It has been almost two years since I’ve started blogging, and a lot has changed in my life over that time.  I am at a point now where I need to start thinking of what is next for me, and also what is next in general.  I want to position myself in the industries where there will be growth and a long, interesting future for me to work towards.

I’ll start with my views of what’s next in general, and that is sensing and automation.  We are just now touching the surface of sensing and automation with wearables, the start of self driving cars, smart homes, and other smart devices.  The sensing will necessarily come first, and is coming along strong right now.  These devices once deployed will generate lots of data, that will need people to analyze at first.  Sensing devices will continue to be deployed until people with the expertise to analyze them will no longer be able to, and then it will be automated more and more.  The amount of sensors that will be deployed will increase, making the number of active sensors increase even faster.  I expect there will be more and more we have sensed, like where we are in the house, and what we are doing.  The automation will try to determine what we will want to do next.

To be specific about this sensing, I expect traffic and driving to be one of the major overhauls.  I think there will be a large set of cameras and lidar like devices all over the place in cities in the upcoming years.  These devices will replace many of the current systems like the inductive sensing for currently automated traffic lights, toll booth operators, weigh stations, law enforcement, and street taxes.  There will also be a lot of additional systems that don’t replace anything old, but just add to the experience of driving in either a safety, convenience, or advertising manor.  These new sensors could monitor pollution, criminal activity, natural unsafe activity (limb falls), pot holes, flooded underpasses, and much more.

All the sensing will be leading to more and more automation.  This will be clearly the self driving cars, including things like self driving semi trucks, self driving taxis, and self driving houses (think mini house on wheels that shows up at wherever you want).  The driving automation is just the tip of the iceberg, since it is only one portion of our life.  The other automation will come in food (mediocre at first, but will get better), cleaning (super smart roomba for everything), fabrication (3D printing on demand, of items that a computer predicts you’ll want). That last one is a bit far fetched, but I think it will be there, just will most likely take another 20 to 30 years.

There will also be internal sensing, to monitor things like blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids, heart rate, etc.  That information will be analyzed by your device and suggestions will be made to keep you healthy.  There could even be sensors over each segment of the body so that the device knows your precise movements at all times.  This isn’t even getting into the realm of augmentation for human bodies, just the monitoring of them.

The next level of life past sensing and automation is augmentation.  This will probably start very slowly, and most likely in the third world.  The regulations that will be around this at first will be very strict in most countries, so getting eyes that can see in infrared won’t be readily doable in a first world nation.  The start of this is coming with prosthetics for people that have indirect brain interfaces.  These interfaces are reading the brain patterns from outside the skull right now, but eventually they will be implanted directly inside.  The brain has 5 main i/o points (ears, eyes, spine) and each of these could be turned into a bio-digital port with the right technology.  This would in theory allow for the recording of experiences and playback given an extensive calibration, and possibly allow it to be transferred across people.

The last big trend that I see happening in the future is the advent of self replicating robots.  The possibilities for this are pretty self evident, but some of the repercussions aren’t.  Once there are a plethora of robots that can do everything we need them to, there is nothing for us to do anymore.  The regular people who don’t own corporations that handle automation, sensing, neural interfaces, or self replicating robots will have no jobs.  This won’t be them not being able or willing to work, it will be that everything can be done cheaper, faster, and better than them by a robot that was produced without any human effort being expended.  This will lead to the requirement of a new form of economics and a new form of social order.  The one thing that people might be able to do is sell their brain capacity or body at a point where all these technologies have peaked.  If a 20 something needs money and is willing to be a brain in a jar for it, then they can just have their brain taken out and hooked up with i/o ports to the net, then their body can be controlled by whoever bought it, much like the movie “Gamer” but without the original brain being in the body still.  This future is disturbing but something that will most likely come about if all the technology previously mentioned is invented.  I can see several other less likely paths, but they are mostly doomsday scenarios, like the terminator movies.

My part in the future will most likely be around data analysis of these sensing technologies if I choose to take part in any of these complicated systems.  Given the chance I’d love to be a part of the sensing and automation.  I’d also love to be a part of the neural interfaces, or the tech, like oculus, that will be the precursors of them, but I’m not really heading much in that direction right now.  I could slowly work my way there, and I think it will be worth it, but not as a company owner that doesn’t know much in the space.