenfranchised and very angry people who will be largely excluded from this shiny new world.

The potential use of these technologies for covert surveillance and abuse of individual liberties are already manifest and one that all societies will need to be vigilant about in the future.

All these new technologies are extremely seductive. All previous phases of rapid technological innovation have produced many unintended outcomes.

The real danger is that, for the first time in human evolution, we are on the verge of creating truly intelligent technologies.

As a result, no one can be sure what the full impact will be on societies, organisations and what we now describe as work.

What we can say, with great confidence, is that almost everything that we take for granted today is already tomorrow’s history.

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