Rise of the Machines

October 7, 2014
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The Smartphone. Although its roots can be traced back to the 1970s it didn’t really start to take hold in the mass market until after the millennium. But the smartphone we know and love today can be largely accredited to Apple’s release of the iPhone in 2007. In the seven years since, technology has developed at truly breath-taking speeds. Advances in technology and miniaturisation and the massive popularity of this new breed of device have transformed the electronics industry almost overnight into something that is finally and for the first time in our 200,000 year history capable of delivering upon many of those wild fantasies from science fiction. We are at the cusp of a new age, a new industrial revolution that will shake humanity to its core and profoundly affect each and every one of us. This is the age of the machines. And all this has been made possible by the smartphone in your hand. That unique collection of microprocessors, gyroscopes, accelerometers and other sensors that you take for granted is being used by researches to make the next generation of intelligent robotics, supercomputers, drones (aerial robots) and space vehicles. In the next ten years we are going to transition from a world in which the idea of pilotless aircraft and driverless cars all around us seems ludicrous to a world in which they are the mundane, essential parts of our daily lives. They’ll cut our lawn; cook our food; clean our houses; drive us to work; deliver our packages; replace trucks on the road; make congestion a think of the past; replace factory workers and change the global labour economy irreversibly. They will also enable the public to go into space and allow humanity to colonise other worlds. Come the middle of the century the world will look a very different place. These new technologies are going to have a profound effect on every aspect of our modern lives, from what we do to how we do it. Remember before the microwave? The laptop? Email? Remember those heady old days when you had to stick stamps on parcels and take them to the Post Office? Technology has already changed our lives significantly, but that is nothing compared with what is about to come…