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New Technology and Human Needs

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At IDM we believe that people have the power to transform lives through invention and implementation of breakthrough ideas that seemed impossible yesterday. Imagine an event that brings together visionaries and change-makers who are known to disrupt the industries they represent while deeply caring about the impact their efforts will have on generations to come. This is TWIN Global. IDM has been around the world of TWIN since its inception in 2009 and for the past three years, we have been honored to be part of this initiative by taking TWIN to the social media universe. Through a short blog series, we will expand upon what we learned at TWIN Global 2018.

It seems that the sky’s the limit in terms of digitization, automation and AI near-future capabilities. Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs and CTO of Nokia, talks about the work both companies are doing in order to bring the transporter, tricorder, empathic communication, sleeve and eye bud to life, as well as launch a mission to the moon. However, people must be prepared to thrive with these new capabilities.

Though technology often seems new and unfamiliar, it is defined by its practical purposes. What seems like science fiction is actually developed to solve everyday problems and make our lives simpler. “Think ‘future back.’ Imagine future human needs and pretend the present isn’t the limit. Don’t think commercial needs, think human needs,” says Weldon.

For example, transporters and the Star Trek Tricorder have been historical highlights of science fiction imagination because people want the ease of being quickly transported to another place and time. Additionally, they want to have information at their fingertips. The response from Bell Labs is the development of virtual teleportation and physiological augmentation.

Another example is empathic communication, which is considered to be a great personal and professional skill. Being well-informed and able to deeply understand what the other party is telling you leads to more clear communication. This has strong impacts on personal and business life. Bell Labs is working on technology to achieve empathic communication through hyper-sensory communication, engaging more of the senses to make communication more real and understandable. Hyper-sensory communication tools in development include a sleeve and an eyebud.

Bell Labs has seen visions for OS (operating systems) and HW (hardware) innovations come to life over the past four decades and their focus on HMI (human machine interface) from 2010 is beginning to take shape into projects around AI and assistants, edge cloud systems and new network capabilities. “Success is measured by long term impact. Every new project we start at Bell Labs is 10 years out,” says Weldon.

Often technology is intended to provide more immediate satisfaction than previously accessible and the pace of technological development has increased decade after decade. However, true innovation still takes long-term vision and planning.

“Human productivity increased incrementally during the First and Second Industrial Revolutions and has decreased ever since. Humans want to spend less time doing mundane tasks and channel their creativity,“ he continues.

Today’s innovations and emerging roadmaps for tomorrow’s innovations reflect this turn towards the more creative output. As Weldon puts it, “inventors and implementers are critical. The only thing that matters is the best idea.”

So what will the next 10 years bring us? And the 10 years after that? The interesting thing is that increased time for creativity and less time spent on mundane tasks gives more kinds of people greater opportunity to bring their best ideas to the table. Technology and technological advancement are often considered to be exclusive to white collar work forces, but with progress, technology and innovation have the potential to allow for more inclusivity.

More freedom for creative input allows for a wider array of creative outputs that have practical benefits for all kinds of people. We look forward to experiencing these best and brightest ideas across industries.

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