In a conversation with Tom Hauck, we discussed about how technology has affected society. The way we live. The way we think. The ways we talk have all been changed by society somehow. He said
The only lazy people I know today are those aching about not being able to find a 9-to-5 job! He talked about that the American society is becoming more TD, technologically Dependent.
From the business community's point of view, technology has enabled us to do more in less time. That doesn't mean we have more free time as a result. Instead, as opposed to doing the job of one person (tasks delegated to one individual as per 1970's, 1980's) we now are expected to do the jobs traditionally held by an entire department.
Gone are the days of the 9-to-5 jobs! Technology has enabled businesses, large and small, to compete head-to-head in the global marketplace. In so doing, the global marketplace requires businesses to operate beyond the scope of their local time line.
In the late 1980's and the early 1990's, the trend in business was business reengineering (other terms used were downsizing, reorganization, business modernization, etc.) and I myself developed computer systems that automated traditional lines of business, like accounting processes. For example, in 1989, a tech consultant could have reengineered the accounting department of an insurance company that once employed over 30 people. At the end of the reengineering process, he may have developed an accounting system that only required 2 people to operate. Gone were the mailroom clerks, account reporting clerks and their supervisors, records keeping and account ledger librarians. The accounting system uses what is now commonplace - email!
Robotics has been around for a long time. The promise is to have robots with human-like artificial intelligence.
An anonymous person s personal opinion is that despite huge R&D investments in this area, in the foreseeable future we will have very simple robots with artificial life attributes. Artificial life mimics nature by using very simple commands and rules to make up complex behaviours. Modelling ants or termites by simple rules can explain their extensive mounds and behaviours. Similarly flocks of birds or schools of fish have group motions that are simply modelled by a few basic rules. This is the type of 'intelligence' robots will have not human like knowledge. (For more on this check out Los Alamos robotics researcher Mark Tilden)
Genetic engineering is already a major factor in foods and plants. He has have heard 80% of all cottonseeds used today are variations from genetically engineered seeds. What will change is society's awareness of the extensiveness of genetic engineered foods and eventually living organisms like chickens, cows, pigs, pets, and eventually people. He predicts worldwide pressure will eventually pressure acceptance of this in all life forms (even if the US says no, a third world country will say yes).
Finally Nano technology has many theoretically sound principles behind it. That is why there is so much excitement behind it. However, 'matter compilers' and other exotic uses of Nan technology are way over hyped. Richard Feynman did the original visionary paper for Nan technology in 1957 (see "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom") but 43 years later we still are VERY far away from practical use of Nano technology.
I believe pretty soon we will all have tiny robots the size even smaller than an atom roaming around our Deoxyribonucleic Acid making changes to it. Either for good or for the worst, we may know soon.