Mayor on Duty

Some of the changes that are happening now are rather unnerving, even depressing to this aging Baby Boomer. Social media, the political climate, actual climate change, and population pressures are changing the way we live. 

On the other hand, I am intrigued by the prospects for the future. Some future changes generate a foreboding sense for many, but I hold on to the hope of human progress and change for the good.

I recently read an article in INC News Letter by Thomas Koulopolous entitled, “4 Predictions of the Most Disruptive Innovations in the Next 20 Years.” 

It made me think of the challenges facing our community too, especially in the framework of the impending Highlands Community Plan. 

Koulopoulous says the first big disruptor will be autonomous, self-driving vehicles that will be the primary mode of transportation. And yes, I know a Tesla just had a fatal crash while supposedly on auto pilot.

My response is what would have happened to the airline industry if all research on airplanes ceased after the subsequent crashes after Kitty Hawk?

We may soon see a day when autonomous vehicles drop a person off on Main Street, and then proceed to a parking area quite some distance away. The vehicle could return to Main Street when the person is ready to leave. 

The next innovation cited in the article is that quantum super computers will replace our current ones. These quantum devices will be computers on steroids. They will “think” and process information in all dimensions and directions. 

Quantum devices are predicted to bring artificial intelligence to a level that can most imitate, event replicate, the natural world. This technology is not a “Buck Rogers” notion. US, European and Chinese researchers are in a high stakes race to bring quantum computing to fruition on an everyday user level. Huge broadband networks may be a part of this system.

The third disruptor cited in the piece has to do with immutable identity. Of the 7.5 million people on the planet, half have no documented identity. They live on the fringe, or are not a part of the global economy and modern life. 

The emerging blockchain technology will let these disenfranchised people have an identity and enter the modern world. The implications for the global economy will be enormous. 

We have  a somewhat disenfranchised population here on the Highlands Plateau with our undocumented workforce friends. They desire to be fully recognized participants in our community.

The last disruptor that may have a huge impact on our community will be the need for autonomous, intelligent healthcare advocates that will help humans navigate a personalized healthcare system. 

The article’s prediction is that there will be a seamless sharing of health data with doctors in an increasing complex healthcare system. 

We are seeing the tremendous changes in medicine already with the use of messenger RNA in developing the current COVID vaccines. Coupled with other medical technologies, such as CISPER, our current notion of healthcare and hospitals might be radically different in the not-too-distant future. 

In Highlands we have worked to have a fully-functioning hospital as we have always known. The concept of a hospital might be very different in a decade or so from now.

Am I frightened with the possibility of all these disruptive advances? Not so much. The human enterprise will move forward in ways we may not be able to discern at this point in time.  Some of us will still be there for the “big show.”

  • Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor

Leave a Reply