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Ask The #InternetOfEverything Futurist: “How Will Emerging Technology Preserve and Enhance the Past?”

In my role as Cisco’s Chief Futurist, I get many questions about what the future holds and how new technology and emerging solutions will change our lives. Be sure to check out previous Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist blogs and videos about the advances of battery technology, future of smartphones, new retail models and how new solutions will integrate with our five senses.

Imagine being able to watch your entire life happen before your eyes or being able to recall specific memories and events, as to relive them the exact way they happened. As the Internet of Everything (IoE) and the network to support it evolve, our lives will be able to literally flash before our eyes.

Today, the first versions of this technology are being developed and utilized to create digital copies of landmarks and monuments. For example, cyber archivists are increasingly using a 3D data recording processes that utilizes a spinning laser on a tripod to collect millions of points of information. Once objects or monuments are fully scanned, the archivists combine the collected data with photographs and then create a virtual version that can be used in classrooms around the world or for various other applications.

Not only will we be able to create an index of digital copies from buildings, monuments and landmarks, this technology will advance to the point that we can record and organize event sequences that take place over the course of our lives. However, this information is useless unless in can be securely accessed in real-time. One point is clear, with this influx of connected people, process, data and things, the Internet of Everything depends on a stable and secure network as we make our own history come to life.

In this Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist post, I’ll answer a question from Cisco Champion, Robert Novak, who asks about what the Internet of Everything will mean for preserving our past and our building our future. Robert asks:

Question: “How do you see emerging technology being used to preserve and enhance the past?”

Answer: Thanks for the question, Robert. We’re already starting to see how technology is being used to capture our history. Consider the vast amount of human knowledge now available online. This simply might have been lost had it not been digitized and uploaded. Encyclopedia sites such as Wikipedia offer dates and historical background on many events, people, places and things.

The world’s manuscripts and books are also being scanned and posted online so they too can be preserved. New, emerging technologies like 3-D scanning and printing will also help to preserve physical items in their digital forms. However, we need to ensure that the digital standards we use to encode information are maintained and updated as technology changes. For example, I’m sure many people still have old tapes they would like to be converted to digital before it’s too late.

As the Internet of Everything grows, it’s becoming much easier for individuals to preserve their own memories and access them in real-time.

In a few years, we’ll see things like life-recording devices that will allow us to record every second of our entire lives, for less than one hundred dollars. In fact, devices have already been manufactured that can capture moments that you can’t predict will be important, such as meeting a future spouse, or the last days with a loved one before their death.

Imagine the interesting implications for being able to go back to any point in one’s life and play it back!

Once things are digitized, they become searchable, sharable, replicable and able to be cross-referenced to other data sources and this gives us new insights into the past. This capability is where the Internet of Everything becomes a truly powerful tool to bring together these networked insights to create exponential value.

From a business perspective, the future is laden with tremendous opportunities because of the Internet of Everything. For example, in today’s business landscape, the convergence of new mobile, cloud and infrastructure capabilities are requiring organizational leaders to adopt new IT models built for our IoE world. In the future, these types of consumer-driven devices will become more prolific and aware. As such, organizations and governments will need to continually adopt and change to meet new customer demands and expectations.

As organizations embrace this change, they can create unique opportunities for their customers and employees. For example, technology that enables digital preservation in real-time can help businesses drive a highly personalized shopping and buying experience for their customers. In addition, imagine the increase in workplace productivity if a life-recording device can assist in helping employees recall important information at a moment’s notice!

As we look towards the future, it’s also important to remember the past. In 1999, Businessweek produced a series that highlighted 21 predictions for the 21st century. Number 14 on the list was that the “earth will don an electronic skin.” When the article was written 15 years ago, Ernst & Young Chief Technologist John Parkinson urged, “Think of this as a whole ecology, an information environment that’s massively connected.” Parkinson’s words still ring true. Although we don’t call the Internet of Everything an “electronic skin,” the powerful ecology of IoE can change our lives – now and in the future.

Do you have a question for @DaveTheFuturist? Join the conversation using #InternetOfEverything and #AskTheFuturist.

If you missed my previous Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist blog series posts, check them out:

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2 Comments.


  1. April 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    As the amount of digital content continues to grow per person, how do you see the role of librarians evolving? Are we all digital librarians now?

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    • Silvia, what an interesting question. In many ways the library itself is (has) being redefined. Even since the Ancient Library of Alexandria, a library has been a physical place that one went to. Now, the library is clearly both physical and virtual, in that information and knowledge, can be found both within the four walls and also online. Information too is changing, in that the services are evolving so that information finds you based on location, context, etc. instead of you having to seek it out. As such, I think the role of the librarian will continue to evolve too. The modern librarian needs deeper IT and analytical skills to manage the growing and distributed data tsunami.

         1 like