Welcome to Foresight For Development

Technology and the Future

future-02Looking at the future is one thing. But looking into the future with hope is an even more amazing thing. However of paramount importance when looking at what is going to happen is being able to look at our past and understand it very well.

What investments are being made today that will make a lot of sense in about 20 years time? Are there any decisions being made today? If so, what effects will they have about the future?

A look into the past and there are some trends that will have a significant say in what the future that lies ahead will look like. Technology is one such thing.

Technology is one of those things that have become huge that of our lives. If it is not the new phone it is the newest software or even video game. Technology is being used to do just about anything. Because of technology, cars are able to start themselves. [I find that weirdly fascinating] and also because of tech, my grandmother is able to receive and retrieve money from her phone because of mobile money. Technology no doubt makes life very easy. But it also comes with a lot of complexities. What occurs easy to one may not necessarily be easy to another. We are no longer required to reach to our TV screens and turn knobs for us to be able to view what we want, there are remote controls. In some countries in Africa, you do not have to carry money in cash; you either have it on your phone or possess a debit or credit card.

Research by Future Lab talks about having technology in the year 2020 embedded and distributed in most objects. Personal artifacts’ like keys, clothes, shoes, notebooks will all have ‘devices embedded within them’ which can communicate with other. This goes beyond the normal Bluetooth that we currently have common in gadgets used for communication. The report goes on to highlight that these technologies in ways that are seamlessly and invisibly integrated into normal activities. It is okay today to sit at a table and have everyone on a gadget chatting with each other. People are writing LOL which in Short Message Service language is ‘laughing out loud’ while staring at their screens and not letting out a sound.

“As digital technologies become embedded in the very fabric of everyday life and integrated into commonplace materials, it will become almost impossible to consider what life is like without technological ‘enhancement’. Instead, we may begin to conceive of concepts such as intelligence as a way of describing what someone is able to do with technologies and tools, not what they are able to do ‘on their own’. ‘Thinking’ may be reconceived as a distributed activity – across the mind, body and digital resources that as a constellation”

 

future-02

Imagine what it will be like to have shoes and newspapers communicating and sending signals to our phones. However, what does this mean for normal everyday life. So many questions remain un-answered. For example: questions in relation to education. We know that for all of us, education has always been about pencils, books, crayons and paper for the children. Today, they have Play station and toy laptops to learn with. There is increased use of calculators and computers in even doing the basic calculations. So Future Lab asks these questions that I want to re-echo:

  • Who or what should be tested in exams? The person, the person plus tools or the person’s use of tools?
  • What skills should education develop? Skills of interpretation of complex and ongoing data flows, or skills of finding silence and reflection in the midst of constant information?

The future looks really bright. Embrace it we say, but also use the past to help you determine how you want your future to be shaped. That is what Africa needs to do.

Technology in the future will continue to be master over security, storage, the environment, education, personal devices and communication, to mention but a few. How we use this information though to plan for the future in policy and deed is what will make or break us.

 

Ruth Aine Tindyebwa
Blogger/Online Communications

Read her personal blog; IN DEPTH which is at www.ruthaine.com

Read more about the author and her view on being a futurist.

 

Foresight For Development - Funding for this uniquely African foresight site was generously provided by Rockefeller Foundation. Email Us | Creative Commons Deed | Terms of Conditions

Top Desktop version