At the Milken Institute’s Global Conference this past week, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt spoke at a session during which he shared his thoughts on top “tech moonshots” or trends that he sees changing the world we live in. Although these are not the same as what we commonly refer to when talking of Google X Labs’ “moonshots” you may note there is some overlap.
One of the trends identified by Schmidt is also getting a lot of attention in the tech industry right now, virtual reality. Schmidt thinks the use of virtual reality for gaming and entertainment only represents the earliest steps for the technology. Eventually the technology will expand beyond those fields to other areas. One of the keys will be the convergence with “augmented reality” technologies that will help to combine virtual realities with physical realities.
Another trend is one the Google is intimately connected with, self-driving cars. While there are opportunities for self-driving cars to help create new business opportunities, Schmidt sees the biggest impact being on safety. He noted that just in the U.S., almost 33,000 people die annually on the roads, so there is a huge opportunity for technology to help save lives. Schmidt went so far as to advocate a global effort focused on self-driving car technologies.
Google has been expanding there presence in education through both their Chromebook devices as well as their Google for Education platforms. This also happens to be another area where Schmidt sees technology having a huge impact. Schmidt sees the ability of computing technology to help with assessment of students as a boon that will help educators customize teaching methods to be most effective and efficient for any given student.
Through their Android platform and plethora of mobile apps, Google has a huge presence in the mobile device market. According to Schmidt, we all touch our smartphones about 1,500 times per week and they contain a wealth of personal information. Throw in all the new sensors, whether present in smartphones directly or through connected devices like activity trackers and smartwatches, leads Schmidt to think the move of medical data to mobile platforms will be a game-changer in helping connect patients and doctors.
Moving to areas where Google may not be so involved with, Schmidt says he thinks 3D printing technology could be applied in the field of construction to produce buildings faster, at a lower cost and using recycled materials that are better for the environment.
Finally, Schmidt sees technology having a big impact on the food we eat through the use of plants to replace meat, in particular beef. Schmidt believes cattle producers are a significant source of greenhouse gases, so any changes that minimize the continued use of meat will be good for the environment. Along with that benefit, Schmidt thinks the use of plants instead of meats will help lower food costs, an especially important concern in developing countries. Besides the science of engineering synthetic foods, Schmidt sees technology and computers helping identify the best plants and combinations to meet nutritional needs.
What do you think of Schmidt’s top technology trends that will impact our future world?