NEXT Day 3: Digital

September 1, 2010 | 20:11
NEXT Day 3: Digital
NEXT Day 3: Digital
The third day of the NEXT conference was an inspiration overload; great talks and great reactions by the audience. Let me start by posing some questions that come to mind when talking about 'the digital' and the future. How will all things digital affect our lives? Will the digital and 'the real' become one? How will digital technology make our lives easier? How far and fast will the digital sphere develop? Will we be able to live without digital technology? These were questions some of the NEXT speakers asked and attempted to answer at this third day of the conference.

Anthony Townsend of the Institute for the Future gave an inspiring presentation on the future of cities in relation to technology. Anthony conducts research on the impact of new technology on cities and public institutions. His interests span several inter-related topics: mobility and urbanization, innovation systems and innovation strategy, science and technology parks and economic development, and sustainability and telework.

By the end of this century 90% of the world will be urbanized. This means in the next decades, or years even, we'll witness the birth of a city-building industry. The city, according to Anthony, will become a product that is finetuned to fit consumer needs. These 'smart cities' will heavily depend on technology. We'll move into an age where we're able to monitor everything and every single part of the city we live in. A cool of example of the merging of cities and digital technology is Oakland Crimespotting, an online app where Oakland citizens are able to see where and what crime takes place in their neighborhood. The city of the future will send out massive amounts of data which we will be able to use in our benefits. Services based on cloud computing will make this data available to everyone, so that citizens actually get a chance to interact and affect how their cities work.

Trend forecaster and Wired columnist Miriam Rayman took the audience on a thirty minute journey to 2030 and looked back on the good old days (2010) when we still used silly devices like the iPad and microphones. According to Miriam 2030 will look a whole lot different than the world we know today. Augmented reality contact lenses will enable every human being on the planet to 'layer' the world in front of their eyes with information relevant to them. Technology will hardly be visible anymore and it will be found everywhere; in our clothes, in our body, in everything we touch. In 2010 objects were dumb and passive, in 2030 every object is sociable, sending out data and interacting with its environment. Your fridge will have something to say about the products inside, your mirror might even have something to say about the way you look. We'll no longer have to work with technology but technology will work for us.

It seems like the digital is here to stay, or better yet, the digital is creating a 'new here'. It's for us to find out how we deal with this new space and how we will incorporate it with the rest of the world. The big challenge, I think, is to continually find ways to use technology in our benefits.

Day 2 of the conference: Food

Day 1 of the conference: Careware

To stay updated on the conference follow Tech the Future on Twitter or check out the NEXT hashtag (#next2010).
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