Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, April Koury, Alexandra Whittington, and Maria Romero
How would you design a robotic or connected device with the purpose of creating positive changes in society? How can technology developers and product designers understand the future needs of people for whom they are designing?
Important core themes for us include how humans can and should retain their humanity in the face of disruptive technology. This article explores the various ways that robotic and connected devices might disrupt the future of day-to-day life for the better. In our view, envisioning the possible products of the future means envisioning the people who would use them—not as fictitious characters, but as real people with similar problems, dilemmas, emotions, relationships, and challenges to those we have today.
In Beyond Genuine Stupidity and The Future Reinvented, our two most recent books, we explore how we can harness the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and a growing range of other increasingly powerful technologies in service of humanity. Here are some examples of what the future may hold:
The use of drones
Personal Robo-Delivery – Small autonomous robots are already delivering fast food and mail—soon they could run daily errands while their owners work. As our grocery order or dry cleaning becomes ready, the robot is alerted and sets out through the town to pick up the orders from the local shops.
Rescue Drones – Drones are already available that can target individuals in need of emergency assistance, and either airlift them to safety or provide them with vital life-saving equipment. These drones will become ever more sophisticated and capable, with the ability to undertake more complex search and rescue missions and perform a growing range of medical procedures on the spot.
Droneloo – Single user droneloos could be summoned on demand—dropping into the midst of a crowd at an open-air festival, concert, public rally, or sporting event to enable those caught short to relieve themselves in privacy.
Autonomous Drones for Crowd Control and Border Security – Autonomous drones with AI enabled behaviour recognition and infrared capabilities could patrol border areas and other sensitive security situations when there are risks to safety and the potential for social unrest. On identification of security breaches or potential anti-social behaviour, the appropriate human or automated resources could be mobilised and deployed to counter the risk.
Looking after us
Robo-Mummy – Continuous monitoring of health indicators would allow your devices to order what you need to prevent you getting sick. Your devices would try to nudge your decision making towards a healthier lifestyle and what’s best for you.
Environmental Monitoring – As more and more sensors are deployed, we can expect environmental monitoring to reach a new high. A person or their autonomous car may receive tailored alerts to avoid certain streets as pollution levels are slightly elevated in those areas. Walkers might be alerted to avoid specific parks as weather conditions have caused weeds to bloom that may trigger their allergies.
Self-Filling Vertical Farmer’s Market Bag – Smart, self-filling, self-unloading, reusable bags could communicate with smart homes and smart appliances to place new orders from a local vertical farm or supermarket. The bag would fill itself with groceries at the point of origin, be delivered via autonomous vehicle or drone, unload on arrival, and be returned empty on the next delivery run. This could save time for shoppers, support local produce, and discourage food waste.
Life Automation – Connected devices and ‘life automation’ apps will share your agenda and habits to plan the flow of your day. Music from your surround system would automatically keep playing in your headphones after you leave your home and switch to the in-car system when you get behind the wheel. The home heating system would turn on when you are ten minutes away. Food would be delivered or ready to serve minutes after you walk in the front door.
The world of work
AI HR – Artificial intelligence is already changing the way HR operates. Perhaps we are edging toward human-less HR with AI powered recruitment, selection, appointment, on-boarding, performance monitoring, payment (employees, contractors, gig-bots), and off-boarding based on automated needs and skills matching. The smart HR could also monitor us via all our devices and detect factors such as stress levels, distraction, the extent of social conversation we engage in, and when we are performing at our peak.
Keeping us connected
Unisex Utility Jacket – This totally safe and secure everyday fashion item would keep mobile devices connected using built-in chargers and a personal private data network. The jacket might also collect, convert, store, and distribute kinetic and heat energy from the wearer’s body to sell back to the local power grid.
We hope you enjoy this excerpt from a futurist mind meld on possible connected and robotic devices that might impact our lives between today and 2040 and that you find the future feels a little more relatable.
About the authors: Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Maria Romero, and April Koury are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Two new books from Fast Future are: ‘Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity’, and ‘The Future – Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business’. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. For further information please visit: www.fastfuture.com
Rohit Talwar is a Global Futurist, Keynote Speaker, Author, and CEO of Fast Future where he helps clients develop and deliver transformative visions of the future. He is the Editor and Contributing Author for The Future of Business, Editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and Co-Editor of a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.
Steve Wells is the COO of Fast Future and an Experienced Strategist, Futures Analyst, and Partnership Working Practitioner. He is a Co-Editor of The Future of Business, Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.
April Koury is a Foresight Researcher, Writer, and Publishing Director at Fast Future. She is a contributor to The Future of Business, and a Co-Editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.
Alexandra Whittington is the Foresight Director at Fast Future. She is a Futurist, Writer, and faculty member on the Futures programme at the University of Houston. She is a Contributor to The Future of Business and a Co-Editor for forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business and 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.
Maria Romero is a Futurist and Foresight Researcher with Fast Future. A recent graduate from the University of Houston Master in Foresight, Maria has worked on projects for consultants, NGOs, for-profit organisations, and government clients. She is currently working on a study of AI in business.