Imagine a restaurant where, without you having to order a thing, the chef prepares the food you’ve been thinking about all day; a shop where the owner who can tell you what’s in stock by consulting their neural-linked artificial intelligence; unlocking your office with a wave of your hand; or lifting heavy machinery with the help of an exoskeleton.
These are just some of the everyday changes that will transform the world of work, according to the latest in the MYOB Future of Business series: The Augmented Human.
MYOB chief technology officer and futurist Simon Raik-Allen says, based on the development of current technology, the rise of the augmented human, where biology and technology blend to offer a whole range of physical and mental enhancements, is inevitable.
“All sorts of things that are actually happening today, from neural transmitters to artificial hearts, are bringing about fundamental changes in the way we view and challenge the limitations of our biology,” says Raik-Allen. “We are on the cusp of an evolution revolution.”
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He says one of the areas that will profoundly change with the development of more advanced human augmentation will be the business world.
“It’s going to be massive for business – giving rise to a whole range of new industries that we’re only just starting to imagine the possibilities for.”
“Imagine a version of today’s app store – the brain-app store or the body-app store – which you can connect to in order to download the latest developments in intelligence, mental performance, or simply entertainment.
“Got an important business meeting in China? Download the language app and speak like a local with an accent add-on. Worried about offending your hosts at dinner while you clinch the big business deal? Connect with the app-store through your neural interface while you’re riding the hyperloop train to Beijing and pick out the social etiquette app with the best reviews on Weibo.”
Alongside the physical and mental enhancements, an embedded connection to a personal artificial intelligence could offer massive improvements in understanding, communication and productivity, he states.
“For business, this adds a whole new dimension to the information-driven economy, which has already driven so many opportunities globally,” says Raik-Allen. “Our knowledge and capabilities will be enhanced, our physical and mental abilities will be raised to new heights, and the opportunities for us to experience, communicate and share will be unparalleled.”
Although some of the ideas may seem like the stuff of science fiction, he says the report’s predictions are based on the evolution of technology currently in development, or even in use.
The more our technology and our humanity start to merge, at some point, we’ll become indistinguishable from the technology itself
“Part of my job is to think about the future, and how businesses in particular might prepare for it,” says Raik-Allen.
“Looking 20 or 30 years into the future not only helps us start preparing for what might be coming along, but also gives us new ways of thinking about what we are doing now, and the processes and preconceptions that might be holding business back.”
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He says the MYOB Future of Business series was developed to stimulate discussion and get business people talking and thinking about what the future might look like for them.
Where the current technological trends might end will be a matter for debate, but Raik-Allen believes humanity is about to enter a period of considerable change.
“Just a few years ago, none of us could conceive of carrying around the amount of computing power we do today in our smart devices. Now, most of us can’t be without it. Imagine having an exponentially greater level of technological capability, quite literally at your fingertips, or tucked away in your skull.
“The advantages and the convenience of all kinds of human augmentation will do more than change the way we think about technology – it will change what we are.
“The more our technology and our humanity start to merge, at some point, we’ll become indistinguishable from the technology itself. Even our biology will begin to fade. And that will be the rise of the new human.”
From webinars to holonars
In the report, Raik-Allen likewise predicts the workforce of the future could be a globally connected group of people, contracted to provide services for your business.
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The holographic projection of people and things will be the biggest change to the workplace since email.
“It’s also likely you may never meet the people that are working for you, well not in person.”
In 25 years, the holographic projection of people and things will be the biggest change to the workplace since email, he states.
“Seminars, that became webinars in the 90s, will now become holonars. You will sit in virtual auditoriums, next to three-dimensional light-based images of your colleagues from around the globe watching a hologram onthe stage of someone giving a talk. And you will do
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this just as easily as you gather in the office today.”
As well, launching a business and hiring 500 people could be done in minutes. Your company could be just you and a couple of project managers. These are the thinkers controlling every aspect of the company through new digital interfaces, he states.
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Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap
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Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.