You hear it all the time: The way we do X is going to change as technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous. As a society, we’re on the cusp of what’s being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technologies like 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, 3D printing, wearables, and advanced robotics will fundamentally change how we live, work, play and experience even the simplest things in life. Some of these changes may sound scary, with popular culture painting a dystopian view of the world (think of how Mad Max or Blade Runner make you feel), but I’d like to share a different point of view with you.
I share some of the popular concerns about technology taking over our lives, but I am far more optimistic about our future and how technology can and will be used for good. I recently gave a TED talk about my vision for what is coming, and urged viewers not to get fixated on such a bleak future just because that is what we see in the media today. I am excited about how technology can help people, bridge divides, and enable the next generation to solve the biggest problems we’re facing today and stand to face tomorrow.
One area that I think a lot about this time of year is how we can help those less fortunate than ourselves. Today we live in a world where every student can learn at their own pace, in their own learning style, even as they sit in a classroom with other students learning the same material differently, or are hundreds of miles away from the school itself. Imagine what we can do as we bring that technology to bear to every student on the planet, not just the top students in elite institutions.
I see a time in the near future where VR brings communities together and helps people around the world understand the full scope of a famine, and spurs them to action in a more visceral way than a photo on the front page does today. When people can truly feel and experience the challenges that we face globally, it will become harder to turn a blind eye to them. It will also help those who give, feel and witness the impact of their support, enabling benevolent donors to walk through the school they built or watch a medical procedure they funded.
I’m excited about what the future holds and how technology will help us help people everywhere. As we look to share our blessings with others this holiday season, I hope you will join me in thinking about how technology will change how we support those less fortunate than ourselves and consider what you can do to make your community better than it is today.
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