Every few years someone claims that the world will be changed by new technology. Sometimes they are right, and other times they’re wrong. This has to lead many of us to believe that we have all placed too much faith in the technological revolution.
Despite all our criticism, concerns and fears about anything new that involves a microchip, no one can deny that the world has changed for the better or worse thanks to high tech gadgetry and there is no end in sight. In most cases, there is not an instant effect caused by new inventions. It takes time for people, industry and governments to adjust.
During those periods of adjustment, the technology has time to become refined and less expensive. Workers who lose their jobs to new technologies end up having to look for other types of employment. This is a cycle that people have experienced since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and now it is about to happen all over again in a huge way.
When cell phones came along most people thought of them as a new toy for the wealthy. Today, most people have one and for many, the phone in their pocket is the only one they have. The instant upside is that we can easily stay in touch with our family, friends, employers or business contacts.
More than just personal communication devices, smartphones now allow us to take care of many tasks that once required a PC to handle. The downside is that we can no longer hide from the world unless we simply do not answer our calls. Add to that the fact that we can easily become addicted to social media, texting, games and all kinds of online activities.
When the “mobile phone” revolution first started to explode a lot of investors and venture capitalists thought they would make a fortune investing in various schemes to buy or cell phones or air time. Most of those investments fell flat and ended up being loss leaders. That is why it is important to see what is coming, know when to make a purchase; or invest and how.
Otherwise is it all too easy to become a victim of new technology?
If you doubt this just visit any garage sale or junk shop where you will find all sorts of technology that was supposed to go on for years and expand into more advanced versions. Good examples: Atari Game Systems, The Adam Computer, Game Boy, 8mm and VHS Camcorders, Betamax and VHS Video Recorders/Players, Laser Disc Players, Cassette, 8 Track and Reel to Reel Tapes and Machines, Telex Machines, PDAs, Portable Televisions, LED Watches and Typewriters.
When personal computers first appeared they were expensive toys designed for geeks who loved electronics. Even after companies like Apple designed machines that would be attractive to everyone, they often became obsolete by the time they hit store shelves. People made and lost fortunes over these. That is because those early computers represented the type of advanced technology that kept advancing so rapidly that it left very little time for consumers to catch up.
A lot of people jumped into the early versions of these machines for fear that they might be left behind. I remember buying a bunch of different and unique computer systems with all their bells and whistles during the 1980s. None of them lasted or really did all that I wanted them to do. The upside for me was that I had to write my own programs for most of them to do what I wanted them to do, so I learned a lot about how these machines and their programs worked.
I recall when the “World Wide Web” was suddenly transitioned from a secretive way for the U.S. Military and Government to communicate and exchange data to a place where everyone was welcomed. A lot of people ignored or downplayed it at that time.
However, before long all those popular electronic Bulletin Boards accessible by computer modems began to quickly relocate from phone numbers to web addresses. When the early Windows operating systems began to appear their emphasis was on PC applications. By the time that Windows 95 was released, even the venerable Bill Gates admitted that he had vastly underestimated how popular and important the Internet would become.
A lot of other investors and companies saw the potential and rushed to get in on the excitement by creating Internet Service Providers with electronic mail. Since that time many of them have vanished or become a part of conglomerates. Understanding or seeing the potential of new technology is never enough. You have to know how to avoid the hype, survive the changes and possibly even make some money along the way.
In 2001 the Segway PT was unveiled. This two-wheeled people transport device was supposed to be the next big thing. Even Steve Jobs said that this invention would be “as big a deal as the PC.” However, unlike cell phones, personal computers or the Internet, the Segway had a limited market. Children, senior citizens and many disabled persons can use cell phones, personal computers and the Internet. Most them could not or would not use the Segway.
Some time ago Google demonstrated their self-drive car to a public underwhelmed by what they saw. The problem was that it was kind of ugly with that weird rotating thing on top and most people had no faith that fully automated vehicles could ever take over the roadways of the world.
What people did not know then and many still have no clue about today is that many techs and car companies are currently betting the farm on the fact that self-drive vehicles will take over the road within the next ten to twenty years.
We already have vehicles that can park themselves and now come with a wide variety of safety or anti-collision devices on board. Some vehicles now have the ability to make automated decisions about braking, parking and other manoeuvres.
Is it that hard to believe that there will be much more to come?
This new technology will not appear overnight, but it will benefit everyone instead of just being attracted to a niche market. It is going to be refined and slowly introduced to people a little at a time. When all the research and trials come to fruition, fully automated cars will begin to make a huge impact everywhere. Insurance companies that depend mostly on auto policies will begin to disappear.
Auto body shops will be as rare as photo developing stands. The numbers of people who die or are severely injured in auto accidents will likely drop to an almost insignificant amount. Personal injury lawyers will have to look for new clients. Police Officers will have to find new and creative ways to write tickets. The price of gas will fall dramatically due to the efficiency of self-driving vehicles: Most automated cars will probably be powered by hybrid or alternative energy sources.