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Google Futurist: What Technology Can Do For This Industry Is Boundless

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Tameka Vasquez handles marketing at Google’s Sidewalk Labs, an innovation-minded team of abstract thinkers, technologists and futurists focused on urban innovation. She spoke at the 2022 Inman Connect Las Vegas.

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In a break from takes on power buying, shifting markets and the risk of recession, Google’s Tameka Vasquez directed the Inman Connect audience toward the future.

She handles marketing at Google’s Sidewalk Labs, an innovation-minded team of abstract thinkers, technologists and futurists focused on urban innovation. The ideas and concepts that spin out of the effort end up in the business plans of urban planners, architects, civil engineers and yes, the real estate industry.

Vasquez told the audience she wanted at first to be a journalist, so she could tell stories about people, culture and society.

“We all don’t get to pursue our dreams all the time,” she said. “But I still get stories about people, culture and society, just through a completely different lens.”

Her role as a futurist is to help people better interact with culture and society, and real estate is one the most prominent ways to do so.

“You’re in the industry of every day life, the built, physical environment in which we all live and breathe and dwell,” she said. “And needless to say, what technology can do for this industry is boundless.”

Vasquez told the audience that like historians, futurists study change reminding attendees that the future is omnipresent. In other words, change is constant.

From the industrial revolution to the era of computerization to today, the era of automation and artificial intelligence, change has been at the forefront of how we go about our daily lives and of course, do business.

“What’s different today is that the machines are capable of doing a lot the knowledge work,” Vasquez said. “The work that requires context, it requires your ability to bring concepts together, and people together.”

She said that our ability to leverage technology has made our work a lot easier.

“Technology is not about disruption, it’s about impact and opportunity.”

Vasquez encouraged the audience to look at change differently and said that technology should be leveraged to challenge the status quo.

“Whatever the status quo is in your world.”

In an inadvertent nod to where the audience may be getting its leads in the next few decades, Vasquez shared a slide illustrating that by 2050 two-thirds of people around the world will live in cities, dramatically affecting how people move, work and interact with society.

Technology will be able to be applied to denser communities, quickly magnifying its impact, but making it easier to be applied to smarter urban planning, more energy-efficient buildings, greater mobility and even smarter, more sustainable homes designed with data visualization.

Vasquez closed her talk by reminding the audience that man put a person on the moon before it put wheels on the suitcase, referring to how we overlook some of our most common problems for the larger, often esoteric goal.

“Common sense tech can achieve common sense outcomes,” she said.

Email Craig Rowe

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