Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Churchill Club - Top Ten Technology Trends review

At last week's Churchill Club event, several Valley luminaries debated the Top Ten Technology Trends of the coming 1-3 years.

The format for the event is to have each panelist and the moderator select two trends (10 total). The moderator presents them one by one, and the trend champion is asked to present/pre-defend their trend, and then debate ensues. Those trends mentioned early tend to derive more discussion amongst the panel than those at then end (time constraints), but nonetheless, there was sufficient chatter and inside jokes/jabs to keep the audience entertained.

I had a few takeaways: All were in agreement that the Internet has been under-hyped and we are poised for the next great Internet ride, though I don't think that a tulip bulb investment mentality will enjoy a similar resurrection this time. The future GeoWeb that we (IFTF) forecast was not mentioned, but the trends discussed are for the next 1-3 years, so that came as no surprise. Roughly 1/3 of the audience had been to China; those in attendance (and their employers) are well aware of the opportunities there. In order for stem cell research to maintain public favor, a PR campaign must coincide to ensure that the coming cures are understood with a realistic timeframe in mind. And just because California voters okayed monies to be spent, that does not mean that the ethical debate has stopped. There will be passions surrounding this issue for years to come.

My personal questions on the ramifications of stem cell cures: If all diseases go away and we stop aging, what are people to die from and how long will they live? How will society function with completely healthy/able-bodied centurians and 140 year old retirees who are still coherent enough to drive their cars? What will it be like to know your great, great great grandmother? Oh yes...there are many things to wonder about/question!

Will this year's Top 10 Trends become true? For the most part, I think yes. Will they all happen in 1-3 years...probably not. But it's always good to be mindful of what our visionaries are thinking about.

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