3 ways Star Wars and Star Trek will transform business in 2018

Within the next year, we’ll see more seemingly outlandish ideas begin to take shape as a daily reality.

“Beam me up, I’m going to the Holodeck to meet with Yoda!”

With the latest Star Wars movie in theatres and a new Star Trek movie on the horizon, I find it interesting how some of the inventions in these universes connect to our own. Some may argue whether it’s these worlds that influence us or us them. For example, the idea of the cell phone appeared in a Star Trek episode long before it became an invention in the 1970s. Same for the iPad, video conferencing and Google Glass.

Regardless, it’s no surprise that similarities exist between some of these sci-fi concepts and our adoption of new innovations. Now that we’re entering a new year, I predict we’ll continue to see some of these innovations become a greater reality in our lives. Here are three technologies that exist in the worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars, which will have impacts on business in 2018:

1. Artificial intelligence will come to life

No doubt Star Wars and Star Trek are not the first instances of artificial intelligence (AI) in science fiction. I can remember the first time I read Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot – the concept of AI was a bit scary. But beyond the pages of science fiction, AI is far less scary – at least for now. If you look at Star Wars, the characters C3-PO and R2-D2 are both examples of artificial intelligence (AI). In Star Trek, we have Data. These characters represent the extent to which machine learning technology can become ingrained—even lifesaving—in people’s lives. We view them as characters, as real to us as Luke Skywalker or Captain James Kirk.

Right now, we are witnessing initial forms of AI: Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, driverless cars, etc. But this market coverage will only grow and begin to impact so many industries across the board. Eventually, the identities companies have created in the forms of Siri or Alexa will become more life-like and relatable. In the business world, this may mean a CEO has an AI personal assistant, rather than a human secretary.

AI will impact businesses across all sectors, from transportation and logistics to healthcare and insurance; even some that may surprise you. Take the legal industry for example, we will begin to see more efficient ways of searching for and using data for legal proceedings. Right now, lawyers must sift through a lot of paperwork to find relevant case information. With AI, they can have the technology do the heavy lifting – which means more cost-efficient and time-effective courtrooms. (Bluelock has even created an eBook for the legal industry that goes into specific detail on this subject.)

AI will bring about the emergence of new forms of legal practice. For example, when a driverless car accident occurs, who’s responsible? The developer or the operator? This will be something that the legal industry will need to settle—and we’ll see new industry standards emerge to outline rules and curtail risks.

2. Virtual reality will be the new reality

Remember Darth Vader speaking to a hologram image of the Emperor in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back? Well, I’d venture to say that was a form of virtual reality (VR). We’ve already seen some examples of VR in use with headsets – gaming, for example. But VR will quickly extend beyond the world of gaming. We’ll see nursing homes using VR to take less-mobile residents to the park. We’ll soon have virtual business meetings, where attendees from across the globe will see each other in the same virtual room. We have already seen VR, paired with its cousin AR (augmented reality), used as an education and training platform in industries of all kinds. 

In the legal industry, we’ll begin to have VR enter the courtroom. As Marc Lamber, Chairperson of Personal Injury Practice at Fennemore Craig, P.C. explains in Bluelock’s “2018 Legal Technology Predictions” eBook, “One of the biggest challenges faced in a case is showing the decision makers or jury what actually happened at a crime scene or at the precise instant of impact during a catastrophic injury. Now, imagine taking a juror to that decisive moment through immersive virtual reality, and suddenly, groundbreaking changes in the law are about to unfold.” Taken to an extreme, courtrooms may even disappear altogether, with witnesses, lawyers and judges able to attend from their homes or offices.

3.  Blockchain will cut out the middle man

Remember Federation Credits in Star Trek? One can argue they are a similar version of digital currency as bitcoin is today. No doubt there was a digital way to track these credits in Star Trek as well. In our world, Blockchain is the framework upon which cryptocurrencies rest, the ledger for all transactions. Leveraging this technology, users are able to share information and complete purchases without the oversight of unnecessary parties. In 2018, we’ll begin to see blockchain take on new uses, expanding into several business industries as a means of storing and sharing information securely.

As Derek Brost, Director of Engineering at Bluelock, explains, “Research and development is proceeding at a marked pace to leverage cryptocurrencies through blockchains in facilitating self-executing and self-enforcing contracts, so called ‘smart contracts.’ The distributed-ledger nature inherent to cryptocurrencies, combined with the pervasive visibility and verifiability of blockchains, will act as a disruptor.” Companies will begin using blockchain for supply chain purchases, IP data storage, mergers & acquisitions, etc. For the real estate industry, blockchain will be particularly helpful, given the number of contracts they use and share.

Blockchain has the potential to impact almost every industry. For example, the Financial Services and bitcoin or Energy and the buying and selling of power across the grid. Even the arts, such as music and movies, blockchain can establish and enforce ownership, essentially ending piracy.

As these practices grow, we will see lawyers and software developers teaming up to write smart contracts based on blockchain technology.

Sci-fi leads the way

The argument that Star Trek and Star Wars have been predictors for modern technologies (as is the case for a lot of science fiction worlds) is not new. Did research influence Roddenberry and Lucas or did Roddenberry and Lucas influence research? My guess is a little (or a lot) of both.

In 2018, we’ll see more seemingly outlandish ideas begin to take shape as a daily reality. It’s an exciting time to be alive, and 2018 will be a thrilling year to witness. Me? I can’t wait for a robot like Rosie (sorry for the lame Jetsons reference) to clean my house, make my dinner and walk my dog!

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

Get the best of CSO ... delivered. Sign up for our FREE email newsletters!