PERREAULT Magazine January 2014 - Page 25


In the past year, the value of Bitcoin—a peer-to-peer, decentralized, digital currency—has fluctuated in price from a low of $13.50 to a high

of $1242 (at the time of this writing). It’s too early to tell whether Bitcoin has real staying power or if it’s just the latest in a long line of technology bubbles but what is clear is that the tomorrow’s digital economy will make use of some form of cryptocurrency—be it Bitcoin, Litecoin, Peercoin or some other as-yet-created cryptocurrency. The reason cryptocurrency is a game-changer is because the number of “coins” has a fixed upper limit and, therefore, can’t be manipulated by a central authority. (This imbues it with attractive anti-inflationary powers.) Cryptocurrencies have the added benefit of very low transactions fees, which makes them an ideal platform for micropayments and transferring money. For these reasons, a new cryptocurrency—assuming it achieves a deep level of trust among its users—could greatly facilitate global commerce, while fundamentally transforming how banks, central bankers, merchants and consumers think about

and use money.

9Autonomous Automobiles. Already legal in three states—California, Florida and Nevada—Google, Nissan, BMW, Toyota, Audi and Ford have publicly stated autonomous (self-driven) automobiles will be feasible by 2020. The game-changing potential of this technology does not simply reside in relieving drivers of the burden of driving; it could fundamentally alter human behavior and shape how cities and communities

are designed. As autonomous vehicles become more popular, fewer people—especially among younger and older people in urban areas who

aren’t especially interested in being burdened

with expensive car payments, monthly insurance bills or locating parking spots—will find it unnecessary to own a vehicle because calling up an autonomous vehicle on demand will be quick, affordable and convenient.

Even consumers in suburban and rural areas may forego owning a second car and, instead, rely on autonomous vehicles for those times when a second car is needed. By Google’s estimate, autonomous vehicles could replace 80 percent of today’s automobiles (the average vehicle is estimated to sit idle for 22 hours a day). With fewer cars are on the road, traffic congestion could be substantially reduced; and city planners and architects will be free to re-configure much of the public space currently devoted to parking.

10Quantum Computing: Lockheed Martin, Google and NASA are currently in possession of quantum computers and are testing the technology’s ability to solve a number of “optimization” problems—problems for which there are a single, best solution. If successful, quantum computing’s ability to solve challenges ranging from the design of new life-saving drugs to the creation of the strongest, lightest and most affordable material for a next-generation airliner may prove to be a proverbial walk-in-the-park. The game-changing potential of quantum computing is that it could be the ultimate game-changer because it could speed up the discovery, creation and evolution of a myriad of new products, materials and technologies. It has even been speculated that a quantum computer may someday answer the age-old question of whether or not humans are alone in the universe.

And therein lies the most amazing aspect of these game-changing technologies: they are engaged in a virtuous cycle whereby advances in one field accelerate advances in another. For example, MOOC’s may help educate the next great quantum physicist who, in turn, creates a company (funded entirely by anonymous donations of a new cryptocurrency) that manufactures a practical universal quantum computer that is used to discover a new fuel that makes spaceflight affordable to the masses.

The game isn’t just changing, it’s changing at an accelerating velocity. Tomorrow could figuratively—and, perhaps, literally—be out of this world.

Jack Uldrich is a renowned global futurist and the best-selling author of 11 books. He is a frequent guest on national media and regularly appears on the Science Channel’s new television program, “FutureScape.” He is the founder and “chief unlearning officer” of The School of Unlearning—an international change management consultancy.

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