Crystal Ball

I was reading a fascinating article about Venture Capitalists and what they are pouring money into right now.  It’s a good clue about the tech advances we can expect to see in coming months.  A couple of things caught my eye.

First there is Apple’s SIRI voice recognition program.  I’m not an Apple person, but I understand it is far superior to anything else on the market.  Supposedly you can get your IPhone to do almost anything by simply speaking to it.   Right now SIRI is proprietary – only Apple can work with it.  But speculation is that they will open it up to App developers soon.  Already people are tinkering with it to interact with all kinds of other things:  televisions, thermostadts, appliances.  Imagine sitting in your living room saying, ‘Set temperature to 72%’ and having it simply happen!

Another key area is education.  Just as Amazon made bookstores irrelevant and ITunes drove record stores to extinction, so technology will at least change the way education happens.  I don’t think brick and mortar schools will go away entirely, but what happens inside them will look very different in a few years.

As evidence, the article I read referenced M.I.T.s’  OpenCourseWare program.  Right now, M.I.T. has over 2,000 of their courses online and available for anyone to take FOR FREE.  Soon, every class they teach at the Institution will be online, so essentially, you will be able to get a complete M.I.T. education gratis.  They won’t be awarding degrees for the work, but it will be possible to get a Certificate.  As  someone dealing with distance learning all the time, I wanted to check this out.

I went to ocw.mit.edu and looked around a bit.  T’here are courses in all kinds of things.  I checked out Spanish.  A year ago I bought the full Fluenz Spanish program and I can’t say enough about how good it was.  I’m not conversational (yet) but I’m comfortable in places where English is not spoken.  My quick scan of the free M.I.T. program has me believing it might be superior in some ways.  It’s designed to be done in four hours a week for about two months.  The whole program is built around a little movie with a plot, suspense, characters.  You learn by listening and watching the interactions and then completing exercises and reading.  The quality looks outstanding.

This kind of stuff gets me very excited.  I love the way our electronic world is changing.  Things that once seemed beyond the horizon are now almost within our grasp.  And the speed at which new ideas move from the horizon line to our fingertips is getting faster and faster.  Is there any doubt that, soon, the right technology, mixed with the right consumer offer and operating system will completely change the real estate business?