As tech moves to dominate industries that once had no relationship with Silicon Valley, it’s no surprise that numerous areas of our daily lives that were once unplugged are being completely reinvented with the introduction of a new tech flavor.
"CEOs of several established companies have described their company as a tech company that happens to make pizza or a tech company that happens to make steel," says Vinay Mohta, managing director at the artificial intelligence product development studio Manifold. "Every company will eventually be a tech company, and many have started working with their customers, partners, and teams on the roadmaps to get there."
So what does this avalanche of AI, automation, and mechanics mean for our day-to-day lives? Here are just a few areas that are either poised for a technological overhaul or are already deep in a tech renaissance.
1. Food choices
Emerging technology promises to revolutionize the food industry. When viewed in the context of big data, it’s easier to see which blocks on the food pyramid can have unforeseen consequences -; just consider the recent research that has emerged about the unhealthy effect of excess sugar.
Tech can also help us validate which foods we’re putting in our bodies before we take a bite. Nima’s portable gluten and peanut sensors help ensure that individuals who are sensitive or intolerant to those substances don’t accidentally consume them.
“Nutrition technology is in nascent stages, and we are now focused on data," says Nima co-founder Shireen Yates. As she anticipates an exciting future, she adds, "When it comes to nutrition data, there are two main focus areas: what are we putting in our bodies or what is in our food, and how our bodies are reacting to those inputs. Once we have enough validated data in both areas, we will see a third focus area emerge, which will be customized recommendations to turn that data into custom decisions for individuals.”
2. Personal assistants
Personal assistants are becoming ubiquitous, and the more time we spend interacting with them, the smarter they become. “Personal assistant AIs will keep getting smarter," explains Alejandro Troccoli, senior research scientist at NVIDIA. "As our personal assistants learn more about our daily routines, I can imagine the day I need not worry about preparing dinner."
Troccoli imagines a time -; in the relatively near future -; when AI's ability to assist us will be nearly boundless. "My AI knows what I like, what I have in my pantry, which days of the week I like to cook at home, and makes sure that when I get back from work all my groceries are waiting at my doorstep, ready for me to prepare that delicious meal I had been craving.”
The humble textbook has helped teach generations of students -; with varying degrees of success -; but adaptive software is emerging that promises to assist students based on their individual needs. According to Silicon Schools CEO Brian Greenberg, "We’re currently challenging the paradigm that all 7-year-olds are exactly the same and should be exposed to the same content."
DreamBox is one such technology that teaches math. Unlike a traditional classroom setting, the tech caters to each student by recognizing his or her aptitude and setting a pace designed for the student's success. Coupled with app-based learning and computer classes starting as early as kindergarten, future generations could potentially learn at much faster, individualized paces compared to previous generations.
4. Financial transactions
Besides a somewhat painful introduction of security chip technology, credit cards haven’t changed all that much since their introduction -; nor have consumers really demanded change. Most consumers are happy with their payment methods, but AI promises to shake things up anyway.
"Thanks to AI, the face will be the new credit card, the new driver's license, and the new barcode," says Orange Silicon Valley CEO Georges Nahon, giving a glimpse at how tech will change financial transactions. "Facial recognition is already completely transforming security with biometric capabilities being adopted, and seeing how tech and retail are merging like Amazon is with Whole Foods, I can see a near future where people will no longer need to stand in line at the store.”
5. Healthcare options
Despite huge advances in medicine over the last few decades, healthcare can sometimes seem practically medieval. Long wait times for everything from specialist visits to a trip to the emergency room and a lack of transparency with the ever-rising costs of care mean that the healthcare space is ripe for disruption.
"2018 will be the year AI becomes real for medicine," says Mark Michalski, executive director at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Clinical Data Science. "By the end [of the year] I think around half of leading healthcare systems will have adopted some form of AI within their diagnostic groups. And while a lot of this adoption will happen first in the diagnostic medical specialties, we're seeing solutions for population health, hospital operations, and a broad set of clinical specialties quickly follow behind."
One of the reasons technology has such amazing potential is its inherent ability to scale. And with Cisco predicting that there will be 4.6 billion internet users by 2021, many of these advances will be just a connection away.