Touch of Love: Short History of the Future

According to the 2013 ‘Mobile Life’ report by Samsung and O2, we touch our phones more than we touch our spouses.

We gaze into the eyes of a tablet streaming Netflix videos, more than the eyes of our children, streaming tears onto a playground.

Today, the divorce rate is north of 50% and seniors undergoing mid-life crisis are leaving their wives for younger models. But the models are not runway models with thin, long legs. They are next generation handsets, Samsung GS5 and iPhone5S, thin and leg-less.


SMART IS THE NEW DUMB

Smartphones are getting smarter and the network pipes of mobile operators are getting dumber. Upon Apple’s iPhone release in 2007, the value equation of mobility and data utilization, tipped towards OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), reducing mobile operators to dumb pipes of bits and bytes and spectrum. Like King Arthur of Camelot, Steve Jobs of Apple pulled the long sword from the stone of wisdom, paving the way for the Fourth Wave in the digital ecosystem, the mobile internet revolution: application providers (Zynga) and platform enablers (Facebook, Twitter).

But if Time is a rabbit going around in a flat circle, then wireless broadband is similar to the revolutions engendered by ships, steam engines and cars. The nuance is that wireless is invisible, and not bound to the hands of a clock and rocks of geography.

MOBILE, PROMETHEUS

Mobile technology is the new Prometheus, providing fire to keep us warm in the holes of the earth and caves of our mind.

In the past, networking technologies have been trialed (albeit long ‘ping’ times) with carrier pigeons or bongo drums. You can Internet Protocol over anything, even two tin cans and a piece of wet string. But with the power of wireless, if the internet can be a computer do you even need a computer? All you need is a device with a browser and a fast broadband connection.

The desktop, the cerebellum of the home and office will become a dumb terminal providing an elevator to services (storage and IT management tools) offered by the Cloud.

Moore’s Law, the engine of innovation for mass market tech for the past 50 years is about to run out of steam. It predicted processing power of computers would double every two years. Intel engineers kept cramming more components on an integrated circuit based on this prediction, reducing the physics of giant mainframes to handheld masterpieces of art like the iPod. But Moore’s Law has hit physical limits. There are no more air bubbles and molecules to shift. As Moore states, “You can’t go beyond one.”

If current trends stick, Softbank, global tech giant, predicts the number of transistors on a circuit will surpass the number of brain cells in a human brain by 2018, meaning the only way for humans to keep up with technology advances will be to merge with machines.

BEE CONVERGENCE

The next tech evolution will be media mash-up of cable, radio, satellite, and broadcast in the spirit of a drip painting by a 5 year old child.

The cell phone has become an extra thumb that humans cannot live without. Many of us can do without water for a day, but how many of us can do without our cellphones for a day? According to a new report released by Bank of America, nearly half of the people surveyed (47 percent) said they wouldn’t last a day without their device.

As consumers become more locked into the social patterns of Facebook and Twitter, a network hive and digital swarm is emerging. To the naked ear and eye, it is a complex, confusing system of information exchange. But just as bees possess their own version of an intranet wired into their honeycomb through which they transmit signals between 230 and 270 Hz, so too will consumers. All voice and data services will belong to a single data stream on 4G Long Term Evolution networks (2.5 GHz), providing the fastest speeds in wireless history.

Mobile phones will continue to handle everything from calls, instant messages, HD TV, photographs and email but additionally act as remote control to our cars, appliances, security systems, homes and offices, all of which will be digitally tagged. Network operators like Comcast and ATT will consolidate satellite, cable and wireless, selling digital music and movies, as well as roaming WiFi service to protect revenue streams.


BICYCLE-KICKING SOCCER ROBOTS

Google’s search engine coupled with the rise of the Android Smartphone is a prelude to Artificial Intelligence. Smart phones are always on, always learning — global positioning, translating semantics, hunting data, even talking back.

Rene Descartes reasoned that human existence carries a dualistic nature, body and soul. “I think therefore I am.” In essence he said “I am a thinking thing.” The iPhone cannot acknowledge itself and therefore is not conscious, for now…

But as robot design gets more sophisticated, robots will have access to the world wide web through high speed wireless connections, tapping into global databases to answer questions from humans. Their Cartesian moment will be “I think therefore Humans are.”

The best application today is wirelessly linked robot dogs that use artificial telepathy to kick on the soccer field. There is a World Robo Cup held annually where the robots compete. In a decade’s time don’t be surprised if a new team attempts to qualify for the Men’s World Cup.


LOVE IS CONNECTIVITY

Technology is flipping our social DNA. We text message more than we hug. We video chat more than we shake hands. We touch our devices more than we touch each other. Studies have shown babies who are not held and hugged enough stop growing and-if the situation persists, even with proper diet – die. There is no denying the healing power of touch and how technological connectivity will matter.

But at the rate we cling to our devices, we may need artificial intelligence to teach us how to feel, how to love again.

This past month, Softbank launched the first humanoid robot which can interpret human feelings. Her name is Pepper.

Pepper is loaded with bells and whistles: a dozen sensors in her digits, base and head. She has two cameras and four microphones and Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking capabilities.

She can dance, rap and crack jokes like Eddie Murphy. But for all her capabilities, when Pepper was playing to the crowd, she said: ‘I want to be loved.’