As we enter the new year, it helps to step back a little and think of the bigger picture. Human beings have been developing art, philosophy and technology for upwards of 4,000 years. Even though it may be a little cheeky to pronounce the last 10 years as the epitome of our existence, it is an undeniable fact that no other period in history has seen such an explosion of technological advances.
In that last decade, the last year is particularly special because finally we as a race seem to have woken up to the fact that in the very near future the world is going to be irreversibly changed by new technologies. And that we are taking the first baby steps in the great technological age to come. So much so that satirical British commenter Charlie Brooker calls 2013 the opening episode of Humankind: Season Two. As Aaron Levie, the articulate CEO of box.net, put it: “(2013) is the first year really where the conversation around technology turned from being about bits and bytes to aspirational, ‘change-the-world’ topics”. He is of course not referring to the incremental changes in our iPhones, Galaxys and iPads. Some of the greatest initiatives announced last year were just that. Announcements. Without actual products. Amazon has announced its plan to deliver products using drones. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk came up with some wonderful ideas for a transportation system he calls Hyperloop, Google has been working on its moonshot projects and announced that it is getting ready to do some wonders with robots. From sharks that tweet to cars that drive by themselves, the last year has given us many mind-blowing products and ideas. Many of those ideas will probably never come true. But just the breadth of the ideas and the fact that some of the biggest names in tech today are pioneering those ideas instead of concentrating on just making more and more money today has been truly inspiring and gave us a peek at the future that we are going to live in.
2014 will no doubt be bigger and better as our major tech companies would like to say. Of course, we will have the iPhone 6, the Galaxy S5 and host of new devices. These devices, as cute as they are, do nothing for the improvement of mankind as a whole. A whole lot of other new devices that no one thought of before will come to the market and will change the way we perceive the world. For one thing the new year promises to be a great year for the wearables market which is one step away, Apple releasing an iWatch, from exploding into the mainstream psyche. We will also see more and more civilian, privately owned drones in the skies, both abroad and here in India. Even the drone market in India is one disaster away from waking up the government to bring in some regulation. More and more Indians will get smartphones and will enjoy the freedom offered by the Internet.
One of the biggest hopes of every new year is that it will fix the weakest link in our devices. As much as our technologies have developed over the past decade, the battery technology that is needed to keep those devices powered up for an increasingly connected audience hasn’t changed much in the last couple of decades. A breakthrough in battery technology will be the biggest gift that 2014 could offer humanity even if it means watching more cat videos on YouTube.
The writer is a tech geek. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org