In 1959, a famous industrialist Henry Kremer threw an open challenge to the Britishers for encouraging the development of the first human-powered aircraft with the handsome souvenir of 5,000 pounds.

More than 14 years of toil and almost no engineering solution to his challenge; Kremer bloated the reward amount to 50,000 pounds and opened it to anyone on the planet.

Still, nobody including the best aerospace engineers had solutions to Kremer’s reward program.

In comes Paul MacCready— a BS and MS in physics with no substantial knowledge of airplane designs as a participant in the competition. He wanted to be a part of this challenge because he had to pay the debt of 100,000 dollars (exact 50,000 pounds) and knew that despite being a newcomer, he could compete with the experts of the aerospace niches.

He won the competition in a concise period. In spite of no association with the aerospace engineering, how did he manage to pull that off? Here’s what happened:

  1. His naivety drove him to think out of the box. He didn’t think like the other engineers.

  2. Other engineers were hell bent in thinking about the existing airplanes and how they can mold it into the human-powered flights. They though within the narrow tight-constraints.

  3. On the other hand, Paul viewed the problem with another angle. He first took humans in consideration and then went on to create something which could instead make them fly.

  4. His design was the key where he used lightweight materials such as plastic foam, aluminum tubing, bicycle parts, piano wire, and mylar foil for covering instead of using heavy stuff of the existing airplanes (barely 55 pounds).

  5. Building light weighted planes made him rebuild the plane multiple times and reiterate the test thrice or even four times a day. It was not possible with the traditional planes.

The bottom-line of the story is— for centuries, we have thought within the walled gardens and confined spaces, and that has led to the innovation-pause.

Sometimes, the process is the problem. Paul correctly connected the dots and joined them. The same is said for any industry, be it information technology or any mechanical slot.

We need to evaluate if the processes are efficient enough to overcome the existing issues.

So far now, new wave technologies are made, and their processes are tested. But before the innovation thoroughly seeps into our lives, they invite a lot of proponents and opponents with speculation-ladened opinions.

While Paul bagged Kremer’s award, a lot of his competitors questioned the strength of the aircraft painting the innovation in the negative tint.

It happened before— much much before Paul existed, it happened yesterday, and it is happening today with all the bleeding-edge technologies. So, let us run through some of the latest technologies which are on the verge of breaking the tradition with hundreds of negative-beliefs surrounding them.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The founding father of AI,— John McCarthy, proposed “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”

Key Points:

  1. AI was ideated to help machines make cognitive decisions for problem-solving and deriving concepts like humans.

  2. It’s a branch which has seen a huge wave of optimism and pessimism at the same time.

How proponents see:

  1. It is a miraculous holy grail which possesses the ability to simplify the workflow of any sector. (Amazon warehouse robots to enhance the workflow)

  2. It is a magical potion which is applied across several backgrounds to solve and perform a wide range of tasks. (Humanized artificial intelligence)

  3. It is a secret government which is elected to tackle some of the major economic and social challenges. (Forget killing robots, see how AI can Fight hunger and poverty)

  4. It is an intelligent teacher who has stepped up responsibly to take care of education.

How opponents see:

  1. It is a dangerous monster which can go in the wrong gloves and cause mega-destruction.

  2. It is a friend who may turn into a hostile foe.

  3. It is a catalyst which would cause a hormonal dip in humans leading to laziness.

Blockchain

The role of the internet was to bridle the power of media. Before its dawn, media had unlimited power to relay the information— irrespective of the coherence, truth, and credibility of the piece. The internet has brought and infused enormous power to the ordinary citizens and allowed them to flood their ideas, opinions, and information.

It is pretty much what blockchain does but in a little variance.

Key Points:

  1. The blockchain is like a bank statement distributed to each client having the details of each transaction (undestroyable database).

  2. Each statement is duplicate copies of each other.

  3. Each statement or ledger is on the personal computers belonging to a peer-to-peer network (P2P).

  4. All the copies are updated and validated at the same time. A single point of failure (hack, system crash, etc.) wouldn’t affect the ledger value.

  5. It can be used for several real-world application.

How proponents see:

  1. It can be used to hand over the power of real money to the general mass. (Go through Bitcoin vs. Political Power: The Cryptocurrency Revolution - Stefan Molyneux)

  2. It can be the supreme judge in resolving battles like fief-disputes, etc. (registry database and decentralized arbitration)

  3. If people accept blockchain-based currencies, it may snatch the government’s right to manage the fiscal policies and economy. (laissez-faire economic system)

  4. It can be an A-grade manager who may have the potency to maintain the supply chain management.

  5. It can be the fastest insurer by minimizing the paperwork and quickly revealing the person’s identity securely.

How opponents see:

  1. It is a meteor shower which poses a massive environmental threat to the planet. (Bitcoin mining has costed more energy than entire Denmark)

  2. It is an anti-government agent who might prove fatal for the mass. (To decentralize the government, extreme Libertarians have built blockchain. It could give them all the power instead)

  3. It is a slow-executioner (slow network speed) which has a lot of transaction execution risk. (The fintech startup study reveals blockchain is very slow)

  4. It is a garbage bin which will accept any data. If blockchain is to be used as a database, the data fed should be inherently trustworthy.

  5. It is a honeymaze which is complicated at so many levels. The understanding of the technology needs a unique kind of glossary and dictionary in itself.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Whether we are in the same physical space or on a social medium, we communicate using our sense organs. Similarly, if we want things around us such as, smart TVs, appliances, etc. to interact with each other, we need to embed sense organs in them.

Adding senses to these things and making them deal with each other for exchanging the vital data is the Internet of Things (IoT).

Key Points:

  1. It involves the connectivity of standard (laptops, mobiles, etc.) and non-standard devices (cars, home theaters, etc.) through the internet.

  2. The devices are remotely controlled.

How proponents see:

  1. It is a personal assistant for the old and disabled people. (Voice assistant, auto-wheelchairs, etc. (See the IoT magic for aging society)

  2. It has a bird’s eye view while monitoring hospitals, schools, and other aisles.

  3. It is a traffic controller which can inform about smart parking and guide about road assistance.

  4. It is a social activist who emphasizes energy-saving habits.

  5. It is a doctor who can provide health benefits without attending the patients in person. (Intersecting technologies for the smart ecosystem and integrated environment)

How opponents see:

  1. It is a destructive spy who may breach our privacies and gather vital data without our permissions.

  2. With billions of “things” racking up in the market, it is a butterfly which is difficult to trace.

  3. It is a readycloud for the burst. Since data is stored in the cloud, the security of the cloud-storage is questioned.

  4. It is a Rubik’s cube which is very difficult to understand and doesn’t solve the problem for those who don’t understand the internet.

Also Read: Time For You To Know The Truth About IoT Industry

Augmented Reality

How would it sound that you look somewhere and immediately get the information about that? Well, that’s not possible through the naked eyes.

But have you seen aircraft pilots sheathing their faces by large refractive goggles? The role of the goggle is to give the layer of information about the front view. (enemies, geography, etc.).

How good would it be if you get such augmented information for your daily work? Till now the reality and internet were having a hard time together, but the progress in augmented reality gives us the edge over much-desirable luxury, and all through our device cams.

Key Points:

  1. To augment is to increase. It automatically defines augmented reality as— making reality look more real.

  2. With the help computer-generated augmented information, you are enhancing your senses in the real-world environment.

How proponents see:

  1. It is your personal combating unit. AR headset tech is added to the U.S army repertoire for efficient combating. (Soldiers headset)

  2. It is your contact lens for displaying layers of information like close-to-the-eye AR images. (Samsung has made Black mirror contact lenses for streaming life)

  3. It is an immersive-environment generator which gives the three-dimensional or deeper absorption of the objects and site. (Sunseeker application makes 3D models of solar position & sun path using AR)

  4. It is an archeologist which configures the site. (Visualization of Scene depth)

  5. It is a super-architect which solves on-site construction challenges and sees building's exterior to interpret through the walls virtually. (Check this video for understanding the architecture drawing)

How opponents see:

  1. It is a pocket-exploiting device. The AR glasses are very costly.

  2. It is a psychedelic substance which may affect the normal functioning of the brains and cause death.

  3. It is a fence which keeps humans away from the real world and pushes them to the digital world.

  4. It is a socially awkward device (AR goggles and lenses) which would make people look pathetic.

Big Data

Andrea De Mauro quotes “big data represents the information assets characterized by such a high volume, velocity, and variety to require specific technology and analytical methods for its transformation into value."

Whatever we pour on the internet, it’s data. We produce more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day (inclusive of 340 million tweets, 50 million photos, and more than 1 billion documents). It is big data.

But that’s not it. It’s how we make use of big data for generating some patterns, trends, and how humans behave with the system. It is about mining the correct set of information for catering better services to the audience.

Key Points:

  1. The idea is to make computers which mine and purify the quantitative data and converts them into the qualitative data.

  2. Technologies like the internet of things, GPS, and blockchain play significant forces in laying the foundation for big data.

How proponents see:

  1. It can be used as an official government employee who enrolls the record of people (death and birth).

  2. It can be deployed as a rational, power-packed security guard which makes cognitive decisions in the field like crime, security, and natural disasters.

  3. It can be extended as a veteran journalist who plates up insightful content to its audience. (Bloomberg extends its hands towards big data)

  4. It can justify Dijkstra shortest path algorithm by reading the shortest route, the consequences of following long routes, and delay in delivering valuable goods. (Big data and efficient logistics)

  5. It can be utilized as an election-volunteer which can flip the results of the election upside down. (Barack Obama re-election in 2012)

  6. It can be chosen as an insightful coach to scout the players and identify the underperforming players. (See how Brad Pitt uses Big Data in Moneyball)

How opponents see:

  1. As iron man has zero power without the arc reactor, big data is a waste without high computational powers.

  2. It is an opportunist which targets users because of their vulnerabilities. (Search data is collected and sold by data brokers)

  3. It can be used as a discriminator which dissects different groups and targets them mainly. (One community pays more insurance than the other)

  4. It can be exploited as a blackmailer who threatens for character assassination using data breaching. (Leaked people information by an established institute)

  5. It is a political and social manipulator which disturbs the harmony of the society. (Computational propaganda)

You yank your hands out of the pockets and point at any technology, each one of them has borne thousand of opinions.

A good brain tries to manufacture constructive use-cases whereas bad brains find reasons to sculpt destructive use-cases. The battle of good brain vs bad brain has existed for centuries and will remain till the earth cease to exist.

But the main question is— whose side are you? Do you feel that the technological evangelists have hyped the dexterity of innovation and ill-effects will sprout in the long run? Do let us know about how you consider technology in your life— whether as a paragon of virtue or an anecdote of vice.

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