CES is going on, so there are lots of amazing new technologies in the news, like autonomous cars, wearables, more practical things, and completely impractical things. Digital people are often accused of being too gadget focused, and it is weeks like this when we are certainly somewhat guilty.
But I’m a little bit over gadgets. They’re cool, but I think they are simply indicative of a much more interesting moment. So here’s my grand prediction. 2015 will be the year of discovery. Previous years we thought about technology, digital infrastructure, services and experiences. That was all building toward now, where the internet reaches a majority of all intelligent life on earth. It is now nearly more ubiquitous than access to clean water or consistent electricity.
Think about that. In less than 30 years, the internet (as a set of technologies) has become more important to the human experience than one’s sense of smell.
So what does the world look like when the internet is the most important infrastructure of life? Well, we stop talking about it as a series of technologies or devices (Ben Evans’ talk from GE Minds + Machines conference goes into depth). We start talking about what we do with it. 2015 is when we learn how humanity and society will change based on our newly found low-friction, even effortless access the information, tools, insight & inspiration we need to live better lives.
While this may be a uniform philosophical question, each corner of the world will have different challenges and paradoxes to work through. while the US and Europe fight about packet uniformity and classifying access providers as utilities, a whole different picture exists in developing nations, where, to quote Jan Chipchase, “the network is never neutral.”
To paraphrase Ben Thompson from his most recent podcast: what kind of world do you discover when every company in every industry can assume every person has access to the internet?
(every few weeks I contribute to a short newsletter for my blue hive colleagues about cool things in digital. This is my most recent article)