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How Will the Internet of Things Impact Everything?

Computer technology will drastically change virtually every aspect of human life, according to one Silicon Valley futurist.

(TNS) — On the near horizon, computer technology will drastically change virtually every aspect of human life so much so that work now done by lawyers and doctors will be undertaken by machines and people will live indefinitely.

That was part of the message delivered by Dave Evans, a former Cisco “chief futurist” who helped develop the concept of “The Internet of Things.” Evans, who now operates Silicon Valley-based startup Stringify, spoke at Cal Poly’s Spanos Theatre on Thursday.

The “Internet of Things” concept applies to the connectivity of physical objects to the Web, essentially the installation of computer chips in just about everything that touches our daily lives — vehicles, buildings, clothing, food, medicine and more.

Soon, on a broad scale, cars will drive themselves and “virtual people,” or talking computers, will carry on conversations with the linguistic skills of an actual person.

Those concepts are fairly familiar to the general public, but some of the lesser-known ideas for computer technology particularly interest Evans.

Those include the potential to insert a chip into a pill to tell a doctor whether the medicine was taken, technology that assesses the nutritional components of a drink, or diets programmed by technology for optimum weight loss, Evans said.

Devices attached to food will calculate when it will spoil or even offer a discount in a grocery store for food about to go bad. And 3-D printers will be household items that can produce beef, with cartridges delivered by drones to people’s homes.

Evans’ talk was hosted by Cal Poly’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and he touched on the massive amounts of food waste that could be significantly reduced through better monitoring. One-third of all food products and 47 percent of seafood are wasted, Evans said, and significant amounts of water lost through leakages and poor infrastructure can be drastically reduced through digital influences.

Devices attached to cows and vegetables will provide information to ranchers and farmers about the health of an animal or the growth of a plant, he said.

Evans said agriculture will change more significantly in the next two decades than it has in the history of humankind — something that needs to happen if 11 billion more people are added to the planet by the end of the century, as predicted.

“Social challenges will grow on a scale we haven’t seen,” Evans said. “Our obstacles have never been greater. Yet, the possibilities are profound.”

With innovations such as IBM’s Watson, which beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings in the trivia game using open-ended questions, traditional jobs such as doctor and lawyer will ultimately be filled by computers. Devices such as Watson already can process 60 million pages of information in a second, with linguistic skills similar to an actual person.

“Lawyers will be out of a job in the next 10 years,” Evans said. “This is your new doctor. This is your new lawyer.”

Evans envisions a large segment of society living on stipends as machines assume much of the work, including picking produce or making food in vertical farming labs with controlled environments.

Evans also envisions machines setting up a habitat for humans prior to their arrival on Mars. And people will have plenty of job opportunity in the space industry, the futurist noted.

Asked by a member of the audience how Cal Poly can prepare, Evans encouraged merging computer science with other disciplines.

“I was asked by a young person looking to go into medicine if the future was bright to become a doctor,” Evans said. “I said, ‘Yes, get a medical degree. But also get a computer science degree.’ You can’t do your job now in medicine without a good understanding of the technology that applies.”

With medical advancements, Evans predicted, babies born now will live to be 200 to 300 years old and their offspring indefinitely.

©2016 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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