We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.
Just imagine how nice it would be if you would be able to access all those different systems at office, your ATM, etc without having to remember all those usernames and passwords!
Imagine if there was no need for you to go for a regular medical checkup to make sure that all your organs are working fine, and instead there was some system which constantly monitors your body and alerts you immediately whenever there is a sign of trouble!
Imagine if there was no need for you to line up at the ballot boxes to vote for your candidate, and instead if you could cast your vote directly from your mobile phone!
Imagine of not having to stand in the queues at those retail outlets after shopping for your groceries and other items, and instead if a system exists where in all you need to do is pick up the items and just move out of the shop, and your bank account gets automatically debited for the amount of things that you have purchased.
Imagine of having a interactive system on your car. The moment you get into your car, all you do is, select the destination by using a map. Say for ex suppose you want to go to Mysore palace from Bangalore, then all you do is get into your car, the navigation systems switch on, and you zoom on to the mysore city on the karnataka map, and then zoom on to the Mysore palace and tap it again, and just relax back. Your car calculates the most optimum path to Mysore palace from your house by interacting with the satellite based GPS systems, takes stalk of the traffic conditions and further optimizes the path, and starts moving towards the palace while you sit back and relax, listening to music or watching a movie. Once the mysore palace arrives, your car will again talk to the local parking systems via wireless communication, and receives a parking space allocation and proceeds towards the parking and parks itself!
Life is going to be supercool and super simple, providing you ample time to do many other things for which you were finding a ‘lack of time’.
Let us start writing down the kind of technologies we need to achieve this.
Our friends dont ask us a password to recognize us, do they? :) Hence we need to develop intelligent systems that can authenticate us, just like the way our family members or our friends recognize us. The solution lies in biometrics.
Biometric devices can recognize us based on a variety of input combinations like finger prints, iris/facial recognition, DNA, voice, hand geometry etc. A lot of advance has been done in this field and we already have practical working systems in place.
Biometric systems are the key to eliminate the need for us to remember codewords to prove to other systems that “Its Me”. Systems can no more be compromised by somebody who has stolen your Access ID Cards.
Imagine a web cam with suitable hardware/firmware changes integrated with biometric systems, and there will be no need for you to remember usernames or passwords any more, for the software can then easily “See and recognize” you! A biometric enabled operating system, can then tell all the applications installed on it, including to the web browsers, about who you are! So no need to remember anything to login into your gmail or orkut or local network accounts. Good bye usernames and passwords, I will remember only my name, and that’s it. :)
Information Storage and Exchange
I just want to enter into a movie theater at a multiplex without having to buy a ticket. There should be a seat selection system available at the entrance or at the booking counter which displays available seats, and I select my choice with a touch based interface. Then the system should identify me based on my biometrics info, and should check if I have enough balance in my account, and if yes, then simply take a confirmation from me and automatically debit the account with the price of the tickets I selected.
And for this, the biometrics systems at the theater need to have my biometrics data, and this could be made available via internet based secure connections, where in the biometrics system connects to my national biometrics database and retrieves my data. And then connects to my bank via another secure connection and does the transaction. For this to happen, all biometric systems should be connected to the required data systems via secure internet.
In other words, Internet technologies provide the key for connectivity and exchange of information.
Next comes location identification. Suppose you just left you home in your car and are headed towards a national highway, the car needs to know the current traffic details on the way, so that it can avoid roads with a traffic congestion, and hence take a quickest possible (which may not be the shortest) route.
To handle this issue we have GPS enables systems. These Global positioning satellite systems are like eyes that are constantly watching the earth from space, and can provide instant accurate information about location specific queries. It can identify where your car is, and ask your car where it wants to go to, and then tell your car which way to move forward! With proper data fed to it, it can even direct your car about one ways and dead ends!
And then comes the brainy part of it. The car needs to drive on its own, the biometric system has to differentiate between you and your brother, the multiplex booking system has to appropriately debit your account, and to do all these domain specific work, we have software based expert systems which are already doing rounds in every part of our life. The ATM machines, the online credic card transactions, automated and secure doors at offices, metro stations etc are all based on such software controlled hardware systems.
Devices as small as your shirt’s button, or even smaller will be all around us looking at what we are doing, guiding us what to do, and answering our queries. You can have your shirts storing your biometric data and based on which it refuses to be worn by people other than you! Shirts can even have blood pressure check systems, heart beat check systems which take emergency measures like automatically dialling an ambulance giving your specific location details, in case of a heart attack or an accident!
There can be measuring devices in our toilet which automatically measure the blood sugar level in urine everytime you go, and warn incase of diabetic symptoms! You dont have to wait anymore for any ailment symptoms to reach an advanced stage to be noticed, which sometimes can be too late!
A combination of all these technologies mean you can do a lot lot more than what you can today! Or in other words, these systems will do a lot more for you than they are doing today!
ATMs removed the need for us to go to specific bank branches and wait in long queues to withdraw money. Future technology will relieve governments from the very need to print money, and thereby not only save trees and metals, but also eliminate the possibility of fake currencies, and to a large extent also eliminate black money. Because money will be nothing more than additions and subtractions in your account in the bank databases.
Wherever you go, the biometric systems there will identify you, then connect to your bank systems via internet, retrieve your account information and debit or credit your account based on whether you have spent or earned money. Surgeries will be done by robot doctors, which unlike human doctors will be so tiny, that they will directly enter your body and do to the surgery for inner organs! There will be nanobots that will enter the body and assist our human system to kill bacteria and destroy viruses. We will be surrounded by semi-intelligent and expert systems all around us.
After the Industrial revolution, and then followed by the IT revolution, this is a giant leap in terms of automating human labor. This is already a work in progress as is evident by the ever growing number of intelligent devices and gadgets around us.
To sumamrize, mankind will become so dependent on these machines, that the day these machines stop working, entire humanity will come to a stand still. All machines are created by humans, but all humans are controlled by machines.
Have humans become tools of their tools? :)