We are witnessing the rise of a smart world. There is a reason why the world will be smart. For businesses it is a nimble way to bring down the cost, improve the quality, and survive the competition. For us, it is a shrewd way to save money and enjoy all the luxuries it offers. Would this paradigm shift make the world a better place for all of us? Here are a few illustrations delineating what a smart world can do for us.
To begin with, homes are becoming smart. Especially after Covid, many of us are working from home. This has sprouted a huge market for smart widgets that make our homes comfy to live and save on energy at the same time. For example, smart thermostats, smart lights, smart switches, smart refrigerators, smart garage door openers, smart security cameras, smart locks, smart smoke detectors, smart TVs, smart entertainment systems, smart laundry machines, smart dish-washing machines, smart energy meters, smart water meters, smart gas meters, and so forth. You name it, we have it. These smart doohickeys are flooding the market for a reason. They save us energy and make our lives a lot easier in this stress filled professional world. The global smart home market is estimated to be about $70 billion and is expected to grow over $300 billion by 2025. Collaterally, smart homes are the building blocks of smart cities. Smart cities save tons of money to city administrations. They save on resources like power, gas, and water. Smart city governments are priding themselves in their excellent services to their citizens. Especially during Covid-19 epidemic, smart cities have responded very well to emergencies. The coordination between hospitals, ambulatory serves, and various other city services were impeccable. Smart hospitals that were overloaded with Covid patients managed their resources efficiently.
Out of 600 global cities that are yet to go smart, more than 100 cities have officially been declared as smart! And that is a feather in their cap! The market size of global smart city transformation is expected to grow from US$ 400 billion in 2020 to about US$ 800 billion by 2025.
In the world of healthcare, there has never been a better time than now. Telemedicine is on the rise because of Covid scare. No one wants to visit hospitals for simple ailments. Today for simple aches, you can get diagnosed online and the medications would arrive at your door. You don’t have to get out of your bed! World can’t be any better!
Manufacturing is becoming smart too to reduce cost and to increase the quality. Many products are being produced locally, cutting down on imports, a great way to control the spread of viral pandemics. The worldwide market for industrial robots is expected to grow to approximately US$75 billion by 2025. The global investment in Internet of Things (IoT) is estimated to reach US$50 billion by 2025. The global virtual reality in manufacturing industry is expected to reach US$14 billion by 2025. The investment in artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing market is expected to grow up to US$ 4 billion by 2025.
Energy production is going smart too. Smart homes are also embracing solar. Solar roofs are easing the load on the grid. What’s more, smart homes reap the benefit of batteries not only for uninterrupted power but to store off-peak-power when it is cheap, further easing the grid. Globally, smart solar power plants are on the rise bringing down the cost of power and eventually replacing fossil. In 2019, for the first time the solar and wind power installations exceeded 120GW capacity globally.
Yet another wave in smart world is smart farming. Farming is embracing robotics to counter labor shortage and to increase the yield. Reduced human interaction is great way to combat the pandemics. For leafy vegetables and fruits, vertical farming is coming into cities making the food cheaper and the cities greener.
Smart logistics is permeating to save on transportation. Transportation in the future is expected to become the cheapest ever with autonomous trucks. Driver-less trucks protect against the viral pandemic. Even the warehouses are becoming smart with robots reducing the human interaction and the spread of viral diseases.
The 3D printing is yet another smart gizmo that is building homes at the fraction of the cost of traditional homes. We are talking about US!10,000 to build a small house! Even impoverished can afford a home when built by 3D printers. In Austin Texas, this technology is already being used to build homes to the poor! Soon every nation needs it.
If you look at all these developments, these changes are not new at all. They have been pervading the market since last decade. However, Covid has accelerated their growth many folds.
All these smart divergences will not come without a cost. There will be more unemployment in the elderly as they can’t cope with tech world, but there will be equally good number of hi-tech jobs for the youth. Youth could start earning money as early as 15-20 years of age and sadly go out of work as early as 45-50 years of age. A huge burden for governments to support the jobless. The good news is that the cost of food, housing and transportation is much cheaper in the smart world! All the governments around the world would be able to look after their citizens fairly well.
Most of the technological changes are irreversible. There is no going back. Yet the world is hungry for more technology. Eventual smart world is a blessing in disguise. Everyone has a stake in it, both rich and the poor. Rich stash more, poor battle to survive. Both can win in the smart world! Would the world be a better place tomorrow? You bet!
The trajectory that Covid ejected us can’t be forgotten even after Covid is long gone and forgotten.
(The author studied Artificial Intelligence at MIT and is the author of The Ugly Fight, the award-winning book that deliberates on Artificial Intelligence and climate change)
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