Yesterday, I woke up in the future. A man, with a private company, has sent a rocket to space and left a car in orbit. It’s truly the stuff of wild science fiction.
I was just 6 weeks old when a man stepped on the moon, and a teenager when I watched Challenger explode on TV. Since then, Space travel has seemed unobtainable again, a rare few launched from the steppes of Kazakhstan.
Today, its a different prospect. Millions of words will be written about Elon Musk and his ambition to reach Mars, he’ll fit it in alongside electric cars, solving power issues with batteries and shooting people from London to New York in less than 60 minutes inside a tube.
As well as the flamethrowers.
But what is really interesting is the horizon of these goals. Like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk is working on stuff that possibly won’t be fully formed and realised for decades. Maybe not even in their lifetimes. Like the work of Steve Jobs, who fashioned Apple into the titan it has become, earning more and more, even after his death.
All of these leaders and their teams will be well rewarded this year and next year, and their families will never want for anything. Their companies and shareholders make huge amounts of money. Their products and services change lives around the world.
Most importantly though, their ideas and achievements will live on long after they have gone, these people are building dynasties from technology. Their work will leave a legacy for many years.
Maybe even a billion.
When I was a teenager, the future was the Babel Fish. A fictitious fish that could be inserted into an ear to deliver translation from any (galactic) language.
Later, with typical geek humour, we had babelfish.com which was clever but didn’t offer real time translation like its fishy namesake.
Then Skype did some cool stuff with translation, which felt like the future. Until today, when Google launched the Pixel earbuds, which translate 20 languages in real-time. And they’re wireless too.
It’s not quite a fish you stick in your ear, but this is truly the future. I can’t wait to see how these work, and whats next.
I have been spending a lot of time writing a business plan recently. Defining a vision, and strategies to move toward that future state, then in the time honoured tradition breaking those strategies into chunks of achievable work.
So, this quote feels particularly appropriate:
The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination. – John Schaar
Whilst writing my vision and defining the future state I’ve realised that for this situation, I’m building new pathways, and that is changing more than just the business.
We’ve been using Amazon Echo devices at home for about a month, there are three ‘Dots’ around the house, and they get used daily, mainly for music streaming and general information.
I’m a massive fan. This technology feels like the future, much more than virtual reality or giant screens that take up a wall. The Alexa interface to the AI feels like a natural and intimate way to communicate, and once we all discover how to talk casually to a computer, things will seem less ‘deliberate’.
We’re still a way off the fluidity and intelligence of the interface in ‘Her’, but so far, so good.
The next step is to build the skills that the Alexa operating system can understand. Amazon has made it easy to build skills and get them into the marketplace. As more developers get on board, the network effect of Alexa will improve. Enhanced skills, along with different form factors, will make the Alexa ecosystem a genuinely useful place to be.
For now, the deep pockets of Amazon mean that Alexa is here to stay. Especially in this house.