A friend recently asked, “if you could choose to be born into any time period in history, what would it be”. The group of people within earshot chose the American Revolution, the California Gold Rush, the discovery of the new world and the fall of Rome—among other historical periods. My choice was simple: I’d choose today.
As individuals living in the U.S. today we have the most accessible opportunities to make an impact of any point in history and technology is the engine behind that opportunity. Some say technology has reached its peak and the bubble pop is coming soon. But they are missing the importance that technology has today, versus 2001.
Let’s look at several examples of how technology is changing the world we live in for the better.
Medical research: Breakthroughs in medical research are speeding up thanks to technologies like DNA sequencing, personalized medicine, electronic health records, and the newly released Apple Research Kit.
Entertainment: Aside from softer seating and HD pictures, the movie theater experience has not changed. Yet ticket prices have increased dramatically. Enter Netflix, a technology company allowing you to watch on-demand HD movies and TV shows at home. You can now have a three-month subscription to unlimited content on Netflix for the price of one date night at the movies.
Travel: Tech companies like AirBnb now book more rooms globally than Hilton Hotels. Google self-driving cars are already on the roads in several states and Uber is making sure consumers are comfortable adopting the on-demand transportation that comes with autonomous vehicles.
Maps: Printing out directions from MapQuest was cumbersome, yet better than a storing paper maps in our cars. Now Google Maps gives us a detailed map and the most efficient directions for any road trip across town or cross-country – in an app on our phones.
Media Consumption: Like many of my peers, nearly 100 percent of my media consumption comes via online technology. Tools like iPads, iPhones, Apple TV, Amazon Kindles and laptops have become the new Swiss Army knife for life in 2015.
Health and Wellness: FitBits help us track our personal physical activity data in real time, apps like Glow help mothers plan for a healthy maternity, and online programs like Sworkit give people a free personal trainer in their own house.
The great thing about technology today is that value can be—and is being—built on top of other technologies. You need not create the next internet protocol, the next Facebook social network, a new Fitbit device, an Apple iPhone or Nintendo gaming system. You can build on top of already existing products. Local startup companies are doing this already.
A few include:
Arkiver lets you upload pictures from your iPhone and have them shipped directly to a Walgreens printer.
Recovr offers stroke survivors virtual therapy at home – distributed via a Microsoft Kinect gaming console.
Chartspan gives families control of their medical records on an iPhone
The Graphic Cow Company designs and prints on apparel that is made by other brands.
When people say that the golden age of tech has passed, I do not envy their glass-is-half-empty views. Think through the positive influence technology has had on modern life and imagine how much further we have to go in the development as well as distribution of technology.
Thanks to technology we live in the age of opportunity. Many new opportunities exist—we just have to create them. There is no greater time to exist than today. Do what you can, while you can.