I have been talking about technology for over 30 years, in my opinion, technology is taking mankind to an unhealthy place. There I’ve said it. Many of you think I am a pro technology man, more than I am a pro business man, the reality is, I’m both, but technology is merely a tool to get business done, even though technology is leading us down the road Neo in the Matrix have been down before.

I was born in the late 50’s, I’m a Baby Boomer, I have seen technology evolve, technology started it’s takeover of mankind with the handheld calculator. When I was in school, it was forbidden to use a handheld calculator in class, today, you can’t finish school without one. Technology is now raising generations unable to think, the arts are being eliminated because technology wants to do all the creative thinking for us. Everything technology today has gotten smaller, so small it can be injected into your blood stream, blood cell sized nanobots! These types of technologies will eventually make us live for ever, birth perfect babies, have perfect health. Ray Kurzweil predicts the singularity, where technology and man merge, will become a reality by the year 2045. Technology is being embedded into everything, including the human body. Is this a good thing, I’m not convinced it is just yet.

RFID chips were to be injected or planted into humans at one time, this can be done today, but I think the push back has forced big brother to shift gears. Instead of planting or injecting, the technology is carried by you and I through credit cards, bank debit cards, drivers licenses, and all these chips can be scanned by anyone as far as 50 feet away. That means the dark side can scan your credit card, create a new card with your account details, almost, if not, completely steal your identity. All this in the name of technological progress. For every technological good, there is an equal bad for all of us. We are more willing to embrace carrying these technology cards because they aren’t intrusive, it’s not painful or difficult to do, but that isn’t entirely true is it? We are being lulled into carrying these cards, using all these cool mobile device, geo-location, the 4squares and the like. We can’t not be found, everywhere we go we can be tracked, and most of us are happy about it. But what if there is a war of any-kind, corporate war, technology war, or a war where life is threatened. Those in the working corporate world become the enemy, those who work for technology companies, countries and man against man all become the enemy, where then do we hide? We can’t.

There is a a scripture in the bible that states, the meek (weak) shall inherit the earth, maybe it should be the Geeks shall inherit the earth. As much as I am concerned where technology is taking us, I also see much good, but I more worried about the consequences of a society that is too eager to embrace any technology without having some foresight. Everytime we mess with the human body, the earth, and or creation of anykind, we put ourselves in a place that can’t be reversed, is that smart?

Man is the problem, we complicate everything, we shackle ourselves, we don’t really know what we are dealing with in the bigger picture. People far smarter than I believe they know what they are doing, I’m suspicious to be completely transparent. So what do we do, we can’t go backwards, it’s too late. You couldn’t take technology (computers) out of our homes, our cars, our businesses, or take away handheld devices, we would be completely immobilized.

I get nervous everytime the major tech companies come out with a new product, we tend to do everything in our power to get in line to get it, without even thinking if we need it. Our future needs better planning behaviour than having the latest greatest in our hands, life is not about having the most toys, and or about being the first one to have it.

As you can see I’ve been ranting, I am worried about mankind, I am worried about you. We all were created to do something great on this planet and it’s different for each one of us, we were DNA’d to play a role, to make this world a better place. Technology doesn’t solve that problem, it merely allows us to get more done in a day, nothing more. There are no shortcuts.

Stephen Covey once said, “we are the only creatures on this earth that have the ability to stop and think before reacting”, let’s all exercise that muscle when it comes to embracing new technology or existing technologies. It may be too late, younger generations, the under 20 and generations to come may not be taught to stop and think. There is a huge discussion here, and I am only scratching the surface, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Do you believe technology is taking mankind to a healthy place?

Somethings just seem more and more obvious, I ask this question all the time, can you imagine a day when we will no longer use money? I mean coins & paper money. It’s coming and much sooner than you think, it’s all because of Chip Technology or whatever name you decide to give it. We….all of us, are being traced by our cell phones, by our Debt Cards, or Credit Cards, whether we like it or not, so why do we even need them?

The truth is, the smart phone is all we will ever need until technology and humans merge. Visa & MasterCard have already started changing they’re model to be accessed by smart phones for all purchases or payment methods. Smart phones will be the wireless Visa & MasterCard debit machine, it already is in some parts of the world. Imagine not carrying 15 plastic cards around in your wallet, no debt cards, no credit cards, no nothing cards! But also imagine if it became law that you had to have a smart phone in order to live, buy food, buy clothes, then what?

Some day we will merge with technology, but until then, we will still have to deal with these clunky systems to pay for our purchases, not too mention making deposits to our bank accounts. This shift is expected to begin in 2011, yep, it’s coming and coming fast….what’s interesting though, my bank hasn’t even released their debt card with a chip in it yet….that’s how fast this is happening, they may not have too!

Just think, Visa & MasterCard will no longer be plastic cards, they will be an application in your smart phone. That to me is progress I would like to see.

What do you think?

I’m going to let you read me thinking out loud today, here’s a few things on my mind right now, and I’m laying it in front of you to ponder. Here’s the thing(s).

An interesting trend is taking place and it’s a problem for insurance companies, it means a loss of revenue, and possibly a declining customer base. I suspect it’s a problem for more than just Insurance Companies. I’m not saying insurance companies are on the endangered species list, but there is a need for innovation in that industry, one that will allow them to adjust to this trend.

Let’s say you are a Futurist, say like me, and you get that call from your insurance agency. They start to ask the regular questions and you keep saying no I don’t work that way, I don’t have tons of equipment, and people don’t come to my office and so on. For example, your business might look this way in more detail.

You are a sole proprietor, you only do workshops & public speaking 90% of the time, if you do work with clients it’s at their offices, and your equipment might be a $750 Laptop, and Internet Connection and a smart phone. Oh, and did I mention, you are most of the time mobile, on the move. You never have clients come to your home office or desk, your workshops are held at another site like a hotel or local school, because you are not a typical bricks & mortar business. How does an insurance business get that extra business out of your home insurance when your considered home-based business functions like it doesn’t exist?

Everyday, more & more people are starting businesses with little or no overhead, not like the old home-based businesses we are used to starting. You know, the one’s where you have to carry inventory, have customers do pick-up at your home, or you have expensive equipment on your premises. Don’t get me wrong, many still do this but they are somewhat short sighted I think.

It’s almost like this type of business is a loop-hole in the home insurance industry, these types of businesses have been around forever, and I’m certain existing policies don’t cover all facets of this type of business. You’ve read it here before, you probably heard me say it, a connected audience, or a connected consumer can not be forced or controlled, mostly because they are on the move at all times. As the population grows more than 9 billion over the next 15 years, much of what we know today will have been re-written, like insurance policies, they need to adopt the social and mobile trend. The new businesses of tomorrow are mostly digital, require virtually no traditional functionality, and will never see a customer come to an office.

If you were to ask me if I had a FAX machine, I would answer back with, what’s a fax? Imagine when your kids, kids have kids, they will never know what a FAX machine was, a Computer in a Tower, or maybe even a Laptop for that matter. That leaves one thing, hand-held devices, or, technology that is embedded into our eye-care / contact lenses, or maybe the RFID chip finally gets it’s day and be put into our bodies. RFID is actually already here, you carry it with you everyday, so the chip no longer needs to be in us, we have social accepted carrying it around in our pockets. I know, I know, I’m going down a rabbit trail.

I’m not saying the demise of insurance companies is imminent, I’m suggesting they need to observe a trend that would seem to impact their livelihood. I would also suggest, not unlike Real Estate, you & I will be able to handle / do what these agents do for us today.

If insurance companies are still cold calling existing clients to develop new revenue, in the home-based businesses sector, I would suggest finding another method, because we can do that ourselves. The insurance company rules will change as the shape of business takes place, the rules though, are currently being broken and by-passed because of this trend in business.It’s no ones fault, it’s evolving, it’s changing it’s look, you might call it a Chameleon.

The future of business is a social and mobile business, the details still need to be worked out, but if your business isn’t paying attention, then you won’t get the attention. So I ask you, do you market to convert, or do you market to get attention? If it’s the latter, you have increased your chances of conversion ten fold, attention is the new currency, and you will use it to convert your product & services into cash.

I talk alot about future trends and technologies, RFID chips, nanotechnology, and well, even computers as we know them. With all these advances, there is a growing challenge, how to keep your privacy private. The new chip technology is everywhere, we are forced into it, all financial institutions in Canada must have this chip technology embedded into each card by 2011, credit cards and yes even debit cards. The government and corporations are mandating this technology without your knowledge, it’s happening and you have no choice. Oh, and by the way, as of October 2010, if you don’t have this chip on your Visa, you will no longer be covered by the Visa Zero Liability Policy. I’ll be you didn’t know that.

These cards with chips embedded are called “Smart Cards”, in time will permanently have replaced the current magnetic-strip cards we carry around today. These new chip cards mean you can, you will not be able to hide, you will be tracked at all times, if you are a criminal or have bad credit, they turn the card off and you are unable to buy anything. Let alone not be found, hiding is something we did when we were little, covered ours eyes and no one could see us, remember?

This past week, the Google & US Government collaboration was announced, the Internet will be monitored, every Tweet, every FaceBook Update, every Blog Post will be scrutinized. So be careful what you put on the NET, it might get you in serious trouble. Here is an example of how a simple purchase of a Pizza might go for you in the near future.

Business is being reshaped online, it has to, the very way of survival is change, it is however, doing a poor job of translating it to traditional business forms. What I call the OLD Business Model still needs to be looked after, but it also needs to be transformed and reshaped to adopt the online mentality if it’s to survive. No longer can we use the phrase, ” we’ve always done it this way”, if someone says it, they should be fired on the spot. It sounds harsh but, if that person has influence, the future of that business is and will be in jeopardy if they stay with that thinking.

Toll Booths are the mechanism for getting paid, online & off, it’s the way of the business world. These toll booths are being reshaped, they are becoming more & more invisible to the consumer. This seamless trend will continue to the point we may not know when we’ve actually paid for anything! The strategic alliances, the partnerships, and the stand-alones must make paying for goods & services effortless in order to make the experience positive. Not unlike the Apple example, iTunes has made buying music almost painless but not completely. You still have to download an application and you still have to have a valid account with a healthy balance in it before you can feel the benefit. Plus, it’s a closed system, you don’t get to touch it, feel it or make changes to it. Still, this toll booth is better than no start to the future of toll booths, and probably one of the best examples to date.

My son recently purchased eye glasses online, it was a great experience, and he saved money to boot! It was a simple three step process, choose your contacts & or designer frames, enter your prescription & customize your order, and then see the savings delivered to your door. It took him less than a week to get his new glasses, he put them on and they were perfect. The company is called Clearly Contacts, a Canadian company that is making it easy to buy glass & contacts, and they accept PayPal as a means of payment! In the future, we will have our eyes tested online so we don’t have to drive to the optometrist to get the prescription.

Soon there will be a secured cookie mechanism, a cert if you will, it will eliminate the actual payment click of the mouse step, it will be similar to the RFID chip. It will be a Secured Digital RFID Cookie that will handle the payment process for you. Of course, you will have to approve it, but as web browsers die, other technologies of viewing websites will make this process even easier.

The current build of toll booth is still too cumbersome, a link to PayPal or another means of making payment needs to be hidden from plain site, making the experience better. The current method makes you feel like you have been violated, or you’ve left the house unlocked, I need to feel things are well looked after, I don’t need to see it. The experience is everything for the user, much like Attention is to the seller. Attention is the new currency for anyone or any business selling products and services online. The problem is, getting that attention is going to get harder and harder, and it’s also going to be extremely difficult to keep that attention. One way of helping the cause, make paying for your products & services as easy as possible. Don’t ask users to fill out a LONG form, requesting name, address, phone numbers and so on, that will be the death of you. Find ways to make the toll booth invisible, and above all, an experience they can’t stop talking about in a positive way.

Where you put the toll booth matters, the experience users have using your site & toll booth will be the difference maker. The future of toll booths? Simple, hide them, embed them, make them work seamlessly online and you will have a winner. Better yet, you’ll get attention, and that means good things for you and your business.