Continuing on the discussion of the McKinsey’s Advanced Institute document and including the figure of the expected impact on Society, biz and economies.
- Advanced Robotics presented in the document emphasise the evolution of dexterity in robots making them more and more useful in a variety of fields, including human prosthetics and fields that today are not considered. I concur in this analyses but I foresee that in the next decade we will have robots (in particular micro robots) interacting one another, in some cases forming a swarm. We will see the first signs of full scale automation based on robots, like the one in smart cities, in the same way that today we see completely robotised management of parcels by Federal Express at their Memphis hub.
- Autonomous and near autonomous vehicles will surely increase their footprint. We already have autonomous trains (underground trains, airport infra terminal transportation…) and autonomous carts moving in warehouses. The Google car shows that technology exists to make this possible. It is very expensive today but the cost will surely go down to the point of becoming affordable. What I am not sure is the cultural acceptance of this sort of vehicles in the mass market. May be a strong economic crunch due to carbon taxes compounded by increased cost in energy may force its acceptance. However, if I have to bet, I would rather bet on an increased availability of energy in the next decade rather than an energy shortage. If there will not be a sort of forced adoption I doubt that the mass market will move to self driven cars.
- Next generation genomics is about applying the knowledge that is being created, and harvested, through the sequencing of genomes, in humans and in other species, to radically improve health care and productivity for crops and derivative products (like ethanol from plants/algae). Here I am fully in synch. Advances will continue at an exponential rate throughout this decade in the sequencing area, lowering the cost below the 20$ per genome and decreasing the sequencing time to a few hours (or less for specific parts of the genome). In turns this is leading to an amazing increase in data that can be processed statistically to create more knowledge. The embedding on sensors will provide for continuous monitoring of the effect of personalised drugs and will sustain the shift of paradigm towards a customised cure. I also see that the additional knowledge derived from understanding the creation of life will bring new possibility to develop smart materials.
- 3D printing is moving from prototyping to real everyday object printing. This has the potential of changing, or at least affecting logistic and distribution. It can stimulate innovation as more and more the “design” part can be sold by anyone and from everywhere through the Web leaving the implementation part to the local premises. I do not see this as greatly affecting the mass market in terms of killing existing mass production that I feel will remain through the next decade competitive in terms of cost and quality. It might supplement the centralised mass production, like home printers have supplemented the printing factories, but still books and magazines are not printed locally at home.
- Advanced Materials are making significant progress thanks to nanotechnology allowing the design of the physical characteristics of materials and to the embedding of electronics. I see an interesting aspect in the advance of materials in the line of smart materials, materials that have the capability of interacting with their environment creating intelligent, adaptable responses to a variety of stimuli. This can represent the building blocks leading in the next decade to ambient awareness.
More on next post.