The good news is Japanese tech giant Toyota’s Research Institute (TRI) may have a solution: using virtual reality (VR) to let humans quickly transfer their

What, according to you, would bring about another “Technological Boom”?

I agree with Jyoti Panda that natural language programming would be huge. It adds incredible value to a lot of things that aren’t quite ready for the big time yet. By allowing human intentions to become machine code, you make technologies a lot better at improvisation and optimization. There are a few elements of that available now. I don’t think it will be long before you can say: “Google, show me a list of all the available rental properties within 6 blocks of an NQ stop in Queens, NY with 2 or more bedrooms, a dishwasher, and a highly-rated Italian deli within easy walking distance. Keep this list up-to-date and send me an alert each time something’s added.” Where it will get wickedly awesome will be when you can just say: “Google: I want a Tim Burton-esque gothic iron fence around my property.” and Google replies with 3D renderings and quotes from 3 local companies in about the same time it takes to tell you if you need an umbrella.

3D printing. I don’t think home-scale printers will be much of a disruption, but at an industrial scale, 3D printing is as radical as the internet. There will be printing with all kinds of crazy materials like fibers, glass, ceramics, metals, and electronic components. Many of these materials are printable now, and many more are coming. The creation of arbitrary, but very real durable goods very near their point of use upends current thinking about shipping, manufacture, warehousing and inventory, retailing, and from there real estate pricing, urban planning, and to some degree politics. It is a lot like the internet. And where there is massive disruption, there are billions of dollars to be made as new revenue streams open and old ones dry up.

Mimicry of human movement for manufacturing. Current manufacturing equipment often relies of the shape, movement and limitations of the human body. As robots become available that are capable of doing the manual tasks humans can do when on a factory floor, it becomes a big deal. The same technology that is driving things like tele-surgery can be used for lower value tasks once the price comes down. Imagine scientifically recording the movements and decisions of a garment worker for the purpose of training a sighted, 10-fingered robot with left and right hands that articulate like a human’s. Such a robot could operate sewing machines, cutters, sergers, and even hand-stitch like the worker. Even if the machine weren’t capable of autonomy, it could be used through VR, such that one skilled worker provides movement to any number of robots. The same setup could be used for almost any kind of manufacturing, food production, a lot of cleaning and maintenance, etc.