Saturday, May 25, 2013

Disruptive technologies

The famous consulting firm McKinsey & Co have released a report called "Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy." By "disruptive" they don't mean "bad," they just mean that they will cause profound social and economic changes. For example, the advent of the motor car in the early 1900s was disruptive if you owned a horse stable or were a blacksmith - many blacksmiths actually turned their smithies into garages, sold petrol and became automotive engineers.
   The authors of the McKinsey report considered hundreds of candidate technologies and whittled the list down to twelve all which have shown rapid technological improvement in recent years, have a broad reach across society and have the capacity for great economic and social impact. They are: Mobile Internet, Automation of Knowledge Work, Internet of Things, The Cloud, Advanced Robotics, Next-generation Genomics, Autonomous and Near-autonomous Vehicles, Energy Storage, 3D Printing, Advanced Materials, Advanced Oil and Gas Exploration and Recovery, and Renewable Energy. You'll notice that advances in computer science are integral to most of the twelve technologies. As the report notes "Most of the technologies on our list are directly enabled, or enhanced, by information technology."
   You can download the executive summary to the report or the full report from McKinsey's website.