The future fascinates me. I grew up reading Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut. And watching every sci-fi movie that came out. Robots, aliens, utopia, dystopia – I loved it all. Today, imagining what the future looks like is a big part of my job.

In June, I got to participate in a futurist session at Cisco Live where I had to make one prediction about what the year 2025 would be like. (See Ambient Computing below or watch the recording at 31:31.)

Now I have the chance to speak about the “Intelligent Future” at SXSW Interactive 2016 with my friend Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot (maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner robot). Our panel, “Robots Taking Over at Work: Why It’s a Good Thing,” is in the running for the event. If you’d like to hear why we think robotics and augmented reality are on their way to the workplace, take a minute to vote using the SXSW Panelpicker.

I believe the world of tomorrow will be dramatically different from today.  Here are some of the futurist concepts that have been knocking around in my head lately: 

  • Ambient computing: This is the idea that soon enough the Internet will be everywhere and invisible. My prediction is that the next 15 years will be about integrating the Internet into everyday life so that technology disappears. When that happens, we become better communicators. Not only will ambient computing facilitate high-definition and high-fidelity communications when we can’t be somewhere in person, it will make in-person interactions far better by allowing us to connect more powerfully as individuals.
  • Artificial intelligence: Google futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that a computer approximately the cost of today’s PCs will have the computing power of a human brain by 2025. (We’re not even close to a mouse’s brain today.) By 2040, he predicts we’ll be able to multiply human intelligence a billion-fold. The idea that for $1000 you can have in the palm of your hand the compute equivalent of what’s inside your head is absolutely startling. And it’s fundamental to how we think about the future. But lots of raw compute doesn’t equal intelligence, nor does it equal wisdom. So the future will be all about the software.
  • Machines and a “sinister future”: Many people are freaked out over the impending Machine Intelligence uprising, when machines reach superhuman intelligence (known as “singularity”). Inventor Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX and CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, says it’s like unleashing a demon. The argument goes that as soon as machines are smarter than us, they could wipe out humanity in order to save it. I think it’s entirely likely that machine intelligence will become troublesome — not because it’s antagonistic or malevolent, but because it will get bored.

I see a bright future where technology makes the world a better place, particularly when it comes to the way we communicate. Augmented reality, complete with deep learning and artificial and machine intelligence, is a future state I want to live in.

If these topics interest you, let’s continue the conversation. If you haven’t already, download Cisco Spark, and Spark me at trollope.cisco.com.


Rowan Trollope

Senior Vice President and General Manager

IoT and Collaboration Technology Group