David Pogue has helped millions of people understand tech for decades. That expertise also provides the superpower of predicting the future by understanding the past.
David Pogue has helped millions of people understand tech for decades — first as a weekly tech columnist for the New York Times, then as a five-time Emmy winner for his stories on CBS News Sunday Morning, and as the author and co-author of more than one hundred books. It’s safe to say he’s an expert on all things tech.
That expertise also provides the superpower of predicting the future by understanding the past. Pogue shared his insights with Utah Valley University students, faculty, and staff during the Spring Presidential Lecture on March 3.
Pogue says the rapid changes in technology we are seeing now began 15 years ago with the invention of Apple’s iPhone.
“I remember it was 2007 when this thing came out, and people were like, ‘Oh, it’s so revolutionary because it doesn’t have buttons. It doesn’t have keys like a Blackberry does,’” Pogue said. “And yeah, that’s true, but there’s something else about it that I think is what made it what it is, and what made everything today what it is. And it was the sensors they packed inside this thing— 35 cheap little sensors that give it so much ability to interact with the world.”
Those sensors led to what Pogue calls the “internet of things” — the transformation of everyday objects such as dishwashers, thermostats, doorbells, personal health monitoring equipment, and cars into sensory devices that can be digitally controlled from anywhere you are.
Pogue explored tech advances expected in the next five years, including self-driving vehicles, which he says will change the way we travel. He predicts a merger between the Uber concept and self-driving cars, which would eliminate the need to purchase vehicles.
“If we marry the Uber concept with self-driving cars, what you get is a self-driving taxi that you call on demand,” Pogue said. “This is the future. Every major company is spending billions and billions of dollars to make this happen.”
Pogue predicts this will be a disruptive technology that will rock the insurance and motel industries, because self-driving cars will have fewer accidents, and motels are predominantly built for tired drivers who could sleep while their car drives them to their destination.
Drone delivery technology is another area where Pogue foresees rapid transformation in the next five years. Amazon drone deliveries are already taking place in Europe, but the Federal Aviation Administration is still working through regulation details in the U.S. He also touched on the viability of cryptocurrency. There are currently 12,000 cryptocurrencies, and anyone can start one.
“It’s not a currency, folks — it’s an investment vehicle, and it’s a speculative one at that,” Pogue said. “There are no banks or governments involved, so criminals love it. The IRS hates it, because there’s no record; they can’t tax any of these transactions.”
With cryptocurrency, banks are replaced by blockchain databases, which are tamper-proof and available for anyone to see at any time. It’s anonymous because each user is identified by a number only.
“The other thing that you need to know is it is insanely volatile,” Pogue said. He predicts that crypto will improve, but not replace, the banking system in the future. He said it would instead become a service more akin to Venmo. He sides with experts who say if you can’t afford to lose it, don’t invest in it. He also says the government will eventually get involved with regulations on cryptocurrency.
Pogue said the one thing that stands in the way of all future technology is skepticism.
“There is this weird sort of anti-science, anti-tech thing going on in the country right now,” he said. “It’s really alarming to scientists and technologists.”
But he also said this is not unusual or new. Pogue recounted the panic over the speed of transit when train and airplane travel was invented, and the fear of cancer that accompanied cooking with microwaves in the 1970s. He said it’s a matter of comfort with the technology.
“It’s only the new ones that hit us after we became adults, like vaccines and climate change,” he said. “Those are the ones that we have trouble with, and it’s because they are unfamiliar; they are new things.” He pointed out those things that are also unseen are more likely to cause doubt.
“What’s the solution? The solution is familiarity,” he said. “It’s the reason we don’t question steam trains or airplanes anymore. Over time, the old people like us will die off, and you students will become the majority and will be used to stuff. Eventually, these things will become familiar.”
For now, he understands that the unfamiliar may sound like science fiction to some.
“I know a lot of this stuff might sound crazy and alien to you, like self-driving cars and Amazon drones, but it is coming,” Pogue concluded. “It is the status quo, and I don’t know exactly when it’s coming, but I can promise you it will be a wild ride.”