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Wednesday, Oct 16th

For a glimpse of tomorrow, we need to understand today

DIONChang

In order for us to imagine "my world of tomorrow", I always think it best to consider where we are in our world, today: context illuminates the onward journey.

While we are always keen to understand what tomorrow's world would look like – as technology drives us faster and continues to disrupt business – we forget just how far we've come in a relatively short space of time. We forget that the world wide web only really became mainstream in the late 1990's and all the social media platforms we rely on were all spawned in a short space of time between 2003 and 2005. Cloud computing and geotagging were "complicated" and "futuristic" concepts a few years ago, but we now rely on them to live our lives seamlessly.

Just take this article for example, which I'm writing from London from a friend's computer (because I only travel with smaller portable devices, and it's just easier to write on a larger format). It will be sent, via my gmail account which I access wherever I am in the world and on any device I want. While I'm away, my office will continue to lock down meetings for my return in my online diary, while at the same time, I insert meetings on the go – there's never an overlap or double booking, thanks to cloud computing.

When I travel – and I do a lot of that – I'm particular about my seating on a flight, so always do my own online check-in the night before and have now stopped printing out boarding passes completely. Instead, I always request them to be sent to my mailbox where I can simply open and scan the digital version in at the boarding gate. Technology is increasingly enabling an environmentally friendly world.

Last week, I was in Cape Town with a group of Jo'burg based journalists who flew down for an event. One of the journalists created a group on WhatsApp to arrange a restaurant outing after the event. Those who wanted to join in, all confirmed using the WhatsApp group and on the night we kept in communication using the platform. When it was time to go to the restaurant, we gathered on the pavement and simultaneously hauled out or Smartphones and offered to call an Uber taxi. One of the taxi's had difficulty locating the pick up spot (which is surprising as the system runs on geotagging and Google maps) but we nevertheless kept in contact with him, thanks to their brilliant identification system. As all Uber users know, you get dropped off at your location and no money changes hands: it is the start of our cashless society, and it is an inevitability.

We've come a long way – technologically - without realising it. It just seems seamless. In the next few articles, I will take us into the future. I have the privilege of visiting cutting edge trade fairs (the reason why I'm in London) and tracking trends that will affect each and every one of us. It's an exciting journey. I hope you'll join me.

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Aim to speed up action against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.