During my time here at Speakers Corner I have been very lucky to enjoy some of the speaking world’s hottest property. In a very short space of time I have been privy to fantastic speakers who have given my brain a work-out, the likes of which I have never experienced before.
The serial offenders for these mind-blowing attacks on my intellect are The Futurists.
Before my time here, I would have described a futurist as some sort of Doc Brown character, helping Marty McFly with his new range of hoverboard or tinkering with the DeLorean. Little did I know that Futurists existed and, more terrifyingly, many of their predictions of future trends are happening right now.
I would like to think of myself as a well-educated man. A man who knows how to work an I-pad, owns a lap-top, can set up a spreadsheet on Excel and can operate the inter-web. However, listening to these guys, you feel like there is a whole world out there which you have very little comprehension of, like a penguin musing over nuclear physics.
Take something like BitCoin for example. This is something I had no experience with and had only heard in passing. Suffice it to say that, when I saw Leonard Brody speak on the topic, the concept baffled me and my eyes were well and truly opened. The idea of a digital currency and the fact that paper-money’s days are numbered blew me away. I had no idea this was even happening! Being a pretty normal guy, I own a wallet. However listening to Leonard, in the not too distant future, wallets will be confined to the museums, along with the Aston Villa money clip I owned at university. Within the next 5-10 years, you will merely walk into any retail establishment with your smart phone and walk out with what you want, all the ‘technical stuff’ regarding paying will have been done.
This does not stop with retail. Reading some of Brett King’s work or listening to Giles Andrews, the future of banking is all mobile as well. Again, I will not pretend to know anything about the actual programming logistics of this, but suffice it to say that loans, bill payments, mortgages are mobile and what’s more, now have a social media aspect to them – Imagine having a Twitter follower or Facebook friend guarantee you for a loan! This is major disruption in, what was once, a bricks and mortar, suit and cigars type establishment and all of this happening in only a few years.
More recently, and awe-inspiringly, I saw John Straw speak and he does not pull any punches with where the future is taking us. This future is a lot more sinister, a lot more Terminator 2 than I would like! The rise of A.I. and robotics that is happening the world over, takes me to thoughts of Skynet and pictures of Arnie returning from the future with a shotgun. I know this is all very Hollywood, but every day we come closer to this becoming a reality. Imagine having a toy with a consciousness that can react to your children in real time and learn the patterns of their behaviour. Toys being able to detect dyslexia and autism by how your child connects with it. Or, less cute and cuddly, cyborg soldiers that are lucid and have consciousness. This is not science fiction but a matter of time.
Now, I know I may be stating the bleeding obvious to the more technologically gifted out there, but for blokes like me, at my age, with my social background, this tech-renaissance is like discovering fire all over again. You only have to ask a certain good friend of mine about how Tinder has changed his life! This is why I feel, and fear, we may be a lost generation – Too young to remember a time where computers were the size of a family automobile – But too old to have this level of technology engrained on every aspect of our life. We are fighting to keep up as we are now having to live, work and play in an ever-changing world of technology. I would encourage all children of the mid-80s to assimilate quickly and get to grips with these advances as the world is not going backwards, only forwards, very, very quickly – Brace yourself.
So I leave you with this… “I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” – Albert Einstein