Often we’re so busy keeping up with the latest tech innovation that we don’t stop to consider how dramatically tech has shaped our daily lives. Since the turn of the century we have witnessed the rise of tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, while growing dependent on our cell phones filled with apps, maps, photos and more.
We forget that a mere 10 years ago Apple introduced the App Store, making turning its year-old iPhone from a connected iPod Touch into a necessity for many fans.
But some people have taken the time to analyze the way technology has disrupted our lives, both in the present and the future. Richard Watson and Anna Cupani from Imperial Tech Foresight (ITF), part of the Imperial College London, have not only studied the impact of technology in our lives, they’ve created a helpful chart to show us the 100 most disruptive technological developments in the present and future.
Watson and Cupani created the Table of Disruptive Technologies, a chart of 100 squares filled with disruptive tech, to help us visualize current and future technologies that can change our daily lives. They describe the Table as a “dashboard of 100 weird, wonderful (and possibly worrying) ways the world might change in the foreseeable future.”
They looked at tech listed in the Wikipedia entry of emerging technologies, which they felt was “fairly accurate, but also rather lifeless.” By presenting the information in a more organized, visual design they thought they could help people understand the “big picture” of the impact of tech on our world.
Technologies included in the Table were those that Watson and Cupani viewed as “capable of significant social, economic or political upheaval.” While they were subjective in their analysis of which technologies should be included in the Table, they hope that the Table is a source of debate and “a foundation for people being wrong in really useful and interesting ways.”
The Table covers tech that can change our lives both for the good and the bad. Some of the technologies seem very cool, such as Smart Dust and Space Elevator, while others, such as human head transplants and thought control machine interfaces, sound like something out of a horror movie.
Viewing the Table gives us a stark reminder that not all tech developments are positive ones.
About the Table
The Table of Disruptive Technologies is organized similar to the Periodic Table of Elements, and lists the 100 technologies in squares forming a grid. The Y-axis of the grid shows the potential for disruption from low to high and the X-axis shows how soon the tech might become a part of our lives.
Each section of the Table is color-coded:
- Horizon 1 Green – Present technologies that are happening now
- Horizon 2 Yellow – Experimental technologies that are coming in 10-20 years
- Horizon 3 Red – Exploratory technologies that are more than 20 years in the future
- Horizon 4 Gray – Ghost technologies that should be watched, improbable but not impossible
The Table is also organized by five themes to which the technologies relate:
- DE – Data ecosystems
- SP – Smart planet
- EA – Extreme automation
- HA – Human augmentation
- MI – Human-machine interactions
Each technology square also has a two-letter abbreviation and a short description of the technology. A panel to the right of the Table describes the companies that are active with each technology.
Table of Disruptive Technologies
Below is the Table of Disruptive Technologies:
For a full rendering of the Table, including the panel listing the companies involved with the technologies, check out Table of Disruptive Technologies at nowandnext.com.
List of Disruptive Technologies
This is the list of 100 disruptive technologies contained in the Table (helpful if you’re trying to view the Table on a phone):
Smart nappies (diapers)
Deep ocean wind farms
Wireless energy transfer
Concentrated solar power
Micro-scale ambient energy harvesting
Robotic care companions
Smart control of appliances
Delivery robots and passenger drones
Intention decoding algorithms
Computerised shoes and clothing
Airborne wind turbines (high altitude)
Metallic hydrogen energy storage
Autonomous ships and submarines
Water harvesting from air
Drone freight delivery
Autonomous passenger aircraft
3D-printing of food and pharmaceuticals
Smart flooring and carpets
Smart energy grids
Human organ printing
Artificial human blood substitute
Public mood monitoring machines
Peer-to-peer energy trading and transmission
Lifelong personal avatar assistants
Predictive gene-based healthcare
Automated knowledge discovery
Autonomous robotic surgery
Emotionally aware machines
Human bio hacking
Internet of DNA
Smart glasses and contact lenses
Broadcasting of electricity
4-dimensional materials (and printing)
New (Nano) materials
Low-cost space travel
Colonisation of another planet
Thought control machine interfaces
Dream reading and recording
E-tagging of new-borns
Male pregnancy and artificial wombs
DNA data storage
Quantum safe cryptography
Data uploading to the brain
Conversational machine interfaces
AI advisors and decision-making machines
AI board members and politicians
Trans human technologies
Digital footprint eraser
Personal digital shields
Human head transplants
Human cloning and de-extinction
Distributed autonomous corporations
Space solar power
Fully immersive VR
Whole Earth virtualisation
Shape shifting matter
We can’t talk about the last one
More Information about the Table of Disruptive Technologies
You can read more about the Table, as well as insights into what went into its creation, at Watson’s article Table of Disruptive Technologies & Innovation at the What’s Next: Top Trends website.
Do you take time to consider how disruptive technology has been to our lives? Do you wonder what the future will hold for tech? Does seeing the Table of Disruptive Technologies help you visualize the present and future role of tech in our lives? Which technologies do you think will have the biggest impact on our lives?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
*Table of Disruptive Technologies image used with permission of Richard Watson