It's been a few days since Frank and I returned from Augmented World Expo USA 2019 in Santa Clara, and since I've had time to process my thoughts, I'm going to share them with you all over a series of posts. This is one of a series of annual conferences in locations in the US, Asia, Europe, and Israel all about the latest and greatest in augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).
Why did we go? This is a good question, especially considering what QIC does. Although we're not an AR or VR company, we do work designing, developing, and evaluating learning applications in a variety of technology platforms, AR and VR included. But why AWE, when we already actively support and speak at a half-dozen other learning-focused conferences including MODSIM World, I/ITSEC, ADL's iFest, ATD TecKnowledge, Realities 360, and DevLearn?
The difference between these conferences and AWE - and the reason it gave me a lot to think about, honestly - is that whereas all these other conferences are ultimately focused on learning, AWE is a group of people focused on the technology. People like me, whose jobs predominantly revolve around making people perform better, think about mixed reality in terms of how we can use it for training. We even call it "learning technology," as if the primary drivers of the MR market were education and training. They're not. We spent almost an entire week, and no one mentioned the world "learning" at all. Oh, wait, one person did. It was a session speaker who said, "We see a world where everything is right there in front of you and no learning is necessary."
Sure, we can use all sorts of technology in a learning context. But if we use MR, AI, and other technologies for what they're actually designed to do, there are things we won't have to do learn how to do anymore, and we should be OK with that. For example, while I do, most of my friends don't know how to drive a stick shift. Our cars do so much for us these days, we CAN actually text and drive. It's a terrible idea, totally unsafe, and you should never do it, but it is physically possible. In the not too distant future, people will not need to know how to drive at all. We had a discussion about this during Journal Club the other day, and someone said, "No way, I like driving too much." But you know what, given 100 people die a day in automobile accidents, as soon as self-driving cars are safer than we are, we're not going to be driving. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.
The robots are not here to take all our jobs, but they are here to work alongside us, help us do the things we can't do very well, and take over parts of our jobs that are unpleasant. That said, the inevitable increase in human-technology symbiosis will make some people's jobs less relevant. Like people whose jobs involve teaching people how to do stuff, for example. Like mine, and if you've made it this far, quite possibly like yours.
Next up: Welcome to Mirrorworld.
These posts are written or shared by QIC team members. We find this stuff interesting, exciting, and totally awesome! We hope you do too!