The Rudd/Gillard government predates the Australian release of the Apple iPhone, and the global introduction of the iPad and Amazon Kindle.
I’ve never been one for the cult of Jobs myself; if the iProducts hadn’t existed another company would have built something similar, soon enough. But they, and the Kindle, are products which signify a revolution in the way we consume information. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say they represent a marker of the final divorce of information from physical media. For good or ill, we now have the means of bringing the sum total of the world’s knowledge, and whatever computation is necessary to manipulate it to the desired form, to a convenient, portable package to anywhere in the world with a phone tower in range.
Less visibly, but with perhaps more direct implications in the short term for public policy were developments in the energy sector in the last few years. The radical decrease in the cost of solar panels is truly remarkable. They cost less than one-fifth as much as they did back in 2007. A much more mixed blessing, of course, is the huge expansion in unconventional gas production, the local version of which Mark mentioned earlier. These developments have turned energy policy upside down in ways that we are still struggling to deal with.
The next government will face a changed world, too, and at least some of the more important changes will be driven by the march of technology. But what might they be? Airborne civilian drones, perhaps? Autonomous ground vehicles? New medical technologies? Affordable ways to store electrical energy? MOOCs throwing the university sector into chaos, as the Tories have suddenly got terribly excited about?
So, I’d like to throw it open to the LP readership – what are some of the bigger technology-driven changes coming down the pipeline that governments might have to respond to over the next two parliamentary terms?