In March 2014 in London, in a closing keynote address to the Wearable Technology Conference, Cisco chief futurist David Evans forecast that the ongoing miniaturization of technology would lead to its installation inside the human body. “If you do the math and fast forward a little bit, in about two and half decades the power of your smartphone will fit into something the size of a red blood cell. It completely changes the game if humans can have red blood cell-size computing.” (By what technology and to what extent the miniaturization of computing technology will continue is a subject of considerable discussion, but that’s a topic for another post.)
I’ve sometimes pondered the progression of computing technology I’ve experienced: from the mainframe (a device operated by experts, to which you are granted access) to the personal computer (on your desk) to the laptop computer (in your briefcase) to the mobile phone (in your pocket) to the smart watch or smart glasses (on your person). Evans notes the next logical step—the implanted device (in your person). Note that this is a progression not just in miniaturization but also in the intimacy of connection between you and your device.
The obvious question: What are the further stages in this progression? According to Evans, “Ultimately where I think we’re going in the next couple of decades is to actually move into the replacement phase; where we take perfectly good parts of our body and replace them with something a little bit better.” At this stage humans begin to “self-evolve.” It seems to me that the term “evolve” hints at an even further stage, one in which the implanted technology becomes something that is passed from parents to offspring and co-evolves as part of the human species. This is the ultimate destination of intimacy, when human and technology become indistinguishable.
p.s. It’s worth pointing out that Cisco has on its staff a chief futurist. In fact, in the last several years we’ve noted numerous examples of futurist titles and/or futurist roles at major national and international corporations and government agencies. It seems that an increasing number of organizations are seeing the value in exploring possible ways the future may unfold and what they need to do now to anticipate and shape it.
p.p.s. Thanks to Shaping Tomorrow’s newsletter for alerting me to this source.