Why the Next Big Thing in Tech Will Look Like a Toy | Summary and Q&A

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July 28, 2017
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Why the Next Big Thing in Tech Will Look Like a Toy

TL;DR

Technologies often start off as toys but evolve rapidly to meet human needs and become revolutionary.

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Key Insights

  • 🪡 Technologies initially dismissed as toys have the potential to transform and meet significant human needs.
  • 🖐️ Smart developers, improved hardware, and network infrastructure play crucial roles in the evolution of technologies.
  • ⚾ The trajectory of a technology should not be discounted solely based on its initial impression or limited functionality.
  • ☎️ The telephone and Bitcoin provide historical and contemporary examples of technologies initially deemed as toys.
  • 🥹 Virtual reality is another technology that holds potential for significant development and adoption.
  • 🪛 Acknowledging the forces that drive technological improvement can help predict future advancements.
  • 👀 Looking beyond the present, it is essential to consider the potential of technologies to transform and exceed expectations.

Transcript

it's no what I'm going to talk today about this idea that the next big thing technology often starts out looking like a toy this is based on an idea by clay Christensen who wrote a book called innovators dilemma core ideas that Christensen had is that imagine human needs are here and humans don't change that much and their needs are relatively cons... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the core idea behind Clay Christensen's concept?

Clay Christensen's idea is that new technologies initially undershoot human needs and are dismissed as toys, but they evolve and improve over time to meet those needs.

Q: How did the telephone transition from a toy to a global communication system?

Initially, the telephone had limited range and sound quality, leading businesses to consider it a toy. However, improvements in technology and long-distance rates made it more practical, eventually displacing the telegraph as the dominant form of communication.

Q: Why are Bitcoin and virtual reality often dismissed as toys?

Bitcoin and virtual reality are often seen as toys due to their limited adoption and niche user base. However, their potential for development and the significant number of skilled developers working on them indicate a transformative trajectory.

Q: What factors contribute to technologies evolving from toys to revolutionary entities?

Key factors include advancements in semiconductors, network infrastructure, and software development. These advancements drive the improvement of technologies and enable them to meet growing human needs.

Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the concept that the next big technological advancements often start out being dismissed as toys. This idea is based on Clay Christensen's theory in his book "The Innovator's Dilemma," which suggests that technologies initially undershoot what people want and are considered fun or niche by the general population. However, as technology improves, these "toys" can gradually evolve and become significant innovations that fulfill important needs. The speaker provides examples such as the telephone, which was initially seen as a toy but eventually grew into a global communication system, and Bitcoin, which is often dismissed but has a substantial software development community behind it. The speaker also mentions the potential for virtual reality to follow a similar trajectory, with ongoing advancements and decreasing costs leading to widespread adoption and new applications.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the core idea behind Clay Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma"?

Clay Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" suggests that technologies initially undershoot what people want and are often seen as toys, but as they improve, they can unexpectedly fulfill important needs and become significant innovations.

Q: Can you provide an example of a technology that was initially dismissed as a toy?

One example is the telephone. When it first came out, it could only go short distances and the sound quality was poor. Many thought it was a toy and questioned why they would use it instead of the established telegraph system. However, as the telephone improved in terms of distance, sound quality, and functionality, it eventually displaced the telegraph and became a global communication system.

Q: Why did people underestimate the potential of the telephone initially?

People underestimated the telephone because it initially had limited capabilities compared to the telegraph, which was the dominant form of long-distance communication. The sound quality was not good, and it could only cover short distances. This led people to believe it was just a toy and unnecessary for serious business purposes.

Q: What are some factors that drive technologies to evolve from toys to significant innovations?

Several factors contribute to the evolution of technologies from toys to significant innovations. These factors include smart developers working on improvements, faster semiconductor technology, better networks, and advancements in software. These forces push technologies upwards and drive their trajectory towards becoming more powerful and useful.

Q: Is Bitcoin an example of a technology that is currently dismissed as a toy?

Yes, Bitcoin is often dismissed as a toy or niche currency. However, it has a substantial software development community behind it, with thousands of excellent developers working on various projects related to Bitcoin. One could argue that Bitcoin is currently the largest software development organization in the world, demonstrating its potential for growth and impact.

Q: How can virtual reality follow a similar trajectory as the telephone or Bitcoin?

Virtual reality is currently seen as an expensive and somewhat niche technology, with high-end devices requiring a PC and looking awkward on the user's head. However, there are many smart individuals and significant investments being made to improve virtual reality. Over the past year, the prices of high-end devices have already halved, indicating a trend towards affordability. As the technology continues to improve and software developers find new applications, virtual reality has the potential to become widely accessible and adopted, just like the personal computer did decades ago.

Q: Are there technologies that remain toys and never become significant?

While some technologies may not evolve beyond being toys, there are powerful forces in the technology world that often lead to significant advancements. Factors such as faster semiconductors, improved networks, and software innovations can drive technologies upwards, making them surpass their initial limitations and becoming transformative. Therefore, it is always essential to consider these forces before dismissing a technology as a mere toy.

Q: What should we consider when we hear people dismissing a technology as a toy?

When people dismiss a technology as a toy, it is crucial to carefully analyze the reasons behind the dismissal. One should consider the forces driving technology advancements, such as smart developers, semiconductor improvements, network advancements, and software innovations. By understanding these factors and mapping the trajectory, it becomes possible to predict where the technology might be headed in the next couple of years.

Q: What is the speaker's suggestion for identifying future innovations?

According to the speaker, one way to identify future innovations is to look for technologies that might be considered toys today but are likely to evolve significantly within the next three to ten years. By examining the forces behind technological progress and understanding their potential trajectory, it becomes possible to spot technologies that could soon rise from being dismissed as toys to becoming significant innovations.

Q: What are some examples of technologies that might be in the early toy stage today and have the potential to grow significantly in the future?

While the speaker does not provide specific examples in the video, based on the discussion, possible examples of technologies that might be in the early toy stage today include emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced robotics, and renewable energy solutions. These are areas where smart developers, improving semiconductor technology, and other factors are likely to contribute to significant advancements and impact in the coming years.

Takeaways

The concept that the next big thing often starts out looking like a toy is a reminder that we should not dismiss technologies based solely on their initial appearance or limited functionality. Many significant innovations in history, such as the telephone and Bitcoin, were initially seen as toys but evolved into powerful and essential tools. It is essential to consider the driving forces behind technological advancements, including smart developers, improving hardware, and software innovations, to predict the trajectory of a technology and identify potential future innovations. By staying attentive to emerging technologies that may appear as toys today, we can anticipate their growth and be prepared for their impact in the future.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Clay Christensen's concept suggests that new technologies initially appear as toys but progressively meet human needs.

  • Examples include the telephone, which was initially seen as a toy but eventually became a global communication system.

  • Bitcoin and virtual reality are current examples where initial dismissals fail to acknowledge their potential for significant development.

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