At the end of every year since 2006 I have created structured thoughts about the year to come. The last months of 2014 have been so crazy that I have, unfortunately, not had the time to create highly designed content on the year ahead.
However in preparing for some TV interviews at the turn of the year I have pulled together 7 themes that will help define 2015. Here they are, together with illustrative videos.
1. Robots are here
Robots have so long being part of science fiction that many have come to believe they will never arrive. With recent technological advances, the age of robots is finally beginning, with humanoid robots finally entering the mainstream in work, retail, aged care, the home and even warfare.
2. From reactive to predictive medicine
Health and medicine has traditionally been about reacting when we get sick. New technologies are turning it around, allowing us to constantly monitor ourselves so we can take action before we get sick. We can get direct feedback to help us change behaviours, and DNA analysis means we can soon get medicines that are personalised for us alone. Health management tomorrow will be very different from health today.
3. Technology is fashion
Technology is not just a fashion accessory, but fashion itself. Smartwatches are making tech giants into purveyors of fashion, and establishment French and Swiss luxury companies are becoming tech firms. Clothes themselves are becoming ‘smart’ as textiles embed technology, monitoring our health, communicating with friends, and displaying people’s moods for all to see.
4. Immersive entertainment
Entertainment is going beyond watching to experiencing. Facebook, having purchased Oculus Rift for $2 billion, as well as Samsung and others are launching virtual reality headsets that will allow people to feel immersed in movies and games. Other immersive technologies that may emerge in 2015 include Star Wars-like holographic communication on mobile phones and the highly secretive Magic Leap, which has attracted a $500 million investment from Google with a mission to transform entertainment.
5. Technology transforms finance
Money, payments and investment are all being transformed by technology. Cash is rapidly disappearing from our lives as payments by mobile and biometric identification become commonplace. Artificially intelligent ‘robo-advisors’, already commonplace in the US, will compete with human financial advisors in helping us make wealth planning decisions.
6. Reversing ageing
Humankind has never been satisfied with mortality. New figures show that the life expectancy of Australians has increased 4.8 years over the last 24 years, more than in any other developed country. Now heavily-funded medical research promises to rapidly extend our longevity. Scientists have recently successfully reversed ageing in mice, with human trials now in progress. Beyond leading-edge medicine, healthier habits of many Australians and changed attitudes are dramatically shifting the perception of age, with an increasing number of 60 year-olds being as vital as our image of 40 year-olds.
7. It’s easy to be perfect
The debate over air-brushed models in magazines has moved on. Now powerful editing tools make it easy for anyone to make themselves look wonderful in photos, and we will soon be able to choose how we look in video calls, making us appear well-dressed, perfectly groomed and made-up even if we’ve just dragged ourselves out of bed. Social media is allowing people to shape how they are perceived online, making boring lives glamourous and fraught relationships appear perfect. We are making our lives appear flawless, and are only seeing the shiny gloss of others’ lives.