A (very) brief history of technology

Over the past 10,000 or more years, human advancements in technology have, for the most part, centered around survival, hunting, agriculture and war.

Initially protecting self and tribe from the dangers of the natural world, hunting weapons of stone and wood became food harvesting tools. Fire transformed the way that food was processed, and gave light to the darkest nights and deepest caves. Both evolved the way war was waged as tribes competed for available resources.

Dominion over water included the ability to move it from one area to another via shadufs and aqueducts, but also to achieve transportation upon it on rafts, boats and ships. These technologies gave rise to both agriculture and trade, creating new social classes along the way. Medicine advanced from nothing to simple herb and mineral concoctions which treated everything from cuts and scrapes to treating of acute and chronic diseases and performing major surgeries.

Clay bricks, clothing, bronze, iron, glass, papyrus and paper, concrete, gunpowder, lighthouses – all major advancements which changed the world around those who could use them. Architecture developed from simple stone and burial tombs or mounds, to wood and brick homes, massive community and religious structures.  Communication evolved from the spoken story passed down from generation to generation to a myriad of alphabets and writing methods. Scrolls and books recorded human ideas so others could learn from them as well.

The wheel and the lever both transformed how work was done, and suddenly convenience and luxury became motivators, as humankind began to rely less on what they slaughtered or cultivated themselves. Our cities grew and demand for goods and services grew along with them. We built roads and, with the harnessing of steam and hydrocarbons, ever-improving transportation methods.

Air itself was conquered late in the game.  Sails moved ships across the sea, Daedalus and Icarus, along with nameless others from the Far East, made alleged attempts at flight over two thousand years ago. The Chinese used man-carrying kites for military reconnaissance and the bamboo-copter as a flying toy. Da Vinci envisioned the helicopter, but hot air balloons made it to reality first. Airships and fixed-wing aircraft followed, and windmills began to grind grains and pump water for various farming operations.

That was then . . . this is now (almost)

All of this and more came before the first telegraph, vacuum tube, transistor or light bulb began to harness the power of the electron and electromagnetic waves. The last 2% of those 10,000 years have produced the wildest jumps in innovation and human achievement.

Fast forward to today and the ways we use these ancient technologies. Fire propels rockets to the outer planets, rare-earth metals help power wind turbines and cell phones. Water purification systems help eradicate diseases and bring relief to drought-stricken area of the globe. Air and water craft of all sorts flit to and fro across the seas and continents, reducing to hours journeys that once took a lifetime.

All of that last bit was true 50 years ago. The information age has come and matured, taking communication and automation to levels imagined only by the most enlightened from previous ages.

So what’s REALLY next?

There’s the trillion dollar question. Where is technology going over the next 5, 10, 50 years? How will small businesses be affected, and how will they impact their industries?

Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Facial Recognition, Augmented/Virtual/Mixed Reality, the Internet of Things, Self-driving vehicles, 3D printing – we’ve all heard of these emerging technologies, and they are being used by more and more businesses, large and small. As consumers get their hands on them, the business community will volley back with even more innovations (it’s interesting how sometimes one side leads, sometimes the other).

The real technologies that have been and are going to disrupt business in the coming years aren’t as visible to the casual observer. Here’s the thing, modern technology, the data age we are in right now, is poised to take everything – EVERYTHING – we’ve done up to now and completely stand it on its head. But the cool and flashy stuff isn’t the real story. What’s important is the way data and energy will be stored and transmitted, and how they will be used more efficiently and in distinctly new ways.

The changes coming around are nothing less than astonishing, but how long will adaptation really take? There’s a revolution in progress, and while it’s going to take time and money to get small businesses to take some of these new innovations and actually use them, there are some great examples.

What new technologies are being utilized in your business, and to what extent? Where have you seen advances as more than flashy gimmicks and have produced real results, changing how you approach your industry or customers?

What are you doing to take your business, your industry, beyond just the next level?

The stage is almost set for TCHNLGY to bring you the intersection of business and technology. Focusing on Orlando and Central Florida, top small- and medium-sized companies across multiple industries will be showcased to enlighten on how technology has helped, hindered, and influenced the way they do and grow their businesses. It won’t be long now . . .

This article was originally published on LinkedIn September 18, 2018