New technologies, like longevity, AI, super materials and Flying cars are just around the corner. What will they do? And what will we do in response?
The world already seems to change on a daily basis. At the same time, with some of the technologies on the horizon we aint seen nothing yet. There is a whole revolution of new stuff coming that’s going to shape up the landscape both virtual and in real life.
The thing is, if you don’t know they’re coming then they’re going to take you even more by surprise. For that reason let’s explore some of the technologies out there, so that you’re better prepared. And, of course, because new technology is just plain cool.
Okay, it’s not one technology but instead a whole host of technologies, but there are a lot of technologies in the pipe line – like growing new organs from DNA, new cancer treatments, telomere lengthening and a whole host more – which might just give us escape velocity.
What is escape velocity? It’s the moment where we’re adding years as quickly or more quickly than time is taking them away. At that point, if we can keep it up immortality is within reach. And though that moment has been projected to be 20 years into the future for about a century now, much like the flying car was, the flying car is now here. So maybe immortality will not be that far behind.
What will longevity mean for us? Well obviously, it will require an entire restructuring of our economy. That is easier said than done, of course. After all, our lifetimes have been extending steadily ever since retirement was introduced back in 1935. Back then people only lived till about 60. And yet now when government tries to move back the retirement age to more closely match that fact that we live till 85, people are hugely resistant. Imagine what will happen when life won’t end?
I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines. Flying cars are finally actually just around the corner. That’s going to change things dramatically – and more that people can possibly imagine. Flying cars means so many things. It means that cities will need less space devoted to roads (and they’d make lovely parks, wouldn’t they?). It means never having any traffic jams again.
That last one might sound like yet another buzz word, but it would be true. It’s only because we struggle to understand how to think in three dimensions that makes us not realize the repercussions. You see, as traffic exists right now we only have two dimensions – forward, backwards, left and right. That creates a square of space. The moment you add up and down, the space available explodes.
So our daily commute will be cut down, even while the view will be dramatically improved. Also, of course, car jackings will be a thing of the past. For one thing, the traffic lights that jackings will happen at will disappear. For another, a guy with a gun is going to struggle to rob anything that’s three hundred feet above him.
The better augmented reality becomes, the more things will simply move into the virtual realm. Suddenly, you’ll have virtual real estate, where people will want to buy what appears in certain spaces around the city virtually. It doesn’t end there, either. You’ll be able to wear virtual clothing, have virtual pieces of furniture and products (after all, if you don’t regularly physically interact with it, what does it matter what it’s made of?) And there will be a whole host of new entrepreneurs and investors buying up virtual real estate and becoming ridiculously rich off of it.
No doubt these changes will filter through into such areas as commerce, advertising, industry and everything in between, so that in 20 year’s time it will probably be an entirely different experience walking down the street with or without augmented reality engaged. You might even see an entirely different city!
Now wouldn’t that be a weird experience?
Who knows what AI will be capable of the years to come? Are the doomsayers correct and will we reach a point where super intelligences take over? Or are there still some very big underlying problems that make the leap from data processing to actual intelligence something that will only happen in the distant future?
We can’t know yet – in large parts because we still have no idea what our own consciousness consists of and how to give computers actual intentionality. It might be something that is incredibly hard, or it might be something that is – in fact – entirely an illusion.
The only way to find out which it is is by seeing whether AI can crack the nut or if it can’t.
Whether they can or can’t, the effect that AI will have on our lives will still be nothing short of dramatic. There will be advances that will destroy jobs, create new ones and again will completely alter our economic and social landscape that will make an AI writing service like Essay Supply look almost simplistic by comparison.
Perhaps we’ll all move the way of Finland and give every unemployed person a basic salary. Perhaps the governments of the world will continue to be largely incompetent as they have been these last 20 years and the social upheaval we’re experiencing will continue and multiply.
Advancement in materials
What is possible with some of the new materials that are being discovered is nothing short of amazing. Some scientists found a material that automatically radiates heat into outer space without it costing any energy! That will probably augment or replace air-conditioning in the years to come. Similarly, materials have been invented that are 1000 stronger than steel, have negative mass (as in, when you push them they come towards you) and that really is just the tip of the iceberg.
What will be possible with these new technologies? Who knows. We might be able to build things that can’t break, however hard you try. We might be able to build skyscrapers that reach the upper atmosphere. There is even talk of building floating buildings that are anchored to satellites in space.
Personally, I’m waiting for the space elevator. Then we can transport things into space at a fraction of the cost and can finally declare the arrival of the space age!
Advancements in biology
Yes, we already talked about human longevity, but that’s not the only thing that biology can achieve. There are so many other opportunities, where biology will be able to take over a huge number of the roles that are currently reserved almost exclusively to the field of electronics.
At that point we won’t have to build computers or chips, for example, but be able to grow them, which will probably mean they’ll only be a fraction of the cost. Similarly, we’ll be able to create organisms that will be able to secrete important medicines, or give us important chemicals that now cost us an absolute fortune to produce.
In truth, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in biology and how it can help us in other fields, from medicine to electronics and from material production to energy production. Inventions are going to be hitting us around the ears in the next 20 years that we can’t even imagine from where we’re now sitting.
The danger of complexity
Of course, all of this sounds wonderful but it does come with a warning and that is one that most people will not yet be aware of. It’s the illusion of explanatory depth. This, in case you’re not familiar with it, is the idea we have that we actually understand the world we live in. The most famous example of this is the where you ask people how a toilet works. The vast majority of people think they do, but when you ask them to explain it, they will actually not have a clue.
What this points at is that many of us believe that we understand the world we live in. We think we get how government works and how technology works, while in truth we have no idea and make assumptions and conclusions about the world from entirely faulty information (GM foods, people that don’t vaccinate and homeopathy are just three examples).
This creates a dangerous situation where there is a backlash against science and technology in large parts created because entire social groups think they understand things that they don’t and act on limited and incorrect knowledge.
This will only get worse the more advanced technology gets. Why? Because each individual in our society will understand even less of what’s going on than we do today, but will continue to believe that they understand enough to make intelligent judgements.
That means that there will be more and more decisions which are entirely counterproductive for the people making them – but they will continue to make them because they make intuitive sense to them.
If we can’t tackle this problem (and it’s a hard one to tackle) then it won’t matter what technologies we invent, as the average individual in our society will use them poorly, be resistant to their implementation, or in other ways create an environment that is hostile to such technology.
And that will serve to exasperate the divide between the haves and the have nots until even our current levels of inequality will seem the epitome of fairness in comparison.