Every few years someone claims that the world will be changed by a new technology. Sometimes they are right, and other times they’re wrong. This has lead many of us to believe that we have all placed too much faith in the technological revolution. Despite all our criticism, concerns and fears about anything new that involves a microchip, no one can deny that the world has changed for the better or worse thanks to high tech gadgetry and there is no end in sight. In most cases there is not an instant effect caused by new inventions. It takes time for people, industry and governments to adjust. During those periods of adjustment the technology has time to become refined and less expensive. Workers who lose their jobs to new technologies end up having to look for other types of employment. This is a cycle that people have experienced since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and now it is about to happen all over again in a huge way.
When cell phones came along most people thought of them as a new toy for the wealthy. Today, most people have one and for many the phone in their pocket is the only one they have. The instant upside is that we can easily stay in touch with our family, friends, employers or business contacts. More than just personal communication devices, smart phones now allow us to take care of many tasks that once required a PC to handle. The downside is that we can no longer hide from the world unless we simply do not answer our calls. Add to that the fact that we can easily become addicted to social media, texting, games and all kinds of online activities.
When the “mobile phone” revolution first started to explode a lot of investors and venture capitalists thought they would make a fortune investing in various schemes to buy or sell phones or air time. Most of those investments fell flat and ended up being loss leaders. That is why it is important to see what is coming, know when to make a purchase; or invest and how. Otherwise is it all too easy to become a victim of new technology. If you dout this just visit any garage sale or junk shop where you will find all sorts of technology that was supposed to go on for years and expand into more advanced versions. Good examples: Atari Game Systems, The Adam Computer, Game Boy, 8mm amd VHS Camcorders, Betamax and VHS Video Recorders/Players, Laser Disc Players, Cassette, 8 Track and Reel to Reel Tapes and Machines, Telex Machines, PDAs, Portable Televisions, LED Watches and Typewriters.
When personal computers first appeared they were expensive toys designed for geeks who loved electronics. Even after companies like Apple designed machines that would be attractive to everyone, they often became obsolete by the time they hit store shelves. People made and lost fortunes over these. That is because those early computers represented the type of advanced technology that kept advancing so rapidly that it left very little time for consumers to catch up. A lot of people jumped in to the early versions of these machines for fear that they might be left behind. I remember buying a bunch of different and unique computer systems with all their bells and whistles during the 1980s. None of them lasted or really did all that I wanted them to do. The upside for me was that I had to write my own programs for most of them to do what I wanted them to do, so I learned a lot about how these machines and their programs worked.
I recall when the “World Wide Web” was suddenly transitioned from a secretive way for the U.S. Military and Government to communicate and exchange data to a place where everyone was welcomed. A lot of people ignored or downplayed it at that time. However, before long all those popular electronic Bulletin Boards accessible by computer modems began to quickly relocate from phone numbers to web addresses. When the early Windows operating systems began to appear their emphasis was on PC applications. By the time that Windows 95 was released, even the venerable Bill Gates admitted that he had vastly underestimated how popular and important the Internet would become. A lot of other investors and companies saw the potential and rushed to get in on the excitement by creating Internet Service Providers with electronic mail. Since that time many of them have vanished or become a part of conglomerates. Understanding or seeing the potential of new technology is never enough. You have to know how to avoid the hype, survive the changes and possibly even make some money along the way.
Some time ago Google demonstrated their self-drive car to a public underwhelmed by what they saw. The problem was that it was kind of ugly with that weird rotating thing on top and most people had no faith that fully automated vehicles could ever take over the roadways of the world. What people did not know then and many still have no clue about today is that many tech and car companies are currently betting the farm on the fact that self-drive vehicles will take over the road within the next ten to twenty years. We already have vehicles that can park themselves and now come with a wide variety of safety or anti-collision devices on board. Some vehicles now have the ability to make automated decisions about braking, parking and other maneuvers. Is it that hard to believe that there will be much more to come?
This new technology will not appear overnight, but it will benefit everyone instead of just being attractive to a niche market. It is going to be refined and slowly introduced to people a little at a time. When all the research and trials come to fruition, fully automated cars will begin to make a huge impact everywhere. Insurance companies that depend mostly on auto policies will begin to disappear. Auto body shops will be as rare as photo developing stands. The numbers of people who die or are severely injured in auto accidents will likely drop to an almost insignificant amount. Personal injury lawyers will have to look for new clients. Police Officers will have to find new and creative ways to write tickets. The price of gas will fall dramatically due to the efficiency of self-driving vehicles: Most automated cars will probably be powered by hybrid or alternative energy sources.
Prices on some consumer goods will drop as automated trucks hit the road and are able to pick up and deliver more frequently. Even with human monitors on board, those people will no longer need to wear themselves out by constantly handling the operation of such huge and cumbersome vehicles. That means they may be able to remain on board for longer periods of time. Lowering the cost of delivery to market will allow many new products to be introduced that might have been unavailable due to those cost factors. The expense and complexity of managing huge traffic systems will be lessened and the experience of having to travel at a snail’s pace to and from work during the rush hour will be all but eliminated. The money saved by the implementation of self-drive vehicles could be used to repair and replace the many roads, bridges and tunnels that have become dangerous to use or are simply obsolete.
Governments see the potential of automated vehicles. We know this because many are slowly, but surely, adapting or enacting laws to accommodate this new technology. Self-drive vehicles are already legal for the purposes of research and development as far as the federal government is concerned. Several U.S. States have also made them legal to operate, with many others having already proposed pending legislation. Many state legislators have quietly been told to expect some fully automated vehicles by 2018-2020 at the latest. What concerns government officials and the developers of this new technology are the hackers. They can already use the existing technology in many new vehicles to take them over and bypass drivers. That is a real concern that must be dealt with from a legal and technological standpoint. That need for failsafe automated vehicles are one of the things slowing their development and appearance in new car dealer show rooms.
Things are moving fast when it comes to fully automated vehicles, but that does not mean that small investors or venture capitalists should invest in them right now. The truth is that no one really knows what twists and turns this new technology will take. Besides, I am certain that there will be all sorts of brand new after market and technological accommodation opportunities to make lots of money for small investors when the time is right. Just imagine all the new gadgets and systems that will appear as needed when this new technology becomes prevalent. Until then it is would be a wise new car buyer or high tech investor that keeps his or her eyes on self-drive vehicles and the markets they will shortly begin to create.