Not long ago, I taught a course on the Business Opportunities of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and I also gave some short talks on the same topic. As all those events were in person, of course they took place before the quarantine, so it is very possible that it has been longer ago than I can realize.
What matters for this note is that I was reviewing the material that I developed for the course and the talks, all very much focused on the new technologies that are shaping our lives today, and will continue to deepen their influences on our behavior, our businesses , our human relationships and even in the way one thinks and solves problems.
I spent many hours reviewing and updating the content that I developed, visualizing in my mind the changes that are coming. I went to sleep thinking about how interesting the subject is, how many people are there today, all over the world, studying and implementing things with Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Autonomous Vehicles and the Internet of Things.
I woke up when the alarm clock rang. There was something strange because I always use my iPhone as an alarm clock that plays soft music to help me start the day. Well, no! This time the alarm clock rang with another tone and, as soon as I woke up, it spoke to me to wish me a good day and gave me a report of how many hours I had slept, how was the weather outside and what was the expected temperature for the day. I was about to put on my slippers when, automatically, the window glasses gradually increased their transparency to let me see a beautiful sunrise and, at the same time, give me time for my eyes to get used to the light outside.
Since I love breakfast, I started to make my way to the kitchen. I noticed that the floor of the house was changed. It was clearer and completely clean. I could see in a corner of the room that a small robot vacuum cleaner was about to complete its work in almost absolute silence. When I got to the table, which was already impeccably set, I realized that the fruit machine had already peeled the kiwi that I had to eat, according to my programmed diet. The coffee machine was already inviting me with a rich aroma that mixed with the aroma of toast and scrambled eggs that automatically came out of the kitchen.
My assistant told me the main news of the day and projected the images of them on a well-concealed screen on the dining room wall. It is worth clarifying that my assistant was not a person but a small cylinder on the table that could listen to my breathing and measure my blood pressure while telling me what was happening in the world and also in the colonies of the moon. When she finished her story, I asked her for a bit of silence so that I could digest not only the delicious breakfast but the whole situation, unexpected to me, of being immersed in such a technological world. She promptly complied with my request, and what was a television screen turned to a wall with a modern art painting.
Too bad the silence did not last long! My thought was interrupted by a sudden pain in a tooth. Of course, my assistant, with her artificial intelligence developed with Deep Learning technology, analyzed the image of my body and hand movement in fractions of a second and concluded that I needed a root canal and a new crown. The incredible thing is that she didn’t tell me that way. She told me directly that she had just scheduled an appointment with the dentist and that I had to be in his office in forty minutes. I didn’t dare ask her about the quarantine because I was sure it was over. Probably the quarantine was just the day before, luckily.
The dentist put on the augmented reality goggles and, without moving from his desk, commanded the appliances of the dental chair to make a mold of my diseased tooth. In less than a second I felt a small prick in the gum and I no longer felt anything in the region. A short time more and I heard a cutting noise and a quick root canal job. But there was no one near me, everything was done by the dentist sitting on his chair. Then an assistant walked into the office with a small box in which the prosthesis of my tooth was already ready, the crown, freshly made to perfection by a 3D printer with ultra resistant resins. Due to the position of my head, I could not see if the assistant was human or not, but at that time it would not make much difference to me. I know she walked and spoke like a human, but that was no longer a guarantee of anything.
In a few minutes, the treatment was finished and the dentist told me the price. I replied that I would pay in cash but he did not understand me, he said he did not know what I was talking about and asked me to look at a small device and simply say the price he had said. I understood that the algorithms, using the security of blockchain technology, had identified me through my eye and proceeded to transfer the value from mine to his account.
I didn’t have to touch anything in the elevator and soon I was at the door of the building. In no more than three seconds, my car picked me up and I was extremely happy to see that Diana was already in the passenger seat. I got into the driver’s seat, as usual, gave her a kiss and realized that there was no steering wheel nor pedals. It was not surprising to me when she asked me about the treatment and confessed that my assistant had already warned her and also confirmed the appointment we had together, that she had to delay fifteen minutes because of the unforeseen dental treatment. I did not ask her how she had managed to change the appointment time because I could already imagine the answer: the assistant!
The car dropped us off at the door of an office building and told me that it was going to look for a place to park and wait. No, Diana didn’t say that to me, the car did. I hugged her and said: “If this is all a dream, better keep dreaming”.