Bull Session

Tech Predictions 2016

December 24, 2015          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life we chat about our tech predictions for 2016, from the Internet of Things to genomics to open organizations.

Jon:
Welcome to episode 135 of The Digital Life. A show about our adventures in the world of design and technology. I’m your host Jon Follett, and with me is founder and co-host, Dirk Knemeyer.

Dirk:
Greetings Jon. How are you doing?

Jon:
Not too bad. I see you’re enjoying our new microphone setup.

Dirk:
Jon, our new microphone setup has me inspired. It’s making me feel very bellicose.

Jon:
All right.

Dirk:
I’m ready to rock my friend.

Jon:
Listeners today, we have three big predictions for 2016.

Dirk:
By we, Jon means he. We are having a prediction episode, but I’m not feeling very predictive about the next 12 months for 1 reason or another, so we have Jon Follett’s big three predictions for 2016.

Jon:
All right. We need some sound effects of planes crashing there. My first prediction for 2016 is that the Internet of Things gets out of its America Online stage. Let me give a little background on it.

The 2015 Internet of Things hype has been so huge and majestic. At the same time, the results had been somewhat mediocre, and just the hype scenes unjustified. I think it’s a keen to the America Online stage of the development as far as the technology goes, and I’ll give a shout out, I saw online at another commentator was calling it the Geocities of things, I love that description.

Dirk:
Jon.

Jon:
Yeah?

Dirk:
You’re old.

Jon:
I am not that old.

Dirk:
Do our listeners know what Geocities is? Raise of hand. If you know what Geocities is, raise your hand right now.

Jon:
Just don’t do it if you’re driving.

Dirk:
There ain’t many of you.

Jon:
Or keep one hand on the wheel. The stage that we’re at with Internet of Things is just really difficult, and that people are trying things out. It’s very DIY in some sense. There aren’t a lot of standards. A lot of the usage is setup to be cute demos, and not really embedded into our lives. If you recall, AOL felt like a quirk. It felt like a very expensive quirk, but it was a pop culture phenomenon, especially with all those CDs that they send to people.

The real potential of the internet was hidden there. There was a lot of goodness in America Online, but there is just also a lot of strangeness in this close system, really has very little to do with what the internet is today. By the same token, the Internet of Things is going to take a while to develop, and it’s also going to be a bit under the covers.

It’s going to be part of your shopping experience, you’re not going to know it because the store is going to be monitoring where you’re going, and what you’re doing, and you’re going to be unaware of that. It’s going to become part of telemedicine, it’s going to become part of the streets that you’re driving on, walking on. All this is going to take time. I think that next step happens next year. We begin to see some real solutions that would probably get highlighted in the news, and heights to no end, but I think that part is coming. That’s my first big prediction.

Dirk, what do you think?

Dirk:
Yeah, I think the core analysis and analogy are interesting, but make it more concrete. I mean, what special is going to happen in 2016 because in past years, there’s been hype around the nest for example, there’s been hype around some of the health apps in certain way. What’s going to be special and different about 2016 that makes this prediction, that makes this important as oppose to just some smart analysis and analogy?

Jon:
There’s going to be a city in the United States that has reduced traffic congestion in a major way as a result of an IoT implementation. I don’t know if that’s going to be Boston, or it’s going to be San Francisco, but there’s also projects going on right now to do those sorts of things with large tech providers like IBM. I predict, you’re going to start seeing some positive results in terms of things like traffic flow, and also things like municipal services.

Those are the kinds of things that cities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to implement, and that’s all just like I said, going to be under the covers. That’s not going to be something that we notice immediately, but maybe, there won’t be overflowing trash cans, or you’ll get to work a little bit quicker, but all these things are quality of life issues that the smart cities has implemented through Internet of Things is going to produce for us.

Dirk:
If it’s all under the covers, how do we validate your prediction?

Jon:
I’ll keep an eye out for news items, and of course listeners, I’m sure you’ll keep me honest, and let me know if this is all BS or not, but I’m feeling pretty good that we’re going to see some positive results from the IoT. There’s a lot of investment going on right now, and a lot of these projects are longer term. I imagine, we’re going to see some smart city role outs that are going to have a big impact.

Dirk:
All right. Speaking of big impact, what’s prediction number two?

Jon:
Prediction number two is you’re going to see genomics in your everyday doctors visits. It’s going to go from being a specialty item that is a little bit divorced from your day to day medical records, to being something that will have an impact on you regular doctors visits.

Right now we have 23andMe, we have genomics services where you can make a scarf out of your own special InfoVis for your DNA. You’re starting to see genomics being used to match cancer patients to the particular drug trials that’s appropriate for. You’re beginning to see nutritionists use it to match certain kinds of foods to peoples diets. This is already starting to happen in small unique ways, and it’s going to have broader mainstream roll out in 2016.

Dirk:
That’s interesting. The question is, if genomics are going to be part of our doctors visit, what’s going to happen with little Popsicle stick that was so prominent in past doctors visits? Can we expect to still see the Popsicle stick when dealing with our doctor?

Jon:
I sure hope we see the Popsicle stick because I have a feeling they’re going to be using that to collect your spit so you can have another genetic test.

Dirk:
Well played, well played.

Jon:
My final prediction for this year is that the creative class is once again going to take another step forward with what I’m calling open collaboration. We’ve seen a lot of significant open source software in major emerging technologies this year. It’s gotten to a level where it’s no longer about the software that you might consider to be not business critical, but it’s really software that you can make a lot of money on that’s being open sourced.

I’m thinking of TensorFlow, which is an AI software which Google open sourced recently. Facebook is open sourcing elements of their online security. The reason they’re doing that is because advances in software happen a lot more quickly when you have more good engineers inside your firewall, and outside your firewall looking at these problems.

With Facebook, they’re trying to develop the counter punch to the hacker organizations, which seemed to be able to just willy nilly, go into whatever systems they’d like. Facebook, I think very presciently decided that they were going to take what they were working on, and contribute it to the open source community, and they’ve seen lots of positive feedback, and code comeback to OS query because of that.

It’s a unique take on security because you wouldn’t think open source security would be something that people would be interested in, but it’s exactly what the creative class needs because you’re leveraging intellectual property from other smart people, and you’re building on that. I think that’s really part of the secret of the secret sauce of how are we going to work together in the 21st century. Not just open source software that underpins the internet, or artificial intelligence, but also open science, open pharmaceuticals. Can you imagine that? I think we’re going to see steps in that direction as well.

Dirk:
I think there’s some business models that are going to poop on your open pharmaceuticals, my friend.

Jon:
I think there’s so much potential there because reformulating drugs is the next big thing in pharmaceuticals. They’re not creating new drugs necessarily. There are very small companies that spend their research dollars in reformulating something, so they can get the value out of the drug, and the patents, etc.

While I’m certainly no expert in pharmaceuticals, I think there is so much research potential there in open sourcing the data that is made available from these drug trials. You see the beginnings of that with 1 of our clients, open humans, which is basically reaching out to the community and saying, “You can have all these data that we have on people, as long as you return data to our database for the next guy, and as long as you share the results with the people who you’re studying.” That isn’t pharmaceuticals necessarily. There are a lot of other scientific research studies that they participated in, and particularly the personal genome project is the biggest one.

There are other examples of open science. Even Apple is getting in to the game with their framework for digital science. I forgot the name of their research framework, right of the top of my head. Even Apple is getting …

Dirk:
How does that work on Microsoft devices? How does that wok on android based devices?

Jon:
Good question. I have no idea.

Dirk:
Big bag of shit.

Jon:
You can probably tell that my inclination is to leverage open source IP where it’s possible. There could be a lot of good that comes out of open design for instance. There isn’t a lot of open interaction design, and UI design. There’s some, I mean, there’s user interface libraries for instance, but Involution has open source star our hgGaph, which is that infovis for showing a patients health care metrics all in 1 picture. I think we need a lot more of that because patients needs to understand their metrics, right?

There’s my flag on the ground for 2016 in a more, and very significant open organizations in software.

Dirk:
How do we measure these predictions? How do we at the end of the year say, “Jon killed it, or Jon was way off.” How do we figure this out?

Jon:
Right. With our first one for the IoT, we can say if there are some significant smart city projects that our …

Dirk:
Theoretical or manifest?

Jon:
Manifest.

Dirk:
OK.

Jon:
For the second one, genomics and everything, if you go to a doctors appointment, and there’s a request, or a way that you can participate by either giving the doctor genomics data, or having a sample taken, I would call that a validation of the prediction.

Dirk:
I’m going to make sure to go to at least one doctor.

Jon:
That’s a good start.

Dirk:
I’m not going to ask anything. I’m going to see if they ask me about my genomics, or try and get me to take some kind of test. To me, that’s the test. If they do, hey, amen brother.

Jon:
The last part, open organizations, I think is a little tougher.

Dirk:
Fluffy.

Jon:
It’s more of a huge wave we’re surfing, all right. I would say there have already been some pretty significant events in 2015. I have to think on that one some more, as to how we validate it. That is the trend, that open IP is able to be a leverage, whether you’re in science, artificial intelligence, robotics, the examples go on and on. I don’t think open source gets enough respect, or maybe it does, but it’s not shouted from the rooftops. We’ll have to see how that one goes.

Dirk:
All right.

Jon:
Listeners, remember that while you’re listening to the show, you can follow along with the things we’re mentioning here in real time. Just head over to the digitalife.com. That’s just one L on the digital life, and go to the page for this episode. We’ve included links to everything mentioned by everybody. It’s a rich information resource to take advantage of while you’re listening, or afterward, if you’re trying to remember something that you liked.

If you want to follow us outside of the show, you can follow me on Twitter @jonfollett, that’s J-O-N F-O-L-L-E-T-T. Of course, the whole show is brought to you by Involution Studios, which you can check out at goinvo.com, that’s G-O-I-N-V-O.com. Dirk?

Dirk:
You can follow me on Twitter @dknemeyer, that’s at D-K-N-E-M-E-Y-E-R, or email me dirk@goinvo.com.

Jon:
That’s it for episode 135 of The Digital Life. For Dirk Knemeyer, I’m Jon Follett. And we’ll see you next time.

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