Technology has always shaped our world, but it has never done so as quickly as it has in the last few decades. Exponential growth in technology is the norm these days, and is right on track for what Gordon Moore, founder of Intel predicted decades ago—that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every 18-24 months. Integrated circuits may only be one example of rapidly advancing tech, but they do vividly illustrate how quickly we are making progress. In 1958, the first integrated circuit had 2 transistors. In 2012? 7.1 billion. These days, we apply all kinds of new technologies to nearly every facet of our lives. Here are just 5 of the many ways in which technology is reshaping society.
1. Revolutionizing the Financial Sector
In the past, entrepreneurs had a difficult road ahead of them when it came to securing funding for their burgeoning businesses. If you didn’t have a family member, friend, or bank loan to get you started, you might not be able to get your business off the ground. Today, it’s much easier to secure funding thanks to a few different tech-driven options.
Crowdfunding, which involves customers essentially pledging to buy a product before it is produced, is an easy way for entrepreneurs to test the viability of a product while raising money to actually manufacture it. Crowdfunding platforms allow entrepreneurs to introduce their product, set a goal, and manage their product virtually—with investors all over the world. Kickstarter and Indigogo are currently the two most popular crowdfunding sites.
Peer to Peer (P2P) lending is another example of tech-driven investment that couldn’t have existed before big data platforms. Essentially, it’s a form of fundraising that doesn’t involve a bank or financial institution, but instead an online platform to connect lenders with small businesses and entrepreneurs. It combines crowdfunding with marketplace lending, and it’s growing in popularity—the industry is expected to reach $150 billion by 2025.
2. Changing How We Use Transportation
Technology has had a profound impact on the auto and transportation industries, and the widespread use of automatic vehicles is practically just around the corner. Even if most people don’t want fully autonomous cars, 61% of drivers want at least one feature that operates semi-autonomously, such as lane assist or self-parking.
Advances in technology will also affect the public transit industry. As more people migrate to urban areas, strain will be put on both the roadways and public transit systems. Autonomous vehicles will help with congestion, lower costs and improve transit times—a win for both drivers and public transit users alike.
3. Altering How We Process Information
Because of the new ways we can collect, store, analyze, and distribute information, technology is changing how we process information altogether. By processing information extracted from large data sets, many businesses are seeing increases in efficiency and revenue. Big data has allowed businesses to set realistic goals, predict trends, and make smarter decisions.
Technology isn’t just altering how we process information in a business context, however. New formats for entertainment, including e-books and digital audiobooks, VR and AR, are changing how we consume information rapidly. A staggering 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years!
4. More Personalized Healthcare
Healthcare isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of industry. Everyone brings in different genetics, lifestyle, health history, and personality when they walk into the doctor’s office. In the past, there was limited data available to tailor diagnoses and treatments—only each doctor’s experience and knowledge could be applied to a patient’s situation. Today, with the ability to test for biomarkers, compare patients with others to identify risk factors, and to share information more freely with patients via online portals, healthcare is becoming far more personalized. In addition to creating a better patient experience, personalized healthcare is helping to make treatment more successful and cost-effective.
5. Expanding Methods of Communication
Remember land lines? Today, they’re all but a thing of the past—gone with writing letters and sending telegrams. Technology has rapidly evolved the way we communicate, and we’re able to chat, work, and even shop on the go. Communication is now instant, and it’s cheaper than ever to connect with others—all you need is an Internet connection or a cell phone. We can access all the information we want and choose the communication style that works best for us. Businesses benefit too, thanks to the number of channels available for marketing.
Only the Beginning
If people just 200 years ago could see how far we’ve come, they’d be amazed. Technology will continue to shape our world, and it’s mind-boggling to think about how that exponential growth will affect us and the generations to come. This is only the beginning—and we’ve already accomplished so much.