Thursday, 16 June 2016 08:23

MYOB’s 2016 Future of Business report: The Augmented Human

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MYOB’s latest report "looks at a future where biology and technology blend together to provide the workforce with a range of physical and mental enhancements".

Later today, MYOB’s detailed, 12-page Future of Business report for 2016, "The Augmented Human", will be made available to download free of charge here at the company’s site here

However, at time of publication (8.30am) the report hasn’t yet been uploaded for download, but it will be presumably soon (and possibly not long after 9am) so tune in later today to download a copy for yourself.

Some of the key predictions on the future of business in Australia include:

  • Wearables to embeddables: We’ll move from wearables to embeddables – tiny devices which will be placed within our bodies. These devices will be used for a range of purposes including overlaying our existing vision with a wide range of real-time data or different visual spectrums like infrared.
  • Enhanced intelligence: Using artificial intelligence, we will be able to access an enhanced version of our own brain and personality, or have a personal digital assistant available in the cloud.
  • Changing your thinking: The idea of body modification may produce personal discomfort, but eventually this area will be ripe for technological development from range of large and small companies dedicated to bringing you the latest enhancements.
  • Improved performance: The rise of augmentation will change the way we manage our physical performance – largely through the control of chemicals and hormones in our bodies.
  • Transforming the workforce: The widespread use of human augmentation could influence an individual’s ability to perform tasks, or enable them to work in more extreme conditions.

The report features a technologically enhanced photo on page 3 of Simon Raik-Allen, MYOB’s chief technology officer and futurist, who will come alive on your mobile and talk about the report via the Layar app (free to download from the App Store or Google Play).

If you’re keen to see Raik-Allen on video before the report goes live, you can use the Layar App on this image

So, how does MYOB sell us on its brand new 2016 Future of Business report?

It invites us to "imagine a restaurant where, without you having to order a thing, the chef prepares the food you’ve been thinking about all day; a shop where the owner can tell you what’s in stock by consulting their neural-linked artificial intelligence; unlocking your office with a wave of your hand; or lifting heavy machinery with the help of an exoskeleton".

These, says MYOB, "are just some of the everyday changes that will transform the world of work, according to the latest in the MYOB Future of Business series: The Augmented Human".

The report will be the third from MYOB, with the company saying its ‘overall series takes a longer term view of the technology trends shaping the world, with the previous reports examining what business will look like in 2040 and the concept of ‘the singularity’.’

Raik-Allen, says that "based on the development of current technology, the rise of the augmented human, where biology and technology blend to offer a whole range of physical and mental enhancements, is inevitable".

He adds: “All sorts of things that are actually happening today, from neural transmitters to artificial hearts, are bringing about fundamental changes in the way we view and challenge the limitations of our biology.

“We are on the cusp of an evolution revolution.”

He continues, advising that "one of the areas that will profoundly change with the development of more advanced human augmentation will be the business world".

Raik-Allen continues: “It’s going to be massive for business – giving rise to a whole range of new industries that we’re only just starting to imagine the possibilities for.

“Imagine a version of today’s app store — the brain-app store or the body-app store  which you can connect to in order to download the latest developments in intelligence, mental performance, or simply entertainment.

“Got an important business meeting in China? Download the language app and speak like a local with an accent add-on. Worried about offending your hosts at dinner while you clinch the big business deal? Connect with the app-store through your neural interface while you’re riding the hyperloop train to Beijing and pick out the social etiquette app with the best reviews on Weibo.”

Raik-Allen's comments continue below, please read on. 

Alongside the physical and mental enhancements, Raik-Allen says that "an embedded connection to a personal artificial intelligence could offer massive improvements in understanding, communication and productivity".

He continues: “For business, this adds a whole new dimension to the information-driven economy, which has already driven so many opportunities globally.

“Our knowledge and capabilities will be enhanced, our physical and mental abilities will be raised to new heights, and the opportunities for us to experience, communicate and share will be unparalleled.”

Although some of the ideas may seem like the stuff of science fiction, notes Raik-Allen, "the report’s predictions are based on the evolution of technology currently in development, or even in use".

“Part of my job is to think about the future, and how businesses in particular might prepare for it,” Raik-Allen says.

“Looking 20 or 30 years into the future not only helps us start preparing for what might be coming along, but also gives us new ways of thinking about what we are doing now, and the processes and preconceptions that might be holding our business back.

“That’s why we’ve developed the MYOB Future of Business series: to stimulate discussion and get business people talking and thinking about what the future might look like for them.”

Where the current technological trends might end will be a matter for debate, but Raik-Allen "believes humanity is about to enter a period of considerable change".

“Just a few years ago, none of us could conceive of carrying around the amount of computing power we do today in our smart devices. Now, most of us can’t be without it. Imagine having an exponentially greater level of technological capability, quite literally at your fingertips, or tucked away in your skull.

“The advantages and the convenience of all kinds of human augmentation will do more than change the way we think about technology – it will change what we are.

“The more our technology and our humanity start to merge, at some point, we’ll become indistinguishable from the technology itself. Even our biology will begin to fade. And that will be the rise of the new human,” Raik-Allen concluded.

The MYOB Future of Business: The Augmented Human report will be available to download today from MYOB’s site here


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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