Future Technology Project
Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary
Most technological advances are merely evolutionary in that they build incrementally upon what came before. Each evolutionary version introduces a slight variation that adds new features or enhances performance over its predecessor. But other advances take great technological leaps. These revolutionary innovations often spring from original, out-of-the-box thinking and introduce entirely new approaches to common problems.
Whether evolutionary or revolutionary, the impact that new technology has on our lives can be quite profound. Not only do these technological advances bring us new tools that help to make us more efficient or productive, but they oftentimes can completely change our daily routines and radically alter the ways we interact with the world around us.
What is the most revolutionary technological innovation in the last five years?
Make a list of at least 10 technological advances from the last five years. For each item on your list, decide whether it is evolutionary or revolutionary and consider how it has influenced people’s lives in the years since its introdution. Be prepared to share and discuss your findings with the class.
Sometimes, innovation comes about solely from creative thought and imagination. However, more often than not, innovative ideas also rely on essential advances in technology. Without these achievements, even the most creative idea might not be feasible. Here, scientists and engineers push technology further by broadening scientific knowledge and inventing new tools and processes that others may use in bringing their ideas to reality.
For example, Facebook and other social networking sites would not be possible were it not for a host of other underlying technologies that make those sites possible, including the World Wide Web, TCP/IP networking protocols, web servers, web browsers, mobile phones, digital cameras, and of course, computers just to name a few. Until all of those technologies had been developed, what we know of as Facebook could never have existed.
What other technological dependencies can you think of?
Imagine your typical cell phone and all of the things that it can do. Make a list of at least 10 underlying technologies that had to exist before that phone could have been built. Then identify at least five things that you do all the time that you would not be able to do if cell phones did not exist. Be prepared to discuss your lists with the class.
Impact on Individuals and Society
Technological advances are made by people for people. Scientists, inventors, and developers all work hard to innovate new ideas and create new products that directly or indirectly affect the rest of us. In most cases, the impact we experience is a positive one as the technology improves or enhances our lives in some meaningful way (e.g., email correspondence, productivity software). Other times, technological advances also have an equally powerful down side (e.g., spam, computer viruses).
How has digital technology had an impact on your life?
Make a list of at least 10 forms of digital technology that directly impact your own life. As you make your list, try to identify examples that you think nobody else in the class will think to list themselves, but that at least one other person in the class will agree impacts them in the same way that you have described. Afterward, each student in the class will have the chance to name one example from his or her list to see if anybody else in the class shares that same relationship with that form of technology.
Working in pairs, your task is to invent a new technological product or service that might be possible within your lifetime. This is your opportunity to be as creative and imaginative as you would like as you and your partner conjure up the next new innovation to potentially revolutionize our digital world.
To begin your collaboration on this project, you and your partner should work together to identify recent technological trends and use those trends to imagine what might very well come next.
For starters, consider how technology has already advanced during your own life so far. What products, services, or technologies do you now rely on every day that did not exist when you were born? How have those technologies changed over time? Has the change occurred practically overnight or has it evolved gradually? How will these technologies continue to change in the near future? What do they allow you to do today that you could not do in the past? What can you still not do today that you hope to maybe do in the future?
These are the types of questions that futurists ask themselves when they ponder the possibilities that the future likely holds. As a budding young futurist yourself, your task is to use your imagination and your own, personal aspirations and desires to envision one or more of these possibilities and identify ways in which you might be able to someday change the world.
For this assignment, you will need to perform a series of tasks in the process of designing and documenting your own future innovation and its potential impact on society:
- Identify a current problem that a technological advancement might solve.
- Invent a technological solution to that problem.
- Identify the key features of your solutions.
- Identify the potential risks and benefits that your solution poses and how they might affect individuals and communities.
- Identify the technological challenges that must be overcome before your solution can become a reality.
A short presentation that summarizes a big idea and conveys all of the essential information quickly and succinctly. The term derives from the idea that an elevator is a great place to corner someone if you want to force them to hear your pitch for a new idea. But you only have a very limited amount of time to deliver your spiel before the elevator reaches the person’s floor and they
At the end of this unit, you and your partner will deliver a 2–3 minute “elevator pitch” in which you will demonstrate your idea to the rest of the class and attempt to inspire them get behind your vision of the future. After each presentation, you will also provide written feedback to your peers on the potential of the innovations they presented.
Your submission will be in the form of written report and an “elevator pitch” presentation that you will give to the class that introduces your vision of the future.
Your report should include the following sections:
- Purpose: Describe a problem that your innovation seeks to address and what purpose it will ultimately serve (e.g., entertainment, problem solving, education, artistic expression).
- Description: Provide a detailed description of your idea, what it would look like, and how it would work or be used.
- Features: Provide list of key features that your innovation will possess.
- Benefits: Identify multiple ways that future individuals and/or communities will benefit from your technological innovation.
- Risks: Identify the potential hazards that your innovation might introduce in society (e.g., security, privacy, social disparity, physical harm).
- Technological Resources: Identify existing technological resources that your innovation might utilize or rely upon.
- Technological Challenges: Identify any technological challenges or limitations that must be overcome before your innovation can become a reality.
For your “elevator pitch,” you should prepare the following items:
- A written script for a 2–3 minute presentation
- Introduce the idea.
- Identify the innovation’s primary problem or use case.
- Describe the how the innovation would work.
- Describe how society would benefit from your innovation.
- A multimedia presentation that includes a simulation of your innovation
- Highlight the key features of your innovation
- Demonstrate how someone would use your innovation
Purpose and Description
Clearly describe a problem that your innovation seeks to address and what purpose it will ultimately serve (e.g., entertainment, problem solving, education, artistic expression). Also provide a detailed description of your idea, what it would look like, and how it would work or be used.
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Provide a comprehensive list of key features that the innovation will possess.
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Benefits and Risks
Identify several ways that future individuals and/or communities will benefit from the technological innovation, and identify several potential hazards that your innovation may introduce (e.g., security, privacy, social disparity, physical harm).
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Identify a comprehensive list of existing technological resources that your innovation might utilize or rely upon.
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Identify several technological challenges or limitations that must be overcome before the innovation can become a reality.
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The presentation is easily heard, engaging, and incorporates appropriate visualizations.
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Presentation must span 2–3 minutes.
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