In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Mary Fiers, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, and Tessie Hartjes, E52 tries to find out what the future will look like. All five contributors – sometimes accompanied by guest bloggers – are working on solving the problems of our time. Everything to make Tomorrow Good. This Sunday, it‘s Lucien Engelen’s turn. Here are all the previously published columns.

It’s 7:15 PM, the doorbell rings. Opening the front door I see an ambulance on the front lawn and a crew at me front-door. Hi sir, we’re here for the cardiac arrest… Me: “There is no cardiac arrest right here!”. The paramedic: “There will be one in 5 minutes from now, better take a seat, so we can prevent it, sir!”

The above might seem far stretched, but it isn’t (disclosure: I have been in EMS services for over 35 years and I think this will be true within 10 years). Last week I visited Exponential medicine again. Being faculty since 2011 I’ve seen first hand how technology could do bold things but often doesn’t deliver, yet.

Hey, that is innovation, right? But more and more the technology is starting to deliver on their promises. This year, profoundly, this was clear by the number of tangible products and solutions that we’re transitioning in a number of areas from a dream into reality. Also, the convergence of this development starts to pay off as well. One innovation stepping on the shoulders of an earlier innovation using (or copying) their idea or technology.

Whether you believe in ‘The Singularity’ or not (I actually don’t) obvious are the more and more non-linear developments that are kicking in. A good example was shown this week by Boston Dynamics, the robot company.

We all laughed at the video’s shown of robots stumbling, falling sideways or mixing things up or even making a side-slide on a piece of banana peel. Are those ‘things’ going to help us at one point and time?

This week, however, the same company released a video of an Atlas Robot even making backflips.

To me, this ‘little’ step marks a milestone in time, where robots stepped into the next level of history. We will all remember in 10 years from now seeing this video for the first time and we’ll tell our Grandchildren how that marked the evolution of robots, who by that time will be the new normal.

And that robot? Well, I’m sure some of my former colleagues will be replaced by a robot ringing my front door, and offering me medication and treatment, although I hope to be unconscious by then 😉

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