Although most health and HIT technophiles probably have never heard of it, The Austin Interactive Technology festival, (or South by Southwest [SXSW] as it is otherwise affectionately known) may soon become a “must attend” event for those serious about staying ahead of the health technology innovation curve. Last year almost 20,000 people attended. This year before it is all done there'll be more than 1,000 panels and presentations spread across 15 Austin Texas campuses.
Recently at SXSW, Ray Kurzweil made a presentation about his vision of a technology enhanced future. Kurzweil has been called a “genius" by the Wall Street Journal, and "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes. He was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.
Mr Kurzweil believes that humans and technology are blurring and will eventually merge. (most of us have already grown smart phones and other digital devices at the ends of our fingers.) "We live in a human-machine civilization where everybody has been enhanced with computer technology," he told a capacity crowd of more than 3,000. "They're really part of who we are.” Kurzweil believes technology is advancing so fast that previously unimaginable inventions will be a reality within decades. He cited nanotechnology -- microscopic computers -- that will be 1,000 times more powerful than human blood cells and injected in people's bloodstreams to give them superhuman endurance. He also believes computer technology is democratizing society by empowering people."You can start world-changing revolution with the power of your ideas and the tools that everyone has," he said. "A kid in Africa has access to more information than the president of the United States did 15 years ago." He also predicted that "Siri will get better.", Moore's Law, will become outdated and useless in the next 8 years and in the future search engines aren't going to wait to be asked. They'll be listening [to humans] in the background. And [the search results] will just pop up."
Speculation, fantasy you say? Perhaps. What’s clear is that while everything has not come to pass, in 1960, the things we thought we would have and do in the year 2012 are in many cases, well beyond our 1960’s imaginations! So if things continue as they have, Healthcare in 2052 will likely look very different than what it looks like today, and technology will have a large role to play in what it does looks like. Healthcare leaders should embrace and help lead this inevitable change or else they will be forced to get out of the way and simply follow the innovation of others.
FMI - http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/tech/innovation/ray-kurzweil-sxsw/index.html