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The Coming Cambrian Explosion in Technology

Renee KAESLER
 

We are just at the beginning of the beginning of all the kind of changes

Over the last few years we have written several white papers on the advancement in technology, as we think something unique is unfolding. Building on the early IT revolution of the 1990s and the mobile and smartphone revolution in the 2000s, we are now living through another critical inflection point. The combined forces of maturation of Moore’s Law and the acceleration of computing power, data storage, communication networks, and digital platforms are now powerful enough to build on each other and the gains can compound exponentially.

The world will see more technological acceleration and development the next 5 years than what we have seen the last 20.

In 2016, Masayoshi Son, the chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group, painted a very visionary picture of the period we are going through by comparing the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the historic period 542 million years ago, when the first more sophisticated animal life appeared on Earth, a period
termed the Cambrian Explosion. According to a definition by The McKinsey Global Institute, the term, Internet of Things, broadly encompasses a class of devices that ‘can monitor their environment, report their status, receive instructions and even take action based on the information they receive’.

Prior to the Cambrian explosion, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. Over the following brief – in geological terms – period of 70 to 80 million years, the rate of diversification accelerated by an order of magnitude and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today (Wikipedia, 2017). Mr. Son argue we are at the edge of a Cambrian explosion in machine utility and explains this development by pointing to the Andrew Parker theory, that the arrival of vision for living organisms drove the acceleration of evolution of diversity on our planet. Similarly, according to Son, IoT and machine vision will drive a “Cambrian explosion” of technologies that will transform cultures, prolong and improve lives and make people happier.

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