Many call the current advances in IT the fourth industrial revolution. Judging by the rapid changes in our daily lives, it is easy to see why. A decade ago, it would have been hard for the average person to imagine the smartphone capabilities that are now commonplace. Bitcoin, based on the genius, though murky, development of blockchain technology, was not even on the radar screens of most technologists less than a decade ago. Millions of people drive for Uber and Lyft worldwide, and these vehicles are available 24/7 across the globe. In 2008, we were still reliant on old-fashioned taxis. Imagine what the world will look like in 2030.
That is exactly what technology experts like Alexander Pandro, a multinational tech entrepreneur and member of the Forbes Technology Council, are hard at work predicting. Pandro sees tremendous positives from the changes in information technology. These include bolstered productivity, increased investment returns, and new systems of governance, management, and production. The caveat is that this revolution must be harnessed in a forward-thinking, ethical manner. Considering technology’s capacity to invade privacy and wage war on a level never before experienced, societies across the world will struggle to adapt in a way that keeps productivity growing without human rights becoming a casualty.
Pandro cites the American oil-and-gas sector as a example of tremendous, and rapid, productivity growth. Cloud computing, 3-D seismic modeling, and big data are making locating and accessing oil deposits so much more efficient that exports have increased by 50 to 100 percent. Adding to the increase in physical productivity, InfoTech fosters the creation of new financial markets, such a derivatives of oil and gas. This creates new opportunities for investors to make additional profit off of the already expanded physical capabilities. Government, as well, benefit from increased tax revenues, though the regulatory framework of taxing the profits of new technology remains an open debate.
Sci-Fi books and movies have long portrayed robot warfare. The destructive capabilities of these robots, of course, far outstrips any damage a human soldier can inflict. We have already seen the proliferation of drones on the battlefield. More concerning, nuclear and conventional bombs have grown far more accurate and destructive. A day may come when most advanced nations have access to arsenals beyond the capabilities of the cold war era, depending on geopolitical trends and development. However, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
As with all tech, every advancement can lead to bad or good. Destructive capabilities are bound to expand, but with smart and ethical leadership, these capabilities will never be used to destroy, only to build.