Technologies that, just 20 years ago, existed only in the realm of sci-fi are now everywhere around us - in our offices, at our homes, on the streets. These include autonomous vehicles, “smart” buildings, 3D printers, health microchip implants, simultaneous digital translators, cloud data storing and sharing, robots, artificial intelligence… In your opinion, what are the most important “novelties” we are already using

We are adapting quickly to things that improve our daily lives. Those technological novelties have been a part of our lives for a while now, so we stopped noticing that they are that new. Take mobile phones for example - they are becoming more and more advanced, they’re basically supercomputers that we carry in our pockets.  

It is very hard to single out the most important innovation, so I’d rather mention the ones we use the most:

  • Navigation apps that most of us would be lost without
  • Automatic translators which made Internet more accessible by enabling people to research/read information in any language
  • 3D printers which enable us to create different objects from plastic, metal and other materials.

Also, the transition of computers to the cloud dramatically reduced the cost of all services, so today we have access to an unlimited base of knowledge and communication systems, completely free of charge.

How much time did it take, on average, from idea to realization, i.e. the moment when new technologies like 3D printer became accessible to common people?

People were always very bad at predicting these things. For example, 3D printers exist, in some form since the 80s, and they became more applicable and accessible to home users only 25 years later. In the past couple of years, the number of delivered 3D printers has constantly been increasing and it’s predicted that there will be more than 6 million 3D printers in circulation by 2020.

These technologies present a new medium and stimulate human creativity. I am sure that many new innovations will become accessible in the next couple of years.

Which innovations can we expect to see in the next 20 years?

Nanotechnology, quantum computing, organic machines, genome data sequencing, new energy sources…What particularly fascinates me are the advances in personalized medicine. It is already possible to print out medications. This means that you will soon be able to download instructions for manufacturing a medicine from the Internet and print it out at your home. There are different bionic “attachments” - artificial limbs and organs - which help people who lost a body part to live normally. In the future, these bionic attachments could also significantly improve our performance. A path to “superhumans” is wide open.  

Which of the new technologies that are already being used around the world are available to us in Serbia, or will soon be? Where and why are we falling behind?

Since the exchange of information has become very easy and accessible, many innovations are reaching us quickly. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of problems with regulation which could speed up the adoption of new solutions. But this will also change very fast. One of the biggest benefits for us would probably be a faster adoption of aforementioned medical innovations, and, even better, opening of research centers for these technologies.

How safe are the new technologies, can they threaten our security and privacy?

In the initial stages of development of a new technology, safety typically isn’t a primary concern. But as the technology matures, a stronger focused is placed on safety. This is especially true with new technologies that have a direct interaction with humans.

The greatest challenge for people will be how to adjust and create good regulations so that the adoption of new technologies is safe and widely accepted.

Could a mass “robotization” of manufacture and services lead to a loss of employment and disappearance of some vocations?

Robotization and new technologies are leading us into a new age - the age of augmented reality, a symbiosis of man, computer, and nature. “The machines” are getting better and better at automating some of the jobs that humans do. More importantly, they are replacing humans in some potentially dangerous jobs. Will this mean loss of jobs and marginalization of human factor? No!

Transformations like this one already happened during the industrial era. What is different now is the rapid pace of technological change.

The development of artificial intelligence has shown that people and computers can live in symbiosis and I think that trend is going to continue. However, we as humans can be the problem because the “things that are coming” will give incredible technological supremacy to those who control them.

Nevertheless, I hope that we are entering an era of a more advanced society and that information availability and knowledge exchange will prevent an individual from grasping too much power, guiding us to a brighter future.

What are the benefits and risks of an augmented reality i.e. synergy between humans, nature, and technology?

The synergy between us and technology will introduce new ways of thinking, decision-making, and creating. It will open up a new aspect of reality, creating a more interconnected, complex, dynamic, and, hopefully more beautiful world.

When it comes to risks, as I already mentioned, it is in the human nature which is still very unpredictable.

Is there a real threat of “machine supremacy” in a more distant future?

I side with those who don’t think that we are heading down that path, because I think that man can only be a threat to himself. The development of society also shows advancement of global consciousness - a good example being the advance in ecological consciousness and environmental protection.

This is a modified version of the Q&A on new technologies with our CEO, Milos Zikic, published in Politika magazine_.