Foreword

By

Julie JCH Ryan, D.SC.

CEO, Wyndrose Technical Group

 

 

It cannot be denied: the inventions and uses of technologies over the long eons of human existence have both improved and disrupted our existence.  Cooking food improved the efficiency of caloric intake, freeing up time and energy for other pursuits (Wrangham, 2009).  Mastering symbolic representation by painting on the walls of caves enabled the capture and transfer of intellectual capital (Mthen, 2006).  Over the centuries, curious inventors have improved, replaced, and combined technologies in ways that have radically altered the way we interact with and live in the world.  With each step forward, it may seem like only small bits of progress are being made.  It is only when one sits back and considers where we are, and what technologies are rapidly being integrated into our living experience, that the magnitude of disruption becomes apparent.

 

With the publication of this book, Disruptive Technologies With Applications In Airline, Marine, Defense Industries, the writing team assembled by Professor Randall K. Nichols takes a hard look at the autonomous technologies that are being incorporated into the dimensions of air, land, and sea, the potential disruptive effects of those technologies, and the implications to societal norms and rules.  While this book is primarily intended to be a textbook, it should be of interest to anyone who needs to understand the changes that are being unleashed by the revolutions in size, capability, and diversity of autonomous vehicles.  The authors come from an extremely diverse background, ranging from law to science, and bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and opinion.  Why are these important?  Knowledge is the fundamental understanding of something, experience is a sophisticated appreciation of real world impacts, and opinion is the application of experience to knowledge with a view to the future.

 

Foretelling the future — what will happen — is an interesting problem: the only thing the forecaster can possibly know is that they will be wrong about the forecast.  The question is how wrong.  Forecasts are important and useful even though they will get aspects wrong.  Good and lucky forecasts get only minor details wrong while other forecasts can be subverted through sloppy analysis or simply bad luck.  But every forecast brings useful information to the table.  Thinking about what could potentially happen in the future informs our ability to make choices.  These choices could include policies to make a potential future more likely, or they could include policies to keep a potential future from happening.  Understanding and thinking about disruptive technologies and what futures they can possibly bring about is important for students, educators, and leaders in every field.  This book provides an underpinning for that type of analysis by bringing together the diversity of topics in one sweeping consideration of technological development.

 

The future is upon us.  We simply need to understand the implications.

 

Julie JCH Ryan, D.SC.

CEO, Wyndrose Technical Group

 

 

 

References

Mthen, S. (2006). After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000–5000 BC. Harvard University Press.

Wrangham, R. (2009). Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Basic Books.