Technology Is Already Disrupting Our Lives. What Will the Future Look Like?
From blockchain technology to self-driving cars, major advancements are here to stay -- and evolve.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We live in exciting times, with an overwhelming amount of disruptive technology being developed and deployed at an increasing pace. This technology has knocked down doors and infiltrated every corner of our lives. Perhaps it was Tony Stark's fault. Maybe it started with the Wright brothers, or even as far back as Moses and the burning bush. Whatever the impetus, one thing is clear: Technology has impacted our lives in ways we may never fully comprehend.
Nowadays, as technology gets more sophisticated, it's disrupting many traditional industries. The days of it being a tool reserved for business and the workplace are over, as everything from ordering food to dating to exercising is now being done through tech. Here's a deeper look at seven ways technology continues to disrupt our lives.
1. The Internet of things (IoT)
'Internet of things," what was once a buzzword, is now disrupting billions of lives and business infrastructures. It has become an expected part of day-to-day life.
The internet of things is where devices connect to the net and share their information. We see this with everything from smart TVs to Fitbits to self-driving cars. These are enabled by the internet, which means the devices are equipped with wifi or some other form of wireless transmission (BLE). This allows everything from your smart TV to your wireless headphones to access the net.
Not that long ago, people were trumpeting the arrival of voice search and "mobilegeddon" as signs that we had entered a new technological era. That was true, but blockchain will be yet another one for the history books because it has the potential to create a secure and immutable record of everything in our digital world. It's not just about how we access information daily, but also about how we handle and secure our data.
Take a look at one of the industries blockchain will have a massive impact on, healthcare. A study shows that by 2030, there will be 26 million new cancer cases and 17 million cancer deaths per year. In addition to the need for rapid detection, there's a great deal of supply-chain inefficiency in the current system: It takes two weeks to get results back from a biopsy, and when you throw on top of that different contractual requirements between payers, providers and labs, it's easy to see how blockchain can help.
Related: Regulated Blockchain: A New Dawn in Technological Advancement
3. AI and machine learning
AI is a game-changer and a solid digital-marketing tool. It is used by brands to get the most out of their content and is the most effective element of digital marketing.
2017 was a big tech year for artificial intelligence. While many of us were busy reporting on digital disruption, automation and the rise of virtual reality, AI quietly took its seat across a wide range of industries. Now, in 2022, major companies have all picked up on this new technology, introducing AI into their businesses to boost efficiency. IBM Watson for smarter business is currently in use, and Netflix is using AI to personalize recommendations. We are about to see even more of this activity in the future.
4. Smart-home technology
The smart home is no longer out of reach; it's actually in your hands. The global smart-home market is projected to grow from $84.5 billion in 2021 to $138.9 billion by 2026; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.4% from 2021 to 2026.
The era of computerized everything is upon us, and in just a few years, we'll all be sitting around wondering what we did before Alexa.
Just think about how far we have come from switching on our television using a bulky remote or glancing through the newspaper before heading off to work. With the release of each new gadget, technology sets off a chain reaction within the consumer market, and we end up with more options and designs for each product.
Related: The Next Big Opportunity for Tech Entrepreneurs? 'Smart' Homes
5. Watch out for self-driving cars
We might have first seen driverless cars in a sci-fi film, but today these marvels of technological engineering are driving on our roads.
The concept of driverless cars has been around for a long time now. But going forward, it seems that this once-futuristic idea will become an all-too-prevalent reality. Self-driving cars will soon change the driving game completely: They'll make transportation much more convenient and hopefully save countless lives.
6. The reign of 3D printing and manufacturing
3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, and there is no sign of this technology slowing down anytime soon. It is time for a paradigm shift in manufacturing. Manufacturers no longer need to sit at the mercy of pricing, inventory control or production delays. They can see what their customers see; they can dream up a prototype and print it out in a matter of hours. And now that 3D-printing technology is getting more accessible, there is no limit to what can be produced and sold to consumers.
Indeed, it's likely that we will see more innovations in the 3D-printing space in the decade to come. Rather than being seen as a threat to profitability, technology companies may embrace this new form of production and help influence how 3D printers can best be used to suit their needs.
7. Technology in healthcare
Technology continues to advance at a startling pace, and healthcare has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to picking up new tools that will enhance their communication and treatment options.
Physicians can use technology to prescribe drugs while Big Pharma can use its data to improve the efficacy of drugs. Given that there has been some time since the realization of technology's impact on patients and doctors, why are we still finding ourselves asking questions like, "Are you sure this is right?" or "What does this number mean again?" Perhaps it's time to do away with the traditional paper-documentation method in healthcare. But here's the thing about technology in healthcare: It is important, but we have to be realistic about how it's currently used. Despite all the improvements in technology, there are just some things that might never change with medicine.
Related: AI Innovations Continue to Revolutionize Healthcare
There's no doubt that technology will define our lives in ways big and small, now and in the future. But it's also important to go beyond your screen and stay in touch with the real world around you. Start connecting and reconnecting with the people in your life. Get in the habit of writing things down. Find new places to relax and unwind. You can't always do complex tasks on a phone, computer or the internet.
Ultimately, technology is only as powerful as what we do with it, and if we use it to avoid dealing with our problems, there isn't much value served.