The Digital Revolutions in My Lifetime (Part 7)


Many years ago (2004), I had written about my Kumbh Mela Cycle theory – that big innovations in computing come every 12 years or so: “1945 saw the invention of the world’s first computer, the ENIAC. In the late 1950s, IBM switched from using vacuum tubes to using transistors, and also launched Fortran. In the early 1970s, we had the invention of the microprocessor, along with Unix and the relational database. In 1982-83, the personal computer was launched by IBM. In 1992-94, we had Wintel come into being, with the launch of Microsoft Windows 3.1 and the Intel Pentium. It also saw the creation of Mosaic, the graphical web browser, and the start of the proliferation of the Internet.” Almost two decades later, the cycle has (sort-of) continued: 2007 saw the launch of the iPhone, and in the late 2010s and early 2020s, we started seeing the rise of Generative AI.

Going forward, I think the Kumbh Mela Cycle will probably be compressed given the rapidity of innovation that is happening in multiple disciplines simultaneously. Even as it has been an amazing ride in my 56 years lifetime, tomorrow’s world promises a lot more. As consumers, business owners and managers, researchers and entrepreneurs, we will see many new and exciting technologies in our lives, with the promise of many more revolutions in the years and decades to come. Here is some crystal-gazing.

From my vantage point, there are two revolutions which will have a huge impact for consumers and businesses:

  • AR/VR (augmented reality and virtual reality): this may or may not lead to the metaverse and is taking longer to come to life, but it will transform how we communicate, play, socialise and get entertained. It is one innovation away – just like ChatGPT brought the 50 years of AI innovations to life.
  • Martech: this will shift focus from new customer acquisition (a $400 billion industry with half of it as AdWaste) to existing customers, and empower both brands and consumers at the cost of Big Adtech. I have written about this extensively.

ChatGPT’s response about the future digital revolutions (which I have edited lightly, and have also removed duplicates from earlier lists):

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
  2. 5G
  3. Blockchain, which is expected to lead to new applications in fields such as finance, supply chain management, and digital identity
  4. Quantum Computing, which will enable breakthroughs in fields such as cryptography, simulation, and optimization
  5. Autonomous Systems, such as autonomous vehicles and drones, which is expected to greatly increase efficiency and safety in transportation, delivery, and other industries
  6. Edge Computing, which involves processing data closer to the source of the data rather than in centralized data centers
  7. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is a form of AI that mimics human intelligence
  8. 3D Printing, which is expected to greatly increase the efficiency and flexibility of manufacturing, as well as enabling new applications in fields such as bioprinting and space exploration
  9. Digital Twins, which are virtual representations of physical objects or systems
  10. Wearables, which will improve our ability to monitor and track our health, as well as enable new forms of entertainment and communication

Here is Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech (2022):

All this is just in the narrow world of the computing and digital ecosystem. Technology, defined broadly by Atanu Dey as know-how, or “knowledge of how to do”, continues to impact every sphere of life and business. So, lots to look forward to, and a great time to be an entrepreneur. Imagine, Innovate and Initiate!

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.