Editor’s note: the future is near

Okey Chigbo, Editor of CPA Magazine, introduces the features in the June/July 2015 issue.

Prognosticating about technological tomorrows is a favourite pastime of tech crystal-ball gazers. A decade or so ago, tech futurists told us that we would soon enjoy the benefits of teleportation, such as that seen on Star Trek — so far, only photons have been teleported. They said we would have chip implants in our brains for total memory recall (a highly questionable benefit) — as of today, nada. And let’s not forget the coruscating promise made in our childhood of George Jetson’s flying cars. Cars do fly, but firmly grounded on freeways.

That’s why in this special technological issue, we focus on things on the cusp — products and developments where the technology is not far from the market. We look mainly at Canada because, as will be seen from our stories, Canada leads in many areas of technological innovation.

In our first feature, Robert G. Parker, a member of CPA Canada’s information management and technology advisory committee, looks at the impact of self-driving cars on our near future. In "Home, James," he writes that autonomous cars "will change just about everything: infrastructure needs, the nature of jobs, the economy and healthcare." He predicts that commercial drivers will be the first affected; there will also be fewer auto body shops and insurance underwriters needed. He adds, "As the number of devastating automobile accidents decreases, the need for trauma doctors and nurses will also be reduced." When will these somewhat scary changes happen? Not too far in the future — many carmakers are currently testing cars that can drive themselves in cities and on highways, and some are ready for the road. Please read this utterly fascinating look at near tomorrow.

"Technological change is accelerating at a dizzying pace," writes contributor Steve Brearton in "Innovation Nation." Brearton was asked to go where no one has gone before and find unheralded Canadian leaders in different technological fields. He has outdone himself. We present a selection of Canadian companies developing marvels such as unmanned asteroid mining vehicles, food scanners that detect allergens, and fusion energy sources. This is wonderful stuff that readers cannot afford to miss.

What’s the next big computing thing? Quantum computers, that’s what. So what is quantum computing, you ask? Read the article to get the full idea, but the quantum scale in physics is the tiniest known scale where things can be in two places at the same time — mind boggling — creating the potential for computers that operate at astonishingly "impossible" speeds. Read science writer Dan Falk’s brilliant investigation into "Quantum Valley," a place in Canada that might turn out to be the next Silicon Valley.