Humanity and technology have been co-evolving since we first picked up rocks, sticks and bones and created tools. The technologies we have in our society today are components and mixes of previous technologies. The smartphone being a prime example. The camera already existed, as did digital music, sensors, telephone technology and software. The smartphone simply brings them all together. The same is for aeroplanes, cars, boats and well, so on.
The internet is the first technology that truly connected humanity on a global scale. It enabled the software that gave rise to social media, which simply amplified what humans have been doing for many millennia and that is to communicate. Social media removes the old frictions of snail mail, collapses time and simplifies our ability to organize. For good and bad.
As a result of these technologies and wireless capabilities and networks, we can be anywhere when we want to connect. This has made our world “phygital”, or physical combining with digital. As we enter the time of the second adaptation of humanity, certain technologies are becoming what I think we can call “warp and woof” technologies.
These are the technologies that enable multiple other technologies to be interconnected and work together in various combinations. They run through them like the weave of fabric. They enable hardware to be used in new and interesting ways. Most importantly as they evolve, they influence the evolution of other technologies, economic models and society. As intern modify these technologies to suit our ideas and social changes. It is a closed loop if you will.
So what then, are warp and woof technologies? They must have a set of characteristics that define their role in our phygital world. These characteristics might be;
- Used across multiple platforms
- Interact with other technologies adding enhanced functionality
- Must constantly co-evolve with other technologies
- On their own, they are either not useful or limited by themselves
- Rely on the broader infrastructure of the internet
If we use these criteria for what warp and woof technologies are, then we can define the current warp and woof technologies. I posit these as being, currently;
- Artificial Intelligence
- Augmented Reality
- Virtual Reality
These technologies have only been able to exist because of a series of other technologies combining to enable them. Artificial Intelligence can only exist where there is large amounts of data and growing data to improve it. Blockchain can only function with a multitude of interconnected computers, bot for ledger management and for conducting transactions. Augmented and Virtual Reality cannot exist with smartphones and headsets. AI runs through AR and VR applications as well. While Blockchain is still in its infancy in terms of what it can do, it is starting to weave itself into financial sectors, real-estate, contractual law, health and more. These technologies cannot stand on their own and rely on others to be of any use.
The great growling engine of change; technology.
- Alvin Toffler
They all of course, require the technology of software code as well, and to some degree, software or code, may also be considered a warp & woof technology. I however, consider software as an infrastructure technology, much like routers, switches, middleware and 5G networks etc.
What do you think?