An evening with Robert Scoble

This week, I attended an event hosted by RackSpace in London, with a keynote by Robert Scoble, entitled 'The Age of Context'. I was curious to hear 'his vision of the (very) near future, where context is being redefined in an increasingly connected world through a series of inter-related trends'.

Robert Scoble promises to never live a day without wearing Google Glass (or it's competitor)

Robert Scoble promises to never live a day without wearing Google Glass (or it's competitor)

As you can see from the picture, and his two week review back in April 2013, he's definitely an early adopter! Interestingly enough, he's wearing Google Glass on top of his prescription glasses. 

Most of the technology discussed and demonstrated, including Google Glass, I had already seen at FutureMed in February (and also met the people behind the technology). 





These are some of the quotes from Robert's keynote that caught my attention.  

  1. 'The databases we had yesterday are not suitable for the data flows of tomorrow. More data about our world, and more data about US in that world'
  2. 'A very personalised world. General Motors considering putting 3D sensors in their cars, so they know who is sitting in the seat' 
  3. 'A highly anticipatory world. Google Now is a great example. When I walk into an airport, my airline ticket comes up on Google Glass and my phone.'
  4. 'In 5 years time, businesses will know a lot more detail about you'.  

Data is becoming even more valuable

Since my background is data, the first thing I notice about the future we are heading towards, is that it's powered by data. The data we provide by checking in to Foursquare or data that are captured when you use Gmail to send an email, and so on. The younger we are, the more likely we are to be sharing our personal data with corporations through the use of new technologies. The more searches we do on Google, and the more people on Earth that use Google to conduct searches, the better they can predict our next step. This personalised and anticipatory world that we are hearing more about, is powered by OUR data. As individuals, do we even realise the VALUE of our personal data? 

Can it improve healthcare?

Since I work in Digital Health, I already see how wearable computers such as Google Glass could be of great benefit in healthcare. Imagine a 75 year old person who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Imagine they say 'OK Glass. Remind me to take my medication at 10am every day'.

Imagine a child with Down's Syndrome, who if they get lost and can't find their way home, can simply say 'OK Glass. Navigate to Home'.  

Do we need to regulate 'Wearable Computing'?

Reflecting upon Robert's keynote, I'm even more convinced that wearable computing is here to stay. However, as sensors will continue to get smaller over time, I see 'unobtrusive monitoring' as one of the stages of this new path in technology.

In the future, what if biosensors were so small, they could be inserted into your internal organs?  What if a biosensor in your liver, streamed data to the cloud via your smartphone in real-time?

If you were in the bar having a night out with your friends, would you be angry if the bartender told you 'I'm not allowed to serve you any more alcohol', because the data from your liver indicated you had crossed the limits of alcohol consumption that you'd agreed with your doctor?

I was doing some research into fear of new technology, and found this superb article 'A futurist explains how society moves from fear to acceptance of smartphones, computers, and other advances'. 

Naturally, we in society, must always take a reasoned approach to evaluating new technologies. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?