Last week, Apple unveiled two new iPhones and a wearable device, the Apple Watch. It’s a really neat device. I don’t need a new watch, but I think I want or at least wish, I had one.
Barron’s Tiernan Ray describes it as “gorgeous.” “Pictures don’t do justice to how light, thin, and comfortable to wear it is.” It will tell time, connect to your iPhone to give you updates of texts, let you send messages by speaking, remind you of appointments and show directions on a map. Furthermore, the Apple Watch is supposed to become a mobile wallet, replacing credit cards at retail locations. In addition, the watch will have third-party apps, one of which can turn it into a “fit bit” for monitoring physical activity. Of course, the big thing is that the watch is part of Apple’s ecosystem, a combination of software, services, data and business partners, with everything working with one another.
It’s amazing what technology and Apple have come to in the last three decades. In 1984 Steve Jobs presented the new Macintosh computer. The iPod was introduced in 2001 and iTunes Music Store in 2003. The first iPhone was available in June, 2007; the first iPad in January, 2010. We’re now up to the iPhone 6 for which Apple received 4 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours after it was announced on September 12th. Of course, Apple is not alone. Samsung, Google and Xiaomi (in China) and others are all part of this fantastic technology burst.
It makes you wonder. We’ve come so far in the last couple of decades. What will the next 20-30 years hold?
I think a great place to start to get some answers would be Ray Kurzweil, an American author, computer scientist, inventor, futurist and director of engineering for Google. You may not know his name but his writings were the inspiration for the 2013 hit film “Her” starring Scarlett Johansson as the “Siri” lady who develops a relationship with a human.
Mr. Kurzweil started his first software company in his sophomore year at MIT. Since then, he has started several other companies and invented the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind. WSJ describes him as a “restless genius.” Forbes calls Mr. Kurzweil the “ultimate thinking machine.”
He thinks the day will come when our brains will be connected to the cloud. “Nanobots” (microscopic robots) will one day travel to our brains through our capillaries. Computers the size of blood cells in our neocortex (grey matter in the brain) will connect to the cloud wirelessly the way iPhones do today. He added, “I don’t see a significant difference whether technology is inside your brain or whether my brain is directing my fingers. We will just make it more convenient by connecting it into our brains.”
Mr. Kurzweil sees a future where humans live indefinitely. It won’t happen overnight, we need to do three things first. One, stay healthy much longer. Mr. Kurzweil takes 120 vitamins daily, drinks green tea and exercises regularly. He contends that his “real age” is in the 40s though he was born in 1948. Second, we need to reprogram our biology. This started with the Human Genome Project. This includes stem-cell research and 3-D printing. Third, when we implant nanobots in our bodies, they will act as an extension of our immune system, identifying and destroying pathogens our own cells can’t. The 2030s will be a “golden era” according to Mr. Kurzweil. We’ll have a revolution in medicine with technology replacing human parts.
Obviously, this is all pretty amazing stuff. Mr. Kurzweil plans to be around to see whatever the future holds. His goal is to live indefinitely. His backup plan is to cryogenically preserve his body. But, he says, “My goal is not to need the backup plan.” As we always say at DWM, no one can predict the future. However, Mr. Kurzweil’s vision is certainly quite eye-opening.
So, I’ll get my Apple Watch now. And maybe put in a pre-order for some nanobots for delivery in a couple of decades. It’s a wonderful time to be alive.