August 2014

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The Future is Coming.. Fast

Strap in, and hold tight.

Rav Panchalingam Rav Panchalingam,
Director of Research & Development,

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My father linked me an interesting TEDx Talk; Ray Kurzweil talking about the progress of innovation toward Artificial Intelligence. You can see the full video here It really got me thinking about what we're doing now, but more importantly, where we're heading toward into the future - and how quickly. There were two main topics of interest for me from the video.

  1. The Law of Accelerating Returns; an analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential. As we've seen with the advancement of hardware computing over the last century, there has been exponential growth in the processing power available, and accessible at a consumer targeted level. More notable to me is the thought that software, and cloud computing technologies to be more specific, has only just recently begun it's exponential growth in development and innovation. The progress of technology in cloud software made within the last year will only be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the next year. So to that point it's exciting, and almost scary, to think what we may achieve 10 to 20 years from now. Referencing back to Ray's talk, since the human mind is naturally inclined for linear insight - we most likely cannot predict what we will have accomplished in that time.
  1. The Virtualised Mind; the concept that a human mind can be extensible, and augmented by cloud computing. In a way we already do augment ourselves on a daily basis through the accessibility of information delivered to us via the Internet. We've formulated the platform of collecting and accumulating all our information into the ‘cloud', and now the problem is the abundance and unstructured makeup of the aforementioned. Whether it be the schedule times for the local train, the current rate of foreign exchange prices, or the translation of words into another language. Everything is available now on the Internet, but the problem has evolved and become how to make it easier to consume. The focus of innovation in technology right now is to harness the power of information and deliver it in a means that can be more easily found and delivered to whoever seeks it. The bottleneck in delivery of information is the hardware devices, and the software interfaces, that act as the vehicle for that information. So, what if we were to cut out the middle-man and deliver it all directly to our brains... scary stuff, or is it? It seems outlandish to reference a Hollywood movie, but the recently released thriller Transcendence is based around this concept of 'backing up' our minds into the Internet. I really do believe that, as uncomfortable as it may seem to picture such a scenario, our innovations into AI and Cloud Computing will eventually lead to some form of gateway connection between our human minds, and the virtual world.

contemporary Taking a small step back into reality, what we can take from this is that there is a lot more innovation to come in the near future - and we shouldn’t be wasting time trying to predict or prepare ourselves for it. Instead we should be open-minded and base our current technology developments with the culture of ‘Agile’; being able to embrace new technologies and/or redirect our development path with minimal effort in order to match whatever comes in the future.

In relation to our Building Automation Industry, and Big Data; since it is almost inevitable that Cloud Computing will only get (to quote Daft Punk) harder, better, faster, stronger - the most invaluable thing you can be doing currently is to collect your data (information). We may all have ethernet cables plugged into our skulls in the future - but I’m highly doubtful of seeing time travel come to fruition in my lifetime, so if you aren’t collecting it now - you’ve lost it forever!

Strap in, and hold tight.

About the Author

I’m the Director of Research and Development for VAE Group, an Australian company with business units in Construction, Asset Management, Mining Oil and Gas, Automation, Commissioning and Service. I’m also the founder of Bitpool. I approach the automation industry through the eyes of a software developer, and it’s been a very exciting experience to-date. Technology is my passion.


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