3 things direct from the future

29th Edition

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One thing that helps

I’m Bat[tery]man

The modern world means constantly recharging our devices. In a few years we will see our bodies become walking, talking energy sources! A wearable device that can harness your body heat and produce battery power is on the horizon.

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It is a device made of stretchy polyamine and can be worn as a ring or bracelet. It uses thermoelectric generators to take advantage of the difference in temperature between the skin and surrounding air to generate electricity. 

For now, it can generate around 1 volt of electricity per square centimeter of skin. If that sounds too little just remember that it is enough to power a watch or fitness tracker. But the benefits of this device do not end here. 

The device is self-repairing. If it tears, just pinch around the tear and wait for it to heal. It is also recyclable. Using a special solution, the polyamine base can be dissolved and separated from the electronic components. Re-manufactured devices from these recycled parts produce similar power output to the original. 

Batteries are an environmental scourge and the more we can use the human-tech built into our natural world to replace them the better the planet will be.  Also my constant search for a power point when travelling (ah remember travelling…) is something that I won’t miss.


2. One to be wary of

Will Robots Take My Job?

No article reference this week – this is straight out of my head.  How do you/your kids need to adapt over the next 5-20 years to ensure that you can enjoy your work, and get paid for it, when technology is replacing many career options?

Cal Newport (in his amazing book Deep Work) says that people:
-with money to invest, or
-who work with intelligent machines, or
-who are the best in the world at what they do
are best-placed to thrive in the next 5-20 years.

The call for kids to learn to code has been heeded, and if they love that then great! However it is likely that by the time my young kids are looking for a coding job the machines will be coding themselves. We certainly need to be able to work with technology but that doesn’t mean we all need to become coders.

The internet has globalised the job market so you are not just competing against candidates nearby. You are competing against everyone in the world who does what you do. Growing up I was told I needed broad knowledge across different areas. I tell my kids to grab what they love and do it (almost) to the exclusion of everything else. If you find a new thing, then do it all again.  If you are top-shelf at what you do, I can now easily hire you regardless of if you are around the corner or around the world.

Technology will most likely create as many jobs as it replaces but these jobs will be very different.  It is a huge opportunity to do what you have a passion for, and to move away from careers that you do not enjoy.


3. One to amaze

Visualize the Internet

You’ve seen a map of the world many times over but have you seen a moving map of the internet? Well, here it is:

This mesmerising video was created by  Barrett Lyon by mapping the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP – the internet’s main system for routing information). Every color in the map represents a region: blue for North America, green for Europe, red for Asia Pacific, purple for Latin America, orange for Africa and white for the internet backbone.

The starbursts represent internet providers connected by lines representing nodes. As you go outward from the middle, there is less connection. In this timeline, you can see regions go online and when they burst, that means they’ve gone offline for one reason or another (think authoritarian regimes blocking the internet). Notice too that while in the beginning, most starbursts are blue but towards the end, the map becomes a kaleidoscope of interconnected networks that represents the internet today.

The internet is (arguably) the most world-changing invention ever and to see its rapid growth visualised so brilliantly is really fascinating.

“I see trees of green, red roses too… What a wonderful world.” 

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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