Feb 2015

Technology Always Leads

Posted by / in B4Blessing News, Strategies That Bless / No comments yet

We are so in love with Technology – at least on the days when it works well. But once technology is out there, it doesn’t reverse itself. When we can genetically modify food, or clone a sheep, we don’t put it back in Pandora’s box, but find other ways we can use that technology.

Micro_Electromechanical_Systems_LargeFor years I’ve loved technology and how it impacts our lives.  I’ve followed the trends since I got my first computer in the 1980s on the same day my first grandchild was born (I was a VERY young grandmother). I was privileged to go to work for Intel in 1999 and see first hand how technology impacts the entire world. At B4B we want to encourage businesses to be technologically savvy. We are created in the Creator’s image, therefore we should be creative. We should help upskill the people we work with to be able to have good jobs as the world of work changes. If we aren’t using our employees creativity, we aren’t fulfilling the creation mandate. There are many businesses that use their creativity – IT businesses in India, a new business doing part of setting up printing via the computer in the Himalayas. With this blog we want to spark your thinking in a broad way.

Now, obviously, there are technologies that are not helpful or hurt individuals and families – using the internet to gamble for instance – so we need to be wise in our choice. We must choose carefully.

Here are some technologies we think are game changers to spark your creative imagination:

  • Nano-Technology: For millennia we have made things by shaping materials. We shaped a rock to make an axe; we melted copper and tin to make bronze; we cut down trees and shaped them into planks to make a house.

    Its likely that Jesus ran the family carpenter shop after the death of Joseph. Can you imagine the creator of the universe, taking wood and building a table? The One through whom all things were created and hold together (Col 1:16-17).  And what a table that would be, what fine workmanship. It makes your mind sing to think about it.

    Today there is a new process that builds up material from the molecular structure of carbon nanotubes. But of course that is not new to our Creator. I can picture Jesus getting a chuckle out of our feeble technology, but to us it feels like a big deal.

    When I worked for Intel I saw that making chips had become a very complex process. We think of it as circuitry, connecting things. But it has gotten so complex that there are now layers of connections, sizes going down to 5 nanometers (the width of a human hair is 75,000 to 100,000 nanometers). Some researchers at Stanford are looking at nanotubes as the next generation of material when silicon reaches its limits.

    Nanotechnology will revolutionize manufacturing. I attended a session which reported on a forum hosted by the US GAO which looked at the implications of nano-manufacturing in America and abroad. They saw nanotechnology as a fundamental game changer just as the electric grid or the internal combustion engine was in its day. It will affect most of what we manufacture. While the US is ahead in the technology for now, the rest of the developed world is catching up fast. We don’t know all the implications of this technology, but we do know that we must watch and be aware of its impact.

  • IoT – The Internet of Things: This will be the most profound change in technology on our list. To view a Ted Talk by Dr. John Barrett, click:  TED TAKL – IoT  It is well worth watching and an understandable, sometimes humorous explanation of IoT.

    Objects – THINGS – will be connected to the internet/cloud and provide information. It changes how we think about our world, privacy, security, etc. The security concerns we have today will be small and naive when we consider Big Data in 2020. Today I turn on my computer and connect to the internet – I make that choice. IoT will be like the electric grid – everywhere, imbedded in all the products I buy or use. Cities will be “Smart Cities” – there are already some examples in Asia and Europe – and they are the “new normal.” The internet connection of “Things” will be ubiquitous. By 2020 it is projected that 25-30 billion devices may be connected to the Internet. Dr. Barrett estimates that each of us will interact with 5000 Things connected to the Internet. This sea change provides many opportunities for businesses that can bless, just a few that come to mind are:

  • Wearable medical / monitoring devices: a heart monitor to call 911 before I even know that I’m in trouble; shirts that will see that I’m too hot or cold and make me comfortable, or tell me to exercise more
  • Apps or programs that shut off or control my devices to take them off the IoT grid
  • Devices that monitor factory safety
  • Off-shore wind or wave electricity generation
  • Apps that allow gaming to include a local environment
  • Getting involved with the ethical or legal side of this change. We need people with biblical wisdom as part of the conversation. This is too important to our future to leave to technologists to do what is possible. Just as medical ethics has changed with the advent of technology, technical ethics must provide wisdom with our Creator’s standards
  • 3D printing: Just as Xerox changed the way we dealt with 2D paper copies, 3D printing is changing the way we manufacture goods. The price has come down to about $1500 and you can buy them easily. They lay down various composite materials in a similar fashion as an ink jet printer lays down various colors. Say your shoe needs to be repaired or replaced. You can create a copy, or a new sole in a 3D printer. Imagine its use in a poor village, or in prototyping a new invention. No longer do you have to pay big dollars to get a sample to sell or to get a patent.  No longer does it take large factories to produce goods. Now it can be done in small batches that are customized. This brings the concept of Mass Customization to a new level. As the 3D printer continues to fall in price and increase in sophistication, it is a game changer in manufacturing. Because it is cost effective it is usable to bless people to help keep them with their families instead of going to large factories that are so dehumanizing.
  • Print on Demand: Check out our P4All advertiser on the website. They have taken their knowledge of printing and broken it down to a level that allows a small printer to print books on demand at a very reasonable price. They have also put together agreements with authors and publishers to give them copyrights to many Christian publications. Being able to provide good reading material, or business cards and brochures can be a profitable business
  • Drones: We are seeing more and more uses for drones. In the US alone 70,000 new jobs using drones are projected to be created by 2018. Here are a few ideas:
  • Selling the view of your new high rise apartment in China by taking pictures before the building is even built
  • Renting drones to record your vacation, or wedding
  • Flying over your fields for see if water or fertilizer is needed
  • Making sure your children get home safely
  • 3D archeological mapping
  • Surveying forests and other geologies
  • Delivering packages
  • Teaching students how to use drones
  • Robotics: Why was America’s recovery from recession often called a jobless recovery? American industry retooled factories, warehouses and other facilities with robotics. Cars are now manufactured robotically. Surgery is done robotically. Bombs are defused with robots. Floors are vacuumed with robots. Doing mundane or dangerous tasks with robots only makes sense. When you connect the IoT with robotics, it becomes truly profound. Some business ideas:
  • We often see medical facilities set up as businesses that bless. Remote villages have no doctor, or the standard of care is low. Connected medical people in developed countries with under-developed places can be done via the internet. It already is in many places, but it is an opportunity to do diagnosis and even robotic surgery for people with little medical care. In outbreaks such as ebola, robotics could help care for sick people while keeping providers from catching the disease.
  • Teaching people to use robots allows them to have a skillset useful in the future.

So, while not exhaustive, this list covers some of the game changing technology changes we see. What do you see? What is the impact of technology? Where do you disagree? What business ideas do you have? Lets start a conversation about how we might use technology in businesses that bless.iPhoto Library

PS: look at this beautiful smart bracelet powered by Intel, created by Opening Ceremony . . . now That’s Wearable Technology!

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