Michael Rogers Talks About Technology’s Transformative Effects

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By Matt Roush

SOUTHFIELD – Michael Rogers’ official title is “the practical futurist.”

But really, he jokes, he’s more like an accidental futurist. He started out as a writer, after all.  Early in his career, he launched the technology coverage of Newsweek magazine, and later became the first editor of Newsweek.com.  After appearing regularly on MSNBC and writing for the NY Times as a futurist, the future became his passion.

And the business and technology future he plans to share in his keynote at BlueWater Technologies’ TechExpo later this month will be something to behold.

Rogers’ keynote at the May 21 BlueWater Technologies’ TechExpo will drive head-first into the ways that technology will transform how we communicate, collaborate and create will be transformed by a generation raised digital. We’ll have to explain to that generation what it means to be offline – since always connected directly is the norm for them.

“Business Technology In 2020, Science Fiction Becomes Reality”—the title of Rogers’ keynote speech at TechExpo—only hints at the changes ahead.  Flat screens are getting so inexpensive, Rogers says, that they will be literally everywhere – in every room, on every surface. Digital signs become so cheap they will replace print. Wherever you look, screens will provide windows into the virtual world. And those screens will contain cameras that can see how you’re reacting to content — even your age and gender – and adjust the content accordingly.

Computers will become wearable – like Google Glass, only even better with less obtrusive designs. All devices – not just what we think of as computers and phones — will become smart devices, connected to the web and managed from the cloud. Tiny sensors with tiny radios will be connected to every device – and will even replace bulky medical devices — sensors that will provide their own power through various techniques of energy harvesting from their environments. Sensors on employee name badges will even help manage office buildings’ heating and cooling systems.

Today’s teleconferencing will become much more sophisticated, with large video walls allowing virtual face-to-face meetings almost indistinguishable from meetings in physical space. (Think Star Trek’s Holodeck.) Using this technology, Millennials will expect the ability to telecommute and work from anywhere, based on their ability to create meaningful virtual relationships in ways their elders don’t quite understand.

Software will get really close to actual human intelligence, like IBM’s Watson on Jeopardy. A critical social issue will become finding new jobs for people whose careers are now imperiled by all that smart software – which can already, for example, do basic legal research for a law firm.

In a sense, Rogers said, we have all become futurists, because the future is coming so quickly that like ‘career’ futurists, we all have to make predictions on where technology is going.  Unlike futurists, however, those in business also have to make financial bets on where the future is going. And betting on the wrong future can cost you big.

Michael Rogers’ speech will help TechExpo attendees bet on the right future.

For more information and to register for the TechExpo, visit http://www.bluewatertechexpo.com/.

Matt Roush is director of communications and public relations at the Engineering Society of Detroit, www.esd.org.

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