Technology is changing at an incredible pace, so fast in fact that many industries and individuals are having a hard time keeping up. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an investor, or just plain curious, these are the fields to keep an eye on in the next decade, and the ones most likely to mint a new generation of millionaires and billionaires.
1. Artificial Intelligence.
Google’s AI program AlphaGo recently beat a world class human player at the game of Go, which many experts believed was years away from being possible. As of last year, Google’s Cloud Vision AI was as good as or better than a human at recognizing the contents of images (so was Microsoft’s AI for that matter). Facebook’s AI team has built a facial recognition program that may well be the best in the world.
While we are still likely many years away from artificial general intelligence, or strong AI (the type of potentially Terminator/Skynet AI folks like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are concerned about), the advances being made in the AI field are nonetheless staggering. Because advances in AI allow the ability to rapidly automate many tasks that used to require humans, with fewer errors, there is a tremendous amount of wealth to be made in this industry.
Related: Elon Musk: Artificial Intelligence Is Humanity's 'Biggest Existential Threat'
2. Human longevity.
It has long been believed that death is inevitable, but science is beginning to show signs that death might be a disease that can be conquered. While the claim is bold, there is evidence to support it.
There’s a term in the field of human longevity known as negligible senescence, which is a fancy way of saying a thing doesn’t seem to age. There are creatures on our planet, such as the lobster, whose cells show no signs of aging. If some plants and animals don’t age, why should humans have to? Researchers such as Aubrey de Gray are working to understand precisely why humans age when some creatures and how to potentially reverse, or even prevent, aging.
Research being done surrounding CRISPR Cas9 and genetic engineering are also showing numerous potential ways to increase human lifespan. For example, scientists have found that deleting a handful of genes could potentially increase human lifespan by 60 percent, which seems incredible.
Science is still a far cry from biological immortality, but it isn’t unreasonable to say that the average human could live to 120 or more, in good health, in the not-too-distant future. The value of the anti-aging market is in the many hundreds of billions of dollars…not a bad space in which to stake a claim.
3. Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
2016 is lining up to be the year of VR, with AR close on its heels. To be fair, the technology coming out now is a far cry from perfect, and in many ways isn’t truly consumer ready (visually, it feels about on par with mid-to-late 90s PC games…not awesome).
Polished or not, the VR we are seeing today is better than anything we’ve seen in the past, and the promise of what VR could become in a few more years is tantalizing. VR could become as revolutionary in the long-term as the Internet has been.
The possibilities of the technology, from business and travel to education and entertainment, are rich and vast. When might that happen? I’d wager three to five years for it to be awesome, and probably 10 years for it to be lifelike. That’s a huge window for some savvy entrepreneurs to make a mint.
4. Biotechnology and materials science.
Did you know that scientists have created a material that is almost as light as air, but that can support large amounts of weight and can insulate incredibly well? There are man-made leaves, self-healing materials and materials including Graphene that could make current battery technology obsolete.
Many of these man-made materials are inspired by things found in nature. Biomimetics is among the most fascinating research topics in the world today. Technology is making it cheaper and easier to create new materials inspired by nature, but better than anything currently known in nature. Best of all, these sorts of innovations can be patented and then licensed to major corporations, which means potentially big bucks to the inventors for a very long time.
5. Alternative transportation.
From electric cars that can drive themselves to modernized public transport such as the Hyperloop to human-sized drones and hover boards (real ones, not those silly two-wheeled contraptions that catch on fire), we are entering an era of potentially dramatic change on the transportation front.
We now have drones that can deliver packages, rockets that can get things to space on the cheap (though they still struggle with coming back down), and even jetpacks for goodness sake. If you have ideas in the transportation space, now is the time to dive in, because the traditional air and ground transportation industries are ripe for disruption.
There are of course numerous other technologies that can and will change the face of our world, from alternative energy and robotics to 3D printing and quantum computing, but these five in particular will be front and center over the next decade.What are some technologies or advances you’ve seen recently that you think people should be aware of? Share with us in the comments below.