Utah Engineers Journal 2021 Issue

16 Scott Nowlin’s Banquet Presentation Technology When I was originally asked to speak, I thought I would talk about the U.S. Air Force’s YAL-1A Airborne Laser aircraft because it was the engineering marvel of its time. But this year’s theme for the annual UEC Banquet was “Imagining Tomorrow.” We celebrated the engineering scholarship recipients and people who are advancing within their professional societies, so I decided to talk instead about a little bit of the technology changes I’ve seen in my lifetime and where I think we are going. The first row’s images (below) are about what has already happened during my lifetime. Typewriters, projectors, cameras and telephones all used to be separate devices. They were based on manual technology, such as large-scale video and digital formats, on individual equipment pieces. Now they have been replaced completely or partially by hand-held devices like cellphones, plus a lot of other functionality. The second row’s images are about the future and the growing importance of artificial intelligence (AI). We already have many apps on our phones. Increasingly, they will be driven by AI that knows what you will want to do next. The apps will rapidly fuse information about things we know we want with things we didn’t know we want and then give us the results. For example, if someone calls me, one or more apps on my cellphone will know a call was on my calendar. It will know the purpose of the call; as a result, it might open a bio and a slide deck and then transcribe the conversation. If I refer to something, the app could inject the reference’s internet link into the printed text or open an example of that reference on both of our devices for us both to see. By the way, the image on the bottom right is wrong. I wanted a picture of a human hand holding a world, but the only picture I could find was of a robot hand instead. Humans can and will stay “in the loop” as need as a check-and-balance on the information. In my opinion, the challenge will be to keep the human unbiased with respect to the appropriate data to access, review, or modify, rather than keeping the machine from overreaching.