The world of tomorrow, once the province of science fiction, is moving too fast to think in that old way. Here are four areas where you can expect to major advances very soon:
Image sent by author
The self-driving cars are here. Google’s prototype became the first driverless car to get pulled over by a California policeman. A driverless bus made a 20 mile trip through downtown Zhengzhou, China without incident. We’ll marry this technology to GPS and networked supercomputers, and you have a system that regulates traffic on a global scale, leaving us perhaps freed from high auto insurance premiums, but with idle hands at the wheel.
Stem cell controversy continues, but ponder this: a man with cataracts 15 years ago had to get donated corneas and spend his days taking anti-rejection drugs. Today he can have new corneas grown from his own cells. Scientists created a flesh-and-blood prosthetic ear by growing cartilage cells over a titanium mesh. Affordable 3d printers mean virtually anyone can download files that create a variety of prosthetics. People can be made whole in an increasing variety of ways, but as technology becomes more prevalent, so does technical know-how. It’s only a matter of time before clinics can alter people to order.
Your grandchildren will operate quantum computers. These will have chips built at a sub-atomic level. A quantum computer is capable of not mere binary-bit 01101001, but a 3rd superposition state, manipulating more complex bits of 000 001 010 011 100 101 001. Today’s computing power is measured in gigaflops (one billion operations per second), while quantum computers will handle teraflops (one trillion operations per second). Not theory – IBM and others have made rudimentary computer chips using quantum designs. Theoretical are quantum-gravity computers that may only be limited by time itself…
Artificial intelligence is a common concept now, and, sure, they aren’t really alive, but a good programmer could make it hard to tell the difference. Given much better computers, expect AI programs that can generate AI software. AI intelligence in a robotic body? Companies like Hudson Robotics, Inc. are already producing lab robots that download software from the internet yet react intelligently to changes around them.
Embrace it, or fear it? Yes, hackers could lay waste our marvels, and us with them, but that’s a problem that’s already very much with us. Yet we keep going. We keep getting better at what we do.
By Lizzie Weakley