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Are the Tech and Software Sectors Close to Eating the World?

By : Ziad K Abdelnour| 30 June 2014
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Not even in your wildest dreams …. as I believe we are just at the beginning of a revolution still at its embryonic stage.

For a start, you might think that tech is today in a bubble as a company whose sole product is a photo sharing app in which the pictures get deleted after they are shared recently turned down $3 billion.

Maybe…. But the reality is that even if there is a bubble in the making there are really no consequences. Unlike the late 90s, technology is now more entrenched than ever before. If one company blows up, other entrepreneurs will start a new one or join someone else. So If you really think about it, the cost of failure has never been so low, ever.

Having said that, here are a few trends in the making that I believe will be dramatically changing our world:

1. The increasing availability (cost and ease) of DNA sequencing. 10-15 years ago it cost hundreds of millions to sequence the human genome – now that process costs “only” $20k, and is expected to further come down. Another interesting driver behind the upcoming field of bioinformatics/DNA sequencing is the OpenBio movement, which includes Kickstarter projects such as OpenPCR). I believe that by 2015 we will be able to give our doctor’s relevant genome information and receive treatment based on those results. With the ready accessibility to genome sequencing, I think health care developments will rapidly accelerate, as there will be tons of data regarding what genome markers have correlations with various diseases. This kind of data analysis will be carried out on a scale never before seen, and should lead to all kinds of health care breakthroughs.

2. The move towards mass customization and the democratization of hardware. I think that hardware is in a similar position as software was in 1995, and that within a few years you will see hardware products become easier and easier to create. With the availability of easy hardware/product creation, we will see the same kinds of innovations based on the accessibility of manufacturing that we saw when more and more people could readily access the web and build off of various platform technologies. I think that we will see physical creations that we could not have even imagined several years ago, with the increasing availability of 3D printing technologies and other manufacturing processes. Recent developments with the Arduino platform’s integration with Droid are a big step in this direction.

3, Smartphones. Will without a doubt be a game changer in the next 4-5 years too. It’s now possible to carry a device with almost as much processing power as a laptop in your hand and to use that same device to communicate with others anywhere on the planet. As they become faster and more robust, mobile phones are going to morph into mobile computers with functionality that’s not even be dreamed of at this time.

4. Cloud Computing. Running a server farm is a little bit like running a regular farm. On one hand it’s kind of cool because you can grow your own food exactly how you want it. Only interested in lychees and rutabagas and don’t want to any pesticides? Well it’s your farm! However anyone who tried their hand at farming knows it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Unless they particularly enjoy farming, most people would rather just buy their food at the store and use their time to do other things. With cloud computing, startups and large corporations alike can focus on their core competencies instead of worrying about infrastructure, server blades, and data centers. There are also advantages for the consumer. Hosting your documents, music and movies in the cloud isn’t cool… You know what’s cool? Virtualizing all of your software in the cloud. Sure, this has already been possible with VMware and Citrix, but a new startup Spoon has made a lightweight browser plug-in that allows you to use apps like Eclipse or uTorrent at the click of the button (only in Windows 7 for now, but they are developing Mac OS and Android clients). They also allow enterprises to virtualize all of their own apps, including legacy software that cannot run on newer browsers or OSes.

5. Hand in hand with cloud computing is distributed data storage. Just recently, only Internet giants like Facebook, Google or Amazon were able to successfully implement non-relational databases. Now these databases have been either open sourced (Cassandra) or re-implemented as open-source versions (CouchDB, Riak etc). Now, anyone can tap into these tools to build massively scalable applications with semi-structured or even unstructured data. As with cloud computing, companies like Cloudera and Basho are enabling startups and corporations to focus on building great products instead of growing pains.

6. UAV’s. Are going to become I believe the go-to weapon of the near-future that every country with an air force is going to demand. The US has proven their versatility in battle as well as an assassination weapon and few countries that afford it will allow themselves to fall farther behind with this amazing technology.

7. Streaming Media. Becoming faster will also I believe have a huge impact on how we interact and make it easier for content creators to get their product to market far faster than they currently do. Television programs shot in digital can be edited and placed online in days rather than weeks or months. Multiple films can be made in the space of time that it took to make a single film in the past

8. Bitcoin. I think Bitcoin is extremely interesting due to the adoption it has received, as well as the trend it promotes. With the economy on the downturn, large investment banks collapsing, and the government continuously spending beyond its means, I think that any system that is based on peer-to-peer lending has the potential to grow massively – beyond even the $50 million USD that is currently in the BitCoin system. Because BitCoin is tax-free, and in some ways more stable than the volatile stock market, I think we will see the rise of an entire financial system around this (or some other) online, peer currency. With another bailout coming from the Fed, there are predictions of further USD inflation, which would only add to the value of the P2P currency.

9. And last but not least… The democratization of the information and services necessary to start a company. We have clearly seen a rise in the number of startups over the past few years, and I think that number is likely to continue to climb as more and more individuals have access to information about entrepreneurship, as well as low-cost access to tools that can help them launch a company. From this trend will come many innovative companies and driven individuals who several years ago would not have even dreamed of starting their own company. Overall, I think that this has the potential to change more of the world than anything else, as it makes it easier for unreasonable individuals to change the world.

We often forget here in the U.S. that most of the world is still “developing,” meaning many countries will leapfrog the inefficient infrastructural technologies the “developed” world took 100-200 years to build (telecom, cable, rail systems, grid power, big clunky corporations and governments). Yet, these four will touch all economies because all economies tend toward efficiency.

The future is real bright and full with incredible “wealth creation” opportunities bar a war in the Middle East that will bring havoc to all.

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