Disruptive technology and investment

Here is an interesting table from Technology Foresight showing the most disruptive technologies and a timeline for when they are expected.

I have shown the most imminent ones below, click the image below for the full table as a pdf:

I’m interested in your thoughts (preferably with supporting research or at least some sort of reason to believe you):

  1. Which of the above have they got wrong in terms of timing or scope to disrupt?
  2. What technologies are missing?


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    • Autonomous self-changing, self-disposing nappies might be of interest.

      How about “smart readers” which automatically sense a graphic designer’s stylistic excesses and convert a document into readable type?

    • When I was in the land of the K1W1 I did some mechanical design work on rotary dairies, for milking cows. (Waikato)
      Within 2 years they were the norm with automatic teat cup applicators, now with rfid the cows milk themselves and have a feed. almost no dairy farmer required. and the cows are much happier!
      NExt big one is where the shoppers scan the item into the shopping trolley and no checkout operator nor plastic bag required.
      as amazon rolls out that will become the new norm

      • DingwallMEMBER

        Totally agree re. the cows. Saw automated milking at Pyengana Dairy in Tasmania and, damn, the cows did look happy and contented.

  1. Smells like a bunch of hopeful ideas to me, Better to look at recent ideas that are not properly executed, or a combination of ideas that will produce a winning product.

    Take the iPhone for example. There was not much new about it, despite all the Steve Jobs hype. What made it possible was the combination of existing technologies of:
    – capacitive touch screens, developed by Toshiba
    – excess and hence cheaper mobile network data capacity, built by the telecoms companies during the 3G overinvestment of the early 2000s
    – Apple’s existing marketing machine for the iPod

    • Yep. And the original iPod had excellent timing coming as it did after the massive increase in hard disk storage capacity due to colossal magnetoresistance.

    • When the app store was unveiled, people wondered how Apple will censor every app. But Apple has managed to do that.

      The 2007 unveiling of the iPhone was one of the best unveilings of any product in history.

      Apple bothered to have iCloud so that people can move their data from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 – Google thinks we want to lose our data every time get a new phone?

      Now Apple allows users to move their iMessage chats into the cloud so it takes up no space on the phone. Google and Whatsapp do not care.

      • Fanboy. Upgrading an android phone is just as easy. You think Google wants you to lose your data? Dear me, no we will look after it all for you, all of it, messages, chats, photos, bank statements, whatever all in the cloud if you want, sort it for you too if you like, automatically make up little albums, animations, stylized compositions, search by time, place, people involved. And if you don’t want to use the cloud in most cases you can use your own SD card.

      • Fabian AlderseyMEMBER

        I have to agree with Dan here. When was the last time you upgraded an Android phone Jacob? It’s ridiculously easy, sit the old and new phone together, everything is automatically moved across, job done. If Apple have made it even easier than that, good on them.

  2. What a rollercoaster! Was worried about the future at predictive policing and intention decoding algorithms but got to humanoid sex robots and am now assured of the utopia that awaits…

  3. I think this is the future of transport:


    The trouble is, the pods are too slow to replace motorways. Someone needs to put powerful batteries and advanced lidars in them to make them go a lot faster.

    CSP is probably a dead end. Latest thoughts on CSP:



  4. Having attended several forums and conferences within the Australian logistics and supply chain industry, I have been to numerous talks/panels that focus on autonomous vehicles. Some of these panels have been leaders from global distribution companies, Infrastructure Australia, Property Council, assorted regulators, politicians and innovators.

    While everyone is interested in the topic and some are eager and bright eyed about the potential, the ones most close to the technology (and regulation overhaul needed) are putting a 20+ year timeframe of Level 5 automation (equivalent to a human driver) becoming a reality on our roads.

    Personally, having some familiarity with image recognition and machine learning projects at work (though nothing on the scale of the large players), I wouldn’t be guessing any earlier either.

    The airline industry is pushing for further automation of planes and a reduction of cockpit crew. However would the public really be ready to fly with no pilot on board. There may be a person overseeing their flight (as well as others) on the ground but is that enough reassurance to hop on board? I’m not sure most are ready. In comparison automatic cars are unlikely to have active human oversight if they are to be truly automatic.

    The question I ask myself is “Given the news in the past 12 months, would the average Australian put their child on an automatic school bus”. Becuase that question needs to be an unequivocal yes for us to realise the future that is often portrayed.

    • I think autonomous freight has much earlier potential than passenger, starting with closed/private environments e.g. around ports, airports,campuses, to/from remote mines. Also autonomous shipping.

      • Totally agree Dan and already automated port terminals are already a reality in Australia and overseas. Until we get much further down the road (pardon the pun) in developing this technology closed environments is definitely the way to go.

        One of the biggest pain point in most logistics organisations is still the last mile to delivery. This stretch often accounts for about 30% of the total cost of freight. It’s inefficient, relies on more, smaller vehicles and typically deals with lower speed in more congestion. This is the dream goal for where these companies are looking to automate.

      • The solution might be in “smart roads”, as well as vehicles. At night many city roads are near deserted. If they could be turned into freight lanes for autonomous vehicles during night hours you could solve a couple of problems at once (reducing congestion in the daytime also). An autonomous freight vehicle might look nothing like car, could be much lighter, designed to collapse on impact, use far less energy, so potential accidents with humans much less dangerous.

    • Just as long as the autonomous cars get here before I lose my license – due to old age of course.

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      20 years it will be ubiquitous. 10 years we’ll start to see it emerging seriously. It is happening, we’re just quibbling over timeframes.Go short panel beating companies.

      • You are highly optimistic. The technology to make planes completely autonomous has existed since at least the 1980’s, if not longer, with production of autonomous aircraft(cruise missiles that self navigate to a target) being in production for military use since 1983 at least. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomahawk_(missile)
        Also as seen by the above an autonomous aircraft is a much easier problem to solve that a ground vehicle, and yet 35+ years later we still don’t see any autonomous aircraft carrying either freight or passengers.

    • If trucks are limited to 40-50kph,have flawless ability to stop for unexpected obstacles, and call home for intervention when it’s unsure, I can see it being faster than 20 years. Nothing ever has to work perfectly. Just safer and most of the time.

      Limiting their max speed significantly reduces risks. A fair trade-off, I think for not having to pay a driver. Run them mostly at night and there’s another risk reduced. Have them stop and call for help when obstacles prevent automated operation and you’ve got an 80% solution (80/20 rule).

  5. Good find Damien. Pity serious MB’ers are not contributing here. I have long thought that “crowd-sourcing” of ideas could be mutually profitable to subscribers (“members”). Perhaps it might be best done behind a pay-wall here or on the nucleus wealth site.
    I will note here the pdf is titled “Table-of-Disruptive-Technologies” but it might better be called Disruptive-Applications of rapidly emerging technologies viz AI, genomics, quantum computing, nanotechnology.
    Based on the link below ( and past form) I expect the FANGs to dominate in developing these Applications

  6. Know Your Enemy

    Like all the health themes, 46 47
    Micro harvesting energy very interesting. Bye bye grid
    Same for water – risks interesting there

    Whatis the smartflooring? Pressure detect (for what)? Temp control – self evident the reasons

    Personally, working in health IT and data and analytics and starting to poke around machine learning opps and assisting human decision making is the near term big change. NLP, automation etc

  7. Half that crap not going to become reality unless it can benefit boomers somehow. +1 for smart nappies.

  8. Even StevenMEMBER

    I can confirm insurance companies are treating automated cars very, very seriously. Likely reduction in the size of the market – fewer accidents once it’s all established.

  9. Wino Shinyface

    diagnostic crappers for sure – leave a sample, it blends it up, spits out a receipt, the Japanese could make that work in no time, huge market

  10. I’ve got an idea! A rectal sensor that detect the difference between a fart and a shart!

  11. Some things in here touched on my field, mixed reality telepresence. Here’s an example of a project that’s very similar to the software I work on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goFZOTjCVFg . Key difference is I’m a bit more concerned with bringing physical artefacts into the shared mixed / virtual reality space rather than just pure CAD and tracked VR devices. Previously I worked on display hardware for optical see-through (think Hololens et al)

    To that end, it’s a bit surprising to see “Fully Immersive VR” so far to the top right, after head transplants (!), space elevators, male pregnancy and a whole host of things that are barely defined let alone have some sort of prototype. No, on the timescale implied in these charts, ‘fully’ (by most definitions) immersive VR is right around the corner.

    Also interesting is that in the same column is “Smart glasses and contact lenses”. I would agree that AR contact lenses are extremely far away, likely not in my lifetime, but smart glasses development is really picking up pace (notwithstanding vapourware like Magic Leap – for me the one’s to watch in this space are Microsoft and Apple). And it’s baffling why it would be so low on the societal effect compared to VR being so high. If you believe that to be the case, perhaps watch this: https://vimeo.com/166807261 (and come away extremely depressed).

  12. I’m impressed you have blockchain in there. Albeit as disruptive ledgers.

    I still think you guys should dabble in it for article payments.
    It’s pretty fungible. You’re more likely to gain revenue and knowledge, than lose anything to volatility during the near-instant conversion process.

    There are pretty straightforward web plugins now days.